We woke up early in Rome to say goodbye to my family and then walked around Rome and ate breakfast at the Colosseum while the sun rose. It was the perfect end to our time in ‘mainland’ Europe. When we got back to our hotel we packed our bags, checked out and walked to Roma Termini station to head to the airport. Once at the airport it was anarchy. An airport staff member yelled at us to move our bags, we weren’t able to find the start of the priority check in line, and once we got to a check in counter our booking didn’t show up on their system so we were pushed aside while someone tried to sort it out for us. The plus side to all of that was that the lady who checked us in was the most hilarious ‘check-in lady’ we’ve ever had. She was not shy to express her frustration and utter disappointment at how her day was turning out. We eventually got through all formalities and were on our flight to Berlin. I will say that neither of us were happy to be at Berlin airport. It is probably one of the worst airports we have been to, and we’ve been there multiple times. And so after walking around for a while, sitting in the lounge for a while, and sitting on the plane for a while, we finally took off and flew to Reykjavik.
We arrived at Keflavik airport and we so amazed at the airport that we knew it was going to be a good 10 days. I don’t care what people say – first impressions do matter. We walked out, got on the bus and 45 minutes later were standing outside a hotel that wasn’t ours, looking for the apartment that was ours. We found it pretty easily, or so we thought. We walked into the apartment block just as some people were walking out and then were stuck inside trying to find our apartment for half an hour. At this stage it’s 3.00am and I’m wondering about the people who left the building and what they were doing leaving so late and wondering if Mark had managed to find our actual apartment while searching outside. Mark eventually showed up again and we left to go to our apartment. Once we got inside we were both so tired but also so hungry. It was while we were organising our phone chargers that Mark asked me where his Kindle was. I froze and my heart skipped a bit. “Fuck!” I thought. I knew exactly where it was, it was in the seat pocket of seat F23 on our plane. I put it there where Mark was falling asleep but in my daze I forgot to get it out or tell him where I put it. I was so annoyed at myself, 1. for forgetting and 2. because it was going to cost us money to replace it, and these days that money just adds more days to our trip. Let’s just say I had a very fitful 3 hour sleep before my alarm went off and we were up, dressed and out the door. Reykjavik at dawn is a beautiful city but my god it was cold. After walking the city we went back to our apartment to have breakfast and so I could sit on the phone and hope that Mark’s Kindle was turned in by flight attendants, assuming that found it. I felt such relief when the rather grumpy lady on the phone told me that she had his Kindle. Yep, it was going to be a good day. We picked up our car that afternoon and had an early night so we could try to catch up on sleep we had missed.
The next few days we were up early each morning to make it out to different sites before the sun rose and before the crowds moved in. At some points along our drive we would drive out onto a gravel road and within 5 minutes were completely isolated, it was something truly amazing and after 2 days it was odd if we encountered other people. We stopped to visit so many waterfalls along our journey and the raw power of some were breathtaking. My favourite however was the Seljanfoss waterfall. We were there early in the morning by ourselves and were able to walk around behind the waterfall to watch the water cascading down in front of us. Even though the water spraying on my face was so cold it went numb I loved it there. It was simply beautiful.
After a few days we began to slow down and relax a little bit, after all, there are only so many waterfalls you can see before they all begin to blur. Toning down our chase for waterfalls worked well because we began our chase of the northern lights. On our first night we stopped in an open area and were looking for any hint of them in the sky. At the beginning we could see a silver glow in the sky but weren’t sure if we were in a good spot. While we waited Mark got out of the car and started taking photos to practise and get the camera settings right. After a couple of shots and getting the settings where he wanted we looked at the last photo and part of the sky was green. Turns out we were in a great spot to see the lights except clouds had moved in so without the camera we were only able to see a glow. We were happy with our find and the next night were out again, only this time to an even better spot and within a few minutes of arriving we could see them. It was so strange to see them with our own eyes and not through pictures. Ever since I watched Balto as a kid I always wanted to see the lights so I’m so glad I was able to see them in my life and with Mark beside me.
Our last few days were spent further out in eastern Iceland where we were able to see huge glaciers just off the side of the road. From the road they look huge but once you drive down the gravel roads and walk to the edges of the glaciers you appreciate the enormity of them. It’s not just the size that gets you though, it’s the look. The whiteness of the glaciers with the bright blue glow against the black mountainous backdrop is stunning.
We left eastern Iceland and drove 4 and a half hours back to Reykjavik and checked into a beautiful hotel. The first thing we did after checking in was venture up to the bar for the free tastings. Free chocolate and drinks? Yes please. The next day we took it easy before heading out to the Blue Lagoon in the afternoon where we could relax in the thermal pools which was the perfect end to our Iceland experience. To top it all off though Mark bought last minute tickets to see Björk at the Harpa in Reykjavik and afterwards we ate hot dogs for dinner – So Icelandic of us!
We both loved our time in Iceland but are looking forward to heading to New York especially now that they have voted for a new President. Let’s see what’s changed in 24 hours.
Love, an intrigued B x