Did I See the Northern Lights?
Seeing the northern lights was one of my must-dos in my trip and the reason I would say I came to Iceland in the first place. Watching videos of the lights makes them seem otherworldly – it seem real, and I had to see it for myself.
Gray Line tours in Reykjavik offers evening trips for viewings of the Northern Lights. Each day they decide by ~6pm if conditions are favorable – if they are, they will take you an hour out of the city where there are less lights to see them.
I was halfway into my stay in Iceland and each night had been cloudy and poor conditions for viewing. On a cloudy day, they may go anyways – hoping that they clear up later. If they aren’t visible, your ticket is transferable to another night.
A busload of us were taken into a clearing. It was still cloudy, but plenty of wind to push clouds around. Did I mention Iceland was cold? I was fully decked out in two pairs of gloves, heavy winter jacket, toque – the works. They drove to another location… and waited… and waited… all we got was a good view of some moonlit clouds. In all we were out of town for 4 hours. I didn’t want throw away an entire evening again, so I didn’t bother booking another viewing tour.
While the eastern coast of the US was hit by a terrible storm, unrelated high winds were hitting Reykjavik – reportedly hitting up to 80 km/h. Before I knew the bus schedule near where I was staying, I braved a 30 minute walk from my airbnb.com homestay into town fully decked in my winter gear to grab a late dinner in town and explore.
Finally, there it was, above me – a completely dark sky, with a long green streak reaching just above the mountains reaching about 1/3 of the way across the sky. It didn’t dance around, but writhed slowly and if you weren’t staring at it, you wouldn’t notice that it was even moving.
I was happy. I stood on the sidewalk watching for as long as the biting cold winds could permit me while walking into town.