Iceland

For the third year running, Andy and I spent Christmas away from the UK. This year we went, with both of our families, to spend a week in Reykjavik.

It was cold, unsurprisingly, but a beautiful place.

We did a lot of walking around the city. The main street is lined with shops selling vintage clothes, quirky design goodies, and beautiful handknits. When shopping got too cold, we’d duck in somewhere for hot chocolate or into a museum or gallery. Saw a fab Yoshitomo Nara exhibition at the Reykjavik Art Museum.

Andy eating fermented shark at Cafe Loki, overlooking the Hallgrimskirka. I chose the pancakes!

At the end of our first full day, we hopped on to one of the many coach tours promising to ‘hunt down’ the Aurora Borealis. Not far out of Reykjavik we saw a green band start to appear across the night sky. It started shifting, and dropping to form curtains. I wish I could have got better photos, but the lack of a tripod and the fact it was about ten below freezing meant my images came out just a little shaky! Amazing to see them though.

On Christmas Eve, we went on what’s known as the Golden Circle tour. The Gullfoss waterfalls were beautiful but the spray coming from them meant it was too cold to look for long!

Strokkur geyser which erupts every ten minutes or so.

Word of warning: if there is a ‘Impassable’ sign on the road, even if your guide insists that it’s a short cut and will be fine, the road is probably impassable. We came to a large patch of ice across the road, and just as the guide was giving us reassurances that it would be no problem, we heard a large crack. Oops. Luckily, not long after a jeep came along – and out jumped an excitable pomeranian who ran around for a bit, got back in, and the jeep drove off. Useful! Luckily, as I’d stopped being able  to feel my toes by this point, some rescue guys came along and after an hour and a half and a few false starts dragged us out and let us on our way. The same guide took us the next day to the Blue Lagoon, and it was luckily a less eventful trip. So we spent Christmas Day relaxing in the geothermal spa which was lovely.

On our last day we went whale-watching where we got to wear some sexy red overalls to keep out the cold. We were rewarded with sightings of lots of white-beaked dolphins and a humpback whale.

I’d love to go back. It was a fascinating place, and the people were really helpful and friendly (the cars just stopped for pedestrians if you looked like you wanted to cross the road – why can’t we do that here?!)

It was an amazing way to end 2009 and I’m really looking forward to the new year now.

To quote Neil Gaiman:

“May your coming year be filled with magic and dreams and good madness. I hope you read some fine books and kiss someone who thinks you’re wonderful, and don’t forget to make some art — write or draw or build or sing or live as only you can. And I hope, somewhere in the next year, you surprise yourself.”

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