fresh air, sunshine, and moonlight
Reykjavik Travel Blog› entry 2 of 9 › view all entries
January 1st, 2010 – by: sarahelaine
I dragged a protesting Iain out of bed with the totally unreasonable, but unfortunately true, observation that as it was almost noon, half the daylight was probably already gone (it turns out not quite half - as Iceland is on GMT, the sun hits its height a bit after noon). We decided it was too late to do a tour and we would go for a walk instead. I really wanted to go up the cathedral tower. Regular readers will know there are few things I love as much as going up towers. But as it was new year's day, the tower was shut and we were foiled.
Plunging back into the cold, we set off to explore the harbour area. Not for the last time, I lamented bringing thin leather gloves and not thicker ones.
One of the first things we discovered was that the whale watching ran through the winter, which looked appealing. We wandered past the fishing boats, and went along the shore past the steel longship statue. It was incredible weather, bright and clear, sunny, and although it was cold it was a nice cold. Iain and I had a snowball fight which I roundly lost on points after a direct hit filled my handbag with snow. Of course I swore revenge, and of course I lost thoroughly every time I tried.
That evening we went to look for the Northern Lights.
Then we went on to Thingvellir national park, the ancient centre of Iceland and the home of their Allthing, one of the world's earliest functional parliaments. It's actullay spelled with an icelnadic letter that looks like a P that fell down a bit, but it's pronounced TH and spelled TH if you are at a lame computer that won't let you make icelandic letters.
The moon was so bright we could have read by it. I've never been able to wander around a national park by moonlight. The moon glinted off the thick frost and the snow like thousands of diamonds, with the rift valley below us almost like a dark day. I have never, ever seen anything like it. It blocked all but the brightest stars. I pointed out polaris, the pole star, to Iain; that far north it's almost overhead.
We went on to a frozen valley under a mountain to look for the lights. There was no way to see them though; the moon was bright enough to mask them completely. Iain and I played at Ice Zombies to keep warm, lurching at each other and pretending to run away. I'm sure we looked utterly insane to the backpackers and families on the coach, but we didn't really care. Pretending to eat each other's brains was definately more fun than sitting still on a bus. Even without the lights, the trip was worthwhile. The strange, volcanic landscape in the moonlight will stay with me for a long time.
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