The adventure of a trip always begins in where you want to go. I try to check off the boxes of the places that I haven’t seen yet, this time my journey was off to Iceland and to see the northern lights. I didn’t realize how much of an attraction it had become until I saw all the tourist like myself out and about. The best place to get from the airport into town is by taking the bus. If you need to go to a specific location they can transfer you to a smaller van and get you there. You can schedule the bus to take you into town after your flight. The Iceland airport is small and uncomplicated and easy to navigate.
I was on a photography tour and loaded in a van with 8 other people for an 8 day tour of the Island. Working with a group of strangers can have its challenges but we are all photographers with the same goal so normally works out well. The first thing that came to mind as we motored down the road is that I thought it would be more green. We concentrated on the south side of Iceland and the tree population is sparse. The second thing that is apparent is the amount of tourism happening. Large groups of people at every stop which made taking photos more difficult. People will just walk in your shot and not even look. Or the constant selfie obsession is apparent at each location.
The food was expensive considering I spent $15 on a grilled cheese and french fries but, everywhere I went the prices were high. Especially, in the evening, I would spend $30 and up just for a regular meal. Something to consider if you are on a budget. Breakfast is included at most of the places you stay. The offering is cold meat, some fruit, boiled eggs, cereal and coffee or tea. I truly got tired of the same breakfast every morning.
The weather was cold in March but very bearable if you dressed in layers. A good hat and gloves a must on this trip along with snow pants and long underwear. Boots with good traction and some of the ice cleats really helped to get around.
The photography, in between the barren spots, is good. My main goal was the northern lights, which are hard to see with the naked eye. My camera picked up the color better than I could see in the night sky. I have pictures on my website. Fortunately the dawn shoots aren’t too early here that you are exhausted by the end of the day. However, we didn’t have two 12 hour days and one 15 hour day. Northern lights need clear skies and a dark night without the lights of town. The longer I was there the easier it became to see the lines in the sky but if you don’t know what to look for you could easily miss them. Make sure you focus on something that you can see in the dark before you turn to focus on the lights. Otherwise you will have a blur when you try to take your shot.
The waterfalls and Ice cave (pictured above) another great attraction to the area. Oxarafoss, Bruarfoss, Gullfoss to name a couple. The Glacier Lagoon with its large chunks of ice washed up on the black beach. The contrast between water, ice and sand stunning in the evening light. The black beach for me is such a contrast to what I am used to here in the states. The Glaciers, with their blue colored ice contrasting against the white of the snow. Many places to stop and see.
My best advice is to come prepared for a different atmosphere. The architecture is very modern and the landscape rugged. I was expecting more green I guess but it was winter so it was a bit of a shock for me the barren parts. I must admit I do prefer trees and water and beautiful beaches. The people are friendly and the food is excellent. The prices are high but remember you are on vacation to save for something special.