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Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Northern Lights

This was cancelled the first night due to cloudy conditions so I was rebooked free the next night. After my enjoyable day in a small group this was a bit of a let down. It was a rush to start with as our mini-bus fan belt went on the way home earlier so we didn't get back to the hotel until 20 to 8 so it was a rushed dinner then into the lobby by 8.30. The feeder coach took us to the bus station again and I was pleased to see 2 ladies from the day trip on my bus. They said to stick with them and we would try and get Siggy for our guide. As we got off the bus Siggy was there and said he had 3 seats so we went with him but unfortunately I ended up at the back of the coach apart from the 2 ladies and didn't see them again although I was with a nice Chinese girl. We were heading for the car park of a bar on the south coast but on the way excitement as it seemed something was happening in the sky so we stopped and some got off then back again as it was a false alarm so we carried on to our original destination. There were between 30 and 50 coaches there and hundreds of people milling about so apart from a brief word with Siggy I was on my own in the pitch black freezing cold. All I saw was 2 long grey lines which apparently is the sign the lights are coming. I think there was a little bit of yellow briefly but nothing else. Eventually the coaches lit up as a sign to go and then what panic trying to find my coach. The Chinese girl offered to send me a beautiful photo of green swirling lights. I was puzzled as I had not seen that but she said it is technology and you have to set your camera a certain way and it will pick up things the naked eye can't see. I refused her kind offer as I wanted to see the lights myself. 

The next day I went to the TI and booked another trip to see the lights but this time a small group. At 8pm that evening Frederick collected me in a mini bus then round about to pick up a few more so we were just a small group of about 10 heading out to the Thingvellir national park. I sat up front with the driver and it was much friendlier than the previous night. We didn't see the lights in spite of the amazing clear sky showing up so many stars. Frederick really entertained us and took us to several places up until 1am but still no lights.

Saturday, 24 January 2015

Golden Circle Tour -Tuesday

 Our feeder coach collected us at 8.30 that morning in the dark to meet our mini-bus at the bus station for our day out. As it was so dark our guide, Siggy for short, took us to a shop in a converted factory to buy some daylight as he put it. Lovely woolen garments but I can't wear wool so contented myself with post cards and playing cards as gifts. We then made our way to Thingvellir National Park where the tectonic plates are pulling apart a few centimetres a year. We had a walk in the snow and ice battling strong winds for about an hour. It was about -3 but felt like -10 but was such glorious scenery and we also had the history of the ancient parliament site.

After a quick stop to pick up a welcome coffee we made our way to Geysir which is a high temperature geo-thermal area and has a geyser Stokkur which erupts every 10 minutes up to 30 metres high. It was treacherous underfoot but amazing. There were warnings not to touch the water as it was so hot.

On the way to the geyser we had a moment of anxiety when our way was blocked by a van stuck in the snow after trying to get past an abandoned car. The weather was atrocious with snow blowing and drifting. After a heavy vehicle moved the van we were able to continue plowing through the snow as we were in an all weather vehicle thankfully.

Our next destination was the amazing Gullfoss (Golden falls) where the river Hvita plunges 32 meters into a crevice.  I could have stood and looked at it all day but it was just too cold in the strong wind.
We finished the day at the Fontana Wellness Centre where we first sampled the fresh bread baked over the hot springs. We then put swim wear on and ventured outside to the sauna and steam huts built over the hot springs so it was wonderful. Then outside again and into the hot sulphur pool. It was so invigorating to bathe there next to a lake with snow around. I felt amazingly energized and my skin was soft and silky. I could do that every day. We saw some swimming pools on our travels and they are all outdoors and open all year as they are heated geothermally so it is very cheap and a popular past-time. Our outdoor pool only opens a few weeks each year!
The bread was delicious!

Thursday, 22 January 2015


Well I have wanted to go to Iceland for ages especially with the chance of seeing the Northern Lights so finally On the 12th January I went! I made my own way to Heathrow and on the tube a girl sitting opposite suddenly asked me if I knew Ellen somebody or other. It turned out that she thought I looked like the mother of this famous American person. In the end I realized that I had heard of her but still can't remember her name. We had a nice chat about America though.

I flew with Icelandair and it only took 2 and half hours. This is my first sight of Iceland.

I landed at 4pm and arrived at my hotel at 6pm via the fly-bus and several other hotels. I found the Northern Lights tour was cancelled due to weather conditions. I ate at the hotel for convenience and cheapness as only about £10 for all-you-can eat buffet of hot dish, 2 kinds of delicious home-made soup and home made breads plus salad, pasta dishes, fruit and skyr which is like yoghurt. Not forgetting endless tea which is an essential for me.  My hotel - The Cabin, was basic and my room small but clean and comfortable and as I was reminded, luxurious for somebody used to youth hostels!

Friday, 2 January 2015

Natural History Museum

 On Monday I went up to London to my friend V and her son A to take him to a museum. I had suggested the science museum but it turned out he wanted to see the dinosaurs and thought that's where they were. So that is why we ended up queuing for half an hour to get into the Natural History Museum.  I have been there so many times and never had to queue for even 1 minute. It has changed so much since I last went when as you walked in was the huge dinosaur. Anyway we found some dinosaurs and A happily joined in the drawing activity then we had to queue for another half an hour to get into the dinosaur exhibition then carry on queuing as we walked across a bridge through the display of roaring dinosaurs. The museum was absolutely packed so that is what it is like in the school holidays! The mammals section was less crowded and we had to convince A that Blue whales really are as big as the life-sized model.

As we left the museum at 2.30, there was still a huge queue so we walked along to the science museum just for a quick look and to check out the shop. On the way we stopped to watch a man dressed up making huge bubbles. A spent ages chasing after the bubbles with other children. I think that was his best bit! There was no queue at the science museum as no dinosaurs there!

It was an enjoyable day especially seeing V and watching A have fun. I was glad to get home though as our tube was packed due to 3 lines being out of action so everybody crowding onto the line I was on.