Golden Circle – Þingvellir National Park

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Morning of another colder day in Iceland, we decided to go for Golden Circle Tour. The most popular destination in the Iceland, almost everyone who visits Iceland heads off to the golden circle, whether it is just a lay over in Iceland or a long trip. There is a well established road network on the golden circle which makes it easier to drive in summer months and a bit comfortable in the winter months as well.

We were happy looking at the weather from the window of our Air B&B accommodation, it was a bright & sunny day and were very excited to head out on to the roads. But as soon as we came out of the room reality hit us hard, it was sunny but it was freezing cold. Temperature was -5 degrees and winds were chilled as ice. We knew we might have to spend a lot of day in the car today.

Our first stop on the golden circle was one of the Iceland’s most popular park i.e. Þingvellir National Park. This park does not only have geological significance but it plays an important role in the history of Iceland. It is situated on the northern shore of lake Þingvallavatn, Þingvellir is the national shrine of Iceland. It is the oldest existing parliament in the world first assembled there in 930 AD. Þingvellir has for this reason been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Over two weeks a year, the assembly set laws – seen as a covenant between free men – and settled disputes. You can still see the fragments of booths where assembly was held.  It also have a Þingvellir Church and adjacent farm.

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Another popular destination in the park is a major rift, which has produced dramatic fissures and cliffs demonstrating inter-continental drifting is spectacular. People flock to this point to see a continental drift between the continents. The water is so clear between the drifts that it has become a hot spot for scuba dive and you can always show off that you swam or dived between the continents. I did not swim or dive in there, I could not have in freezing temperatures, but I did threw a coin between the rift making a wish to come back to Iceland and another one that actually came true 🙂

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Me and Ash are wanderers and do not know how we managed to walk all the famous parts of walk. I can still feel the cold winds slapping my face and knocking me off the ground. I think the urge to travel and see more just makes you do anything. Oh!! I miss Iceland now.

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Hunting for Northern Lights, Iceland

Comments 19 Standard

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Like many of us, I also had one item in my bucket list to see dancing Northern Lights. And I have been so lucky to see those lights dazzling and dancing for us for one night during our trip. One of the most amazing nights of my life.

The Northern Lights are one of nature’s great exhibitions: a mysterious, colourful show in sky when suddenly it gets lit up with green, red, yellow lights twisting and dancing around like disco lights. It is an indefinable thrill that can make anyone overwhelmed with humble feelings.

One of the many reason to plan Iceland trip in winter was to try our luck to see Northern Lights. They are active and mostly visible during winter months.  The lights are formed from fast-moving, electrically charged particles that emanate from the sun. These are driven towards the poles by the Earth’s magnetic field – their varying colors are a result of the different gases in the upper atmosphere. Mostly green because of the oxygen present above  us.

While in Iceland, me & ash had a duty to check the Aurora forecast after every few hours.  The day we arrived in Reykjavik, it showed the Aurora forecast as Moderate. From what I have read that Aurora lights can be a mesmerizing affair even with moderate levels. Me and ash were in Iceland only for 5 days, so we did not want to miss the chance of hunting the moderate Northern Lights as well.

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So we headed out for our first NL hunting tour [ Organised by GrayLine Tours – http://grayline.is/] , our guide drove us into the darkness, away from the city lights and we reached Borganes. After spending few good hours in the darkness and cold night, very cold, we finally left the hope of seeing NL tonight. Just when we were walking back to bus, something appeared in the sky. It brought the excitement, we waited another 15mins for that something to glow a bit darker. And the there it was our first glimpse of  NL, a very low light in the sky. It was not dazzling, but were happy to see something and returned back to our hotels.

We still kept a check on aurora forecast over the week, and to our luck one of the nights NL became active again. Again that night we headed out towards Thingvellir National Park, and to out luck NL appeared and they were just not beautiful ,dazzling and bright, but they danced  for us for 4-5 hours. We were happy as a kid, at that moment it did not matter to us that weather outside is -10 degree C, what mattered was that lights decided to appear for us and the whole sky was lit up in green. And these moments were captured once again by Ash and his love lens 🙂

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Some interesting stories/myths/beliefs about Northern Lights that was told to us by our guide;

  1. Many beliefs around the northern lights see the phenomena as a good omen.
  2. Lights were the gods of harvest and hunting.
  3. It is still believed that a child conceived under the northern lights will be blessed with good fortunes.
  4. On the contrary Icelanders believed that it would ease the pain of childbirth for pregnant women, but they also believed that pregnant women looking at the Aurora would have cross eyed children. [ I do not think so it is true, as I haven’t met anyone in Iceland who was crossed eye 🙂 ]

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