The Northern Lights and Lava Fields of Iceland

Posted by Anonymous
on Monday, March 19, 2007
 
The water plunging over the "golden falls," Gulfoss,
is from one of Iceland's glaciers. Laura Baird

I'm traveling on Astronomy and MWT Associates' Northern Lights and Lava Fields of Iceland Tour, in search of the aurora borealis. We haven't seen any northern lights yet, but we'll be out the next 3 nights, traveling in the countryside, away from city lights, to track them down. So far, we've enjoyed 2 days of fantastic sights around Reykjavik, where we're staying.

First thing after we arrived Saturday morning, we boarded a bus and headed to the Blue Lagoon. The Lagoon is actually run-off water from a geothermal-power plant. While we were there, it started to snow lightly, but the water is roughly 100°, so we didn't mind! The weather changes frequently here: We saw sunshine, full clouds, rain, sleet, and heavy snow, all in the course of about 6 hours.

We also toured Reykjavik, which is a unique blend of European and American influences. We were surprised to find such familiar things as Quizno's and SUVs and NBC's "My name is Earl" (with Icelandic subtitles) on TV. But the city architecture and interior design are modern and minimalist, and the city streets are replete with large sculptures.

The temperature has been hovering around 20°, but everyone in our group of forty has come well-prepared for the weather. Our outer gear was put to the test on Sunday, though, when wind gusts came from the north, the Arctic Circle. But we pressed on, touring all day to amazing natural wonders, like Gulfoss, the "golden falls," and a geyser called Strokkur, which erupts roughly every 5 minutes. Iceland has a rugged beauty like none other I've seen. I'm looking forward to exploring more tomorrow, when we head to the island's south coast.

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