As a wee birthday treat we decided to go away for the weekend to distract me from the fact that I am an even older grumpier git and half a decade away from 40.
So with the Friday off work we jumped on the plane from Glasgow and two hours later touched down in Iceland.
We checked into the hotel and dumped the bags in the room and then headed down to the excursions desk to book some trips.
As part of the package we had a free Northern Lights trip and the women at the desk suggested we go tonight as this was the best night according to the forecast.
We parted with cash for some other trips and headed out for quick bite to eat before getting on the bus and driving into the middle of Icelandic know-where.
The moon was full and bright which was not ideal, we stopped at a parking spot and we were told what to look for as we headed out into the cold.
After about an hour of playing with the camera and seeing nothing we jumped back into the bus.
Just as we were about to leave there was a faint show off to our right so we all jumped off the bus again jostling for the best tri-pod spot.
on a 60 second shutter you can see a lot more than you could see with the naked eye.
Happy we all jumped on the bus and headed back to the warm hotel and to bed as it was passed midnight.
The alarm went off at 7:30 am and we woke and got dressed in many layers of Merino and soft shell.
The bus picked us up at 8:30 and we changed busses at the central bus station for our excursion.
We headed North East towards Pingvellir national Park, it was still dark and the colours in the clear sky were mesmerizing to the point it managed to prevent me from doing my usual drifting off to sleep.
We stopped at the Lake at Ping Vallavatan to see the fault line where the plates ar colliding.
It was good timing as the sun was about to break the horizon line.
It’s only when you stand on a point like this that you actually appreciate what your Geography teacher was trying to teach you all those years back !
The rock is lava rock like we use on our gas Bar b Q’s and the fault line is getting bigger and bigger and as it does the water fills the gap.
There is also smaller faults that open up to display further layers of rock.
Photos taken and the cold starting to sink in we headed back to the bus.
As we passed the visitors centre I paused to look at the reflection in the window.
I could not resist, the arty farty side of me coming out in me !
Back on the bus we thawed out and continued through some amazing countryside.
We had another stop at the Gulfoss Waterfall, this time we had a bit more time to stretch our legs and walk to the view-point.
Despite the sun getting higher in the sky it was still cold, we paused for a quick photo before legging it back up the steps towards the café for a cuppa.
After a nice hot coffee we headed back to the bus, I had just enough time to admire some of the transport in the car park.
And of course if thats not green enough for you and you are thinking about getting the bus !
Back on the bus we continued inland towards the mountains.
The road was getting narrow and more covered in snow and ice to the point where the bus stopped and we had to get on one of the big off-road busses.
We headed up the glacier taking the NFA route !
The glacier is the Langjokull which is the second largest glacier in Iceland.
We had a quick stop off to pick up helmets and snow suits as it was -10 degrees Celsius on the top and with wind chill it would be worse.
On the flat we got off the bus and headed for our next mode of transport.
We thought about dog sledging but the lure of power and something different steered towards this.
After a quick briefing our convoy of snow mobiles took off across the glacier.
The wind chill soon sucks the heat from you and I found that my right hand was cold despite wearing the Helix Gloves.
After a quick stop and a stretch of my hand the heat was restored to my fingers.
The throttle of the snowmobile is big and my chubby little thumb could not cope !
Off we set again after the guide, it’s actually hard work controlling the bike in the ruts of snow and you have to lean the bike over.
God knows how these guys race them.
The cold air was biting at any exposed skin so buffs were handy as always.
Just as we were starting to enjoy ourselves we headed back to the starting point and back on the bus to head back down the glacier.
The sun was getting low in the sky despite it only being about 3pm.
Back on the wee bus we headed for Geysirs, only too aware of the fading light
We all yearned a hot cuppa but it was going to have to wait if we wer to get photos.
The whole area is a maze of boiling hot pools and bubbling mud.
We spent about 15 -20 minutes standing t the wee geysir, the guide was telling us how they worked and how to tell when it was going to go off.
After the first up and down of the water surface you get the mushroom of water as the steam blasts through.
Then you get the steam !
I could have stayed there for hours trying different settings on the camera to get the “perfect shot ” but it was cold and people wanted cuppas and then we had a deadline to get back on the bus.
The journey back was a dozey dream as I drifted in and out of sleep.
Time enough to catch a great skyline !
The evening consisted of a Seasonal Icelandic menu of 8 or so courses of all sorts of strange but tasty stuff.
Despite the small portions I was glad to hear that I had made it to the last course.
Bed called in a big way !
Next morning it was a leisurely breakfast and back on the bus via the bus station to go south east this time.
We were going to the Blue Lagoon.
Outside temperature was 0 degrees celsius in the water it was 35-40 degrees celsius.
We done all the tourist things like chuck white mud all over our faces to make us look younger and swam under the fake waterfall of hot water.
Julie and Tracey ran the extra metres in the cold for the steam room while I stayed in the hot water.
Thinking of it I should of brought the wee Olympus waterproof camera to get shots !
On the way out I walked round the lake outside.
It’s hard to explain how barren and rugged the land scape is here.
Evry time you change direction you have contrasts of colour between water, land and sky.
We did decide that any more visits to the bus station would make you cross-eyed !
We got back mid afternoon and after ditching the bags we walked into the city/town centre.
Being Sunday lots of things were closed so there was much window shopping (not enough gear shops if you ask me !).
We stopped for food and a beer before walking back to the hotel for a few more beers.
An early start (05:00) seen us getting on the bus for the airport.
Soon we were on the plane and heading for Manchester.
It should of been simple, we get to Manchester people get off the plane, people get on the plane then we fly to Glasgow !
We had to get off the plane walk half way round Manchester Airport then go through a security check again where people were removed of their duty free !!!!
Well done yet another massive waste of money and time.
Back on the plane and 45 minutes later we were in Glasgow.
As we circled over the Campsies there was no snow and a hint of disappointment grew in me.
Is that winter over ?
I don’t think so.