And so began my last week in Iceland.
I’d booked a tour with a well known company to visit the southern areas of Iceland. It was extremely expensive but worth every cent. It was nice to meet new people and share some of my small knowledge about the country with them. The aurora was of particular interest to most. I like to explain to people that the aurora is like a cat: when visible, they’re amazing and you love them, but it’s always on their terms. Sometimes absent for long periods entirely, then they’ll scratch at the door to get in and a moment later, they’re demanding to be out again. Other times, they’re on your lap purring happily for hours. As with all things Icelandic, the aurora is capricious.
Our tour leader was a real character. It was like going on a road trip with Bill Murray, in both physical likeness and personality. He affectionately called us his ‘arseholes’ (in Icelandic). Oddly, no one seemed to mind.
We toured through the Golden Circle on Day One, visiting the tectonic plate meeting point between the Atlantic and Europe, Geyser and a few waterfalls, then headed to the south coast where we stopped at Seljalandsfoss, Gullfoss and Skógafoss, where the bus broke down. Luckily it was fixed and fine within an hour and a half and we simply enjoyed a nice meal at the restaurant in the interim. Back at the first hotel I endured the hot tub with a bunch of rowdy drunks and then caught another aurora display. They’ve been going nuts with the tear in the sun that happened about a week ago.
Day Two was the two Glacier Lagoons, the Black Diamond Beach and the Ice Cave. I’ve seen plenty of photos of all of these things and yet they still managed to outdo my expectations. Absolutely stunning all of it. It’s not obvious from my photos but some of those icebergs were five stories high and the ice really is that blue. Apparently, it’s caused by hundreds of years of compression. It’s pretty wonderful seeing the shapes they form and the lines of ancient volcanic ash running through them.
On Day Three we began the journey back to Reykjavic stopping first at a glacier on which we were to hike. It was fantastic. I was reminded of the old days when Sonya, Julian and I used to go rock climbing. I wanted to come back and do more. Being there and seeing the power of nature is awe inspiring. Once again, the photos just don’t give a sense of scale. After this, we visited the Black Beach and then stopped off at a little seaside town where we had a driver change. Those that opted for it stayed on to go aurora chasing. I stayed on to kill time before heading to the bus station for a transit to the airport. The aurora weren’t very strong that night, but I’m reasonably happy with my little churchyard photo. While waiting for the darkness, a few of us went into the bar directly behind the bus and I got chatting to locals. There was a male choir in town and they’d all just walked in after rehearsals for a quick dinner and drinks before the big performance. They sang all through their dinner. It sounded like a combination of soccer songs and poetic classics. Their voices were really lovely. That’s another thing about Iceland. They’re all musical and almost all of them can sing beautifully.
That night never ended for me. After all this, I was dropped off at the BSI terminal where I had a long wait before the first transit bus the the airport, followed by another long wait before my flight. Then a bus and train trip to Leeds from Manchester. 36 hours of travelling on next to no sleep wore me out.
And now I am no longer in Iceland.
I may post again of my travels, but the primary message was always just to describe my Icelandic adventure. If I don’t post again, thanks for reading and for your feedback. I’m glad I decided to produce this blog for you as it’s allowed me to reflect on the experience and it’ll be a useful tool when I head back into the Fremantle studio and start making serious work based on it all. Particular thanks must go to the team behind the NES Artist Residency and the people of Skagaströnd who initiated it. What a wonderful bunch of humans.
It’s been grand.
Takk fyrir and bless bless.