Rejoice in Reykyavik

The pursuit of the celestial fireworks is the bucket list experience that our travelers chose on an Iceland Tour in Winter. Yet you will make some cherishable memories on the days that we spend in Reykyavik, the northernmost capital city in the world.

Iceland

Sometimes the auroras can be so strong that they can be seen from the city. But for a more spectacular show we actually need to get away from city-light pollution for about 4km away to the Grótta lighthouse in Seltjarnarnes. Here you can by enthralled by the majestic northern lights in all their glory.

Iceland tours from Mumbai

We will spend the first half of the day exploring Reykjavik City and its attractions. Reykjavik is one of the smallest International cities in the world with a village feel to it. Its greatest landmark is the Hallgrímskirkja Church, the largest church in Iceland named after the Icelandic poet and clergyman Hallgrímur Pétursson. It took 38 years to build this unique architectural marvel designed to resemble the basalt lava flows of Iceland’s landscape.

Iceland tours Mumbai

The church houses a large pipe organ by the German organ builder Johannes Klais of Bonn. You can get some real stunning views from the observation tower of Reykjavík city and the surrounding mountains. The colourful houses do look like little Lego or Monopoly houses

Iceland tours

The city centre is very also very colourful and full of some quirky cafes, bars and trendy shops can be found on one major street —Laugavegur ( It actually means “Wash Road,” as it was the route to the hot springs in the olden days where many Icelanders took their clothes to launder!)

Iceland tour

Have a Kaffitár, the signature coffee made and served by coffee connoisseurs. The cafes are so popular that people come here just to hang out all day and nibble on the delicious bakery products too.

Iceland tours from Mumbai

There are many interesting museums here to see in the city but the most intriguing one is called the “Elf School” on Sidmuli Street in the east of the capital. The Icelanders strongly believe in their existence and can you believe it ….they have a curriculum of about the 13 types of elves in Iceland !! The school also studies Iceland’s fairies, trolls, dwarves, and gnomes.

If any of those interest you more you could take an optional tour of the hidden folk habitats with a five-hour class. Enjoy a coffee and pancakes with the school’s headmaster in the end. You will even get a diploma at the end of the class to prove you received accurate education in the affairs of elves. Now, thats  a degree to go home and gloat about! Expect the unexpected on our tours!

Iceland tours people

Back in the city we can also visit the Árbærjarsafn Open Air Museum which has more than 20 buildings which form a town square, a village and a farm. Most of these buildings have been relocated from central Reykjavik and it tries to give a sense of the architecture and lifestyles of the past in Reykjavik.

National Museum of Iceland has a permanent exhibition “Making of a Nation – Heritage and History in Iceland” and is intended to provide insight into the history of the Icelandic nation from the Settlement to the present day. The exhibition is conceived as a journey through time: it begins with the ship in which medieval settlers crossed the ocean to their new home, it ends in a modern airport, the Icelanders’ gateway to the world.

For the party animals, you might want to join the Reykjavik rúntur on weekends. Late in the night, after a few drinks at home, the Icelanders come out on the street, especially Laugavegur Street. Just follow the well-dressed and tipsy people and listen for the sounds of blasting club music. the party goes on untill the wee hours of morning and before heading back to your hotel dont forget the Icelandic hot dog – made of lamb and covered with onions, ketchup, mustard and a kind of gravy

 

 

 

Iceland : The land of fire and ice

Mother Earth adorns different dresses in different parts of the world by virtue of its flora and fauna, and in  some places due to the sheer lack of it.The more we travel on the road less travelled, the more we discover such jaw-dropping locations like Iceland

Iceland Mother Earth adorns - Meetime

Iceland was formed due to volcanic eruptions over the millenia and now has a plethora of geological phenomena to explore from hot spouting geysers, lava fields and geothermal spas to glaciers and frozen waterfalls.

Spouting Geysers - Meetime Frozen Waterfalls - Meetime

FIRE :

Volcanos :

Multiple eruptions over centuries have left their mark on Iceland in the form of the more incredible  landforms. This island has 30 active volcanos and the fire continues to burn! Basalt laden lava fields and tube caves, black sand beaches are particularly common here. Iceland alone comprises of one third of the world’s lava and this endless flow has sculpted the mountains and plateaus into remarkable forms that you really must see in Iceland.

Volcanos - Meetime

Geysers :

The term geyser comes from the Icelandic Great Geysir (literally means “gushes” in the local language). This was the first to be described in printed source and means a periodically spouting hot spring.It used to hurl boiling water up to 70 metres in the air. Later the frequency of these eruptions reduced and now has stopped completely for a few years. Nevertheless one can still witness the Strokkur geyser about not too far away, that hurts a 20 m tall fountain into the air every  few minutes. We also visit Haukadalur on our Iceland tours where the heat from the volcanos produces hot springs, bubbling pools and fumaroles emit steam. That’s certainly a sight to behold.

Icelandic Great Geysir - Meetime

The Blue Lagoon :

The fire that burns beneath the mantle produces many geothermal hot springs, rich in minerals and the waters are diverted into a glorious man-made lagoon surrounded by lava fields. We do believe that such spa experiences are essential any time of the year and definitely a stress-buster for you.So relax, refresh and recharge ..an evening of pampering to bring back that glow …and the view and painting -like setting of aquamarine and black is surely a sight for sore eyes … all in all such a bucket list experience !

The Blue Lagoon - MeetimeAquamarine - Meetime

ICE

Glaciers :

As the name suggests, this frozen island has the most awesome glaciers in the highlands and mountains. These are formed when the snow stays in one place for a long time and is compressed into thick ice masses with interesting patterns over centuries.

Frozen Island - Meetime

The most picturesque is the Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon near the southeast coast.The broken chunks of ice floating and shimmering in the lagoon are breathtaking and it opens into the sea at the black beach where seals swim in and perch themselves on the icebergs. Another priceless moment for the shutterbugs in Iceland.

Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon - MeetimeShutterbugs - Meetime

Glacier walk

Sólheimajökull or Svínafellsjökull are the glaciers where we take our Iceland explorers with a thirst for adventure for a Glacier walk. That’s certainly not a mean feat because the glaciers move very slowly due to the sheer weight of the ice masses and have crevasses, ridges and ice caves.We explore those too for that truly icy feeling !

Glacier Walk - Meetime

The melting of ice produces waterfalls, the most spectacular being the Gullfoss on our Golden Circle tour.

Gullfoss - Meetime

The list of “once in a lifetime experiences” in Iceland isn’t over yet. Thingvellir Rift valley where two continents collide and you can walk on the the ridge between the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates! Scuba enthusiasts can scuba dive or snorkel at Silfra where the continental plates meet and drift apart about 2cm per year! The glacial water is filtered by the porous lava and extremely clear so its a very popular dive site.

Thingvellir Rift Valley - Meetime Iceland Tours Scuba Dive - Meetime

Iceland …A destination brimming with bucketlist activities for you and me!

The Great Battle in the Sky – What are Northern Lights?

Leonard Cohen, the legendary Canadian poet and singer once wrote:

There is a crack, a crack in everything…That’s how the light gets in.

While the late singer was not likely thinking of Northern Lights when he wrote this, the song comes handy in explaining the phenomenon of Northern Lights!  Having guided over a dozen Northern Lights tours over the past few years, I find a common theme – almost everyone knows that they will see green lights in the sky – but almost no-one knows who put them there! In short, everyone knows the what, very few know the how!

So while you watch the extraordinary show called Northern Lights – here is what’s happening backstage:

The Author:  The Sun

The Great Ball of Fire up in the sky is not a happy camper. It is continuously spewing out radiation (called Solar Wind) as it spins around itself. This is nasty stuff, full of high energy particles – a few million degrees in temperature – and has the power to destroy everything that comes in its path, and yes, it come speeding down to the earth at over 900 kilometres per second. Luckily our satellites are able to pick up images of this happening, so we actually know when the Sun is mad at us.

Solar Wind

The stage: Earth’s Magnetic Field

Well if the nasty Solar Wind ever reached us, we would burn up instantly (yeah, it’s really bad) – however, Mother Nature likes us and wants us  to survive, so .. enter our saviour – Earths Magnetic Field – which protects us from this radiation. It forms a shield around us, and deflects it out

Earths Magnetic Field

Unfortunately no-one’s perfect, and neither is our magnetic field – it has, what Leonard Cohen would call cracks – scientists prefer holes – that does let in some of the radiation!! These cracks or holes are near the North Pole and South Pole.

The Opening Bell

The opening bell – Once some of the solar radiation enters through these holes, they hit the next line of defence that Mother nature has made for us – the atmosphere – with its gases acting as foot soldiers, platoons after platoons of Nitrogen and Oxygen and all kinds of gases,  ready to take on this invading enemy.    A huge battle ensues – the flares literally “burn” or “light up” our soldiers – but the gases don’t give up! They put up a fight –they use tactics – they move around, they come in large numbers, they come in small groups – think of a battle in one of the History Channel movies – it’s just that!

The audience – YOU

While the solar radiation and the atmospheric gases are in the middle of their fight, you, the lucky audience get to watch the whole battlefield from far away (to be precise, you are about 70 to 80 km away from the battlefield!) – and it looks like this:

Atmospheric Gases

So next time you come with us on our tour of Iceland and we see the Northern Lights, think of yourself as a witness to a huge battle – one that your army (the gases) cannot afford to lose! Luckily for us, they have won it every time! If we hadn’t won this battle I won’t be writing this blog and you won’t be reading it!

by Sameer Londhe, http://www.mapsandstories.com