Iceland Airwaves: Day One (Hjálmar, Northern Lights, Tapas Barinn and more)

My first day in Iceland felt like almost never-ending day, but still a fantastic one. Arriving in Iceland after the nice seven-and-a-half hour flight I was exhausted, but I was ready to start getting down to business. After taking taking a bus from the airport, checking into our hotel, and trying not to sleep, we then took a walk around Reykjavik to get familiar with the beautiful city. Walking around downtown with snow-capped mountains just across the ocean is a view that will stay in my head for years to come.

The next thing we did got my reenergized for the long night ahead. We headed to the Sundhöll Reykjavikur Swimming pool, a natural heated pool, two hot tubs, and a sauna. After swimming a few laps and hopping into the hot tub, I was a new man. I worked up an appetite swimming, so I decided to grab one of the famous Icelandic hot dogs, and they do not disappoint. Move over Chicago dog, I think Iceland has you beat. The meal had a  perfect combination between the hot dog, the remoulade, the sweet mustard, and of course the cronions, which are a deep fried crunchy chopped onion. Lets just say that will not be the last time I eat at Bæjarins beztu Pylsur hot dog stand this weekend.

With a full stomach the group made the few block walk to the KEX Hostel, also the spot where KEXP radio station was broadcasting live from. Hjálmar, a reggae group from Iceland, was playing and they’re heavy on the brass. Their set was just the thing to get people moving, but I wish it lasted longer.

At Tapas Barinn for dinner I tried puffin, and loved it. It had such a great salty taste, and the blueberry sauce to go with it was a perfect touch. Only staying at dinner for a few minutes was a drag, but leaving and taking a chance on seeing the Northern Lights was totally worth it. I got on a bus and drove the hour to a remote part outside Reykjavík. At first nothing was happening and I thought I wasn’t meant to see the lights, but I was wrong. Slowly the lights began to shine a faint green color and stayed like that for a while, but 30 minutes later the green lights slowly danced across the Icelandic sky.

Started as just a faint white band, easily mistaken for a cloud, the lights were now glowing a beautiful vivid green that now could not be mistaken for anything else other than the Northern Lights. The single band in the sky then started to break into smaller bands, and it was looking like the show was over. Many onlookers went back into the bus to get some shelter from the intense cold. We stayed parked, looking at the sky to see if the lights would come back into view, and they did. The lights were now the brightest of the night, and now the bands of light moved throughout the sky, looking like they were falling into the horizon. The streaks of green light would stretch into a pattern that resembled a tall forest of trees. This one one of the most spectacular things I have ever seen in my life.Our tour guide said that most sightings of the Northern Lights are 2 on a scale of 1 to 10, but tonight she rated our lights as a 5 out of 10. I fought through the cold and the whistling wind to enjoy something I may not see for a very long time (or possibly ever again). The photo does not do them justice. I hopped back on to the bus in shock and headed back to the hotel. My first day in Reykjavík was absolutely incredible. I can’t wait to see what tomorrow brings.

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