Weather was so clear today! We started our travels along the south coast and stopped at the infamous black sanded beach, Vik beach! It was apparently staked with a sign that said "sneaky waves" and posted pictures of tourists running away from waves. It was kind of funny, but also a good reminder to be safe. Felt kind of bad for laughing haha! Just a funny way to do a sign I guess! The rocks and caves along the beach are quite magnificent. I have no idea how rocks naturally form in such a jagged square pattern, but I guess God's an artist!
We drove to the Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyons and walked around real quick. It literally looks like it's straight out of a Game of Thrones scene! It's gorgeous. When we went it was covered in snow, but in the summer it's green beyond belief! We didn't get to spend too much time before realizing that our Ice Cave location was going to take longer than we expected. We emailed the customer service dudes and they basically told us that if we were late, the bus would leave without us. No chill. This was the moment we then realized there are very little policeman in the area, because we sped like crazy madmen (please don't do this) to get to our tour on time. We actually didn't get a ticket, then (thank goodness), but we did get one sent to us later on so please drive carefully!!! We didn't think we would make it, but holy moly we did, and holy moly it was ALL WORTH IT. The ice caves were gorgeous, and nothing like I had ever seen before. Layers of snow compressed together over time, with streaks of ash decorating the roof and the walls. When the sun shined through the top, the glowing blue that illuminated the cave was breathtaking.
Fun fact: we pretty much almost lost Tony in the tour. Not because the cave was big, actually the cave was very small. How did we lost Tony then you ask? He got swamped by a bunch of tourists who wanted to use his flashlight to see into the deeper "forbidden" area of the cave. Everyone on our bus knew his name, because both me and the guide walked up and down the entire cave shouting "TONY", no response. But don't worry, the tourist swamp eventually let him free. Now he owes us all drinks.
After all the stress of rushing to make our Ice Cave tour on time, we decided to take it kind of chill and eat our sandwich lunches (at 4pm lol) by the gorgeous Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon. We walked around, licked some glaciers (nbd), and marveled at the natural beauty of the moving floating blocks of ash streaked icebergs. The lake continues to expand in size as the glaciers melt, but the coolest part is that the lagoon will look different every time you come to see it since the glacier pieces are constantly moving and each one is uniquely patterned and shaped.
Meet the buds! Tony (left), Janae (middle), and me.
Above is one of those little off the road, middle of nowhere spots. The buildings were abandoned and everyone walked around and explored for a good while. We actually ended up taking a mental note of this spot, because there were no city lights anywhere nearby and we thought it might be a perfect spot to go catch the aurora borealis. And by golly, we were right.
I did not expect the northern lights to shine as bright or as green as it did that night. We kept an eye on this online Aurora Tracker that we used. Make sure to look for two things: clear skies (no clouds) and the aurora activity level. The tracker will show you where heavy cloud coverage is (green areas, the darker the green the heavier the cloud coverage), so look for the white spots on the map! Then to the top right under "Aurora forecast" you'll see the northern light's activity from a range of zero (no activity) to nine (absolute highest activity). The night we went there was zero cloud coverage and it was at a high seven for activity level!!! We were literally bouncing off the walls excited (okay mostly Janae was bouncing off the walls but we were all pretty stoked).
I realized that when people say the Aurora Borealis is "dancing", they really mean that it is dancing. The lights are moving almost every second, constantly changing shape, stretching into different areas of the sky. It's one of those things where you just sit down and stare and have an out of body moment where you can't believe what you're seeing is real. In that moment, I totally forgot about how cold it was, I didn't think about planning the itinerary for the next day, I forgot to stress out about life's uncertainty and our world's troubles (dude if you know me you know I stress easy), but for a split second, it just felt like time stood still. A momentous experience to check off my lifelong bucket list. It was also one of those moments where you look up and realize that God is a freaking creative artist. I had a lot of those moments this trip. Please. Go see these lights. Do it.