Aurora Borealis Comes in View
When we returned to Reykjavik after our South Coast photo tour, we roamed around the main drag, Laugavegur, looking for a late dinner. It was 9pm on a Sunday night so not many places were still open for dinner. We wound up back at the house to meet our friends and venture out to find Iceland’s famous hot dogs. A guide book directed us to Baejarins Beztu Pylsur in old town. We had been hearing all about these hot dogs which are a blend of lamb, pork and beef in a snappy natural casing. Toppings include ketchup, mustard, mayo, remoulade, and fried or raw onions. We were not impressed. Perhaps it was because of the buildup… I love hot dogs and was ready to have my mind blown. But I’ve had better at Fenway Park and at friends’ backyard BBQ’s. It was pretty late and the area was deserted but for a couple of tweakers (is meth a thing in Iceland?) so all in all, our experience was disappointing and uncomfortable. So onto the next thing…
Our group was hoping to see the Northern Lights (aka Aurora Borealis) but the weather conditions were a bit iffy. For great viewing, it needs to be cold, clear and away from light pollution. We read about a spot close to the city that offered a good view, without having to drive an hour or more out into the country. The Grotta lighthouse is a 15 minute drive from downtown and was pretty full of other people trying to get a glimpse of the sky. We got one of the last parking spots and waited. As the sky slowly cleared, we started seeing a greenish glow that looked like moonlight. The Mann was already taking photos and was able to see the lights more clearly since he was shooting with a long exposure. We kept popping back in the van because it was cold and very windy. By midnight, the Northern Lights were unmistakable and we watched them change shape. It was a great experience, especially when shared by a group of friend. I was surprised that we were seeing more of a glow than dancing light. I realized that the images and videos I’ve seen were either long exposure or on time lapse, which I associated with movement.
The lights started fading and some of us couldn’t feel our faces anymore so we headed back to the house to finish off our wine supply and get ready for the next day’s departure. The Mann woke up early the next morning to catch a glimpse of the few sites we hadn’t made it to yet: the beautiful Harpa Concert Hall and the unique Solfar Sun Voyager sculpture.
We definitely could have used at least another day to spend more time with the public art in Reykjavik. It is plentiful and varies from sculpture to architecture to graffiti murals and more. Our final stop was the Hallgrimskirkja church. It is a huge concrete church in the expressionist style and inspired by the basalt columns that form on the coasts of Iceland. There is an observatory at the top of the church where you can see all of Reykjavik below. It was a perfect way to say goodbye to this colorful little city.
Hey there, Greenland!
Keywords: Adventure, Architecture, Aurora Borealis, Church, City, Hallgrimskirsja, Harpa Concert Hall, Hot Dogs, Iceland, Leif Erikson, Lighthouse, Northern Lights, Observation Deck, Reykjavik, Solfar Sun Voyager
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