Category Archives: Iceland

Fire and Ice-Land 3 (Dancing Lights)


Day 3 in Iceland and the weather was still occasionally sunny but mostly snow stormy.  Any hope of catching a glimpse of the fabled northern lights seemed to be all but lost as all northern light tours had been cancelled for 7 consecutive days on account of poor visibility and driving snow.

We consoled ourselves by hiring a Superjeep  tour up to Langjökull glacier to do snowmobiling and to visit a man made ice cave.  Along the way, there were stops to look at some of Iceland’s thermal pools, a rather pretty though small waterfall and a pit stop for lunch.

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Mrs. Squirrel obscuring the view of the pretty Hraunfossar waterfall.

Along the way, there were a few cars that had got stuck in the snow and we stopped to render some assistance.  We were very glad to be in a Superjeep with huge tyres and retractable spikes which carried us steadily through the worst of the snow and weather.

And when we reached on top of the glacier, it was time to switch to the snowmobile.

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Our two snow conquering chariots!
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We had to bundle up in special snow suits, wear helmet, visors and get instructions.

Well, getting dressed up for the snowmobile ride was a thorough workout in itself and we were sweating from the exertion and glad to be out in the cold so that we could cool down.  There were 14 of us and we paired up to drive 7 snowmobiles.  Of the 7 drivers, only one had driven a snowmobile before.

Let me just say that it was not easy to drive.  I certainly found it hard to control, requiring a lot more strength and throwing around the body weight to get the machine to turn.  And when I managed to turn it, it would over extend in that direction and I would have to compensate in the other direction.  We were told to follow behind the guide in the lead snowmobile but we were all struggling to do that.

We were also facing driving snow and bitter cold, poor visibility and fresh loosely packed snow which made it easy to capsize the machine if we strayed too much to the edge of the packed trail.  The journey was supposed to take about 15 minutes to the cave entrance but it took us more than 30 minutes.  During that time, one snowmobile sunk about 2 feet into the soft snow and had to be dug out.  Except for two snowmobiles, the rest all had exciting moments when the machine tipped over trapping driver and passenger underneath.

It happened to me and Mrs. Squirrel.  I wandered too much to the side and the machine toppled over and slid down a small slope.  Both my wife and I were pinned down by the 350 kg machine.  From our prone position, we could see nothing at all and could only hope that the guides would notice we were missing and could here our feeble cries for help.  Eventually, they showed up and got us out of there.

Finally, we made it to the ice cave and I took out my camera from my backpack only to find that it had not fared well from the snowmobile ride.   The cold had completely caused my camera battery to be drained out.  So all the photos in this post is courtesy of my traveling companions.

We were joined by another group that had come up by monster wheeled buses.  “You mean we could have done the trip in comfort?”  One of my group tried to trade our return snowmobile ride for a spot  on the bus but there were no takers.

During the tour of the cave, we were shown the “chapel”.  The guide explained that the acoustics were particularly good here and asked for a volunteer to test it out.  The rest of the cowards nominated me to do it.  And so I found myself giving a rendition of “Amazing Grace” inside a glacier.

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Singing “Amazing Grace” in the ice cave chapel.

When we got back to the base camp on the glacier to put away the snowmobiles and to get out of the snow suits, I asked my driver how I could get a refund for the northern light tour that I had previously booked with Superjeep for my first night in Iceland.  Now Superjeep and some other tours allow clients to go on a second tour at no extra charge if the first trip was cancelled or the northern lights were not seen.  However, the weather had been so bad and the forecast was for more of the same, that I had given up hope.

To my surprise, our driver, Loji, thought there was a chance that the tour would go ahead that night.  He called his office, consulted with them and then proposed to take us out that same night.  I really was skeptical given the weather conditions but decided I would regret not trying and so our whole group agreed to go northern light hunting.

Loji said that despite the snow and blustery wind, we just needed to look for breaks in the cloud cover where we can see the stars and we would have a good chance to see the northern lights.

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This is not the Millennium Falcon jumping to light speed but the view of the driving snow from the windscreen of the jeep and the reason why I did remained skeptical of our chances of seeing any northern lights.

And so we left Reykjavik at about 8.00 pm and we drove and drove and we drove.  Around and around,  Chasing perceived clearer skies.  We made a few stops when it was not snowing as bad and strained to see stars but most of the time, the sightings were brief before the clouds and snow returned.

To warm us up and to dull the sense of disappointment, Loji gave out generous servings of hot chocolate fortified with vodka.  That certainly made us more cheerful and a little sleepy too – it had been a long day.  Then at about 12.30 in the morning, Loji delivered!

We managed to see the lights!  It appeared like a light green ribbon across the sky. It wasn’t the brightest but we enjoyed it, taking pictures and just taking in the sight.  But after maybe 10 minutes the clouds came in and the show was over.

We were reasonably satisfied and we settled down in the jeep for the long drive back to Reykjavik.  But Iceland had not finished giving us a show.  30 minutes later, we saw an even better display as we were driving back.  We pulled over and enjoyed this spectacle for about 20 minutes, thanking God for blessing us with this experience.

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Hallelujah!

Next post:- Around Reykjavik.

Fire and Ice-Land 2 (Vik & South Coast)


We arrived after dark on the first day in Iceland and had taken the Flybus from the airport to downtown Reykjavik.  For future travelers, this is a lot cheaper than taking a taxi but there is the inconvenience of having to change from the airport bus to a smaller shuttle bus which then takes you to a bus stop near your hotel.  In our case, the bus stop was about 200 m from the hotel which would not be a problem if it weren’t for the driving snow and the slush on the roads making it unpleasant to be dragging luggage in the streets.

But bad weather is part of the nature of Iceland which one must accept. Still, it immediately spoiled our plans as the tour I had booked to go out that night to seek out the northern lights was cancelled on account of the weather.  Although disappointed by that, I immediately activated plan B which was to get a good night sleep and take off early the next morning on a long bus ride out along the southern coast as far as the small town of Vik.

Here are some highlights from Day 2;

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Icelandic Horses – these tough guys spend the winter out in the elements.  Descended from ponies brought over by Vikings in the 12th century, they are used in sheep herding and more recently for “tourist herding”.
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A short stop at the LAVA Centre and there was this interactive model of Iceland showing all the earthquakes and tremors that occurred in the last 24 hours.
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The impressive Skógafoss waterfall
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The black volcanic sand beach at Vik
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It was a wild and windy day!
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You could actually lean backwards into the wind and the wind would be able to hold you up.
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But the wind was also pelting us with tiny bits of hail which was quite painful.  The round ice spheres can be seen clearly in contrast to the black sand.
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These are the basalt columns at the famous Reynisfjara beach near Vik.  Oh, and the sun came out briefly.
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They told me that seabirds nest on these rock stacks but all I saw were @#!$%#* tourists!
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The beach can be dangerous as the waves are violent and rogue waves are known to occur which can drag you into the cold North Atlantic.  The last fatality was in 2017.  We were told not to go too near the waves and also not to turn your back to the waves.
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But, it could also be very romantic!
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The ends of the basalt columns in the cave.
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Another view.  Notice the icicle at the top?
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A good place to roost after a long day on a tour bus.
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We also visited part of the Mýrdalsjökull glacier.
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These guys were returning from hiking on the glacier.
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Another beautiful waterfall – Seljalandsfoss Waterfall.  In warmer times, it is possible to walk behind the falling water.
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Wait a while and you might get the place to yourself.
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This little excursion along the south coast gets my thumbs up!

Next installment will be about snowmobiling and an ice cave in a glacier.  See you then.

(All photos by LGS; please ask permission before using).

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Picture and T-shirt by idontspeakicelandic.com

Hi there honorable readers!

The squirrel just got back from one of his bucket list destinations!  I am sure that  the photo above of a T-shirt I saw while there will have tipped you as to where that is …….. Iceland!   So what part of Eyjafjallajökull didn’t you understand?  Will the smart alecks among you please enlighten us all to its meaning in the comments?  In this era of alternate truths, your explanation doesn’t have to be factually accurate but by Odin, make it interesting.

Yes, my missus and I went to Iceland, otherwise also known as the Land of Fire and Ice, the Land of the Vikings and more recently as part of Westeros and beyond The Wall (Game of Thrones).  Oh yes we did, and we did it in the midst of winter too!

And how was Iceland, you ask?  I quote my wife; “It’s Crazy Beautiful!”  The people were fascinating and friendly and the food fantastic – there are lots of delicious options so you don’t really need to eat the famous rotting shark meat or the boiled sheep’s head if you don’t want to.

Before I carry on, I must thank Terry for inspiring me to make the trip and also her practical advice.  Even though this is not primarily a travel blog, please bear with me as I will share about my experiences over the next few posts.

And, if you were wondering ……….. I did see the Northern Lights!

For now, I leave you with Asterix and Dogmatix as they show us that it isn’t so difficult to learn the Viking language.

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Keeping Warm on Winter Nights


Life has been rather busy lately.  I have a surprising amount of work to do for a beach bum.  Also I seem to be having writer’s block.  Okay, actually I am just too lazy to post anything original as I have been busy typing papers these last few days.

So, allow me to share with you this video which I unearthed after detailed research as a service to romantics around the world and to increase global understanding of our friends from the land of perpetual ice.