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My Icelandic Adventures...A Tale of Fire, Ice & Ethereal Lights💕



Good Morning and Welcome to My Atlantic Life  🥰


Now, where on earth did I leave you in my last tale of adventure?…….Ah, yes, nestled amidst the rugged beauty of Iceland, at the enchanting Thingvellir National Park, or more correctly, the non-anglicized version - "Pingvellir National Park". But that was merely the opening chapter of my day…. a day that would be completely jam packed filled with wonder.


Where I left you...."Pingvellir National Park"


From the historical depths of Pingvellir, our bus tour journeyed onwards to the geothermal heart of Haukadalur, just north of the serene Lake Laugarvatn. This land is a haven for those who marvel at the Earth's inner workings. Here, amidst the steaming vents and bubbling mud pots, lie the “Great Geysir”—the very namesake of all geysers—and the spirited "Strokkur" geyser.

The “Great Geysir” mentioned in history since 1294, had danced through the centuries, quite the spectacle of water and steam. However, its performances in the 20th century grew more sporadic, with its last magnificent display in the early 2000’s reaching an astounding 459ft!

"Strokkur", in contrast, plays a more consistent tune, erupting every 5-10 minutes in a breathtaking column of water that soars approximately 98 feet skyward.



So, I was guaranteed to see an active geyser, but it was impossible to predict when "Strokkur" would erupt, so it took me several attempts to actually capture it on video.


Here goes…..😊



Steaming vents were all around us.....no wonder Iceland is a leader in utilizing geothermal energy




Even with all my layers of warm clothes on, standing in the cold, waiting for the geyser to erupt, I started to get a little chilled. Thankfully, as this area is often frequented by visitors, there were a couple of restaurants and a gift shop where the bus had parked - not exactly a surprise (a familiar setup—much like those theme parks where the thrill of the ride seamlessly transitions into the allure of the gift shop), yet, its predictability was welcome, a sanctuary from the biting cold…..and the bowl of soup I ordered, was not only warming, but it was also absolutely delicious – it was now time to find a quiet spot to write ✍️


My Yummy Soup!


On meeting back at the bus at the predetermined time, we were then off to our next destination, and what an incredible sight that was to be. We pulled off into another parking lot, and the driver began to describe "Gullfoss" (translation "Golden Falls") - where the wide, rushing waters of the Hvita glacial river plunge abruptly 105ft into a huge crevasse or glacial fissure. The driver also told us, to experience the falls in the best possible way, we should hike down a path that led to lots (and lots and lots) of steps down, that would take us closer to the waterfall. I most certainly wanted to get the most out of my brief visit, so off I set. It didn't take me too long before this magnificent sight was before me:


"Gullfoss"




To find oneself utterly captivated, standing at the very edge of where awe meets reverence, is to truly understand the wild, unbridled beauty of our planet. It's an experience that transcends mere observation, enveloping you in the raw power and inspirational majesty of nature—truly, it's nothing short of spellbinding. There I was, enveloped in silence, my heart and soul entwined with the moment, marveling at the spectacle before me.

As someone who harbors a deep-seated love for water—a Hydrophile, to be precise😉 , drawn not just to the vast, open ocean, but to the serene beauty of rivers, lakes, pools, and waterfalls—the sight before me was profoundly stirring. To witness this waterfall, partially ensnared by winter's chill, transforming its cascading waters into an array of bizarre and beautiful icy sculptures, was to witness nature's artistry at its most breathtaking. The way the water danced and froze mid-motion, crafting shapes both eerie and magnificent, was a reminder of the incredible, ever-changing canvas of our world.


Icy Sculptures...


Before too long, it was time to climb up all the stairs (not as much fun as going down!) and head to the bus again. At this point I'd like to say, that this particular tour was extremely well organized. At each stop there was just the right amount of time allocated to see the particular sight, to wander around the area, grab a coffee or a bite to eat, and to do a little gift shopping!




The Restaurant/Gift Shop/Restrooms at Gullfoss


One bonus definitely worth mentioning is the spectacular scenery that you can see all around you from the cozy comfort and warmth of the tour bus (and you know how much I love to be cozy!!!), as you are driven around this magical island. The land and seascapes of Iceland are incredibly unique, the island itself having been formed by volcanic activity pushing up the ocean floor above the water level, along with the history of multiple volcanic eruptions and shifts and tears in the ground, make for the most amazing place to visit.


So many incredible sights from the comfort of the bus....

(apologies for the camera glare from the bus window reflection)




More frozen waterfalls...




More signs of volcanic activity below the surface....loads of steam vents and geothermal pipes




Another frozen waterfall!


Beautiful Rivers...


People hiking along the edge of a volcanic crater


Frozen Lava Fields

Ice Fishing


On our trip back, the driver pulled off the road and parked for an unscheduled stop, which turned out to be another highlight of my day trip.... we were going to hang out with some wild Icelandic ponies!! And if something involves horses..... I'm all in!!!!!!!



Icelandic Ponies


These rugged little ponies are famous for their hardiness and ability to thrive in cold temperatures, which is just as well, as the landscape around here was pretty stark, with not much shelter. One little guy stood out to me, as he reminded me of a rescue pony, we had when we owned our horse farm.






*Digression Alert (if you’ve read previous blogs, you know I can sometimes get a little wordy when I digress….hence the warning!)











When we got Alan (his real name was Alchemy, but he had been called Alan, which is a really peculiar name for a pony, but just kind of suited him!), he had chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, as he had been kept on a dry lot with only poor quality, dusty old hay to eat, and judging by all the bones that he had visible, had been that way for a long time. With his mane and tail all matted, tangled and dirty, he was in a terrible condition. In fact, we weren’t sure he would even make it through the night his breathing was so labored.


Fast forward 6 months, a warm stable, blankets, bathing, clipping, some veterinarian care, good food and hay, 20 acres of lovely green pastures to graze on, 3 big “brothers” to look out for him and be his friends, and a lot of love…..and there he was - a happy, if rather chubby, beautiful little, Haflinger pony. As the Haflinger breed of horses is originally from Austria/Northern Italy, it too is a hardy little horse used to cold weather conditions in the mountains, hence their similarities.


Alan on the right, with one of his new "big brothers" Anthony


The big brothers, Nike, Anthony & Sonny, with Alan in the distance 🥰


Alan looking a lot happier 💕


*Okay, Digression over!


As the sun went down, it was time to say goodbye to Alan’s long lost Icelandic doppelganger and to head back to my hotel in Reykjavik. We had left the city that morning in the dark, and were to return in the dark, thanks to the extremely short number of daylight hours in the Icelandic winter of around 11am-3pm.


Alan's Icelandic "Doppleganger"


Wow, what a busy day - I had managed to see separating tectonic plates, geysers, volcanic craters, frozen waterfalls, lava fields and had even met what looked like my old rescue pony’s Icelandic twin, added to my late night before at the Frostrosir concert, led to me being pretty wiped out.


But remember…… I only had 60 hours in Iceland, and still had so many things I wanted to do. So, once back at the hotel, I grabbed a quick snack (glass of red wine and some potato chips) and an hour's snooze, before being picked up for my next adventure - and that one was most definitely a magical experience!!!


Back to my hotel for a snack and a short nap before being picked up at 8pm


Although I've traveled all over the world, I've never managed to see the Aurora Borealis/Northern Lights. As Iceland is one of the most advantageous places on earth to see them in the winter, there was no way I was passing up on this opportunity. Instead of booking one of the large charter bus tours that mostly all go to the same areas, I had done a little research and found an “adventure” company that specialized in small group tours to more remote areas. And, in place of a large tour bus, I was to be picked up in a twelve passenger Mercedes Sprinter van


For this particular adventure, I had armed myself against the cold with layer upon layer of clothing, topped with my huge, fleece lined Nordic coat. The plan was to be picked up at 8pm, embarking on a 7-hour sojourn into the mountains. Imagine, if you will, the kind of cold that seeps into your bones as you sit or stand under the vast expanse of a star-studded sky in the dead of night. It was exactly this setting I found myself eagerly anticipating…hmmmm.

Our journey from Reykjavik stretched along twisting roads, each turn taking us higher into the mountains. A pause in our journey brought a moment of truth; our guide inquired if any among us harbored a fear of heights. The reason? An unparalleled spot for witnessing the northern lights awaited us, perched on a ridge overlooking a fjord, shrouded in darkness with not a glimmer of light for miles, save for the stars above. The catch? We had to climb up onto the ridge…..which boasted a sheer drop off a cliff. An alternative was offered—a safer, albeit less thrilling viewpoint. I glanced around at my fellow adventurers, a silent consensus hanging in the air; no one raised their hand 🫢


Now, I must confess, heights and I share a fraught relationship, not with the heights themselves, but with the heart-stopping fear of falling from them. Yet, the promise of the ultimate view, coupled with a desire not to spoil the experience for the others in the group, kept me silent about my fears. So, donning my metaphorical "big girl pants," I chose adventure over apprehension, stepping into the night with a heart both tentative and exhilarated (and at times, very wobbly legs!!!).

All I can say is - that I’m so, so glad that I pushed myself out of my comfort zone, as this was one of, if not the, most spectacular things I have ever done/seen. This tour organizer was superb and had thought of everything - they had fold up chairs, warm insulated jumpsuits for those that felt cold, the leader of the group was a photographer, and not only took photos of us, but also assisted other photographers in the group with their camera settings etc. and to top it all, he set up a camp table with freshly baked cookies that his wife had made, a large thermos of steaming hot chocolate, and a bottle of Icelandic vodka (I waited until I had finished sitting on the ridge, and had climbed back down to the heat and safety of the van, before I tried the Icelandic vodka😉).


Traditional Snacks, Hot Chocolate and Icelandic Vodka....in the mountains 😋


That night, under the vast canopy of the sky above the fjord, I was gifted with a spectacle that etched itself into my very soul. Before the celestial ballet of the northern lights even began, the sky put on a prelude of unparalleled beauty. Never in my life had I witnessed such a congregation of stars, each constellation telling its ancient tale. There, amidst the hush of anticipation, I stood completely transfixed, humbled by the universe's expansive beauty.



🌠Starry, Starry Night 🎶


We spent hours perched on that ridge, our eyes glued to the heavens, when a mist began to form across the fjord. It seemed at first like a mere fog rolling in…. our guide explained that this was the first sign of the northern lights!!!


"Swirling clouds in violet haze" 🎶


And then, as the clock whispered the hour of 2 am, the show began. Words fail me when I try to capture the essence of what unfolded before my eyes; it was a dance of light, color, and magic that no camera could truly do justice to. The photos I managed to capture on my iPhone pale in comparison to the experience of witnessing this marvel firsthand. Yet, I share these images with you, alongside a couple of snapshots of me spellbound by the spectacle above, as a testament to the indelible mark this adventure has left on my heart.



I was truly spellbound...💕







My fear is rather well hidden in this pic😨 ....what you can't see, is the exceptionally steep gradient of the slope, and the sharp drop off a cliff just a few feet away!


This particular photo was taken with a good digital camera, as opposed to the others taken with my iphone


As we journeyed back to our accommodations in Reykjavik, the clock neared 4:30am, and the promise of sleep beckoned—a necessary reprieve, for my Icelandic adventure was far from over. My list of must-experience moments still had unchecked entries, and time was of the essence. So, I invite you to join me next time to discover whether I succeeded in conquering my "Icelandic Bucket List" within the whirlwind timeframe of 60 hours!





Until next time,

Take care

Love and Hugs,

Pam 🥰








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3 Comments


Iceland is such a magical place!! We were lucky to be there in 9/2021 and experienced some of the same adventures!! Love your pictures!!

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OMG Pam! From the frozen waterfalls, those sweet ponies to the northern lights-what a spectacle!

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Amazing! Thank you for taking us with you. I have seen the northern lights from northern Michigan and they were beautiful, but nothing like this. Someday...

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