Iceland Trip

Day 1 (Friday, January 30)

I woke up around 02:30 AM to catch a train to the airport. At Gardermoen I met with Audrey, Patrick, Hugo, Eric and Jason and we boarded the plane to Iceland.

On the plane I was trying to learn some Icelandic, and fell asleep with the audio course on.

As we were approaching Iceland we saw that it was covered in snow.

At Keflavík airport we made a quick stop to the tax-free shop where we purchased some cheap beer and other booze. Then we took the bus to our hostel in Reykjavík. Resolving the complicated booking took almost one hour, with each paying by card for their share of the room. The receptionists at the hostel were very tired after we finished.

After lunch at Pizza Hut we went to the waterfront, while doing snowfighting on the way.

2009-01-30 - Iceland Trip, Day 1 - Reykjavík Sólfar

At the waterfront we admired the sunset and took a group picture on the Sólfar (Sun Voyager).

Then we went to the Reykjavík city center, where we saw Hallgrímskirkja being restored.

We went back to the hostel to meet with the others (Bernd, Daniel, Steve, Jonathan). Together we went to Laugardalslaug swimming pool to relax in the hot tubs (and some of them were really hot). When we were in a hot tub with some Icelandic people and we were talking about the crisis, the Icelandic people got offended and left the tub. With us 10 in the tub there were 2 other girls from Nederlands and Finland and we began talking with them.

Eventually we left from the pool and went back to the hostel where we started drinking some beers and rum, and we rented 2 cars to go see the Northern Lights.

After we drove out of Reykjavík a snow storm began and it was too cold and windy to get out of the cars. But we got out for a bit nevertheless as it was quite an experience.

We moved to a better place without so much wind and we waited almost one hour for the Aurora Borealis to appear, but with no luck. To warm up we started dancing on the music from the car’s radio.

We got back to the hostel around 01:00 and we continued drinking. I went to sleep while the others continued talking. Around 03:00 Daniel, Jonathan and Hugo went out to check the clubs, and they got back around 6 in the morning.

Day 2 (Saturday, January 31)

Waking up around 8 in the morning I went to breakfast where surprisingly everyone joined, even the ones who were partying hard last night.

Day 2 - Open Road

We started on the Golden Circle road in our cars, making some stops on the way to take pictures.

Day 2 - Þingvellir 01

First we went to Þingvellir which was the first Parliament in the world (930 AD). There I almost fell down a snow-covered ravine while running to the group after setting my camera’s timer. Going down to the plains we were snowfighting.

Day 2 - Geysir 08

Next sight was the Geysir. The latino lovers were freezing and wanted to get back to the cars, but they began talking with a group of girls while taking pictures of them and the Geysir, and they didn’t feel the cold anymore.

Day 2 - Gullfoss 04

Gullfoss was close to the Geysir, and we stayed there for one hour taking pictures and checking the souvenir shop.

Day 2 - Viking Beauties

Driving back to Reykjavík took almost 2 hours, and all of us were sleeping except the drivers. We went to a restaurant for dinner. Audrey heard some French people speaking and it turned out that it was a friend of Patrick.

We went back to the hostel where we relaxed a bit, then drove to another place outside Reykjavík to see the Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis). We were already seeing it while driving and we were wondering if it was actually Northern Lights.

After passing through Hvalfjarðargöng (a long tunnel under the sea) we arrived at a good spot to see the Northern Lights (here and here). It was quite a sight to see it in real life.

2009-01-31 - Iceland Trip, Day 2 - Aurora Borealis

Using Steve’s camera and my mobile phone’s flashlight we were writing with light, and some cool pictures were created this way. Hugo wrote "Pura Vida" and Patrick wrote "Flamengo" (his football team) and he even tried to do a Brazilian flag (which turned out to be a mumbo jumbo of lines). Steve did a smiley face with a tongue sticking out which was funny.

Satisfied with our Northern Lights experience we went back to the hostel to celebrate and drink. Patrick and Jonathan were dancing a Brazilian dance. Almost everybody got codenames: Patrick = Patrizio, Alexandru = Alejandro, Steve = Esteban, Bernd = Bernando.

Around 02:00 AM we finally decided to call taxis to reach the clubs, and we were waiting for the taxis quite a long time in the hostel lounge.

The first group went to Apotek (which literally means Pharmacy or Drug Store), and me, Bernd, Steve and Audrey went to Vegamót where Audrey was meeting Peter, a friend of hers. On the way to the club we saw lots of Icelandic people in the streets doing some crazy stuff. In the queue we began talking with 2 Icelandic girls and luckily we didn’t talk about the crisis as these girls were quite tall.

Day 2 - Vegamót 02

Vegamót was a very good club to drink and dance, but eventually we moved to Apotek to meet the others and dance some more.

At 06:00 AM the club closed and we took a kebab while waiting for a taxi. Daniel began talking with some girls just as the taxi came and we all drove to the hostel.

At the hostel we were waiting for the breakfast to start at 07:00 to grab something to eat and go to sleep.

Day 3 (Sunday, February 1)

Surprisingly Patrick came in our room at 10:00 and woke us up. I wanted to go to the bathroom but somebody was snoring inside with the door locked.

Even more suprisingly was the fact that everybody was in the cars and at Blue Lagoon before 11:30, even though my group stopped by a 1950s diner to grab a hamburger and ask for directions.

It was quite a sensation to sit all day in a pool of hot water while outside was -7 C, freezing while walking to and from the building.

We put mud and white silica cream on our faces because it seemed like a thing to do. The cream stuck to the faces and inside the ears and it was hard to get off.

We were kidding around by removing our pants under the water (which was opaque). Steve almost got in trouble when a security guard told him "if you don’t want to spend time in jail until Tuesday you better put your pants back on". We were making fun of this a long time.

2009-02-01 - Iceland Trip, Day 3 - Blue Lagoon

Me and Hugo took pictures in the pool by being very careful not to drop the cameras.

We stayed at the Blue Lagoon until sunset, when we headed back to Reykjavík. Again everybody was sleeping and Hugo got his Taco Bell hopes shattered.

In Reykjavík we went to Tivoli restaurant for a good dinner, then we went back to the hostel were we were relaxing and watching the pictures from the trip on Steve’s laptop.

Eventually we all went to sleep before midnight.

Day 4 (Monday, February 2)

Around 04:00 in the morning some of the lousy backpackers went back to Norway, while the others had more time to sleep.

I got up and took breakfast in the hostel then went to the Laugardalslaug swimming pool with Eric. Getting back to the hostel I realized I still got the locker key around my wrist and I was running back to the swimming pool to return it.

At 11:00 our bus came to pick us up from the hostel, and we boarded our flight around 12:50, after a short trip to the tax-free shop to buy some Brennivin and seeing Patrick becoming a celebrity in Iceland.

We arrived at Gardermoen around 17:00 and we took the flytoget to Oslo S, where everybody went their own way and I got on the bus to Skien. I arrived there around 21:00 and went to sleep quite early.

Photo album: www.flickr.com/photos/alex_stanoi/sets/72157613308237309/

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