* Originally posted September 2016 - please ignore the awful watermark*
At the end of March, myself and some of the other Marine and Natural History photography students from Falmouth Uni took a trip to Iceland. It was one of the best trips of my life.
We flew with Icelandair (who I thought were a brilliant airline with charging sockets and film screens available even though it was a pretty short flight) and landed in Keyflavik airport at about 4.30pm UK time. Iceland are an hour behind.
As we landed quite late into the afternoon we got the coach straight to the hotel, unpacked and had the evening to do what we liked. The hotel we stayed at was 22 Hill Hotel, a perfectly adequate hotel with very comfy beds so it made our stay enjoyable.
A group of us headed out into Reykjavik to explore what the city had to offer and to get some dinner. One thing I will never get over is the pricing in Iceland. I had a pizza and a coke and it came to the equivalent of £19! Iceland's currency is Krona and most things are priced in the thousands so trying to work out how much things were in British pounds was pretty confusing!
So the second day of the trip, but our first full day in Iceland was extremely jam packed. We woke up to snow which was a lovely sight as I haven't seen snow in a couple of years. Unlike the UK where if it snows everything pretty much stops, Iceland just carries on with life. Winter tyres are mandatory from November until April in Iceland so driving on roads with snow and ice on isn't as problematic as it would be in places such as the UK. Anyway, back to the trip, we were taken on a Golden Circle tour around the south west of Iceland.
The first stop was Thingvellir National Park. A very interesting and beautiful place where you can be stood in between the American and Eurasian plate. Due to the snow i think it made it extra special.
The next stop was the Geysers. For those of you who don't know what that is, it's a geothermal field with a history dating back around a thousand years. The main attraction at the Geyser Site is the lively Strokkur which sends water 30 meters up into the air every few minutes.
It was interesting to see, especially when you focused right into where the water shot up, as just before it happened you could see a huge bubble seem to merge from the ground and then the water shoot out.
As it is a very cold place to visit, they luckily had a big gift shop and restaurant where you could go and warm up. Expensive was an understatement for things in the shop but that was to be expected.
The third stop on the Golden Circle tour was Gullfoss Waterfall located in the canyon of the Hvítá river.
It was absolutely freezing, I don't think i've ever been that cold in my life. I could barely move my fingers so trying to control a camera was hard.
Unfortunately it was quite overcast and the path to get closer to the waterfall was shut however we still had amazing views.
The Golden Circle tour was over and so we hopped on the coach and headed back towards Reykjavik.
On the way back we came across some Icelandic Horses which were gorgeous.
We were also lucky enough to stop on a road that was the perfect location so we got some great shots of the mountains in the distance.
These two photos I am really happy with. When I look back at them I feel so lucky to have been able to see this view and be there.
Day 3 has to be one of the best days of my life. I got to experience 2 things, a lot of people would dream to do and see.
The morning we were free to do what we wanted to so two friends and I decided to go and explore more of a Reykjavik. Not far from the hotel was the coast.
One famous landmark we came across was the Sun Voyager, created by Jón Gunnar Árnason. It is a dreamboat, an 'ode to the sun'.
As you can see, the surrounding snow covered mountains are visible in the distance. It was quite a surreal experience as right behind us were tall building towers and the hustle and bustle of Reyjkavik whilst you faced forwards and had the calmness of the mountains and the sea in front of you.
We continued down the path along the coastline towards the concert hall. This is a stunning piece of architecture that I don’t think even pictures could do justice. It’s just as magnificent inside as well.
After exploring the rest of Reyjkavik it was time for us to head off for our dive. I was extremely nervous, mainly due to the freezing cold temperatures I was imagining would surround me when I was underwater. We were driven to the national park we had been to the day before and given a walk over of the entry and exit point. We got put into groups on capability and skill of diving ie. Amount of dives, Dry suit qualified etc. and then we kitted up.
I was dry suit qualified so that didn’t faze me as I’m used to diving in one but what scared me was my diving capability as I hadn’t dived in months!
As soon as I got into the water though my doubts disappeared and everything I had learned came flooding back. What was reassuring too was that we weren’t diving deep at all, 12m at most.
I had only ever dived in British waters, and when I say that I mean a lake behind Heathrow airport and a quarry in Wales…so bad visibility I was used too. Being able to dive in Iceland though blew my mind. The visibility was INSANE. 100m vis and the only thing stopping it being any further were the rocks being in the way!
It was the simplest dive I’ve ever done as you couldn’t really go wrong. You dive between two tectonic plates so the only way to go is up, down or forward. Below is a photo of a fellow diver and myself. (I'm on the right!) and then below that another photo of me (the typical diving shot!) taken by the guide.
I could have done exactly the same dive again but after getting out the water, it was waaaay too cold! Only a few people got back in whilst the rest of us got changed and drank hot chocolate in a warm mini bus!
We got back to the hotel at about 8pm Icelandic time and had two or three hours to get ready, eat and head out again to see the Northern Lights. Being the typical British girls we are, my roommates and I decided to order Dominoes whilst we got the chance!
After being frozen for hours earlier in the day I literally put on every single piece of clothing I had brought with me in preparation to be stood outside in the middle of the night for a few hours.
We packed onto the coach, all covered up in scarves, coats and gloves and headed towards the national park. About 15mins out of Reykjavik, we pulled over as the Northen Lights were visible and we wanted to capture anything we could in case it was all we saw for the night.
After, we headed further towards the National Park. We parked up on the side of the road for the second time just as the sky seemed to erupt! It was the most incredible site I’ve ever truly seen. Honestly I will never forget what I witnessed and the sky just lighting up with the most gorgeous colours. We all just stood there speechless. I didn’t even take a photo for about 5 minutes because I was just staring at the sky.
Our last stop on the Northern lights excursion was the national park we had dived at earlier in the day. We parked by a lake and for a good couple hours just shot photo after photo. It was the best night ever.
Some of the photos I am so proud of.
The next day we had a Whale watching trip. For some reason the images have been lost but to be honest all I got was the tip of the humpback whale! There were other boats around us so trying to judge where the whales were going to come up was pretty hard.
This was the boat trip 'get up'!
Once back, we had the rest of the day to do what we wanted and so a few of us went to the Penis Museum (...it was so strange haha) and then went for dinner.
Our final day was our free day where we could do whatever we wanted. Some people hired cars and went exploring some more of Iceland, some rode ponies, and some,like us, just wandered around the local area as we weren't old enough to drive there even though we had licenses.
We explored Reykjavik, went to the cathedral, the park etc and had a lovely day. The night, on the other hand, consisted of most of us getting very drunk!!!
Waking up probably still drunk, we went down for breakfast..not that I could stomach food as I was in a fragile state, then went back and packed. We visited the black beaches and then headed to the Blue Lagoon. The BEST hangover cure ever!!!
I made a video of the trip, all shot on my GoPro Hero 4 which is up on YouTube:
It's taken me 6 months to write this but it's finally up!!!
I start back at uni so I will be a busy bee with uni work however I have just returned from Italy and so a blog post on that will follow soon (hopefully!)
#iceland #travel #explore #abigailhobbsphotography #falmouthuniversity #mnhp #diving #padi