Iceland With My Mom Part Two; Vik, Aurora Borealis, The Glacier Lagoon, and More


Heather Markel, Best Selling Author, TEDx Speaker, Traveler, Full Time Travel and Business Coach

Svavar picks us up in the morning for our drive to Vik. We’ll be spending two nights there and I’m really excited to see the diamond beach which is something I haven’t seen on previous trips.

Exploring Vik

I enjoy the beautiful drive to Vik and mom and I head out to the black sand beach. It’s really windy and my hair is flying everywhere making attempts at photos quite amusing. After seeing the phallological museum, Vik kind of looks like it belongs there. When I point to one of the two classic Vik structures jutting out of the water in the near distance, mom seems to agree, lol!

Durres port

Mom and I at the black sand beach of Vik.

Our next stop is Dyrhólaey. It’s an arch with a hole that in many ways reminds me of the hole in the rock in New Zealand’s northland! There are stunning views out to the water, and, again, the wind is whipping my hair in every direction. Svavar gets some good ones of us. We walk around the viewing area, and then get back in the car and have a very special evening.

The Dryholaey arch with hole that makes me think of New Zealand…


Saying Hello To Aurora

As you may know, seeing the Northern Lights/Aurora Borealis isn’t easy. There are so many factors; how high up the lights are in the sky, how active they are, and, most importantly, the weather. Unfortunately, the entire week we’re spending in Iceland has been, and is forecast to be, cloudy. That means, no matter what lights there are, it’s a slim chance that we’ll see them.

As luck or fate would have it, our first night in Vik is clear skies! But, now, the second problem arises – what time can we see them? They are only moderately active tonight. I really want my mom to see them, it’s one of the main reasons I’m excited for her to see Iceland. We jump in the car with Svavar right after dinner, and somehow he finds a random road to pull off the main road.

We get out of the car, look up, and, as if by magic, the lights appear within minutes of us looking up! “Hello Aurora!” I scream into the cold night air. I don’t have my high tech gear and my tripod kind of sucks, but I get some photos, while Svavar uses my phone to try and capture what he can of it:

Northern lights 1

Mom and I enjoying time under the northern lights.

Northern lights 1
Northern lights horse

Within 20 minutes, clouds pull in, and remain, and we’re spellbound that we were in exactly the right place at the right time!

Glacier Lagoon and Diamond Beach

Svavar tells us there’s a high wind storm coming and he’s not sure we’ll make it out to the Glacier Lagoon and Diamond Beach. In the end, we go, but he warns us that it’s likely to be windy and rainy. In fact, as often happens in Iceland, the weather is actually quite pleasant. Mom and I walk around and realize what makes this area so beautiful is also somewhat poignant; these are pieces of glaciers that, due to melting, have broken off and made their way here. So it’s beautiful and sad all at the same time.

Despite this, the location is beautiful. We don’t have time for a boat tour, but it’s something I would definitely do another time. The landscape is surreal and stunning. Fragments of ice look like a mermaid, or a sea of mountains, and even an animal on the beach. I can’t stop snapping photos…

Edinburgh fountain

Just a man in a boat among the glacier lagoon.

Edinburgh fountain
Edinburgh fountain
Me as a viking

On our way back to Vik for the night, Svavar surprises us with a stop that becomes mom’s favorite place – Kirkjubaejarklaustur. (Say that ONE time, bet you can’t…) We walk around from one end to the other and can’t get enough of this place either! I guess that’s just Iceland – can’t get enough of it…

This was mom’s favorite spot, look at her smile!

mom and I at Kirkjubaejarklaustur

A Mad Dash Back to Reykjavik

Unbelievably, we’re soon heading back to Reykjavik. And, that wind storm that didn’t show up yesterday has decided to rip through southern Iceland today. Svavar isn’t sure we’ll make it back, but says we should go for it. We stop at the Skógafoss waterfall. It’s so windy I grab a fast photo, hoping my iPhone doesn’t blow out of my hand, and run back to the car. For much of the drive, Svavar is white-knuckle gripping the steering wheel, and I’m praying that we don’t get blown off the road. Even though it’s terrifying, it’s still not as scary as Albanian driving!

Too windy for more than a quick stop…

Mom getting the royal treatment on an ice throne as we walk through an ice cave.

Mom and I at Perlan museum Reykjavik

We make a fast stop at the Perlan museum. Oddly, I never went or even heard of it on my prior visits so it’s fun to walk through and learn about Iceland’s past, and even walk through an ice cave! Mom sits on a throne, and it would appear to be a precursor for our departure the next day.

After the museum, mom and I head to Fly Over Iceland. I expect it to be silly and touristy. Boy, am I wrong. We get strapped in to a kind of ski chair and flung forward and are thrust into the middle of the action as we fly all over Iceland. Complete with water droplets, shaking, and amazing views and music, we are both in tears by the end. It was riveting and well worth the high ticket price.

mom and I at Fly Over Iceland

Last Minute Must-Do Activities

Before we leave Iceland, I race mom over to the Sun Voyager sculpture which I think everyone has to see on their first trip to Reykjavik. We pose for a photo. And I completed my own mission – finding a missing troll. When I came to Reykjavik in 2015, there were a male and female troll in front of a souvenir shop on one of the main streets. This visit, they were both gone. I found the wife (they are apparently Grýla and Leppalúði, parents of the yule lads) in a souvenir shop close to our first hotel, but no sign of her husband. Finally, I come across him in another souvenir shop! I’m not sure why they aren’t together, but I’m rellieved to find they are still there.

Sun voyager me and mom
Sun voyager me and mom

We head back to the Fish Market for our final dinner in Iceland and have the tasting menu. It’s a lot of food, and delicious. We’re now staying at the Alda hotel, and one bonus is there’s a kind of hot tub outside! So, I finally get to enjoy the hot tub in the chilly night air. I head outside later and look for Aurora, but don’t get another glimpse this time.

That’s my Highland Cow, Fergus, watching over our dinner…

Mom and I head to the airport at some ridiculous hour of the morning. It is packed full, and we feel like sardines being smushed into a long line. Honestly, we have no idea what’s happening or if we’re even on the right line. I see an airport employee and call to him and ask if we’re on the correct line. He looks at my mother and says, “would you like wheelchair assistance?” we breathe a sigh of relief. We head to a different line, and somehow bypass the entire nightmare of lines and are seated in the waiting area within 20 minutes. But wait…when it comes time to board the plane, mom and I are escorted, not to the bus, but to a strange white structure. We enter, and it lifts up – it’s a hydraulic bus! They tell us it cost $1 million and there are four of them at the airport. Mom is being treated like royalty! (Now you see how that throne in the ice cave fits in.) We arrive to the plane, they raise the bus up to the front door, knock, and mom and I head right in. Wow! The perfect ending to our Iceland trip. And now we’re heading back to Scotland to make our way to the north.

Getting mom ready to board a very special hydraulic bus! We were the only passengers on it.

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