When we woke on Sunday morning, we received a lovely surprise to discover that the Easter Bunny had found us and left us all festive eggs in the mini-van – and each egg had a special message inside!
Mine said, “Sínum gjöfum er hver líkastur”, which means “The gift is a reflection of the giver”.
Not only was it Easter, but it was also Jana’s birthday!
Our first activity of the day was the experience we were all anticipating the most – walking on Vatnajokull glacier! We got kitted out with crampons, helmets, harnesses and axes. The harnesses are not connected to anything usually. One just wears them routinely so that one is easier to rescue if one falls into a fault! I had to borrow proper hiking shoes for the occasion. It was soooo much easier to walk, even before we reached the ice. I wished I had had them for the whole trip. Another item to add to the 30th birthday wish list!
It only took a short time to get used to walking on the ice, which is kind of like walking like a cowboy – with bow legs, bent knees and feet apart so that you don’t catch your crampons on your other leg.
It was fascinating to see the layers of blue, white and grey ice and ash that were between 500 and 1000 years old! It reminded me of a magical blue viennetta cake!
We also got to have a look in (and pose with) a crevasse that descended into the glacier about 20 metres!
After our glacier walk, we stopped for lunch. I had pizza and tea to warm myself up after becoming a bit like a glacier after walking on one.
Because it was Jana’s birthday, she was given a special apple cake (probably technically a tart) with a candle. She blew out the candle and made a wish, which she promised would make us all happy when it came true!
Dora told us the story of two Icelandic nuns who were executed, one for being a heretic who said blasphemous things about the Pope and one for having an affair with a priest (and committing some other sins involving communion bread?). They were both buried at Sisters Rock. Years later, flowers sprouted on one of the graves. The community assumed that the flowers were on the grave of the sister who had spoken against the Pope and she was exonerated as a martyr, given that the country is now predominantly Lutheran.
The waterfall we visited after lunch was called the Sisters Falls, named after these nuns. At Dora’s instruction, we filled our water bottles from the falls and enjoyed cool, glacial, Icelandic water, free of charge!
It was a considerable drive back to Reykjavik in the afternoon, but we had the opporunity to stop and see E15, the volcano which shut down the airways in 2010 and another beautiful waterfall, complete with rainbow.
I was feeling a bit stiff and tired by the time we got to the waterfall, so I did a bit of yoga surrounded by the natural beauty.
In the evening, we had a free night before we had to meet Dora again at 10pm, so we wandered down the high street and eventually decided on dinner at the Chuck Norris Bar, which was decorated with “facts” about Mr Norris.
On the way back to the hotel, I also found some Hello Kitty Easter eggs and claimed them for Adam in the usual way!
After dinner, Dora picked us up in the “good” minibus (which we had to stop and check for a mysterious rattle) and we drove to the bridge between the tectonic plates in order to see the Northern Lights. Before we had even parked the bus, we could see them. We were all so excited, fighting each other to scramble out of the car with cameras.
It took me a while to get my camera to capture the lights properly and it didn’t help that I could no longer feel my hands from the cold. But I got there in the end. And it was truly spectacular! The lights were pearly grey to the naked eye and viridescent when photographed.
We took a great number of photos and watched as the lights snaked across the sky. I don’t have the words to describe how in awe I was. It was like nothing I’d ever experienced before!
This was the birthday wish that Jana had made. It turns out that wishes do actually come true in magical Iceland!