Lets get this exciting journey started.
I arrived in Reykjavik, Iceland after a 30 hour flight from South Africa. You could get here in a little under 16 hours on direct flights, however I opted for the cheaper latter. Long waits at airports meant extra time to meet new people from all corners of the world.
I arrived early evening at The Capital Inn on a night’s board of R280 in a 10bed dorm. I was welcomed by 2 Moroccan expats (Taha & Walid), One guy from Switzerland (Steven), A South Korean (Kate), A Slovenian girl (Sanja), a British guy (Ben), One American (Gia) & one French girl (Martine). 90 % solo likeminded travelers looking for their own adventures who were destined to meet. Life long friendships were forged as meaningful stories and experiences began to be shared.
As the days went on, we encountered a few other people that added to our story. Evening’s were spent in the Capital Crowd basement where we cooked our communal dinners and took pleasure in sharing and dancing to our favorite songs from our home towns. We created unique memories whilst we joined in celebration and taught each other how to sing Happy Birthday in our home tongues, amongst other rare words we learnt from these favorite gypsies. This is rather fun to do, and a first time experience for all of us. The Happy Birthday song is a universal language we all speak, yet sounds so unique and different amongst all these cultures. I would like to challenge you to try this on your next trip and send me a video recording of all the people you meet on your journey singing this in their home tongue. Lets start our own a cappella group of Happy Birthday Songs.
We formed a diverse team with a pool of travel expertise that collectively made our experiences. We were so tight that Taha created a private Facebook group – Capital Crowd 1012, to post our unique and crazy pictures from our trip. It’s private, because it got pretty crazy most nights while everyone expressed his or her individuality.
Drinking in Iceland, is a no go, and can be rarely afforded. Import prices and taxes make it one of the most expensive countries in the world to have a drink in. To put it into perspective, a bottle of Amarula in South Africa would cost around R89 a bottle, in Iceland over R1200. A R50 bottle of wine from Stellenbosch would cost on average R400. A pint of beer would cost you anything from R98.00. And that is their local beers – Viking & Polar Beer.
I would highly recommend buying as much drinks as you are allowed at their airports duty free prior to flying into the country.
Drinks aside, the people you will meet in Iceland, will keep you entertained for hours.
Most nights, as 11pm approached we suited and geared up for our evenings ahead in Iceland’s extreme weather conditions to chase the northern lights. 9 of us filled our 2 rented cars and headed to mountainous locations out of site of city lights. Usually our journeys out of Reykjavik lasted 45 min to an hour, but offered the best-untouched views of the northern lights. We stayed out till 4 in the morning most nights.
Steven and Gia were the best coordinators in establishing visibility of the Aurora Borealis and had a good understanding of the factors involved in viewing these like hPa numbers and cloud cover types; lower, middle & high clouds. I took one look at Vendur - Iceland’s preferred website for measuring activity and my lack of a geological understanding and degree thereof was to my disadvantage. My knowledge extended thus far “Does 4 mean we can see the lights?” .
Have a look at this in your effort to understand me on this:
By night 3, we all became pros & tour operators by acquiring Gia & Stevens understanding of the Auroras - To the point that I ran my own Northern Lights tours in Northern Norway – a country I was yet to visit. Only on arriving, did I realize I had learnt so much from these two incredible jet setters.