Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Returning to Reykjavik!

How many people are lucky enough to say they have seen the Northern Lights? What about twice? And by doing so visit an incredibly beautiful country that boasts the most northern capital in the world? Well we are very very lucky to say we have been enough privileged to do just that. Last weekend we returned to Iceland, to enjoy our wedding present from Lauren's parents. They booked us the trip as a surprise that we opened on our wedding day, and wanted it to be a second honeymoon of sorts - "something to look forward to when the reality of married life hits" were her Dad's words (ever the optimist eh?!). What they didn't realise was that we had already booked to go, and so after much discussion we kept our trip last November a secret from them both!

Reykjavik is a beautiful place. We absolutely loved it when we visited last year, and were really looking forward to returning - after our busy, fast paced trip to Marrakech last week, we wanted a holiday that would provide a relaxing break away from our very busy lives. It is amazing and slightly surreal to return to a place you have not long visited, and find that you remember exactly where everything is, how to get to places, and feel almost at home the second you land, such is the charm of Iceland and it's inhabitants. We also were happy to see the city was just as quirky as we'd remembered!

Single gloves speed dating

Us too!
Our hotel was beautiful - very modern, and was built around rocks that couldn't be removed, as it is believed that elves live in them! Erm…

Beautiful view from our hotel
We spent the rest of the day wandering round Reykjavik, taking in once more the beautiful place that it is. So full of character, charm and beauty, with the amazing snow capped mountains in the background,  it was very easy to spend a couple of hours just exploring the city as the snow fell around us. The snow also gave us great reason to stop off a couple of times for big mugs of hot chocolate!

One of the things I will always remember is the peace of the city at night, as the snow fell. There is something about snow that brings serenity, and this was certainly the case. There were few people around (at home in the warm most likely!), and as we walked down by the harbour and along the sea front it was wonderful just to be able to take a step back on life, enjoy the absolute peace, and spend some time reflecting on life, work, love, family, whilst being with my wife. The Harpa building is amazing, and we were very lucky to see it lit up in rainbow colours!

The following day we booked a trip to the Blue Lagoon, somewhere we very much enjoyed visiting last time. A geothermal hot spring filled with milky water heated to 37-40 degrees, the Blue Lagoon provides the perfect opportunity to relax. It's a very strange sensation being warm, and in warm water, but surrounded by snow and mountains! We spent around three hours in the lagoon, relaxing, applying mud masks, and drinking blueberry smoothies.

 We also witnessed a proposal, from a man who told his girlfriend he had asked a member of staff to take their picture on the bridge - he then got down on one knee and proposed! It was so adorable how it was set up so that the woman had no idea she was about to be proposed to, and yet the whole thing was caught on camera! Her reaction was genuine surprise and happiness, far from the pre-agreed reactions that come from public proposals where both parties know what is happening. It definitely filled us with warmth, so cute!

That night we were booked to go on the Northern Lights mystery tour (not too sure what is a mystery about it!), but as with every day in Reykjavik, you can never predict what the weather will do. Clear skies are a must, and having spent the day at the Blue Lagoon being rained, snowed and hailed on, we were sure it wouldn't be on. But mother nature was smiling down on us and brought not only clear skies and the go ahead for the tour, but the most amazing show of the lights that have been visible for a while. We were more prepared this time, taking with us lots of mini hand warmers and hot drinks, and wearing extra layers!! Plus had our camera set to the right settings, which I am so glad for, as we ended up with beautiful photos:

Our last day in Reykjavik was again wonderful, it is amazing how many hours can be lost sitting in a coffee shop watching the snow fall and losing yourself in a book. A pastime I am grateful to share with my wife, we can both lose quite some time wrapped up in a book! It was relaxing, peaceful and a real chance to switch off from any stress. 

We wanted to make our last night special, so decided to spend it at the Perlan, an interesting building that sits on top of four large water tanks that hold Iceland's water supply. 

 It holds panoramic views over Reykjavik, and sits quite high on a hill, so we took to opportunity to go and see the building, which inside holds a cafe, museum, viewing platform and water display, and then made our way up to the top floor, to the restaurant where we were booked to have dinner.

As we had prebooked a table a couple of months ago, we were given a seat next to the window. The windows offered beautiful views over the city, and even better, the restaurant revolves, meaning you get a constantly changing view! Visiting just before sunset meant we got to view the city in many different lights. It was a little unnerving at first, as the restaurant slowly began to move, but you get used to it very quickly, and the constant changing view outside was beautiful. We ate amazing food, with amazing company, and watched the sun set over a really beautiful place. It really was a perfect end to our wedding present trip, and we commented many times that the happiness we felt emulated that of our honeymoon; very apt indeed. 

Our first year of married life is already bringing many more adventures than we thought possible, and we are so incredibly lucky that we still have more to come. Exploring the world has always been a great passion of ours but not one we have ever managed to do much of, having not been on holiday for years. But now we are both working harder than we ever have before, it seems right that now should be the time that we also get to escape from time to time and find new, beautiful and interesting places. The only problem with travelling is that it gives you an appetite for more! I hope we never get bored of seeing new places together, but with my best friend and soulmate by my side, I very much doubt that is ever likely to happen!

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