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Koysal Rahman, Social Media
When I was planning my trip back home, I had envisioned that Day 2 would be a chilled day where I explore the city and if needs be, a second attempt of
seeing the Northern Lights. I felt that I had explored as much city of Reykjavik as I wanted after the Golden Circle Tour. I realised on the morning that Iceland is all about the beautiful landscapes and tours exploring some of the natural wonders.
As people started to leave the hostel for their respective tours, I couldn’t bare the thought of wasting a day, booking through the hostel’s excursion website I found a Game of Thrones Tour. All the major tours had passed, it was 9am and this was a pickup at 10am. Perfect, day sorted. Thank you Iceland tourism industry.
I had my doubts about this tour thinking that it was going to be a cringe fest. Far from it. By far the most spontaneous and surprising tour of them all. I had no expectations but it blew my mind. The first moment you’re introduced by one of the Nights Watchmen. I wish I could remember his name but this tour guide was the best of them all – he made us all laugh with his sarcasm, and antidotes of information about the area. Yesterday’s tour I had headphones in, this time I wanted to listen to everything he had to say.
The first stop was to a farm seeing the horses of Game of Thrones. Horses were tiny, but we were told that with camera trickery, they made the hound look tiny with the horses. I’m short, 5’6 the horses were shorter than me. This isn’t even the best part. This farm had a dog. Already a win. This was no ordinary dog though. This doggo went by the name ‘Lord Charles the 2nd’ and he was in charge of the horses - A majestic little cutie. 10/10 would pet again.
We were given some facts about the horses and the role the played as well as how the scouts picked Iceland because it is the main place that caters to two types of weathers – snowy or a green landscape – a win win for budget reasons.
The second stop was Porufoss. Remember the scene where Drogon comes in and has a feast? That’s where it was shot. They shot in the summer where there was no snow but my goodness, the snow made the difference. You feel so small because you’re surrounded by huge mountains and a waterfall. On a clear sunny day, this place is incredible. Everything just fits, and falls into place.
Next was Þingvellir National park – the place where two tectonic plates meet. Also where the hound brings Arya Stark to the Vale. Pretty cool, but wear appropriate shoes not my trendy Air Force 1’s… Trendy, not handy. I was slipping all over the place.
The fourth stop Þjóðveldisbærinn Stöng. This is where Olly’s family got raided on by the Wildlings. Side note: I don’t like Olly. He deserved it. Overall though the place was very nice, and chilled. The best way I can describe it is that it’s a hut with grass all over it. Think of a real life version of the Teletubbies house.
The fifth spot. Yeah I know. Getting my money’s worth here, aren’t I? Hjalparfoss. It wasn’t in Game of Thrones but a nice waterfall that was round the corner from the previous spot. It was chilled and led into a small lake. It was a nice way to end the day, or so I thought… As we drive back home, our hilarious tour guide stops us at a rock museum – not as boring as it sounds. This museum had Dragonglass. Wooo. The museum is immersive in knowledge through rich volcanic facts, and Norse mythology.
That was definitely the last stop! Once, back at the hostel I checked the weather forecast and it was promising for the Northern Lights. As I was walking to the bus terminal, I could see above the street lamps, a grey cloud. Remembering the information from yesterday’s attempt “You can’t actually see the lights, what you see is greyish cloud moving unnaturally in the sky. You can see the stars through it. That’s the Northern Lights.” I take out my phone, open then app, and take a picture. I can’t believe it. I can see it. I see the lights, dancing in the sky. I run, run as fast I can to the bus station, this IS the night.
Tonight we visited another location, it felt like we were driving into the clouds, rather than away from the lights. The vibe felt different this time and there was a level of optimism in the air. Tonight we were told to TURN OFF YOUR FLASH! When we arrived at the location, we weren’t alone, there was busloads of people all looking up at the sky.
This was the whole reason I came to Iceland – I desperately wanted to see the Northern Lights and to take the perfect picture. As clouds formed and snow began to fall we desperately searched for open crevasses in the sky. I propped my camera up on a rock, and started taking pictures with my phone of anything that resembled an unusual movement. After a few moments, you could start to hear people screaming with excitement as they saw the lights appear, I quickly set the time-lapse on my GoPro* and left it to be, hoping I got it right. Nevertheless my phone showed me the lights in all their beauty, the green, blue and purple; it felt euphoric. I ticked off another thing from my bucket list! At one point the lights were even strong enough to see with your eyes, and we all cheered together, so happy we saw the natural phenomenon.
Our night came to an end, on the drive back to the hostel I started to flick through my GoPro images and saw something better than my phone’s pictures. I had captured that night, that moment multiple times. Little did I know that the following day when I looked at the images on a bigger screen this would be one of my proudest moments.
* GoPro Settings - Shutter – 30sec, Interval- Continuous, MP – 12mp wide, Spot meter – off, Protune – on, White balance – 3000k, ISO limit – 800, Sharpness – high