We awoke early Saturday morning to begin the return journey back to the airport where our final-night hotels were. The journey would take us slowly backwards past everywhere we had already been, although one detour was on the agenda – Thingvellir National Park, where a giant waterfall was supposed to be located at the end of a giant lake.
We piled into the car and set off, with me playing the Sigur Ros music all the way as we sped away from the cottages. We headed back through the arctic regions of snow and ice, and through the extensive mountain passes, until we eventually hit the same service station we’d visited on the way in.
At this point, it was revealed to me that I was required to pay a substantial amount of money for the trip – not for petrol, but simply for food. It was not 2,000 krona as I had initially thought, but over double that amount. This was decided between certain people on Wednesday night, and they had waited until now to tell me the details – thus, my budgeted 5,000 krona note was rendered pretty much useless in seeing me over the last few hours on the island. Needless to say, this sparked up an argument as we drove into the national park, eventually ending with me calling a unanimous vote as to how much I was paying and to who. Not that I understood it all that well, but it seems the money I paid was not just towards the map and the four meals we had initially agreed – I was paying for eggs and milk for pancakes that I hardly ate or somethingANYWAY.
Thingvellir – Technically, we were only on the outskirts of the National Park, but it was beautiful all the same. I wanted to scuba dive in these lakes today, but remembered that I can’t, as I’m flying home tomorrow (the sudden change in pressure would give me DCS on the return flight!)
The argument made the atmosphere in the van rather awkward. The scenery was beautiful all the same around the lake, though when we reached the end of it, we found no waterfall. There were plenty of waterfalls, but none of them were the one we were seeking. Thus, we headed over a rickety old wooden bridge, and carried on towards Reykjavik through the mountains and lakes. As we approached the capital, one CCM student suddenly added a detour to the agenda of dropping by our old hotel The Capital Inn, claiming she’d left keys there. Due to time constraints, her appeal was denied.
We got past Reykjavik and dropped by the Blue Lagoon for the final shoot of the project – a few shots of the outside area where the water was blue with sulphur, and steam clouds could be seen on the horizon. Then, we hit the next town along – the airport town of Keflavik.
Martyn needed to refuel the van before he gave it back, and so stopped by a service station. Inside this station, he accidentally traded paint with another car, and then had two of his cards fail on him at the automated petrol pumps. In what we all claim was ‘the most dramatic service station ever’, we shot off and dumped the car at the airport in earnest. Sadly, we were not going anywhere fast – the airport was not dissimilar from Glasgow in ‘Tenerife Redux’ – 6:00pm on a Saturday, and whole airport was a ghost town. No reception desks, no shops. Definitely no taxies.
Martyn managed to order one to take us the Hotel Berg just a few minutes away from the airport. Only myself, Martyn, Becky and Ruth went to this place – everyone else went elsewhere. The plan was to go for a meal that evening to celebrate, but I knew I was out of money thanks to the events in the van. Thus, after we stopped by a cafe and I’d had a cheap-and-cheerful chicken pasta dish, I vowed to pay by card – true to form, the card was denied. Martyn was well-prepared enough to cover half my bill thankfully – it is amazing how few cards work here in Iceland. It is entirely luck of the draw whether an ATM accepts it or denies it, and this is true with every restaurant, every cafe, every petrol pump and every bank machine (even the ones in the airport). For an island dependent on tourism, you’d have thought they’d have sorted this issue.
Thankfully, Martyn’s choice of the Hotel Berg was a good one – it was big, well-kept, and the staff were very friendly. He uploaded the last of the videos to his hard drive, and I started blogging, whilst Ruth and Becky indulged in some ‘r and r’ in a hot tub outside. I then got a knock on the door about thirty minutes later – the auroras were happening again, this time over Keflavik. This time I was much more relaxed about it – I set up my stop-motion camera quickly, and took several other photos using the Canon 5D, creating higher quality shots than before. If there was any doubt or argument about seeing them before, there sure wasn’t now – these lights were visibly green as they snaked over the town and out towards Reykjavik and the ocean. It was much-needed morale boost for me – it gave me the little push I needed to finish blogging and get to bed.
Boom – This second round of auroras sealed the deal. I have seen the Northern Lights, and with them, a piece of my life is now over. I am well and truly into my own existence on this planet now. I even got a little video of them!