The Cold Truth

Dan and I enjoy a little travel here and there. Last year we decided (and by that I mean I decided and told Dan what he wanted) another trip to Paris was in order. Due to various work and family obligations, February was the perfect time for said vacation.

Then there was a problem. Airfare. Airfare had gone through the roof and was outrageously expensive, particularly for going to Paris in February. The only reasonable price quotes were from Icelandair. Seeing as I don’t give a rat’s behind which carrier we use (I am what is known as a price elastic travel consumer, for those of you who remember that econ class from 30 years ago). I took a closer look.

Iceland tourism has apparently been lacking, and in an attempt to boost the economy of the 12 people who live there, Icelandair started running these crazy sales to Europe. Icelandair was happy to book my ticket, and the digital assistant casually notified me that I could stop in Reykjavik on the way over or on the way back, at no extra charge. I thought to myself “what kind of moron goes to Iceland in February?” then I remembered that I am that kind of moron! So just out of curiosity I did a little googling on what one does in Iceland, in February, and discovered that it is a great time to see the Northern Lights. Well there you have it, bucket list item and here was my opportunity. I informed Dan that he had decided to go to Reykjavik for a couple of days on our way to Paris. He was shocked that he decided that but went with the flow because it’s just easier. To sweeten the deal I showed him pictures of some kind of world famous ice sculpture festival that would be taking place while we were there.

Did you know Northern Lights have to be chased? I certainly didn’t. I naively thought that all I would have to do is look up at the sky and there they’d be. Nope, that would be too easy. So the 12 people who live in Iceland operate SuperJeep tours to chase down the elusive Lights and push tourists out of the SuperJeep and onto a glacier so their dumb asses can see them. Being a dumb ass myself, I immediately booked a tour. And as long as I was booking stuff anyway, I booked a SuperJeep tour of Iceland. I promised Dan he had made a good decision.

Day one would be filled with a little exploring on our own. The first thing we discovered is that our hotel was located next to Iceland’s most famous and sought after eatery; a hot dog stand. How lucky!

Iceland's Best Hot Dogs! Apparently worth the wait...

Iceland’s Best Hot Dogs! Apparently worth the wait…

Except of course that we’re vegetarians. Oh well, on to the much anticipated ice sculpture festival! Sadly, we then learned that someone had gotten the dates wrong, and the festival was yet a week away. What had Dan been thinking?

But day two was more promising. A super warm SuperJeep picked us up at the hotel and off we went. We stopped at a waterfall and I sent Dan out into the frigid conditions to take pictures so I could see everything just as if I had been there.

I'll stay in the SuperJeep, thanks

I’ll stay in the SuperJeep, thanks

According to Dan, we made lots of interesting stops throughout the day while I stayed in the warm SuperJeep. I’ve seen the pictures-it all looks beautiful!

Waterfall with less wind, ice and snow

The weather kept getting worse though. And by worse I mean white-out blizzard conditions and sub-zero temperatures. Who could anticipate those conditions in Iceland in February? I soon became very alarmed that I couldn’t see where the driver was going. I mentioned, super casual, that I feared for my life, and the driver and Dan laughed at me and told me I was being ridiculous. I pointed out that absolutely everything was white-the road, whatever was next to the road, the air, the sky—and the driver assured me that he knew these roads like the back of his hand.

Umm, where did the road go?

Umm, where did the road go?

And so I prepared to die. I got a little sad thinking that I would die in a SuperJeep in the middle of a foreign country, in a blizzard, and it would probably be spring before anyone found our bodies. [Spoiler alert: this did not happen].

Dan told me I was not only being ridiculous but outrageously dramatic too. Fine I thought to myself; when we’re all dead he will have to admit I was right. I spent some time feeling smug and forgot to fear for my life and before I knew it we were back at the hotel. Of course death still loomed large because in just a couple hours we were scheduled to go back out to chase the Lights.

Two hours later, as we sat bundled up so tightly we could barely move, our friends from SuperJeep called and told us that the tour was canceled because what with the blizzard and all, it was impossible to see the Lights. I sent Dan outside to confirm that it was indeed still snowing in a blizzard-like fashion. We agreed to try again the next night, which would be our last night in Reykjavik. Dan and I planned to spend the next day at the Blue Lagoon, a hot spring complex with healing mud of some kind. But in the morning the blizzard-type weather continued. And we remembered that I can’t breathe in the cold. And discovered that we would need to ride a bus, in the blizzard, for over an hour each way to get there. So it became less desirable. Like, a lot less desirable. Suddenly walking across the street for lunch seemed like a much more manageable plan, and that’s what we did. In the course of crossing the street we took in all the sights and sounds the city had to offer. In other words, a hot dog stand and a couple of shops and restaurants. But hey, what else do you really need?

You can probably guess that with the blizzard raging on, SuperJeep canceled our second night Northern Lights Chase. And I couldn’t help it, I just had to question Dan’s wisdom in dragging us there in the first place. But of course I’m not one to whine and dwell. Mostly. And all was not lost; we wouldn’t see the Northern Lights but we were headed to the trés bien City of Lights. Umm, after some serious de-icing of the plane…

Perfect conditions for take-off

Perfect conditions for take-off

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16 Responses to The Cold Truth

  1. Olive Ole says:

    Oh please forgive me for laughing, but this was very funny! I do hope you get to see the northern lights, as they are amazing!

    • Jill Foer Hirsch says:

      Laughing is what you’re supposed to do! Glad you liked it, and yes, Northern Lights still on the bucket list.

  2. Carol Ferenc says:

    Somehow this reminds me of winter where I live in Minnesota with everyone dressed up like the Michelin man. I hope next time Dan plans a little better!

  3. Pam Waits says:

    Imagine if everything had gone without a hitch. Dan would have looked good for his fabulous decisions, but the blog would have been dull. Dan couldn’t have planned it better because your account is fabulous! (BTW – I love the new picture at the top. Where is that?)

  4. Travelin Dan says:

    Iceland is much better than Amsterdam in February. And it was a famous hot dog stand, next to our hotel, frequented by Bill Clinton and other celebrities, but less popular when raining ice from sky.

  5. Obviously Dan is not good at vacation planning. Neither is my husband. Perhaps we should give planning a try…, bad idea. Who would we blame….

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