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Iceland in February

Iceland in February

After a steaming shower, I exited the changing room and looked out onto the vast, geyser-fed Blue Lagoon. It was dotted with swim-up bars, heads peaking out of steam, and glowing blue light. I got a push from the wind to ease into the hot water and join Geoff, my husband, for a soak. The water scalded me as I first sank down but was quickly rewarded by the calming heat. We glanced up through the clouds and saw a small patch of stars, but no Northern Lights. For a few minutes the wind stopped blowing and we relaxed into the feeling of hot water, cold air, and the anticipation of a week of adventure.

Evening soak in the Blue Lagoon just outside of Reykjavik requires reservations.

Walking off the IcelandAir flight and onto the icy runway, the message from the airplane screen came to mind; the most amazing thing about Iceland is not the fact that it’s the third windiest place in the world, it’s the fact that hardly anyone lives in the first and second places. I had given Geoff a one-week trip in February to see the Northern Lights as a last minute Christmas gift. We came from southern California to experience winter so we had no excuse not to bundle-up and head out. We hadn’t traveled out of the capital of Reykjavik yet, but tomorrow we were about to set out despite predictions of poor driving conditions.

Blowing rain outside our hotel room at 9 am, the first morning in Reykjavik.

Iceland likes to claim a moderate climate in winter. The temperature alternates between the low 30s and upper 20s. Just before we left home an experienced friend told us to expect rain, then freezing temps, followed by a light dusting of snow that acts like little ball bearings.

Here’s the blog spoiler, we never saw the Northern Lights after a week of faithful cloud gazing. But we did experience a volcanic wonderland midst blowing rain and blizzards. We drove to Vik, a small town on the southern shore. Before leaving, the hotel’s bulletin board warned, “Roads are already icy so SLOW DOWN! Visibility less than 100 m. at times!”

Residential streets in central Reykjavik feature government commissioned murals.

Geoff dressed for winter wind along Lake Tjornin in Reykjavik.

The noontime sun, above the clouds of an approaching storm, gives the impression of dusk.

North 66, the local supplier for ice gear.

A warm parka is critical for exploring Iceland in winter.

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