"The moment you least expect it, you look up -- and stare in awe."
“We want to see the northern lights.”
It wouldn’t surprise me if this would score the highest in comments mentioned by tourists in Iceland. You’d think that the beauty of it would eventually die out, yet it doesn’t get old. So even for a semi Icelandic person to whom these coloury lights don’t come as a surprise -- every time I see them, I still stare in awe.
Exactly because of that, I did definitely not turn down a chance to see the northern lights on a boat just outside of the harbour of Reykjavík. We get our tickets and walk towards the boat with “whale watching” written in big letters. Even though the tourists next to us with big overalls confuse us whether we are going on a whale watching tour, the tour guide confirms and shows us the way to the boat.
Once embarked we - lazy as we are - try to find a cozy place inside so we can warm up before going out to watch the northern lights. After a few minutes we are the only ones inside, as all the eager tourists went straight to the deck. Luckily, these tours aren’t overly crowded, so we still find a nice spot to sit outside on the deck and watch the Reykjavik coastline fade in the distance.
We are about half an hour on the boat when the tour guide starts pointing to us certain directions to look at in order to see them. They are not always as strong as you can see them in the pictures, but they move around in waves of wind and different colours from white to green to purple.
Disclaimer -- as much as you would like to, there is no button to turn on the northern lights. So no tour company, month or weather forecast can guarantee you to see them. In my opinion, this is exactly the beauty of it all. The moment you least expect it, you look up -- and stare in awe.
Jóhanna Pétursóttir is Icelandic but has lived most of her life abroad.
Being Icelandic, she knows the ways around and the local way of living, but she often sees it from a foreign perspective.
Working in the field of tourism and having studied intercultural cooperation, she is very eager to know people's experience of Iceland.