Despite the challenges set by the ever-changing Icelandic weather, ESN hosted yet another joyful event during this year Valentines weekend. A trip planned for skiing turned out to be so much more.
Friday the 13th of February. The location was Háskólatorg. More than 30 excited young students from all over Europe met for an adventurous weekend together. Few knew each other but everyone seemed eager to embrace the social opportunities of such a trip. Everybody picked a seat in the hired bus after loading their luggage in the beautiful weather. At 12.30 the bus set off through the mountain filled landscape of Iceland’s West coast.
As the bus made its way across the bay, going through the tunnel, people glanced back at the city, which had a glow from the sun in the sky. The bus ride invited everyone to take part in informal conversations and everybody got a chance to chat, meet and laugh. As the bus took us onwards north the nature kept developing to become even more breathtaking.
The ESN guides filled in with good stories and remarks along the way.
As the day grew darker and we approached our destination we made a stop at the first microbrewery in Iceland, Kaldi!
After a brief introduction to the brewery and its history, everybody got beer served directly from the silo to taste.
After our visit to Kaldi brewery the ambiance in the bus rose to a more relaxed level. People talked more, joked more and sang more.
At around eight we finally reached the beautiful city of Akureyri. Silently located in the peaceful surroundings of a fjord, this city really makes proof of its geographically challenging placement.
he night in Akureyri was passed socialising and eating pizza. Most people chose to make it an early night to be prepared for the ski challenges of tomorrow.
Saturday morning in Akureyri. Leaving at 9 a.m. to go skiing. Or at least that is what we thought. As we got to the mountain everybody wanted to get started, so we all hurried to the ski rental. Icelandic people are known for having time for everything, so not everybody was too happy about the pace of the rental services, but we all got out and could start skiing. Unfortunately the adventure was short and windy. The wind grew stronger and at noon it reached 16m/s which meant closure of the whole area. Disappointed and cold people went to wait for the bus. A handful of the guys sat out to hike the mountain despite the weather. Facing storm and realising the sanity behind the closure they made their way to the top facing storm like blows of wind.
Safely back down the slopes they joined with the rest of the group and drove down to safety and shelter.
Saturday did not turn out as planned, but luckily Akureyri offered both a relaxing and cosy alternative to skiing. Most people chose to walk through the city to the local outdoor hot pools, where the afternoon hours were spent in hot tubs, steam baths and water rides.
Some chose to exercise, swimming laps, while others hung out in the kid’s area.
Back at the hostel people made different plans for dinner. Some cooked at home, others went out. Afterwards everybody met for drinks at one of the 8 person dorm rooms. And as the bottles emptied people headed downtown to the local disco where the night was spent dancing. Some more than others!
Sunday morning in Akureyri. Few hours of sleep, but despite hangovers people are eager to go skiing. Unfortunately the weather did not change, so without going to the ski area we decided to go on a sightseeing trip instead. The weather was beautiful.
As the bus set out many chose to sleep, while others enjoyed the magnificent surroundings as we headed out of the fjord. First stop on the way was Godafoss (waterfall of the Gods) waterfall. The power from it consumed the area around it in a gust of water.
Having a busy day full of experiences ahead we went on in the bus. Everything seemed so deserted, but with only one road to follow we were confident our driver knew the way. Half an hour’s drive through the wilderness and the iconic landscapes of the North, we reached the geothermal area, where we were to experience mud boiling from the underground.
Staying safely on the path we all got a feel of how powerful nature is. The smell (like farts) gave proof to the great sulphuric content of the gas leaving the stone settings!
After a smelly, rather cold and rainy stay at the pools we went on. This time heading for a far more comfortable and inviting pool. We were going to the hot springs! These pools on top of the mountain plateau gave an exceptional view over the vast landscape, leaving everybody in a calm and relaxed state of mind.
Afterwards everybody felt reborn and the journey could continue. Next stop was a cave in which people used to swim. Placed in the fields of a huge volcano this cave was a rare sight.
Some dared to go inside. Others enjoyed the sun and the setting.
A remarkable day that people wished never to end had its inevitable passing. We had to leave the irresistible nature of northern Iceland and journey home through the valleys towards Reykjavik! People were tired after a long and giving day. So the bus ride home through snow storms and icy roads was quiet.
People could look back on a weekend without too much skiing, but with terrific company and incredible experiences. It was a memorable weekend! It was worth every second.
Thank you for a remarkable weekend!
written by Jesper Grønlund Holm