Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Icelandic Adventures Continued - Aurora Borealis Hunting

Bloody hell it’s hard to find the time to get around to posting further on my trip to Iceland. It feels like a dim and distant memory now. I seriously feel in need of another vacation, work is just brutal right now; we are drowning in 2010 planning work. One of our clients felt so bad at the late nights the team was putting in (2am anyone!! Who says that we’re work shy in advertising?) that he sent us a box of fancy cookies from the Famous 4th Street Cookie Company. I’m not a big cookie lover, but I have to say these things were pretty damn amazing and you should pay a visit to this place if ever you are in Philadelphia. They even surpassed McVities Chocolate Hobnobs, especially the chocolate chip ones. It was a really nice gesture by our client, however even cookies as gobsmackingly good as these were don't make up for the fact that we no longer have lives outside of the office. It is also quite worrying that members of my team have started to say "I need a drink" with alarming frequency. Last year it was just me the clients were driving to the bottle, but now it's my team too. I feel like a bad mother!!

Anyway, Iceland....well on the way back from our Golden Circle Tour the guide happened to mention in response to a question from a fellow tourist that it was likely to be a good night for the Northern lights tour!!


We had about 3hours to kill before being picked up so we hotfooted it over to Fjalakotturinn Restaurant - it just trips off the tongue doesn't it - one of the best deals in town according to our guidebooks. I can't say I'd disagree, from the food to the service everything was 5 star quality at 3 star prices.

Melissa choose the 2 course fish fantasy of lobster bisque followed by roast salmon for 3900kr and I went with the 3 course gourmet menu of scallops, lamb and caramel cake for 4900kr, on the condition that Melissa share the cake with me, along with a glass each of house wine (1100kr a glass that's less than $10), a delicious 2005 Bon Courage Chardonnay from South Africa and later a Chilean San Rapel Sauvignan Blanc. "Very nice, but a little effervescent on the finish" mused Melissa, graduate of the International Wine Center.

It certainly didn't taste of vinegar I can tell you that much, but on the whole I would have preferred a second glass of the South African Chardonnay however the restaurant did have a Wine Spectator award of excellence, which were good enough credentials for me so I happily put myself in the hands of our very gracious host.

Here comes the foodiot bit....

The salmon tartare amuse bouche. I must say, I do likethe Uri Geller style serving spoons.

Erm...sorry the scallop appetizer looked so, well appetizing, that I scoffed it before I remembered to take a photo - foodiot shame - but look how lovely the lamb looks. It tasted amazing too.

And the caramel cake dessert. Mmmmmmmmmmm!!! I know that looks like a carrot in the back of the plate, but it's a cheeky wee kumquat!!

The total meal came to 13,200kr, about $106 US which was pretty damn good for the quality
of food and attentive service. It would have easily cost at least one and a half times that at a similar restaurant in New York.

At 10pm three coach loads of tourists left on Northern Lights tour, which consisted of Reykjavik Excursions driving us 30minutes north of Reykjavik to stand in a field of crispy frozen snow field and stare at the sky.

"Do you see there over the ridge it's kind of a light green color??? That's something" said our guide as we assembled.

I squinted hard in the direction she pointed. Erm.......Nope, sorry, not seeing it, it just looked like regular old sky to me.

After about 30minutes of freezing my arse off in a frigid field I gave in and joined about the sensible third of my fellow aurora borealis hunters and went to sit back in the darkened bus to stare at the sky in the relative warmth. After about 10minutes I got fed up and dug out my iPod desperately trying to stay awake after my two glasses of wine just in case green ribbons of light should start to swirl across the Icelandic sky.

About about half an hour our guide apologetically joined us on the bus. "Sorry it was not so easy for you to see anything," she sympathized. "There was definitely something there, I saw it and our driver Pally saw it, and maybe a few of the Icelanders who know what to look for saw it."

"Ohhhh Icelanders and their special x-ray vision", sniggered the Dutch guy across from us to the older American couple behind him.

"The lights may reappear in a few more hours, sometimes you can see them over Reykjavik, so keep looking at the sky, look for a thin green light like an alien finger"

Alien finger...hmmm right, perhaps after about 5 shots of potent Icelandic vodka I might see alien
fingers and dancing lights, but I'm withholding judgment.

Behold, the aurora borealis...


Kitty said...

ah....sorry to hear of all the overwork. When will it end?!?!

They really ought to give you another couple weeks of vacation to you for all this overtime. There's something about it that just isn't right, if you're not directly compensated.

Your dinner looked very nice. It's funny to take photos of your plate, isn't it? Takes some bravery, ha.

fishwithoutbicycle said...

Hi Kitty,

When will it end indeed, that's something I ask myself on a regular basis. I hope at the end of 2009, but I suspect that's just wishful thinking.

It is funny to take photos of your plate I agree and more often than not I felt like an idiot, but there was an epidemic of foodiots in Iceland :-)

Amel's Realm said...

I was under the impression that Aurora only appears when it's SO cold outside...perhaps around -20'C or even colder than that. I myself have never seen them, but since I plan on living in Lapland for a LONG time, I should get a chance to see them at least once later on...*crossing my fingers* he he he...

Btw, the lamb looks GREAT. I'd love a taste he he...

Jason said...

I love the site. You have a lot of good posts here. I have a site as well that provides inspiration and guidance to people around the world. I was wondering if we could do a link exchange, so we can tell our visitors about both of our sites. Let me know.


fishwithoutbicycle said...

Hi Amel,

I think you are more likely to see it when it is colder, but the tours run Oct onwards so I guess there is a chance to see it then. Hope you get your opportunity :-)

fishwithoutbicycle said...

Hi Jason,

Thanks for commenting, I'm happy to do a link exchange. Cheers, Fish