Skip to main content

Chasing Aurora

Aurora Borealis from the Grayline Iceland Tours brochure

For many years I dreamed about going to Iceland or Alaska to see the Aurora Borealis. That dream became reality in mid September of this year when I finally landed at Keflavik airport in Iceland. The first few days of our stay was marked by rain and heavy clouds. Then a storm followed. It seemed hopeless. But on Thursday the sun came out and the clouds lifted. Grayline Tours confirmed our northern lights mystery tour and I was in heaven!

We were driven to Reykjanes Peninsula which is south of Reykjavik at around 9 p.m. The sky was still shedding the light of day so we drove quite a distance away from city lights to get the best view. I kept scanning the darkened skies for traces of the aurora and finally I saw a patch of green in the sky. It wasn't big nor was it dancing but it was there. The driver stopped the bus and we all trooped out of the bus to watch the aurora from an ancient lava field. It was chilly outside and we stood there for a while but the aurora never developed. So we left for greener pastures until we reached a lighthouse where we parked for an hour or so to wait for the northern lights to reveal itself. We were not lucky there either. As we were right by the water, it was much colder though we had the option to get a hot drink at the café. Most of us queued up for the restroom instead.

Downcast we headed back to Reykjavik. It was then past 1 a.m. We were told that our tickets were good for two years or until we see the northern lights. And I had made up my mind to rebook the tour for the following evening. As we approached the city, the bus went down a darkened road as the driver tried one last time to find the elusive aurora. And there in the middle of nowhere, the guide called us to get off the bus as soon as possible. What happened next was magical. Above us was a huge canopy of green and white lights. And all I could say was "Oh my God!". And yes, the incredible spectacle before us was His work of art. 

I couldn't get a good photo of the aurora. I only had my IPhone camera and my digital camera. But it's enough that I saw with my own eyes what I had wanted so much to see all these years. When I got back to the hotel, I reviewed the photos and found some smudges of green in a few of the shots I took. I increased the exposure of the image below in order to see the green rays better but it made the photo grainy. 

My photo of the Aurora Borealis

We saw the northern lights again the following evening from our hotel window. It was nothing like the images I've seen on Instagram or Google images but we did catch a green whirlpool. How amazing that was! What started as a hopeless pursuit amidst bad weather conditions turned out to be a good week for chasing aurora.

For more information about the Northern Lights tours, check their website at grayline.is or send them email at iceland@grayline.is. The mystery tour costs 6400 ISK as of this writing. Tours are conducted from September 15 to April 15. I highly recommend Grayline as their staff took us to many locations and didn't give up until we saw the fleeting northern lights. The ability to rebook the tour free of charge in case the aurora is a no show is quite reassuring.

*****

Image with lighthouse from Grayline Iceland Tours.




Popular posts from this blog

8 Heritage Houses of Iloilo

Lizares Mansion The province of Iloilo on the island of Panay has a rich trove of heritage houses, left over from the sugar industry boom in the 19th century. Iloilo also had the largest port in the Philippines at that time which facilitated the export of sugar to foreign shores and deposited money in the hands of the sugar barons. The barons dropped their earnings into the acquisition of properties in Negros and the construction of beautiful homes in Iloilo, many of which are located in the vicinity of the Jaro Cathedral. The Lizares Mansion was built in 1937 by Don Emiliano Lizares for his wife, Concepcion Gamboa and five children. The family fled to safety when World War II broke out and the house was occupied by the Japanese military. The family returned to the house after the war but left once again after the demise of Don Emiliano. It was sold to the Dominican order in the 1960s and was converted in 1978 to a private school, Angelicum School. The mansion now houses the

The Art of Carlos Botong Francisco - Progress of Medicine in the Philippines

Pre-colonial period Pag-unlad ng Panggagamot sa Pilipinas (The Progress of Medicine in the Philippines) is a group of four large-scale paintings depicting healing practices in the Philippines from pre-colonial times to the modern period. Carlos Botong Francisco was commissioned in 1953 by  Dr. Agerico Sison who was then the director of Philippine General Hospital (PGH) together with   Dr. Eduardo Quisumbing of the National Museum, Dr. Florentino Herrera, Jr. and Dr. Constantino Manahan. These oil on canvas paintings measure 2.92 meters in height and 2.76 meters in width (9.71 ft x 8.92 ft) and were displayed at the main entrance hall of PGH for over five decades. Owing to its location, the artworks were in a state of "severe deterioration" at the beginning of the 21st century from exposure to heat, humidity, dirt, dust, smoke, insect stains, grime, termites and an oxidized synthetic resin used in an earlier restoration. These canvases were restored three times, the last was

Filipino Struggles in History - Carlos Botong Francisco

In 1968, Antonio Villegas (then Mayor of Manila), commissioned Carlos "Botong" Francisco to paint the history of Manila for Manila City Hall. The series of large scale paintings was called  Kasaysayan ng Maynila  (History of Manila).  The paintings deteriorated over time and no attempt was made to preserve these historical canvases until 2013 when Mayor Amado Lim sent them to the National Museum for extensive restoration. Four years later, in 2017, Mayor Joseph Ejercito Estrada and the Manila City Council signed an agreement with the National Museum to leave the paintings at the museum so they may reach a larger audience in exchange for museum grade reproductions to replace the originals. Kasaysayan ng Maynila was later renamed Filipino Struggles in History and is now on display at the Senate Hall of the National Museum . Carlos "Botong" Francisco died in March 1969, a few months after completing the paintings. He is one of the first Filipino modernists and