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March 05, 2018

Solo Trip to Iceland.

A solo trip before turning 40 has been in my bucket list for the last 5 years and finally it happened in the nick of time. Even though I have lived alone for a while during college and later for a couple of months when Hd was abroad, I have never traveled to a new place and stayed in a hotel all by myself. I was a bit scared and kept putting it off and there are not many options in winter and I decided to do a trip in spring or summer. But the trip was meant to be, I guess. The dear husband thought he can't miss this opportunity to get rid of his wife and surprised me with flight tickets to Reykjavik! One week in Iceland in February! Any more proof needed for his evil plan? I shopped for new hiking boots, new winter jacket, new cap and new gloves. I even practiced taking a good selfie! I was like a kid on first school day! I was also extremely nervous and the thought that I have to take decisions on my own without consulting another adult was petrifying. I never realized how dependent and spoilt I am! Not to mention, I can't use my kids as shields! Wont have parents or friends or sister as buffer. Who am I going to be on this trip?

I planned and planned and decided to do Reykjavik on my own for two days and a 5 days trip with a tour company. Booked hotels after double checking with the husband. Booked the tour after triple checking with him. Found out that I have forgotten to book hotel for one more night and did that after talking to him. Currency, R? Do I need to take the big suitcase, R? Should I buy a sim card there, R? Airport shuttle bus, R? Im sure Hd was extremely confused at this point on how his super independent, bossy wife has turned into this scaredy cat! I even tried to bribe the girls to come with me but they would nt fall for it. Oh yes, about the girls. A cousin of mine asked how were the girls reacting to my solo trip plan and thats when I realized there was no reaction! Hd and I kept talking about it and planning and the kids knew about it but did nt really say anything. Except that I saw Ashus eyes gleam with happiness whenever I mentioned how I am going to be away for a week! With a family like this, who needs enemies? 

9th February arrived and Hd dropped me at the airport at the crack of dawn and then I was on my own. I had this huge smile on my face during the flight sitting in my window seat without the girls on my either side. It felt like I was out of prison on parole! Reykjavik was fantastic. I could walk everywhere and see everything and the walking tour was the best way to explore and to get an idea of the city and what interests me. Had an early dinner and went to my hotel. The next day was the beginning of the 5 Day Tour with the Arctic Adventures travel company. I had a great time with the other people in the group and we all had dinner together every night and got to know each other. And this was so refreshing for me since we never do that when we travel as a family. And the whole point of going solo is to go through these new experiences. Day 1 of the tour was excellent. We visited the must see in the South coast including a lava tube and it was total winter wonderland and freezing cold!

A storm hit Iceland the next day and all plans were cancelled and we reached Reykjavik by noon and I spent the day watching 3 movies on TV and stepping out only for dinner. It was extremely windy and I could nt walk more than 5 minutes. The next day was was the beginning of the SNAEFELLSNES peninsula tour and a few new people joined the group and we also had a new driver/guide, Maria. She was amazing and I would strongly recommend this company to everyone. Thankfully the weather was nt crazy that day and we could do the Golden circle, black sand beach, see icelandic horses upclose and also two stunning waterfalls. I might have lost a few fingers and toes but it was totally worth it! Going from Swiss, I had completely under estimated how cold it would be in Iceland. Its never this windy in Swiss thanks to the mountains and since Iceland is completely open to the elements, it was crazy windy with snow flying everywhere and theres no way in hell a tourist could drive in such conditions. Renting a car in Island is perfectly safe and a great idea in summer but extremely dangerous in winter. 

The sun was out the next day too and it was the best of all days! I fell in love with the diamond beach and the glacier lagoon and the Glacier cave tour and the monster truck drive in the glacier. It was like being in a different planet. The black sand and the ice crystals shining like diamonds. The bluest of blue glaciers. The stunning views. I did nt want the day to end. It kind of did nt because two girls in the group and I stood out for 3 hours in the freezing cold that night to look for the northern lights as it was the first clear night sky since we got there and though we saw like a million stars, the aurora forecast was nt great for that day and we finally gave up around midnight. Every night before and after were cloudy or snowy and that was a little bit upsetting that I could nt see the northern lights in this trip since I was so looking forward to it and believed that I will get lucky at least once in an entire week. But Ms.Aurora had other plans. But I should nt complain. Iceland is amazing in winter and jaw-droppingly stunning!

Day 5 of the tour hit bad weather again and the roads were closed. We waited the storm out and started driving towards Reykjavik around 2 pm only and reached around 9.30 pm and I said good bye to the group with a heavy heart. The next day went in walking around Reykjavik and catching the sights I did not see the first day, shopping and ending the day relaxing in a thermal bath. The next day on 16th Feb, I had a morning flight back to Basel and when I got home at 4 pm, the girls opened the door for me with a huge bouquet of flowers and also yelling at each other for some random thing, so it was straight back to reality! I heard from Hd, my sis and my mom at different points of time that Antu was uncharacteristically quiet and that she missed me. At least, some one still needs me! And when I asked Ashu if she missed me at any point of time, she answered "only this morning, Amma. When I baked a cake for you and it got stuck in the tin!" My poor little darlings!

* Iceland is SO expensive. And thats saying something living in the Swiss! Everyday, I ate the complimentary breakfast and packed a fruit and 2 slices of toast for lunch. And carried some snacks. Dinner was the only meal I spent on and that too only because it was nice to meet new people and also I was really hungry!

* Reykjavik is the northern most capital city in the world and street art was quite big there. The streets were so pretty. People are extremely nice and kind.

* Except in Reykjavik, all the other hotels I stayed in were in totally remote places in the middle of nowhere and the views were fantastic. 

* Theres this one ring road which goes around the island for about 1300 kms and the only way to explore the country is by driving on our own or through one of the travel companies. Theres no public train system.

* I created an Instagram account finally before this trip to upload photos and keep in touch with folks. Heres the link - All the white, grey and black photos are taken in Iceland. A good friend who visited Iceland last summer refused to believe my photos were taken in the same places she went to!

* This trip was so liberating for me. I did nt wake up in the morning with the list of things to do. I was not charge of anyone but me. When I wanted to step out, it took 5 minutes from the the time I had the thought to actually get out. Every meal time was so peaceful and in the moment and every time I was looking at a spectacular view, I was nt worrying if the kids are enjoying it the way I want them to! Its very difficult to explain in words. I actually wanted to go for a 3 or 4 days trip and when Hd said one week, I was shocked. But it was a perfect week and I could nt have asked for more. Thank you my dear husband for the greatest birthday gift this stay at home mom could ever have, whatever your intentions may be! :)

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