Dates: 30th December 2016 – 2nd January 2017
Bottles of Reykjavik vodka consumed: 1. The perfect ingredient for a tasty NYE cocktail.
Meals eaten: 7 (complete with Icelandic smoked salmon, of course!)
Northern Lights sightings: 1. On New Year’s Eve. Pinch us!
Icy slips and sore bottoms: We’d prefer not to say.
Average temperature: -3C. (Perfect weather for snowy spas and sauna sessions)
Most played game: “I’m having a party, and I’m bringing…”
After a brief delay (due to pesky London fog), we arrived at our luxurious lodge, located near the Úlfljótsvatn lake in South West Iceland. Our thoughtful organizers, Gillian and Tess, greeted weary travellers with some welcome bubbly and tasty treats.
Sleep was important- there was a big day ahead!
Before sunrise, which in December occurs around 10:45am, our revellers enjoyed a leisurely breakfast and an exploration of the lodge before beginning our sightseeing adventures. Organizers had booked a guided tour, known as The Golden Circle (or Gullni hringurinn) which follows a popular route in South-West Iceland and showcases some of Iceland’s most breathtaking natural wonders.
Our first stop was Þingvellir National Park which lies in the rift valley, the spot where the American and European tectonic plates drift apart.
Our tour also took us to the magnificent Gullfoss waterfall. Gullfoss (meaning Golden Falls) is 32 metres high and consists of two drops, the largest being 21 metres high. After taking some photos in the chilly air, we reboarded our bus to return to the lodge. Gus, our knowledgeable tour guide (and prompted by our ever-curious photographer, Freya) regaled us with tales from traditional Icelandic folklore. We learned about Yulelad (a mischievous Icelandic version of Santa Claus) and the trolls. Another curious bit of folklore is the legend of the Icelandic woman who delivered her baby with the help of an elf midwife who emerged from a nearby stone to assist in the birth. (We were discouraged from laughing as Norse mythology is taken very seriously in Iceland!).
Back at the lodge, we enjoyed pre-dinner cocktails while soaking in the hot-tub. Surrounded by stately mountains and glistening snow, the group of revellers shared their ‘best thing’ memories of 2016. In just a few hours we would be ringing in a new year.
Time to get our Viking costumes ready for our New Year’s Eve party!
Icelandic cocktails were served at 7pm, before we all sat down to a delicious meal of tender roast beef followed by a decadent espresso crème brulee. However, dessert was cut short as our chef suggested we quickly head out to the patio…
What a unique, exciting and stunning way to end 2016! We were so fortunate to see the Northern Lights so clearly. It was a truly magical and mystical experience: one we will never, ever forget. Now, party time!
A few games in the well equipped games room to get the party started: pool, chess, table tennis and beer pong. Now our revellers were in the mood for a boogie. G – or should we say, the incomparable DJ G Scats- hit the decks, and the Vikings hit the dance-floor.
As the hour approached midnight, we rugged up in our Viking layers and headed back out to the patio.
Five, four, three, two, one…
Happy New Year, revellers!
Basking in the glow of our sparklers and afterglow of an incredible day, we hugged and kissed our new best friends and watched bursting fireworks lighting up the dark sky.
Back to the party! While guests enjoyed lively conversation and cocktails, Tess adjudicated an energetic dance-off. A perfect evening that ended when the sun would have been up, had we not been so close to the Arctic.
After a sumptuous breakfast spread, we headed off to the Blue Lagoon.
The lagoon is heated by a nearby geothermal plant. The heat, combined with minerals such as silica and sulfur in the water, create a perfect environment in which to spend a restorative afternoon. We relaxed under moisturizing facemasks, dozed in the steam room and followed up by swimming to the bar for a refreshing cocktail. We headed home, relaxed, rejuvenated, and any hangover symptoms cured by the lagoon.
For our next meal, we enjoyed authentic Icelandic smoked salmon and tender lamb, while chatting happily about the year gone-by and our plans for the future.
Then things got serious. Once again- it was games time. After several hours of card games, accents, impressions and (terrible) karaoke, it was time to call it a night (or, more accurately- morning)!
Saying goodbye is the hardest part of any G&T Weekend. We enjoyed our final breakfast and packed our bags before saying goodbye to our fabulous, NYE guests.
Endless laughter, decadent food and breathtakingly beautiful scenery.
We couldn’t have asked for more.
Catch you next time, revellers.