Iceland

Niamh Quinlan on 28 October 2010

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I have been to Iceland a few times and know it quite well and have always loved the wildness and beauty of the place, so when a few friends asked me to organise a long weekend to Reykjavik and plan activities for them it was no hardship. Of course this all happened and was booked just before the infamous Volcano Eyjafjallajökull erupted causing chaos all over Europe which really added to the excitement of going.

There were 15 of us in the end and we set off from Dublin with great anticipation on one of the charter flights that operate about three times a year for 4 nights. The International airport is beside the now famous Blue Lagoon so on arrival we all headed straight to this amazing hot blue lake in the middle of volcanic rock for a swim and a cocktail whilst we soaked the hot water. We then went in search of the Northern Lights but on this night they were nowhere to be seen. Onto our hotel the 4* Loftleider which is about 20 minutes walk from Reykjavik and an early night for some as we were on a full day tour the following morning.

The day dawned bright but cold and we headed off to do the Golden Circle tour which is absolutely a must do and gives you a fantastic sense of Iceland. We started out with a visit to the magnificent Gullfoss Waterfall one of the most impressive waterfalls in all of Europe. The sound and the power of the water was just incredible. We then headed to the Great Geysir area to see the magnificent Geysir Strokkur spout about every 10 minutes up to 30 metres in the air. You could stay here all day watching this and the bubbling hot water in the ground .

We headed then to Pingvellir which is an amazing geological site and the most historic site on the island. This is now a national park located by Lake Pingvallavtn. There is a beautiful canyon running through the park which is the meeting point of two of the earth's tectonic plates. This area is also a very historical as it is the site of the world's oldest parliament founded in 930. The sense of history is everywhere. An incredible day. Back to our hotel for dinner and all of a sudden some one came running into the dining room to say the Northern Lights were visible at the back of hotel. You never saw such a mass exodus. Finally we got to see the lights which were like a green sweeping wave floating in the sky.

Next morning 6 of us headed off early with a guide to do a "Walk Through Ice & Fire Tour". We had been warned to bring towels and swimsuits even though there was frost and temperature was about 2 degrees. This for me was the absolute highlight. We hiked into a Valley located at the foot of an old Volacnic Cone passing a series of boiling mud craters on route and finally arrived down to a small river which was hot. We changed and sat in the hot river chatting for about an hour. Finally our guide made us get out and we hiked back up the valley and into a jeep to take us to the Myrdalsjokull glacier which is beside the Eyjafjallajökull Volcano (which still would not oblige by erupting just an odd puff of smoke).

Here we put on crampons and took ice axes and set out to discover a wonderland of ice scupltures, ridges and deep crevasses with the odd ice cave thrown in. It was a fantastic experience and I would recommend this day trip to anyone. You don't need to be an experienced climber just reasonably fit.

We were exhilerated but tired by the time we got back and then headed to the Perlan Restaurant which is about 5 minutes walk from the hotel. This is a revolving Restaurant on top of 4 water towers set on top of Perlan Hill so there are just incredible views of the city as you eat. It was buffet night here and the choice of fish, meat and foul was amazing. An absolute must to visit. On then to sample some of the night life and meet the locals and sample some of the local beer.

What a weekend we all want to go back.

If you are interested in this trip please contact me.

Niamh

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