After the better part of a lifetime in which my wife and I have devoted a lot of time and money towards travel, we’re often asked what our favourite destination might be.
Until now it has not been an easy question to answer because we’ve been to so many exotic and interesting places. Since the 1970s we’ve been to Europe 11 times, all over North America and to Japan and Australia.
But after last month’s trip to a little island in the North Atlantic I think we might have the answer – Iceland.
This is an absolutely fascinating place. Everywhere we went we were greeted by breath-taking landscapes. Some of it was rocky, almost moon-like. In other places there were spectacular waterfalls, geysers, caves, rainbows and glaciers.
Many of the most amazing attractions were in the middle of nowhere. Unlike Niagara Falls, which has almost been ruined by encroaching commercial establishments, most of Iceland’s waterfalls are out in remote locations. You can see them much like the Vikings did 1,000 years ago. We must have seen half a dozen of them but the most awesome was Gullfoss.
There were so many wonderful sites that I don’t have space here to describe them all. There was the black sand beach at Reynisfjara, with its hexagonal basalt columns, caves facing the ocean and gigantic rocks out in the middle of the roaring surf.
Then there are the milky blue waters of the famous Blue Lagoon, where you can float about to your heart’s content in geothermal spas.
We even found a so-called ‘bubble hotel’ where you can sleep in the wilderness, looking up at the stars (and the Northern Lights) from the comfort of a heated transparent igloo.
The capital city of Reykjavik has a lot to offer, including boat rides to see whales and night cruises to take in the Northern Lights. Then there’s the Harpa, a concert hall made almost entirely of glass that is light up at night like a Christmas tree. And of course there’s the famous Hallgrimskirkja cathedral, with its 73 metre high tower.
If there’s a down side to Iceland it’s the cost. Getting there isn’t too expensive but restaurant meals cost an arm and a leg. We rented an apartment and ate a lot of grocery food.
Depending on the time of year, weather can be a big problem too. Make sure you dress warmly and do some research before deciding when to go.
There’s only a four hour time difference and the flight is just over five hours, so there’s a lot less jet lag than what we’ve experienced on trips to places such as Paris, Vienna, Rome, Athens, Tokyo or Sydney.
On top of all that, the people of Iceland are very friendly and we didn’t run into a soul who didn’t speak good English. All in all, it’s well worth the visit.