For the Love of Iceland

Dust off that camera of yours, Iceland is simply one of the most beautiful places you can lay eyes on!
by Tina Richardson

Why Iceland?  We get asked this question a lot. Until recently, Iceland wasn’t at the top of many bucket lists, but it is now and for good reason.  Dust off that camera of yours, it is simply one of the most beautiful places you can lay eyes on!

It’s not tropical!  Temperatures range from -5 to +15 in the capital city of Reykjavik, located in the southwest of Iceland. Layer up and head out, you won’t be disappointed. Even the drive from the airport to Reykjavik, a mere 45 minutes is spectacular. Picture Icelandic countryside, a landscape formed largely by volcanic rock, simply breathtaking!

Don’t skip touring the town before heading off in search of Aurora Borealis! Reykjavik is quaint, lots to see and do - and eat!  The town is dotted with cool cafés and restaurants, all boasting their very own version of local delicacies such as fish soup, home-baked bread and craft beer. The true magic of Iceland though, lies in the outskirts. You will see volcanic craters, bubbling hot springs, geysers, and yes – you will set forth on your very own quest to see the Northern Lights!

Our very own Director of Travel Services, David Coffey, is an avid traveller and rarely returns to a destination more than once, but he’s been to Iceland twice already and says he is still not done. Our Solo Traveller Club host and Solo Travel Guru, Tina Richardson sat down with him recently to chat about this unique destination and here’s what he had to say:

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Tina: What makes Iceland so interesting to you?

David: I love the feeling of a country alive beneath my feet – superheated vents steaming in geothermal areas, pristine waterfalls bursting over towering basalt cliffs, walking through rift valleys where land is literally being created as continental plates slide apart, and stunning vistas wherever your eyes pause.

T: What’s the best thing you ate?

D: The seafood and lobster soups were phenomenal and a little unique in every different spot. Also, horse! Surprisingly tender and tasty, once I mustered the courage to try it.

T: What’s the coolest thing you saw?

D: There’s no way to choose a highlight – everything was so unique and inspiring in a different way. Long, quiet drives on remote gravel highway watching the seascape roll by on one side and snow-crusted mountain ranges on the other… towering waterfalls sending sprays of chilled water (sometimes glacier-fed) over awestruck onlookers… exploding geysers sending towers of heated water dozens of meters into the air… honestly from one day to the next there is always something to take your breath away in Iceland.

T: What do you suggest is a “must see”?

D: Okay, if I have to choose something, I’d pick Thingvellir National Park. Wandering through the spot where, over 1,000 years ago, early Icelanders (aka Viking chieftains) met, made accord and launched the Icelandic parliament (the Althing), is a moving experience. Coupled with the fact that the spot is located right over a rift between continental plates where new rock is being pushed up by unimaginable geologic forces from deep below and the land is literally being forced apart. I think that has to be one of my must-sees.

T: Did you see the famous Northern Lights? What can I do to increase my chances of seeing them?

D: We saw the world’s saddest rendition of the Northern Lights… little more than an eerie green glow poking out from behind a mountain. And yet, it was so cool. Best chances to see the lights are in winter, and away from large populations (i.e. Reykjavik) to minimize light pollution.

T: What can I buy there?

D: Buy a lopapeysa. These traditional hand knit woolen sweaters are taking the world quietly by storm with their geometric patterns and cozy winter-expelling warmth. Also, if you’re into chocolate and black licorice, you are in heaven. For some reason, Icelandic supermarkets sell an abundance of chocolate-covered, licorice infused candy. Great snack for keeping up your strength while out exploring.

T: Iceland can be pricey. Any tips on making the most of your travel dollar while there?

D: For me, the most important thing I brought back from Iceland was photos, so make the most of your trip by getting as familiar as you can with your camera and you will not be disappointed for photographic opportunities. Often there are ways of keeping costs down when travelling – joining a tour can help defray some of the transportation costs by sharing the load! But my best advice is: Iceland is pricey. Take a deep breath, forget about what things cost there and simply enjoy the experience… it will be unforgettable.

CAA’s Solo Traveller Club is going to Iceland!  Join us as we venture off on our very own quest to see the Aurora Borealis, stopping along the way to experience the sights, smells and tastes of this beautiful destination. Click here for more details.

To learn more about our Solo Traveller Club, visit caaneo.ca/solo or contact Tina Richardson, our Solo Traveller Club Host directly.

E: trichardson@caaneo.on.ca
T: 613-721-3260

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