Thursday, 29 July 2010
Iceland voted as top destination for 2010 - but can I afford to go back?
Lonely Planet, the leading travel guide series, recently announced Iceland as the top summer destination for August 2010. They are encouraging travellers to visit the country, known as "the land of fire and ice" as in their own words (and mine) "there has never been a better time to go". This is partly due to favourable exchange rate for both the dollar and pound, which helps to make the country traditionally regarded as expensive, more affordable than ever before, with flights back to normal following the earlier disruption from Eyjafjallajokull.
Iceland was ranked fifth out of ten best value places to visit overall at the end of last year, but the publisher is now saying that that Iceland represents the perfect trip for 2010. I would certainly second that after my own recent visit. The country has something for everyone - whatever your age, interests or pocket. If you are a culture vulture then Reykjavik boasts a fine selection of museums for you to explore - how about a trip to the Culture House to view the ancient manuscripts or to the National Museum where you can follow the genealogical heritage of the modern Icelanders ancestors? If you prefer the beach, you can spend the day on the golden sands of the city's geothermal beach just beyond the city's domestic airport, complete with pipes that keep the sea temperature artificially warm and with bubbling hot pots on the shore. Prefer your swimming indoors - no problem, the city boasts several in and outdoor pools suitable for families of all ages.
If walking is more your thing, then Iceland will be like heaven - for there are miles and miles of trails to explore in all types of terrain - ranging from desert plains of black volcanic sand to lava fields and the greenery of the country's national parks.
Lonely Planet particularly recommends a visit to Landmannalaugar in the country's interior, only accessible during the summer months of mid June to September, which is famous for its multi coloured rhyolite peaks and hot springs, situated just 200 metres from the hut. They also single out the Westman Islands, which this time were on my radar, to see the thousands of puffins that breed there annually.
Yes Iceland is indeed a magical place, and with temperatures in Reykjavik reaching 24degrees yesterday, was probably warmer than my own Surrey village. I wish I was still there, but we all harken back to our holidays. Nice as it was, sadly it it is not real life, it is the grind and the graft that I experience now that pays for these trips. Despite the graft, I do for the most part enjoy my work, for it is at least worthwhile and offers meaning, unlike my previous job selling over priced junk to huge egos. I have a dilemma at the moment though, for I am not sure how much longer I can really afford to stay, if I wish to experience more of these kinds of trips - Iceland may be good value for money, but it still costs money - for me around £1200, the bills for which are rapidly coming in. I have the money to cover it, or at least will do once I am paid for those exams I invigilated, but if I continue to work part time this may not the case next year, so I am casting my net around to see what is out there - at the moment it seems like not a lot.