Endless Days of Summer

Endless Days of Summer

Article by Black Tomato

‘Iceland’ is pretty hot right now. (And we don’t just mean its natural springs). Sick of cloudy days and dismal evenings? How about some late summer days with 20hrs of straight daylight and a non-stop party atmosphere to go with it? Yep, this is a city break with a big difference. Not many capital cities just a stones throw away can boast bubbling thermal pools and dramatic frozen glaciers, and this is just the tip of the iceberg…

Quad bike across the rugged landscape, scuba dive between tectonic plates, or head into the wild on a snowmobile (ok maybe wait for the snow to return first). And if that isn’t your thing how about a more laid back weekend break spent immersing yourself in the nightlife, art galleries and designer boutiques of achingly cool Reykjavik?

As night falls, another type of adventure begins – Icelanders are experts in the cutting edge nightlife. Staying in the fashionable Hotel 101 you’ll be very well placed to make the most of this city’s hotspots. And to make sure you track down the best restaurants, bars and clubs get a helping hand from Black Tomato and their local knowledge service. After all, what better way to clear your head after a sampling some of the city’s stylish bars than with a ski session or a dip in the beautiful blue lagoon?If you’re still thirsty for action we reckon there’s a lot more to this mysterious island that you’ll love…Feed your spiritual side as you gaze at the majestic northern lights or spend late summer days hiking the rugged landscapes of Thingvellir National Park, where the neon sunsets are so extraordinary you’ll probably start to think you’re on the moon.

For enviable Kodak moments get snap happy at Hallgrimskirkja Church, Reykjavik’s highest and most imposing structure, or climb the Vatnajökull Glacier. The landscape here is some of the most beautiful in the world.

Make this beautiful country the spot for your chic weekend break any time of the year. Find out more at Black Tomato

About the Author

Luxury bespoke travel company Black Tomato

Iceland: Tectonic Plate Diving

Iceland: Tectonic Plate Diving

Article by Alex J Smith

Iceland is Europe’s westernmost country, and occupies a strategic location in the North Atlantic, straddling the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, on the edge of the Arctic Circle. One of the coldest countries in the world, it is also one of the world’s most volcanically active hotspots. Iceland is known today for its mix of glaciers, bubbly hot springs, rugged fjords and fiery volcanoes.

Iceland can give you a truly unique diving experience you can’t get anywhere else: diving between two tectonic plates, astride the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, the fault line where two of the Earth’s tectonic plates are drifting apart. It is not only unique, but it is also exclusive – only few people have dared to try the experience. To get to the diving site, you first have to drive deep into geo-thermal territory and tectonic plate activity. If you’re not yet thrilled enough, you can drive the next day to its glaciers in the south and race snowmobiles.

The country is the most sparsely populated in Europe, with just 283,000 people living in an area the size of England or the US state of Kentucky. Over half of the population lives down in its southwestern corner, around Reykjavik, the small but cosmopolitan capital. The other decent-sized population center is Akureyri, up on the north coast.

What Else to Do

All long-distance buses and domestic planes begin their trips from Reykjavik. You can visit Geysir, the original geyser from which all other gushing hot springs get their name, and the spectacular waterfalls at Gullfoss. The country’s only international airport at Keflavik is on the Reykjanes Peninsula, an area teeming with birdlife and whales.

Outside Reykjavik and the populated southwestern corner, the wilder side of Iceland meets your eye — wide-open spaces of vivid green fringed with coastlines of red and black volcanic sands set against a backdrop of brooding hills and mountains. On the west coast, in the towns of Borgarnes and Reykhold and the surrounding countryside, every landscape feature you see will be associated with parts of the Icelandic sagas.

The Snaefellsnes Peninsula is the country’s most accessible hiking destination. Arguably, Iceland’s most dramatic scenery is in the far northwest, the West Fjords, where you’ll find tiny fishing villages ensconced at the foot of table-top mountains or tucked away in the neck of narrow fjords which protect the houses from ferocious Arctic storms that batter this exposed part of the country.

You can relax for a day at Akureyri. From here, it’s easy to go inside the Arctic Circle to the island of Grimsey. The country’s biggest tourist attraction outside Reykjavik is Lake Myvatn, one hour away to the east of Akureyri. Many species of duck and waterfowl nest in this lake, which is surrounded by evidence of volcanic activity, including long-dormant cinder cones and still-steaming lava fields. North of Myvatn is the small town of Husavik, the best place for summer whale-watching cruises, while just inland to the east you can hike along deep river gorges of the Jokulsargljufur National Park to the awesome Dettifoss, Europe’s most powerful waterfall.

Iceland’s most rewarding long-distance hiking route is found near the glacial lagoon, Jokulsarlon. The Porsmork trail is one of the world’s most exhilarating walking paths. In the south coast, you can take a ferry to the Vestmannaeyjar (Westman islands) to survey the world’s largest puffin colonies and have a look at Surtsey, the new island created by volcanic eruptions in the mid-1960s.

When to Go

Icelandic weather is notoriously unpredictable. In summer, there’s a fair chance of bright and sunny days. Many bus routes through the interior don’t start until late June or early July when the snow finally melts. The sun does not fully set during June, and though there’s no true midnight sun, nights are light from mid-May to early August across the country. Between September and January, the Aurora Borealis or Northern Lights can be seen. Hiking and camping are out of the question in winter.

Planning Your Trip

Most budget accommodations open only from late May to early September. In winter, there’s little chance of accommodations other than large hotels in Reykjavik and the main towns. Given the long distances involved to reach Iceland, flying is the quickest and cheapest option. The highest airfares are around June to August when the weather is best. Fares drop September to November and April to June, and you get the best prices during the low season, November to March. The most convenient flights from Europe and Asia go through London; there are direct flights from the US, but Canadian travelers need to go via the US.

About the Author

Alex J Smith writes for Datravelers.com It’s website where travelers can host blogs, upload travel photos and find unbiased travel information.

Refreshing and completely unique Iceland

Refreshing and completely unique Iceland

Article by Asberg Jonsson

Iceland is a small island situated in the North Atlantic Sea and is recorded as the westernmost country of European continent. It lies 800 kilometers far from Scotland in northwest direction and 970 kilometers from Norway in west direction. The northern coast of Iceland is touching Arctic Circle just a bit. The position of Iceland makes it accessible by air and waterways only. Keflavík airport, Iceland’s international airport is connected with twenty big cities of Europe and America and delivers Micardis Plus online services of about 115 international flights in a week.

There are two words that can be joined with Iceland without any questions or doubts. They are refreshing and unconventional. The nature of Iceland is unscathed and becomes even more interesting and magical with the presence of spouting geysers, active volcanoes, plummeting waterfalls, huge mountains, vast lava grounds and some very beautiful lakes full of superstitious stories. The fjords, the glaciers and the highland plains provide the tourists’ with some spectacular and supernatural sights they will not get to see elsewhere in this world with the sense of complete silence and extreme nature. In case of man made beauties, the nightlife of capital city of Reykjavik is considered legendary and is one of the best in the world. It is supported by number of social and cultural activities that takes place there almost 24/7. The infinitesimal size of Reykjavik adds to the advantage as the entire city can be seen only by walking on foot.

For those who are in search of some high flying action, Iceland again stands ahead of all and offers huge natural spaces to enjoy most of the outdoor activities such as snowmobiling, horse riding, caves exploration, hiking, swimming, skiing, river rafting, kayaking and not to forget driving on mountains on an enhanced four wheel drive. Iceland also presents great differences in flora and fauna at every mile and hence, it is a numero uno loved spot for ornithologists. One thing which cannot go unnoticed while discussing about Iceland is the fact that it provides world’s best whale watching spots and destinations.

This country attracts tourists all around the year. People are drawn here naturally because of its diversification in landscape and also because of its vital energy and shades of lights and seasons that gives new scenes on every visit. Iceland is considered the world’s youngest country from geological point of view and is continuously growing in size. A volcanic explosion in 1963 on the southern shore of Iceland and it was named Surtsey. The latest explosion in Vatnajokull glacier occurred in 2004.

As told earlier that one can find every natural activity here next in the list is geothermal heating. It is one of the many subterranean activities occurring in Iceland. The flawless supply of geothermal heat is used very wisely and extensively for thermal spas, keeping house warmer during chilly winters. Iceland is second biggest user of geothermal energy in the world and it is marginally behind China.

Though the name appears very cool to the world but slowly and steadily, it has proved that, Iceland is not shy of showing what it has and what it is capable of having.

About the Author

Asberg Jonsson is the manager of Iceland Visitor, a company specializing in packages for Vacation in Iceland and day tours in Iceland. For more information visit www.icelandvisitor.com

A Brief Tour of Majestic Iceland

A Brief Tour of Majestic Iceland

Article by Bjorn Olav Jonsson

Fríkirkjan um kvöld

Reykjavik, being the capital city of Iceland always stays the centre of attraction among the tourists visiting this small but very beautiful and natural country. All the attractions of the city of Reykjavik are packed within the very small area. The very popular tourist destinations of this city are Hallgrimskirkja Cathedral, Asmundasafn and Kjarvalsstadir museum and not to mention the Perlan building which can show you the entire city from the top view.

Another very popular thing connected with Iceland is the golden circle route. It is a very popular tourist route which includes visits to some of the most popular tourism destination of Iceland such as Thingvellir national park, the Geysir area, the Gullfoss, Skalhat and the Kerid.

Thingvellir national park is considered the lap of Iceland’s politics. It was here that Iceland’s politics came into being. At this very place, world’s first parliament came into existence in 930 A.D. Not only because of this reason, but Thingvellir is also very popular as it has very bright historic background and one of the most attractive places in entire Iceland.

Next stop to this golden circle route is the Geysir area. This area is well-known because geo-thermal springs are located here and pulls huge crowd towards themselves. In this part of the world, it appears as if earth is still not fully primed and is boiling. Huge amount of steam swirls above the colorful puddles which are full of mud. This mud is also used for medical purposes. During the peak period of their boil, these geysers can go up to the height of 30 meters.

Next is the Gullfoss in the golden circle. This is not very far from the geysers. One will be amazed to see such a difference in nature in such a short distance. The crystal clear water of river Hvita falls from the height of more than 32 meters into a very narrow canyon. If you are lucky enough to witness this place on a pleasant day in summer season, you can see some outstanding views of rainbows created by the vapors arising from the falling water. In winter season, some areas of this waterfall is frozen which gives huge increase in the beauty of this area.

Next stop Skalhat village holds a very important position in the history of Iceland. This is the place where Icelandic bishops have their royal seat in ancient era. Kerid is the next stop in this golden circle tourism route. It was once a very dangerous looking volcano crater but now, by the courtesy of Mother Nature, it has been converted into a very beautiful underworld lake with the green appearing water.

Other than these very popular sights, Iceland is full of many other surprises for all its guests. There is another route known as the silver circle route which covers the most amazing destinations of western coast. Some of them are Hvalfjordur fjord, which is the biggest in the Iceland, Dieldatunguhver, which is the most powerful geo thermal spring in entire Europe and Reykholt, which is considered as the cultural capital of Iceland.

About the Author

Bjorn Olav Jonsson is a freelance writer. For further information visit the website, www.icelandguest.com.

Magnificent literature of Iceland

Magnificent literature of Iceland

Article by Asberg Jonsson

Till a few years back, Iceland was also known as “the unknown land”. But for few years now, it has been given a new name i.e. “the land of  unknown surprises”. This name is given by all those tourists and visitors who have visited Iceland and witnessed these surprises themselves. Every tourist going there has only one impression in his/her mind. To see and to feel which has never been seen and never been felt before. This is Iceland-the land of surprises. Almost every visitor to Iceland wants to enjoy its untouched and unspoiled nature and also its historic background and literature. People come here to enjoy and to come closer to nature and every kind of adventures.

Let’s talk about the literature of this very splendid north European country “Iceland”. The main Icelandic literature was formed by the inhabitants of Iceland at the time of country’s settlement way back in ninth century. Because Old Norse and Icelandic are the same language that’s why, sometimes, Iceland’s medieval writings are also called Old Norse literature.

The main attraction of Iceland’s literature is the saga of medieval periods. These sagas were written between twelfth and fourteenth centuries. Sagas are basically stories about Norwegian kings and real legendry heroes. These heroes include both man and woman from the land of Iceland as well as Scandinavia. These sagas were initially composed into a prose by unknown authors. It is believed that they have been hugely recited by people and storytellers before getting written into books. Although, no original manuscript is available or exists, but there are some transcripts and collections. These are the revision and extension of the originals.

Handrit-Ágrip_af_NóregskonungasögumHundreds of sagas were written during medieval period in Iceland. These sagas are basically divided into four main parts.

[1] “The Sagas of kings” which includes snorri sturluson’s ‘heimskringla’. This saga outlines the stories of rulers of Norway from ancient time till 1777 AD.

[2] “The sagas of knytlinga” which consists the stories of Danish kings from gorm the old to canute.

[3] “The legendary sagas or the lying saga” which includes the real stories and some fantasies of romance and love stories of knights.

[4] “The sagas of Icelanders”, this category consists the whole account of the so called saga age [900 to 1050 A.D].

This category includes some evergreen sagas like Egil’s saga-the life of warrior poet; laxdaela saga-a triangular love story; gisla saga-the tragic tale of a hero. These sagas are considered the best in Icelandic literature history because they are full of complexities of human and social conflicts.

The same way i.e. the writing form of sagas was used in thirteenth century to write the contemporary history as it was also evolving around the important personalities of that time. This is popularly called “the saga of sturlunga”. This saga narrates the gruesome details of the thirteenth century which led to the conclusion of Old Icelandic commonwealth. Some other historical writings of medieval Iceland includes “the islendingabok” [the book of the Icelanders] by Ari Thorgilsson and “the lananamabok” [the book of settlements] which is also probably written by Ari Thorgilsson. Icelandic literature also includes “eddas” and the “skaldic poetry”.

After the initialization of fourteenth century, the literature of Iceland declined. It is believed that from 14th century to 19th century, nothing has been written but still the Icelandic literature has got everything, a typical literature history requires in making it notable in this world.

About the Author

Asberg Jonsson is the manager of Iceland Visitor, a company specializing in packages for Vacation in Iceland and day tours in Iceland. For more information visit www.icelandvisitor.com

The Beauty And Diversity Of Iceland’s Many Hotels And Guesthouses

The Beauty And Diversity Of Iceland’s Many Hotels And Guesthouses

Article by Roger Hernandez

In the north Atlantic, roughly between Greenland and the United Kingdom, lays the small island-nation of Iceland. And no, it doesn’t get its name from being icy. Iceland has been named something different by each of the foreigners who landed on its coast, but in Norse languages, Iceland is spelled “Island.”

While Iceland has been blessed with all the hot water and geothermal energy a country could ever use, resources have never been their strong point. However, for several reasons, tourism has become a big economic cash cow for Iceland, right next to fish and sheep. There are mountains to climb, snow to ski, horses to ride, food to gorge on, glaciers to dog-sled, you get the picture. And of course, tourists have to have a place to stay.

Hotels abound in almost every city and town in Iceland. In fact, if there’s a gas station, there’s a hotel with half a mile. Fresynes makes it on the map even though the entire town consists of a gas station, a guesthouse and a hotel. Okay, it’s not a town. It’s a stop.

Guesthouses Dutas online are all the rage now. In the United States, people start internet businesses as a full-time job or to make a little money on the side. In Iceland, people open guesthouses. Farmers, gas station managers, graphic designers, everybody’s got a place for rent. These are usually the ones that are the nicest too.

Hospital rooms may seem small when they’re full of equipment, but when the building is renovated into a hostel, the bedrooms are suddenly roomy. A defunct nursing home turns into a fantastically homey guesthouse.

Building new buildings, especially after the severe economic traumas of 2008, is prohibitively expensive, and so Icelanders make full use of the phrase “Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without.” Actually, they fulfill the first three so well that “doing without” never comes into play. As you can see real estate investments in Iceland are very creative business.

Take Hotel Natur, for example. A new guesthouse across the Eyjafjörður fjord from the northern city of Akureyri. Originally a cowshed, it’s now boasts twenty four splendidly furnished rooms with en suite bathrooms, a dining hall that would give most small restaurants a run for their money, conference facilities, and a hot tub. Not bad for a long, low building used for storing hay until 2005.

With all this accommodation at the ready, Iceland just needs more visitors. Southern Europeans like the Spaniards and Italians come in the winter. The summer is for Germans and Brits and Americans and a few Dutch tourists. Each group pretty much sticks to its season. However, Iceland is fantastic all year round. The attractions change, as does the daylight — in the winter it’s dark by 4:00 pm and in the summer it never gets dark — but the beauty of the country and the people are ever constant. Iceland is the world’s best kept secret for a saga-worthy vacation.

About the Author

Roger Hernandez is a keen world traveler and freelance writer. His wanderlust is fueled by his interest in real estate investing and he is a member of Lifestyles Unlimited real estate investing group.