Tuesday, 18 February 2014

A return to the land of Ice and Fire

 

It doesn't even take all my fingers to count the number of countries I've visited more than once. Turkey tempted me back after the one and only package holiday I've taken left me yearning to explore more. After a red sea dominated first trip to Egypt, I returned five years later to wander amongst the grand monuments of the ancient Pharaohs. Australia was just too big for one holiday, so I headed back again after a two year gap (and still haven't seen the vast majority of the country). A chance opportunity lead me to the mountains of Switzerland earlier this summer for a second time, and with their close proximity, it's no wonder I've been to France and Germany many times.

But on the whole, there's just too much to see on this incredible planet for me to re-trace my steps very often. Every time I wistfully reminisce about a country I adored, I remember all the others on my wish list.


Occasionally, however, something comes along that I just can't say no to. Something completely unexpected, that shakes up all my carefully laid plans.

Early autumn 2012, I was doing my usual browse of travel websites when an article caught my eye. For an extremely short period of time, a group of explorers were leading tourists inside dormant Thrihnukagigur volcano, situated just outside of Reykjavik. Access to a magma chamber from the surface allowed visitors to descend deep inside and explore the colourful interior. It was something straight out of a Jules Verne book, and I was wildly jealous. Many of the participants were (not surprisingly) journalists, and their descriptions had me captivated. How had I missed the announcement of this?!


I searched the website in vain, but every ticket was sold. Worse still, the health and safety elements of the experience were still being ironed out, and it would potentially be a few years until the company could re-open for business. I expressed my disappointment to F, bookmarked the page, and moved on.

In January 2013, I was skimming travel stories once more when a familiar name caught my eye. For a limited season only, the tour was going ahead again this year. By then we'd already booked our Arctic cruise, but having missed out once, I just couldn't let this opportunity pass me by again. With some careful juggling of finances, I excitedly booked our tickets, followed by some (thankfully) cheap flights.

A year and a half after our last visit, we were already returning to Iceland...

 

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