Minty Visits Iceland
Minty Bear has only been with us for a very short time but we immediately dispatched him to take a look at Iceland as a holiday destination. Here’s what he had to say;
Hi Minty how was the journey to Iceland?
Well Steve, I wanted to fly from Manchester direct to Reykjavik Keflavik so I booked an Icelandair flight. There were also Easyjet flights too but the Icelandair flights were better times. The flight took 2hr 35m but was very smooth. The airport is actually 50Km from ReykJavik so the transfer took 40 minutes by Flybus. I could have hired a car and there were plenty of taxis outside too. Overall the journey was good.
Ok so what can you tell me about Iceland?
You know that Iceland is an island but did you know it’s the 2nd largest Island in Europe and the 18th largest in the world. It’s just south of the North Pole so in summer there are long days with almost 24hr daylight. The obverse of this is that in winter it’s dark for nearly 24 hrs with an upside of the potential to see one of natures’ most spectacular exhibitions; the Aurora Borealis.
I’ve heard that it’s called ‘The Land of Fire and Ice’ why is that?
The fire is its dramatic landscape with Volcanoes, Geysers, Hot Springs and Lava field. The ice is the massive glaciers that are protected within the national parks of Vatnajökull and Snæfellsjökull.
With the wide variations in light and dark what is there to do there?
There are lots of things to do. The Icelandic rivers are perfect for rafting, fishing, diving and snorkelling. The mountains, volcanoes and glaciers are good for hiking, climbing, dog-sledding and snowmobiling. When the snow is there the hills are good for skiing and snowboarding. The waves on the shores are good for surfing and its caves are perfect for exploring. You can even explore the barren inland on a jeep safari.
Iceland is so close to the North Pole what can you tell me about Santa and Christmas celebrations?
Santa is close by at the North Pole but there is a tradition in Iceland and it centres on the 13 ‘Yule Lads’ as they are known. They all live in the mountains and it all starts on the 12th December when the first Yule Lad walks down from the mountain. He comes bearing gifts for the children of the towns and each day another Yule Lad descends on the town bearing more gifts until the last one on the 24th December.
When would you say the best time to go to Iceland is?
It all depends on what you want to go for but in summer, there is a midnight sun and the temperature gets a little hotter. If you want to hike then the best time is July or August. If you want to see the Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis) then February, March, September or October are best.
Minty’s Pub Quiz Trivia;
- Accordingly, the western part of Iceland, to the west of the volcanic zones, belongs to the North American plate and the eastern part to the Eurasian plate, which means Iceland is actually in two continents
- There is a volcanic eruption every four years on average
- Since the Middle Ages, a third of all lava that has covered the earth’s surface has erupted in Iceland
- Over 90% of housing in Iceland is heated by natural geothermal heat – one of the cheapest and cleanest forms of energy in existence
- Iceland’s capital, Reykjavík, was the first non-English speaking city in the world to be named a UNESCO City of Literature in 2011
- New Year’s Eve is probably the biggest party of the whole year. On this night everyone is allowed to light fireworks, which requires special permission from the authorities on other occasions
- The Icelandic language remains unchanged from ancient Norse. That means 1,000-year-old texts are still easily read
- There are no surnames or family names in Iceland – Icelanders use the traditional Nordic naming system, which includes a last name that is comprised from their father’s (or mother’s) first name with the addition of -dóttir (- daughter) or –son
- Iceland had the first democratically elected female and openly gay Prime Ministers
- There are no McDonald’s restaurants anywhere in Iceland
- First names not previously used in Iceland must be approved by the Icelandic Naming Committee
- Iceland’s spectacular landscapes have been used in the popular HBO TV series, Game Of Thrones