Before I describe my super fun trip to Iceland at the beginning of this month a quick note on passports. Every few months over the last couple of years we have advocated for renewing your passports in plenty of time before travel, due to the excessive processing times. At the moment that is still true, though there are plans afoot to speed up the process. Well, there's one more reason to get that application in right now...
Effective December 27, 2021 (tomorrow) the passport application fee worldwide will be as follows:
- First time adult or adult passport replacement: $165
- Adult passport renewal: $130
- Minor passports (under age 16): $135
Effectively this a $20 increase per application. If you are planning to travel internationally at Spring Break and have a passport expiring before September 2022, then take advantage and get your application in over the next few days.
Back to Iceland, where I experienced a small group tour with a supplier we are a strong advocate for, G Adventures. They occupy the top spot we think in value adventure tours globally. With most of their tours limited to 12 max, the focus is on experiences rather than the accommodation, and I can tell you, I had a huge amount of fun. Our guide was hilarious but also extremely knowledgeable and our group came together perfectly, such that we are all likely to be in contact with each other for many years to come.
Top 5 - Iceland in December
1. Reykjavik (above and below)
Walkable even in the freezing temperatures of December due to the geothermal pipes under the sidewalks, the city is a delight. We visited incredible bakers such as Braud & Co, the iconic Hallgrimskirkja Cathedral, that is not only beautiful in itself, but affords a wonderful vists if you make the climb to the top of the bell tower, and some great restaurants, with the lamb I had a Reykjavik Kitchen entering my consideration of an all-time top dish.
One thing is certain. When you are down to 5 hours of sunlight every day, you make the most of that time!
2. Grass roof houses (below)
I'm not quite sure why they are so charming but who could resist the allure of a small grass roofed abode such as in my photo. First used by the Vikings back in the 9th century grass is still used for insulation purposes to this day, lack of timber being a main reason, but also the climate suits the technique. Not too many are built these days, but it is still possible to see thousands in the country and even sleep under a grass roof.
3. Geysir (above and below)
Geysir, not surprisingly, is a geyser in southwestern Iceland and was the first described in a printed source and the first known to modern Europeans. So the word actually originated right here. Geysir itself is currently dormant but just 100 yards away is Strokkur and this puts on it's show on average every 12 minutes. Then there are dozens of hot pools around, astounding views, especially on a fine weather day such as we enjoyed, and the occasional sulphurous smells are easily endured.
4. Solheimajokull Glacier
In the space of a month I've enjoyed 2 otherworldly hikes. The first up a 1000ft high red sand dune in Namibia, and then this week a stunning glacier hike in Iceland.
Nature has overtaken me in my travels in the last few months and I am so grateful.
Solheimajokull Glacier has retreated a good distance in recent times as global warming takes it's toll. When the car park was mapped out 20 years ago, it was a 2 minute walk to the ice. Now it's a 20 minute hike and the lake you see in the photos didn't exist.
Equipped in full helmet and crampons which were essential, this was so thrilling, and I cannot recommend highly enough if you have a solid base level of fitness.
In the space of a few short hours as we toured the "Golden Circle" south east of Reykjavik we experienced up close and personal 3 of the greatest waterfalls you'll ever see. They were magical in the snow and ice and with the low sunlight, but I want to come back in a late spring one year to see the surrounds covered in wildflowers also. Surrounding photos are of Skogafoss, Seljalansfoss and the extra wide one above is Gullfoss (Golden Falls).
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