Michael Strickland's blog on all things travel: news, deals, destinations, dreams and more.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Where I'd rather be: Iceland

Earlier this week, I met a friend for drinks. He'd just come home from a work assignment to Iceland, so his trip took up a good part of the conversation. Before he spoke, I knew little about the country; by the time he finished describing his trip, it had become a must-visit.

I've heard the old saw about how the country was named "Iceland" by explorers wanting to scare off settlers by suggesting the place was nothing but ice (and steering them to icy "Greenland" with reverse logic). So I wasn't surprised to hear my friend's descriptions of the mild climate and beautiful landscape. But what did surprise me was hearing how free and easy it is to explore.

Though I haven't done enough research to check facts yet, he said that most of the country's land is not owned by individuals; even farmers lease the land they work. As a result, anyone can camp virtually anywhere without a permit. Living in a bureaucratic and regulation-heavy country where camping is concerned, I perked up when I heard this. To be able to just wander the countryside and pitch a tent wherever the fancy strikes me... that's a heady prospect, when one considers the natural beauty to be found there. Especially in light of my new backpacking hobby.

Granted, this is all just starry-eyed fantasy at this point, but the discussion was certainly enough to get me thinking seriously about trekking midway across the pond. And Iceland Air offers a $399 round-trip fare this winter. Yes, it sounds crazy to contemplate a winter trip to a place with the word "ice" in its name, but if my friend's account is to be believed, even winters are not as cold as the name suggests. We'll see....

(Read a photographer's account of his camping trip & photo safari; I'm including this link mostly for my own future reference, when I plan my own similar trip.)

See more Iceland photos

Photo credit: Paolo Ardiani



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