Greenland, Iceland and More...in three days!
Walking paths line Irelands northern coast.
Though I wouldnt recommend the pace, I recently visited three islands in five days. My journey took me first to Iceland, then on a day trip to Greenland, and onward to Northern Ireland. I found all three destinations loaded with spectacular scenery and charming people . . . and definitely worth a longer stay. Ill be heading back to Iceland soon, so Ill wait to tell you about its many attractions. In the meantime:
Greenland for A Day
Was I mad to consider taking a day trip to Greenland, a mere 4-hour stay on Kulusuk Island bracketed by 2-hour flights from Reykjavik, Iceland? I wouldnt lose any time (Greenland time is two hours earlier than Iceland time) but reckoned on having to settle for a day-trippers mecca of souvenir shops and kitschy native presentations.
Was I ever wrong! It turns out that one flight per day from Iceland (only in summer season) brings about 35 people to Kulusuk. Landing on a gravel airstrip, youre greeted by a one-of-a-kind airport sign stating that the only people allowed on the airfield with guns are hunters. After a hike from the airfield over rough terrain, past an inlet where we spotted numerous dead seals (its the islanders natural refrigerator we were told), we reached the 350-person settlement of Cape Dan. Yes, there are some souvenirs for sale, but we also got to taste whale meat (its like chewing gum). After a very short Inuit dance exhibition, we climbed into small motorboats and local fishermen steered us out to the icebergs floating in the bay.
The return flight to Reykjavik began with an extremely low fly-over of a glacier, a chance to see how the fissures in the ice widen and deepen the closer the frozen mass gets to the ocean. My trip was pricey (approximately $375 for the day) and worth every penny. Contact: Guðmundur Jónasson Travel, Borgartún 34, 101 Reykjavík, Iceland; 011-354-511-1515, fax 011-354-511-1511; firstname.lastname@example.org; www.gjtravel.is.
Northern Ireland Walks
I traveled to Croatia just a year after major hostilities had ended and found it to be one of the most peaceful places Id ever visited. I felt the same way about Northern Ireland. Green, lush, and tranquil, the countryside boasts scenic drives, evocative views of ruined castles along the coastline, and the Giants Causeway, one of the U.K.s two World Heritage Sites (the other is Stonehenge). With only an afternoon to visit the rugged northern coast, imagine my delight to have the National Trust guide for the Giants Causeway, Dave Southall, walk with me down the sloping road to this geological wonder.
I learned from him about the various strata of lava on the coast and both the geological explanation (caused by volcanic eruptions) and mythical explanation (built by giant Finn McCooll) for 40,000 hexagonal stone columns that stretch from the coast out into the sea.