Susan B. Parker | Greenland, New Hampshire
Guest writer Susan Parker shares her account of Seacoast Science Center’s Eco-Adventure trip, Iceland: Land of Fire and Ice, held September 27-October 6, 2023.
Imagine hearing the news from your across-the-street neighbor the day before the Seacoast Science Center’s early-bird sign up deadline for their eco-adventure trip to to Iceland taking place in the fall of 2023! How did my neighbor know that a second trip to Iceland for me had been high on my travel priority list for two decades after visiting this stunning land 30 years ago? I first visited in June 1994 during Iceland’s summer “White Nights” (the sun does not set) for my work, invited by then President of Iceland HE Mme. Vigdis Finnbogadottir, who convened world leaders in Reykjavik to recommend policies/programs Iceland should consider adopting to better help people with disabilities.
The very next day, on March 21, 2023, I completed the tour application and pressed “send.” Done!
My partner and I have travelled the world for work and pleasure. It is well worth handing over the administrative aspect of overseas travel to the tour organizers which then opens up more quality time to prepare in a relaxed manner for the trip to come. The organizers provided helpful clothing and footwear hints (layers, layers, layers) and a day-by-day descriptive itinerary of activities, locations, footwear recommendations for the day’s walking, and what meals were included in our plan.
I was thrilled to not have to manage the trip paperwork—tickets, vouchers, luggage transfer docs, and confirmation for each of the activities and hotels we frequented—which increased the ability to absorb the benefits of the scenery; relax into the comfortable coach travel, museums, hotel check-ins; and partake in activities like walking behind water falls, on black lava beaches, and cliffs high above the North Sea. We were well prepared to be fully present in conversations with local Icelanders who, for example, regaled us with stories, food and drink on one of the lava beaches which looked the same as when the fisher folk were heading out to hook the codfish and toss them into the dories. It was a good day when the level of the fish in a dory’s bottom reached the oarsmen’s seats.
It is not a stretch to say that our compatible group from the NH-based Seacoast Science Center and Ontario, Canada, were exposed to significantly greater information about all aspects of Iceland through participation in this tour, compared to what can be absorbed if self-guiding and driving yourselves. For us, it was a delight to hand over the trip’s logistics to someone else.
The itinerary contained high-value educational information. There was a great depth of knowledge shared about the effects of tectonic plate movement, earthquakes, lava flow, steam vents in the fields of lava, geysers, volcanoes preparing to erupt, geo thermal water from Mother Earth adapted to heat Iceland homes, glaciers (the largest in Europe is in Iceland’s southeast, calving its icebergs into a lagoon draining to the ocean, the bergs melt time now averaging 30 days).
And the cycle repeats. The itinerary from Reykjavik included the Golden Circle, Thingvellir, where the Atlantic and European land masses meet and the oldest Viking meeting site for the new Settlement’s “annual town meeting”. Motoring to the north west along the coast we explored the length of the Snaefellsnes Peninsula, based in the town of Stykkisholmur. This balanced itinerary included activities, exploration on foot, interesting local meals, historically important sites, local art and publications, agriculture, Icelandic ponies. It would be hard for a traveler to opine that “there is nothing of interest here.”
We anticipate traveling again with Seacoast Science Center and look forward to learning what Eco-Adventures are next.