Today’s blog comes from David Broadley, a Travel Expert in our Sheffield store who was not content with regaling us with his tales of Australia and Costa Rica has now moved on to Iceland, Canada and the USA. Yeah we kinda hate him too.
To the rest of the world a Nor’Easter is a big old storm, with winds from (you guessed it) the North East. Here at STA Travel, it’s a flight route that spans 3 incredible countries – Iceland, Canada and the USA – and will (get ready for the pun) blow you away!
Blue Lagoon Iceland
The route is based on flying from London to Iceland, on to Toronto, then making your own way south before flying back from New York or another on the East Cost of the USA. You’re able to stop off for up to 7 days in Iceland on your way across the pond, at no extra cost to your airfare. Whilst Iceland may be small, with a total population close to 330,000 – roughly the population of Sunderland (thanks Wikipedia), it is packed full of inescapably beautiful landscapes, ridiculously charming people, and a penis museum. I’m not kidding.
A land of ice and fire and steam and waterfalls…
After a Friday evening introduction to Icelandic beverages, the next day, fresh as daisies, my friend and I piled into our hire car, and hit the road. Whilst Reykjavik is utterly charming, the real highlights of Iceland lie outside the capital, in the interior – a true land of ice and fire.
We drove the popular “Golden Circle” route, a loop taking a few hours around some of the more popular highlights – the unpronounceable Þingvellir, the more pronounceable Gullfoss, and the almost pronounceable Geysir. The first is the site of Iceland’s first Parliament, as well as an area of awesome geological beauty, the second is a colossal and thundering waterfall, and the latter is, as you probably guessed, a geyser (and what a geyser!).
We also extended our trip, driving south towards the pesky Eyjafjallajokull Volcano, to visit the stunning Seljalandsfoss waterfall, which you can walk behind as it thunders over your head. At all times you’re surrounded by wild, colossal natural beauty, with mountains, glaciers and volcanoes dotting the horizon. It’s hard to keep your eyes on the road but luckily there’s hardly any other traffic!
My all too brief time in Iceland was up a day later, and after a stop at the sublime Blue Lagoon (my body has never been so confused, with gloriously warm natural spring water soaking everything below my neck, and my head being rather more chilled), I waved goodbye to my friend and headed off to Canada, eh.
Toronto was the next stop and I got exploring – heading up the CN Tower, visiting the Ice Hockey Hall of Fame, and sampling some Tim Horton’s coffee, all the while enjoying the fall (or autumn as normal people call it) foliage on the trees. Having never been to Canada before, I was impressed how it lived up to the stereotypes – everyone was friendly, they love ice hockey, and it’s pretty cold!
From Toronto I decided to head to Montreal for a few days, and up to Quebec City after that. This meant entering the predominantly French speaking region of Canada, which in turn meant dusting off my high school French – “Bonjour monsier, je voudrais un pamplemousse”.
Montreal is a vast and interesting city, with the looming “Mount Royal” sitting smack bang in the middle. This wooded hill affords incredible views over the city, and also gives the city its name.
"Montreal"..."Mount Royal"....get it?
For F1 enthusiasts, you can also head out and visit the nearby circuit, or for the food lovers, you can try the local delicacy – poutine. Poutine consists of chips, gravy and cheese – a winning combination, especially after a few of the local beers, one of which was called “la fin du monde”. This translated means “the end of the world”, and trust me, it’s accurate.
East Coast calling
Icelandair fly out of New York, as well as Boston and Washington on the American east coast & I didn’t have time to hit the dizzying lights of New York, so opted for the closer Boston. I was just in time for Halloween as well, which the Americans do in style. After a surreal night out surrounded by every conceivable costume, I sadly headed back to the UK the next day, my brief adventure over.
Honestly though, I’d barely scratched the surface. In Iceland I hadn’t gone whale watching, eaten shark, driven the ring road, seen the northern lights… In Canada, a country so vast it’s almost incomprehensible, I hardly got out out the cities to see Canada’s true beauty, and my time in America was so limited that I’d barely arrived before I left! So much more to do next time…