Wednesday 23rd June 2021. My favourite saying is “Chance favours the prepared mind”, but that hardly covers the dumb luck that means that, all other things being equal, my wife and I will be travelling to Iceland next Monday, 28th June, there to spend a fortnight travelling around with a dedicated guide to show us the sights and help me with my photography.
It may seem that we’ve simply and possibly even cynically taken advantage of travelling to virtually the only country [Jeremy Clarkson voice ON] in the WORLD [Jeremy Clarkson voice OFF] which will (a) accept us without putting us into quarantine and (b) allow us to return without quarantine or self-isolation.*
For us to travel so soon after the international travel gates were opened looks like we were sitting poised at our terminals to book the first possible international holiday. Let me correct this misapprehension. We originally planned to go in June 2020, and contacted Iceland Personal Tours as far back as November 2019. There were no 2020 dates available to suit us, so we simply said, “OK, we’ll go in 2021”. It is a matter of staggeringly good fortune that the dates, travel restrictions and vaccination programmes came together such that we will almost have to duck our heads under the lifting gates as we depart. (I just hope nothing goes wrong between now and next Monday!)
So, after nearly two years of not travelling, we have a whole raft of new and exciting things we need to do:
- Register with the Iceandic authorities
- Organise tests and fill in passenger locator forms for our return
- Get vaccinated and prove that this has happened (fortunately, we’re old enough, and the UK NHS is well-organised enough, that this was arranged automatically).
As well, we also have to try to remember all the things that were once second nature but which have now become strange and new:
- Finding passports
- Arranging taxis
- Worrying about Heathrow Airport departure procedures (e.g. is the Champagne Bar going to be open?)
- Running the food supplies in the house down
- Arranging people to come in and check the house over whilst we’re away
- Working out what clothes are appropriate
- (For me) Agonising about the selection of camera gear
- Organising foreign currency
And this last was the point at which the reality of what we’re proposing really struck home – i.e. it actually cost money; the rest has been just an intellectual exercise. And today, courtesy of the good offices of Royal Mail and Currency Online Group, we received four Icelandic £30 notes, like this:
(The local currency is the Crown, hence the title of the page.)
We may not need them – Iceland is spectacularly online – but I feel exposed not having something to hand to offer as bribes if need be.
So – the adventure is perilously close to being real! We’re both unreasonably excited about the novelty of travelling again and the possibilities of being able to see the wonderful range of sights that Iceland will have to offer, if we can see them through the mist and rain. Please stay tuned to this blog and I will update it with our experiences and images when I can.
* Any readers of this blog in the far-distant future (hah!) will need to know, for historic context, that the planet has been “ravaged” by a respiratory virus (SARS-Covid-2) pandemic and has been in lockdown for effectively 15 months with international travel for such trivial purposes as gawping at scenery largely forbidden. UK Lockdown started March 23, 2020, and (with a tiny intermission) international travel was only permitted starting on 17th May 2021.