Jeanine Barone is a travel and food writer whose work appears in numerous publications, from National Geographic Traveler to Travel + Leisure. Iceland is one of her specialties. Jeanine was kind enough to take a few moments to answer a few questions I had about traveling to Iceland and I think you’ll find it very useful no matter when you may be visiting. You can read more from Jeanine on her travel blog J The Travel Authority, I hope you’ll take a minute to check it out.
From what you’ve heard, what are things like in Iceland itself – aside from the delays, how has Eyjafjallajökull affected travelers in the country?
There don’t seem to be any worries for travelers in Iceland, unless you are right in the area that’s erupting. Life is basically going on as usual, especially in Reykjavik which is west of the volcano whose ash plume is blowing east. In fact, the Reykavik tourism people are providing a very cool Welcome Card that gives you access to all their museums, geothermal pools, buses and much more. Here are some videos of how travelers are enjoying their stay in Reykjavik. Interestingly, some say that they always wanted to see Iceland so the flight delays are now allowing that.
Plus, a lot of people may not realize that flights to and from Reykjavik and the U.S. are running normally. And, in fact, flying to Reykjavik from the U.S. is a “secret” way of getting to Europe, since Icelandair has flights to various Scandinavian cities right now — Stockholm, Copenhagen and Oslo, for example.
To keep track of the delays on various flights, check out Icelandair’s website and also follow them on twitter @Icelandair.
Other than [jet] air travel, what are some of the alternative ways to visit Iceland?
Smyril-Line runs a small cruise ship between Denmark and Iceland. But it’s only a once-a-week route and this Wednesday’s sail is full.
Do you have any best guesses on how the eruption might (if at all) actually benefit travelers in the coming weeks?
Aside from these disruptions in air travel, I think a good thing for travelers is that it puts Iceland on the tourist map for those who don’t think about this lovely, picturesque country all that much. There is a boutique hotel (Hotel Skogar) at the foot of the volcano that will be a prime place to lay your head once things simmer down. Plus, their sister luxe property, Hotel Ranga, is outside of the evacuation zone, so it’s up and running and offering helicopter tours over the volcano. You can see the volcano from the dining room windows!
Any recommendations for someone who might happen to be stuck in Reykjavik now?
If I had to be “stuck” in a city, I would love it to be Reykjavik. Most tourists only come here as an all-too-brief stopover on their way to Europe, so all they ever see is Kevlavik Airport or the Blue Lagoon. And that’s it. Reykjavik will delight anyone who loves art — they have some amazing exhibits from notable painters and sculptors (Reykjavik Art Museum) – and cuisine, among other things. (Their chefs are some of the best around, regularly garnering awards for their creative dishes.)
I’m particularly fond of these restaurants: The Fish Market, Dill, Vox, the Fish Company. Plus, if you’re still stressed out about your delayed flight despite all this entertainment, I’d check out Blue Lagoon’s downtown spa — not the one everyone ventures to that is closer to the airport. Here you can enjoy some of their signature silica mud treatments and even get a day pass for the health club that’s in the same building. Not a bad way to spend your time while being “stuck” in one of my favorite cities.
This is the official tourist website for Reykjavik and it’s chock full of information regarding the volcano as well as everything you’d want to know about fun things to do in Iceland’s capital city.
Jeanine, thank you again very much for taking the time and getting back to me so quickly for this timely interview. Once you’re done reading this interview you can learn more about this fascinating country by reading Jeanine’s posts on Iceland at J The Travel Authority.
[photos by: Sverrir Thor (ash cloud), jasper wiet (Hotel Ranga), Mark Dalzell (Fish Company Restaurant)]
With my travels in Mexico, I’ve basically been in a news blackout, so I didn’t even know about the second eruption until two days ago, when some of my fellow European hostel guests started talking about the way it was affecting them. Many were expecting relatives to join them, but have now been told their flights would be delayed at least a week. Pretty amazing that ash could be so destructive to an airplane engine. Great post!
It’s certainly put a stop on my plans both in Europe and over to South America. Hoping things start moving in a few days but you never know 🙂 The area of the closed space a few days ago was incredible. At least the precaution was taken and nothing happened, I prefer that to the airlines being hasty.
It’s all very topical. As UK and some of European airspace has been shut down in the last week, it’s having a major impact over here with many holiday-makers stranded, holiday plans being cancelled and lots of stories of struggles of people trying to get home with long and expensive journeys. Plus I gather the trains were on strike in France which didn’t help.
I’m afraid at the moment, the last things people in the UK have on their mind is a nice holiday in Iceland!
haha true, but it would be a nice place to get ‘stuck’ unless there were an emergency you’re traveling to.
It is even big news in Australia who have numbers of people stranded trying to fly back home to Europe. Qantas is being very cautious as they fly long-haul flights to Europe (obviously) and hence high in the sky where the ash is at its worst. Iceland is an absolute favourite country of mine and I really enjoyed my visit to Reykjavik, though I’d strongly suggest to get out a bit and see some of the spectacular countryside, waterfalls and glaciers. It is ironic that IcelandAir seems to be benefitting in a small way from a volcano which has closed much of Europe’s airspace.
I saw an article somewhere (I can’t recall) which showed some engines from ash test flights. After seeing those I’m glad the airlines took caution. It’s funny like you say, I think Iceland will actually benefit from Eyjafjallajökull’s ash.
What an interesting take in this article- basically turning lemons into lemonade! 🙂
I’m curious though- if someone is in Morocco right now and their flight back to the US was going to be via Spain- is the eruption going to make a difference with the Spain-US sector?
Nope, not as of now. All of Spanish airspace is open although I suspect there would probably be delays since everything is so out of order…
Another bonus: it seems prices on flights to Iceland have decreased very slightly for the summer and fall. I’ve found round trip prices as low as $650 in June and $570 in September on Icelandair. Usually it’s more like $700-$900 round trip.
And I agree with Jeannine – I’d take being stranded in Iceland any day. I’ve just booked tickets to go back in September.
Awesome! Icelandair is one of my favorite airlines and Iceland is just a great place to visit. Have a great trip this fall 😉
Anil, I really like the approach to this article because everything else I have been reading about the volcano has been about people griping. I am so glad that you are putting a positive spin on being in Iceland during this time.
I always think of being ‘stranded’ as stuck on a tropical island or in a war zone or something. Getting a few extra days in Iceland either by choice or by ash isn’t being stranded, it’s good luck 🙂
My long haul flight to Europe is on next week and I’m glad the Europe air space has been reopened 2 days ago. Iceland itself is facing problem now when the ash plume is blowing towards west now and its major international airports are closed… really hope the volcano will stop erupting soon.
Yes, the two big airports in Iceland are now closed. I’m not sure there’s any reliable way to predict what the volcano will do…at least things are up and running again and there were no major plane accidents.
How cool that there is a cruise ship that goes between Denmark and Iceland — I had no idea! I think Jeanine is right in that this has definitely brought Iceland into the awareness of people who never considered it a tourist destination. While it may have freaked some people out, I think it definitely opened some peoples’ eyes as to how beautiful and wonderful it is.
I bet quite a few people still think Iceland is nothing but a frozen tundra. That name doesn’t do it justice!
Excellent article. We are experiencing close down of airports in Iceland for the first time now and this afternoon the mountains south of the city disappeared in a volcanic mist. Up to that, we had not noticed any inconveniences at all here in Reykjavik due to the eruption.
So if you’d like to see “live” volcanoes – you know where to go 🙂
One more great reason to visit Iceland, such a wonderful country 🙂
What a great interview. So many people have been reporting on the chaos surrounding the ash cloud that it’s refreshing to see somebody taking an insider’s perspective:)
Taking the boat over from Copenhagen to see a live volcano sounds like a great new European side trip to take.