a fellow ladymag editor is going to be out for the next couple of weeks; when i wished her a happy vacation, she said that she was going to paris (hooray!) but felt like it would be the last trip she and her husband took until they were forty, thanks to the worthless dollar (bah!). oh, i hear that: i told her about how joe and i were in a similar position with our trip to iceland (we're their age and have the same budget). of course, our trip isn't actually on the books yet: i've talked about it as a distant future, pie-in-the-sky thing for several years (since '02, according to the 'champ archives) and as a "when i've saved enough money by quitting smoking" thing for the last year, but nothing has actually been puzzled out...which is getting ridiculous. our '08-'09 rent increase aces out the butt money i would have socked away (cheers, new management company!), iceland is always expensive (like, switzerland-expensive), and we're not getting any younger. as bill o'reilly would say, fuck it. we'll do it live! we're not leaving tomorrow or anything, but i plunked down my $22.99 for a lonely planet iceland* yesterday, and this trip will happen in 2009 (and get planned ASAP, so i have a sexy trip to anticipate) if it kills me. i'm announcing it to the internets, so it must be so!**
PHASE I: THE SEASONING
cold weather is a friend of mine (and iceland's practically-'round-the-clock summer sun makes me think of insomnia, from That One Summer Robin Williams Played a Bunch of So-So Villains), so part of me thinks that we should try to save money by going toward the end of the off season. according to icelandair, that's march, when flights from new york city to reykjavik jump from $302 each way (on 3/16) to $850 each way (on 3/17). i have no idea (yet) why monday to tuesday is such a key flop there: the closest holiday appears to be "beer day" in reykjavik on the first of the month (to celebrate the end of icelandic prohibition), which...god, iceland is adorable. the bad news is that we're not big sportspeople and wouldn't make much of the snow, at least in the skiing-and-snowboarding sense (i could be convinced to snowshoe): the good news is that november to mid-march is the best season for viewing the northern lights, so i could run around in the middle of the night and pretend to be lyra from the golden compass.
then again, high seasons are high seasons for a reason: iceland's green hills are supposed to be jaw-dropping. i've also read that some of the smaller, more far-flung villages (read: most of what's outside of reykjavik) are only accessible via public transport in the warmer months. if we do manage to get to iceland more than once in our lives, that second visit probably won't happen for a very long time - so we have to see everything we need to see this time. which brings me to august and the flight of the pufflings. according to national geographic,
Iceland is home to one of the world's largest colonies of puffins, and every August millions of newborn puffins leave their burrows in the cliffs of Heimaey—the main island in the Westmann Islands chain off the south coast of Iceland—to fly off over the north Atlantic. They leave at night, using the moon to navigate. But the streetlights of Heimaey seem to throw off some of the young birds' flight plans.the next day, the kids chuck the pufflings back into the air like footballs, which apparently gives them time to get their bearings and ride an updraft into the sky (or at least splash-land in the ocean instead of in a town square). it sounds adorable, and i might need to see it (especially if i can't be in iceland for bun day before lent, when icelandic children beat their parents with cream puffs).
When that happens, it's time for the children of Heimaey to launch the Puffin Patrol—basically a search and rescue operation for the befuddled birds, which, instead of flying out to sea, fly into town where they crash-land and end up on the streets.
"They don't survive if they stay in the town; cats and dogs eat them, or they just die. It's really good to save them," said Einar Karason, a young Icelandic boy.
Each night during the month of August, moms and dads lead troops of kids through town looking for stranded pufflings. They use flashlights to search the ground near buildings and streetlights.
When a bird is spotted, children rush to scoop it up and bring it in off the "mean streets" of Heimaey for the night.
i'm new to this research, internets, and would be grateful for your land-of-bjork-visiting guidance, if you have any (or want to make something up). know anyone who's been to iceland? when would you go, and what would you want to do there? planning any overseas jaunts of your own?
*damn, even the guidebooks are getting crazy expensive; also, damn, i could have saved like $7 by not seizing the day and ordering by mail instead.
**hey, it worked for smoking. i have great faith in kidchamp announcements.