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The Perfect Storm

Maybe you’re that guy who can’t take the heat—sweatily clinging to the AC all summer, just waiting for January’s powder to arrive again. Dream a little dream of Iceland with me, where the weather changes as drastically as the landscapes.

I arrived in Reykjavik in early February to one of the largest snowfalls they had received in over a year. In fact, the entire year previous, Reykjavik had almost no snow on the ground. An incredible thing considering how far north it is, but apparently normal due to the warm ocean currents in the area. On average, the winter in Reykjavik is actually warmer than it is in Toronto. And they have the Blue Lagoon. Checkmate.

I picked up my rental car (one of the best ways to see the country) and decided to head out to visit the Golden Circle. Leaving Reykjavik, it was sunny, warm and gorgeous. Forty minutes down the road, I was trapped in one of the worst blizzards of my life. From the mouth of a Swiss-Canadian, you know that’s big. I struggled through the snow, a three-hour ordeal that I would not like to repeat, to arrive at my final destination, Hotel Ranga. All of my cares were then washed away by an incredible landscape, outdoor geothermally-heated hot tubs and one of the most incredible meals I’ve ever had, involving a pint of locally brewed lager and a lamb tenderloin to die for.

Sufficiently stuffed and off to bed, I signed myself up for their Borealis wake-up call. This means you don’t have to stay up all night in hopes that you will see the Northern Lights. They just call your room, you throw on your coat (or bathing suit if you are a hot tub fan like me), stumble outside and take in the scenery. They will even serve you some drinks.

Iceland is truly a land of extremes, swinging you from almost ditching your car in a blizzard, to enjoying a single malt in the hot tub just hours later, watching one of nature’s most incredible light shows.

Winter travel can be challenging but enjoyable. Hotels are readily available, often at great prices. Daylight is at a premium however, with only three or four hours daily, so don’t expect any sunbathing. The most rewarding aspect is the chance to see the Aurora Borealis in one of the best spots on the planet, as well as taking in some of Iceland’s incredible winter excursions. If you’re planning on checking out some more remote sights, let us book you an excursion in a super jeep (see the photos) to avoid the same issues I experienced. Other activities include dog sledding, skiing, and sea kayaking through glacial waters, all tied in with the many cultural experiences that are available year-round. Trust me, you’ll love it.

Mike Poppe waits patiently for the heat wave to pass while everyone else calls him crazy. He plans brilliant trips in Asia in the meantime.

The winter in Reykjavik is actually warmer than it is in Toronto. And they have the Blue Lagoon. Checkmate.

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