Last weekend saw Alan and I jetting north west for three hours to Iceland to join in with the Rainbow Reykjavik festival. Amro Bear insisted on coming along too but he found a bottle of the hard stuff so we didn't see too much of him !!
For many years now the Gay & Lesbian Community in Iceland have run a very succesful and popular Gay Pride Event attracting more than 100,000 visitors each year. The 2012 event is 8 -12 August and Amro still has some availability. Now, the same team had arranged Rainbow Reykjavic as a winter event and what a success it was. Gay boyz and girlz from all over the US, Canada and Europe joined together for three days of concerts, parties and sightseeing.
The Golden Circle is a fascinating day trip to the east of the capital that travels across lava fields and skirts several volcanoe craters before arriving at Gulfoss Waterfall. For me, this was one of the most spectacular waterfalls I have seen mainly because of its shear size. The fact that it was winter with the snow and ice giving the spray and falls a magical feel also helped.
Nearby is the community of Geysirs. It's a good spot to stop for lunch before walking amongst the spouting bursts of steam and bubbling ponds that are so fascinating to watch. Finally it was on to the Continental Divide where the tectonic plates are gently pulling the continents of Europe and America further apart.
Then there is the Blue Lagoon - a real treat. Billed as a thermal spa, this is a giant natural lake around three feet deep filled with naturally heated mineral water that bubbles up from the ground and gives temperatures around 30degs C. It's quite strange getting undressed and then running from the changing room to the pool wearing only swim trunks in temperatures below freezing to then plunge into the warm water. We went as dusk fell and the drizzle of rain being blown onto our faces was soon warmed by the swim-up bar.
The Blue Lagoon is the most famous spa, and being conveniently located between the airport and the Reykjavik for either on arrival or on departure visits, it is very popular and a must do. However, Iceland has many thermal pools with six in Reykjavik alone - one being particularly popular with the gay community. Many of the countryside communities also have thermal baths and it is even possible to discover them, literally, in the middle of nowhere !!
It is also worth spending some time wandering around the narrow streets of Reykjavik - Europe's most northerly capital or along the seashore to the small port. There is a wide range of bars, restaurants and boutique shops many selling local clothes such as sweaters and outdoor wear at much lower prices than at home. The Hallgrímskirkja Church is Iceland's tallest building and a trip in the elevator to the top of the tower to enjoy the magnificent views over the city should not be missed. Also don't miss the many small museums that tell the story of Iceland's past including the National Museum and Saga Museum.
Iceland in winter makes a great weekend destination. The people welcome visitors as long lost friends and the vibrant gay scene in Reykjavik is easy to discover and join. Once horrendously expensive, the recent economic problems have made Iceland a lot more affordable compared to a few years ago with overall costs no more than in, say, London. Direct flights are now available from Heathrow, Gatwick and Luton or Manchester and Glasgow also helping to keep down the costs.
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Gay insider tips for Peru
- Check out Fallen Angel in Cusco, a funky gay friendly bar and restaurant with creative artwork for sale. Check out the toilets!
- Pick up great souviners at the Pisac Markets
- For the adventurous try the local cuisine of Cuy (Guinea Pig)
- Drinks plenty of fluids and Coca tea in Lake Titicaca
- Get to Machu Picchu early