Courier December Courier - Page 57

Scandinavia COMPILED BY GABE WEBB Glaciers, volcanoes and the Golden Circle Iceland’s capital, Reykjavik, is not a large city (population: 123,000), and its location just outside the Arctic Circle means the shortest winter days have only a few hours of sunlight. But what Reykjavik lacks in numbers, it makes up for with a fascinating history, vibrant nightlife, natural beauty and a creative spirit. Reykjavik can serve as a hub for visitors looking to explore the island’s unusual land- scapes, volcanoes, glaciers and hot springs. NTA member and receptive tour operator GJ Travel Iceland is very experienced with immersing the city’s visitors in the country’s wonders (and in those hot springs). On the company’s Northern Lights-themed evening tours, guides take into account cloud cover Gullfoss waterfalls and the aurora forecast, and their guests are taken away from the city’s light to maximize includes the Golden Circle’s Thingvellir National Park, the their chances of seeing the colorful streaks that light up the volcanic Reykjanes Peninsula and the powerful Gullfoss Arctic skies. Other popular day-trip options include whale- waterfalls, as well as glaciers and the black-sand beaches of watching, puffin spotting and horseback riding tours. the southern coast. GJ Travel also offers multi-day packages that focus on par- For more, email Renato Gruenenfelder at ticular regions of Iceland. Its Best of South Iceland itinerary or go to Get to know Norway with Scandinavia Tours Scandinavia Tours, based in Vågå, Norway, custom designs all its itineraries that feature Norway, Sweden and Denmark. While the winters of the Nordic world might intimidate some, Managing Director Monique van Dijk-Seppola says she has seen increased interest. “We have started to promote the winter season more— hunting, the Northern Lights, skiing, dog sledding and win- ter cruises,” she says, attributing some of the interest to the Disney film “Frozen.” The movie even serves as the inspiration for a high-end tour offering the company packages. “Norway is the Scandinavian country Bergen, Norway with the highest peaks and the deep- est fjords,” she says. As groups travel through the Gudbrandsdalen region on one of the company’s popular routes, they can see the network of valleys as they take in the culture, history and cui- sine of Norway. “We end our journey in the beauti- ful Hanseatic city of Bergen, or we pro- long our journey with a cruise with the famous Hurtigruten.” The passenger line has been ferrying people and cargo along the Norwegian coast since the 1890s, and ships depart Bergen daily. To learn more about Norway and other destinations across Scandinavia, contact van Dijk-Seppola at monique@scandinavia or go to 53