Playing and relaxing in land of wonders

The Blue Lagoon is the ultimate relaxation experience.

The Blue Lagoon is the ultimate relaxation experience.

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Standing in a valley of ice and snow, with only the occasional black volcanic rock interrupting the seemingly endless expanse of white, I feel like I am on another planet.

In fact I’m in Iceland, just outside the capital Reyk-javik, but this remote, alien landscape feels very far from home.

We left our hotel under a cloak of darkness this morning, in an off-road jeep that looked like something from a James Bond film. As the sun slowly rose in the sky, we drove further and further into the wilderness.

Expensive air fares and the high cost of living used to make Iceland seem almost as out of reach as the moon. But with low-cost airlines such as WOW and Easyjet now flying to Reykjavik, it’s a much more affordable holiday destination and young people are seizing the chance to see its amazing sights.

Now edge, a younger division of adventure holiday specialists Explore, are running long weekend breaks to Iceland aimed specifically at 18 to 30-somethings. I’ve tagged along for a four-day adventure.

Most of my fellow travellers are 20-somethings, and we quickly regress to children – sledging down banks of snow (thank goodness I packed waterproof clothing) and hurling snowballs at one another.

As our guide drives us out across the luna landscape to see picturesque waterfalls and volcanic phenomena, he seems to have a story or a fact about everything we pass.

After a day out with Peter, I think I might even know more about Iceland’s history than I do the UK’s!

This mysterious land is full of contradictions. In one afternoon we go from seeing a waterfall that has almost frozen solid, to visiting boiling geysers.

As we join a group of tourists gathered together, cameras at the ready, one bubbling pool suddenly erupts, shooting hot water and steam 15 feet into the air.

On the drive back to the city our guide plays some CDs, determined to show us there is a lot more to the Icelandic music scene than Bjork and Sigur Ros, and we all chill out to the indie tunes and catch a nap ready for another night out in Reykjavik.

Looking like the Michelin man in my layers and layers of warm clothes, I feel a little intimidated about going into some of the achingly cool bars on the city’s main strip.

The women all look incredibly glamorous in their chic capes and the men all seem to have stumbled out of a knitwear fashion shoot.

But everywhere we go everyone is so welcoming, greeting us in perfect English as we unwind scarves and make ourselves cosy in the warmth.

They party hard in Iceland and their local beers and spirits are not as pricey as I had been led to believe.

On our last morning we visit the Blue Lagoon on our way to the airport.

A giant outdoor pool carved into the black volcanic rock, the water is blue from the naturally-occurring silica in the water and is thought to have health-giving properties.

Soon I am relaxing in the steaming water, with a mud pack on my face, feeling cosy, despite the icicles in my hair! A man swims past holding two beers above his head.

My first impressions of Iceland were definitely correct – there really is nowhere else in the world like this.

TRAVEL FACTS

Albertina Lloyd travelled to Iceland with edge. Its four-day Iceland Weekend costs from £279 pp, including three nights’ guest house accommodation with breakfast, transport and the services of a group leader and support staff.

Flights are not included, but can be arranged through edge.

Visit edgeadventures.com or call 0844 225 3135.

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