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 Editor's Review
Icelanders have a joke that when nature finishes creating their country it will be a fine one. Geologically, it is the newest in the world, with submarine volcanic lava regularly erupting into fresh islands and changing the coastline. On-shore, the just-below-the-surface natural forces are present everywhere. Hot springs bubble, geysers shoot skyward (the original ‘Geysir’ is there), and the ‘fields’ are often moss-covered solid lava. Hekla is but one of many still active volcanoes. Unsurprisingly, Iceland invented domestic thermal energy – the whole of Reykjavik is heated, tap-water included, in this way. And the alternative is hydro-electric power that harnesses the many stunning waterfalls such as Gullfoss or Detifoss. Moving at a slower place are the immense glaciers inching to the sea – where whale-watching is another exhilarating experience. You can swim in the ‘Blue Lagoon’ – a dramatic by-product of a power-plant, or take a hill-top sauna, using the chill mountain air like a plunge pool. And perhaps because of months of midnight sun – or sunless winters, Icelanders are great party-people too.
Iceland perhaps, but the capital Reykjavic is ‘hot’; even its name is Icelandic for ‘steam bay’. All its inhabitants’ heating, including water, is provided by the abundant natural geo-thermal resources that lie just below the surface – or above, once you leave built-on areas. (A short trip takes you to the original ‘Geysir’ or to the famed ‘Blue Lagoon’, an open air spa-pool that’s a by-product of a thermal power station.) ‘The Pearl’ is a marvellous combination of hill-top hot-water reservoir, observatory and superb restaurant. In summer you can read a paper in the street at midnight; in winter, seek light at any time of day in the many bars and restaurants packed with large and jolly locals, themselves offering warmth to visitors.

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