The name Iceland conjures up many images: ice, for one, and a climate characterized by the country’s proximity to the Arctic circle; volcanic activity, which stole headlines and grounded planes when the Eyjafjallajokull volcano erupted in 2010; and a long list of amazing natural phenomena including glaciers, geysers, geothermal pools, and sometimes the Northern Lights. When we imagine Iceland, perhaps we see the long days of Summer sunlight and Winter darkness that typify such Northern countries. Perhaps we experience the quiet that must overwhelm the geographically remote, least dense nation in Europe. Or, perhaps, we hear the often eerie music produced by renowned Icelandic artists such as Bjork and Sigur Ros.
No matter what, there is undoubtedly a mysterious and seductive aura surrounding Iceland that is brought on by its stunning – and sometimes terrifying – natural wonders.
As ash from Iceland’s Eyjafjallajokull volcano continued to keep European airspace shut down over the weekend, affecting millions of travelers around the world, some government agencies and airlines clashed over the flight bans. Some restricted airspace is now beginning to open up and some limited flights are being allowed now as airlines are pushing for the ability to judge safety conditions for themselves. The volcano continues to rumble and hurl ash skyward, if at a slightly diminished rate now, as the dispersing ash plume has dropped closer to the ground, and the World Health Organization has issued a health warning to Europeans with respiratory conditions.