Snorkelling between the tectonic plates of America and Eurasia in Iceland

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The Black and Blue combined lava caving and snorkelling tour was one of the best experiences I had while in Iceland earlier this month, and the memory of the day will stay with me for a long time. In fact, it was definitely a highlight of my thirteen days in this amazing country.

The day started in the lava fields near the Blue Mountains, just outside of Reykjavik. White snow covered mountains surrounded us as we alighted from the mini bus, and onto the lava field, strewn with volcanic rocks.

After a week in Iceland, some of the snow had melted and it was great to see some of the land without it. The volcanic rocks were covered in green moss, adding some colour to the white landscape. After being fitted with a helmet that had a headlight attached, we stepped carefully over ice and snow through the lava field, and to an opening in the earth. Onto our bottoms we went, and slid below the surface into the cave.

The lava cave was amazing. We first entered an area where we could stand upright. At the entrance was a huge icicle column with water running within. You could stand upright through all of the lava cave, with only two occasions when you had to get onto your knees to crawl due to ice underfoot and the lower lava walls.

The second part of the lava cave contained frozen ice hanging from the cave’s roof, like ice stalicmites. Our guide was informative about how the lava cave was created, with its different structures, and some great stories about trolls! At one point, we all had to stand with our back to the cave wall and switch off our head lights. We were plunged into such a darkness, I couldn’t even see my hand as I waved it in front of my face.

We journeyed another thirty metres to a low area of the cave where we had to squat down to view. From the cave’s roof, there were hundreds of teeth like structures that our guide compared to the teeth of a whale. Having journeyed less than 500 metres, we made our way back to the cave’s entrance, crawling on hands and knees to emerge back to the outside world.

The snorkelling in Silfra Fissure was superb. Located in Pingvellir National Park,
We met our two snorkelling guides where we spent a good forty five minutes putting on the necessary clothing for the snorkelling in two degrees celsius (36F) water. This included a thermal wetsuit, normal wetsuit, gloves, socks and hat. The guides also sealed some of our gloves and suits with a rubber band at the wrists and neck to prevent water from seeping in. I felt completely protected from the outdoor elements of winter, but still anxious as to how the water was going to feel.

With mask and snorkel in hand, we made our way across the carpark and to the metal stairs where we were helped into our fins. Down the metal stairs and into the fissure I went.

The world beneath the surface of the water was so beautiful and amazing! It’s by far one of the best experiences I’ve had snorkelling. The water was crystal clear with visibility extending eighty to one hundred metres.

As I snorkelled along, the walls of the fissure flanked my right and left. At times it was shallow, but the most spectacular part was when the walls extended deep down below me, and I couldn’t see the sandy floor. It felt like I was flying above a canyon. Rocks of various sizes were scattered about, sometimes inches from my body as I snorkelled over them.

We spent forty five minutes swimming with the current, following a route, and exiting at a different point. It felt strange to finally emerge out of the water. The world beneath the surface disappeared to reveal a calm fissure, surrounded by mountains ranges in the distance. It was such a peaceful experience with such spectacular scenery.

I did manage to get my clothes wet under my thermal wetsuit as a result of water trickling in at the neck. The rubber band I was given didn’t work and not long after I entered the fissure, I felt cold water trickle in. But it didn’t make me cold, as my body warmed the water up quickly. Getting our clothes wet didn’t happen to most people, only two of us. So just make sure you have a spare set just in case.

I also debated whether to buy a waterproof camera. Frankly I wish I had! You can purchase one at the tour office, or bring one with you, the latter being the cheaper option. You can also rent a digital waterproof camera. So the picture attached is compliments of another member on our tour group. The picture doesn’t quite capture the experience, but hopefully gives you some idea of the scenery.

A few tips I’d recommend is to make sure the pants you wear are waterproof and appropriate for outdoor activities. You do need to slide into the entrance of the lava cave on your bottom, as well as crawl or slide to move through one smaller opening in the cave. As it was winter when I was on tour, this meant sitting and sliding on snow and ice. People who were in jeans were rather wet by the time we exited. Also, make sure you have sturdy outdoor hiking shoes or boots.

I highly recommend lava caving, and snorkelling the Silfra Fissure with Arctic Adventures. The snorkelling was totally unforgettable, highly memorable, and one of the best experiences I’ve had. Next time I’ll be back with my PADI so I can scuba dive the Fissure.

For more info, visit http://www.adventures.is

Leona Lewis Showcase Performance – An Experience

So this blog post technically doesn’t fall under travel, but it was a brilliant experience I had to both write about and share. Here’s my write up of Leona Lewis’ Showcase Performance.

I never win anything! My luck in life tends to extend into other areas. But on Tuesday April 14, 2015, I was invited to attend a showcase performance of British singer Leona Lewis after winning two tickets via a twitter competition I entered. I was ecstatic!

From the moment Leona auditioned on the X-Factor, to being crowned winner, I’ve been a long term admirer, and dare I say ‘’fan’’ of this talented singer. Attending her performance at Nelson Mandela’s 90th birthday celebration at London’s Hyde Park in 2006 was the first time we saw her live, and the last time was her Glassheart Tour in Brighton in May 2013.

I felt aggrieved when her music career ‘’stalled’’ after her second album, felt relieved to hear she left Syco, and excited when Island Records signed her. I knew she had so much more to give, and I was hoping her new record label held the same belief.

After handing in all recordable mobile devices with security at the Hospital Club in Covent Garden, I entered an intimate performance room where waiters stood before me offering alcohol. Red wine in hand, and a few canopies later, me and twenty other fans who also won to attend this event, formed the first line in front of the stage.

Lights out, Leona appeared to the claps and cheers of her audience. Dressed in blue denim three quarter length pants, a white shirt and killer heels, she looked stunning. She treated us to five songs from her new album, all brilliant, up-beat, emotional and distinctively different to her previous tunes. Leona’s vocals were as powerful as ever, but there was another layer of emotion behind the lyrics that felt more personal, especially the song titled “Thank you” written for her mother.

With her parents standing only five metres behind to my right, and Leona Lewis herself an equal distance in front of me, we were all reminded why this talented British singer is a force to be reckoned with.

I lingered towards the end with some of the other “fans’’, in hope she would appear to talk to us. I was surprised when on our way up the stairs, we ran into her. Before security moved her away, Leona managed a heartfelt hello and thank you, and some pictures were taken by some of the other fans. I was slightly disappointed I didn’t actually get the chance to personally thank her for replying to a letter I wrote to her nearly two years ago after the death of my partner. Perhaps I’ll get my chance another time!

But what an amazing experience to be in attendance at such an event. Leona Lewis’ showcase performance was sensational, and the world is in for a real treat when her new single and album drops. Leona Lewis is back! But then, was she ever gone?!

Thank you Island Records and Leona for an evening to remember! Can’t wait for the new album!