Rugged Iceland

I was so excited to return to Iceland. It's a country quite unlike anywhere else that I've ever been - barren, wild, and spectacular. In one moment you struggle to understand why the population (a meagre 330,000) put up with the inhospitable conditions - and in the next moment, you struggle to leave the immense beauty and raw power of nature that it presents.

My last visit had seen nothing but a sky so grey you could get your white balance off it, and rain ranging from drizzle to torrential. Par for the course in a country with such an ever-changing climate, yes, but still, not ideal.

What a change I was in for.

An astonishing natural phenomenon that reminds you of this power are the geysers, now a popular tourist attraction, which spurts boiling water into the air every few minutes

For a country with relatively little vegetation, the range of colours, shades and shapes are incredible

We hit lucky with the Aurora. Big Time. On our first night, we saw a faint glow and some movement, but the next day, we headed out of town after a wonderful meal at Grill Market in Reykjavik (strongly recommended, though not cheap), and were treated to an incredible display that hasn't been seen for months, swirling 180 degrees above our heads and over Reykjavik on the horizon.

It's cliche to say, but pictures don't do it the slightest bit of justice.

I initially found a reference to this lava tunnel cave, Raufarholshellir, which is around a mile long, as a single, passing reference in a guide book. Much searching and several tourist information advisers later, and I found it, in a layby, with a sign saying that you might want to take a torch in with you!

Find an excuse to go.

The worst bit is people making jokes about a frozen food supermarket.