My latest weekend in Iceland

The author in IcelandMy latest trip to Iceland was supposed to be centred around a festival taking place in Keflavik called All Tomorrow’s Parties (ATP) Iceland, featuring lots of great bands from all over the world including my favourite band, Thee Oh Sees.

When the festival was outright cancelled, Thee Oh Sees appeared in a small sweaty club in downtown Reykjavik called Hurra. An hour in their company is like being beaten up by four tattooed Californians - whilst enjoying it! It was an amazing night.

The 24 hours of daylight had thrown my senses a little bit as had the racket made by the best band in the world, but I was still able to enjoy the calm of Iceland both on land and out to sea the next day. If I’m honest the sea wasn’t particularly calm and as the notion of ‘drinking responsibly’ the night before my whale watching trip eluded me. I was, to be frank, a bit green around the gills.

But on our trip a minke whale and two harbour porpoises were spotted, along with lots of species of seabird. Another fantastic experience.

While in Iceland I also agreed to do an interview about the abhorrent practice of whaling with a top fella called Charles Gittins from Iceland Monitor, the English language version of one of Iceland’s best known news outlets, Morgunbladid, whilst out there in the company of Clare and Marvin of the heroic International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) organisation.

Whilst being passionate and committed to try and help bring about the end of whaling worldwide, I’m certainly no expert.

But between the three of us we put an inarguable case forward for the whaling to stop and the whale watching industry to be encouraged and supported. This coupled with trips to the Maritime Museum and Harpa made for a non-stop, whistle-stop three-day break in Iceland. Probably my favourite country in the world.

Apart from the whaling.

READ: BBC Radio 6 music guru Marc Riley muses on his love affair with Iceland and whale watching

Everyone I talk to about Iceland either says “I’ve been – it’s amazing” or (more often) they say “It’s on the top of my Places To Go list". And so it should be.

Go if you can. While you are there, go whale watching as well as experiencing all the other amazing things this magical place has to offer…but please, remember IFAW’s message of Meet Us Don’t Eat Us.

--MR

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Azzedine Downes,IFAW President and CEO
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