Iceland: Welcome to our new destination

One of the hottest destinations in the world at the moment – or maybe one of the coolest if we’re talking a little more literally – we’ve just launched our new tour to Iceland, and we sure are excited!

At just 39,000 square miles and with a population the size of Leicester, this small island packs a punch when it comes to adventure travel. And, with so much to see and do, we’ve put together an exciting new tour covering the best that Iceland has to offer.
So, let us introduce you to our fantastic new destination…
The youngest land in Europe and a product of volcanic activity, it only began to rise from the Atlantic seabed around 25 million years ago. In fact, it is still developing to this day! Its newest land emerged during an underwater eruption in 1963 – It’s not even pension age!
Under its icy exterior, Iceland actually has a bubbling heart of fire with 30% of the country is actually formed from lava – there is, on average, a volcanic eruption every 5 years.
As you can imagine, this fantastic destination could keep us talking for days. But, we wouldn’t want to spoil the wonderful surprises Iceland has to offer, so to dip your toe into Iceland, here are some of our favourite things to see and do.

The Golden Circle

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One of the most popular tourist routes in south Iceland, the Golden Circle takes in three major attractions, all within 100km of the capital of Reykjavik – home of Icelandic parliament, Þingvellir, Geysir and the roaring waterfall, Gullfoss.
Probably the most iconic spot on the Golden Circle, if you’re looking for some volcanic action, is Geysir geothermal area.
Geysir was the first erupting water spring unearthed and, in turn, became the first one that Europeans had heard about and has since shared its name with the natural phenomenon, albeit with a slightly different spelling, as you may see below.
A tourist hotspot, but not one to be missed, the Strokkur (Icelandic for ‘Churn’) is one of the most impressive geysers on the island. It erupts up to 30 meters every few minutes and is all down to an earthquake that unblocked the conduit of the geyser in 1789.
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But, whilst there is plenty to enjoy just outside of Reykjavik, there’s plenty not to be missed if you’re staying within the city, too.
Its centre is compact and pays homage to its Viking history, sitting in the shadow of dramatic mountains, it’s certainly picturesque. It also gives you a chance to really tick something off of your bucket list… Whale watching.
Not your every-day activity, with over 20 different species of whale in the waters around Iceland, including the blue, humpback and the iconic killer whale, this unique opportunity will really introduce you to a fascinating other world, under the sea.

Lovely Lagoons

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Of course we can’t talk about Icelandic wonders without mentioning the world famous, Blue Lagoon. Iceland’s most popular tourist attraction, the Blue Lagoon is a large thermal bathtub that pools six million litres of geothermal sea water from 2000 metres below the earth’s surface!
Its mineral rich and the aqua blue, milky waters sit at between 37 and 39°C, and you really will feel like you’re taking the soak of a lifetime as you pamper yourself with a healing and exfoliating mud mask containing silica, algae and other minerals that are picked up from the lava bed along the way. Nature can be so good to us…

Thundering Waterfalls

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If thundering waterfalls in picture perfect settings are your thing, then here’s why Iceland could be just perfect for you.
Skógafoss waterfall once used to sit at the coastline but since the shore has receded as the island emerges from the sea, it’s left sitting an impressive 3 miles from the coast and, boy, is it impressive.
One of the biggest in Iceland at an impressive 25 metres across and a drop of 60 metres, on a sunny day, the huge amount of spray that lifts from the tumbling water actually created a single or double rainbow on sunny days. Now, that’s pretty as a picture.
It’s one of the best known waterfalls in Iceland, with its source being the volcano glacier, Eyjafjallajokull, and you can get up-close-and-personal with Seljalandsfoss. Yes, there’s actually a path leading you behind the waterfall! What a view!
But, like we said, we wouldn’t want to spoil all the fun of visiting Iceland for the first time. But if we’ve said enough to get you dreaming of a trip to Iceland, why not head on over to our website and take a look at the amazing tour itinerary for Reykjavik & the Best of Iceland?
 
 

Experience Italy like the A-List

The glitz, the glamour, is there anywhere in Europe with more top class destinations than Italy? From Como to Portofino, there’s no wonder it’s so popular with the glitterati.

With a coach full of VIP’s on each of our tours, of course we’re going to visit some of these sought after Italian escapes.
So, if you’re wanting to do Italy like the star that you are and rub shoulders with the A-list, here’s our guide to the top spots craved by A-listers from around the world, right in the boot of Europe.

Venice

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An explanation as to just why Venice attracts people from around the globe, let alone celebrities, is probably not needed. But, we’ll give you a quick rundown, anyway – Gondolas, picturesque canals, exquisite architecture, palaces, ornate bridges, iconic squares… gelato!
Featuring in films such as James Bond epic, Casino Royale and Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade, who needs the Hollywood ‘Walk of Fame’ when you’ll be walking in the footsteps of Daniel Craig and Harrison Ford?
And, love is really in the air! The wedding destination of George and Amal Clooney, and more recently German footballing hero Bastian Schweinsteiger and tennis superstar, Ana Ivanovic, if you’re looking for a spark of romance, this floating city has it in abundance.

Lake Como

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Italy proves to be very popular with the Clooney’s, they actually have a residence in Lake Como. Yes, you can find George relaxing in his multi-million pound villa in Laglio. But, we don’t need to dream of that life because what Lake Como has to offer is just as impressive.
One of the most beautiful lakes in Europe, nestled in the Lombardy region and a stones throw from Switzerland, Lake Como has stunning scenery from every angle and plenty to enjoy, from boat trips to spectacular food, you’ll be living like the stars even if it’s just for one day.
Lake Como has been popular with the rich and famous for some time with the likes of John F. Kennedy and Alfred Hitchcock favouring a retreat to the lake’s shores. You really will be rubbing shoulders with the best.

Portofino

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Another picturesque hotspot, attracting seasoned globetrotters year on year, Portofino is a pretty perfect fishing village found on the Italian Riviera.
Pastel-coloured houses, high end boutiques and a harbour lined with super yachts, it’s the perfect place to hop ashore and enjoy some Italian splendours.
But who has pounded the pavements of Portofino in the past, you ask? Well, there was a well-documented visit by music power couple, Beyoncé and Jay-Z, as they celebrated her 33rd birthday and even Director Steven Spielberg has been spotted enjoying some down time in the resort.

Rome

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One of the most popular Italian destinations and lined with designer shops, incredible restaurants and, of course, outstanding sightseeing opportunities, Rome is high on the list of stars of film and stage, too.
With the likes of Richard Gere, Jude Law and pop princess, Taylor Swift, having touched down in the eternal city, you can make the most of knowing that you’ll be in great company during your visits to hot spots such as the stunning Trevi Fountain, Colosseum and the Vatican.

Taormina

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Nestled into the isle of Sicily, this hill top town on the east coast is linked to some iconic stars from the Silver Screen. Audrey Hepburn and Liz Taylor, to name a few.
The Taormina Film Festival brought the internationally famous stars flocking to this pretty little town in Italy. Sat in the shadow of Mount Etna, there was also many holidays enjoyed here, often using the old San Domenico Palace Hotel as their base, helping to make Taormina one of the legendary locations of the Dolce Vita.

Sardinia

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Last, but far from least, the world famous Costa Smeralda on the North Eastern coast of Sardinia is host to turquoise waters, some of the world’s finest white sands and multi-million pond yachts.
The rugged beauty of is awash with stunning private villas, first class restaurants and chic watering holes, and with the idyllic nature of course comes the famous faces.
Gwyneth Paltrow, Mariah Carey and Heidi Klum have all enjoyed sun-soaked family holidays on the picture perfect Mediterranean island making it one of the most favoured European holiday destinations for celebrities and stars alike.
But you don’t have to be a film or rock star to enjoy these incredible destinations, why not check out our great value Italian holidays and enjoy your life in the limelight as we take care of everything for you? See all of our tours to Italy, here.
 

A Trip Up To Eagle's Nest

Shelley Pascual, a postgraduate student at Cardiff University, recently joined one of our Battlefields groups visiting the infamous visitors spot, Eagles Nest, Germany.

Shelley, currently studying International Journalism, undertook some parts of her dissertation research on our The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, guided by the fantastic David McCormack, to see what stops some British tourists visiting Germany. And, is it down to perceptions they may have?
Kindly putting together a blog, capturing her own feelings visiting Adolf Hitler’s Kehlsteinhaus, or, better know to us as the Eagle’s Nest, read more about Shelley’s experience below.

A Trip Up To Eagle’s Nest

After joining a Leger Holidays tour group on their visit to Eagle’s Nest in southern Germany in June, it was plain to see why so many visitors flock to Hitler’s former holiday retreat.
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What is today a seasonal restaurant and beer garden with sweeping views of the Bavarian Alps was actually a gift the National Socialist party gave to Hitler on his 50th birthday.
Perched atop a rocky outcrop overlooking the town of Berchtesgaden close to the Austrian border, Eagle’s Nest is just one of the various “iconic and infamous” sites included in the itinerary of The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, a tour which examines the “dark charisma of Adolf Hitler.” The group I had the pleasure of joining consisted mainly of British pensioners who all seemed to have one thing in common: a healthy fascination for history.
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To reach Eagle’s Nest, we first boarded a bus just outside a museum which documents the region’s National Socialist past. After a steep and winding uphill bus ride, we arrived at the entrance of a tunnel in the mountainside. At the end of the tunnel, an elevator would ensure our final ascent up to Eagle’s Nest.
As I slowly made my way through the cool and damp tunnel, however, an unsettling feeling crept over me. It was then that it hit me; I was walking in Hitler’s footsteps. He had once gone through the very same tunnel and taken the same ornate, brass elevator. It was the closest connection I had ever felt to real, atrocious history.
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Coming to terms with being physically present where evil decisions were once made in such a spectacular location was something I struggled with. But after speaking with the group’s tour guide and historian, David McCormack, I gained some valuable insight.

“In the mind, is it difficult to reconcile the beauty with evil,” said David. “These beautiful sites are remote and you need remote locations for decisions about evil to take place. You need to keep these decisions secret.”
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Though it was eerie being at one of the few places in Germany where National Socialist history survives in a solid form, it was also admittedly fascinating. Indeed, people come to Eagle’s Nest for historical interest, for its undeniable beauty, or for both.
“It is seeing the places that the tour members have read about that makes the history come alive for them,” said David. According to him, Third Reich sites should continue to be visited. “If you study the past, you can understand it,” said David. “We can all, then, ensure that history does not repeat itself.”

We would like to thank Shelley for joining us and wish her well during the remainder of her studies.