Sunday, 16 June 2013

Kelis, sledging and Iceland's unpronounceable volcano

Eyjafjallajokull rock
Clambering aboard a sledge in the middle of June and sliding down an icecap while listening to Kelis: an activity worthy of gracing anyone's bucket list. Apart from Kelis's, perhaps. Or Bjork's. Welcome to Iceland. 

So surreally brilliant was this experience that it surely pushes the northern lights, waterfall gawping and Brennivin gulping under the midnight sun as one of this weirdly beautiful north Atlantic island's highlights. That it took place on the summit of Eyjafjallaj√∂kull, the impossible-to-pronounce volcano which spouted ash across most of Europe in 2010, made it all the more memorable. 

Monday, 10 June 2013

A slightly cynical Sri Lanka travel guide


Goyambokka Beach, Tangalla, Sri Lanka
Lonely Planet named it the top country to visit in 2013, Rick Stein told us to "go there because the curries are so good, the beaches are so unspoiled and the countryside will charm you" and, much to my chagrin, Lorraine Pascale would be visiting at exactly the same time as me. If only I had known while I was there, sigh.

But Sri Lanka, despite being 'back on the map' following decades of civil war, is a country that continues to divide travellers' opinions. In February I spoke to Simon Calder, The Independent's travel editor, who claimed he "couldn't see anything much transformed". Meanwhile, former UN spokesman in Sri Lanka Gordon Weiss warned that the country is "sliding into tyranny", such is the power and ubiquitous presence of its controversial president, Mahinda Rajapaksa.