Well it’s been a beautiful day here in Reykjavík, clear and sunny and bright, if a little cold … and honestly, if I wasn’t following the news I would have NO idea that a volcano was erupting some 150 km east of here. Much less that all of Europe had been thrown into chaos because of it.
Last Thursday was perfectly surreal. That was the day that flights were first grounded, and when I got up in the morning and checked my cellphone [which had been on silent] I could see that a foreign news agency had called at 6 am, asking if I could do an interview in half an hour [which obviously I couldn’t because I was asleep]. And here I hadn’t even known there was anything particularly serious going on.
The day was just insane. As I mentioned before, I had an incredibly busy week this past week, two deadlines to meet and just a colossal amount of work. And all these interview requests started coming at me and the phones were ringing and people sending emails asking for information, and in the end I just turned everything OFF because I had to work.
So anyway, only very basic news got through to me that day, and late in the afternoon, after a marathon session when I’d finally got everything sent off, I headed off to the gym to let off some steam. It was only then that I realized the full extent of the chaos — when I turned on Sky News on the treadmill and saw that the eruption in Eyjafjallajökull and the resulting mayhem was about the only thing they talked about [except they gave a little time to the leadership debate in the UK].
And seriously, it was COMPLETELY surreal. Because there I was, on the treadmill at the gym which is about the most mundane thing in the world and something I do about every other day, and I was looking out at the same beautiful view [sea, mountains] that I look at every time I’m on there, and the day was sunny and people were just going about their business, and yet on the screen in front of me people all over freaking Europe were having CONNIPTIONS because of something that was happening a mere 150 km away from me. While my life was about as ho-hum as could be.
The Icelandic Tourist Council sent out a press release a little while ago that they asked some of us to publicize, because apparently there are a lot of misconceptions floating around about just what’s happening here. Lots of fearmongering and stuff, and people cancelling trips here as far away as this summer because they think we’re just shuffling around knee-deep in volcanic ash with dust masks on and that all of Iceland is a High Risk Danger Zone. The Tourist Council even went out and interviewed a bunch of tourists just so everyone could see that they’re having a great time and probably won’t even want to go back home by the time this is over.*
The Icelandic Tourist Council wants to emphasize that day-to-day life in Iceland is going on as usual, even though the volcanic eruption in Eyjafjallajökull glacier on the south coast of Iceland has made a profound impact and generated dangers in that specified area. In other parts of the country, Icelanders’ daily life is proceeding quite normally.
Even though the eruption in Eyjafjallajökull is relatively small, airborne volcanic ash has dispersed over a wide area and disrupted air travel in Europe. It is the joint task of the aviation and tourism authorities in Europe to find ways to transport travellers to their destinations with absolute safety.
It is the task of Iceland’s Civil Protection Department to ensure that the utmost safety measures are followed in Iceland, and to provide a constant flow of information to all parties that need it. This is being handled in a very efficient and experienced way by teams of experts in all relevant areas. Euro Control and the Volcanic Ash Centre take decisions on air travel authorisations in Europe.
Even if the eruption is prolonged – and its duration is impossible to predict – it is considered not unlikely that volcanic ash formation will taper off once the preconditions for the mixture of water and embers no longer exist.
The Icelandic Tourist Council hopes that exaggerated and misleading news reports on the eruption and the impact on daily life in Iceland, published in some of the international media over the last couple of days, will not cause undue alarm but encourages travellers to keep abreast of developments.
Travellers currently in Iceland are safe and sound, and the appropriate parties are making every effort to make their stay as pleasant and comfortable as possible. All travellers stranded in Reykjavík due to the flight restrictions to Europe have been offered a complimentary Reykjavík Welcome Card which gives access to all the museums and exhibitions in Reykjavík, thermal pools, public transport and more.
As I mentioned in a previous post, I was due to fly out of here on Monday, but I’m pretty sure I’ll be grounded. Wondering if I can collect a complimentary Reykjavík Welcome Card. Hmm…..