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Toronto to Iceland – top 5 places to visit

Visiting Iceland is at the top of my bucket list. The hot springs, volcanoes, and of course, the Northern lights. It’s one of those countries that looks serene and quaint, despite tourism being one of their largest sources of revenue. Airfare costs are usually pretty cheap, as are hotels and tours.

Travellers can either sign up for a guided tour or self-guided tours that include car rental, GPS, and lodgings. Self-guided tours are great because you can also prepare your own personal stops in between the recommended attractions.

Here are the top five things to do while hitting up a self-guided tour of Iceland:

Blue Lagoon: This is a popular destination, which means it may be a bit crowded. Blue Lagoon is a geothermal spa with a breathtaking view. Enjoy some time in one of the heated springs or relax under a waterfall. Visitors an also sign up for other spa services like massages, silica mud masks, or saunas. For this attraction, remember to book early. The lines can be a bit lengthy, and if you are able to swing it, choose as many private options as possible.

Horseback riding: Horses roam the hillsides freely, but there are a few that tourists can ride on guided tours of the area. These animals are well kept and not overworked. Guides will follow trails that show off Iceland’s most serene landscapes, including rivers and mountains. This activity only has incredibly reviews from TripAdvisor, with most participants saying the trip was “magical”.

Glaciers and waterfalls: Despite climate change, Iceland still has a number of large glaciers and waterfalls to explore. Glaciers are made when ice and snow accumulate over centuries. They are large, beautiful structures and the perfect place to catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights, as the locations are rather remote. Tour groups offer a number of guided hikes and climbs through these glaciers for people of various skill sets.

Explore a volcano: There are a number of volcanoes throughout Iceland, and the country takes advantage of these phenomenons and offers tours of each region. Don’t worry, they are not active. For those who want a bird’s eye view, there are helicopter rides available that fly over a few volcanoes and lava fields. For those who want are more active tour, take a 3k hike through Thrihnukagigur, a volcano located between Reykjavik and the Golden Circle area. The tour will take you through caverns right into the heart of the dormant volcano!

Skaftafell Park: This park is 4800 square kilometres and home to some of the most surreal landscapes in Iceland. Pick one of the many trails and enjoy views of waterfalls, fields, mountains, and glaciers — all within one park. Make sure to check out the Scartifoss (Black fall), a waterfall that flows off black basalt columns. Nature lovers can actually camp overnight within the park!

Have you visited Iceland? What are your suggestions? Let us know in the comments below!

Look out for the new Canada 150 glow-in-the-dark toonie

The toonie has always been an emblem of Canadian pride, from its odd nickname to the polar bear that is crested on the heavy coin.

To celebrate Canada’s 150 year festivities, the Royal Canadian Mint hosted a competition where Canadians across the country were invited to submit designs for the toonie that would celebrate the historic occasion. The winner shocked all.

A glow-in-the-dark toonie featuring the northern lights. That’s right, glow-in-the-dark. Keep your eyes peeled because the coin is already in circulation. 

Named “Dance of the Spirits”, the design was created by Dr. Timothy Hsia, a family doctor and his brother Stephen Hsia, a lawyer who are both from Richmond B.C. The two business professionals are both artists are the side and have been working on art projects together since they were children. Timothy came up with the northern lights design and Stephen helped translate it to the computer to make it a piece of digital art.

The Royal Canadian Mint will be releasing three million of these special edition coins and is excited to get to use new and never-used-before technology that will create the world’s first glow-in-the-dark coin. The coin uses a pad-printed process and ink that creates a luminescent coin. In the factory, each toonie is painted with glow-in-the-dark purple and blue paint to imitate the Aurora Borealis, one of Canada’s proudest natural wonders.

The two brothers received $2000 prize money, two tickets to Ottawa for the big reveal, and a special edition of the coins. The two artists are dedicating their win to their grandfather who was a coin collector and often gave them special edition coins as they were growing up. It is also giving the brothers further incentive to go see the Northern Lights, one of the majestic wonders of Canadian nature.

Whether you find out you have one of these deluxe coins in a bar when it suddenly glows-in-the-dark, or you seek out a special edition set, definitely hang on to this toonie to give to your own grandchildren one day — it’s bound to inspire a sense of nostalgic tradition and Canadian pride. 

Have you seen the toonie? Let us know in the comments below!