A Guide to Iceland!

sharonang / Pixabay

 

The beautiful country of Iceland has been in the news lately because of its football team and the fact that they beat England in the European Championships 2016. With a population of just 332,529, and the fact that most players are part time footballers, it’s hardly surprising. However, if you take a look at the overwhelming support of their fans and the teams celebratory “Viking cry” at the end of each match to show their appreciation, it’s no wonder this dedicated team is on a roll. You can be talented up to a point, but it takes your state of mind and drive to succeed to take you all the way! We all like an underdog so now England have spectacularly gone out of the competition, it’s only natural that we wish Iceland the best, well I do anyway.

bykst / Pixabay

 

Iceland has also been on the telly lately because of its food. English celebrity chef and television presenter Rick Stein filmed a new television series based on food around the world, in which Iceland was included. This gave us a real insight into Iceland, especially the culinary delights of Reykjavik, and the search for the perfect Icelandic cod.

 

Barthwo / Pixabay

 

This may be all well and good, but the real attraction to Iceland is the overwhelming beauty of the place. It is quite literally a world of natural phenomena, from the hot-springs at Geysir to the mighty waterfalls at Gullfoss , stunning landscapes of every shape and form can be found at every turn. A guided coach tour could take you to some of the most wonderful places on earth.

 

sharonang / Pixabay

This utterly mesmerizing land is also home to Vatnajökull, the largest glacier in Europe, breathtaking fjords and Eyjafjallajökull, which is a volcano completely covered by an ice cap, which erupted as recently as 2010! Because Iceland is volcanically active, lava fields are prevalent in the landscape in the form of ragged block lava and more smoother ropy lava. Many of them have their origin in another volcano called Snæfellsjökull, the apparent ‘passage leading to the center of the earth’ as depicted in the Jules Verne (1864) novel, Journey to the Center of the Earth.

Snæfellsjökull in background

Unsplash / Pixabay

 

Iceland is also known for its natural Icelandic hot springs, the most famous being the Blue Lagoon. This popular geothermal spa is situated in southwestern Iceland and is one of the most visited attractions in Iceland. The warm waters are rich in minerals and are reputed to help people suffering from skin problems. In fact, the Blue Lagoon also has a research program designed to help find cures for skin ailments using the mineral-rich water, which has average temperatures of  37–39 °C in the bathing and swimming area of the lagoon. You can visit and bathe in this wonderful place on the Trafalgar ‘Ultimate Iceland’ tour, which will also take you to the wall of giant books and the glacial mountain backdrop at a museum dedicated to Thorbergur Thordarson, Iceland’s most beloved 20th century author.

 

cgcolman / Pixabay

Iceland maybe in the news at the moment for a number of reasons, but the extraordinary beauty of this outstanding land alone is enough to draw you into its enchanting web  time and time again.

Applying for a Schengen Visa!

It’s great to imagine a spontaneous visit to the UK or Europe. If you are from one of the following countries you don’t need a visa for a tourist stay of up to 90 days: UK, European Union, USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Singapore, Malaysia, and  this list is by no means a complete one.

However, if your passport is from India, China, Pakistan, Indonesia, any African country, most South American countries and many others, then you must apply for a visa for the UK and the ‘Schengen Area’. First, however, it would be helpful to understand some background information in order to understand what the Schengen Area actually is.

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The background to the Schengen Area stems from the formation of the European Union (EU) in 1993. The EU is a group of 28 mostly European countries that participate in the world economy as one economic unit and have one official currency, the euro.

 

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From this European Union, the Schengen Agreement was signed which created the Schengen Area. Countries in the Schengen Area have removed border controls with the other Schengen members and strengthened border controls with non-Schengen states. Of the 26 countries bound by the Schengen agreement, 22 are part of the EU and the other 4 are part of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA).

 

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 The countries that are not part of the EU but are part of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) include Norway, Iceland, Switzerland and Lichtenstein. The other six EU members that do not form part of the Schengen Area include Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Romania, Ireland and the United Kingdom. The first 4 are legally obliged and wish to join the area, while the last 2 have opted-out.

 

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This may all sound very complicated, but for the benefit of travelling around Europe, it does have its advantages as only one visa is needed to cover your journey – the Schengen Visa. To apply for the Schengen Visa it is advisable to allow at least 8 weeks for the process as you have to pay for your travel arrangements in advance, and these travel arrangements form part of the evidence you need to show to the consulate where you are applying. Correct paperwork is also essential for the consulate to issue a visa, so checking you have the right information beforehand is very important.

 

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Notably, the booking conditions of most tour and travel arrangements do not provide a full refund within 8 weeks of travel. A sliding scale of cancellation charges kicks in usually within 8-10 weeks before departure. If you have to cancel your travel plans you will lose your airfare, your tour deposit and probably a lot more since you won’t know if your visa has been granted until possibly a couple of weeks before travel. Unfortunately, visa refusal is not an insurable event. The best thing to do is make sure you have all the information you need in the first place to obtain your visa.

 

Key points to remember:

  • Apply to consulate of your main destination. If you are visiting different countries in the Schengen area, but one country in the Schengen area is where you will be spending most of the time (in number of days) that is your MAIN destination.

  • If you are visiting different countries in the Schengen area, but you are spending an equal number of days in each country, your first port of entry in the Schengen area is the country you apply to. BOOK YOUR APPOINTMENT NOW – Allow minimum 10 working days to have your passport returned after the appointment date!

  • Apply in your country of residence. If you are currently living in the UK as a student or worker you can apply in the UK as long as your UK residence permit is valid at least three months beyond the return date of the tour.

For the Schengen Visa Global Coach Tours will write you an application support letter when you have booked and paid in full for one of their tours. Again, you must have a UK resident permit to apply in the UK and not just here for a short visit. Your UK residence permit must be valid at least three months beyond the return date of the tour. You should apply in the consulate of the country where you spend the most time. Allow several weeks before your tour as you will be seen by appointment only.

 

 

Legendary Locations for Game of Thrones!

The excellent award winning HBO production Game of Thrones has now become a phenomenal worldwide success! This is partly to do with some of the most extraordinary film locations and set pieces that have both amazed and moved an audience crying out for some truly outstanding escapism.

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These extraordinary film locations include Northern Ireland, with extensive filming along the stunning Causeway Coast and Glens.

 

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Stunning Causeway Coast

The Giant’s Causeway, renowned for its thousands of interlocking hexagonal basalt columns, was created by cooling lava bursting from a volcanic eruption some 60 million years ago. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site which is steeped in myth and legend, especially about the mighty giant, Finn McCool. It’s setting within a dramatic coastal landscape rugged cliffs and magnificent views make it perfect for Game of Thrones.

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Giant’ causeway

 

Northern Ireland is not the only amazing film location, the enchanting walled town of Dubrovnik, Croatia is also used for many scenes.

 

Dubrovnik

Dubrovnik

 

Dubrovnik is used for the many scenes depicting King’s Landing – home to the Crown and where the legendary Iron Throne can be found. It has also been described as ‘paradise on earth’ by George Bernard Shaw so it is easy to see why this beautiful place was chosen as a location.

 

Dubrovnik is not the only warm country to be featured in Game of Thrones, Malta has also had it’s share of fantastical scenes.

 

Malta

Malta

 

Malta is a medieval masterpiece and proved an ideal backdrop for the Seven Kingdom’s capital of King’s Landing during the first series !

On a colder front, Iceland made an excellent choice for some of the Game of Thrones ‘North of the Wall’ scenes.

 The Godafoss in Iceland

The Godafoss in Iceland

 

The beautiful Lake Myvatn with its outstanding and magical landscapes was the perfect backdrop for scenes ‘beyond the Wall’ and where the  White Walkers may roam! The area offers a vast spectrum of geological formations and the intense geothermal activity produces mud pools and spectacular coloured deposits. The Godafoss, also known as ‘The Waterfall of the Gods’, is a spectaculat sight to behold, and only reinforces why this magnificent area was the location of choice.

 

So there you have it, just a glimpse of some of the truly amazing locations that the makers of Game of Thrones have used to fuel our imaginations and secure a place in outstanding television Cinematography history.

Travel your way with Cosmos Tours!

Cosmos
Using a great tour company is like hopping on a magic carpet: They take care of all the bothersome details while the traveller experiences a series of wonderful adventures in distant lands. Cosmos Tours is that magic carpet offering the four corners of the globe in well-planned holidays filled with world-renowned sites.
For those seeking the wonders of nature, Cosmos has tours of the vast fjords in Oslo, the Alps of Switzerland or Mount Vesuvius. The relaxed charm of the Old World lifestyle can still be found in their tours of Portugal, Greece or Madrid while others may prefer New York or Las Vegas. There is something for all tastes here.
At Cosmos, tours are suitable for all ages from 8 years to senior citizens. Multi-generational travel is now very popular. Families share an experience together. Parents, their children and grandparents alike. Travellers with Cosmos will find themselves in a group of people with whom they can feel comfortable, the first requirement for having fun.
Instead of rushing through a blur of destinations as quickly as possible, travellers can take more leisurely tours. Coach or rail tours are available in many popular locations, allowing travellers to enjoy the landscape flowing by. This is travel as it should be.
Every coach tour is carefully planned to give maximum enjoyment without worry or inconvenience. The planners at Cosmos know what travellers love, and they are experts in supplying it. To see the world your way, see Global Coach Tours, and book that magic carpet today!