Getting out of Iceland always requires a long-haul flight, and New York and London seem to be the main gateways out of here. But, with the boom in tourism the last few years, more and more airlines are flying to Iceland, from a growing list of cities across Europe and North America. But blah blah, the point is that it used to cost atleast 30.000ISK for a cheap one way flight, until Iceland Express started operating 10.000ISK flights to London. But that was maybe one seat on one fight a week, and now theres Wow air doing a similar thing, but EasyJet started flying to Manchester for only 40 pounds (8.000ISK) and when one can avoid any or all of London’s airports AND save money one a one-way ticket out of winter, I was sold.
I have never been to Manchester, and Liverpool is less then an hour away. They’re both big name cities, but smaller and cheaper than London with the same goodies and Britishisms you need. I couchsurfed in both towns, with a commune of students and artists (and everything inbetween – I think there were 15 residents) in a converted warehouse on the docks of Liverpool, and with a public transportation planner in Manchester that was obsessed with bicycles and beer. And there was alot of beer, as I learned at the Indy Man Beer Convention. Then there’s the soccer teams, and the Beatles, and Wales and Isle of Man!
I’d never been to either, nor had any clue how to get to them, but its a travel friendly corner of England here, and trains, buses and ferries connect Liverpool and Manchester to Wales and Isle of Man. Isle of Man was a wonderful surprise, a pastoral island filled with pastures and farms, ports and lighthouses, stone walls and sea walls. It was backpacker friendly, bike friendly, and horse friendly… what more could one ask for?
I nearly got into a PhD program in Bangor a few years ago, and always thought it was somewhere near Bristol, but its at the very north west tip of the coast of Wales, where a local train can take you past Viking ruins and Medieval castles in a little more than an hours journey from Chester. Chester is a quintessential English town that borders Wales, and I also felt ignorant to have never figured out where or what it was.
I visited Bangor and Conwy in Wales, Conwy on the suggestion of a couple of friends. There a castle and a walled city filled with public houses, a tiny port, and the smallest house in Great Britain charmed the socks off me. Bangor was a quiet and quaint student town, and I could have definitely lived there with Anglesey, the Irish sea, Snowdonia National park and the biggest mountain in Wales all in the neighbourhood. But for now, a weeks visit will have to do. And thanks to EasyJet for this unexpected trip to some places I’d never planned to visit.