Volcanoes. They are Nature at her most dramatic and terrifying and they occupy a special place in our collective psyche. The jury is still out in some quarters as to whether the demise of the dinosaurs was due to an asteroid impact or a cataclysmic eruption of a giant volcano that brought about the prehistoric equivalent of a nuclear winter some 50 million odd years ago. In any event, volcanoes are things of beauty and a wonder to behold. With more and more people building their global travel arrangements around the experiences that they can have rather than the destinations themselves, a trip to visit a volcano (or at least to get as close as is practicable) is one of those rare instances where you can effectively kill two birds with the one stone seeing as the destination is the experience and vice versa.
So , where to go? Well, we’re spoilt in Europe when you come to think of it as we’ve got perhaps the most famous volcano of them all — Vesuvius — practically on our doorstep! Located just a tad over 2,000 kms away and with the sprawling metropolis that is Naples sitting in it’s shadow, Vesuvius caused the complete and utter destruction of the towns of Pompeii and Herculaneum — an event which the British Museum is about to celebrate (if indeed celebrate is the appropriate word!) shortly when many artifacts will be exhibited that have never before been seen in Italy, let alone the rest of the world. Of course, Vesuvius has a first cousin just a short distance away in the form of Mount Etna which is still one of the most active volcanoes in the world and regularly reminds all Sicilians of that fact.
A little closer to home though, believe it or not, is the Grimsotn volcano which is Iceland’s most active pyrotechnic mound and is located a mere 1,400 kilometers away, as the crow flies! Of course, who can ever forget Eyjafjallajökull which caused global mayhem in aviation circles some years ago and ended up becoming the ultimate poster boy (or should that be girl) for Murphy’s Law!
Other famous volcanoes around the world worth taking a closer look at include Mount Fuji in Japan (a sacred mountain as well as being a volcano); Popocatepetl in Mexico; Kilauea in Hawaii and Soufriere Hills in Montserrat. Montserrat is of course the only other sovereign territory in the world (as far as I know) where Paddy’s Day is celebrated as a national holiday and where all the inhabitants speak with the thickest Irish accents!