A Volcation?

After the chaos following the volcanic eruption in Iceland, do we dare a summer holiday?

Eyjafjallajökull doesn’t only have a one-of-a-kind name but an attitude too. Its eruption on Apr.15 was memorable – and not because it was a powerful one – quite the opposite: Compared to other volcanoes, Iceland’s barely spewed and yet, managed to leave millions of people stranded at airports and crowded train stations for most of a week.

This meant several sleepless nights for airline owners and a colossal loss accumulating to more than $1.6 billion in revenue the cloud slowly vanished and everything went back to normal – with air traffic restored and more and more passengers reaching their destinations.

That was until May came around and with it, another shot of ash into the skies. Panic and chaos strike again and air traffic in Europe went into spasms. Nobody knows how long all this will continue. Or if they do, they’re not telling. What if this lasts a year. Or even two?

And now summer’s knocking on the door and uncertainty threatening vacations, restricting choices and conditioning people to take all the possible outcomes into account. In the midst of one of the worst economic crises Europe has seen in 80 years, is this what we really needed?

At this writing, it’s been a while since Eyjafjallajökull has misbehaved.

According to the Iceland Meteorological Office, the ash cloud reached its maximum height on May 22 – a significant four kilometers into the atmosphere. But the volcano has been quiet since. The plume has been slowly decreasing, currently at two kilometers over the ground, and there has only been steam rising from the crater. Volcanologists are hopeful that it all may soon be over. Nevertheless, they need proof of at least three-month volcanic inactivity to claim Eyjafjallajökull dormant – not too long and yet, not too short a time either.

European economists are worried. The loss in the revenue from tourism (one of Austria’s major industries) especially in a shaky economy, is a bad sign for many. Many people are limiting, or even canceling, their summer plans, scared they may get stranded in a land far from home.

Those who still hope for a relaxing vacation but sensitive to the what-if-it-erupts-again theory, are considering a sailing holiday or a cruise. The white sand coasts and turquoise seas of Mallorca or the ice-cold waters of the Baltic Sea certainly seem more adventurous and tempting than overpriced and exaggerated European capitals.

Those who are still willing to fly may want to stick to destinations outside the reach of the mighty Eyjafjallajökull or (if that sounds easier) try to predict the date of its next eruption… And make sure you have renewed your travel insurance.

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