Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The Golden Circle of Iceland

The Golden Circle is the most popular driving tour in Iceland as all the (spectacular) attractions are within a few hours driving distance from Reyjkavik.  I have known for years that this would be one of the tours I would definitely be taking.  It didn't disappoint.  Perhaps the weather did, but the scenery certainly didn't.

I decided to take the Golden Circle Tour with Reyjkavik Excursions.  There were about 55 of us in a full sized bus complete with wifi.

I had woken up that morning to Reyjkavik's first snow fall but it was obvious the country side had much more snow than in the city.  Here is what I saw..

Kind of looks like a Christmas card doesn't it?  

Our first stop was a greenhouse cultivation centre that grows tomatoes with the aid of Iceland's abundant geothermal heat.  The owner told us about his operation then set us loose to explore as long as we didn't touch the plants.  I bought a much needed bottle of water however some people bought their home made tomato soup. I wasn't up to drinking soup at 10:30 in the morning.  I did buy myself a small carton of cherry tomatoes - my weakness - and I snacked on them over the next few days.  Delicious!!!  

Rows and rows of yummy tomatoes


Iceland grows a lot of its own vegetables this way which means they don't have to import any - especially during the winter. 

More of this scenery...not too shabby.

Then we visited our next attraction - the Gullfoss (Golden falls) waterfall.  I will let the signs explain it because I am too lazy to type it out.  (well at least I am honest!)

And here they are...ta da!!!  They were spectacular - I can't wait to see them on a lovely summer day!

As you can see, some people walked right over to the edge...I would have walked further on a nice day but  it was sleeting and slippery underfoot. (that's my excuse and I am sticking to it!)  Sadly the weather did not lend itself to beautiful pictures but that's life.  There WILL be a next time.

Our next stop was the Geyser geothermal area - the highlight being the Strokkur geyser that let off steam every five minutes or so.

Strokkur blowing its top - even though the are around is cordoned off the spray still goes further.  The first time it went off while I was watching I ended up running backwards to avoid getting doused with hot water.

Watching and waiting...

There we go again!

Lots of geothermal activity

After watching Strokkur explode four or five times and wandering around the area a bit I was quite chilled as it was still quite dank so went into the nearby cafeteria and had a bowl of lamb (and vegetable) soup - which is Iceland's national dish.  Expensive but very very nice.  They had given us 90 minutes here which was ample time.

Then off we went to explore Thiingvellir (Parliament Plains) National Park which is where you can see the continental drift between the Eurasian and American tectonic plates which are pulling apart at a rate of 2 cm a year.  We were walking at the beginning of North America and the beginning of Europe.  We walked as a group along the path - I was very happy I was wearing my hiking boots!

Thiingvellir is very important to the Icelandic people not only due to the unique geology but because the original parliament was formed here in 930.  When Iceland declared independence from Denmark in 1944 this was the location where the ceremonies took place.  Thiingvellir is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Eurasian Plate

Walking beside North America!  I was going to edit this photo to remove the splotch and then I thought no, I wanted to leave it as is.

As you can see the area is a bit stark in the snow...but it still had it's own beauty.  Definitely somewhere I would like to revisit in the summer months...

The most excitement here was the fact that they had a toilet in the parking lot...that charged 200 kroner ($1.75 Cdn)  I did not have the change but  never fear....you could use your credit card!  That I did.  A woman on my bus was so desparate that she stuck her credit card in the wrong slot and could not get it out.  The staff was busy retrieving it for her and indeed when I went to use mine I nearly stuck it in the wrong slot also - the staff member corrected me in time!  We wasted so much time here that we never did get to see the Visitors Centre. Our bladders were happy though!

Back on the bus to Reyjkavik but never fear the day wasn't over yet....I was off to see the Northern Lights that evening.

Due to  not having any decent photos of my own there are not any pictures to post here.  As mentioned in a post I wrote in Iceland I did see them - they were white (which means weaker apparently)  to our eyes but colourful in photos.  A man named Ian from England that was on the tour with me very kindly sent me his pictures.  However I will not be putting them on the blog - they are not my photos.  Suffice to say it was a fantastic experience....the lights were almost dancing and made different shapes. I quit stressing about getting the perfect photo and just stood and enjoyed. 

Ian told me this was his third time out to see the lights - if you don't see them the first time they will keep taking you out until you do. (which is why I chose to go out on my first full day there)  So I was very fortunate to see them.   However I guess I am greedy and I still hope to see the Northern Lights again in all their colourful glory...

What an absolutely amazing day October 8, 2013 was!

No comments:

A bit of bliss in Mirissa, Sri Lanka

While I enjoyed my tour of Sri Lanka I also found it exhausting.  It was nothing against the tour - it hit all the spots I wanted to see an...