After a night in an actual bed, instead of an airplane seat that you can’t recline (because Becky sitting behind you was getting her panties in a wad every time you tried to lean it back 1 degree)…we felt refreshed and were ready to start the day.
Today, we tackled the famous Golden Circle. For those of you that don’t know, the Golden Circle is a driving path that starts a little outside Reykjavik and goes in a complete loop.
Along the way you drive by some of Iceland’s best waterfalls and their famous geyser “Strokkur”. It’s the most popular tourist route in the country. The whole thing takes about 2.5 hours to complete without stopping, so naturally we spent 9 hours completing it.
There’s not really a guided path or signs to follow around the circle, so you can approach this one of two ways. You can read the blogs and watch the YouTube videos and map out the stops yourself. Or you can just kind of wing it, and hope you spot the stops a long the way. Which wouldn’t be too hard to spot, seeing as each stop has about four giant tour buses parked out front and about 200 tourists running around. But of course, me being super OCD I had to map out every stop, how long it would take to get there, the exact coordinates, and what there is to do there.
Our first stop was this little white church on top of a hill.
It was unclear in my research why this church was considered a landmark but I’l be damned if we didn’t get a photo in front of it. As we were pulling out of the parking lot Emerson spotted some local horses close enough to a fence that we would be able to actually pet them. Emma ended up being the horse whisperer of the group. They all flocked over to see her, meanwhile the one horse I tried to make friends with turned and walked away to go roll in a pile of poo just as I got close enough to touch it.
Next we headed to Þingvellir National Park where you can literally walk between two continents. Iceland rests right in the middle of the Mid-Atlantic Rift. Which means, parts of Iceland belong to the North American tectonic plate and other parts belong to the Eurasian tectonic plate. Because of the shifting of the plates and other sciencey things my tiny lady brain can’t comprehend, it has caused the rift to move above ground. Which means the huge rock formations have been pushed up and out of the ground and has actually created a type of crevice you can walk through. Where technically speaking, if you are walking on this path, you are neither walking in north America or Europe…you’re just kind of in no man’s land.
Apparently Iceland is the only place in the world where there is a rift above sea-level. So that was kind of awesome to look at and experience. There’s even a section of this rift, that you can swim through and see the divide go downward for hundreds of feet. Which Jordan and I will be swimming through tomorrow!
Fun fact: Several scenes from Game of Thrones were shot in Þingvellir National Park. Most recognizably, the scenes from the Eyrie, home of Lady Lysa.
After exploring every inch of that crack (*that’s what he said*) we headed to Strokkur. Which is basically the Icelandic version of Old Faithful. It’s a geyser with crystal clear blue water that erupts about every 5-8 minutes. You have to park pretty far away and walk through these sulphur steam fields to get to the geyser, which let me tell you…smelled amazing.
The geyser itself was incredible. You can tell when it’s about to shoot off because the entire bowl of water drains in on itself and then creates this giant blue bubble and then skyrockets. It’s incredible to watch. We happened to go at the worst time of day, when all of the tours buses were visiting. But even with the hundreds of other people bumping into you, trying to get their own amazing shot of the spout, it is still breathtaking. I could have sat there and watched it all day.
Our next stop was Gullfoss, one of Icelands most iconic waterfalls. The waterfall is located in this giant canyon and actually falls in two different sections. The first is a smaller drop, about 11 feet. And then flows into a much bigger drop of about 70 feet. When the falling water hits the river below, it creates this huge wall of mist, that you have to pass through to get to the top of the falls.
I wanted to fly my drone here since I could see some pretty cool shots that only would have been accessible via drone. But as soon as I pulled it out and was about to launch it, some lovely European man came over to inform me that flying drones at this park is illegal. The conversation went something like this:
[We’ll call the nice man, Hubert]
*Hubert approaches our group rather quickly with his grandma trailing closely behind*
Hubert: You know flying drones here is illegal
Me: Oh, I had no idea! That would explain why it won’t go any higher than four feet, they must have a block up.
Hubert: Yeah, it’s illegal, there are signs everywhere.
Me: Hmmm, not sure I saw any of those.
Hubert: Yep, it’s illegal.
Me: Well, thanks for telling me.
Hubert: Mhmm, it’s illegal.
Hubert: Great…ly illegal
Me: *gives him a big thumbs up*
Hubert: *finally turns and walks away while whispering into the wind “illlleeeggaaallll”*
We decided later, after literally reading every single sign in the park and not finding one that said you couldn’t fly a drone, that he was just salty because he had to travel the country with his grandma instead of his friends, because they were all busy going to comic con without him.
After putting my drone away and taking a few more photos, we decided to head to our last stop of the day which was Lake Kerið. Kerið is a volcanic crater lake that was formed when a cone-shaped volcano erupted, depleted its magma reserve, which caused its walls to collapse and create the crater lake that stands today. It’s an incredible sight to look at. The water inside the crater is turquoise blue and the stadium of rock surrounding the lake is mostly rusty red with hints of yellow and green. The contrast between the rock and the lake is unbelievable.
After 8 long hours on the road, we decided it was time to head back towards the city for some grub. The one thing everyone warns you about is how expensive the food is here. And they’re right. Tonight we found this cute little shop in downtown Reykjavik that sells bread bowls with one of two different kinds of soups inside—meat or non meat. For three people to eat three bread bowls (because we all know I won’t touch anything that has more than two ingredients in it) it cost us almost 70 dollars! We officially determined that this is the reason everyone here is so skinny. It’s because they can’t afford the food! Maybe I need to continue living here up until the wedding. Maybe then the man who alters my wedding dress will stop yelling at me for popping my buttons.
We finally did find the non-industrial parts of Reykjavik. They have these cute little neighborhoods all around town that have colorful houses and tourist shops and painted roads, all right on the water. It was good to see that side of the city.
One of the coolest things about being here is that every road you hop on, even on the outskirts of the city, drives right along side these giant glacier covered mountains. And then on the other side of the road, it is covered in these giant wheat fields that have sheep and Icelandic ponies scattered throughout.
You definitely never get bored driving here, which is great because every activity requires at least an hour of driving.
Today was long and exhausting but we got to see some of Iceland’s biggest and most beautiful attractions. Tomorrow Jordan and I head out at 7:30AM to dive into a glacier river. Wish us luck…or maybe some warmth.