17 September 2017

My Scandinavian Adventure: Iceland—The Golden Circle

I learned this summer that if you fly IcelandAir to Europe (and it's one of the least expensive carriers), you can opt to lay over up to seven days in Reykjavik at no additional charge. The country of Iceland is roughly the size of the U.S. state of Ohio. It would be difficult to drive the around the entire place in five or six days and see everything you want to see (Heck, we were there 14 days and absolutely NEED to go back). However, a stay in Reykjavik for a couple of days could be a lot of fun.

One of the things—no, THE thing—to do if you only have a few days is the so-called Golden Circle. It's a full day trip—roughly 300 km. There are tons of tours, guided and no, that make the trip daily. We rented a car for our three and a half days in Reykjavik, and I made the trip twice due to the family's staggered arrivals. And just WOW! Would/Will do it again. (As always, click pics to embiggen.)

First Stop: Þingvellir National Park, home of the Viking legislature ca. 930 CE
Þingvellir National Park, Largest lake in Iceland
Þingvellir National Park: Did I mention that the light here is incredible and changeable?
Þingvellir National Park: Still a vital part of Icelandic culture. When the country declared independence in 1944, the largest ever national gathering took place here
Þingvellir National Park: Plan to spend several hours here walking, exploring, absorbing, gaping!
Þingvellir National Park: There's also a waterfall!
Þingvellir National Park: The tectonic plates meet! European plate on the left, North American on the right! Rift runs the length of the North Atlantic Ocean. Wisdomie and Wisdil scuba dived here last year. You can actually touch the two continental plates in places.
Next stop: Geysir and Strokkur! the geysers at Haukadalur. Underground geothermal activity heats the surface water and it explodes irregularly, but frequently. Watch for the blue bubble. (And yes, I'm aware of the 'no vertical videos' rule, but you'll see why I had to make an exception here.)

Did someone say 'waterfall'? Gullfoss. The only point of reference I have is Niagara Falls.
Gullfoss: The largest waterfall in Europe. And yes, you get wet from the water vapor.
Gullfoss surrounded by basaltic rock cliffs.
Gullfoss: The Golden Falls at the top. 
Rainbows whenever the sun shines and the angle is right.
Grinning troll photobombing Gullfoss.
Geothermal activity in the highlands on the way back to Reykjavik. (We chose to go the clockwise route). You see a lot of this in Iceland. There is enough geothermal energy to power the entire country several times over. (Not to mention the hydro...)
Misty mountain top, moss and lichen covered lava fields beside the highway back to town.


Mongo, At The Moment said...

The Dettifoss waterfall and surrounding landscape was a location for the filiming of Ridley Scott's 'Prometheus'. If you see any bald, nine-foot-tall guys with a lack of melanin walking around, I wouldn't loan them any money.

Jim H. said...

This is correct, Mongo! The boys and I realized it when we got there and verified it on-line on the spot. No Engineers were observed at the time, however.