Bright and early start to the day to catch our bus for the tour of the Golden Circle. Such a full day.
Our guide, Ranna, was lovely. Very knowledgeable about the area, sharing stats and personal stories about life here on Iceland growing up in the 70s/80s and how things have changed so quickly for Icelanders.
- It’s currently not legal to own a dog in Reykjavik. People do but it’s not actually legal.
- When she was young tv was limited to a few hours in the evening,no tv one day a week, and no tv in July
- If you leave Iceland with a horse, you cannot bring it, or any of the tack, back into Iceland.
- Last names in Iceland make life tricky for families to travel sometime as everyone has different last names. If Peter had a daughter and a son (Emma and Jon) their names would be Emma Petersdottir and Jon Petersson, it gets confusing for non-Icelandic folks to comprehend!
- Ranna thinks that most Icelandic folks, in their hearts, do believe in the existence of trolls and elves. At least they will not usually completely deny their existence. Though the stories and folklore are said to have originated to keep children in line while parents were busy with the farming and couldn’t keep an eye on them.
- If an elf woman asks for help with childbirth you must not refuse or bad luck will follow. Good luck will come to anyone who does assist.
Our first stop on the tour was to visit some Icelandic horses. Not ponies!! Never call them ponies! They are small in stature but are pony sized horses. And they are super cute and friendly. We stayed long enough to get numerous pictures and have a washroom break and then back on the road.
Next stop was Gulfoss, The Golden Waterfall. It is a beautiful area! The waterfall is on two levels, the top is about 11 metres and the bottom one is about 21 metres. Depending on the wind, you can be soaked by the spray as torrents of water plunge into the valley. Definitely worth visiting!
From Gulfoss we made our way to Geysir, the geothermal area. Geysir, the geyser which gives the area its name, is currently inactive, but Strokkur, only a few metres away, happily puts on a show every few minutes. It’s funny how enjoyable it is to watch a geyser erupting 15 or so metres into the air. Everyone laughs and giggles and there are lots of shrieks of delighted surprise. There are lots of bubbling hot pots to check out and the wafting smell of sulfur is, of course, particularly strong all through the area.
After Geysir, it was time for a relaxation stop at the Fontana baths. First though we watched a Fontana baker demonstrate the method used for baking geothermal bread. They dig a hole on the beach and uncover a bubbling pocket of hot water (80-100 degrees) and plunk in a pot filled with unbaked rye bread. 24 hours later is is dug up and enjoyed! And we certainly did enjoy it!!! The recipe used at Fontana is one passed down through the family of the lovely (and super funny) baker giving us the tour. It was delicious! Soft, moist, and sweeter than normal bread, more like a cake. It was a fun thing to try.
The baths at Fontana are lovely as well. There are a few different pools at varying temperatures so we moved around trying them all. We even too a couple of dips in the cold lake because it seemed like the Nordic thing to do. It was cold! Really cold! But actually very refreshing and enjoyable enough that we did it again later. It was nice to soak in the naturally heated pools overlooking the lake and just relax. Too soon it was time to get ready to get back on the bus and head to our last stop.
Thingvellir National Park was our final destination before driving back to the city. We went for a walk between the two shifting tectonic plates. Eurasia on one side and North America on the other. The labdscape is ruggedly beautiful and, with the fantastic rock formations, you could see how people could see trolls. It was a fabulous end to a very full and amazing day.
From there it was back to the city and the one minor blight on the day. We were dropped off “at” our hotel with folks who were staying at other hotels in the vicinity. When we got off the bus however we realized we were nowhere close to our hotels. It was a good 15 minute walk to get to where we needed to be. Not a huge deal if we’d known and if the guide had confirmed it was not an issue. We still had to get our luggage, gear up with our crazy backpacks and walk back down there again to check in to our next hotel. Oh well, lesson learned, confirm your hotel drop off is actually near your hotel before getting off the bus.
We found our next lodging without too much difficulty and only a minute or two on the wrong street. It’s nice as well, the room set up was better at Eric the Red but the nearby shared kitchen is a bonus here at Brattagata Guest House. It’s much noisier though, we are very close to a main nightlife area and must be directly on a flight path as well. There is certainly no sleeping with the window open here!
Breakfast this morning was excellent. The highlights were yummy little Icelandic pancakes, homemade carrot/orange marmalade and a big bowl of vanilla skyr! Conversing with the other guests was also great, it interesting to hear what everyone is doing and report on the sights/tours we’ve all seen thus far.
Today’s excitement will be the food tour we’re booked on for 12:30. I’m excited to try more of the Icelandic food (and branch out from cheese and bread! Haha)!
Hopefully I will have much deliciousness to report on later!!