Thursday, 14 June 2012

Iceland Day 2 – Golden Circle Tour with Iceland Horizons

My first day tour in Iceland was with Iceland Horizons, guided by David. It was quite informative. David seems to know a lot about Iceland and its people and though he must repeat this every day to the newest group of tourists, still made it interesting. The tour bus was only small, as expected, and the group was even smaller. There were only 7 people including myself.
I was picked up outside the guest house at about 8.45am and we were off. We had mostly fantastic weather again today, with only a bit of rain at Thingvellir and on the bus when we were returning to Reykjavik….but I’m getting ahead of myself.
The tour took us past the world’s biggest geothermal power plant:
the new power plant - biggest thermal power plant in the world
First stop was a pit-stop since there would be no toilets available until lunch-time and some people had been on the bus an hour by this time. While I was waiting to get back on the bus, the cutest thing came by: a kindergarten excursion:
Kindergarden excursion
First stop on our tour was Kerith crater. This was also our initiation to the flies. They are everywhere and get in the bus and you can’t kill them because that stains the upholstery….but they’re not as annoying as Aussie flies :-) :
Kerid crater 
A lot of Icelanders have summer houses – basically little shacks that are their holiday homes. Very cute:
Views from Kerid craterDSC02838
Next stop was Faxa Foss waterfall. It’s only a little mini one, but it was pretty:
Faxa Foss Faxa Foss (salmon ladder on the left)
There were some horses hanging out on the side of the road so David pulled over so we could go up and pet them. They really do love the attention!:
Icelandic horsesIcelandic horses  Icelandic horses
After this, it was the big one: Gullfoss. It’s pretty stunning:
 Gullfoss Gullfoss Gullfoss Gullfoss Gullfoss Gullfoss  
We had an hour here, so I had lunch, since David recommended the lamb stew and it did sound nice. It was unlimited soup and bread-rolls and butter for about $10. I went back for seconds, though I did find the soup to be very salty. I think the lamb must be cured or prepared like corned beef because it was reddish coloured. And salty. Fortunately, I’d brought along my bottled water from ‘home’.
Views from GullfossViews from GullfossViews from Gullfoss
Next stop was at Geysir National Park for about an hour. Geysir itself apparently only blows about once a week if you’re lucky, while Strokkur goes every 4.5 minutes. Well, we were exceedingly lucky because Geysir blew while I was there and I got photos!
  Geysir National Park Geysir GeysirGeysir went off unexpectedly!Geysir went off unexpectedly! 
The place reminded me of Orakei Korako (or however it’s spelt) in New Zealand, but on a much, much smaller scale. We had about an hour here too, so I took my time wandering around.
Geysir National Park Strokkur Strokkur Geysir National Park Geysir National Park Geysir National Park Strokkur  Strokkur Strokkur Geysir National ParkGeysir National Park
As I was about to leave, I had a look through the shop (everything too expensive) and just had to photograph these caps:
Caps for sale at the Geysir shops
Then it was past some otherworldly landscape on our way to the Thingvellir National Park:
DSC03162 DSC03108 DSC03112 DSC03118 DSC03120 DSC03122 DSC03130
Thingvellir National Park is where the American and Eurasian continent are drifting apart. It’s also the site of the Icelandic Parliament for about 1000 years. David explained that it was open-air, so there’s no buildings except for modern ones which include a little church and the President’s summer house:
David explaining things at Thingvellier National ParkThingvellier National Park 
The water in the fissure is very deep and cold but clear with visibility for more than 200m, according to David. The bridge spans the continental divide (though not really – the area is bigger than that):
 Thingvellier National Park - the divide between Eurasian (left) and American (right) continents Thingvellier National Park
This is when it started raining lightly, so I didn’t do the full walk nor take that many photos:
Thingvellier National Park Thingvellier National Park Thingvellier National Park Thingvellier National Park  Thingvellier National Park Thingvellier National ParkThingvellier National ParkThingvellier National Park
The following stop had to be incorporated because the connection between the previous area and the viewing area from the top was broken when a 50m fissure appeared out of nowhere, taking the path with it:
Thingvellier National Park - the new fissure Thingvellier National Park Thingvellier National Park  Thingvellier National Park Thingvellier National Park Thingvellier National Park
Seeing as it was raining on the direct road back to Reykjavik, David decided to show us the scenic route, past the old power plant and along the shores of the largest lake in Iceland. This is where all the bigwigs have their summer houses. No wonder really – it’s very beautiful:
DSC03318 DSC03319 DSC03287 DSC03293 DSC03303 the old power plant
And that was the end of the tour. It was really great.
I went back to Glo for dinner – just as delicious as yesterday! And then I cam home and packed my togs for the pool! The big pool is about 10 minutes walk from here and costs 500 ISK, which is worth it. It was really nice to laze in the hot pool and swim in the full Olympic sized pool. It was 10 degrees Celsius and I was swimming! Outside! So nice!
And by the way: I have not touched Icelandic currency yet – it’s all been paid by credit card. Even the $4 admission for the pool! But now I have to go to bed – the glacial lagoon tour starts at 7.30am from here tomorrow morning!