YOU GUYS. Iceland is amazing. Our entire itinerary has offered a compilation of city lights, splashes of nature, quality eats, and lots of adventure! On our third day, we took off with Reykjavik Excursions for a day of fun in the sun, wind, snow, hail, rain, and fog (weather is pretty fickle here in Iceland). Nothing you can’t handle though, I mean, you’re you. You can do it.
The golden circle tour is a popular choice for hitting a few of Iceland’s big attractions in one day. A blanket of snow was laid upon Reykjavik and neighboring areas overnight – so our 9 a.m. take off was all kinds of white. The roads were a little slick and frightening, but the pre and post glacial mountains, hills and volcanoes were all kinds of magnificent. Our tour guide was ideal for the trip as he was an Iceland native who was incredibly proud of his heritage and filled to the brim with fun facts about this country of natural and magical wonders.
Fun Fact: Did you know that 50% of Icelanders believe in elves and trolls? I haven’t seen any yet (fingers crossed – there’s still time!).
We started off with a visit to Thingvellir National Park. You walk past a gift shop and restroom, over an embankment and onto a lookout point that provided for stellar panos of Iceland’s largest lake, Thingvallavatn Lake. Due to the snowfall experienced the night before and a little thing called winter, much of the lake was frozen over. The views were still pretty rad:
An unfortunate part of tours in Iceland is that multiple buses take off together, meaning multiple buses arrive at the destinations at the same time. Our stop at Thingvellir was our first taste of the overcrowding at these hot spots. We were able to meander around the selfie sticks and road blockers to take our own selfies at a couple of other neato look out points. I really enjoyed the slide (straight ice) down the path to a lower look out. Minutes after our trip down, we had to make our way back up so we could get on to our next destination, The Great Geysir!
The geyser we visited is the oldest in written record, and was in fact the one for which geysers received their name. The root of the name is “Geysa” which means “to gush” in Icelandic. The geyser currently erupts every 5-10 minutes but the frequency has changed much over the years. The boiling hot water from the geyser is sent 259 feet in the air, splashing unsuspecting bystanders with the same tenacity as Shamu. OK, so no one is really unsuspecting, but only occasional bursts gain enough air to hit any of those standing around to see it.
We were just getting ready to leave and walked around to the far end of the geyser on our way out. We stood to watch it erupt one last time. We got a 2-for-1 and to our pleasant surprise, those who were standing exactly where we stood about 32 seconds prior got the Shamu treatment.
The last stop on our golden circle tour was to the Gullfoss Waterfall. The 45 minutes we had to enjoy this beaut was just enough as the wind picked up, accompanied by hail and even stronger winds and became pretty difficult to withstand. We took the 120 slippery steps down to the lower level look at point over the falls. Although pretty much everything anywhere near the falls was white or completely frozen over, the water in these falls plunged on into the canyon.
We hiked over to the other lookout point which was the 120 steps back up, then about a quarter or a mile skate through the snow/ice. After many calculated steps, I wiped out on a patch of ice. Ouch. Aside from that and some pretty cold temps, it was all-in-all a pretty great day. We hit some pretty big items on our Iceland bucket list and came across this nice bench that was quite buried in the snow. This one ended up being one of my favorite pics of the day, #naturalbeauties: