Iceland Golden Circle – Thingvellir National Park, Haukadalur Valley and Gullfoss

Our second day in Iceland was cold of course but worse of all wet and winds at over 30 MPH at the less windy areas.  Needless to say a glacier hike was out of the question.  Instead we opted to drive around the “Golden Circle” a popular loop from Reykjavik of at least 300 KM.  A good amount of driving, especially on potentially icy roads

Pretty and Icy as we went up and down the mountains.  It pretty much snowed until the white cloud turned suddenly into pitch dark.  I squirmed a little as my limited knowledge of weather made me think we were in some kinda eye of a storm. Surely Iceland would warn us if a tornado was coming…

Our first stop was Þingvellir (Thingvellir in English) National park.  I mentioned how the Iceland people were the first to have a parliament in the world in 930 before it was all trendy and such.  Vikings held annual parliament meetings around a rock formation to amend laws and create new ones as the valley made for some great acoustics

Þingvellir is one of only TWO places in the entire world where you can see two of the earth’s tectonic plates meeting above the earth’s surface (the other is in Africa). The North American and Eurasian plates jut up out of the ground here in Þingvellir, moving apart roughly 2 cm per year. Although I’m not too sure at which point this rift was at as we didn’t hike for very long and reading the posts were extra seconds in the wind I wanted to avoid.  It was freezing rain  with various patches of black ice on the trail at that point so we didn’t hike too long around the trail.  If I ever get a chance to come back to Iceland is less severe weather I would do a few longer trails Þingvellir national park.  Even in crappy weather it was really beautiful.

Just because Iceland had a parliament doesn’t mean it was all peace on earth and goodwill towards all… You can guess what happened if you were naughty.  Thieves were flogged, guilty men were beheaded or hanged, sinful women were executed by drowning in the waterfall above, outlaws were banished, religious appointments were made, marriages were arranged, contracts were negotiated, old feuds were settled, matters of honour were decided by duels, and distant news were exchanged.  Society as we know it was being introduced.

The next stop many kilometers away (or so it felt as we took our time driving in our crappy 2WD) was Haukadalur Valley and the geysers! Interesting Wikifact, the word geyser comes from Geysir, the name of an erupting spring at Haukadalur,Iceland, which is where we were. That name, in turn, comes from the Icelandic verb geysa, “to gush.”

The wind and rain seemed to calm down so I had time to read some of the fun facts tables.  Guess where the biggest geyser is?  USA!  USA!

Strokkur is actually the highlight of the valley with explosions every 5-10 minutes.  I had trouble getting a photo so we tried to take a video.  Fast forward to 1;25 or so for the actually eruption.


Weird face much?

Next we stopped by Geyser which is the biggest one in the valley.  It’s been chilling, and taking a break since 2000.  It has a habit of mostly erupting after earthquakes but I still felt a littler nervous that it was going to erupt in my face.

An earthquake in 2000 revived the geyser and it reached 122 meters for two days.  thus becoming one of the highest known geysers in history. Initially eruptions were taking place on average eight times a day. By July 2003 this activity had again decreased to around three times per day. Currently, it’s been inactive for a while but I was still a little nervous.

The next stop was Iceland’s most famous waterfall Gullfoss!  Trying to get a peek or a photo of this site was a workout of its own.

I don’t know how strong the winds were to be exact but I know they were strong enough to shake our car as we were trying to park.  

After almost being blown off a cliff, I needed some chocolate therapy.  Luckily the shop selling crazy expensive furs and sheep hats also had a cafe for some hot chocolate.  

As we drove back in darkness we tried to look for some northern lights but all we saw were the eerie yellow glow of nearby towns.

We decided to take a break from the horse and whales for dinner and go with something familiar when we got back to Reykjavik.  Hot dogs!
Bæjarins beztu pylsur has been in business since 1937 and the name literally translates to the Best Hotdogs in Town!  A combination of beef, pork and lamb and a regular part of what seemed to be the Icelandic diet.  Every convenience store, kiosk, gas station, roadside stop, and eatery of any kind carries them.
We ordered two hot dogs “eina með öllu.”  A hot dog cost us a little over $2 and included ketchup, sweet mustard, fried onion, raw onion and remoulade, a mayonnaise-based sauce with sweet relish. There is an option to order one “Clinton style” with just spicy mustard.

Your Two Cents

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s