Golden Circle

The first of two days sat on tour buses, and another Icelandic "must do" - the Golden Circle.  Loads of companies offer this tour, but we picked Iceland Excursions because it mentioned a tour of a geothermal power station.  Which did not occur - instead we went to a horse place.  But nevermind!

The first big stop of the day was Þingvellir, an interesting place for several reasons.  It's the location of Iceland's first parliament, and it's a rift valley between the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates.  So there's all sorts of fissures and big rocky walls and things, as well as all the history about how people gathered for assemblies and sorted out important legal stuff.

deep and pretty fissure
hooray for polarising filters!

Mostly it's just really pretty - you can see why Silfra (one of the larger fissures - not this one) is popular for diving!

Next up we headed to Gulfoss.  It's a big volume waterfall that vanishes into a tall gorge.  I thought I'd be arty/clever and get some blurry water shots with the help of a tripod and some ND filters, but it was too bright to get a slow enough shutter speed.


I spent a lot of time wiping spray off my lens!  After a slightly rushed lunch in the café (salmon bagel, yum) it was back on the bus and off we went to see the geysers!

Geysir itself (the one that gave them the name) is dormant, but Strokkur goes off every few minutes.  It erupted not long after we got to it, which caught me off guard - very strange to suddenly have water shooting out of the ground a few metres from where you're standing!

Strokkur erupting
ghostly geyser.  or just rain on the lens

It was raining pretty heavily by this point, so we had an odd mix of cool rain and hot steam going on.  There are loads of little vents/hot spots/geysers in the area - on a nicer day I'd have wandered around and taken more pics, but instead we lurked in the gift shop for 10 minutes to try and dry out before getting back on the bus.

Next stop was Skálholt, another historically important site.  This time for religious reasons.  It's a church.  There's been a church on the site for a long time.  But it did have some interesting stained glass windows and a grass roofed building next door so I'm not complaining too much.

From here we headed back to Reykjavik, with one final stop at the horse place.  Icelandic horses have five gaits (other horses just have four).  Please don't ask me what the difference is because I have no idea!

In summary, it was a very interesting and varied day.  Obviously it would be better to do it at your own pace, rather than that of an organised tour, but that's true for most things.  Certainly I'd have been happy to spend a lot more time at Thingvellir rather than watching horses.


No Comments

Add a new comment