Anniversary trip - Day 2: Golden Circle
28 April 2017
After dominating jet lag on our first day (and then subsequently sleeping 12-13 hours overnight to catch up) Christi and I were back at it for day two of our trip. Smartly we booked our tour that day to leave at 10am to give us time in the morning and after crashing hard we headed over to the Sandholt Cafe to pick up some breakfast ... where Christi claims she had the best cup of coffee. Ever. In Reykjavik.
Out of all of the amazing things we saw during our 7-8 day journey I think the picture above is probably my favorite of the whole trip. After the best cup of coffee ever, which she still claims is true even after our trip to Paris, she got one more for the road and we were picked up by Gateway to Iceland for our tour of the Golden Circle. Even though we had a sweet rental car, still getting to that for the next post, it was amazing to be on a minibus so we could relax for the day and get a semi-private tour as we only had around 12 people in our group. Our driver, Gummi, was absolutely amazing and I'm not sure if it's because it was Easter or not, but he gave us a very informative religious history lesson about the country.
Our first stop was at the UNESCO site Thingvellir National Park. After stopping a few places to take in the enormity of the area we began walking through a canyon that is the continental drift between the North American and Eurasian Plates. The tectonic and volcanic activity that has formed the area was absolutely amazing. At the very end of our walk through the canyon we were greeted by two amazing waterfalls, which is just a natural occurrence everywhere you look in Iceland.
Speaking of waterfalls, the next stop was Gullfoss, the largest in the country. While walking to Gullfoss, it seems pretty unassuming until you get closer and then notice the staircase tiers and then the massive two plunges of water that seem to drop into nowhere right below you. Being up without any protection, the wind was absolutely whipping around us and we stopped for a few different vantage points before rushing up the stairs to warm up and grab some lunch at the nearby cafe.
With two stops left on our trip, Gummi decided to take us off course for a few "local" attractions. Not sure if he does this for everyone or if it was just special for our group, but it was nice to feel like we were getting to see a few additional stops on our trip. The first was to a location where he showed some locals baking bread underground since the water next to where it was buried is so hot that it naturally bakes during the day. Then it was off to see some Icelandic horses. During my research before our trip I read quite a few blogs about how people absolutely love the horses in Iceland. They are much smaller and known to be extremely docile. As we pull up there is someone in our group who brought some carrots so she shares with Christi to let her feed them. After petting them and watching for a few minutes someone from my group behind me asks me to take her picture with the horses. No more than three seconds of turning my back to them to talk to this woman the horse bit me in the back. Yes, the extremely docile Icelandic horses tried to take a nip out of me. After everyone having a good laugh and me now with horse slobber on my coat we were off to see the geysers.
At our trip to the geyser field we first stopped to see Geysir, the geyser that all are named after it. It is extremely dormant now but was interesting to see the size compared to all of the other ones near us. The main attraction now is Strokkur which erupts about every five minutes. We spent a good half hour here as our group was trying to get the perfect slo-mo videos. Our timing on the slo-mo wasn't perfect, but I got a pretty good one on the GoPro thanks to the wide angle that it shoots.
Before our last stop at the Secret Lagoon, ol' Gummi had one more trick up his sleeve as he stopped us by another "hidden" waterfall in Iceland. He claims over his years of driving this used to be just a dirt road that he discovered and took groups down and then the country paved out a parking lot for everyone to enjoy it and more easily find it off the road.
After a long day in the bus the perfect ending was relaxing in the Secret Lagoon for an hour. Not as built out or touristy as the Blue Lagoon, but the main difference here is that the water temperature was extremely warmer. It felt absolutely amazing to just sit and relax and not worry/care about anything. Here is where we met one of many Canadians on our journey and had a great chat with them until it was time to go.