Friday, January 31, 2014

Golden Circle Road Trip

For our last day in Iceland, we wanted to tour the Golden Circle- it's a drive that has become a huge attraction for tourists wanting to see the more natural side of Southern Iceland. You have two choices- either pay an exorbitant fee and take a bus tour, where you're on someone else's schedule....or pay an exorbitant fee and rent a car, being on your own schedule. We were happy that we chose the latter, as it seemed like every time we walked past a group, someone was complaining to their partner about how they were hungry, or didn't spend enough time here, or really wanted to explore more there, etc. I also think if your group is more than 1 person, it is less expensive to just rent a car. PLUS, with a car, you get to listen to some awesome Icelandic radio. It goes something like this:

Reporter: fhiweuhfwioehf wefhweoh JUSTEEN BEEBUR ewbfiwefh wfiuhwefwoefh HEELARY CLEENTON dfuhfgd weriwfigh WASHINGTON DC fewrihfwo qewho wierhwihr I GOT YOU BABE

And then a Sunny and Cher song comes on the radio, followed by Katy Perry, awful American artists that obviously have only made it big in Iceland, and The Beach Boys. The randomness of which song would play next was utterly hilarious. 
Another perk with a self guided tour is getting to stop along the way for photo ops! The drive alone is so enjoyable and gorgeous. You really feel like you are the only couple of people in Iceland, the roads are so empty. And I cannot say enough praise for their roads- so safe and ice free. Also, everything is so well labelled, that having a map isn't totally necessary.
The ground was very slippery. We had to incorporate the buddy system when walking- we always had to hold on to each other, and I cannot tell you how many times we saved each other from falling. I Got You Babe took on a whole other meaning.

├×ingvellir National Park

Our first stop on the Golden Circle was to ├×ingvillir National Park. And because I have NO idea how to make that cool P thing, I have to copy and paste the park's name from another website.
The park was probably my favorite stop on the journey, and we spent a little over an hour there. The nation's oldest park has a couple of claims to fame:
1. You can see the rifts between the North American and Euroasian tectonic plates.
2. It is the site of the oldest democratic parliament ever, from the Vikings in the 900's. But there is no building or anything really there to mark it as such. You just gotta believe the tour books and signs.
I, however, just wanted to check out the park with the cool P letter thing because I had read that is is beautiful. And it was!

The park had a line of these little lakes of water. They were actually fissures between the two continents! The water is some of the clearest and cleanest in the world and people actually go scuba diving here. Way too cold for that, in my opinion! But you do then get to say that you have swam between tectonic plates, and that's definitely worth bragging about.

Our next stop on the tour was to Geysir...the geyser that all others are named after! The place reeked of sulfur, or as Daniel called it, "mountain farts", but that didn't stop us!
Geysir doesn't really go off anymore, because some tourists in the 50's threw rocks in it :-( So the next best geyser is Strokkur, and that didn't disappoint!
Honestly, I didn't think I would get so excited about seeing a geyser, but I loved it! The anticipation is what makes it so worthwhile. We stood in front of this small little hot tub of steaming, bubbling water, waiting for it to explode for about 10 minutes. Sometimes the water would begin to overflow and we would go "WWWHHOOOOAAAA" thinking it was about to erupt, but then it would just sink back in. That little tease. When it finally went off, I screamed and hugged on to Daniel in surprise, making him nearly drop his phone and miss this picture.


Our last stop was to the Gullfoss waterfall. I don't know if it's because it was towards the end of our trip and we were tired or what, but I found this the least impressive. I've read that it is much more breathtaking to see in the summer, when you can get closer to it and parts aren't frozen over. It really was huge though. For comparison, that is an iced over road to the left of the waterfall. 

After our tour, we stopped for hot chocolate and it began snowing pretty heavily! Although we never saw the Northern Lights, I am glad we saw some legit snow. 

Thanks for reading about our trip! I have loved writing about Iceland, and if you are interested in going, I am full of advice for your trip. 

1 comment:

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