Our first day out of Reykjavik, we went to take in the sights that made up Iceland’s famous 190-mile tourist loop – the Golden Circle. The three main sights of the Golden Circle are Thingvellir National Park, Gulfoss waterfall and Geysir, the original geyser.
All of the sights here are good, but I have to say upfront that this was my least favorite day of the trip. I fear that the Golden Circle was just too darn popular.
We headed first to Thingvellir, paid our parking fee and followed the hoards of people. I was very excited to see this, and it was a bit underwhelming. I didn’t really know what I was seeing, or how to see what I wanted to see. We just walked around a little bit, listened to the boys complain, then left. It was a bit of a disappointment!
Thingvellir is famous for being the ancient home of the national parliment of Iceland, from the year 930 until 1798. It is also famous for being in the rift valley that separates the North American and European techtonic plates (currently moving apart by a few cm each year). I guess the whole area showed the rift valley, but I didn’t really know what to look at. I have to say that I was really missing the good ol’ NPS right about now. I just wanted a Junior Ranger book to spell out to me, at a 3rd grade level, what I was looking at and what I should learn about.
After Thingvellir, we headed to our next Golden Circle Stop – Gullfoss. A little hidden gem in Iceland 😉
It was a beautiful waterfall. Who can blame all those people for wanting to see it?
We spent a little time there, climbed on the rocks near the actual waterfall, and got a quick family picture.
Next stop – Geysir. All geysers are named after this geysir. However, it sadly doesn’t erupt often at all – so infrequently it is almost considered inactive. Fortunately, the Strokkur geyser, in the same area, has kindly taken up the slack and become the star attraction. Now, I do think we would have appreciated this area more if we hadn’t just been to Yellowstone and seen some awesome geysers erupting. However, Strokkur has a different pattern than all those we saw at Yellowstone, and that made it a bit exciting. This geyser erupts very frequently – every 5-10 minutes, but then just in one quick burst. So – you are constantly on your toes to see it and not miss the quick burst.
A and I decided we wanted to get a picture of him in front of it as it erupted, and we knew we had to time it just right. So I had him posed in front of it, and had my camera in hand. He was instructed to stay there and smile so I could get the shot when it went off. However, when the eruption actually came, he was busy fixing his hair, then forgot to pose and turned instead to look at the eruption. Finally, he remembered what he was supposed to do and posed! Got it!
After Strokkur, we headed to our new airbnb in South Central Iceland, with the Golden Circle checked off the list. The next few days were full of even more amazing things that Iceland had to offer (and weren’t quite so crowded!) More to come soon….