Monday, 16 August 2010

Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Golden Circle

Day 8

The day dawned bright and sunny! What a contrast
with yesterday. There were moments of cloud and the odd spot of rain but the whole day has been beautiful.

The 'Golden Circle' is the name of tours from Reykjavik taking in Geyser, Gullfoss Falls and Pingvellir. We, of course, were not on a bus full of other tourists but able to travel early and go at our own pace. So after an early breakfast we set of to the mud pools and water spouts at Geysir.

Arriving just after 9am meant beating most other people there and for about half an hour there were only another dozen people at the site. The original Geyser at Geysir no longer fires up, unless artificially stimulated on occasions such as Iceland's independence day celebrations. But Strokkur, it's smaller cousin steams up to 33 metres every 5 or so minutes. We were not disappointed and it was fascinating to watch this phenomenon again and again.

On leaving Geyser (after the obligatory look rou
nd the gift shop) we picked up Deanna and Julia, two hitch hikers from Italy who have spent three weeks travelling around Iceland. They were heading for Gullfoss, so we were happy to take them with us and to have another perspective on this wonderful and unique country.

The falls were thundering, on lots of levels, with spray launching 80 metres into the air. We were beginning to realise that West Iceland is much busier than the East and coach loads of tourists kept rolling up, staying twenty minutes and moving on. It was quite a bump back toreality - then I remembered those queues outside Madame T ussauds across from Church House and realised Icelandic tourist traps are rather pleasant in comparison!

Our passengers also wanted to go to Pingvellir, so we all went off together. This was a fascinating place where the convergent tectonic plates of Europe and America are pulling apart. The evidence for this is all over Iceland in volcanoes, hot springs, geysers and rock formations. At Pingvellir there is a long ridge of churned up rock face, right next to a huge lake.

Here the Alpingi parliament (means 'all things') met for over 1000 years.

Sandy's getting to play with lots of his lenses and caught this spider doing what spiders are meant to do!

We dropped the girls on the road to Reykjavik and were pleased to see they got a lift immediately - we turned back towards Hotel Ork. We have finished the day in the pool and geothermically heated hot tubs - how cool (or hot...) is that!

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