Iceland Recap: Day 2
Thursday, April 26, was our first day on the road. A representative from Dollar / Thrifty picked us up from Kex Hostel, drove us to the rental office and set us up with a Ford Mondeo and a Garmin GPS. Then we hit the road — first, to a Siminn office for a local SIM card, then (through many, many roundabouts) out of town.
The Golden Circle is home to a few major Icelandic tourist attractions, of both the historical and “natural wonder” variety.
Þingvellir (“Thingvellir”) National Park was home to Iceland’s first parliament, the AlÞing, founded in 930. The day we visited was very gray and drizzly-rainy, and the path to the rift valley viewpoint was closed. But the view from the Lögberg (“law rock,” where someone would recite the laws in effect and give speeches) was nice, and there were interesting volcanic walls.
The Haukadalur geothermal area, home to Geysir (namesake of the English word “geyser”) and several other geysers was very touristy, but also pretty awesome. It’s a strange thing to walk out onto a field that’s emitting clouds of steam from multiple sources, and to see boiling pools of water. Also, Strokkur is a particularly active geyser, so we got to see it erupt several times during our brief visit.
Our last stop in the Golden Circle was the massive waterfall Gullfoss, which, I have to say, is just a tad more impressive than Maryland / Virginia’s Great Falls. We were concerned about time and it had gotten pretty cold, so we didn’t stay for very long. But it was quite a sight, and I’d love to go back and explore more sometime.
From there, we headed out towards the town of Vik, stopping for food in Selfoss. On the way to our guesthouse, we stopped off at Seljalandsfoss, part of a series of waterfalls along a ridge. A trail led behind the waterfall. It was cold, wet, slippery — and utterly exhilarating. (It’s also a wonder we didn’t ruin our cameras.)
Still a little wet, we drove on to our guesthouse, Steig. After checking in, we headed into Vik for a late dinner, followed by a (freezing and therefore short) photo session on the town’s black sand volcanic beach.