22 May 2018

2018 ICELAND Golden Circle 18 - History and Nature's Mystery

We had breakfast in our respective units and met for the drive to the Golden Ring at 09:45. Most folks sight see the Golden Ring on a big tour bus. Not us. We were venturing out on our own version of the tour. As driver of the day, I felt like I was vying for position on a race track with narrow lanes and fat buses in front, behind, and coming toward us.

The Golden Circle is not on the Ring Road, but kind of northeast of Reyk toward the interior. The circle is made up of three main stops in historic and natural areas of Iceland. They include Strokkur geysir, Pingvillir National Park (anglicized as Thingvellir), and the awesome Gullfoss (Golden Waterfall). The falls are furthest away, about 70 miles and an hour 40 minutes from Reyk.

On our way we drove along Pingvallavatn, a huge icy blue lake. It is the largest lake in Iceland and partially located in the Pingvillir National Park. The surface is 84 km sq (32 sq miles). Average depth is 34m (112 ft) and max depth is 114m (374 ft).
There were a few houses scattered about, but mostly pretty desolate. This shot is of the most dense spot we saw. I can't imagine people living here for beachy / swimming purposes, but it is quite lovely.
Nearby ice fields. What's water and what's ice!? Beautiful...

Our first stop was to be the site of the oldest parliament in the world beginning in the year 930. We got confused by the signage and finally stopped at a coffee shop for directions. It turned out to be a tourist info center. We were looking for a parliamentary building, but the info gal said that it was a "location" and that we had passed it a ways back.

We ordered hot chocolate and a sweet and talked it over. We decided to move forward and catch the site on our way home. So Strokkur (means churn) Geysir (geyser in English) was our first site to peruse. Here was a big visitor center--info about the area, lunchroom, and store with Icelandic products. We took a quick sweep through that and headed across the street to the geysir, which we could see from the road.
It sits in the middle of a hot springs area, among smaller geysirs and flowing streams and steam. A heavy sulfur odor permeated the air. Walkways guided us safely along the way because waters can be "too-hot-to-touch" up to "boil-you-alive-in-seconds." Signs warned of 80-100C (176-212F). I just wanted to test touch it, but came to my senses.
This looked like a house that had been claimed by the steamy hand of nature.

Up the trail is the grandaddy named Strokkur Geysir, which puts on a show every 8-10 minutes with an impressive burst of hot water and steam.
People surrounded the shallow "lake," cameras in ready position anticipating the blast. I think the people across the way got sprayed a bit from the wind direction going their way.

We waited patiently through several rounds, my sis and I trying to take the perfectly timed photo. Laur finally got a great shot on the third burst. A quick poof and then it was gone in the blink of an eye.
There are hiking paths around the whole area, but we decided to move on down the road. It is certainly a mystery why this geysir and Old Faithful Geyser in Yellowstone Park in the USA continue to burst on a regular basis. And I can certainly see why they call this the Land of Fire and Ice.

No comments:

Post a Comment

If you have visited any of these places, we would love to hear your comments. Or send us recommendations of places we should not miss.