Friday, November 20, 2015

Golden Circle and Traditional Tastes Tour

Mark and I slept forever, then eventually dragged ourselves out of bed to grab breakfast and get ready for our excursion.

We did have a little free time before our excursion started, so we walked around the marina area. This was only a couple minutes from the was a pretty neat area.

Our tour guide picked us up at the hotel, and we were off! I've been on a few larger bus tours, but this was a nice small group in a van; I think there were 8 of us, including our guide, Anna. She grew up in Iceland and was a lot of fun to talk to.

Our excursion was a modified Golden Circle tour with some extras, and our first stop was Thingvellir. It's a national park where the first Parliament was established in the 900's. I've been here a few times, but it's still fun to walk along the paths (and the fall colors made it especially pretty).

We walked around for a little while and Anna pointed out the remains of one of the campsites from when they would have their Parliament meetings. We got a little free time, too, and got to explore a bit more on our own.

 We eventually met up on the other side of some of the rifts. Thingvellir is also where the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates meet, and you can see the gashes and rifts as you go through the valley.

Thingvellir was nice, but we had other places to see so we all piled back in the van and drove a bit more.

Our next stop was Fridheimar, a greenhouse where they grow tomatoes and cucumbers. One of the employees told us a bit about how the greenhouse is set up and how the lights, sprinklers, and temperature are all computerized, and we even got to see a box of the bees they let loose inside. We also got to have some homemade tomato soup, and bread with a crazy delicious cucumber spread.

Our next stop after lunch was Geysir. It was starting to get a bit gloomy looking, but the rain held off.

We wandered around the smaller geysers for a couple minutes, then went over to check out Strokkur. I just missed the first eruption, but I waited and waited and waited and got the next one.

Mark got a behind the scenes shot. I stood like that for almost 10 minutes until it finally erupted.

I especially liked watching all the water rush back in after it erupted.

We walked around the steamy paths a bit more, then met everyone back at the van to go to our next stop.

The other main attraction of the Golden Circle is Gulfoss. It's a huuuuge waterfall with lots of neat paths that you can walk along.

The wind was really starting to whip the mist around.

We had a fair amount of free time here, so we walked along as many paths as we could. One of them goes right up to the edge of the falls.

Mark got a picture of me trying to hide my camera from the mist. I'm hardly ever in our trip's proof that I actually do go places!   :)

We spent a bit more time wandering along all the paths.

It was really starting to look gloomy in the distance; you could see where the rain was starting to come down.

We walked along the higher path for a little while, then went back to the van.

Our next stop was Efstidalur, a dairy farm that's been owned by the same family for hundreds of years. They had a window into the barn so you could see the cows up close and personal. We got to try some feta cheese and skyr (Icelandic yogurt), and ended our tasting with some really good ice cream. It's all made on site and was really fresh (and tasty!).

One of our last stops was Fontana, a smaller hot spring bath thing. Mark and I had been here before a few years ago and it was just as nice this time, too. We hung out in the pools and the sauna and had fun talking to Anna and the rest of our group. After a while we all got cleaned up and went to dinner at Lindin. The lamb was really good, and Anna told us all sorts of fun Icelandic things (like how they decide which horses to keep and which ones to eat: "This horse is nice and calm and you can ride him? We keep that one. This other horse has bad temper and bites and kicks? That one, we eat.").

Our tour was supposed to end with a Northern Lights hunt, but it was pretty rainy by the time we finished dinner. Instead, Anna took us to a black sand beach near Selfoss on the way back. It was kind of funny to be stumbling along a rainy black beach in the dark, but it was still neat. Overall the tour was a lot of fun, and Anna was a great guide!

No comments:

Post a Comment