Friday, July 10, 2015

Iceland: The Golden Circle Tour

On my last day in Iceland, I did the popular Golden Circle Tour.  I was fortunate to have Sival as a guide, as he was well-educated and knew a great deal about geology, energy, and history.

Let me share with you a few photos of some of the stunning things I saw.  Remember to click on the pics to enlarge them.

One of the first things we did was to tour a geothermal power plant.  Did you know that Iceland runs its electricity, gets its heat, melts snow off the roads, and gets all its hot water from drilling down into the ground near earthquake fault lines?  I only knew about the heating system before my visit there.  I was also stunned to learn that Utah could do the same thing.  However, since it would be good for the environment and not require a whole lot of people to run the system once it was in place, it's unlikely that the Utah legislature would even consider such a thing.  After all, Utah's government officials passed laws to force teachers to teach the importance of coal mining because they (the legislators) believed we were teaching kids too much about alternative energy forms which were better for the environment.

We then got to see this waterfall nicknamed Faxi.  We also learned about salmon fishing in Iceland.  (See the salmon ladder on the left of the falls?)

It was then on to Kerid, a volcanic crater used in Goldfinger.

This is Gullfoss, a powerful, two-tiered waterfall that the British were going to dam for hydro-electric power.  Fortunately, they were interrupted by WWII, and then they lost their rights to the land.  It's hard to imagine what the world would have lost had they succeeded.  (Notice the people on the path and ledge and you'll get a feel for the size of this thing.)

Eventually, we made it to the Geyser Hot Springs area, which is sort of a mini-Yellowstone.

Hot pots and wildflowers.

This is Geysir, "The Gusher," which is the original geyser that gave us the word.  However, it's no longer a geyser, but just a hot pot now.

This geyser is Strokker, the churn.  It goes off about every five minutes, usually in two blasts.  It's only about 50 feet away from Geysir.

Our last stop was Thingvellir National Park.  This is where the North American and Eurasian plates are moving apart at the rate of an inch per year.  The fault lines are pretty obvious here.  Also, the water here, both in the streams and in the lake, is so pure and clear that you can see everything in it.  The lake is very popular for scuba diving.
This park is also where the ancient vikings held parliament, as there is a rock formation here which makes a perfect podium on a ledge.  (I wanted to hike up to it, but my back was giving me too much trouble.)  It was at one of these parliament meetings in about the year 1000 that they voted to switch from paganism to Christianity.  The Thingvellir Church is a reminder of that event (although the church isn't all that old).

After a long day of touring, I was dropped back at my hotel.  Unfortunately, as this was a weekend, all the local (and by "local," I mean about 3/4 a mile away) cafes were shut up but one (as they catered to employees in the area, not to tourists).  This Icelandic pizza was my best option for dinner.

It was a soggy crust with chicken, mushrooms, sun-dried tomatoes, and peanuts.  The school lunch pizzas are more appetizing than this.  Ugh.
(The best meal I had in Iceland was at the hot dog shop in the town square on my first full day there.)


  1. peanuts? On a pizza. Hum.

    Love the waterfalls

  2. Mac took the words right out of my mouth. Peanuts? Really?! I'm even more surprised that your best meal was from a hot dog shop, and not sure if it was a hot dog? I'm very curious about their eating habits now, (gee my life must really be in dire straits right) but no seriously, food ranks highly on my list of visiting new places, especially a new country. It's a must to sample their home dishes or specialties! I clicked on all your lovely photos too, very nice Lisa.

  3. You had a fantastic time - but your comment about the food is a little off-putting... surely they have some good restaurants in Iceland? Great shots again.

  4. Three comments and all three are about the food. Obviously, I need to do a post on the food.

    1. Food yes, but more goodies too, quirky not quirky! I read the folks there are very friendly, do you agree? Oh and they serve buttered fish with every meal? Do they?

  5. Beautiful pictures, wish I could have gone with!