Since I didn’t meet anyone on the plane like I did on the way to Panama, and I didn’t meet anyone at the hostel, I decided I had to book some bus tours to see the sights around Iceland instead of renting a car. The first day tour I booked was for the Golden Circle.
I found out later that had I booked the tour through a company called Bustravel Iceland, I would have saved about 1000 Krona and would have seen more of Thingvellir National Park.
Our first stop was at a green house organic tomato farm. It was not a priority stop for me, but it was interesting to learn about farming innovations in Iceland. The country doesn’t have to rely on imported foods–between fish, livestock, and locally-grown produce, it’s fully sustainable.
The highlight of the Golden Circle tour was Gullfoss–I took a few dozen photos of this waterfall and surrounding area. The story behind the waterfall is that it was private property set to be sold to construct a hydroelectric dam. The daughter of the owner saved Gullfoss by proclaiming she’d throw herself into the rushing water if the dam was built. Fortunately, the waterfall was saved from development because it is an impressive sight of nature.
Because I was taking so many photo, my fingers froze. I brought along a pair of Thinsulate mittens that flip open to expose fingers–they were the warmest gloves I owned, but they don’t keep fingers warm when they’re exposed every time I want to take a picture. I ended up purchasing a new pair of Icelandic wool gloves at the tourist shop–I tested them out to ensure I could take photos without removing them.
The next stop was Geysir–it was easy to spot along the road with the steaming pools. There’s only one actual geyser that erupts every seven minutes or so (visitors can get close enough to watch it bubble and anticipate the eruption). The area looks nice surrounded by snow, the tour really didn’t need to spend as much time as it did in the area. (I added a video of the geyser eruption at the end of this post.)
The final stop on the Golden Circle tour was Thingvellir National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that became a national park in 1928. It was the site of the first Viking parliament in 980. As the day grew darker, we walked through a fissure for a view of the church, Þingvallakirkja. It certainly would’ve been much better with at least some light, especially since the day had been so bright.
By the time I returned to the hostel, I was exhausted. I took a walk down the street and had some Icelandic Asian cuisine (there wasn’t much choice near the hostel). It wasn’t bad, but it definitely wasn’t anything I’d recommend.