Saturday in Iceland was an absolutely beautiful day, there wasn't a cloud in the sky, it was perfect for our 9-5pm Golden Circle day tour. All the prayers we said for better weather at Reykjavik cathedral and Hallsgrimskirkja the day before must have been heard after all ;-)
After about 45minutes we continued on our way toward Gullfoss Waterfall passing through scenic fields where holiday cabins dotted the landscape, chunky Icelandic horses grazed and pixie houses were painted on rocks.
Rumour has it that Icelanders are big believers in the "hidden people" (pixies, trolls, elves etc) and according to this entertaining Vanity Fair article by Michael Lewis - which is a good read even if he does rather spitefully, and inaccurately in my book, describe the Icelandic people as "mousy-haired and lumpy." I found many Icelanders to be very attractive, especially the bespectacled cutie with the stylish hair who worked on reception at our hotel during the day - Alcoa had to “defer to a government expert to scour the enclosed plant site and certify that no elves were on or under it” when trying to develop an aluminium-smelting plant.
It was incredibly cold out by Gullfoss and icy enough underfoot to make me more than a little concerned about my lack of travel insurance nevertheless this didn't stop me from trying to walk out to the furthest part of the rocks overlooking the waterfall where hardy souls stood admiring the view. Never one to miss a photo opportunity I made it about half way out, however ice made it extremely slippery underfoot and even in sturdy hiking shoes I had visions of myself going arse over tit into the waterfall. Much better better to turn back I decided, although getting down presented it's own problem since it didn't look quite so straightforward now I knew how perilous the icy rocks really were and I sat down to take stock getting my bum wet in the process, put my camera in my inner coat pocket and drum up a bit of courage before elegantly shuffling my way back down to the relative safety of the path. I didn't hold out much hope for the foolhardy British guy who passed by me stumbling up the icy rocks in his Adidas Gazelles while his girlfriend looked on in her high heeled boots. Definitely not appropriate footwear for visiting freezing waterfalls and as I walked up the path to the viewing deck and the warmth of the cafe and souvenir store (fridge magnets!! Yay!!) I half expected to hear an "aaaaaiiiiiieeeeeeeee" as he tumbled into Gullfoss. Usually I am one for the cute high heels - I need all the height I can get at 5ft 1 - but I've never been so thankful for sensible shoes in my life.
Do you see those insane people on the circular rocky outcrop on the middle left of the photo at the end of the path? Yes, those tiny dots!!! I have no idea how they made it up there, since it was like walking on polished glass in slippers over those rocks.
The Strokkur Geyser goes off on one every 3-4minutes reaching heights of 25-35m. It erupted just as we were walking up to it and I was able to whip out my camera lickety split and capture the resulting steam cloud in the photo above. Apparently American tourists have a tendency to be less than impressed at the Icelandic geysers since Old Faithful reaches heights of 50m and the Steamboat geyser in Yellowstone National Park is the world's tallest currently active geyser with eruptions reaching a whopping 90-120m, although it's behaviour much less predictable.
Still the tourists on our day tour clustered vigilantly around the edge of Strokkur cameras at the ready. I mocked them, but moments later I went to join them ;-)
After a $10ish fish burger lunch - oodles better than a MaccyD's filet-o-fish - at the snack bar and stopping to take a photo of the troll....
...the tour continued on to Þingvellir (Thingvellir) National Park former home of the Alþing (assembly), Iceland's supreme legislative and judicial authority, which was held there from 930 until 1271, and a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Scenery en route...
That little white house you see is the Icelandic President's summer home.
The flag shows where the assembly was held.
Walking in the rift valley at Þingvellir where the North America and Eurasian continents meet.