July 18-19, 2021 – Iceland Day 10 & 11
To view short video clips of this day, click here.
We spent last night and most of the day tooling around Reykjavík’s downtown area including Laugavegur Street. We loved everything we ate, enjoyed the shops and couldn’t resist checking out the Punk Rock Museum.
With a lot of daylight still left and an entire next day of no plans, we decided to check out the Golden Circle. We spent the remainder of the evening within the Thingvellir National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site.
My travel buddy was spent, so I hiked the Almannagjá gorge by myself. This gorge lies in the rift zone, a space between the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates and was a filming location in Season 4 of Game of Thrones. The paths were very well constructed making for more of a walk than a hike.
Thingvellir is also the home of the world’s oldest existing parliament, Althing / Alþingi, a brief history of which is discussed in this podcast.
Within Thingvellir and the Almannagjá gorge, I came upon Oxararfoss, another beautiful waterfall and film location for Game of Thrones.
Ten minutes down the road, I found snorkelers going into Silfra. Snorkelers and divers alike love this place, in part, because “it is the only place in the world where you can dive or snorkel directly in a crack between two tectonic plates.” This trip, I simply observed but it is definitely a priority for my next trip.
We had the most limited cell and Wi-Fi signal here than anywhere else our entire trip. I wasn’t finding much in the way of accommodations, so we camped out at the nearby Þingvellir National Park campground.
The next day, we relied heavily on maps at the campground and those in my Fodor’s book to finish the Golden Circle. Though it may be easier for others to navigate, we found it more challenging than the Ring Road, especially with our spotty signal. Whereas the Ring Road is simple Route 1, the Golden Circle is comprised of multiple roads/highways.
“Iceland’s countryside is dotted with humble white churches with red roofs and short steeples. They were predominately built from 1890 through 1940 and reflect the colors of the Lutheran Church and Denmark. So this blue, modern church at the Úthlíð farm is very unusual. Úthlíðarkirkja stands near the ruins of a pagan temple. The Church of Uthlid was built in 2006 by the farmer Bjorn Sigurdsson to commemorate his deceased wife. Mrs. Ágúst Ólafsdóttir died in 2004.”
Next stop, the Geysir geothermal area in the Haukadalur Valley. Geysir is the first known geyser for which all others are named. It hasn’t been active for some time, but nearby Strokkur provided a nice show. I captured it erupting a few times in my videos linked above.
We wrapped up the day with the majestic Gulfoss and The Secret Lagoon in Fludir. The check engine light came on in Fludir, so we headed back for Keflavik where we would return our van and spend our last night at our hotel near the Covid testing center.