We considered using a tour company for a tour around the Golden Circle. They didn’t get back to us so we decided to set off early and do our own whistlestop tour of the Golden Circle en route to Reykjavík. Time was very tight – the car was being picked up at 3pm. We set off just after 7am, but it had snowed even more overnight (only a centimetre, but on Icelandic roads it’s never clever to go speeding).
We set off, went steady and found that these snow tyres are unstoppable. We picked up the pace, slowing down when we drove past every farmhouse for possible dogs.
We filled at the N1 in Blönduós, and carried on and found a bigger N1 with a café. I bought a (black) tea, hot dog wrapped in bacon and some Skyr yoghurt. Mine was vanilla, a bit sour – Chloe’s strawberry yoghurt was rather nice! Skyr’s basically a natural yoghurt but thicker.
We eventually reached Thingvellir National Park. This was to be a quick stop so we spent no more than an hour at our stop offs throughout Thingvellir. It’s Iceland’s first national park, not too far from the capital. What I wanted to see most was the continental rifts and the original Althing – the world’s first parliament.
The Lögberg, the rock where speakers stood to address the citizen representatives, is overshadowed by the big rift, the Almannagjá. The Almannagjá is a number of storeys high, and quite a distance apart. The plates of North America and Europe are moving up to 2cm apart per year, slowly tearing Iceland apart. It’s quite a spectacle. There’s many other tears around the area; smaller but no less showing of the sheer power.
At this point I rang our car rental place, and asked for an extension which they kindly allowed. We drove another 30km to Geysir, through more jaw-dropping scenery. We got there, after following the steam plumes. The air had a faint eggy smell to it, with sulphur belched from the depths. The boiling water just streamed down the roadside, it was actually near-boiling (I touched it like an idiot, and pulled away quickly!). There’s a number of geysers – the original Geysir is not as strong as it once was, and erupts only every ten years, so the chances of seeing Geysir erupt was slim. However we did see Strokkur, the pin-up geyser you see on every postcard, often mistaken for Geysir. It erupted many times when we were there, every five minutes, and shoots up to 30m high! Unreal!
With very little time left, we sped up to Gullfoss, the most powerful waterfall in Europe. We had little time and spent no more than five minutes there taking photos. Such a pity as it’s beautiful and highly regret not being able to spend any more time there.
We set off to Mosfellsbær, an area just outside Reykjavík. The shop, Alafoss, is known for Icelandic Lopapeysa, the handknitted sweater associated with Iceland. I picked up one for 15000kr, £80, which is a lot more cheaper than the 20000-25000kr seen in shops around Akureyri.
Time was running out, so we took the car (now covered in filth, the wheel arches caked in volcanic rock and mud) . I washed what I could away, and then sat in traffic because of roadworks. We made it 15 minutes later than arranged.
First impressions of Reykjavík were mixed – graffiti everywhere and a lot of untidy looking places. However there was no litter. We were so tired we had a quick walk around and finished at Dominos. Sleep was tough – our single beds which were pushed together over looked roadworks and a live music bar (I like live music but not when I’m trying to sleep after driving for hours!).