Iceland Golden Circle Tour

Added 24 May 2014

We wake up pretty early this morning. We are approaching the longest day of the year and there are very few dark hours in Iceland at this time of year. Breakfast opens at 7am and many of our guests arrive promptly. Breakfast is buffet style and there is a nice selection of food. Strangely for us the jam and marmalade is placed with the cheese and the individual tea pots are nowhere near the hot water and tea bags! Apart from that we learn the layout fairly quickly!

Around 8.30am we are met by our coach driver and also by Kristofer, our local guide for our Golden Circle Tour. This is one of Iceland’s most popular excursions from Reykjavik. We head out over the highland plateau of Hellisheidi. The views vary between the dramatic to the non-existent! On top of the plateau we are in dense cloud and we cannot see far! However we soon descend from the plateau to the greenhouse town of Hveragerdi and we make a quick comfort stop at a small shopping centre. This area is subject to earthquakes and the tourist information centre here is built over the top of a fissure. It is covered with glass panels but you can walk over it! There is also a mock-up of how a home kitchen looks after a strong earthquake. All the kitchen cupboards are wonky and hanging off the wall and the crockery and utensils are in pieces and scattered all over the floor. It is a right mess. It looks similar to our kitchen at home after Richard has made lunch!

The next stop on our tour is the Faxi waterfall and very scenic too. From here we make an extra and unscheduled stop at Skalholt Church, the ancient seat of Icelandic bishops. It is a pretty church with a wonderful mosaic above the altar. Our scheduled stop at GEYSIR is next. We walk through the famous geothermal field admiring the hot water pools and trying our best to get a photo of Strokkur, a geyser that spouts up to 25 metres high every 5 to 7 minutes. The problem is we do not know exactly when Strokkur is going to spout so fingers are poised on camera buttons and we hope we take the shot at the right time. After a few eruptions we have it cracked and it is time for coffee! Lunch snacks are available in the official Geysir café but the organisation leaves something to be desired. In fact the service is about as erratic as the spouting geyser. Richard will be writing to the Icelandic authorities to suggest some logistical changes and possibly a take-over bid.

Another highlight of our tour today is the GULFOSS waterfall. We are dropped off at the top and view down onto the falls before walking to lower levels and along to a rocky cliff sitting between the two main sections of the falls. This is mighty impressive!

Our final stop is Thingvellir, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and Iceland’s most sacred location. We decide to view it from above because the weather has rather turned wet and windy! Back inside our warm and dry coach we trundle back to Reykjavik. The rain stops on route so it is nice and dry when Richard and Dawn lead the evening walk to our secret restaurant location. Everyone thinks it is the local fish and chips café, but we discreetly walk by and enter the Steakhouse instead! This restaurant has an excellent reputation and we are treated to a BBQ ribs starter, followed by Tenderloin beef and Lamb combo and an ice cream and fruit dessert. The portions are huge and the food lovely. Good job we only have a few yards to walk back to our hotel!