Yesterday was such a busy day of touring. We began our morning walking along Laugavegur, doing a bit of shopping and enjoying the nice weather. We looked at woolen goods, checked out 66 North (think high end Roots/North Face clothing and footwear), and I picked up a bracelet and earring set made from Icelandic lava beads. By afternoon, we made our way to the Lutheran Icelandic church Hallgrímskirkja with it’s tall bell tower that is visible in most of Reykjavik. The inside is modest and very white, but the most impressive part is the 15 foot pipe organ with more than 5000 pipes. After a short visit to the sanctuary, we took the lift to the observation platform in the tower, which provided amazing 360 degree views of the city.
Late afternoon we caught our bus for the evening golden circle tour. It was a small tour of 15 people and we met a fellow Canadian, Dan, within the first few minutes (he said Anne’s lululemon jacket and MEC bag gave us away). Our first stop was Þingvellir national park, a UNESCO heritage site. It literally means “Parliament Plains” and was the site of general assembly beginning around 930 and continued to convene there until 1798. It is also a place to see the rift between the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates and they are moving away for each other at the rate of approximately 2 cm per year.
This night we had short rain showers, and the intensity of the rainbows that followed was impressive, at one point we could see 3 individual arcs.
The second stop on the tour was Gullfoss falls. Gullfoss is actually two separate waterfalls, the upper one has a drop of 11 metres and the lower one 21 metres. The rock of the river bed was formed during an interglacial period. There are two observation decks, the lower one allows you to walk out onto the rocks in front of the falls where the mist is very wet. Anne and Dan chose to get that close, while I preferred to stay dry on the first platform.
The last stop on the tour was the Great Geysir, sight of the very first recorded geyser. While the original has ceased to spout, nearby Strokkur (“the churn”), spouts a 60-100 foot jet about once every five minutes. This area is also rich in walking paths that lead past steaming vents and colorful, mineral-rich mud formations.
We decided that day 3 would be our day to relax. We thought a great way to celebrate Canada Day would be to visit the Blue Lagoon. This spa is located in a lava field in Grindavík, about 45 mins outside of Reykavik. While we had rain showers during the bus ride, when we arrived at the lagoon, the sun was shining. The water averages 37–39 °C and is rich in silica and sulphur (which gives it a slight smell). As you can see from the pictures, the water was beautiful and we returned to our hotel relaxed and happy.
Tonight’s supper was at Geysir bistro and bar, which is just around the corner from our hotel. Anne had fish and chips and I had onion soup and chicken crepes. I also tried a local soft drink appelsin, an orange soft drink that had a taste similar to fanta.
Tomorrow is a travel day to Belgium. Iceland has been fun, but I can’t wait to meet up with Alison and Andrew in Brussels!