The last stop on the Golden Circle was a crater. The parking lot was very small and we debated if we should stop or not but I got lucky and there was one spot open. Actually we got pretty lucky all day with parking so I figured we should just stop and see the crater. I guess we are a little spoiled with Crater Lake but it was nice to get out and see the crater while the sun was out. We had about a 45 minute drive back to Reykjavik after this stop. Definitely a lot less driving but I was still pretty tired after doing the Golden Circle.
After visiting the geyser we made our way to Gullfoss which is the next stop on the Golden Circle. We found a good parking spot and headed towards the waterfall. There were plenty of people visiting the waterfall at the same time so it makes it pretty hard to enjoy a lot of the sights when you see people going off the trails trying to get a good picture. I guess most people just ignore the signs that tell you to stay on the trails. The waterfall was a different one than I have seen before, but it was pretty cold and windy while we were there. We didn’t feel like walking closer to the waterfall and getting really wet. I have really enjoyed the fields of purple flowers everywhere.
After a long day of driving, we started out on our second day of driving around visiting the sights. This time, the drive would only be about a total of 4 and half hours on the a route called the Golden Circle.
The first stop was at Pingvellir National Park. The park is important to Iceland’s history as it is where settlers settled in the 900’s and met here two weeks a year to set laws and settle disputes. The park is actually part of an active volcanic area although it was pretty quiet when we were there.
Efsti-dalur was a restaurant that we stopped at on the way to the second sight. It is a very cute bed & breakfast that is also a farm and restaurant. Upstairs you can order food and watch the cows eat at the same time. Downstairs they have an ice-cream shop that also includes glass windows looking into the barn. All the food is local and it was a good place to stop in between the park and the next sight.
We had debated on whether or not we should drive the extra two and half hours to see Jokulsarlon. I’m so happy I did drive the extra hours because it was spectacular. One benefit of traveling in Iceland in the middle of summer, is you really don’t have to worry about driving in the dark on the way back. None of the roads have lights and most of them don’t even have a center lane but since it is daylight for so long, I wasn’t worried that I would have a five hour drive back after visiting the lagoon.
The parking lot was pretty full when we arrived at the glacier lagoon, and of course there was a line for the bathroom. After waiting in line to go the bathroom, we went and bought tickets to do a 40 minute boat tour around the lagoon. You can get great views from the shore line but we still opted to do the tour since we drove that far. The first tour available was at 5 so I knew we wouldn’t be returning to Reykavik very early.
The boat was one of those that drives on land and then goes into the water. The guide was from Italy and the boat was pretty full. We all had to wear life jackets and then they have another boat follow us that I think was to pick anyone up that fell in the water. They had everyone stand on the boat which was a first for me. I can’t imagine how cold the water must be if you do fall in.
The blue part of the ice is because that part of the ice used to be under water. The black part of the ice is from various volcano eruptions in the past. They made sure to tell us it wasn’t pollution. They do bring a block of ice in the boat and the guide talked about the ice and then he cuts it up and gives a piece to each of us for a souvenir or for a snack 🙂
I really had to try hard to pick my favorite pictures because I really enjoyed this place. It was worth the 5 hour drive back, missing dinner and getting back at 11:30 PM. We left at 8 in the morning so it was a very long and full day.
I do wonder if these people ever made it out of the sand:
After seeing a couple of waterfalls, we drove further south to the North Atlantic where they have black beaches and puffins. The puffins were pretty hard to see since most of them were in cliffs but occasionally a couple of would come out. The black sand was more like gravel but it was still different that the beaches at home. They had a lot of warnings about sneaker waves and there were a couple of waves that definitely did come in a lot further than normal. There really isn’t a lot of places to stop between these stops to go the bathroom so we opted eat at the cafeteria there. I had a bowl of turnip soup which turned out to be my lunch and dinner. We decided at this point that we would drive another 2 and half hours to visit a lagoon.
Here are some pictures from Dyrhólaey and Reynisfjara.
If you look closely at one picture, you will spot a crazy guy swimming in the ocean.
The next stop on the drive was Skogafoss, Iceland. We had a little blue sky at this stop but it was very windy. People can camp pretty much right in front of the waterfall. I’m not entirely sure how they can handle the wind and cold weather but there are some very brave people in Iceland. We see many bikers and campers all over Iceland. The pictures make it look warm but really it was around 50 degrees and I’m pretty sure the wind chill puts it more in the 40’s. We did see one tent fall over because of the wind.
We made it to Iceland and it was pretty decent weather when we landed. Reykjavik is about a 40 minute drive from the airport but it is pretty simple. The speed limit here is a lot slower than anywhere else in Europe that I have been to.
We knew we were in for a long full day of sightseeing the first full day so we got some dinner and then made sure we were ready for Friday sightseeing on the southern coast. We figured that we wanted to leave by 8:00 so we could try to beat the majority of the tour busses to the sights.
Our first stop was Seljalandsfoss which was a beautiful but very cold waterfall. The weather here feels like a cold January day in Troutdale. Yes, the wind here is very bad. We opted to not walk behind the waterfall since the trail is very slippery and I really didn’t want to be wet and cold to start the day.
This was just our first stop of many.