I agreed to go on an unofficial (and possibly slightly illegal) golden circle tour with Heiner, the guitar playing German from the hostel, and three Spanish girls travelling together. We packed ourselves into the small car with a loud and somewhat oversharey German playing Rammstein, but it was way cheaper than proper tours and far more flexible. We stopped at the supermarket first for snacks and I picked up some food for the week, I tried to stick to canned and cheap stuff but even that was stupidly expensive.
We started at Þingvellir which I was able to really explore after just passing through the day before. I got some great pics and learned some facts, like how it hosts the Icelandic Prime Minister during the summer. I also believe it’s home to the world’s oldest parliament.
In the car Heiner mainly stuck to his rock music, but we all got a turn with the auxillary cord and even managed to play some Christmas tunes! David would have loved the whole thing – viking history, Rammstein, and geological weirdness. We stopped at other spots, like an amazing frozen lake, The whole country is like an alien planet.
After that we went to this pool/spa place to try this famous rye bread, traditionally baked by burying it for 24 hours next to the thermal springs themselves. It was pretty nice, a little sweet but easily balanced out with salt and garlic oil. The thermal springs and the lake were so cool, they smelled a little eggy due to the sulphur, but that just made it all the more surreal. It’s very freaky, you’re walking on three inches of solid ice, then you dip your hand into a stream and it’s hotter than bath water. With the big lake and the steam rising up, it was amazingly cool.
After that was the geysir, which was fun to see again. I got such a fright when it exploded while I was taking a picture that I dropped my phone and cracked the screen a little – but it’s a great story so I wasn’t bothered! It’s quite literally an icebreaker (or a screenbreaker). After that we went to this weird little place that had a greenhouse full of tomatoes (Icelandic people love tomatoes – who knew) and a restaurant. It also had the Icelandic ponies, bred for horse racing, ans a small track. We got to see a little demonstration of one going round the track, they trot in a really funny way.
Before the light was completely gone there was just enough time to visit Gulfoss waterfall. It was truly epic, made more so by the fact it was half frozen. God knows how that even happens! Not enough safety measure though – a small rope fence stopping you from falling down a cliff face and into a waterfall, with icy ground. I saw two ravens flying around – Huginn and Munnin keeping watch on Midgard for Odin?
It was about a 2 hour drive back to Reykjavik so I snoozed in the car and had another nap when I got back. I made tortellini pasta for tea and chatted to my fellow hostel guests. Me and the three Spanish girls were due to retake the Northern Lights tour, but the forecast wasn’t good so we decided to forgo the bitter cold and stayed in with a beer. Plus, an American guy offered to drive us out another night to see them anyway, so it’s all good.