Day 10 – Monday, February 28th, 2011 – ICELAND
Today was a tough morning waking up because neither one of us felt good and there were no bacon, eggs, and pancakes to look forward to. We headed downstairs to the lobby of the Metropolitan, forced ourselves to have some breakfast and coffee even though we weren’t that hungry and made some sandwiches to pack for lunch. We waited around for the tour that we booked the night before to come pick us up, hoping that they did actually show. The weather was a nice mix of rain and snow with a big dose of cold. But knowing we were about to explore the beauty of Iceland and the Golden Circle made the cough, cold, and sketchy sandwiches fade into the background.
A van full of strangers showed up at the Metropolitan to pick us up and we disregarded all lessons on not getting into vans with strangers. The van took us to a tour bus and then began our whirlwind of a day tour with lots of waterfalls, geysirs, volanic landscape, snow, rain, sleet, hail, and even some sunshine. The tour guide told us the first thing to know about Iceland was that the weather can change in a heartbeat. They have a saying – “don’t like the weather? just wait 5 minutes and it’ll change!” And boy did we experience that!
The first stop on the tour was Kerio volcano crater. Ok, actually it was our second stop. The first stop was a pit stop at some tourist trap with souvenirs, snacks, and bathrooms – so that doesn’t count. We only stopped for about 2 minutes to get off the bus and take pictures of the water-filled crater because it was sleeting so hard. Oh and nearly everyone in the tour group was not cool because they were not into staying at places for a while to take pictures. Nia and I were the last ones back on the bus after every stop. Surprise? I’ve never been one for history, so I won’t be able to give you any details really about any of the things we saw. But you’re probably thankful for that because I already write too much.
Next up was Faxi waterfall. It was pretty cool and medium sized. Once again, we stayed long enough to take a few pics and leave. In between driving to all of the sights we saw some awesome landscape and crazy weather. Luckily Nia and I grabbed the front row seat of the bus to get the best photos and befriend the driver and our tour guide.
Next on the agenda was Geysir and Strokkur. Geysir is the geysir that all other geysirs got their name from! Unfortunately, it doesn’t erupt very often now since people threw too many stones in it. Another geysir nearby is Strokkur – and we got to see it erupt 3 times while standing there! Now we had frozen hands and soaking wet clothes, but it was worth it. There was a tourist shop here where we stopped to have lunch – the sandwiches and snacks we had packed from breakfast at the hotel.
The part of the Golden Circle I had been most excited about is Gullfoss (means “golden waterfall”). And it definitely lived up to my expectations! Although pouring snow the whole time, we got some awesome photos and even hiked down right to the edge of the falls. Hiking back up to the top was a little difficult since my cold made it hard to breath deeply without painfully coughing. I will have to go back to Iceland one day in the summer time to see all of these amazing things surrounded by green grass instead of snow.
Onward we went, our next stop was Þingvellir National Park. Alot of cool stuff here, most notably where the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates meet and are slowly shifting. The land has sunk down between the two plates where they have shifted. We started on the Eurasian side, hiking through the sunken center and up the North American plate – which was like a huge cliff when looking at it from the other side. It was pretty awesome. Of course Nia and I held up the back of the group, way behind everyone, taking lots of pictures.
We made the mistake of wearing jeans today. And you know once jeans get wet then they stay wet and cold all day. At least I had some good boots on so my feet stayed dry and warm but Nia on the other hand was not so lucky. Today was probably the main reason why she got so sick. Once we got back to the Metropolitan we dressed in some warm, dry clothes and rested. There was a cute little grocery store down the street, Petursbud, that we checked out and got some food for supper. The snacks included Skyr, some kind of special yogurt made in Iceland. I wanted to go out but didn’t think I should go alone without Nia, so instead we just went to bed early to rest up for the next day’s adventures.