I still can’t believe its been almost 2 weeks since my trip to Iceland! Looking back it was truly a life changing trip and I’m so happy I got to experience the land of fire and ice with some of my closest friends. The following is my second post about what I did in Iceland and here’s my journal entry from my second day when we explored the famous Golden Circle!
Everyone woke up bright and early, allowing us to leave the hostel around 8am. Before we left I wandered around to look at all the boats and fishing related things around our hostel, which was super cool. We loaded up the van and drove back through Ólafsvik where we found a lovely little bakery that sold all sorts of yummy pastries and sandwiches. After eating breakfast and filling up the van with gas, we embarked on our journey south to the Golden Circle, which is a popular tourist route in southwest Iceland.
It was an interesting drive along Road 54 to 56 because it took us through the mountains, which turned from black and green to completely white. At one point while driving, the roads became super icy (which up to this point all the roads we had taken had been really clear) and the scenery became a literal white out. We pulled over to a viewing area to take pictures and play in the snow for a bit before continuing on our way.
Once we made it through the snowy mountains, we were greeted by an unexpected but pleasant surprise: Icelandic horses! We spotted a herd close to the road and pulled off to pet them and snap a few photos with them. Seeing the horses literally made my day because one of the top things I wanted to see in Iceland were their special breed of horses! The horses we encountered were incredibly friendly and one even enjoyed licking us while we were petting him. (If you look at the picture of my friend Josey and I with the horses, you can see the black one is licking my jacket!)
After petting ponies for a good 15 minutes, we headed back to the van and continued on our way. It was around a 2 hour drive to our first stop of the Golden Circle, Þingvallavegur National Park. Along the drive there, we took a a less traveled but more scenic route on Road 47. We stopped at a few viewing points to admire the beautiful scenery of water and mountains, but we kept our stops short due to the ridiculous amounts of wind. (We literally had to fight against the wind to walk towards the edge, it was crazy!)
Once we arrived at Þingvallavegur National Park, we realized the park itself is pretty vast so we decided to stop by the visitor center where we had our first encounter with pay bathrooms. After spending 100 ISK ($0.89) to use the restroom, we headed to the main building to snoop around the gift shop and then we explored the Almannagja fissure that was located right next to the parking area. The fissure is where the North American plate and Eurasian plate meet and form a rift. You can actually go down through the fissure and walk between the two plates, which was awesome to experience.
After walking around the fissure for a while, we got pretty cold so we decided to head back to the van to warm up and go to our next stop. The next destination we went to on the Golden Circle was Geysir, which as the name suggests is a geyser! Once we arrived at Geysir, we were happy to see that there was a gift shop and restaurant by the parking lot so we went inside first to check things out. The gift shop was huge and had every Icelandic souvenir that you could think of, from socks and hats to shot glasses and postcards. After wandering around for a bit, we went across the street check out the geyser. Right when we walked over the geyser erupted and water was shot 30 feet in the air. It was awesome to watch and while we were there it went off about 6 more times. The area around the geyser was also neat because it was steamy everywhere!
It got a little crowded near the geyser so we migrated back to the restaurant across the street to eat lunch before heading to our next stop. Everyone enjoyed either sandwiches or meat soup, both of which were delicious. After we finished eating, we packed into the van and started down the road to go to Iceland’s most famous waterfall, Gullfoss. When we arrived at Gullfoss, we immediately went into the gift store and looked around before we walked down to the viewing area for the waterfall. Let’s just say the waterfall itself is spectacular and after seeing it I understand why its considered Iceland’s most famous waterfall! While we were taking pictures it started to snow, but about 10 minutes later the sun came out and made for some really beautiful photos!
Since we still had about a 2 hour drive left to get to our hostel in Skorgar, we left Gullfoss and started on our journey further south. Along the drive, we were greeted by more Icelandic horses and of course we stopped to pet them. Sadly, these horses were a bit more frisky and less friendly than the others so we didn’t stay long.
The drive down to Skorgar went pretty smoothly and we were glad we still had just enough daylight left to make it to the hostel before dark. About 20 minutes away from Skorgar though, we saw a giant waterfall from the road and decided to use our last 15 to 20 minutes of daylight to go see it. It was called Seljalandsfoss and despite the cold, it was utterly beautiful. (Pictures don’t do it justice!) We walked up to it and were sprayed by mist because it had gotten so windy, but none of us minded. There was an observation deck that you could take stairs up to so we walked up to get a better view. It was around the time that we were considering going back down the stairs that a surprise hail storm popped up and we hastily tried to shield ourselves as we ran to the van. The hail was rather large and it stung as it hit my face, so I tried my hardest to keep my head down but it was hard since we were running into the wind. After returning to the van, we were all breathless and ready to get to the hostel.
We arrived in Skorgar and were happy to find that our hostel had a restaurant attached to it because we were all starving. Dinner was wonderful and I had the opportunity to try lamb for the first time, which was pretty cool. Chris and I ordered lamb legs while everyone else got pasta, but we all ended up getting beers. The food was great and we all stayed chatting and drinking until the restaurant closed around 10 pm.
After dinner we all went back to our 2 rooms and got ready for bed. Our second day in Iceland was very eventful and full of fun memories! Eager for what tomorrow had in store, we all went to bed with full bellies and tired feet.