September 7 – I arrived in Iceland knowing I wanted to dive the Silfra fissure and hopefully catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights. Beyond that I hadn’t done much research or planning so I found myself booking a tour because sometimes its just the smart and easy thing to do.
The shuttle picked me up from the hotel next door to my airbnb. I was looking forward to the Golden Circle tour through Reykjavik Excursions.
Our first stop was at the Friðheimar greenhouse cultivation centre. Here we got to learn how they are growing tomatoes and cucumbers with the aid of the geothermal heat. Tomato plants as far as the eye could see! The owner gave a brief talk about how the process and how they “employ”, no doubt undocumented, over 600 bees inside of the greenhouse. We were then treated to a nice breakfast of tomato soup and traditional bread which I paired with coffee although I think a Bloody Mary would have been nice.
The owner also raises Highland ponies so I broke from the group and took a quick wander through the stable and made a new friend.
The next stop in our tour was Gullfoss (Golden Falls) waterfall. The falls are created by the river Hvítá, which drops into an impressive crevice. There are several paths that give great views of the river, falls, and surrounding area. If you look closely at some of the pictures you’ll see people on the left hand side. It helps give a bit of perspective of how big the falls are. Here are a couple videos from the upper and lower trails.
After a nice little walk in the cold, grey weather we boarded the bus and headed to Geysir hot springs. Our driver and guide gave us a brief talk about the area then sent us out for some free time. Rather than join the crowd at the Strokkur geyser I headed up the hillside for a broader view of the area. I still got a good view as the geyser shot a column of water up into the air. I stopped at several of the more dormant geysers and a little bubbling pool then crossed the street to get some lunch and see the visitor center.
We made a delicious stop at Efstidalur II for ice cream. The ice cream barn has a window that lets you look in on some of the farms cows. What I didn’t recall about this place until now is that the farm includes a hotel, bed & breakfast, and restaurant as well as the ice cream barn. Delicious!
Our final stop on our way back to Reykjavik was the Þingvellir (Thingvellir) National Park. Not only is the park where the American and Eurasian tectonic meet, but it is also a historical assembly point. Fascinating history and beautifully rugged terrain. Not to mention a bit chilly, even in early September.
Back in Reykjavik I had made plans to stop by the dive shop to make sure they had a dry suit that would fit me. I was booked on a dive excursion the next day. Being an unusually large and curvy diver I wanted to make sure they had equipment that was going to work before heading out. I snapped a few pictures of unique things along the way back. I also took advantage of an opportunity to get myself an Icelandic hot dog. It was a better than average hot dog but still a hot dog.
I was booked for a Northern lights tour later in the evening. Unfortunately there was too much cloud cover for decent viewing. On a positive note the tour company lets you know in advance, and they give you the option of rebooking for another night or getting a refund. I opted to try again tomorrow.