Monday, July 23, 2012


Reykjavic  - Golden Circle Tour

Today started on a slightly sour note as the internet service crashed and the person to fix the problem would not be at his desk  until after we left on tour. Consequently,dear wife’s Sunday in the City did not get posted. Also the weather was cool and rainy but we went out dressed for the weather in anticipation of good day.

Jaan our driver and guide arrived right on time and 14 of us piled into the tour van and off we went. ( DW of course got shotgun ). Travelling out the city Jaan kept us entertained with general facts and gentle humour.Of course much of what he talked about related to the volvanic  nature of Iceland. The benefits  being that all houses in Iceland are heated free with hot water and the downside being that earthquakes occur fairly regularly and at times cause serious damage. ( He related that in one town nearly everyone had flat screen tvs because the regular tvs were destroyed in an earthquake and the insurance paid for new ones when flat screens were now available). He also said that generally speaking earthquakes are generally, relatively minor as most of the bedrock is porous volcanic rock that absorbs some of the energy.

Our first stop ( other than a pit stop and jewellery shopping by DW ) was in fact a sunken volcano that is now a beautiful little lake. Then we stopped a small set of rapids and waterfalls as a prelude to stopping at Gullfoss Falls. What a magnificent spot. We were given over an hour to explore the 2 sets of falls from various vantage points.

Our next stop was at a geothermal area. There were several pools of steaming water ranging from very clear to deep blue in colour. The highlight of course was that a geyser spouted from one of the pools and unlike Old Faithful, it erupted more haphazardly . Generally it would erupt every 8 to 12 minutes, sometimes as a single shot sometimes as 2 or 3 shots in a row.  This was also our lunch stop, so although we brought trail mix to eat I did get to sample an Icelandic beer and DW tried Icelandic ice cream.

After lunch we travelled to Thingvellir National Park which straddles an ancient geological fault. Scientists are generally agreed that this fault separates the North American plate from the European plate. I innocently asked where I should stand so that I could have my picture taken with one foot in North and the other in Europe. Jaan ( with a straight face ) said that it would be a bit of a stretch since there was about 500 meters no man’s land between the 2 fault lines.

During the tour Jaan was asked about the beautiful horses we passed. He said that they were introduced not long after Iceland was colonized by the Vikings so that now they are essentially a totally separated breed. He also stated that the horses are totally dependant on man during the winter months  and generally they are comfortable in man’s presence. To prove it he stopped the van at a farms entrance and called to the horses in the field. They all came over to eat some of the more succulent grass that Jaan had pulled or to have their heads scratched by some of the tour group.

Jaan also explained to us that everyone had clean drinking  water. Water slowly seeps through the porous bedrock taking years to filter through to the aquifers used for drinking.As an example he stopped at an area where crystal clear water emerged from the rock into streams and pools.

This should have been the end of our tour but Jaan offered to show us parts of downtown Reykjavik before returning to the ship. As we approached a small park he explained that the park was believed, by the locals, to be inhabited by elves and if you were a true believer you could see them. He asked us if we wanted to stop and of course we said yes. What a delightful little park filled with little grotto like caves, trees and festooned with colourful flowers. Anyone with imagination would probably see elves.

He also stopped by the old dock so that we could get a closer look at an interesting building. It must have been a nightmare to construct because it was a glass walled structure with different coloured glass panels and no two panels the same size or shape.

That unfortunately was our last stop. After travelling through some downtown’s streets  we were let off at the ship . The tour had taken so long that we too late for dinner in the dining room so we ate in the Lido and had a great supper.

Note: tried to post our blog entries tonight but the system is still not working properly. Hopefully, everything will be fixed in the morning and I will publish the posts late.