Friday, March 7, 2014

Thingvellir and Gullfoss

The next day after a hangover breakfast (read: sausages, hashbrowns, an extreme amount of orange juice, and toast with butter), we packed the car with snacks for our long drive ahead.

Today was going to be a full exploration of the national park Thingvellir and some other notable natural things-not-to-miss.

This is just a stop we made on the way into Thingvellir. Beautiful locations all along the road to take pictures, though absolutely frigid. It was only about +3C again, but somehow it felt more like -15C. We as a group could only stay outside of the warmth of the car for maybe 20 minutes at a time. Any more than that and people really started to lose feeling in their hands and feet. I was one of these again, despite wearing a lot more layers, my down coat from my Finland days, and double-layered cashmere wool socks. Oh and a hat...and sometimes even an ear muff underneath.

This is official Thingvellir park. Gorgeous place plus apparently one of the first places of government for Iceland. We searched around for this supposed first parliament but all we saw were some buildings that looked like little houses and nothing else. This was not what we expected.

I don't have nearly enough photos of this part because my hands had started to freeze through my double layered gloves. Excuses for not having as many great photos as my friends (who btw all had digital SLRs...this is one of my extreme travel learnings: go with friends who love photography...then steal all their pics later).

Next big thing was Geysir. You can kinda guess by the name what this thing was. A natural hotspringing geyser. Pretty awesome, actually. We saw it erupt several times, though it didn't seem to be quite regular. There were signs warning that the water was 80-100C. It didn't feel like it, but I also didn't get directly sprayed (they did a great job with the roping off places that get wet).

Oh and yes, this did smell like eggs. Sulfur in the geothermal springs here is natural, so lots of fart smell. My group laughed about it constantly.

And finally, the mighty Gullfoss. One of the largest waterfalls I have seen to date, no question about that.

And so windy that I was literally almost blown down. The winds were in the 40km/hour range on this date. We experienced some up to 50km/hour later on the trip. Holy crap I've never been in wind that strong. It was difficult to walk and stand straight, let's put it that way.

Pretty impressive natural sights, not going to sugarcoat it. We stayed at the lodge outside of Gullfoss long enough to load up on their free-refills lamb stew (awesome and hot and exactly what we needed after standing in the cold for hours) and shop in their hilarious tourist shop.

The drive back was simple and after hearing our northern lights tour was canceled for the night we made late dinner reservations at another really recommended restaurant: 3 Frakkar.

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