Conundrum: My belt doesn’t really fit right now, so I’m not going to wear it. Also, waterproof pants take up too much space, better to leave them at home.
Both of those statements are mistakes.
Today I did the coveted “Golden Circle” tour, which started with a visit to a local greenhouse which specializes in tomatoes and cucumbers, organically grown. Greenhouses are pretty important in Iceland, because everybody needs fresh fruit and veggies year-round. This one is all organic, and uses as much power as a town of about 3000 people. Luckily, 90% of Iceland’s heating and electricity comes from geothermal energy.
They also make fresh tomato soup using just-picked tomatoes, each day. Let me tell you, it was worth the 900 krona (about $9 USD). Seriously. That little cup of soup was the most delicious thing I’ve ever eaten (besides fresh Belgian waffles and hot chocolate in Brussels). Then again, I’m a huge fan of fresh tomatoes. Tomatoes taste good, unlike the dreaded k-vegetable.
Sadly, the greenhouse was the only truly dry part of the day. It just went downstream from there. Don’t get me wrong! I’m very glad I did it! I just wish I had brought my waterproof pants, which were packed then unpacked for some stupid reason. Or at least, I wish I had been wearing my belt. I think maybe I’ve lost a little weight this trip. Hopefully.
After the greenhouse, we went to Geysir – the geysers and hot springs. It wasn’t as magnificent as Yellowstone, but I didn’t expect it to be. It was still beautiful, with streams of melt-off running down the hill. The geyser also boils over and spews about every 5 minutes, so that was cool. I even got it on video.
It was very cold and rainy today; combine that with the wetness of the steam from the hot springs, and I was soaked. The wind was sort of strong at Geysir, and the path was very icy in spots, so I ended up getting blown around and knocked on my butt (again). Sitting in the steam was another bad idea, but it was still so warm even though it smelled like a rotten egg fart and made my clothes damp. Eventually, I got my pictures and slid back into the gift shop for a few souvenirs and 30 minutes of dry-off time. I never really dried off.
Gulfoss was the next stop, which means “Golden Falls” for a variety of reasons that I can’t recall right now. I was only half listening. Something to do with hidden treasure. Gulfoss was only a 10 minute drive away, so in addition to never completely drying once, we all now got to trudge out back into the waterfall mist, rain, melting ice, and puddles.
Oh, but it was worth it, yet! Gulfoss was simply breathtaking – in summer, there’s a path you can hike down to get close, but it was steep and slippery with ice, so they had it blocked. Even from far away, though, the falls were gorgeous. So huge and magnificent. Not gigantic like Niagara Falls, or at least not as tall or as much volume of water, but it cascaded down from several points. There were sheets of ice hanging right by the falls, some of it blue. I need to come back to Gulfoss someday, definitely.
As beautiful as Gulfoss is, though, I was soaked to my fleece-lined leggings. Regretfully, I had to go into the gift shop and pretend to shop (I did end up buying some tea). Then I sat in the cafeteria for half an hour, trying to dry off some more to no avail. I really wanted to get a nice Icelandic Wool blanket or traditional sweatshirt, especially now that I can appreciate firsthand why they developed these things in the first place. But wool is a hassle to clean, and either item costs about $200. So I settled for a cute scarf at about $55. Still expensive…
Thingvellir National Park was the last part, and the one I may have been most excited about. After all, this is a point where the North American tectonic plate is pulling west, away from the Eurasian tectonic plate which is going east! In the middle is a part of the mid-atlantic ridge. Being a (very proud) science nerd and geology geek, I found this incredibly appealing. It was very, very cool to cross three continents in only a few minutes, and to stand there on some of the youngest land on Earth. Fun fact: the North American plate is bigger/rises higher than the surrounding land. As our tour guide joked, “Everything’s bigger in America.”
Also, Game of Thrones fans might be interested to know that they have filmed quite a bit of the show there. Standing there, it makes sense.
Thingvellir is also historically important, because it was home to the Althingi, the assembly of the Icelandic parliament which started in 930 CE. It is also the site of the Drowning Pool, where many innocent women were executed via drowning for some reason in Viking days. I think it might be an evil haunted thing, because I slipped on the ice and, if not for the railing on the bridge, would have tumbled right in.
Part of me didn’t want to hike the 20 minute trail, because I was so wet and cold and my pants kept falling off. But no, I told myself, you’ll regret it if you don’t do it. So I did it, and I am so, so glad that I did. I’ve always wanted to be there, and I was there. Wet jeans, pants falling down, tangled hair, running mascara, cold fingers, urge to pee, icy walkway, soaked sleeves – I didn’t notice any of it, just my surroundings. It was truly awe-inspiring.
Then, I really, really had to pee so I shuffled away. Oh well, such is life. I’ll be back someday.
To anyone who is considering going to Iceland, I would tell you to absolutely do it. Yes, it’s expensive here. Yes, winter is cold and dark and wet (at least this winter is). No, you might not see the Northern Lights. Do it anyway. Even for three days, or two days. There’s so much here for anyone to enjoy.
Oh, and throughout the whole day, the only part of me that was never wet or cold were my feet. Those expensive (on sale) hiking boots were a good purchase, and I was wearing the wool socks my stepmother had knitted for me. Good call on that one, me!!!!
Thoughts on Iceland:
-I wish I could buy whatever playlist they have in all the stores and on Icelandair
-Why are they so good at music?!?!
-WHAT DO YOU MEAN THERE’S NO NETFLIX IN ICELAND.
-It is so cold and wet. It is so wet and cold. I am so cold and wet and wet and cold.
-Jeans are useless. Why do I even own jeans.
-I wonder if I can get away with just taking my pants off on the tour bus…?
-Fucking damn kids and their fucking damn soccer game in the hallway.
-Hahahahhahahaha that kid fell and hurt himself, serves him right
-I just laughed at an injured idiot. Am I a bad person?
-Sad that the weather isn’t cooperating for Northern Lights 😦
-Gives me an excuse to come back though.
-Next time, I am renting a car.
-Why don’t we have Icelandic Mjolk in America???? It is so yummy!
-Tomatoes! Soup!!! DELICIOUS! OM NOM NOM
-I haven’t really eaten much Icelandic food while I’ve been here…