Destinations, Iceland

Iceland Day 5, Part 2: Golden Circle – Geysir, Strokkur, Gulfoss, and Þingvellir

August 27, 2013
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We continued along the Golden Circle route: our next stop took us to the geysers Geysir and Strokkur.

From afar, we watched steamy mists rise from geothermal pools and skitter across the landscape.  Their faint sulfuric scent – not unpleasant, just different – reached our noses, even from a distance.

Iceland Day 5, Part 2: Golden Circle - Geysir, Strokkur, Gulfoss, and Þingvellir | Destinations Iceland

At first glance, the earth here appears monochromatic, but a closer look reveals vibrant grasses – a testament to the mineral-rich soil.

Iceland Day 5, Part 2: Golden Circle - Geysir, Strokkur, Gulfoss, and Þingvellir | Destinations Iceland
Geysir 
erupts infrequently these days, but its sister geyser, Strokkur, is much more punctual – for us, it erupted about every 10 minutes or so. Its coming was prefaced by the still waters collapsing in on themselves, as if the geyser was sucking in its breath and preparing for a vast exhalation.  This was followed by a bubble – rising above the surface, ballooning upward, and then erupting in a blast of boiling hot water and steam.

After each burst, the waters collapsed in on themselves again before settling back into placidity, almost as if nothing had happened there at all.

 

Iceland Day 5, Part 2: Golden Circle - Geysir, Strokkur, Gulfoss, and Þingvellir | Destinations Iceland

Strokkur, right as it begins to erupt

Iceland Day 5, Part 2: Golden Circle - Geysir, Strokkur, Gulfoss, and Þingvellir | Destinations Iceland

Strokkur erupting from farther away

Not to be outdone by their more flamboyant neighbors, nearby geothermal pools were starkly brilliant in color – azure depths fading in and out of existence beneath their steamy blankets.

Iceland Day 5, Part 2: Golden Circle - Geysir, Strokkur, Gulfoss, and Þingvellir | Destinations Iceland

We stopped at a nearby gift shop for lunch, and continued on our way to Gulfoss.  Those who have seen the movie Prometheus may recognize this waterfall (the move was, in fact, filmed almost exclusively in Iceland.)

Iceland Day 5, Part 2: Golden Circle - Geysir, Strokkur, Gulfoss, and Þingvellir | Destinations Iceland

Gulfoss

It’s almost impossible to describe Gulfoss’ roaring majesty.  As with other waterfalls in the region, the warm winter had fed the waterfall even more than normal.

This meant the already-incredible waterfall was out in even greater force.  Normally, the pathway along the waterfall goes much closer, but the rocky ledge in the distance was closed because smaller waterfalls had formed and begun pouring over its top.

Iceland Day 5, Part 2: Golden Circle - Geysir, Strokkur, Gulfoss, and Þingvellir | Destinations Iceland

The pathway on the left is normally open, where it leads out to the rocky ledge in the distance. However, Gulfoss had other ideas, and claimed the outcropping for itself.

After Gulfoss, we began making our way back toward Reykjavik, but not before looping through gorgeous Þingvellir National Park scenery.

Our final stop was at a waterfall whose name I cannot recall – perhaps it didn’t have a name, or perhaps Tony forgot to tell us. Audrey’s leg had begun to ache, and John, too, was beginning to tire. So, Jason, Tony, and I set off on the short hike that would take us right to the waterfall’s base.

Not one to be dismayed by a little bit of water, I got right up next to the waterfall – the spray drenched both me and my camera lens, but I still was happy with the captured shots.

Iceland Day 5, Part 2: Golden Circle - Geysir, Strokkur, Gulfoss, and Þingvellir | Destinations Iceland

Before depositing us back at the hotel, Tony took us to an ice cream shop on the outskirts of Reykjavik, where we all got soft serve cones.  They dunk them in milk or dark chocolate, then coat the outside in a candy of your choice.  I went with the traditional option of licorice sprinkles on the outside (the licorice + chocolate combination appears everywhere here, even in convenience store chocolate bars).  As per usual, the ice cream was amazing.

That evening, we returned to Grillmarkadurinn for drinks – a last hurrah at our favorite restaurant in Reykjavik.  Our only regret was that tomorrow would be our last day before flying out – but we knew exactly how to make it count.

 

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