Iceland 2016 (part 2)
The next day we got up early as it was a big day for us! The Golden Circle! Instead of being trapped on a tour bus, we decided to rent a car and drive ourselves. So glad we did. Only a minor issue trying to find rental car place, but then we were off. We headed north and east out of Reykjavik heading for Pingvellir. The sun had some out and while it was a bit cold, it wasn't that bad at all. As we left Reykjavik behind, there were fewer and fewer cars on the road and we were driving through a snowy wonderland. It really was cool. Again the snow covered landscape was barren but still pretty. I think we made Pingvellir in about an hour.
Pingvellir is important from both a historic perspective and from a geological perspective. Pingvellir means "Parliament Fields" and is where the Icelandic parliament first convened in 930 AD. So Iceland actually had the oldest democratic government in the world. But Pingvellir is actually in a Rift Valley with cliffs on either side. Pingvellir is where two tectonic plates meet and they are actually moving apat, so the valley is slowly growing bigger, but also lower. The cliffs were very cool and we stopped for photos and to walk a bit. If you are so inclined, you can scuba dive in the lake and see the tectonic plates. But that sounded a bit too cold for us. The views from the cliffs were good enough for us.
After Pingvellir, we headed to Geysir. Or Geyser, as in a collection of hot springs and geysers. We walked around the various geysers and hot springs for a bit. The sulfur smell was strong, but we did get to see a couple of geysers erupt sending water a good 20-30 feet in the air. From Geysir, it was off to Gullfoss. Gullfoss is this amazing waterfall. We parked and then followed the crown over the rope that said "closed" down a muddy and slipper trail to get to the head of Gullfoss. The falls were amazing. So much water rushing by and with snow and icicles along the ledges it was quite magical. The sound of the water crashing into the rocks below was deafening, but it was just awesome. As we made our way back to Reykjavik, we stopped at the Kerid Crater which is this small, but perfectly shaped crater. We got out and walked around the crater and it was totally worth it. But then we needed to hurry back to Reykjavik as we had plans for the evening.