A week after my walk up Esja, just outside Reykjavik, and after a conference I was attending my Iceland mini-break really started. My lovely work colleagues Gil and Nicola and myself had hired a car (an all-wheel drive Volvo XC70) and had the whole of Iceland (potentially) to explore. Where to go?
Gil and I had been to Iceland before but this was Nicola’s first time but I think it’s fair to say that the place never loses the magic. First up, we headed out to the ‘standard’ tourist stuff near the capitol – The Golden Circle. There is a good reason that this is where all the ‘time limited’ visitors head to – it is pretty damn good.
First up for us was Gullfoss, one of the ‘big’ waterfalls of Iceland (and probably the world). For someone from the uk, Iceland really does set a different benchmark for what constitutes a major waterfall attraction. It was a bit cold and rainy while we were here but that doesn’t matter too much with all this spray.
Next up is the famous ‘Geysir’. Not the original one (after which all geysers are named) but ‘Strokkur’, one that seems to reliably go off every 5-10 minutes. I feel a little bad that I did the totally tourist thing of wait till it went off once, take my photo and leave. It felt a bit predatory. We did, however, have a lot to see and do today so no time for slacking!
The last bit of the ‘Golden Circle’ is Thingvellir (Þingvellir). It is the site of arguably the first parliament in the world and is also in the valley that marks the divide between the European and North American continents. I was a bit disappointed that there wasn’t a tacky sign offering visitors to have one foot on each continent that I could disapprove of. Unless there was one and I just missed it.
Right, Golden Circle done it was time to head north to the Snaefellsnes Peninsular. The road north gave us some wonderful views, especially as the sun was peeking out from behind the clouds. This countryside is fantastically rugged and primal feeling, even with the odd farm and town.
We had booked an Airbnb almost at the end of the peninsular and it felt like the ends of the earth. We were in the town/village of Arnarstapi right by the sea and backed by the mountains.
We got there late and rushed to open some wine, get some food on and get the fire going. I do love making a fire.