Sunday, July 24, 2011

Iceland Chronicles - Part XII (Golden Circle)

We went to sleep last night around midnight, with partially clouded sky. Sometime during the night we were woken by rain on our roof. Now is the time to say that yesterday evening we used the camps laundry machine to wash our cloths. After the was over we discovered that the dryer was broken. Thus, we borrowed cloth-clips (what is the term for these?) from the camp owners, and hung our laundry to dry in the wind outside the RV. Yael was quick and rushed out of bed and got all the cloths into the RV when the rain started.

When we woke up it was raining hard and seemed as though we will have to swim out of our position in the middle of the campground field. We debated what to do with all the wet laundry and the wet towels from yesterday's shower. We ended using the two ladders as drying racks, which we put next to the RV heater (which we barely used). We turned it on to full setting and opened all the windows. This was not necessarily energy efficient but it seemed to do the trick and most of the cloths dried while we had breakfast.

We got on the road aiming for three attraction that are "dubbed" as the "Golden Circle" as they are often done as a single day-tour out of Reykjavik. Since we came from the east, our route was not a circle.
We drove west with the base mountain Katla, the volcanic "bad boy" of Iceland that recently erupted, appearing below the clouds. We had to get off the ring road to drive through a large plain that is full of green hills and farms. At the northern end of the valley we reached the Geysir site. This is a small plot of land where bubbling water climb to surface.

Here is the site of the original geyser, whose name was Geysir, and thus the origin of the term.
Geysir stopped blowing some time ago after an earth quake, but next to it was another active geyser that blew off every 8 minutes or so.

We watched several cycles. Initially, you see a pool of bubbling water that seem to go through gentle tides at very low rhythm. Then, one of the tides keep flowing up and a blueish bubble forms on the surface of the pool. The bubble bursts and suddenly a huge flow of steam shoots up.

The area of the geysers (active one and many inactive pools) was surprisingly small considering it is one of Iceland's highlights. The visitor center/food court/souvenir shop next to it was much bigger than the actual attraction.

As we came back to the car it started raining again. And so we stopped for a quick noon time meal waiting for the rain to ease up. The rain however got stronger and stronger. After half and hour break, we decided to continue to the next stop at Gullfoss - the Golden Waterfall.

This is an impressive two stage waterfall of a large river. Something of the local version of the Niagara Falls. Outside wind was blowing and it was raining. And so the troop was unwilling to venture out. I braved the elements and went for a round with the camera inside a plastic bag.

The path down to the falls was wide and not too slippery (considering the hard rain). Up close the thunder of the falls was impressive. It was possible to walk almost to the water which gave proportion of the sight.

After Gullfoss, we decided to skip the third attraction of the Golden Circle and head into Reykjavik. It was sunday evening and so the downtown area was mostly empty. We parked next to a big pool that houses many water birds. People came out here to feed the ducks and seagulls with leftover bread.
This led to flurry of speedy seagulls trying to catch the bread before it hit the water.

Next to the pool stands the town hall in a nice structure. We walked toward the sea, and came to street with tourists and few tourist restaurants. After some hesitation we went into a cosy place called the Laundromat. It did have few laundry machines in the basement, but the main hall was tables were people were eating, reading, browsing the network, and chatting.

We had a nice meal and played a bit with photography.

After dinner we drove to the city campground, which is sitting next to the pool (as it turns out is the custom in many Icelandic towns). It was a bit crowded but otherwise fine.

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