Iceland 2018 Day 2-The Golden Circle & Snowmobiling on Langjökull glacier

Day 2 began with snowmobiling on the “long” glacier. We were the first to travel on the 3 feet of snow that fell over the previous 24-hours. The black “stuff” is from the volcanic eruption in 2010. Very cool experience!  Our guide operator was Mountaineers of Iceland

The second stop of the day was the Gullfoss Waterfall. 32 meters (104) feet in two separate waterfalls.  A pathway takes you right to the water’s edge, where you can get a real sense of the enormous power of the falls.

The next stop was the Geysir geothermal area. The famous Geysir is not too active, but amongst the many hot pools and steaming vents, you’ll see Strokkur blast water 20 to 40 m (66 to 131 ft) high every few minutes.  We stopped to admire the show of boiling water that is spilled out of under the earth’s crust at regular intervals; there are several geysers in the same area and in some you can stop to see the bubbling water as in a pot.

Just off the Golden Circle lies Faxafoss, a waterfall that is often forgotten among all of Iceland’s scenic offerings. With less tourists then nearby Gullfoss, this pitstop was well worth the turn off. On the grounds there is both a restaurant and campground (which are open during the summer months), meaning Faxafoss would be one of your best options to spend the evening.

 

Our fourth stop for the day was to Kerid Crater.  This 6,500-year-old crater is a stunning sight; 270 metres (886 ft) long and 170 metres (558 ft) wide, with a permanent pool of water filling the bottom of the red-rocked caldera, it can be approached without constraint after paying the landowners a small fee of 400 ISK. Its formation came from an enormous eruption in which the once cone-shaped volcano emptied its magma chamber; the structural weakness this caused meant the peak collapsed in on itself, leaving behind a wonder for all to enjoy. For those visiting Hveragerði, Selfoss or travelling the Golden Circle, it is highly recommended to amend one’s route to include a stop at Kerið; such a unique and beautiful sight is rare

 

We then headed south to find our accommodations for the night in the Hvolsvöllur area. Hotel Rangá is a 4-star hotel situated between the towns Hella and Hvolsvöllur. Private bedrooms with private bathrooms. Views towards Rangá river or Hekla volcano. Free access to outdoor hot tubs. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast is included.  This was a wonderful hotel and as it turned out the best place for us to see the Norther Lights.  We had a wonderful dinner where we experimented with some local fare.

The Northern Lights were pretty amazing.  We were thrilled to see them so early into our trip.

 

12 Days In Iceland-Along the Ring Road

Steve and I spent twelve days in Iceland celebrating our 30th wedding Anniversary driving the entire Ring Road.  Upon arrival we went straight to Thingvellir or Pingvellir National Park.  This incredible location is in the rift valley between two continental plates; you can walk between Europe and North America here. The area is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to its history; in 930 AD, early settlers founded what would become the world’s longest-running, ongoing representative parliament here.

We walked the path to the Öxarárfoss waterfall in the park, which is not one of the most spectacular but of its location is magical.   It falls into the American part of the Earth’s crust and it is surrounded by lava stones.

This was an incredible location between two continental plates, Europe and North America. It’s also where some of the Game of Thrones is filmed.

We then headed into Reykjavik to check into our hotel and to explore the city.   Here are some of the highlights.  We visited Hallgrimskirka Church with the statue of Leif Eriksson at the entrance. This is the largest church in the country, and towers over the center of Reykjavík. Its 73-metre-high tower provides a wonderful 360° view over all Reykjavík, the mountains around and the ocean stretching west to Greenland and the Americas.  We paused outside to admire the Alexander Calder-made statue of Leif Eriksson; the Icelandic explorer “discovered” North America 500 years before Christopher Columbus.  

We loved the beautiful buildings around town as we walked to City Hall to meet our travel agent Guide To Iceland.  This statue below was just outside city hall but be sure to duck your head inside to check out any temporary exhibits, and to orient yourself with the massive 3-D map of Iceland.

We walked on to The Harpa, home of Icelandic Symphony Orchestra and quite arguably one of  the most beautiful buildings in Reykjavik.

Then we strolled down the waterfront to see The Sun Voyager.  This is another fine example of the amazing art and architecture scene in Reykjavik.  It is an ode to the sun, and it’s supposed to represent the desire to explore undiscovered territory.  It was a beautiful as I had imaged.  

Our hotel was located on Laugavegur is the street where it all happens. From trendy cafes, unique shops and cozy bars to world-class street-art murals and smaller, intimate art galleries, Laugavegur encapsulates the Icelandic spirit: calm, quirky, artsy and simply spectacular; you can find anything and everything here.  We ended the night early with a local beer and chips at Reykjavik Chips!