We landed in Iceland (probably Europe’s most expensive country – Switzerland eat your heart out) yesterday. First thing of note: it’s cold, and it’s barren, but it’s quiet and peaceful as they come. Reykjavik has about the same population as Poole, my hometown, and Iceland is the most sparsely populated country in Europe – bliss.
Venturing out of our warm apartment – heated entirely with the renewable energy supplied by the geothermal water, like the rest of the country – we headed out on the well-travelled path of the Golden Circle. With dramatic scenery that seems almost otherworldly, it takes four hours to complete the loop, featuring waterfalls, geysers, and old Viking parliaments.
Trying to look cute in the winter, but really look like I’m going through a tumble dryer.
First stop on the road was Thingvellir, where the North American and European tectonic plates meet to form a giant rift in the landscape.
Too close to Donald Trump for comfort. This is the edge of North America as we know it.
Strolling down the cliff edge, we came to a beautiful pool filled with shiny coins. I wish it wasn’t so cold, because I’d love to snorkel here, but I would probably freeze to death. The Vikings, however, were much hardier than I am, and used to hold democratic meetings here. Along with a handful of toasty tents and booze, of course – politics would be crap otherwise.
Looks good enough to drink. Almost…
On the way out, we stopped to use the facilities, which cost £1.30. ONE POUND THIRTY PENCE. I get angry at Waterloo for having to shell out 20p, since I think it should be a human right to use the facilities. What if you’re incontinent or disabled? Urgh, I should have fished some of those coins out of the pool while I had the chance.
Next stop on the road was an imaginatively named place called Geysir. Guess what that is…
Here, you’re greeted with the strong stench of sulphur, as well as millions of tour buses. Where there’s hot water in Iceland, there’s the smell of rotten egg farts. I know it’s natural, but man it’s off putting when you’re trying to brush your teeth in the morning.
At Geysir, there are a number of geysers, but one goes off every ten minutes. Having seen three eruptions and failing to capture any of them – I’ll blame my short attention span and cruddy phone – I’ve stolen a picture of Dad’s for you to enjoy…
Mum also managed to capture another great photo of me. I’m a long way off Instagram fame, but hey, maybe I’ll get there one day.
Vain AF, but I don’t have social media to brag, so you’re the ones getting an eyeful.
It reminded me of Old Faithful in the US, but rather than the hundreds of people that had gathered to see that one go off, it was much quieter. Plus it was more expensive – a bit of string bunting in the gift shop would have set me back approximately £13. For a bit of string. That beats the £9 I paid for a crappy string bracelet in Zermatt! Boy, am I glad I came here with my family, I’d never be able to afford to otherwise.
The last major stopping place on the Golden Circle is a waterfall called Gullfoss, an incredible waterfall that tears through the landscape like a knife.
Wet, wet, wet. But dat rainbow though.
Apparently, some English bloke wanted to build a geothermal power plant on the site at the turn of the century, but the Icelandic farmer who owned the land said “I will not sell my friend”. His daughter continued the fight when the Icelandic government continued to try and flog the place, and eventually, she won out. What a legend – fuck tha police.
The incredible lady who saved this waterfall, Sigríður Tómasdóttir, allegedly threatened to throw herself into the rapids in a particularly heated conflict with the authorities.
We got back into the car and drove back home, through mountains, plains, lava fields and even the odd tree-lined street. When you come back, it’s so warm it’s hard to get out again, but get out again we must – we’re going to try and see the Northern Lights, which has always been a dream for me.
I’ll keep you in the loop, but until tomorrow, I bid you goodnight.