Monday, September 7, 2009

Travelling the Golden Circle

Alright – I'm willing to admit that today might have been a bit too cold for shorts and a t-shirt but did that deter me? It did not. Was it because I only have shorts and t-shirts? Strangely enough that is not the case either. I just – well, look – I'm Canadian, and if there's no snow on the ground, then I'm not wearing long anything. And even when there is snow, I might keep the sleeves short. National pride and all that. Have to distinguish ourselves from the Aussies somehow, eh?

On that note, I tried to teach an Aussie how to properly use the word “eh” but it failed miserably. Apparently it's trickier than I thought it would be to use. But moving on – we're here today to talk about The Golden Circle (9800ISK), and the bus tour that took me around it. Ahh bus tours – my greatest (though not only) love sprung from my greatest hate.

The Tour Begins
At Eight O'Clock the bus pulled up outside the hostel, and on I jumped, ready to experience – well I didn't know what I was about to experience. I was just told that this was the tour to take, and who was I to argue with such potential knowledge? So on I went and was delighted to find our first stop overlooking a geothermal power plant.

Geothermal power apparently heats every home in Reykjavik. That's the power of hot water! Not only for allowing tourists to bathe together in the Blue Lagoon, apparently.

After taking a quick wander through the plant, looking through wall-sized windows at the inner workings, it was soon back to the bus. This didn't really bother me, as I was not nearly as interested as some of the older men, quickly snapping away with their cameras. I didn't have the heart to tell them that while the pictures may look great on their tiny viewscreens, their 1/13 shutter speed photos simply will not hold up enlarged.

And then it was off once more. At this point the driver took a moment to remind us all about Iceland's seatbelt law: “In Iceland it is the law to wear your seatbelt. It's not obligatory. Ok, well... It's the law – but there is no fine or punishment if you don't put it on – so...” Things work differently here. Think of all the cash grabs this country is missing out on!

Our next stop was a UNESCO site, þingvellir (I know you're impressed with my ability to produce a thorn with my American Standard keyboard.) This is the site of the worlds oldest, still working, parliament. It also has the distinct pleasure of being located, geologically, in two continents. The North American tectonic plate, as well as the European plate are underneath it. Fissures are highly visible, and quite visually appealing, here. But – for me – the most interesting aspect was the clear water.

It's said that the water here is so clear that when people are on top of fissures looking at the water, only two inches below where they are standing, they get vertigo, or experience a fear of heights. It's said that the water is so clear that some people can not accept that it is not a straight drop down to the ground.

I took a moment to look in the river – people had thrown coins in. I thought that was unfortunate as the littered the beautiful stream. I then saw a “do not throw coins in the water” sign – illustrated with a person tossing a coin in. After seeing it I couldn't get the idea out of my mind. The mental image of the coin snapping from my finger, flipping over and over in the air, only to then continue its circular motion after splashing into the cool clear water below, all the way to the viable rocks below because so enticing that I could think of nothing greater, save for the reality – which, I must admit, occurred only a few moments later.

Had I not seen the sign -

Back on the bus I could distinctly hear “Anyone Else” by the Moldy Peaches playing over the vehicles radio – odd, I thought, and then promptly fell asleep. I was awoken by a woman as we made out next stop. Shocked, and flabbergasted as to what had transpired, I disembarked, walked to a waterfall, looked around and realized I had no idea what time I was to be back at the bus, and then became alarmed when I could no longer see anyone from the tour.

This could have been a problem – and for thirty minutes it was. I still have no idea where everyone else went, but I eventually found them, calming down instantly, and tried to enjoy the rest of our hour and a half stop.

I'm not going to lie – it was a big waterfall, and I'm sure it's mighty impressive – but I grew up near Niagara falls. And I've driven the TCH through Alberta and British Columbia; I've seen my share of waterfalls.

The one big attraction of this fall – you could walk right up to the edge. You could step into it, if you were that foolish. All that prevented you from crossing into the water (and even then only in a few places) was a rope about toe high. A suggestion that perhaps it would be wise to stay away, but in Iceland nothing is ordered – merely suggested.

The tour was about to enter its greatest moment. We were headed to Geyser, the site from which all geysers take their name. Though Geyser itself no longer erupts, many of the others in the area do. I was entranced for no less than twenty minutes watching as the pool bubbled, exploded from the ground, and settled once more. The final eruption I found was truly spectacular, as it went off three times in a row without so much as a moments pause.

All that was left was a quick moment at Skalholti, which worked as a Bishop's seat for hundreds of years. Like the power plant it didn't really do much for me. All that was left was a rest stop.

Here I discovered something quite distressing – the Blue Lagoon sells all the products that I used there. The conditioner that i used without thought on my hair sells for 2500ISK. The body scrub I thought nothing of sells for 3900ISK. The mud mask – the mud mask that I used multiple times over in terribly large amounts – sells for 5900ISK. 5900ISK! And all these bottles? 200ml! All of a sudden the 5000ISK bus and entrance fee seems like quite the bargain if you're into that sort of thing. Amazing.

And that was that.

Pictures of me as a viking were taken.

By everyone.

Seriously – at least ten cameras were snapping away.

That is all.


  1. That is such a cool place.
    I have to do that "viking" tour someday.
    Thanks for sharing!.
    I'm eager to see what comes next!
    Keep on having a great trip
    Martin (W3Bconsultor)


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