The Golden Circle

A more muted sky today, but it was made up for by the spectacular scenery I traversed.

After a nice grocery store lunch of drinkable skyr (yogurt) and a smoked lamb and pea sandwich, I took an afternoon tour of the Golden Circle, the most visited part of Iceland.

I forgot to take any iPhone pics at the first few stops so those photos will have to come later. But it was pretty neat to climb into the mountains and see eruptions of steam on the horizon from the hot springs. We looked out over one of the big geothermal plants and followed a pipe that carries water from the geothermal plants into Reykjavik to be used for heat and electricity.

Then we went to Pingvellir, where North America and Eurasia meet, geologically speaking.

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The two continental plates meet in Iceland and move constantly. This rift spreads apart at a rate of 2cm a year.

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This spot is important to Icelanders for cultural and historic reasons as well. It’s where the world’s first parliament was held. Everyone from the country (local council members and anyone else who wanted to attend) would gather yearly at the “Law Rock” where the law speaker would recite all the laws of the land by heart!

This is also the area where sinners were killed. Here’s the drowning pool, reserved for women.

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I’ve seen this park spelled Thingvellir, rather than Pingvellir, and I guess that’s how you say it But the Icelandic letter looks more like a P!

We also visited with some Icelandic horses, gaped at waterfalls and geysers and walked around a crater lake.

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A stray observation from the time on the bus:

A middle-aged British couple sitting behind me on the tour bus spent much of the trip counting sheep. The woman seemed very disdainful of Icelandic sheep, saying haughtily to the tour guide at one point: “I know sheep. There are a few where I’m from.” after a couple of hours they seemed to forget, but for a while, every few minutes I’d suddenly hear “sheep!!!”
They were traveling with their 20-something year old goth son, who did not participate in the sheep-counting exercise and instead worked with a needle and thread to darn his long black jacket and argued with his mother. He looked like someone who picked a personal style at age 16 and hasn’t changed it in ten years. So he just seems like an adult in child’s clothing.

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8 Responses to The Golden Circle

  1. Kent says:

    Fantastic. What created that crater? Thanks for sharing your trip!

    • It’s a volcanic crater. Apparently, it was assumed for a long time that the crater had been caused by an eruption, but there hasn’t been any ash found to confirm that. So now they think it’s a subsidence crater. Actually, I think it’s more accurately a caldera.

  2. Beth Kanell says:

    Fanstasic, amazing, stunning — what a pleasure to watch over your shoulder.

  3. Jo Woolf says:

    Amazing scenery – love the waterfalls!

  4. yummm…skyr! one of my favorite parts of my trip to Iceland too! bring some home to VT!

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