The tourist route of Iceland

24 July 2018

We all slept really well, despite the lack of bedroom curtains and woke up ready to explore the island as much as we could in one day.

I made a bucketload of porridge for all of us, and we all had showers and dressed warm for the day. While I packed up, Ian carried on calling the various insurance companies trying to sort our cruise insurance for our Alaska trip, which is proving impossible because a) it’s more than 14 days since we booked the cruise; b) we have already left the UK and c) the cruise starts and finishes in the USA.  Sigh…. if I’d realised all of this, I’d have bought it weeks ago, but it hadn’t even crossed my mind that you wouldn’t be able to just buy cruise insurance.  Anyway….

Ian had done some research around things to do in Iceland in one, and had decided the Golden Circle was the best option for us, as we could drive the whole route in one day, with enough time to stop off at the various points of interest, without needing to rush too much.  I’d had a couple of other amazing suggestions sent to me by friends, but they were just too far away for us to do in a day (a six hour drive there, and the same back again, apparently).

We set off and were instantly in awe of the scenery.  Although, it was cloudy and rainy, this somehow served to make the landscapes even more ruggedly beautiful: miles of lush green and lumpy flatlands, punctuated with volcanic “hills”, dripping with lava trails.  The bright green of the grasses set against the black rock and red soil, and gloomy grey skies really contrasted to create a stunning atmospheric drive.

Our first stop was Selfoss, but Ian wasn’t quite sure where we were supposed to go, so rather than waste time trying to remember, we decided to skip the town and headed on to Kerio  – volcanic crater that you can walk all the way around and then down the 142 steps down to the water lake that filled the crater.  The stop-off was spoiled slightly by my desperate need for loo, and the fact that Ian and I had had an argument so weren’t speaking!  Cornelia had been told by the woman in the ticket kiosk that there was a monster that lived in the lake, so we spent quite a bit of time calling out to him and throwing pebbles in the water, hoping to wake it up to say hi, but sadly, he was obviously fast asleep…

Our next stop was the Secret Lagoon, which is a natural hot pool, that you can swim in (obviously).  They are fastidious about cleanliness before entering the pool, requiring all guests to shower naked first, and rinse swimsuits, to prevent any unnecessary dirt getting in the water.  The pool itself was glorious – very warm, almost too hot in some spots, and very relaxing, although my irritation with Ian continued, as he found two woggles (although there were plenty more available) and gave one to Cornelia and kept the other one for himself.  Silently fuming to myself, I played with Bugsy for a while, until my “silently fuming” didn’t work anymore, so I hissed at him that I’d get my own bloody woggle…  He realised pretty quickly that he had been particularly rotten, albeit unintentionally, but I was already quite cross. I floated around for a bit, before we decided it was time to get out and have a quick walk around the lagoon.  Ian wanted to walk around his shorts, but Cornelia and I were keen to get showered and dressed first (it was only 12° degrees outside!), so once we were fully clothed, we went around three times, looking at the elves’ houses, blowing the steam away from the boiling puddles and watching the workmen lay turf! We found Ian after the second lap, who was now also dressed, and after that third one, it was time to set off for the next hotspot.  I grabbed a quick coffee, during which the lady behind the desk confirmed to Cornelia that it was indeed elves who lived in the little houses, who took holidays from Lapland.  She was beside herself with excitement at this idea!

We ploughed on, arriving at Faxi, which was a beautiful waterfall but, having seen the waterfalls of Norway, was slightly less impressive.

We didn’t stay long and moved on to Geysir to see the, er, geysir, which largely involved waiting for an eruption of hot water bursting from the large puddle, which was roped off to stop stupid people from getting too close and burning themselves on the boiling water.  Cornelia amused herself in between the gaps by jumping up and down in another puddle, soaking her shoes and socks, which made Ian very cross and me laugh. It was definitely a day of opposites for parenting….!

Next up was Gulfoss waterfall – a much fiercer one than that at Faxi, raging furiously behind us.  Cornelia’s feet were still soggy, so she was on my shoulders for a while, then swapped onto Ian’s.  We were all in raincoats by this point, to try and stay dry in the heavy spray from the river.

Cornelia fell asleep in the car, and stayed that way as we arrived at the place of the Old Parliament in Thingvellir National Park, which also displays the geological split between the two continents of Eurasia and North America, where the tectonic plates shifted and broke them up.  It was pouring with rain, so rather than wake Cornelia to get her soaking wet, I stayed in the car listening to Pink and Ian went off for a quick explore by himself.  He was gone for about twenty minutes, and came back, pleased that he’d gone, but agreeing that it was the right thing to do not to wake the toddler. The place is full of history, and I suspect we could have spent hours there admiring the scenery had it not been so late in the day.

We saw lots of cyclists out on the road today and have agreed that we must come back again some day, to explore further, ideally by bike and without a child in tow!  One insurance company rang us back, and finally we have found a company with whom we are able to take out cruise cover.  The only snag is that we have to wait until about 15th August to buy it, but they have assured us that it will be okay to leave it until then.  I hope so, as the cruise will not let us board without it!

On the way back to our apartment, we stopped off for a quick look at the geo thermal plant, which involved a short walk to stretch our legs.  Cornelia had woken up by then, and although she wouldn’t walk (soggy shoes still), she was happy to get out of the car for a bit.  We were now driving up, up and up, couldn’t help thinking that the 15% climb would be epic by bike!

A friend had recommended a particular fish and chip restaurant in Reykjavik to us, so we headed out and waited in a long queue for a table, which eventually arrived.  It was getting on a bit and Cornelia was still quite tired, despite the sleep in the car, so we were frustrated by the long wait it took for us to be served, once we’d been seated.  Nearly half an hour, in fact!  When eventually our food did arrive, it was tasty, albeit rather a small portion.  Cornelia managed to scoff her fish and chips, and was definitely ready for bed when we arrived back home.  She needs the extra sleep before a long day of travelling tomorrow!

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