Day Three; The Golden Circle
With the winds dropping we could see the opportunity to make a break towards Reykjavík and the coveted Golden Circle, which turned out to be more of a Golden line than a circle in the end. The first stop was Pingvellir, basically just some moss covered craggy rocks creating a gigantic fissure between the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates. No biggie, it only moves 1mm to 18mm per year making the gap larger and larger and the landscape more and more dramatic. Stunning, if not slightly overshadowed by the £1.40 charge to use the toilets and the £3.50 for parking. Had we been there earlier, without the hundreds of tourists, then I might have been able to appreciate the brilliance of the area slightly more than I did, regardless the sheer magnitude doesn’t escape you.
Great Geysir was our next stop, passing fields and fields of Icelandic Horses, sheep and agricultural land, we headed onwards, following the sometimes overpowering smell of sulphur. Nowhere in the guide books does it describe the overpowering smell of egg that you experience on the approach to these geysers. Sulphur, now forever associated with Iceland. The Geyser was one of the spectacles that I had been really looking forward to, spurting boiling water up to 30 meters into the air every 5 to 15 minutes, something not to be missed. It certainly didn’t disappoint. I still felt pretty optimistic even after spending an hour poised and ready to photograph the largest of the geysers, only to find out it rarely exploded now.
Next stop was Gulfoss, as described by the Lonely Planet guide to Iceland, as the most famous waterfall in Iceland. And there’s me, after months of research on Iceland having never heard of it in my life. If I had expectations of this waterfall i’m sure they would have been shattered on approach. However, blissfully unaware of the enormity of this viewpoint, I wandered down the worn wooden steps to the viewing platform.
The first thing that hits you is the sound of the thousands of gallons of water crashing down into the abyss, closely followed by the fine spray assaulting your face and waterproofs (and unfortunately for me glasses). Once past this your eyes adjust to this magnificent waterfall, 31 meters in total height, separated into two dramatic drops, before plunging into the 70 meter gorge that it’s created. Certainly one not to miss if you choose to take the Golden Circle route, what should be added however is that this is the farthest point of the route to reach. For us in our motorhome it meant turning back and heading past the geysers before turning off to Selfoss and then finally Reykjavík along route 1.
To finish off the night… crashed motor, well what’s more to say on the matter. Icelands foliage is much less forgiving than it seems, we ended up Glasgow kissing the rear bumper of our home on wheels and leaving a depressing crack in return. Well there goes 400 euro. Safe to say the mood in our house on wheels was rater tetchy that evening so it was a quick supper of chicken and chips and a few beers to help take the edge off.