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Tuesday, 22 May 2012

The Golden Circle, whales and some geothermal relaxation

The afternoon tour took us round some of the geological sites near to Reykjavik.  Thingvellir NP.There were miles of lava fields, hills in the distance,still under snow, and the first place we arrived at was the Thingvellir National Park, which was where the Icelandic nation was born and where for centuries the old parliament was held each summer..thingvellir National Park flag and law stone It is also where two tectonic plates, the Eurasian and the American, are actually drifting apart by 7mm a year.  The rift valley can easily be seen in the cliffs and the sunken valley floor, and the many fissures and cracks. where tectonic plates separate



thingvellir National Park teutonic plates separating


Below is Thingvallavatn, lake Thingvellir, the largest natural lake in the country.thingvallavatn2





Then we were off to see the amagullfoss fallszing waterfalls of Gullfoss, where the Hvita river roars over the rocks into the ravine below.gullfoss upper fall




I think I was more impressed by these falls than I was by Niagara.geysir     

At  Geysir, pronounced gaysur, the original of the name does very little these days apart from steam!  It used to send boiling water 70 metres into the air, but now only “performs” after there have been earthquakes in the region.  little geysir

Little geysir just bubbles like a boiling pan of water( right). 

strokkir bubble

The  geyser that does the most is the one they call The Churn – Strokkur – which erupts regularly every five to eight minutes.  It bubbles up and dies down again all the time, then suddenly an enormous bubble forms, and whoosh!  Strokkur erupts!  strokkirIts 20 metres is still pretty impressive.

Next day we were off on a Whale watching cruise out into the bay off Reykjavik.  It was pretty cold out there and the boat pitched and tossed rather a lot.  I didn’t mind that at all – except when I couldn’t keep my balance! whale watching boats


whale watching

It was a bit of a disappointing trip though.  We did see a few minke whales break the surface but nothing more than that - and I’ve seen minke whales off the west of Scotland, so it wasn’t that exciting.out at sea2

I loved the scenery we saw though.  In fact we could see as far as Snaefellsnes, a snowcapped volcano quite some distance northwest of us.  I haven’t got it photographed as I don’t think it would have shown up too well.  It was still a long way off.

Returning to Reykjavik, there was time for lunch before going on our final “tour” back out towards the airport through those lava fields but turning off to where the warm steamy Blue Lagoon awaited us.blue lagoon3  

It was wonderful to dip into the milky blue water – warm salty water –and spend the afternoon just relaxing.  By the time we left the warmth had done its magic and everyone felt great.  However, we had an early flight home the next day so I at least had an early night.  I still slept most of the flight back to Glasgow though.  What a great weekend, but just too much had to be fitted into each day.  It would be good to do the Golden Circle tour again slowly and with a map too, as I do like to know where I am!

Would I go back to Iceland?  You bet I would!  It’s very expensive though, but yes, I’d definitely go back!

Talk again soon.


Anonymous said...

A fascinating article. Particularly interesting for me to compare the geothermal activity with that here in NZ. I can imagine how nice the warm lake was. Great photos! Thankyou!

Evelyn/Ev/Evee said...

Glad you enjoyed reading about my trip, Valerie. I have been to NZ a couple of times and seen some of the geothermal stuff there. The geysers at Whaka were just like in Iceland, and the sulphur smell was there but perhaps not quite as strong. We didn't see any boiling mud pools in Iceland, but they may be somewhere other than where we ere taken. The blue lagoon was an artificial lake, built amongst the lava and filled with geothermal run off. It was wonderful!!!

Katrina said...

You certainly did pack a lot in, I wouldn't mind a dip in that lake. I know what you mean about the whales, you can even see them in the Firth of Forth sometimes.

Evelyn/Ev/Evee said...

I think the Thingvallavatn is quite cold, but the Blue Lagoon was like a warm bath!

Peggy Ann said...

The Churn is just like our Old Faithful in Yellowstone National Park. What a gorgeous place Iceland is!