Friday, January 6, 2017

Iceland is hot stuff

Iceland really is hot stuff, and things got a bit too heated at breakfast too, as we had an extra loud 7:30 alarm clock when the smoke detector went off. Not a problem for us, as we had planned to get up then, but I think the Germans next door were unhappy. The Korean's breakfast got out of hand it seems.

We had a two hour drive to get to our first attraction of the day. We were running up to Reykjadalur, a thermally heated stream, for a morning dip. There was a thin layer of snow and ice the entire way up, but it wasn't really that cold. We passed several other early groups at the start of the 3km trail, but soon enough ours were the only footprints on the snowy track. In the summer, this place must see a lot of traffic, and they have an elaborate built up area of board walks near the stream where you can leave your things. Even some wooden screened off "changing areas." We were just going through the elaborate process of trying to dry off and get dressed when the other hikers started to catch up. It was very cold to have any wet body part out of the water too long... but we managed and ran back down to car to head off to the next stop.

Not a good pool to bathe in!

Maxin' and relaxin'

How long do you need to sit in hot water before you can call it a soup?

We stopped briefly to walk around the KeriĆ° crater. The lake at the bottom was frozen over, and the snowy conditions really gave a bleak atmosphere. Circumnavigating the rim only took a few minutes, really, and we reminisced about other craters that we have visited on past trips, like in the Galapagos and Hawaii.

Next along the marked route was a stop at a tomato farm. The family here harnesses geothermal heat and cheap electricity in cleverly designed greenhouses to grow about 300 tons of tomatoes a year in 5000 square meters of space (Can you tell that there were lots of stats provided about the place?). The farm operates a restaurant in a greenhouse with a distinct tomato theme. We opted for the tomato soup buffet. The soup was really very good, but the star was the fresh and amazing bread selection that accompanied the meal. We over indulged, and didn't have space for the green tomato and apple pie that was offered for dessert. Apparently they serve the best Bloody Mary in the world. They won points from me by having a pot of basil and herb scissors at every table.

A unique setting for lunch

With daylight fading, we made mad dash to the end of the Golden Circle (That is what this part of Iceland is called) to see Gullfoss. The waterfall here is very impressive but it was just too dark to capture really stunning photos. On a sunny day there are very often rainbows in the spray, we're told.

Gullfoss has two large drops for a total of 31 meters

Sam is cleverly hiding the hordes of other tourists

Looking down into the rift

Just a few kms down the road and we stopped at the geyser which gives us the name geyser, Geysir (the name derives from Icelandic verb meaning to gush). The big geyser there does not erupt very often these days (side note/digression:, Sam wants to point out that this is not a useful bit of information unless I qualify it with a stated frequency, there are a couple of reports of eruptions in the spring of 2016, but none since then on a cursory search. The geyser reaches upwards of 70 meters when it does erupt!). Luckily, the nearby geyser, Strokkur (v. to churn) went off 6 or so times before we headed out.

 Here is one that I caught on video

Feeling cold next to the boiling Geysir

We were tuckered out, and ready to check into our guest house for the night, but there was one more foss right along the way, so a jump out of the car, jump into the car, visit Faxafoss with the last of the remaining daylight.

Our room tonight is very cozy, with heated stone floors and a great fireworks duel/show back and forth across the valley. The guys on the other side had way more fireworks to use up from New Year's I guess, so we got to see a lot of them.

Tomorrow is our last full day on this trip. We'll try to see some more things here in the Golden Circle before winding up at the end of the day back near the airport.

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