“What part of ‘Eyjafjnallajokull’ don’t you understand?”
I’m in London now, but I wanted to rewind a few days and share some pictures from Iceland. Our second day in Iceland started off with breakfast at our guesthouse with the other guests and our hosts. Then we visited the cathedral in Reykjavik, the Hallgrímskirkja. It’s unique in its white design and modern lines, and I imagine it’s the only cathedral with an armed Viking statue in front (opinion, not fact). The stained glass inside is also very modern and Nordic in design.
Next, ST and I drove the Golden Circle, the famous tour route through Southern
Iceland. Once you’re out of Reykjavik, it’s very easy to follow the route. The first stop on the route is Þingvellir, the site of the first Icelandic parliament, established in 930. That is not a typo – the Vikings were setting up a parliament a millennium ago.
The entire site is beautiful, especially the waterfalls. It has a central place in Icelandic history.
The second stop on the Golden Circle route is Geysir, the first site of the water-gushing phenomenon and therefore the one after which all others worldwide are named. The original Geysir is no longer active, but there are several others in the vicinity that are, and it was entertaining watching everyone who waits for the water to explode out of the ground.
When we got to the third site, we took several detours — first, to say hello to some Icelandic horses who were very calm about all the foreigners petting them and taking their photos. Icelandic horses are quite small compared to the other varieties of horses, but they are beautiful animals.
Next we went up to the next stop on the official tour, the Gulfoss Waterfall.
It’s really two waterfalls that meet in an L-shape, and they are spectacular. There is a legend about two lovers who crossed the river above the waterfall and survived because: love. It looked pretty treacherous to me, but you know how legends go.
After our visit here, we drove beyond the site to see if we could touch a glacier… maybe we could have if we’d had an all-terrain vehicle, but we did not. So we did not. But we saw some more amazing scenery. The thing about Iceland is the landscape changes dramatically and rather abruptly, so just driving a few miles in another direction allowed us to see a completely different landscape.
On our way back from the glacier chase, we saw a herd of horses running along the road. We do not know why they were running, though they were being herded by two people on horseback at the back of the queue. They ran for a solid 5 km, and we encountered them a few times. The final time, several of the horses got up on the road, even a couple right next to our car. In the States I don’t see herds of horses in one place very often and certainly not galloping full-tilt, free as the wind. It was exhilarating to watch.
Our second day in Iceland was action-packed but oddly relaxing. The landscape seems remote and otherworldly at times, but almost everything is easy to find. Parts of the drive reminded us of parts of the US, especially Colorado, Idaho and the Pacific Northwest, whereas other parts seemed uniquely Icelandic.