The “golden circle” is not really a circle, but the name or a popular tour of three of the most famous and beautiful sights of Iceland, all within easy daytripping range from Reykjavik.
First stop: Geysir. Yup, like a periodically exploding hot spring, the concept of which was named after this particular place in iceland, which contains a lot of them.
Warning signs are rare in iceland – it is mostly assumed that you are able to take care of yourself, and know what you are doing if you go into nature. But in geysir they do point out quite visibly that the water running off the hot springs is indeed very hot, helpfully followed by the (quite considerable) distance to the nearest hospital.
The particular geyser in geysir that is named geysir has not erupted in decades, but luckily another one named “Strokur” reliably erupts every 10 minutes or so.
The tour took a long break for lunch here – luckily I had brought sandwiches, so I could instead take a little hike up the hill behind the geothermal area, and enjoy some wonderful views of the area.
Second stop is Thingvellir – the site of the original viking parliament, and today a national park with beautiful scenery.
It’s also a place where the European and American tectonic plate meet, resulting in an impressive rift and canyon in the middle.
Some of the moss growing on the lava comes in quite bright and strange colors.
The whole area is really beautiful – I would have loved to stay a bit longer and wander round the area, but unfortunately the tour included it mostly as a quick sightseeing stop.
If you’re wondering why the sky looks so different in pictures of the same day – that is just the nature of the weather in iceland. There is no such thing as a completely dry day, but also no such thing as a completely rainy day. It changes very rapidly, and I found myself changing from warm sweater and rain jacket to just a T-shirt several time per day (given that it’s summer, the temperatures go up to a balmy 15 degrees or so).
The third and final stop of the day: Gulfoss, or golden fall, one of the largest and most impressive waterfalls.
I’ll just let the pretty pictures speak for themselves – there are paths to view it from different sides and heights, but no matter where the force of nature is impressive.