We rented a car in Reykjavik in order to make the most of our day. We found a local company called Route1 that had decent rates and met us at the port with our car, and we were off. Our mission was to drive the Golden Circle, Reykjavik’s most popular day trip, which would take us to some of Iceland’s most spectacular sights. After tucking some pastries from the buffet on board into our pockets, we hopped in our Yaris and headed out.
Our first stop outside of the city was Thingvellir National Park. The park’s primary draw is that it sits on a fault between two tectonic plates that are pulling apart. The amazing thing is that this is clearly visible in the landscape! All over the place there are rifts in the earth, of many sizes and shapes. Some have filled with crystal clear water, and others are dry and can be walked through. The tectonic plates that meet there are the North American and European plates, so we felt a little like we were crossing ever closer to home.
The second place we stopped was at Geysir, the site of Iceland’s most famous geyser, and the one which even inspired the creation of the word “geyser”. Unfortunately, due to a lot of tourists throwing stones and coins into Geysir, it now very rarely erupts because it’s column is blocked. Luckily, there is another impressive geyser right next to it, which shoots up every six or seven minutes. It’s so cool to watch. The water in the pool begins to swell and bubble, as steam rises visibly from it’s surface. After a few false starts, where the water seems to gather together and then relax again, the true event occurs. All of the water swells in the center of the pool and pushes upwards in a giant dome before exploding skywards with surprising force. It leaves behind a gaping hole in the earth, which is quickly refilled with rushing water, before the whole event repeats itself. It was probably one of the most fascinating natural phenomena I’ve ever seen.
Our last stop was at Gulfoss Falls, a spectacular waterfall plunging in a couple of stages into a deep and long river gorge. The spray from the falls was heavy and far-reaching, and it added to the wind’s cold bite. It was an exclamation mark in Iceland’s landscape, which was stunning in every sense, and made only more beautiful by the fall colours that lay on the vegetation. After leaving the falls we just drove through the hills and fields for a couple of hours, stopping to enjoy cold streams pouring out over dark gray stones, or horses standing in fields of vivid yellows and reds and oranges.
We realized as we headed back to the ship that this was the last foreign country that we would be standing in before arriving back in Canada. We took a minute to absorb the idea. With nearly 15 months of travel behind us, it was a little hard to grasp the fact that it was all coming to an end so quickly. But as a final country on the list, Iceland didn’t let us down, and it’s yet another place we hope to end up again one day.