Iceland’s Ring Road – Day 7
My heart was heavy for it was my last day on the Iceland’s Ring Road. It was an unforgettable week, and I knew I would miss it greatly. Seems to me that no one can visit Iceland and remain unchanged. It was impossible to stay indifferent to the colossal power of the nature I witnessed here. It’s strange how I felt fulfilled when I remembered how small I am in this world.
On the last day, we explored the famous Golden Circle before returning to where it all began — Reykjavík. For the first time on this trip, I really felt like a tourist. Every place we visited was packed. The Golden Circle really is the most popular tour in Iceland. This is mostly because of its proximity to the capital, Reykjavík, and also because it can be comfortably done in only one day. The tour includes the Gullfoss waterfall, the Geysir, and the Þingvellir National Park.
Horse show in Friðheimar
The first stop of the day was at the Friðheimar farm. This is a family business. Father and daughter participated in the horse show, while the mother was preparing coffee and cookies for us to enjoy later. People here are very proud of their horses; the Icelandic horse is the result of selective breeding over centuries. To protect the purity of the horse bloodline no imported horses are allowed in the country.
After the horse show, we were invited for some coffee and cookies. We had the opportunity go to the stables to see the horses closer, take some pictures, and even touch them. They are very sweet and accustomed to people.
To finish our visit we went to the greenhouses where they grow tomatoes all year round, even in the dark winters.
Geysir and Strokkur Geysers
The Great Geysir was the first geyser discovered by Europeans, and it was the origin of the name geyser. Like the surroundings geysers, its activity is deeply affected by earthquakes. Whenever an earthquake takes place the eruptions became stronger and frequent. After months or even years, it starts to weaken and to become rarer.
The Great Geysir has been hibernating for some time now. While the giant is asleep, the nearby geyser, Strokkur, gives the tourists an amazing show. Lately, its eruptions are very regular — every 8 minutes, and the water reaches 10 to 40m. More impressive than the eruption itself is to see the bubble being formed and rapidly growing as it is filled with water and steam from the center of the earth. What a beautiful view!
Gullfoss is considered Iceland’s most popular waterfall — maybe because it’s located on the Golden Circle route. Its name means Golden Waterfall. The water comes from Iceland’s second biggest glacier, Langjökull, and flows through the Hvítá river before dropping down the narrow gorge at the Gullfoss waterfall.
The heavy mist produces beautiful rainbows on sunny days. The winds are almost unbearable. I couldn’t even hold my camera straight; it was a challenge to take these pictures. Many photos were spoiled due to water drops on my camera lens.
After walking on the paths surrounding the waterfall I sought for shelter in the tourist center. It has a good restaurant, where we had lunch, and a souvenir shop.
Þingvellir National Park
At Þingvellir, the continental drift between the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates can be clearly seen in the cracks or faults crossing the region. Some of the rifts are full of clear water. A special one, called Nikulásargjá, is littered with coins. Visitors began to throw coins in the fissure for good luck after a bridge was constructed in 1907.
But Þingvellir is not only extraordinary for its natural wonders, it’s also a place of history, for it’s the ancient Icelandic parliament site. For 868 years, between 930 and 1798, people from all over the country assembled here every summer. From chieftains to ordinary men and women, all people gathered to regulate common affairs, pass common laws, arbitrate the disputes and decide judicially regarding killings and lawlessness.
From the Law Rock, nearby the tall cliff, the elected Lawspeaker presided the assembly and recited the law. The high lava flank of the fissure behind him gave good acoustics which gave resonance to his voice. His words were recited by other speakers standing on farther cliffs to reach the entire audience. Nowadays an Iceland flag marks the most probable spot where the Law Rock was located.
Back to Reykjavík, I was feeling sad for the end of the journey but at the same time, I was eager to discover this city.