Iceland Day 1 – The Golden Circle

First of all, I’m typing this on my phone so pardon any spelling errors!

The last two days have flooown by. Part of it fun, part of it not.

Not all my posts will be this long I promise. The hype will wear off.

My sister Sarah, my mom and I were supposed to leave Sunday evening the 21st for Iceland. We’d been planning this since spring. It was 9:30pm Saturday night, we met up at Sarah’s house, we were packed, ready to go…. and Sarah can’t find her passport. We searched high and low until 3:30 in the morning, woke back up at 6am and continued the search. To no avail.
Long story short, after headache after headache, complication after complication, and tears, mom and I left without her and she is going to meet up with us Wednesday morning.

So that was the bad.
Now the good.

First off, this is the first time I’ve flown on Iceland air and I was thoroughly impressed. Amazing service including blankets, pillows, charging station on the touch screen mounted on the seat in front of you, free movies, music, audio books, leg room, Iceland tips for travel, and great flight attendants. Then we learned Iceland air offers what the call the “Iceland stopover” where you can book a flight through them to a European country and plan a free 7 day layover in Iceland. So basically you can hit two countries for the price of one airfare wise. I so wish I would’ve done that! I would’ve gone to Switzerland next!

By the way, the water here is uh-mazing. It was the first thing they gave us on the plane – a bottle of Icelandic glacier water. We’d heard you could drink the water out of any tap here. Even the rivers can be drank out of.  They weren’t kidding. At the airport they had a water fountain labeled “glacial water” and everyone was filling their empty bottles. It was good tasting stuff.

We arrived, got our rental car, exchanged currency, and headed for the city campground in Reykjavik.

We had heard that many campgrounds offer a “take something leave something” policy where campers who are done with their escapades can leave half used or unwanted items behind, and incoming campers can take something and then leave something when they leave. Brilliant idea. We wanted to see what kind of stuff they had at the Mecca of backpackers – thus the city campground. It’s sort of the hub where people come and stay on their first night in Iceland and their last night out.

It was awesome. Go ahead and laugh but I got the happy jitters. Butterflies in my belly. Haha. Walking into the camp where there are so many people dressed and backpacked up to go hiking, exploring and hitchhiking is just so cool. It’s the kind of thing I always wanted to be part of! Tents were being put up and taken down, people were cooking on jet boils, looking at maps… that’s the kind of atmosphere. Everyone’s excited about something.

They had a bunch of bathrooms and a bunch of showers. They also had a cute little tent like cafe with tables and electrical outlets for people to chill and talk, then they had a big open kitchen with rows of sinks and rows of shelving, with yep, you guessed it, the take something leave something items. So there’s all kinds of random hikers in there washing dishes or cooking food on camp stoves and borrowing seasonings, oils and spices. Then there was another building like area with a bunch of cubbies, loaded with the take something leave something items. Anything from shoes, (ew), kitchen ware, aluminum foil, and half used fuel canisters. Bingo. That’s what we were after. We picked three and just as we turned to leave someone donated one. Such an awesome system.

After that we headed to Bonus supermarket to get some dairy products and fresh vegetables. A lot of the stuff we couldn’t define. We wanted cheese for example, and everything was in Icelandic. The only cheese I could read and recognize was Gouda. Ew. And by the way, for like a regular 8 or 12 pack of cheese you’re looking at a whopping $14. We got a $5 tiny block of cheese and decided to try something new. We know it has garlic in it, but we have yet to try it. And Bonus is one of the most popular supermarkets that all the locals shop at.

Next we drove towards the place we decided to camp at for the night. It was only noon but we wanted to set up so we could go out and explore after and just crash at night. As we drive, the scenery is just… weird. It’s like we’re on a different planet. Maybe mars? Flat, arid, black volcanic plains rise up to black mountains. Some are volcanoes, some aren’t. Then there will be random lush green spots, or a cascading waterfall down the side of a ravine. Then I’m the far distance, you see snow capped mountains and glaciers.

Plans are changed since we have to hang out near Reykjavik until Wednesday so we decided to hit up the Golden circle. We’re camping at Pingvellir National Park near the visitor center for tonight. Our backdrop is a big black mountain.

We first visited a place where there is a big rift cutting into the plain. It’s tectonic plates in action. Really cool, but we didn’t stay long. Tomorrow we’re going to hike through them.

Then we went to Strokkur Geysir. First Geysir Ive ever been too and it was pretty neat. There were a whole series of Geysir sand boiling pools and even a gorgeous blue pool.

Next we visited Gullfoss. What an awesome waterfall. It rips through the valley enchanting its viewers with a series of cascading drops.

None of these pictures will do it justice trust me.

Our rental car is a diesel six speed manual, and that has already given us some laughs… yeah modern German made manuals are so different from what we’ve driven. I wish we could’ve gotten an automatic but it wasn’t an option if we wanted an off-road capable vehicle.

Now, I’m holed up in the car on my laptop and phone typing this all up (cause yes even though we’re on mars, our rental car came with wifi service). I’m pooped. 4 hrs of airplane sleep last night, 3 hrs the night before, and we’re in a different time zone. It’s in the mid 40s and I’m hoping to stay warm tonight in our tent. Goodnight earth.

 

City Campground “Take Something leave something”

 

 

City Campground Kitchen area

 

City Campground

 

Our food pile

 

Our camping spot

 

The Geyser area

Look at that blue water!

Gulfoss

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