Iceland, Golden Circle
Our last day was reserved for the Golden Circle. If you’re in Iceland for a longer period of time definitely do Ring Road, the route around the entire country, but if you only have three days like we did, the Golden Circle is a great alternative. For the Golden Circle we decided to do a private tour so we could stop wherever we wanted (partially because I wanted to stop and pet the Icelandic horses). Our first stop was a crater that would’ve been really cool, except that it was freezing so it was a quick stop. The lesson to be learned from this trip was pack warm.
We made another quick stop at a smaller waterfall before heading to Gullfoss, a massive protected waterfall. There are three different viewing sites, a top platform, a medium level platform and you can go right up to the falls on the rocks. It started out misting but by the time we got all the way down to the main site I was completely soaked. Despite the weather, I was happier than I’ve felt in months; it was so great to be outside exploring something new and seeing something so amazing that was completely natural.
On the way to our next stop, we finally got to stop and pet the horses. Icelandic horses are smaller than normal horses but are not ponies. We pulled over and the farm had ‘horse candy’ that you could buy for two dollars to feed the horses. The horses weren't interested in anything but the candy, so our guide bought some so we could get their attention. It was actually a very cool experience and a fun little stop on the way to the geyser. The Strokkur Geyser (Geysir in Icelandic) blows every 5-10 minutes so it’s pretty easy to catch, except that you never know when it’s going to blow. Right before it does, for a split second you can see a bubble form and it’s truly incredible. The geysers blow for a while and then stop and new ones start. We had lunch at the site (including more amazing soup) and then continued on our way.
On the way to our next and last big stop was the break in the tectonic plates. We saw where America and Europe are separated tectonically and really clear pools where you can scuba dive (dry suit needed for warmth). The last stop itself was the site of the where the Icelandic parliament was formed. By that point we were at information overload for the week but the site was a pretty central location for where the population of Iceland lived so it was an ideal meeting location. The area is now a national park and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.