Kevin Standlee (kevin_standlee) wrote,
Kevin Standlee

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Worldcon 2017 Trip Day 13: The Golden Circle

Today was our really big tourism day in Iceland: We booked a relatively comprehensive "Golden Circle" tour of some of the top scenic highlights of southwestern Iceland accessible in a single (long) day.

Strokkur Geyser

Possibly the peak point of the trip was a visit to the Geysir Complex, named for the hot erupting vent that gave its name to all of the others. This photo, however, is of Strokkur, which actually erupts regularly (roughly every five minutes) and which I managed to get this one really good picture on one of its larger eruptions while we were there.

Geysir Sleeps

Geysir itself is dormant and just sits there steaming and bubbling, and has done so for years.

Little Geysir

Little Geysir similarly just spits little bits of water and steam periodically.

The entire complex has a number of hot pools, but only Strokkur produces the shows. However, it does so regularly and a few minutes' patience should be rewarded.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. Shortly after 9 AM, our Extreme Iceland bus picked us up and our friendly driver headed out for a full long day of seeing the sights. This is probably just as well because today was Culture Day in Reykjavik and the city was very busy.

Hot Stuff

Our first stop was the Hellisheidavirkjun Geothermal Power Plant, where we got the basic tour. This plant not only produces more than 300 MW of energy, but it also generates a significant amount of hot water that heats the city of Reykjavik. The water in my shower probably comes from this plant, and it is also used to keep many streets free of ice in the winter.

After the power plant, we continued to our next stop, which involved a hike around a volcanic crater, followed by a preview of the larger waterfall we'd see after lunch.

Kerið Volcanic Crater

The Kerið Volcanic Crater is surrounded by a trail that is a not-too-taxing 20-minute hike with great views of the crater and the surrounding countryside.

Faxi Waterfall

Faxi is a pretty waterfall that Lisa and I did not get to see close up for long because we had to use some of our time at this stop hiking up to the adjacent restaurant and buying a couple of cups of tea to justify the use of the restaurant's WC.

Faxi Waterfall

While we needed to use the facilities, it's a pity we couldn't be here longer, because the sound of this waterfall was loud enough to give Lisa some temporary relief from her tinnitus. It's surprising how much water you need to generate a loud enough noise to mask the horrible tone in her left ear.

Geysir was also our lunch stop, where Lisa and I got the lamb soup, which we like. (Some books complain that this is the main dish at too many places. We don't complain. It's filling and we've enjoyed every bowl of it that we've had so far.) From here it was on to the big waterfall.

Gullfoss Falls

The Gullfoss waterfall isn't the biggest or tallest waterfall in the world, but it's still impressive. And wet. It's one of only two places today where I needed to put on another layer because of the cold.

Gullfoss Falls

As with all of the other photos here, click through to look at the rest of them, including some video I shot as well. There are some really nice views here, I think, but I'm not going to try to put text around all of them.

After the falls, we made a short stop at the Efstidalur farm, where I indulged myself in one scoop of blueberry ice cream made from milk from the cows on the farm. From there, we continued for what turned out to be something of a research trip for the question raised by WSFS's action last week when we clarified that (in effect) Iceland is not part of North America for NASFiC purposes.

Where Continents Divide

Thingvellir National Park is located on the rift between the North American and European plates. Where the plates are separating, Iceland is growing. In this view, Europe is on the left and North America is on the right.

Lisa at the Rift

Lisa waves from North America as I take her photo from Europe.

Law Stone

Thingvellir is associated with the Althing, Iceland's parliament, which was founded here in the year 930 and continued to hold sessions here until 1790. Although the exact site is apparently not preserved, the signs suggest that this may be the "Law Stone," where the Speaker literally "spoke the law" before the Althing.

Lisa and I found this place a very moving experience, although we also sympathized with attempts to use the site for national celebrations, as access is somewhat limited.

Thingvellir was the final stop before we returned to Reykjavik. We were frankly a bit worn out by then, and were happy to get back to our hotel. With the city alive with Culture Day, we weren't inspired to go very far. We counted ourselves lucky to get a seat in Cafe Loki (just down the street from our hotel) and have another couple bowls of lamb soup before turning in for the evening.

This tour was excellent, but we're so tired that we're not at our best for this. That's the problem with putting our touring post-Worldcon; however, Lisa says, and she's right, that I'm hopelessly preoccupied during the days running up to Worldcon and I can't relax until the convention is over. Therefore, unless we schedule the trips this way, I'm impossible to deal with because I can't concentrate on what we're doing. Not concentrating when walking around steep cliffs and slippery rocks is not a good idea.

We have one more full day here in Iceland before we begin the trip home, which may prove to be a different adventure, and not necessarily a fun one.
Tags: iceland, travel, vacation

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