After going to the geothermal viewing area and Thingvellir National Park, we were taken to Gullfoss Waterfall and Strokkur Geysir. Both are natural wonders that rival anything I’ve seen in the United States.
Excursion: Golden Circle – Stop #3 (Gullfoss Waterfall)
Review: 5/5 stars
Explanation: I have never been to Niagara Falls, so a direct comparison between these two is difficult. All I can say with certainty is that Niagara Falls is actually three waterfalls and is categorized as a cataract waterfall (where there’s a sheer drop that looks like a curtain). Gullfoss Waterfall is just one waterfall, but is categorized as a cascading waterfall, which means that it is tiered and has multiple levels. I did hear multiple people comment that Gullfoss is more “wild” and “powerful” than Niagara. Perhaps they mean that Niagara Falls looks more idyllic and peaceful, while there is nothing tame about Gullfoss.
We parked at the top of the waterfall and were then allowed to explore at our own leisure. The first thing I did was take panoramic shots of the scenery. I could not fit the entire view into one picture, so the second is an extension of the first.
If you look closely, you can see the huge glacier in the center of the first picture. If I ever go back to Iceland (which I’m already fitting into my plans!), I will absolutely go glacier hiking. I will also go in the volcano! Yes! They lead tours into the volcano!
After I took some scenic pictures, I decided to walk to the next tier of the waterfall. I’ve never been to such a powerful waterfall before, so I didn’t even consider the need for a rain jacket! To be fair, though, this was the only time it “rained” while I was in Iceland.
No lie – I was that close! I zoomed in once so I could get the railing out of the picture, but I was literately feet away from the water! We weren’t allowed to go the very edge of the rocks because they are “unstable” (direct quote from signs). I could have spent much longer here, even though I was cold and wet. The beauty and fury of the waterfall definitely made up for it. So did the surprisingly delicious food at the small cafe. I had a tomato-based vegetable soup (yes, for those of you who know me well, that was my choice of foods!). I’ve never had tomato soup that can even compare with my lunch at the waterfall. And not even from a real restaurant, just a small cafe!
Excursion: Golden Circle – Stop #4 (Strokkur Geysir)
Review: 5/5 stars
Explanation: I don’t think I’ve ever seen a real geyser in person before, so this was pretty cool. The reason the Earth blows water out of geysers has to do with pressure and other physics-related facts. I won’t go into all of it. What you need to know is that every 2 – 4 minutes, the Strokkur Geysir blows water over 30 meters high. The water is hot and comes from an underground geothermal pool about ten minutes away (not by car, but by current).
I tried to upload a video of this event, but evidently my video is too big. Notice that I couldn’t get the full height in either picture I took? And it happens so quickly that I don’t really get a second chance for a few minutes (and we were being timed).
While the Strokkur Geysir is the most famous, there are other geysers all of the place!
I really enjoyed seeing how clear all the water is. I also really wanted to touch the water to see how hot it really is… but… I didn’t. That’s like touching a hot stove, right? Anyway, another man did lean over the rope and dip his hands in and while he didn’t scream in agony, he didn’t encourage anyone else to follow his lead either.
Excursion: Golden Circle – Stop #5 (Hellisheiði Power Plant)
Review: 2/5 stars
Explanation: Don’t get me wrong, the 8-hour day tour is absolutely worth the time and money. But our last stop at the power plant seemed so insignificant compared to everything else we saw that day. I am actually fascinated with different energy sources and how humans have learned to harness that energy. When I went to the Hoover Dam in the United States, I really wanted to take a tour of the dam. However, I was wiped out by the end of the day. It had literately been over seven hours and I couldn’t even muster enough energy to take a picture of the outside of the power plant. And instead of going on the guided tour (which did cost money), my new friend and I sat down in the cafe, drank hot chocolate, and ate apple cake with whipped cream. Which was also delicious… everything in Iceland was delicious!
If you care about how Iceland harnesses geothermal energy and this power plant in specific, feel free to visit the link below. There is also a picture for reference.
So my final thoughts on Iceland? Why wouldn’t someone want to go? Why doesn’t everyone want to go to Iceland? It is seriously amazing. It has natural beauty and physical beauty (really, the people of Iceland are attractive! It must be that Nordic heritage…). It is clean and safe (someone told me that even the cops don’t carry guns because they have no need!). When I say safe, I mean it. If you know me at all, you know how… cautious I am (that’s a good way to put it). But I felt 100% safe for every single second. OK, maybe not while I was in the middle of the continental drift, but everywhere else. Coming from me, that says a lot. And you know what else? The people are kind. I mean, they help you when you need help. They don’t take advantage of the fact that you don’t speak their language. And when you’re supposed to wait out front for the car service to pick you up, but realize they can’t because your hotel’s street is closed to vehicular traffic, they call your hotel to tell the desk clerk where you should go. What more can I say? Plan a visit today (and feel free to ask my now expert opinion)!