Thursday, 19 January
After some skyr, an Icelandic cheese which is more like a yogurt, in our room, it was off to meet the bus for the Hidden Iceland Golden Circle Tour. The bus stop was crowded at 8:30. Many of the tour companies use the stop. Our driver, Max, picked us up and Dolora and I were off. Our tour included two other couples and a family of five.
The first stop was the Secret Lagoon. It is not a secret but it is the oldest swimming pool in Iceland dating from 1891. It is naturally heated by hot springs and has a gravel bottom. The old stone changing building is still standing, fortunately we were able to use the modern facility. After showering and changing into your swim suit there is a five second or so shock as you stepped out into the 8 degree air before you quickly got into the 100-105 degree water. We were able to soak for about 45 minutes. Getting out and running to the changing room was not nearly as bad as gettting in. Max told us that the lagoon was scheduled early to avoid the crowd and sure enough as we were leaving, a big tour bus pulled in.
Next up was Fridheimar, a greenhouse and restaurant. We were given a short tour of the facilty before lunch. The greenhouse is heated by a natural hot spring. Tomatoes are the main crop. No chemicals are used and bees for pollination come from the Netherlands. Some 40% of the tomatoes in Iceland are from Fridheimar, a ton a day. Lunch was included and consisted of Tomato Soup and bread with many different kinds. The olive bread was my favorite. We tried the “Tomato Beer” but it seemed to just be a pilsner. Dessert was Green Tomato and Apple Pie for Dolora and Cheescake with Green Tomato Jam for me.
After lunch, Gullfoss waterfall. This is a large waterfall that Dolora, Greg and I visited in 2016. The difference between seeing it in the summer and winter was amazing. This winter has been colder than the last few in Iceland. The amount of ice and water made for a stunning view.
Next stop was Geysir geothermal area. This is the location of the first recorded geyser. The english word geyser comes from the Icelandic geysir. The eruptions are not huge but they are frequent, every 5-10 minutes. We were able to see at least four erruptions during our stop.
Final stop of the day was Þingvellir National Park. The park is where the first Viking assemblies and parliment met from 930 to 1798. It is part of the Atlantic Rift with one side being the North American tectonic plate and the other being the Eurasian plate. The rift is above sea-level, and you see the edges of both plates clearly. Early Icelanders also carried out death sentences in this area, at least 70 people. Men were routinely hanged or decapitated, but women drowned. Since the sun was getting low and it was getting cold, Dolora and I walked the trail but did not spend a lot of time reading the interpretive signs.
Back in Reykjavik we had dinner at ROK. They serve small plates. Excellent meal. Dolora had Quinoa Salad with Char and Thai Shrimp. For me it was Cured Reindeer, Icelandic Char and Plokkfiskur (Traditional Icelandic Fish Pie). We passed up dessert so we could go for some ice cream. Dolora had licorice ice cream while I stuck with chocolate. Both were good.