We departed Reykjavik this morning choosing to embrace the countryside over the urban celebrations of Iceland’s National Day. For us the party actually began a little after midnight when volley after volley of fireworks explosions “split the light”. Remember, we haven’t seen darkness since we arrived in Iceland.
Þjóðhátíðardagurinn, celebrates Iceland’s June 17th plebiscite which severed its centuries long ties to Denmark and established the Iceland Republic. Shortly thereafter Iceland joined NATO and is not only the member with the smallest population (350,000) but the only one without a standing army. It is considered the “greenest” nation in the world with almost 100% of its energy needs being met through renewable non-polluting sources, geo-thermal being the primary one.
Iceland is Europe’s second largest island, second only to Great Britain. It is geologically active and is the only place where the tectonic plates of the mid-Atlantic Ridge are found above sea level. Although Iceland is situated just below the Arctic Circle, it enjoys a relatively temperate climate due to the warming influence of the Gulf Stream. Winters are said to be more moderate than those of New York City.
Iceland is geologically young and rapidly changing. These factors contribute to its remarkable beauty. The “Golden Circle” is an arbitrary route outside of Reykjavik that links some of the most popular and accessible tourist sites. It is under 180 miles in length and can be driven in under 4 hours. 6-8 hours are needed to include visits to the major attractions.
Today we mostly enjoyed the remarkable vistas.
However our drive included stops at the Geysir (actual spelling) geothermal area and the stunning Gullfoss waterfall. The Great Geysir has been mostly silent in recent years, but we were treated to multiple eruptions of the Strokkur Geysir which are only slightly smaller than those of Yellowstone’s Old Faithful.
The Gullfoss Waterfall descends over 100 feet in two huge cascades, discharging over 35,000 gallons of water a second into an ancient river gorge. It is breathtaking!
We may give thanks to the tenacity of one woman for the preservation of this wonder.
Tomorrow we plan on continuing our leisurely tour of the Golden Circle and may include some hiking in and around Iceland’s Þingvellir National Park.
In the meantime we are enjoying our rustic but comfortable hotel accommodations which include a bar, restaurant, and the obligatory Iceland spa.
Peace Everyone. Pete
PS. Happy Father’s Day!