Our third day on the island saw us hitting the tourist trail with gusto, which in Iceland means the Golden Circle, a 180 mile loop connecting the country’s principle tourist attractions, or at least those close enough for a day trip from Reykjavik. In typical Renfroe fashion, we shunned the overpriced guided tour on some giant sightseeing bus, and rented ourselves a miniature car instead- I’ve always believed that the best way to see a place is as captain of your own conveyance, be that car, bicycle or boat. It just gives you so much more freedom to go where you want, stop where you will, and see what is interesting to you, not what some banal tour company has in mind. You might miss out on some superfluous commentary, or you might even miss an entire sight that you were unaware of, but at least the things you do see, you’ll see by your own resolve and impetus. I think this quote sums up my sentiment pretty succinctly:
“The ordinary traveler, who never goes off the beaten route, and who on this beaten route is carried by others, without himself doing anything or risking anything, does not need to show much more initiative and intelligence than an express package. He does nothing; others do all the work, show all the forethought, take all the risk- and are entitled to all the credit. He and his valise are carried in practically the same fashion, and for each the achievement stands on the same plane.”
With that sentiment in our hearts, we set out on the twisting, wet asphalt into the Icelandic countryside… first stop, Þingvellir National Park, a place where Iceland’s history is laid down as thick as the plush mats of green moss that cover every rock there. And where the rocks themselves have a history as improbable as the Icelanders- the park sits atop a crest in the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, a slowly widening rift between the tectonic plates that are North America and Europe. Standing in the gap between the two cliff faces that marked the edges of the plates, you could almost feel the Old World and the New World straining to distance themselves from each other, two and a half agonizing centimeters every year. We then took in some pretty cool geysers- though not as impressive as, say, Old Faithful, they had their own claims to fame, one being named Geysir, of which all geysers the world over take their name. Then on to the roaring Gullfoss water fall, the Niagara of Iceland. A few other lesser stops and a lot of driving through mist and drizzle, we successfully circumnavigated the Golden Circle. Kacey might disagree, but for me, it only just wetted my appetite for the rainy little island- I can only imagine how wild and untamed the land gets once you venture past the well beaten paths of the Golden Circle. Perhaps someday we’ll find out…
Until then though, we had to settle for a stop at the appropriately named Blue Lagoon- a massive outdoor hot springs- that you could easily spend a whole day at, unless like us, you were only stopping there for a few hours on your way to catch your flight, as almost everyone else there was as well, because it happens to be cleverly located between Reykjavik and the airport.