Today we “slept” in until 7:40am. We got ready and headed around the corner to a breakfast spot called The Laundromat Cafe. The inside was very cool, kind of setup like a bar. In the middle, the “bar” had books lining the shelving all the way around. Super cool. We sat down and ordered coffee and a basic breakfast. I noticed next to the WC sign that there was a picture of a washing machine. You can actually do laundry here!
After a good breakfast, we walked around the block and checked out a few shops. We decided to head back to the hotel room and take our time getting ready for a long day. The tour would pick us up between 11:30am and noon and we most likely wouldn’t be returning until midnight or later.
We headed out the door and were picked up by our guide, Tinna (pronounced Tin-nah) and once we told her we were from Seattle, she said the two ladies she just picked up were also from Seattle! Sadly I don’t recall their names because I think we got caught up in conversation about being from the same area, when did we fly in, et cetera. They were probably in their early 50s, and they have been together for about 7 years. Both worked in HR, one of them for Starbucks, and offered to put Katie in touch with recruiters she knows from REI & Brooks after she is done with school!
Our conversation was interrupted when we picked up the final group of four. Americans. From Washington, DC. Loud. Bickering. Aged 40-50s. I only remember the husbands names, Don and John, because they were constantly being yelled at by their wives. One lady sounded like Ezma from Emperor’s New Groove, but wasn’t nearly as cool or funny. She decided to say every thought in her head outloud. Gems from the day include but are not limited to: “The sky is blue”. “Are those the hot springs? (while facing the hot springs in front of a hot springs sign). “I saw a flash! (when looking for northern lights. we tried to explain the lights are static and green, and she kept exclaiming that we should look at the white flashing light on the horizon. She also had consumed many drinks by this point“. ANYWAYS, this trip isn’t about her, but mentally blocking her and being…subject to her was an all day event. Lastly we picked up a German couple.
Our first stop was at Þingvellir (Thingvellir), a nature reserve/national park.
When you go to Þingvellir you will clearly see the continental drift between the North American and Eurasian plates in the cracks and faults that traverse the Þingvellir region.
The biggest crack is called Almannagjá, which you can walk trough. There you will be walking between two continents.
Þingvellir is mainly famous for two reasons.
It is a UNESCO world heritage site and the most important place in Icelandic history, because in the year 930 AD the Alþingi – which is one of the oldest parliamentary institutions in the world – was founded there.
Secondly, it has been a nature reserve since 1928 due to its unique tectonic and volcanic environment.
So we took some sweet landscape photos and walked through two continents!
We continued onto our next stop which was at a local greenhouse,Friðheimar, that specialized in growing tomatoes.
We got to know a little bit about the green house, as well as had fresh tomato soup, bread (olive, tomato, cheese, many kinds). On the menu was also 4 different kinds of bloody mary’s, tomato pizza, tomato everything. The water pitcher even had two tomatoes in it haha. It was here that one of the Seattle ladies said to me: “I have a question to ask you, since I noticed you have a DLSR with you. During the northern lights tour, I’m going to propose. Can you take pictures? It’s fine if you don’t get them, but I thought I would ask”. Of course I agreed to it, but internally I panicked because I’ve never done night photography with my camera, let alone be responsible for capturing someone’s engagement photos at the same time! Still, of course I agreed to it, I would make it work. It was really cool that she asked!
We said hi to the horses next to the greenhouse before continuing on to Gullfoss waterfall. This waterfall is magnificent, and we were lucky enough to catch a break in the rain. The sun came out, the skies turned up blue, and a rainbow even appeared next to the waterfall. Truly magical.
Our next stop was at the geyser geothermal area where the geysir Strokker spouts every 5 minutes. Way more faithful than Old Faithful 🙂
Next up was a stop at farm Efstidalur. They have been established as a family farm since the 1700s. We sampled fresh skyr, strawberry ice cream, whey (liquid form, about 2 weeks old), and feta cheese. All were very good.
We said hello to the cows, learned about the family history, said hello to two big Australian parrots, and then loaded back into the mini-bus to Fontana.
Fontana is where we relaxed by putting on our swimsuits and hopping in the geothermal spa pools. They are warm, natural, and overlook a huge lake. It was really nice to sit in some hot water, especially since it wasn’t raining and the sun was out. We sat in the 38 C (100.4 F) water and it was perfect. We chatted with Tinna about Iceland until we had to get dressed and head to the local restaurant in the same parking lot as the hot springs. Unfortunately, Thomas, the German, slipped and hit his toe into the stairs. A medic bandaged his big toe, but apparently he needed to get stitches. There was a couple with a car from the city there who offered to take him. Really sweet, and a relief that Thomas could get back in a timely manner. I’m not surprised that he slipped. In the locker rooms and around the geothermal pools are all tile covered in water, making it extremely slippery. No grip mats or anything. Someone in our locker room slipped and hit her head. She seemed ok, but this place seemed risky for people without flip-flops (which is everyone).
We had dinner at the restaurant, Lindin. I had the lamb and Katie had the arctic char. We shared travel stories with the Seattle couple and in general had good conversation. Dessert was weird. It was layered: chocolate mousse on the bottom, watermelon chunks on top of that, and white chocolate foam to top it off. It was really, really sweet.
From there, we were told the northern lights viewing conditions were extremely poor, even though we had clear skies. They have a scale, 0-9, and tonight was rated a 1. Tinna said tomorrow was rated a 5, so Katie and I might try to do that. We kept our eyes peeled on the way home to Reykjavik for northern lights, but nothing was out there.
Overall, a good day!
Continue Reading: Iceland 2017 | Day 4: Reykjavik & Northern Lights-ON