Friday, August 4, 2017

The Jarvis Holiday - The Golden Circle

Monday, July 31, 2017

To say today was golden would not do it justice. None of the photos below actually capture the incredible beauty of the Icelandic landscapes we visited, although they are still pretty striking

Iceland has a Golden Circle Route which is simply a well touristed circular route to some of the best natural wonders in the Reykjavik area.

Here was the itinerary for our Golden Circle Adventure

1 Hellisheidi Power Plant – Geothermal Exhibition he Hot River

3 Kerid Crater Lake

4 Gesir

5 Gullfoss Waterfall

6 Thingvellir National Park (UNESCO site)– to see the seat of Iceland's first parliament and where the two tectonic plates between Europe and North America meet.

We left the house around 10:15 for what we thought would be about an 8-9 hour adventure. We arrived home around 11:15 p.m with daylight to spare, but completely exhausted. I love the summer when you are near the Arctic circle. Just 3-4 hours of dusk between midnight and 4 am. It makes late night touring possible.

Our first stop of the morning was to the grocery store so that we could get some breakfast and lunch/ snacks for our day long journey. When we arrived at the store, we had to wait outside until 11 am. The grocery store in Reykjavik doesn’t open until 11 am on Monday’s. What! Great place to be an employee. That was a surprise as was the $130 dollars we had to spend to buy enough food for a single day. We purchased bread, cheese and meat to make sandwiches, along with Skyr (Icelandic yogurt) and Icelandic donuts for breakfast. The kids also stocked up on a bit of candy and chips for all the hikes. Food is not cheap in Iceland. In fact nothing is cheap in Iceland.

The highlight of the day for most of us was the hike to the Hot River (stop 2). We all agreed that the online information classifying this as an “easy” hike was completely misleading. Whoever gave it that classification obviously does a lot of intense hiking.

It is a 3 km hike but the first 2 km is straight up hill. There is lots of shale type gravel that makes the risk of falling high. Cathy, Catie, and Hebe all took a spill at various times along the path. Gratefully the worst injury was an embedded rock in Catie’s hand which we will try to get out later, and a shoulder strain by Cathy that could have been a shoulder dislocation had she just fallen back on a single arm. That was a close one.

The 2 km hike straight up hill eventually led to a thin path around a mountain and a descent into the valley of the hot river. We knew we were getting close when we saw not only returning visitors with wet hair but odd patches of steam risking up from the ground.

Thankfully they have signs marking which pools to avoid – like the ones that are literally boiling hot. No swimming here.

We finally reached the part of the river safe for bathing. After a tough climb, it is nice to have a jacuzzi-like soak in one of the hot pools.

We finally reached the part of the river safe for bathing.  After a tough climb, it is nice to have a jacuzzi-like soak in one of the hot pools.

The change rooms at the hot river were in fact not exactly change rooms. They were simply a cross shaped wall built along a boardwalk. However, if you strategically hold up a towel, you can create a triangular space in which to strip down and change into your swimming suit.

Here is Hebe in her Canada swim suit.

It was fun to watch the kids soaking in the hot pools along the river.  Quite a spectacular view and 100X better than the Blue Lagoon.  
The price was right too- FREE.   
We were not successful at getting Eric into the hot pools despite vigorous efforts.  He did oblige us finally and put his feet in for a soak.  Not his cup of tea, but a good sport none-the-less.  
His knees survived, but he will never know the "restorative powers of the hot river."

 Third stop was the Kerid Crater Lake.  
Here we are after hiking around the rim and then descending to the lake floor.

Stop Five - Gullfoss Waterfall

"This is the last place I’m going to visit," was Hebe's declaration after our second stop on this six stop adventure.  She had had it.  Too much walking and quite frankly I had to agree.  

The hike into the hot river was over 15000 steps and that was just the first hike of the day.  

Hebe obliged us at stop number five and walked out to see the Gullfoss Waterfall.  Spectacular.

This glorious moment happened after we left Geyser heading towards Thingviller National Park.  The sun streaming through the clouds was magical, like rays from heaven. 

The clouds parted for just 1-2 minutes and then it was gone.  This photo does not do it justice.

Final pit stop was Thingviller National Park to see the crevice that is forming where the two tectonic plates are moving apart.  

Can you guess what time it is?  Nearly 10:45 p.m.    

I haven't sent a photo of stop number one or four which were also impressive.

What I can say about stop number 1 is that I am in love with how Iceland generates it's energy and hot water. Learning about how they harness geothermal energy at the geothermal plant was incredible. It is a completely ingenious and sustainable energy source that provides both hot water and energy to all the homes on the island. Hard to imagine homes without a hot water tank but here they pipe hot water directly to homes at a temperature of 78 degrees Celsius. The only problem with this arrangement was quickly discovered by Hebe. She can't stand the sulphuric acid smell that tags along for a ride. She can hardly drink the water and announces each time she is forced to take a sip that it smells like a dirty diaper. The water tastes fine, but the odour is somewhat undesirable.

Geyser (stop number four). An Icelandic word that has made it into the English vernacular. Geyser really needs a video to enjoy it properly. I will try to send it in another email when we are back in Montreal.

This Golden Day is done. A visit to the Settlement museum tomorrow morning, a meal of fish and chips and then we are off to catch our flight home.

 So long Iceland.


1 comment:

  1. This was a long post and I enjoyed every word. I was glad to see the Hebe is still wearing her pink Parisienne beret. It still looks stunning.

    Just think of the warm pools of water is so inviting. I don't know what to say except, I wish I had been there.

    You captured the colours in Kerid Crater Lake. Spectacular, the scenery behind you.

    The steam coming out of the pools is surprising, as is the temperature. So glad Hebe was able to stand behind the sign and let us know that things are pretty hot there.

    One more day of your well-thought out adventure. I loved reading about it.