This is the second story in our series on the Magic of Iceland.
LUCK AND THE SUN was shining down upon us, I thought to myself, as Nora and I walked down a fence-lined path to get closer to majestic Gullfoss, the waterfall which is one of the main spectacles on Iceland’s famed Golden Circle.
We had arrived in Reykjavík the previous morning. Our plan was to spend the first two nights there before venturing off on an 8-day, self-driving tour of Iceland, much of it on the 800-mile long, two-laned Ring Road that circles the country.
It meant we had a free second day in Iceland to do whatever we wanted, and we treated ourselves to a relaxing and awe-inspiring day tour of one of Iceland’s most popular attractions on what turned out to be one of the most beautiful afternoons of our 11-day expedition.
As if we needed an added bonus, a spectacular rainbow had formed, stretching several hundred feet across the Hvita River which feeds into Gullfoss. The scene had a surreal nature as I snapped some photographs from in front of the falls, with the rainbow appearing to provide a path for some of the hundreds of visitors.
It was our “Welcome to Iceland” moment!
The Golden Circle had already lived up to its grand hype. The walking tour of Pingvellir National Park provided the revelation that we were walking INSIDE the volcanic seams where the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates collide. Anywhere else on earth the seams that shove continents apart sit at the bottom of the sea and are called mid-ocean ridges. But at Pingvellir they sit at the surface and it is possible for someone to have one foot on the North American plate and their other foot on the Eurasian plate.
For the first time I started to realize how many different languages were being spoken within earshot. First I heard a man speaking German. Another family was speaking Spanish with what appeared to be a South American dialect. Then as Nora and I were trying to figure out how to take a picture of both of us with Gullfoss as the backdrop, we heard an English accent we had heard many times before. Yes, it was an American from Boston. Amazing! The kind woman took a great picture of us that will last a lifetime.
The day continued as we made our way to the site of the Strokkur Geysir, home of numerous pots of geothermal activities. Along the horizon interacting with a rock line was a long white streak which was identified as Langjokull glacier, which is where the Hvita River — which becomes Gullfoss — originates.
Although this was day 2 of our stay, in many ways our Icelandic journey was just beginning. We were getting a great preview of the many sights and sounds yet to come. As quaint and beautiful as Reykjavik was, the raw Iceland we were going to drive headlong into was a totally different ballgame.
The game was on!
Check out the entire Magic of Iceland series right here (Click on each link):
Part 1-Overview, Part 2-The Golden Circle, Part 3-Latrabjarg, Part 4-Midnight Sun Drive, Part 5-Westfjords and Isafjordur, Part 6-Fire and the Mountains, Part 7-Date Night at Hverfell, Part 8-Surreal Saturday, Part 9-Beyond Fire and Ice, Part 10–Taking the 939, Part 11-Lost in Skaftafell, Part 12-F208 Dilemma, Part 13-Volcanic Highlands, Part 14-Homestretch to Remember