Remember in my last post where I said that I had heard the Golden Circle tour was maybe not as exciting as its rich name might lead one to believe? And how that had reduced my expectations? Well I’ve thought a lot about this part of our trip, whether I would recommend it here on my blog, or if perhaps reading those other reviews colored my perspective, and I’ve come to a conclusion. I try to go into every experience while traveling with an open mind because I spent a lot of money to be there and I would like to enjoy it if I can. And I think I’m glad I lowered my expectations of this tour. I was never really disappointed with anything we saw, but I also didn’t feel the need to stay longer at any of the places we went. In fact, Emma probably wouldn’t have minded spending less time at some of them, particularly Geysir (Emma, you can correct me if I’m wrong!).
Now, there’s nothing particularly wrong with Geysir, except maybe being ridiculously crowded. But if you’ve been to Yellowstone and seen the geysers there, this place is a little underwhelming and small.
The steams of water coming out of the ground make for a pretty sight though. As do the varying colors on the ground.
As we were getting off the bus, our tour guide told us to “look for the crowd of people and you’ll know you’re in the right spot to see the geyser erupt.” If that doesn’t sound like a ringing endorsement, I don’t know what is (#sarcasm). At least it’s accurate and effective.
We watch the first eruption of the Strokkur geyser and it’s pretty fun.
At this point, Emma is done. I think she’s cold, and she’ not interested in walking around more because like I said above, it’s a bit underwhelming after Yellowstone. She heads into the visitor center for some food and I stick around for another eruption.
Next to the Strokkur geyser is Geysir, the geyser that gave its name to the English word ‘geyser’. Say that five times fast. It’s no longer active, but Strokkur erupts every 5 – 10 minutes.
I try to walk around the loop to see the other hot springs, but half the path is frozen solid. I make a meager attempt to walk up it, turn around and slide back down on my bum. I’ll just go the other way. Not interested in breaking any bones on this trip.
Apparently this is the lucky hot spring that people throw money in and wishes come true? I keep my change in my wallet.
From here, there’s a little lookout point up the hill with great views of the entire area.
The geyser erupting is of course, Strokkur. The one all the way to the left just steaming is Geysir.
It takes me maybe a half hour at most to see everything and we still have plenty of time left, so I head inside to join Emma. She’s had a snack, but we both order coffee at the coffee shop. There are so many tasty treats, but we resist.
Our last stop for the day is the Gullfoss waterfall, the largest waterfall in Iceland. As with every other stop on this tour, it’s packed with tourists.
I really like how it looks all covered in ice and snow. The water looks so blue in comparison.
There are 3 different viewpoints to see Gullfoss. The view in the pictures above looking at it from below. The view from directly above the waterfall on a little walkway that was packed with people.
And my personal favorite view, the one from behind it, looking down through the canyon.
There’s actually another view point which you can see in some of the pictures above, but due to all the ice, it’s closed while we’re here.
Once again our visit is short, but it’s all the time we need to see Gullfoss. We head back to the bus and our hotel and grab dinner at a place called Scandinavia. I have the Icelandic trout. It’s a bit expensive, but it’s SO good.
Tonight is the night we’re supposed to have our northern lights boat tour, but due to weather, it’s canceled. We reschedule for Sunday night and I hope and pray that it will clear up enough for us to go. Since our tour is canceled, Emma coerces me into going to a bar for a couple drinks. We pass American Bar and decide to see what their impression of us is. I admit, it’s pretty accurate.
To close out my review of the Golden Circle – it was a fun day. I’m glad we did it at the beginning of our trip, so we had less to compare it to. I also never felt like we ran out of time at any of the stops, unlike our visit to the South Shore. My friends Laura and Carlan are heading to Iceland tomorrow (!!) and since they are only there for 3 days, I told them to skip the Golden Circle and see the South Shore instead. I think that would be my recommendation for everyone planning to visit Iceland. If you have the time, definitely see the Golden Circle, but make it earlier in your trip so that the sites just keep getting better and better. If you don’t, skip it and spend your time exploring Reykjavik or seeing the South Shore instead.