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Iceland, Travels

Gullfoss Waterfall, Iceland

One of the most beautiful waterfalls I have had the privilege to see so far is Gullfoss waterfall in the south of Iceland. It’s also one of the most beautiful waterfalls of Iceland and a very touristy spot. Not only because it’s such an amazing waterfall, but also because it’s very easy to get to and it’s part of the “Golden Circle” (along with Pingvellir national park and Geysir).

Before I went to Iceland I had already decided I wanted to at least see Gullfoss. Just the photos alone showed the beauty of Gullfoss and when I was got on route that specific Sunday I was like a kid on her way to the candy store; Gullfoss here I come!!!

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Iceland, Travels

Sjáumst Iceland

Sjáumst is Icelandic for ‘see you later’. And see you later it is, because I’m sure this is not goodbye. I left Iceland this morning and it has been a short trip but it has been amazing. I’ve seen a lot of beautiful places in Iceland. Sights I’ll never forget.

I also met a lot of great people. Something I haven’t mentioned in my Iceland posts before. The people in Iceland are very friendly. They’re helpful and polite and at the same time they stay out of your business. Where people here in The Netherlands would gossip about someone having dinner or lunch by themselves it is very normal for people to do that in Iceland. There are no weird looks or talking behind your back. Instead, they are friendly, chat a bit if you’re interested in talking or leave you alone to enjoy your meal if you prefer that. You see a lot of people eating alone and some bars or restaurants even provide books or magazines for people to read while they eat or drink.

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Iceland, Travels

Golden Circle

Strokkur Erupting It was my last full day in Iceland today, and it was a busy one. I took a tour into the inner parts of Iceland called the Golden Circle tour. We visited lots of beautiful places that are kind of a must see when you visit Iceland.

We started off by visiting Fridheimar cultivation centre. Which is a new stop on the tour, sight wise it might not be as spectacular as a big glacier or a waterfall but it’s very interesting to see how they grow pesticide free tomatoes and cucumbers with the help of geothermal heat (and bumblebees from The Netherlands!).

You find that here a lot; things that are run by geothermal heat, the shower in my hotel room uses it too and even though I had to get used to the smell at first, you don’t smell it at all after a few minutes and it seems to be very good for my hair and skin too. It’s so soft and smooth thanks to the natural geothermal water.

After exploring the cultivation centre and enjoying some home made, delicious tomato soup it was time to head to our next stop; Gullfoss. Gullfoss (Golden Fall) is a huge waterfall where the river Hvita drops about 30 m down. It’s enormous and it made me feel so small. I walked all the way up to the far end of it to get some beautiful photographs and the thundering sound of the water plunging into the depths is deafening but it also made me respect the force that is Mother Nature once more. It is a truly amazing sight to see and a real recommendation to visit when you’re in Iceland. I looked up to the surrounding mountains and they were covered with glaciers. I would have loved to take an adventurous walk onto the glaciers but unfortunately I have too little time this time around, I’ll have to come back for that some day!

From Gullfoss we drove a short distance to go see the hot springs. You just can’t miss them when you’re in Iceland. It’s pretty much what everyone thinks of when thinking of Iceland. One of the biggest hot springs in this area is Strokkur, it shoots up at least 25 m into the sky every 5 to 10 minutes. You have to have your cameras at the ready to be able to capture it, which isn’t easy but it pays to try because it will get you some beautiful photographs.

I was asked by an American couple to take their photo in front of Strokkur, and just as I was about to take some photos, Strokkur erupted and they ended up with some amazing photos of them together in front of a shooting Strokkur. It’s all about luck and timing but I was really happy it worked out so well for them!

Strokkur isn’t the biggest hot spring in this area, that’s Geysir which shoots about 70 m up in the sky. Unfortunately Geysir very rarely erupts these days, if at all. People have been throwing all kinds of things in it to make it erupt sooner to get their photos and videos and it seems to be clogged up. Cleaning it out is a very dangerous job, it might just erupt as soon as some of the clutter is taken out and with that kind of heat you don’t want to be so close, not even in a protective suit.

Iceland is not only a reminder to me of the power of Mother Nature, it also represents her beauty. Nature here is raw, untouched and very beautiful. Being here is a constant reminder why I try to be as eco friendly as I can and why I try and protect our planet. Places like this are worth protecting, there is no planet B.

Which brings me to the last stop of today’s tour; Pingvellir National Park. It’s impossible to describe, you have to see it, it’s just so breathtaking and beautiful. So I’ll let the photos do all the talking.

Pingvellir National Park

Pingvellir is where the American and Eurasian tectonic plates are pulling apart a few centimetres a year. You can still walk on both continents though. So one minute you’re standing on the European continent and the next you’re on the American. If you think about it too much it seems very surreal but it’s just an experience in itself.

Today’s tour was just absolutely amazing. It was a long day with a lot of places to visit but it was definitely worth it. It is a very good way to see a lot of all that Iceland has to offer in a short amount of time. There is still so much more to see but tours like this give a good impression of what the country has to offer. Today is something I’ll never forget, it felt so free and so close to nature to walk around in Pingvellir.

Iceland, Travels

All Aboard!

Me during the Whale tour After yesterday’s disappointment of not sailing out for the whale watching tour due to really bad weather (and I have to admit the sea looked rough in the bay yesterday so I can only imagine what it would have  been like on the open ocean) I found out after breakfast this morning the tour today was ON!

I have to hand it to Elding (the tour company); they did their best to make sure everyone who booked a tour was able to go. They moved the boat to another harbour and even arranged buses to take people there! I got picked up from the hotel and after getting my ticket validated at the Reykjavik docks we were all put on buses to drive us to the harbour in Hafnarfjordur about 20 minutes away.

We got warned beforehand that things could get rough and rocky as the ocean was still pretty wild, but I have to admit, when I found a good spot on the top deck I didn’t think it was as bad as they made it out to be. Boy was I going to regret thinking that a little while later 😉

We slowly moved out of the docks and it started to get pretty cold immediately, which made me extra happy with my newly purchased mittens and hat. As soon as we were off one of the crew took the microphone. She would be our guide for today and she expressed once again it was going to be a rough sail. They even provided us with warm suits and blankets if we wanted to and our guide suggested we also take one of the pills they handed out against seasickness, hunting she would get one herself too.

You know when a crew member tells you they’ll go get one of those seasickness pills you’re in for a ride, but I was still under the assumption I’d be fine; WRONG!
I did decide right away I was going to get one of those warm suits and as I got up to try and walk downstairs I already felt sick! The boat was moving left and right and everyone had trouble walking or keeping upright.
I managed to get downstairs and got myself a suit and a pill. Which I’m really happy about that I did. I made my way back upstairs now in a lovely red suit and slightly turning green. The pills don’t work until after about 30 minutes…

I once again found myself a seat on the upper deck and waited for the pill to start working. Let me tell you that 30 minutes takes forever when you’re feeling really sick and want to just enjoy the sail. I’m just glad I wasn’t the only one feeling sick and looking around most people seemed to have a little green hue around them 😉

Once the pill kicked in I instantly felt better, it felt like I hadn’t been feeling sick at all. Now I was finally able to enjoy being on the open ocean, seeing Iceland from the sea. The boat was still rocking and walking was difficult but I was now able to enjoy it.
The views are stunning and the wildlife information provided by the crew was really interesting, but we unfortunately didn’t come across a pod of whales.

Or at least, most people on the boat didn’t see any whales. When I moved to the other side of the boat earlier, I had a feeling I needed to stay there for the entire sail. And I was right! Just before we started to turn back to the harbour, me and a few people sitting beside me, saw something huge jump out of the water and disappear again in the distance, a big whale! It was only a split second and at first I doubted what I had seen but when I heard others respond in the same way I knew what I saw was what I came for; a whale in it’s natural habitat. My day could not have ended better, even though it was just one whale and it wasn’t up close. As a nature lover and environmentalist seeing a beautiful creature like that in it’s natural surroundings is amazing.

Elding offered everyone on the tour a free ticket valid for 2 years for a new tour, because we officially didn’t see any whales. They saw plenty of whales during the morning tour but unfortunately for most none on the noon tour. I guess that’s how it works, you can’t train them to just show up. I took the ticket and who knows, maybe I’ll be back within 2 years to take another tour.