3 days on the Golden Ring, Iceland

3 days on the Golden Ring, Iceland

When:  September 2016    Weather:  Cold 5-10C

Leica M240.  35mm F1.4 summilux.  15mm voigtlander F4.  NikonP900

 

After a day in Reykjavik, we picked up our car and headed out on highway 1 to our first stop, Pingvellir (pronounced Thingvellir) a place of great historical significance where the Icelandic parliament and legal system originated.  Why they chose this place far from Reykjavik beats me!

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Our start on highway 1 in the open countryside with only a raven for company

 

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The lake at Pingvellir…view from the ‘Law Rocks’ area

 

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This flagpole bearing the Icelandic Flag marks the spot where the Law Rocks was supposed to be..where the first parliament was convened.

 

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scenic corners were everywhere

 

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a pretty little waterfall at thingvellir

 

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where even the moss and heather were pretty

 

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and of course we saw the icelandic horses everywhere we drove…

 

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the next stop on our first day was to visit the hot water springs from which the word geyser was derived… Geysir…an area where there is significant geothermal activity..Geysir is not very active nowadays and rarely spurts..

 

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Geysir bubbling quietly away…

 

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but as quiet as Geysir was, its sister geyser caller Strokkur was anything but….here you see it stirring..

 

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and brewing

 

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and reaching upwards..

 

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to its maximum height before collapsing back into the hole

 

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icelandic building

 

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just a few minutes beyond Geysir is the magnificent Gulfoss waterfall…you can see the spray from miles away and you can hear its roar even before you see it….

 

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low falls…

 

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deep falls….

 

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As night fell, we made our way to the Hotel Grimsborgir, our base and dwelling for the next two days’ touring

 

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the next day dawned dark and wet and foreboding…..

 

Our target on this second day was the national park at Dyrholaey to see the black sand beach and look for puffins!  Puffins inhabit Iceland by the millions in the summer and breed and head for Greenland in late August and early September…so I was hoping there were still a few stragglers…

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along the southern coast road of highway 1, one of the first things we see is the visitor centre at eyjafjallajokull the volcano which erupted a few years ago disrupting air travel wroldwide….

 

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we arrived at Dyrholaey late morning only to be faced with the rainiest weather every with hail…

 

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characteristic outcrop at Vik

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the black sand beach as viewed from Dyrholaey….

 

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moving on to the village of Vik for lunch, the weather was still wet…and so alas there was not a single puffin to be seen…

 

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having given up on the weather at Vik, we visited yet another waterfall at Skogafoss….jsut another routinely beautiful waterfall..

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and heading back westward, we then visited the glacier at Solheimajokull

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close up of glacier

 

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foul weather

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and as we left Skogafoss, the skies began to brighten up and this rainbow appeared….

 

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our last stop before going back to the hotel was Seljafoss…a waterfall which we could walk behind and under …here beautifully framed by a rainbow

 

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from the side up close

 

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spectacular vista

 

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also in black and white

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dream like

 

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backlit seljafoss

 

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the final morning, I wandered around the grounds of the hotel and saw this lovely Redwing in the grey wet morning light

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A volcanic lake at Kerith just a few km away provided some early morning interest…

 

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prettily finged by icelandic flowers

 

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A visit to the southern end of thingvellir showed this juvenile black headed gull in flight

 

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and a pair of magnificent great northern divers

 

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after checking out of our hotel, we stopped off in the nearby Selfoss where the Bobby Fischer Center is located…Bobby Fischer’s world championship chess match against Boris Spassky 40 years ago in Reykjavik had captured the world’s imagination and it was the first time I’d ever heard of the Icelandic capital….so I had to visit it…unfortunately it seemed to have closed for the winter….note the chessboard flooring!

 

On our way to the Blue Lagoon and the airport, our next stop was at a horse ranch called Eldhestar to take an hour long ride on the Icelandic Horse…they are smaller than regular horses and have five gaits, one of which called the ‘Toit’ is unique.  It’s like a fast walk….

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Icelandic horse

 

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the Eurasian starlings liked to perch on the horses’ backs

 

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gorgeous european starling

 

Finishing our ride, we drove through the lava fields towards the Blue Lagoon (supposedly a must do in Iceland).  The desolate landscape was very interesting…

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lava field

 

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Lava field and moss

 

We arrived at the Blue Lagoon at 6pm and joined the hundreds and hundreds of tourists who were visiting this ‘must do’ in Iceland….but you know what?  I think the Blue Lagoon is vastly overrated…it’s crowded, there are queues everywhere even if you bought an expensive premium ticket…the changing rooms are terrible and when you eventually get to the blue lagoon itself, it’s pleasant enough but v crowded too….altogether I would say it was an underwhelming place …if you have been to an onsen in Japan, the Blue lagoon is no big deal……

So ended our Icelandic trip…a unique location, expensive but worth the journey ultimately.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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