The saga continues…day two of our fantastic trip to Iceland and Norway.

The Golden Circle Tour is very popular in Iceland. It covers some of the big highlights and every tourist company covers these hot spots and calls their tour, the Golden Circle Tour. It may be full of tourists but if you go to Iceland I do recommend it. Having said that, make sure to pick a tour company that is good—not the one we took.

So, day two we begin the day by waiting for the bus to pick us up at Inga’s. And then we wait and wait. They got the wrong address but after my call they finally came back around and we get on our way to the first stop at Thingvelir National Park. We were expecting to hear the driver talk about things we were passing or give us some history behind where we were going—maybe even an overview of the day’s schedule. That was not to happen. All day. Nothing.

Okay then. First stop was Thingvelir, the site of the world’s first parliament. Beginning in 930 AD, each year, the Icelanders would gather (at what was known as the Althing) to hammer out disagreements and vote on issues—one being if they would adopt Christianity or not and how that adoption would play out in their laws. It was very cool—lots of rock formations, a river, and mountains in the background. During the Althing, each family would dig in and stay in “booths.”

Coincidentally also at this site is a split in the earth—a place that the earth is actually forming and expanding the land mass of Iceland. The North American and Eurasian tectonic plates come together here and because of the unique nature of Iceland—being located over a hot spot where there is a massive lava plume coming up from inside the earth, the lava comes up and new land is formed and the earth seems to split apart. I watched an episode on the history or science channel about it and thought it was cool. Evidently I was the only one who thought it was cool. Anyway, we got back on the bus—amazingly we all found it because the driver did  not tell everyone where he would be—and went on to another site close by where we got some great shots of a huge and deep lake formed from glacial ice melting.

As the rain began, the tour continued to the erupting geyser. Guess what it was called. Don’t know? Geysir. Seems that our word for erupting water spouts comes from the old Viking term that means the same thing. This one was the “great geysir.” What I saw looked like an ice version of that sand monster in Star Wars—the one that Jabba the Hut tried to throw Luke into but he and Han and Leah and Lando all escaped. Anyway, it sort of bubbled up like it was blowing a water bubble or burping then BOOM! Didn’t see much at that point—just a lot of water on my camera lens. But it was pretty neat four minutes later when it erupted again.

So we passed up a cool gift shop and warm yummy food at the geysir because the tour driver said the next place was better. Turned out the line was huge, the food was not better and the gift shop was no good. Thanks dude—very helpful. After lunch we walked through the pounding wind and rain to see a gorgeous waterfall. It’s called Gulfoss (I think foss is the word for water fall). I hobbled down the stone path and was rewarded with a brilliant view of a tremendous and huge waterfall that cascaded down a wide river into a narrow gulf surrounded by luscious green hills. Magnificent. Truly breathtaking.

Back in the bus, we got to chatting with the other travelers. One young woman was on her own—originally from down under but working in London. So she had popped on over to Iceland for the long weekend. Must be nice. Another couple was from Seattle. Very nice people—we ended up seeing them again later on. I know we have photos of everyone somewhere and Amy surely has all their e-mail addresses. We got to know each other very well at the next stop—since we were there for about two hours more than is usually recommended for the tour. The Kerið volcano.

Kerið was a stunning crater volcano—with reds and greens and blues dotting the inside of the crater. The bottom of the crater was filled with brilliant blue water. Some young soul went swimming but we passed on that. Amy and Jen hiked to the bottom and got some great shots there. I spent a lot of time at the crater petting one of the cutest dogs I’ve ever seen. This poor thing looked abandoned and was greeting every single car as if it held its owner. Really friendly and cute! The reason we were there so long was that our tire blew out. Earlier I noticed the windshield wipers weren’t really working which troubled me considering how hard it was raining.

Once the tire was fixed we were on our way to some gift shop. The tour promoted it as a greenhouse. Okay, sure. Then on the way home we passed by a plant where they produce a lot of the energy that is used to heat the homes in Iceland. They all use geothermic energy so their bills are only a few dollars a month. Nice!

So, in conclusion—I give two thumbs up to the beautiful wonders of Iceland as well as their historic landmarks. But an absolute minus zero to the Time / Timi tour group. The driver did not speak more than about five words the entire time and they had a major equipment failure among other things.

After the tour we decided to reward ourselves with a trip to one of the geothermic pools. We soaked in the hot tubs and swam a few laps. These hot tubs are known to be a place where Icelanders gather to gossip and talk politics. We talked to a few people but mostly just soaked our bones. On the way back we had a nice conversation with our cab driver. He told us he was in love with a girl from the Miami area who had gotten in his cab one day. When I saw he was learning to speak Spanish I asked if she was Cuban and he was shocked that I would guess that. Dude—I’m pretty sure the only people who speak Spanish in Miami are Cuban decent. Anyway, I couldn’t pronounce the street we lived on but luckily Amy had taken a photo of it. Phew. But first—we wanted dinner and we wanted to try out the famous hot dog stand.

The driver knew where it was so we offered to buy him a dog if he would take us there first. Yes, the hot dogs were very yummy!! I think it had more to do with the toppings but we all would highly recommend the hot dogs at Bæjarins beztu pylsur. The name translates to “the best hot dog in town.” Brilliant. Another wonderful day in Iceland!