Golden circle and reykjavik – Fire&ice – day 7
I had not set an alarm and got up at half past seven. In the restaurant hall, the tour groups were already choking down their breakfast. For some strange reason I had to think of locusts…Before leaving, I had an issue to resolve. Yesterday, during a short stop, I received a phone call from booking.com telling that my hotel in Reykjavik had cancelled my reservation. They offered me an altertive that I should confirm. I had a quick look and said yes by e-mail. I sent three messages in increasing urgent tone asking for a confirmation. I received nothing. In the end I called the new hotel myself. Yes, the had received my name, everything was ok. Good, so I had a place to stay. This was important. I had checked the internet and discovered that Reykjavik was sold out! Well, unless you want to pay 500 quid for a nice suite….
I set off at nine and my first destination was not far away: Dyrhólaey, an extension of yesterday’s beach. The sea has formed holes into the rocks, forming arches. The area is also important as a reserve for the local bird population. The was a track to the voewpoint of the great arc, but it was closed for construction…
Today I experienced a more typical Icelandic weather: cloudy with some rays of sunshine and later some short showers. I continued my ride along the south coast. The landscape was changing again. I had not planned a stop there, but the setting was beautiful, so I decided to make a stop at the Skógafoss. Definetely a good idea. The waterfall is very beautiful and I played around with the Halide app if I could change the settings in rhe right way (longer exposure times). I should have tried at home. So I took more or less ‘normal pictures’. Anyway, a very pretty waterfall.
I moved away from the coast and rode inlands. I arrived at the Gullfoss, one of the iconic Icelandic waterfalls. Well, it is big, but I honestly had expected some ‘more’. On the other hand, it would be unfair to compare it with bigger streams like the Niagara Falls or the Victoria Falls that I had the pleasure to visit.
Anyway, when you think that all the water comes from a melting glacier, it IS impressive. In the adjacent shop, I found a country sticker for my pannier that I placed immediately.
The next stop was not far away: Geysir. Yes, this is the mother of all geysirs. I parked the bike and strolled up the hill, surrounded by hordes of tourists. This seems ti he downside of the enormous popularity of Iceland: buses spit out masses of tourists at the touristic spots. In between, there is quietness when riding.
I entered the restaurant/shop complex and acquired two sandwiches for lunch. I never had a lamb sandwich before, a very good idea!
The next stop was again a geological one. Kerið is a crater lake that formed when the magma chamber of a volcano collapsed and a little lake was formed by rhe ground water. In this cloudy weather, the colours were not that strong, but it was good enough for some good pictures. I walked around on the top of the caldera, avoiding too much movement. In this cool climate, a warm gear is great, but when you have to walk, you overheat in no time.
This was the only place where I had to pay an entrance fee.
Now The weather was a mix of of sunny spells and short showers. In entered the Þingvellir National park area, riding through a landscape of bushes and small trees. This is probably rhe closwst you get to a forest here. I arrived at the visitor centre and topk some pictures from the lake. Thingvellir is a special place on Iceland. The lake is the largest in Iceland, home to many species. Geologically, it is located on the rift between the European and the American plate that are constantly moving apart (geologically, but maybe as well politically).
In the centre, I visited the exposition on the importance of the place as a ‘thing’, or better ‘alþing’, the old Germanic place to hold frequent tribunals to settle disputes and to speak law. The ‘Althing’ meant that this was the supreme court of Island for almost a millenium. At this place, the independent Islandic Republic was declared in 1944. All in all, a place embedded in Islandic history.
I only had a lasr descent to Reykjavik in front of me. Close to the city, I filled up and checked my oil. I topped up the chain lubricant and checked the tyre pressure. After 920 km riding in Iceland, I discovered a novelty: red lights!!! And some Friday evening rush hour. I took a little detour through rhe city centre and arrived at the hotel. The reception was very friendly and I was told that the stay was already pre-paid (a gift from booking.com?). I had a shower and lefr for a walk through the small city centre. It is very nordic, but cozy and apparently lively.
I walked to the restaurant I had booked – albeit one hour too early. Luckily, this was not a problem. It was the restaurant ‘Matur og Drykkur’. In Iceland, many places are simply describing what they are. Like in this case, ‘eating and drinking’. Plain, simple. They serve a six course meal and I ordered wine pairing as well pairing as well. All in all, it was very good, using local ingredients. The sea weed tempura was surprisingly good, the roasted lamb divine. I was positively surprised by the Snorri No.10 beer, this is up to the level of a good Belgian Triple! I had the impression that someone must have given a very good recommendation in an American travel guide as almost all guest seemed to be Americans; except the Catalan couple next to me who thought that nobody could understand them. Well, I could. Luckily, the noise increased so I could not overhear their private conversation anymore.
I walked back to the hotel, making a stopover in the centre. In a bar, a live jazz band was performing very well and I discovered that they sold a Talisker 18 years for a reasonable price (considering this was Iceland). I had a dram in front of the bar and continued typing this report.
Reykjavik is the northernmost capital in the world, and a small one. A few minutes later, I was back at the hotel. It’s a small, but nice city.
I’m afraid that tomorrow, I’ll be running out of luck: in the afternoon, some heavy rain will cross my way. The northwest is my destination now.