Monday, 27 March 2017 _ The Journey Begins
Monday morning began with excitement for two reasons. First, this was the day Deb and I were embarking upon our journey to circumnavigate Iceland. Next, this was second time we dined at arguably Iceland’s greatest breakfast buffet at Snaps Restaurant, the ‘Buffet of Dreams’. To start our journey, we allocated a day to check out the ‘Golden Circle’, which is the smaller circle you see in the lower left corner of the map above. Looking back , I think this was an appropriate amount of time to see the major sights of the area. We based our route around a 1pm snorkeling excursion at Thingvellir National Park, which we booked ahead of time. Our route could have been a bit more efficient if we booked this further in advance, so keep that in mind. Deb and I started our sightseeing day at Kerid Crater Lake, which is a volcanic crater. We paid the 400 ISK (~ $3.60) admission and hiked the rim of the crater as well as down to the mostly frozen lake bed. After spending about 30 – 45 minutes here, we were on our way to Thingvellir National Park to meet up with our snorkeling tour.
We arrived at Thingvellir National Park with some time to spare, so we went to the main park area and hiked around a bit. There’s a scenic river that the primary hiking trails follow with waterfalls and an overlook point. This entire area could be checked out in approximately an hour, or longer if you want to take your time.
At 1pm, we met up with Adventure Vikings (adventurevikings.is) to embark upon snorkeling along the Silfra Fissure. This was a pretty unique experience as this canyon is where the North American and Eurasian continental plates meet. It is home to some of the clearest water in the world which along with rare sunny conditions made for favorable visibility. After hearing the water was between 2 and 4 degrees Celsius (36 to 39 degrees F) and it being 5 C outside (41 degrees F), I opted for the dry-suit option whereas Deb stayed strong and went in a wetsuit. This afforded her the opportunity to dive down and check out the canyon a little better where I was limited to floating on the surface. This was fine with me. The excursion took approximately 2 hours with ~ 30 – 35 minutes in the water. The guides at Adventure Vikings were great and very accommodating. They gave us some local knowledge of a couple other things to do in the area that we definitely would have checked out if we had more time.
With the heat fully cranked up in the Volkswagen Gulf, we made our way to the Strokkur Geyser. There are a series of geysers here along with other geothermic activity that are all accessible by a short walk. Definitely read the various information postings as there are some interesting facts on there.
The last sightseeing stop of the day was the Gullfoss Waterfall. There are some tiered outlook points here that are all very short hikes.
After a full day, we checked into Bella Apartments in the small town of Selfoss. The room was very spacious, contemporary and in a location that was walkable to town. After asking the hotel about dinner recommendations, we chose a mid-priced, newer restaurant called Surf and Turf. This was a 5-minute walk from our hotel I could not have been happier with the food. Deb and I shared the lobster soup and I tried horse for the first time, which was DELICIOUS! I know, I know, the Icelandic horses are cute. Yes, but they’re also tasty. Don’t judge me…try it for yourself you’ll never look at those horses the same.