Published: July 27th 2012July 26th 2012
After breakfast it was on to Thingvellir National Park on the north shore of Thingvallavatn, Icelands' largest natural lake. The park is a UNESCO Heritage site as it where the seperation of the North American and European tectonic plates is measured. Here the plates are currently moving apart at 2 cm / year. The rift runs through the center of the country from southwest to northeast and is surrounded by a region of crust breaks.
If anyone offers you a drink of pure glacier water be wary. Think of all the soil and rock that is dragged by glaciers. It takes years for the water to filter out the stuff the glacier carries. For example, water from the Langjokull glacier takes 25 years to make the 35 km trip to Tingvallavatn. Rain water can take 6 months to filter through the lava to the nearest outlet. After all that lava filtering is when it tastes pure.
This area is also the original site of the Althing, Iceland's parliament - the worlds oldest existing parliament. In the early days this site was central to the settlements so the chiefs, and their followers, met here once a year. The Althing has
since relocated to Reykjavik due to geologic activity and population concentration. Iceland currently has a population of approximately 310,00; 200,00 of whom live in Reykjavik.
Next it was on to the Haukadalu geothermal area with a stop in Laugarvain where many of us took to the sulpher waters and sauna of the local spa. When we emerged it was time for a spa side picnic lunch. At Haukadalu we saw Geysir, from which the word geyser comes. Unfortunately, Geysir has been dormant for a few years but, others are active - noteably Strokkur which goes off every 4 - 6 minutes.
We ended the afternoon with a hike up to Gullfoss (Golden Falls). The golden color comes from the sunlight hitting the brownish dirt and rock carried by the glacial water. After tumbling down a three tiered "staircase" the water goes over two drops into the crevice below. The water makes two almost right angle turns from the staircase over the drops and away in the crevice giving the viewer many angles and light aspects to experience the falls from.
After a pleasant 30 km drive we checked in to our hotel in Fludir. It was clear
The mound behind our guide Raggi is a foundation of a former booth where a chief lived during an annual Althing meeting.
that our group of diverse couples and a couple of singles were coming togehter when before dinner cocktails led many of us to the patio. There Poonam, Debbie, and Jess entertained the guys with a spirited discussion on shopping. The guys' parallel commentary was taken in good nature and soon Raggi rescued us from ourselves for dinner.
There are more photos below