Published: June 29th 2010June 29th 2010
A foot in two contnents
To your right (or is it left?) Europe and to your left, North America
First off, you should know Icelanders are cool. Not as in lacking warmth, but in the groovy sense of being laid back and hilarious at the same time. They're the kind of people you want to hang out with, work beside, get stuck in an elevator with. They know they live in a gorgeous country and they're anxious to share it with you, but despite being tourist friendly, the place is remarkably light on touristy stuff. The tour I did yesterday of the most popular tourist route, the Golden Circle, is typical of this attitude.
My Icelandic pal Osk came with me and for her it was a chance to chill for day and leave hubby to deal with the kids. Smart gal.
About an hour's drive from Reykjavik through lunar-landscape-like lava fields ringed by dramatic mountains, is the site of the world's first Parliament - it's pronounced Thingvellir but the first letter is this odd P-like character that's pronounced "th" - easier to say after a shot of Topas! What makes it fascinating is the area is astride the continental divide, Iceland style. Huge rifts in the earth mark the plates of Europe and North America, the rock heaved up
At the falls
Osk and I at Gullfoss waterfall
by earthquakes, volcanoes and general rocking and rolling of the land. There's a small cafe at the top, but no touristy stuff, no big sign saying "stand here and you're in Europe!" Just a rocky path and a platform with a bright blue Icelandic flag marking the spot where the chieftains spoke to the people.
We saw lakes and rivers, a mind-blowing waterfall and bubbling hotsprings. The birthplace of the word "geyser" is just a simple stone marker. Some smart alek dudes stood in the erupting geyser's spray and got steamed like ball park hotdogs. It's bizarre to look into pools and watch them actually boiling away, sending up clouds of steam.
Back in Reykjavik I had a hankering for a cold beer, but the one wine store was closed and there's no booze sales in convenience stores (just like home) so I hit a funky resto above a tourist shop called Sushi Train for a beer and some delicious food. The plates swing past on a conveyor belt and the price corresponds to the dish colour. The white dish is the cheapest (sung to the tune of The First Cut is the Deepest. Okay, I had two beers). A
fine feast of incredibly fresh sushi and sashimi set me back $24. A good deal, I think.
There are more photos below