Day 1: South Coast and Glaciers
Inside we found icicles dripping from walls and giant snow mounds reaching towards the sky.
A short drive further we arrived at a cluster of waterfalls cascading down black, volcanic boulders into a green moss valley.
Black basalt sand meets rough, white waves from the Atlantic. The waves keep crashing in with such force that one can easily get dragged out to sea.
Back on the road, the landscape quickly changed from black cliffs and yellow fields of moss to white snow-topped mountains and BLUE ice!
During the summer boat tours go out on the lagoon for an up close view of the icebergs.
Our last stop of the night was an ice cave that had naturally formed at the foot of a glacier. The highly compacted ice lacks any air bubbles, making it appear blue.
Ice caves can only be accessed during the winter. When the weather warms in March, they begin to collapse.
Day 2: Snorkeling in the Silfra
What could be better than swimming between two tectonic plates in ice cold 2 degree Celsius water? Okay, a lot of things, but where's your sense of adventure? After getting in at 2:00 AM from the previous night's tour, we were up bright and early again, and on our way to Þingvellir National Park.
The park lies in a rift valley where the North American and Eurasian plates have been pulled and stretched apart. It is one of the few places in the world where someone can stand between two continental plates. Every year the plates drift another 2 centimeters apart, causing earthquakes every 10 years.
Silfra is a large fissure filled with water from a glacier located 50 kilometers away. Water is filtered underground through porous lava rock, for 30 to 100 years before reaching Silfra. This clear, purified water contributes to its incredible 70 meters of visibility!
The water was so unbelievably clear!
Almost every tourist that visits Iceland will end up going on the Golden Circle tour. The three main attractions include Geysir, Gullfoss waterfall, and Þingvellir National Park.
Our first stop of the morning was Hellisheiðarvirkjun Geothermal Power Plant where we learned how Iceland uses geothermal energy for heating and electricity.
Geysir has two options for dining: a grab and go market with hot food baskets and a cafeteria style restaurant with hot soups, a meal of the day, and a buffet option.
Now that we had refueled it was time for the main event! Gullfoss!
After having enough of the cold, we set off towards Þingvellir National Park.
...but first we had to stop and feed the Icelandic horses!
Þingvellir National Park was our last stop on the Golden Circle tour.
Located near the largest natural lake in Iceland.
How's that for a desktop background?
Next we ducked in the Kolaportid Flea Market in hopes of finding a traditional Lopi sweater. These traditional sweaters are made from wool of Icelandic sheep and normally cost between $100 and $200 at the gift shops.
The flea market had used clothing, books, jewelry, souvenirs, a fish market, and an Asian grocery store.
Speaking of food, let’s discuss the Icelandic cuisine...
The typical Icelandic diet is heavily influenced by the sea with plenty of fish, lobster, and the occasional whale.
I said "No, thank you"!
Other protein sources include lamb, horse, puffin, and reindeer.
We chose to try the Icelandic Feast at Sushi Samba, which included a shot of Icelandic schnapps, smoked puffin, arctic charr, lobster, reindeer, lamb, and skyr dessert.
On our last full day in Iceland we decided to take an early bus trip to the Blue Lagoon. Pictures of this geothermal spa have been circulated all over the internet and every tour guide book.
The Blue Lagoon is a man-made lagoon fed by water from the nearby geothermal power plant.
It remains warm year round staying at a constant temperature around 38°C or 100°F.
Icelandair is famous for advertising their free stopover flights in route to your final destination in Europe. From the east coast of the United States, Iceland is only a five and half hour flight. It took equally as long to fly from Italy as it would have from the east coast. While we don’t regret making the trip, it is certainly a vacation that can be made from the states. One thing is for sure, we will definitely be visiting Iceland again!