Happy Birthday

Reykjavik Travel Blog

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On Thursday we had a very busy day ahead of us, so we quickly opened all my birthday cards and fielded calls from all over the world before heading out on a tour. Our first stop was The Hellisheiði Power-Plant, to the south of the Hengill volcano, we had a short tour which explained how the energy is harnessed, I was amazed by the extent of the use of thermal energy in Iceland, all hot water and electricity on the island are from this sustainable source, making Iceland one of the greenest places on the planet.

Our second stop was at Gulfoss – the “Golden Falls”, a 105-foot double-cascade it is by far Europe’s most powerful waterfall. On a sunlit day, the mist clouds surrounding the hammering falls are filled with dozens of rainbows, providing an unparalleled spectacle of colour and motion. At one time the government planned to supplant the falls with a large hydroelectric power plant, but a nearby farmer’s daughter underwent a pilgrimage on foot to Reykjavik, where she demanded that unless the plant was stopped, she would cast herself over the falls. After the nation overwhelmingly came out in her favour, plans were halted and the government purchased the land for a national park, but who knows what might become of it in the future. The wind generated at the falls was phenomenal it was a struggle to stay upright, so we really needed a hot chocolate to warm us after trekking to the water.

After Gulfoss we drove on to the geothermal field surrounding the Great Geyser is the definitive geyser, having given its name to the geological phenomena. Unfortunately the infamous Geyser has not spouted for 10 years after locals threw things in it to encourage it to spurt, but The Strokkur, another famous geyser located nearby, gives a performance every few minutes, shooting a tower of water and steam 30 meters into the air. There are other attractions apart from the magnificent geysers. For example, Blesi, a hot spring with water the colour of turquoise delights the senses. There is also a hotel and a visitor centre here where we stopped for lunch and ate our fill of warming soup!

The final stop for the trip was the Þingvellir National Park. In this park you can see the fissure between the tectonic plates, so you can walk from North America to Europe in the geological sense. Most of the fissure between the plates lies under Lake Þingvallavatn, the largest lake in Iceland. The tectonic plates are moving away from each other at an average of 2cm per year, and the fissure fills with magma and thus the island grows in size. Iceland suffers regular earthquakes as a result of the movement of these plates and there is a volcanic eruption every century, so it is anything but a settled region. It was in this fissure that the Icelandic Parliament originally met in 930, and it remained on this site till 1783 meeting out door, so there are no buildings or remains here. Nowadays on national holidays and events Icelanders still gather in the park to celebrate.

When we got back in to Reykjavik we got dropped in the city centre to explore, we stopped off for a coffee (there are a lot of bookstores with coffee shops in them) before popping in to the hotel. Unfortunately we found out that the Northern Lights tour we were booked on had been cancelled for the second night in a row, so we headed out for dinner. We treated ourselves to a Thai dinner and some cake (it was my birthday after all) and then headed back home.
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Reykjavik Hotels & Accommodations review
Fantastic hotel, good fascitilies, and helpful staff. Good continental breakfast, and quite central
Reykjavik
photo by: MadeleineGL