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    • Day 11

      All that glitters is not gold

      September 14, 2021 in Iceland ⋅ 🌧 8 °C

      The alarm goes off and with the dawn of a new day we start a new adventure. We load everything back in our car that's parked in front of our chalet and head over to the main lobby where breakfast is served. The premises has about 4 chalets, and we believe only two of them are occupied. It's the first time we have to pick a table and breakfast is served instead of a buffet. After an extensive breakfast with scrambled eggs, toast, fruit, yogurt, and cereals we check-out and decide to go back to Brúarfoss. The hotel owner asked about our itinerary for today and reassured that Brúarfoss is a lovely waterfall although very muddy after rainy days. The pictures we had seen online also promised a spectacular hike to Iceland's bluest waterfall. If we keep up the pace today that should still fit into the planning.

      We park the car on the same tiny parking area at the start of the trail. Unlike other highlights in the area, this is still a hidden gem with little tourists. Maybe it's the mud that keeps most of them away. The trail goes through private property, so tourists are advised to stay on the track and leave nothing behind. In our opinion it's super nice that the owner of this land allows tourists to hike here instead of just putting up a fence and claiming the waterfall as his/her own.
      After a short while into the hike we start to believe that the amount of mud is still okay. With some proper hiking boots there's nothing that really slows you down. However, a while later we arrive at a section that goes through vegetation and little trees. This section becomes very muddy really quick, and we have to carefully look where to place our feet. Rubber boots are not useless here.
      A few minutes later we cross two American tourists that are on their way back. Luckily, they tell us that the muddy section is almost over and the rest of the trail is normal. If we've made it this far, we have to continue! Relieved by this good news we continue and not much later make it out of the woods. We arrive to the river and a first waterfall. Brúarfoss is the biggest waterfall at the end of the trail further upstream. On the way there we'll see two other waterfalls. This must be the first.
      As we see the waterfall and the river, we're blown away by the colour of the water. It is indeed extremely blue! Usually pictures online are edited to make it look more spectacular, so I didn't expect the water to be this blue. After a couple of pictures, we continue the track alongside the river.
      By this point we're already glad that we decided to come back to do this amazing hike and also that we didn't do it yesterday evening. Today is cloudy but sometimes the sun breaks through and brightens the water even more. Yesterday evening was already dusk and cloudy. With the muddy section in the beginning of the trail we would have lost too much time.
      Not much later we arrive to the second waterfall: midfoss. We take out the tripod and take various pictures. It's almost like the river is filled with de-icing fluid for your car instead of water.
      Ten minutes later we arrive to Brúarfoss. The trail ends at a bridge over the river that gives a good sight on the waterfall. We quickly take out the cameras and take our pictures as the sky has turned dark and a rain shower is imminent. Just after we've taken our pictures the first droplets start falling down. Satisfied we head back on the same track to the parking. The rain doesn't last that long and by the time we arrive back at midfoss it's already sunny again. Nevertheless, when we start our muddy section, it's raining again. Once more proof of typical Icelandic weather. Better be prepared for everything when you go out on a walk!

      It's a little before noon when we drive to our next stop: Thingvellir. There is a lot you can read about this national park and its history. It's also one of the most visited areas in the golden circle. In short, Thingvellir is a place where the American and Eurasian tectonic plates are drifting apart. Every year the 6km wide canyon is pulled apart a few centimetres. Because the park is quite big, there are various parking lots. We drive to the parking area in the south, closest to the main landmarks. After having paid for our parking ticket we start our walk in this highly touristic park. To be honest we're not that impressed by the things we see. On our left-hand side there's a wall that clearly forms one side of the canyon. Because of the size of the canyon (6km), we can't see the other side, or at least it's not equally visible as over here. Besides the wall, there's not that much to see. A waterfall that doesn't stand out compared to all the others we've seen so far. Some old houses and a church of a village that has great historic value. According to history, Thingvellir is the place where important meetings were held and where parliament resides. Up until today the summer house of the prime minister is here in the national park. After about half an hour walk in the canyon we head back to the car. It's good to have been here, at least we can say we've seen this place but for us it didn't impress.

      Our next section of road takes us one last time off-road. We're taking the Kaldidalur (F550) which is the shortest highland route on the island. The road takes you between a glacier and a volcano. Obviously, it's calmer here. Most people who visit the golden circle do it by bus or don't rent a 4-wheel drive car to do this road. The weather has turned from cloudy with sun to overcast and at times we can see a blue glacier in between the clouds. Based on the map we have to carefully look to spot the volcano. In general, it's hard to spot a volcano just by the looks of it. There are plenty of active volcanos in Iceland, but most of them you just drive by without knowing it's a volcano.
      Despite this being a short highland route, it slows down our pace. We plan the rest of our day based on the estimated arrival time on our GPS. However, on this road the arrival time keeps moving forward. We'll spend about two hours driving this section before we arrive to Hraunfossar & Barnafoss.
      These two waterfalls are very close to each other and a 1km loop trail takes you passed both of them. Hraunfossar is a special waterfall because the entire length of the waterfall stretches out over more than 1km. The water seems to magically appear from in between the rocks and streams down into the river. We're in luck at this stop because the sun has found its way back to us. The second waterfall, Barnafoss, is further upstream the river and comes down in a small gorge. Compared to Hraunfossar this one is less spectacular. Because of the short trail we're quickly back at the car and continue to our next hotel in Reykholt. Because tomorrow is a very busy day, we decide to already do some highlights today. We'll have to drive the same road again, but at least we don't have to stop anymore.

      We drive passed the hotel and stop at Deildartunguhver. This is the biggest geothermal hot spring of Iceland and probably the entire world. It produces - hold on - 180L of boiling water per second! Before, this water was just lost into the soil. Nowadays, there's a pump station nearby and the hot spring provides all the hot water for two major cities nearby: Borgarnes and Akranes. It's weird to know that the hot water of the shower this very evening will be coming directly from this spring. Next to the spring there is a geothermal spa and a greenhouse that is heated by the water from the spring. You can buy vegetables from the greenhouse here.

      We continue and stop at the Glanni waterfalls. We have to park the car on the parking area of a golf course and continue on foot. After about 1km we arrive at the waterfall. It somehow reminds me of the very first waterfall we saw here in Iceland. We found this recommendation in a guidebook but didn't pop up in many other tourist information of the area. Maybe it's less known or popular. Either way, we like to explore things that are a bit off the beaten track.

      Just across the road we find Grábrók, an almost 3000 years old crater much like Hverfell in the Mývatn area. There's a small parking in front and you can walk around the crater edge on a short 1km hike. We only have to walk up the many stairs to get to the top of the crater. At least they have stairs here, back at Hverfell we had to walk on the loose gravel to get to the top. Would this be a sign that we're still in a more touristic area? The black sand of the crater has some beautiful green mosses that give nice contrast. From the top we have a nice view of the surroundings and another, similar, crater. There are some remnants of an old settlement as well.

      For these three landmarks we can already make a tick in the box for tomorrows planning. Time to head back to Reykholt and check-in our hotel. Hopefully we can finish everything now tomorrow.

      In the hotel we get a gigantic room and wash the mud off our rain trousers. We have dinner at the hotel's restaurant and just before bedtime I quickly visit to the hotel spa that was free of charge. It's a super nice spa with cosy couches and a big fire. There's a sauna and an outside whirlpool. Shame we don't have more time, otherwise that would have been a relaxing end of the day.
      Today we've visited all the highlights of the golden circle area. Tomorrow we'll visit the entire Snaefellsnes peninsula. A bit disappointed by the fame and glory all these golden circle landmarks get, we go to bed. The golden circle is great when you don't have much time in Iceland to get an impression. But if you really want to explore the country and do its nature justice, one has to go further and spend more time.
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    • Day 6

      Fosshotel Reykolt

      October 12, 2021 in Iceland ⋅ 🌧 5 °C

      Unser 6. Hotel in Reykholt. Man hätte im Hotel essen können, aber da wir die 5 Minuten Terrinen eh dabei haben, haben wir heute nochmal die gegessen.
      Nach dem Whale watching sind wir heute über 4h zum Hotel gefahren, da ist dann Anna sogar auch mal gefahren 😅 eigentlich wollten wir noch einen Vulkan anschauen, aber leider hat es da gerade total geregnet. Vielleicht können wir es morgen noch nachholenRead more

    • Day 11

      Auf dem Weg zu Snorri und Robert

      June 16, 2019 in Iceland ⋅ ⛅ 17 °C

      Robert, unser ehemaliger Nachbar, lebt im Sommer in Reykholt in Westisland. Es war der Hauptwohnsitz des mittelalterlichen isländischen Schriftstellers, Dichters, Gelehrten und Staatsmanns Snorri Sturluson. Wir haben uns auf den Weg gemacht, die beiden zu besuchen.Read more

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    Reykholt, 311

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