Today we did a tour of the Golden Circle, the main sites in the southwest of Iceland. Getting to the bus terminal was a bit interesting. We were driven by the grandpa of the family from the hotel to some apartments. Then we were picked up by a minibus from the tour company which took us to the main terminal where we boarded a larger tour bus.
Our guide’s name was really complicated, but her nickname was something like Appa, like Abba. I don't know, Icelandic is really difficult. I'm going to give you a brief overview of our tour and then let the pictures do the explaining.
We drove through some beautiful countryside and then stopped at an overlook where we could see steam from geothermal vents. These vents are abundant in Iceland since it is a volcanic island. Of course, the evolutionists believe that it was formed millions of years ago, I postulate that it was formed during the Flood. I mean, the Bible does say that the “fountains of the great deep burst forth” (Gen. 7:11 ESV). Anyway, back to what we did.
We continued driving through beautiful scenery and after about an hours ride, we stopped at a place near a large lake. This location was the seat of government for many years. Iceland has had a tradition of democracy almost since the first settlers arrived. They have one of the oldest parliaments, founded around the year 1000 AD. They met at this location up until sometime in the 1700s. It was a very beautiful place. Our guide said that some of the Game of Thrones TV show was filmed close by. (I'm not saying this because I watch/endorse Game of Thrones, I just had already thought that it was a great place for film and she confirmed that when she mentioned Game of Thrones.)
We then rode to a beautiful waterfall, the biggest in Iceland (I think). At this stop we also ate lunch. Mom and I both tried the traditional Icelandic lamb soup. I thought it was pretty good.
Then we rode to the Geyser area. The first recorded discovery of a geyser was the main geyser in the area. It was named Geyser and all other geysers are named after this one. The big geyser does not spout consistently. When some tectonic activity occurred earlier this year, it did spout, but only for a few days. Before that it hadn't spouted since the early 2000s. There was a smaller Geyser ~50 metres away that does spout fairly consistently. It is not like Old Faithful in that it doesn't spout on a set schedule. We had a treat when we got there though because it spouted three times in a row. Our guide said that's very rare. We watched it spout a few other times as well. I was able to get a burst photo of the water.
There was also a small pool that was so clear that you could see down into the underground tunnels. One right beside it was a very pretty deep blue color.
We then drove to the religious centre of the country. There is a small church at this location, and a church has been there since around the year AD 1000 when Iceland became Catholic. During the Reformation, Iceland became Lutheran and even today, most Icelanders consider themselves to be Lutheran. Unfortunately, today not many Icelanders attend church regularly.
The last location on our tour was a geothermal power plant. It is a very new plant. I believe it became operational sometime within the last decade. It serves two purposes: 1) generating electricity for Reykjavik and 2) heating water to send to Reykjavik. They drill down about 2000–3000 metres into the rock where they extract superheated water. This water is heated by magma and can be up to 300 ºC (572 ºF). This is then pumped up to the surface and the steam is separated from the water. The steam is used to turn the turbines and generate electricity. The hot water is used to heat up cold water (which is pumped from a much higher level in the rock). This water is heated to about 88 ºC (190 ºC) and sent to Reykjavik. The cold water is also used as the liquid in the condensing chamber where the steam from the turbines is turned back into water. This also preheats the cold water so that it takes less energy to heat it up to the 88 ºC. The hot water that is used to heat the cold water and the condensed water from the turbines is pumped back into the ground where it cycles back through.
As we rode back into Reykjavik, our guide sang us a traditional Icelandic love song. She has a very good voice and in addition to being a tour guide, she is an actress.
After the tour, we all agreed that it was a blessing that mom's drivers license had expired. We'd have been so lost if we'd done it alone. And also, mom wouldn't have been able to see the scenery and we wouldn't have had the commentary from the guide. Overall, it didn't seem like a huge bus tour. The guide told us about the places we were going to see as we drove in the bus. Then she let us go and see the sites ourselves and met us back on the bus to take us to the next site. Of course, she was available to answer questions, but we didn't feel like we were in a huge group.
Our transportation back to the hotel was rather interesting as well. We pulled over on a wide shoulder and got out of the big bus and transferred to a minibus which took us back to the apartments where we'd been picked up in the morning. Then we called the man from the hotel and he came and picked us up.
Dinner was very good as well. We had tomato soup (I didn't like it as much as the broccoli, but it was ok), chicken, rice, corn, and salad. It was a simple, homemade meal, but very filling. One funny thing was that the man who'd taken us to and from the apartments took some of the food from the dishes as he passed by. (The food was laid out buffet style, but we were the only people eating.) He casually grabbed a piece of the salad as he walked by once and another time he spooned some corn into his hand. We were very amused about that.
We then tried to organize some of our things to make packing easier tomorrow. Our flight is at 4:45, but we are going to have to figure out airport transportation. It's hard to believe, but we are going home finally after a month abroad.