What a day today was! The freedom of having your own vehicle to rip around and see the sights is how I want to backpack every country! Sadly that cannot be done, but fortunately we can do that here. Not much of a choice though as the bus system is almost non existent and it costs roughly 6-7$CND. Which brings me to the prices around this insanely costly town. Here’s just a few basic costs of living for you to gauge an idea on expenses here. A burger and fries from a low end restaurant costs on average about 20-30$ per person, not including a drink! On a casual restaurants menu you’re looking at about 30-40$CAD for an appetizer and around 60$CND for your entrée (if you’re lucky) We’ve seen entrees go for 120$CND per person. A beer at a pub costs no less than 10$ CND for a pint. That being said, minimum wage brings home roughly 48,000$ CND a year. An average one bedroom apartment downtown Reykjavik costs about 2200$ CND a month and a house is usually purchased per square meter at around 7000$CND. So although prices are high it seems to even out slightly with wages. Icelanders spend about 32% of their income on food and groceries. Its pretty crazy. Mark and I love to go out to eat so its been a bit of a challenge avoiding it all as we are always so curious about the atmosphere and food culture of places.
Anywwhhoooo…….today was pretty great. We were up early this morning and out the door by 7am to drive the Golden Circle. This is one of the most popular tourist areas in Iceland and I can definitely see why. Its about a 5 hour drive straight around the Circle if you were not to stop. Our first visit was called þingvellir National Park. The heart of Icelandic national identity and their oldest national park dating back to 930 AD. It is filled with gorgeous walking trails, camp grounds, rich blue waters, volcanic rock with a backdrop of the glaciers. We walked down through the middle of 25m rock cliffs (see first pic below) and over small wooden walking bridges and windy gravel paths to an old church and admired the streams and creeks along the way. It was quite chilly this morning, 2 degrees so walking through open fields the wind really bit at your face. Of course I forgot my buff and didn’t have gloves so I was fine and Mark froze (but pretended not to) after giving me all of his winter gear. He’s such a martyr *eye roll*
One thing I loved most about this drive was the changes in scenery. One minute you’re staring at the glacier, you take a turn and you’re looking at nothing but green and yellow rolling fields filled with Icelandic horses and farm animals. Turn another corner and you’re driving through what seems like endless black volcanic rock covered in rich red and green moss. Its just stunning.
We weren’t able to stick it out too long due to the cold – well mark was cold, I was toasty warm. So we headed back to our sweet ride, a Toyota Aygo. Looks like a Hyundai mini so you can imagine how pimp we both look rollin’ around in that beast, Marks bright red beard blowing in the wind…
Of course I had to make a stop on the side of the road at the first site of Icelandic horses that I have been dying to see up close! And let me tell you they are just as fluffy and cute as I read. They’re much smaller than our horses and have long flowing manes. I think I stood there and took roughly 300 pictures in the freezing cold but it was totally worth it. They were fun to watch and it almost seemed as if they were showing off by running around and playing with each other. So many of them were play fighting like dogs, biting another ones legs and jumping up on their hind legs and head butting and showing off their teeth. I have never seen horses do this before so it was pretty neat to watch.
Next stop along the circle was the Geysir. Another geothermal field abundant in hot springs. Thick hot steam rises up from each pool and the water bubbles like someone’s boiling a pot of water. Under the water is this gorgeous aqua blue coloured stone that reminded me of rocks and marbles I used to collect as a kid. You cannot miss the smell of sulphur here either but it wasn’t as bad as the ones at Sultún. The best part of this place was Strokkur, a fountain Geysir that erupts every 90 seconds spewing water 40m into the sky. We had to stick around and watch it a few times, mesmerized by every single eruption. Buuuuuut it was fricken freezing cause now the more north we’ve gone, the more the wind picks up so we headed to the warmth of our little hatchback.
Gullfoss was next on the list. Two separate waterfalls that almost look like one. The upper falls has a drop of 11m and the lower one 21m. Although you cant get too close to the falls, you are able to walk around the top of them almost towering over the falls. I can only imagine the amount of mist and the thundering of the flowing water if you were so lucky to get close enough to experience it. I love the fact that you can walk up to edges of cliffs here in Iceland and only the really dangerous parts are roped off. Pretty sure that’s for natural selection…
Last but not least – my favourite part of the drive (minus the fuzzy horses) was Kerið. A 6500 year old volcanic crater. This thing is UNREAL. 210m in length, 175m wide and 55m deep. At the bottom of this badass pit was a friggen lake, which is 7-15m deep. You can walk around the top of it right along the cliffs edge which makes for deadly (could be literal) selfies. You can also walk down into the volcano and walk around the inside of it. I picture it as a really good place for sonic the hedgehog to rip around and collect rings. It was pretty funny when a woman asked us to wait at one edge of the lake with her phone so we could get a picture of her and her kids on the other side. Watching her run around the ring while she yelled at her kids to hurry up cause “some nice people are waiting for us” was hilarious. They barely showed up as a spec on her iPhone picture and all and all it took her about 10 minutes to complete the task. We were happy to do it. I couldn’t help myself when she got to us at the end, out of breath, I had to be a smart ass and say “ooohhh god! we have to redo it, you had your eyes closed in the picture!”
We headed home, made it back around 3pm and went back down to downtown Reykjavik for supper. Yes, we caved and went out to eat (after getting a free breakfast at our airbnb and stealing lunch from the breakfast selection). Had a decent meal at Icelandic Fish and Chips. Gluten free battered fish that was caught locally that day (a view of the fishing boats from our window seat) and roasted potatoes. Mark had the Wolffish and I had the Cod. Ketchup wasn’t even free – we had to buy it for 2$ and my honey and mustard dip was 3.70$. No drinks, just water and the one dish each the bill came to 60$CND. It was good, but not 60$ good lol. Ahh well it was an experience. Back to the hostel early as we cant afford to enjoy the nightlife here…plus its a holiday. Excited for tomorrow….