Day 3 - Saturday, July 10 - Golden Circle
Breakfast: Harbour Cafe in Grundarfjörður - (muffins and coffee (the only time we paid in cash so I don't have a record of cost))
Lunch and Snacks: Back at the Bonus Grocery Store in Borgarnes ($17 for groceries and sandwiches)
Dinner: Efstidalur Ice Cream in Laugarvatn ($12)
Hotel: Litli Geysi Hotel in Haukadalur ($231)
Drive: 320 kilometers / 200 miles/ Gas #1 in Borgarnes ($56)
Walk: 20,600 steps / 7.9 miles
Weather: probably the nicest day of the trip with a cloudy morning, sunny all day, and then cloudy again in the late evening with temperatures getting in the low 60's - we actually took our outer jackets off!
Things we missed: Barnafossar, Þórufoss, Into the Glacier tour, Brúarfoss, Friðheimar (restaurant in a tomato greenhouse), Secret Lagoon
Wish we could have spent more time at: Hrunalaug (if we waited, we could have found a spot in the hot spring. If you go, come dressed to get wet - the "changing room" is completely open on one side)
A quick breakfast of muffins and coffee at Harbour Cafe
Time spent: 30 minutes (9:00-9:30)
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We return in full daylight and so that Cathy can visit.
Drive: 3 km / 6 minutes from Grundarfjörður
Time spent: 45 minutes (9:45-10:30)
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Also known as Sheep Waterfall, this is a hidden gem that I found in a guidebook written by Icelandwithaview. It's a beautiful multicolored landscape with a bonus waterfall that you can walk behind.
Drive: 27 km / 22 minutes from Kirkjufell
Time spent: 30 minutes (11:00-11:30)
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The route to Thingvellir takes us back through Borgarnes where we stop for lunch and gas. The National Park is a site of historical, cultural, and geological significance, and lies in a rift valley that marks the boundary between the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates.
Drive: 165 km / 2 hours from Selvallavatn
Time spent: 3 hours (2:00-5:00)
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Gullfoss ("Golden Falls") plunges in two stages (36 feet, and 69 feet) into a 105 foot deep crevice that (and I find this really unique and fascinating) extends perpendicular to the flow of the river. There are several viewpoints, one of which is right next to the upper falls (wear your full rain gear).
Drive: 70 km / 60 minutes from Thingvellir (with a stop at Efstidalur - ice cream for dinner)
Time spent: 1 hour (7:00-8:00)
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Brúarhlöð is a gorge on the Hvitá River downstream from Gullfoss with interesting rock formations and milky blue water.
We thought that waiting until 9:00pm, the crowds would die down at Hrunalog, a rustic hot spring. We were wrong. Even in these Covid times, the place was full. It's well off the beaten path, but the place is no longer a hidden gem.
Drive: 12 km / 15 minutes from Gullfoss
19 km/ 19 minutes to Hrunalog
Time spent: (8:15 8:30 and 8:50-9:15)
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After checking into the Litli Geysir Hotel, we realized that no restaurants were open and we missed dinner. Cathy was not amused. But we got to see geysers at sunset.
All geysers get their name from the Great Geysir here which is now dormant. Nearby Strokkur spouts about every 10 minutes, starting with a dome of blue water, then sending 250 degree water up to 200 feet high. (I'm guess that the ones we saw were closer to 100 feet.)
Drive: 30 km / 30 minutes from Hrunalog
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