Continuing on with the Nordic theme of my summer in 2015, I avoided warm temperatures and headed to Iceland. The trip was all about hiking the 6-day Laugavegur Trail, but I had time before the hike to check out the capital Reykjavik and drive around the Golden Circle. I took a ridiculous number of photos in the 10 days I was there, it seemed the scenery was changing every half an hour whichever way I looked. Incredible place.
First up was renting a car and driving around the Golden Circle. The roads are in great condition there were surprisingly few other cars on them.
Þingvellir National Park is a World Heritage Site due to it lying in a rift valley that marks the crest of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. It’s basically a giant visible fault line and if I’d had a bit more time, there was some diving and snorkelling to be had in the crystal clear (but freezing) water.
The famous Blue Lagoon. It’s a pretty cool novelty, but far too pricey for what was basically a fancier version of Waiwera Hot Pools in New Zealand.
I think this is the 5th biggest regularly erupting geyser in the world, and also the origin of the word “geyser“.
Kerið Crater. Just casually off the side of the road.
Really really good looking horses. Kinda reminds me of Fabio.
The magnificent Gullfoss. In winter it’s decked out in snow, but I think I like it better in green.
Back in Reykjavik, this is Hallgrímskirkja, an iconic church made by the Lutherans. The Nordics seem to have a thing for unusually shaped church buildings.
One of the coolest buildings I’ve ever see, both inside and out. This is Harpa, a concert hall and conference centre in Reykjavik. Seeing an opera in here would be pretty epic, I had to settle on the guided tour.
Day 1 of the hike was a hard slog as we gained some altitude in almost no visability across some crusty ice/snow. All part of the experience.
A few weeks before I left, it occurred to me that I was going to be in Iceland right at the start of the Northern lights window (Sept -> Apr). Even though we could barely see 5 metres in front of us for most of the day, the weather cleared in the evening when we were drying out in the hut and we were treated to an amazing Northern Lights display over the tops of the mountains. I had no tripod so this was the best I could do.
Day 2 was bluebird which allowed us to see where we’d been the day before and get the best views of the crazy terrain we were covering.
This is my favourite photo of the trip as it sums up everything that makes Iceland so spectacular. On the left is a glacier, in the middle at the back is the volcano that shutdown Europe in 2010, and the lake in the foreground is where we stayed for the night. We stopped here for lunch.
Day 3 we crossed the black desert. It was howling with wind and rain, which I think kinda suited the whole place.
Even though the sun was poking through the clouds, on Day 5 it was still like hiking in a washing machine with a leaf blower pointed in your face. Liberating.
This is what public transport looks like in Iceland, the bus back to civilisation had to do numerous river crossings. Heaps more fun than a night bus in London.