14.08.2016 - 15.08.2016 15 °C
4am is not usually a good time to set one's alarm... But if one is flying to Iceland, one has to make sacrifices!
We were up and waiting for the tram by 4.30am, again congratulating ourselves on our choice of accommodation as it was right in front of the tram stop - and the tram ticket machine, no problem with that this time! We trammed to the airport along we three Ryanair staff, and then went through the whole check in luggage/security rigmarole. Security took forEVER because the fifty people in front of us had failed to grasp the concept of liquids being in one sealed plastic bag and being in containers of less than 100ml. Our tray was also pulled aside for special screening, but when it was finally our turn, no screening was required at all. But they had made us wait until within ten minutes of our gate close, so we had to do our best people dodging to make it through the labyrinthine duty free shops on time. We made it, we boarded, and then we jolly well flew to Keflavik!
We met Pat and Belinda at the airport - and they even had the decency to smile politely at our handwritten sign despite having just flown for about 28 hours and therefore feeling fairly rubbish. We invested in some tax and duty free purchases at the airport (Iceland's cheapest store!) and then got to know Harald, who would be our transport for the next ten days. Simon was the first to tackle driving on the right, and he mastered it very quickly (partly due to his excellent support crew I assume). We made it into town, checked into our Airbnb and made cheese sandwiches to accompany the party size bag of peanut butter M&Ms. Ah holidays...
Pat and Belinda fought the jetlag and we headed into town where we visited the surprisingly informative Icelandic Phallological Museum. A hard act to follow, but we then went to the Hallgrimskirkja Church and Harpa to admire some Icelandic architecture, before having dinner and then sleeping off the jetlag and the early morning start.
The jetlag wasn't allowed to last for long, because the next day we set off to drive the Golden Circle. With all the other tourists. First stop - Thingvellir National Park, which let us see Oxararfoss waterfall in relatively dry weather, but made sure that we were wetter than the people in wetsuits when we went to see Silfra.
Next on the agenda - Geysir and its lesser known companions. The smell of rotten egg was in the air, the steam was drifting, the rain was drizzling and the tourists were huddled around the gently bubbling pool of hot water. Boom! Next minute, hot water was projected thirty metres into the air. Nicely done, Strokkur. From here, Pat took over the driving and I'm pleased to report that he also proved rather adept at driving on the right hand side. Well done boys.
Gullfoss was the next photo opportunity. Wow. Just wow. If I knew the Icelandic equivalent of totes amazeballs I would use it. The sheer power of this waterfall (technically two waterfalls - the first 11m and the second 20m) was breathtaking. And then the sun came out, and the rainbow appeared, and everything in the world was as it should be.
We dragged ourselves away eventually, and made it to the not-so-secret Secret Lagoon for a soak in the hot water (after negotiating Icelandic shower room etiquette). After a hard day of touring, it was just the relaxation we needed.
We stopped in Selfoss for dinner and then continued home, feeling like visiting Iceland was definitely worth the sleep-depriving flight.