To be completely honest I'm not sure why this tour has become known as the Golden Circle tour since there isn't a glimmer of gold in sight! However, if we think of the word golden as something precious and beautiful to behold then there couldn't be a more appropriate name!
We booked the tour through our hotel and the company they used was Reykjavik Excursions. It came to a grand total of 9.500 krona per person which is approximately £50 and this price includes pick up at and drop off to your hotel. By all means shop around but we found that all tour company prices are much of a muchness. Another option is to hire a car and drive to the sights since there aren't any entrance fees. We met a lovely Swedish couple who were doing just that and you'll meet them in the fabulous little video at the end!
First stop, and quite a random one at that, was to the Friðheimar greenhouse cultivation centre, where you can, and I quote, "learn about the magic behind growing delicious, pesticide-free tomatoes and cucumbers with the aid of the geothermal heat that Iceland has in abundance". I'd never had a huge desire to learn about tomato growing if the the truth be told but I went in open minded and ended up finding it all rather intriguing! Did you know that there are over 10,000 different varieties of tomatoes in the world?? I could probably come up with three or four off the top of my head if I closed my eyes and pictured the aisles of my local Tesco!
In the cultivation centre there are dozens and dozens of rows of tomatoes and I think they make for a very cool picture. I'm loving the symmetry!
On offer for the cold and hungry tourist for a mere 900 krona (£5) is a glass mugful of soup made from the tomatoes that were born and bred in that there greenhouse. Out of all the soups in the world tomato is one of my least favourites, HOWEVER, there was something so unbelievably fresh and tasty and zesty about this particular concoction and the big hunk of sweet cinnamon bread proved a perfect dunking companion.
Our bellies filled with soup and bread and our heads filled with tomato trivia, another 20 minutes on the coach ensued before we reached our next destination, the geothermal active valley of Haukadalur and its geysers. The name Geysir is derived from the Icelandic verb geysa, "to gush" and boy did they gush! Strokkur is perhaps the most famous of Iceland's geysers and I was excited to witness its full explosive glory!
Given that it erupts every 4-8 mins me and Stacy Doll didn't have very long to wait...
It may not look terribly impressive but we were quite a ways up on the hill and the top of the eruption blended in with the surrounding skies. You get a much more up close, personal and dramatic view in the video!
It must be said, however, that geysers do come in all shapes and sizes and I didn't want this little guy to go without his own moment of glory.
All hail Little Geyser!
Back on the bus and we left one stunning natural phenomena and headed straight to another. This one to be precise:
I witnessed Gullfoss waterfall for myself only three days ago and yet I'm still in awe of what I see before me. And no, there is no camera glitch. That is a real, live rainbow which seemed to appear just in time for me to capture it on film and then almost as quickly it dissipated into the atmosphere from whence it came. Truly one of those rare moments in life when you feel your breath catch in your throat. But views such as these are even more beautiful when shared with dear friends.
At the waterfall I also had the privilege of meeting Jarek from Poland, an intrepid traveller who, it turns out, has only three countries left until he has stepped foot upon every single nation in Europe - only Andorra, Portugal and Monaco remain to be conquered! He was an absolutely delightful fella and spoke of his travels with the kind of passion that inspires. Jarek plans to seal the deal on Europe within the next year and I wish him all the luck in the world.
It was soon time to board the bus for our return journey to Reykjavik but not before I bumped into a lively and lovely bunch of holiday making Mancunians! They happily agreed to a group interview for my video and in return I gave them all a little token of my appreciation. There's no harm in mixing a little business with pleasure. ;)
In short, the Golden Circle tour is everything it purports to be and then some. Surely Iceland at its very best.
GW, Stacy Doll, Jarek and six lovely people from Manchester, over and out.
P.S. Following a google search I have now made the "golden" connection!! Gullfoss is translated as "golden falls". It all makes perfect sense now!
P.P.S. Time now for a little video which does MUCH greater justice to the stunning sights featured in this post. But prepare yourselves, Warriors, 'cause she's ready to blooooow!!!
(if you're using an ipad and for some reason the video doesn't open then just click on the top right hand corner where it says "YouTube" and that will resolve the problem! But do let me know if problems persist. I can't fix 'em if I don't know about 'em!)