Reykjavik, Iceland, Day Three: Shannon Day and Excursion

 

You thought the pictures in the first Iceland post were pretty? Well, tighten your belt because these are going to blow your pants off.

 

 

The next day I got up early because I wanted to meet Shannon in the lobby of the hotel when she got in. I overestimated the amount of time it would take her to get into town though, because by the time Jeff got out of the shower, she was knocking on our room door. I was really excited to see her, and she was nice and tired after the plane ride. Jeff got dressed and we all went downstairs for breakfast before the excursion. That’s right, my friend travels 7 hours and 3,630 miles (5,840 km) to see me and I have to make her wait outside so boyfriend can put some clothes on. Worst wifey ever. 
 
We left for the excursion at 9:30 when it was still dark, and we went to pick up people who were still staying in Reykjavik. Our first destination was a geyser. The geyser is called Strokkur, which means “churn” in Icelandic. It blows every 5-7 minutes, and usually at a height around 20m. The water that is blown up is somewhere between 80-100c (basically boiling fahrenheit folks), so very hot. There are many other smaller pools around Strokkur that simply are continuously boiling and bubbling. Before the geyser blows, the water rises up and down a few times, then a big bubble of air comes up, which I think is what forces the water to explode. The geyser first started erupting in 1789 after an earthquake unblocked the conduit. There is a second geyser close to Strokkur, which is supposedly bigger, but unfortunately has become inactive. 
 
Strokkur after an eruption.
Gurgling wanna-be geyser

 

Just before eruption, a steam bubble forms.
The eruption is that bubble breaking through the surface.
And because it was freezing cold, you get a lot of steam.
The bigger geyser that is inactive. Creatively named Geysir.
Next stop on the excursion was Gullfoss, which is Golden Falls in english. There are two theories about why the falls are named as such. One, is that the name refers to the rainbow that can be seen over the falls on a sunny day. The second theory is that a wealthy farmer threw all of his gold into the falls because he didn’t want anyone else to have it after he died. The falls are 32 meters in height total, but are stair-cased 11 and 21m steps. Attempts have been made to turn the waterfalls into a hydroelectric site, but thankfully this never occurred as it would of changed the falls forever. One reason this didn’t happen was because of Sigríður Tómasdóttir, arguably one of the first female environmentalist. Walking up to the Gullfoss was jawdropping because you can’t see how deep the falls are until you walk onto the edge. As you approach the falls, more of it is revealed. I am especially pleased to see the falls during the winter, because the foam and spray of the falls made incredibly interesting ice sculptures. Our tournament director/tour guide (Hanna) was especially nervous about bringing us to the falls because she has had nightmares of one of us falling into the water. As far as I know, we all made it back to the bus safely. You’re welcome Hanna. 
 
Gullfoss
Gullfoss
Gullfoss
Gullfoss – look at that ice in the middle! It looks like broccoli.
After Gullfoss we hopped back into the tour bus and headed towards a geothermal site. Unfortunately, it was snowing heavily during one part of the trip, so it took longer to drive where we were going. Luckily, we had Marcus (Hanna’s boyfriend) conducting a quiz about Iceland, so we were thoroughly entertained (I took a nap). We also learned some interesting and useless facts about Iceland. Such as only 2% of iceland is covered in trees, while 11% is covered in glaciers. The colors on the flag refer to water, sky, and volcanoes. The parliament is called the Alting. Iceland was the first country to elect a female head of state. There is a volcanic eruption every 4 years or so. There are 99 airports in Iceland. And so on. Anyway… As we were driving in the snow, I was more and more impressed by our driver. At one point, we came along two stuck cars on a hill. Luckily for them, there was a bus full of 50 athletic individuals willing to help. So our driver reversed downhill at 20 mph, expertly, without using the rear camera, preferring his head out the window instead. Once he stopped the car, most people piled out, and while some pushed the cars out, I took photos. Some people took the opportunity for a pee break, one guy I saw started peeing into the wind, figured out what he was doing, and then switched to the other side of the road. I thought it was funny. 
 

 

 

Since we missed the geothermal area, we were able to spend more time in the Blue Lagoon. The Blue Lagoon is a geothermal spa, located on top of a lava field. The spa is more or less a huge hot spring, with cloudy light blue water rich in sulphur and silica. Luckily the pool didn’t smell too bad from the sulphur. The pool is great for people suffering from skin ailments, and the silica mud makes your skin smooth for days. Research is done on the water for its application to skin ailments. We were in the pool for a little over an hour, during which we drank from the pool-access bar, explored the pool, and had a snow ball fight. Jeff joined the snowball fight late and snuck up on me and threw a snowball right in my ear. Much to the amusement of the life-guard standing by. 
 
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After we were all clean and soft in our new skins, we loaded onto the bus again and headed to Reykjavik for dinner. We went to a restaurant called the Sea Barin and had amazing Lobster chowder. The chunks of lobster were cooked perfectly. After dinner we went for a walk into the city center (all one street of it) and promptly ran into a cafe. It had been snowing all day, and the roads were full of slush and water, making us very wet and cold. We started playing a game at the cafe, when the lady at our table gets to withen 3 inches of Jeff’s face and basically yells very quickly “Canyouwatchmyphoneforme?” Scaring the lobster out of all of us. I drew a comic interpretation of the situation.
 
When it was time to go, we meet at the location the bus should of been, once again cold and wet from our walk. People promptly began another snowball fight, and also building a snowman. When the bus came, we piled in and headed to our hotel. Shannon went straight to bed, as she had been awake for the most of the past 36 hours. Jeff and I hung out in our long johns (couldn’t be bothered to put anymore on) in the chill out location on our floor and were soon joined by Hanna and Marcus. Hanna was also only in long johns. 

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