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July 3, 2014

We took a short 45 minute flight this morning from Akureyri back to Reykjavik. Our driver had left last night with our major luggage, drove the bus 5 hours back to Reykjavik and met us at the gate. We then departed for a tour of the Golden Circle - a ring of natural highlights that are Iceland's major tourist attraction.

Rift between two tectonic platesThe first stop was to Thingvellir National Park which is a Unesco World Heritage Site. The park is the location of a major rift between two tectonic plates - the European and North American - which creates a dramatic and growing fissure in the land. There have been alot of earthquakes in the area and these have caused a sinking of the land between the plates and the creation of a huge lake. Each earthquake causes the lake to sink lower and the fissure widens. It is felt that Iceland is slowly breaking apart and will someday be two countries!

Thingvellir National ParkThingvellir is also very important in Iceland's history and culture. It was here that the first parliament was formed and they met from 930-1262 AD. Each summer, people traveled from all over the country to hear the laws of the land. Because they had no written language, the laws were shouted from the rocks on the cliffs at Thingvellir.

Sigrun prepares a picnicSigrun had purchased some smoked trout and lamb from the farmer we visited so we stopped for a traditional picnic in a spot where she used to go horseback riding. We had the smoked meats on brown bread that had been baked in the ground using the heat from the hot springs. And drank a mix of 1/2 orange soda, half malt ale. Unfortunately it was very windy and cold so it was hard to enjoy the special treats.

GeysirOur next stop was a visit to Geysir, which like its name implies, is an area of intense geothermal activity. Puddles of water on the ground literally boil. And of course there is a geyser which erupts about every 5 minutes. To view a short video of it erupting, click here.

Rainbow over GullfossThe final stop on the Golden Circle was to stunning Gullfoss meaning golden waterfall. Three tiers of rushing white water drop into a hundred foot deep crevice. We got great views of the falls from an overlook, then walked down a path for a closer look. There was even a rainbow over the falls. To see a short video of the falls, click here.





Faxa WaterfallsThough not one of the major Golden Circle sites, we made an extra stop at one of our guide's favorite waterfalls - Faxa Waterfalls - which means horse's mane. There was a fish ladder on the side for the salmon to climb. To view a short video of the waterfalls, click here. Sheep sorting pensThis is also the site of a sheep round-up. Each fall the sheep are rounded up from the hillsides, brought together and sorted into slots by owner so they can take them back to their farms for the winter.

We were so lucky with the weather. During our drive around the circle we experienced alot of rain. But each time we stopped, so did the rain. It was pretty windy and cold but that was better than fighting the rain.

We drove to the Hotel Ork in Hveragerdi for a two night stay.

To view more photos from our trip around the Golden Circle, please go to Golden Circle Photo Gallery. To read about the next location visited, go to South Iceland .

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