Written by the Warrior
The day after we arrived in Iceland, we went on a free walking tour of Reykjavík with a Mechatronic Engineer turned musician/comedian. The tour was superly excellent, but due to my jet lagged state, I can’t actually remember much from the tour other than the fact that the guide attempted to teach us Icelandic. I recall him saying that there are more people in the world speaking Klingon, the fictional language in Star Trek, than Icelandic.
This was entirely appropriate, since to me, Iceland looks and sounds like Klingon, with their loaded consonance…
And the fact that no word sounds like how I think it should. For example, Laugavegur and Laugarvegur.
Laugavegur is the name of a street in the downtown area of Reykjavik (West Iceland), while Laugarvegur is the name of a street in the town of Siglufjörður (North Iceland). Here is the hilarious mistake made by a tourist who ended up looking for his hotel in the wrong Laugavegur.
The guide also told us that we MUST visit Thingvellir.
“What?!?” I said drawing a complete blank, until an American girl in our tour said to me “you are probably thinking that it’s Pingvellir.”
þingvellir National Park is Iceland’s first national park and its only claim to UNESCO World Heritage fame. It is located 40km from Reykjavik and is found along the Golden Circle Route encompassing three of Iceland’s top tourist attractions.
According to the Lonely Planet on Iceland, “the vikings established the world’s first democratic parliament” at this very location in þingvellir National Park.
“Here was where every important decision affecting Iceland were argued out, for centuries”. Doesn’t that just give you the goose bumps?
As if þingvellir National Park is not World Heritage worthy already, it’s also situated directly over a tectonic plate boundary where the European and North American tectonic plates are tearing away from each other as we speak, leaving a landscape that is constantly changing, deeply scarred with beautiful fissures.
I had SO looked forward to coming here. And while I still would recommend þingvellir National Park to anyone visiting Iceland, it is important to note the following,
- it is packed full of people
- while the national park is free to visit, you are charged 200kr ($2) to use the toilet.
Of course, Murphy’s Law. That day, I had to pee all the freak’n time. And being an Engineer, I was clearly too cheap to pay. The combination of my bladder and cheapness might have dampened my experience a little. I would personally have preferred that they charge a park fee, instead of a pee fee. But that is just me.
The second stop on the Golden Circle Route is Geysir, where you can witness first hand of Iceland’s geothermal prowess.
According to the Lonely Planet on Iceland, the word “geyser” comes from the Icelandic word “geysir” meaning “to gush” and there are only about 1000 of these spouting hot springs around the world.
Even though it was packed full of tourists, I must admit that I thoroughly enjoyed visiting Geysir. For one, the toilet was free. Also, the reliable and incredibly impressive Strokkur Geysir was truly a sight to behold.
I even managed to get in a tiny bit of hiking for a glimpse of the lovely surrounding valleys.
The last stop on the Golden Circle Route is Gullfoss, a thundering, double tiered waterfall, fully equipped with a soak zone.
At the end of the day, even though apparently “þingvellir” is actually “Thingvellir”, “alpingi” (parliament) is actually “al-thingk-ee”, “Eyjafjallajökull” (the big volcano that disrupted air travel in Europe) is actually “ay-ya-fiat-la-yo-gootl”, and I can’t remember how to pronounce any of it…
Pizza still tastes like pizza.
And this one from Restaurant Mika found in the town of Reykholt, I’m sure rivals any that you would find in Stromboli.