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Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Day 12: Reykjavik, Whales and the Golden Circle


We had been thinking  about spending the day in Þingvellir (read Thingvellir) as we were keen on seeing the continental tectonic rift, but the weather wasn't really too inviting. Besides, we've booked an evening (summer in Iceland where the sun doesn't really go down) tour online long before that covered Þingvellir. We decided to take another look at Reykjavík

To spice things up, we walked to the harbour, arrived at the last minute for a  spontaneously whale watching tour. We first had to wear the thermo-suit or overalls then proceeded on deck. The boat went first to a little flat puffin island. It wasn't really like the cliffs in Stykkisholmur from the beginning of our journey. If you want to go puffin watching, I would recommend Stykkisholmur over Reykjavík


Then we proceeded to see the whales, but there was not much to see. A few times there was a little fin in the distance but nothing more. The guide explained that the water there is pretty shallow and therefore you usually don't see big whales. It turned out just an overpriced boats tour and a bit of a let down. If you want to go whale watching in Iceland, you may better try it in Husavík, the whale watching capital, or if in Norway, try Andenes.


Back on land we walked to the nearby Maritime Museum. There was much to see of Iceland's rich maritime history. 


We decided then to take a look inside the spectacular Harpa Concert Hall, just a short walk away.



After that, we just walked a bit and then went grocery shopping at the shopping street Laugavegur before we returned to the apartment to eat and rest.


We didn't have too much time for the Gullfoss and Geysir when we travelled from Akureyri to Hveragerði a few days before, so we wanted to give it some more time and had booked a Golden Circle Evening Tour. It was to start at the BSI Bus Terminal, so we walked there, but there was no tour. A helpful woman at the desk called our tour operator for us, but there seemed to be a problem with the booking. We had booked the tour online and they had gotten the money from us but there was no confirmation whatsoever. The only email reply we've got was just that they thanked us for booking the tour as well as the booking number. The whole situation made us perturbed, but we somehow kept our calm. The woman at the information desk was really nice and gave us enough information as well as a possibility to go with another company to go on this Golden Circle Tour. She called the Grayline Iceland Excursions and asked for available seats on the bus. Soon the bus came to fetch us, and there were enough seats for a couple more, and soon the trouble was forgotten.

First stop was at Þingvellir which is not just a place of Iceland's first parliament was located but also a National Park as well as a World Heritage Site. Þingvellir is geologically important as you can see the continental rift where Europe meets America or better said, where tectonic plates drift apart slowly.


We continued to the magnificent waterfall Gullfoss. It was great to be there in the evening. It was bright enough and aside from our little group there were almost no people around. There was also enough time so we didn't need to rush.


Next stop was at the Geysir, so we took another go to explore the area. It was really nice to come there again and this time no rush. The Geysir is really a sight to behold esp. when it slowly builds up before it burst out in a water explosion.


As a kind of bonus, the tour guide, which is also our driver, stopped at another waterfall where we could take some photos before we returned to Reykjavík.


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