Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Iceland 2008 - Reykjavik, Geysir, Gullfoss, Blue Lagoon, etc.

Many of Iceland's most popular tourist destinations are all crammed, conveniently within a hundred kilometer radius of its capital city, Reykjavik. Reykjavik, being the world's most northerly national capital city, is a unique place. Walking around in the midnight sun, the term 'city' may not be the best way to describe the place, but by Icelandic standards - Reykjavik is huge. While Reykjavik may not have the many historical sites and monuments of many other European capital cities, it has a bohemian and laid back feel to it. Unfortunately, one of Reykjavik's most prominent landmarks, the Hallgrimskikja Church was undergoing some major renovation at the time - so I was unable to try climb the steeple for views of the downtown area. The statue in front of the church pays homage to Leifr Eiríksson, the man accredited to first discovering the Americas from Europe long before Christopher Columbus and co. made their voyage. The Perlan, a massive dome-topped structure overlooking the city was open however. The Perlan is actually a huge water tank which supplies the city with its water. The building also contains the Saga Museum and the rooftop walkway offers great panoramic views of the city. Reykjavik comes alive at night in which tourists are all invited to join the 'runtur' - the nightly pub crawl.
Reykjavik is the portal to many interesting day trips. Perhaps the most notable of these day trips is the 'Golden Triangle' which includes Geysir, Gullfoss and Pingvellir. Geysir is the world's most sought after natural geyser, and the one in which all of its namesakes are named after. Geysir goes off every 5-10 minutes, opposed to Yellowstone's which takes about an hour to reload, making Geysir undisputed world's premier. Next up on the Golden Triangle is the magnificent waterfall, Gullfoss. In fact, is Europe's largest waterfall and a truly spectacular site. The final piece of the Golden Triangle is Pingvellir - the site where Iceland's parliament was founded. The surrounding lava-constructed environment offers some excellent views and hikes. Another popular destination easily within reach from Reykjavik is the world-famous geothermal spa & pool, the Blue Lagoon. The Blue Lagoon's warm creamy blue water, set in the lava-valley backdrop, is rich in volcanic minerals such as sulfur and silica, making it a healthy destination, as well as picturesque. Another activity I engaged in while in Reykjavik was whale watching. Although nowhere near as intimate as in Greenland, we did see several minke and humpback whales, as well as puffins along the way.
To view more photos/write up of the trip, check my site here:

No comments: