If you missed Day One in Iceland, make sure you read that post! Our second day in Iceland we had an all-day excursion booked, which was a nice break from having to drive, navigate, and plan what to do. It was all already planned out for us. We went on The Pearl Tour (mostly the Golden Circle area) with the Mountaineers of Iceland, and they picked us up at our hotel at 8 am.
For the first half of the day we had the van to ourselves with our friends who came to Iceland with us. Later in the day we picked up more people for parts of the excursion. Because of we were a small group we had a little extra time to make a few additional stops than were included in the original itinerary.
Unfortunately the weather was overcast with drizzle — which is very common in Iceland — so these are the best photos I could get.
One of those additional stops was Réttir — the annual sheep roundup. The Icelandic sheep farmers let their flock roam around (yes like roam free around the country!) during the summer grazing period. The sheep are tagged or marked in some way so the farmers can tell them apart. The farmers round up all the sheep throughout September and then they get divided into large pens that are marked by farmer.
On our way to our first stop we saw all the sheep and our tour guide stopped so we could get up close and personal with them. This was also right by a waterfall. I haven’t the slightest idea which waterfall it was but it was a nice bonus.
I wish you knew how hard it was to get a good jumping shot!
It was very much a local event — all of the Icelanders were wearing their Icelandic sweaters — even little kids were there. Tourists were welcome, and there just happened to be a lot of tourists stopping by this day.
After looking at the waterfall and the sheep, we headed off to the next destination — the geysirs (spelled geysers in English). I’ve been to hot springs before but NOTHING like seeing geysers explode. Most of them are dormant, but one, Strokkur, is very active.
Here you can see it erupt in the video! It erupts about every 5-15 minutes.
The water is reeeeeeally hot. Think 176-212 degrees fahrenheit! And really clear and blue. It’s like nothing I’ve ever seen before. The air around Blesi was so hot I had to walk away.
Gullfoss “Golden Falls” was our next stop. It is one of Iceland’s most popular waterfalls and tourist destinations. Keep in mind, the day before we saw Bruarfoss, the blue waterfall, which was small waterfall in comparison but the color was insane. Gullfoss was quite the opposite. It was MASSIVE.
It’s really more like two waterfalls and a giant canyon. Breathtaking.
We ate lunch at the restaurant at Gullfoss. It was good and not expensive, which was surprising!
Next was the most adventurous part of the trip — snowmobiling on a glacier! I have only been on a snowmobile once or twice before when I was a teen on a ski trip out in Colorado. Our driver from the Mountaineers of Iceland drove us out to their facility near the Langjökull glacier where we put on all of the gear they provide for you (and you will need it, the glacier is freezing!). Then he took us onto the glacier. We had a quick lesson and our group was off.
I let my husband drive our tandem snowmobile both legs of the tour. I knew he was excited about it and I didn’t really care either way. I wanted to make sure I could take photos and video of the experience, so it worked out in both of our favors.
Since it was September the glacier was more ice than snow so our path was pretty wet and slushy. The experience was pretty surreal. I was snowmobiling…on a glacier…in Iceland.
ICE CREAM AT EFSTIDALUR II
Surprisingly, Icelanders eat a lot of ice cream. Everywhere we went I felt like they were in their Icelandic sweaters eating ice cream. I feel like in the US ice cream is a very seasonal treat that we stop eating in October and pick back up again in May. But there we were in winter coats stopping for ice cream at Efstidalur II — a farm, horse rental, bed & breakfast, restaurant, and ice cream shop!
They make fresh waffles and waffle cones, and the ice cream is made from the cows on their farm of course. I had one scoop of strawberry and one of chocolate. I thought the strawberry was much better than the chocolate, and my husband had the salted caramel and thought it was delicious.
This stop wasn’t on the actual itinerary for the day, but we had extra time so our driver took us there. I had read about it in my research, so I’m glad we did.
THINGVELLIR NATIONAL PARK
Our last stop for the day (we were pretty beat by this point) was Thingvellir (Þingvellir) National Park. It is a designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site and an important part of Icelandic history as the oldest existing parliament in the world, first assembled there in 930 AD.
The site is in a canyon called Almannagjá which was formed by the meeting of two tectonic plates — the Eurasian and North-American plates — or rather where the plates pull apart.
We walked around the site, where there was yet another waterfall, and soaked up the history.
That evening we were pretty exhausted, but needed to get dinner. So I went through my trusty research and we decided on Noodle Station. Affordable, close to where we were staying, and warm meaty soup bowls were exactly what we needed.
Personally, I thought the food was just OK. The girl working the register didn’t really speak English so she messed up my order which was frustrating, but my husband and the other couple we were there with thought it was great.
After all of that, I was excited for the next day, which started at the Blue Lagoon. Stay tuned for that post and more detailed posts from all of these stops!
Have you been to Iceland? Did you hit up any of these spots?
Photos by Meg Biram.
The Mountaineers of Iceland excursion was provided for me and my husband. All opinions are my own.