Sunday, 7 April 2013

40 hours in Iceland

So we're finally on our way home back to Australia. On our way, we'll be making stops in America and New Zealand. But before we arrive in the USA, we are making a quick stop over in Reykjavik, Iceland. As we stepped off our flight and made our way outside of the airport terminal, we instantly noticed the crisp clean air. Something that you don't get very much of in the massive metropolis that is London. A light mist sat just above the rocky landscape and as we boarded our transfer from the airport, we were both excited for the next 40 hours in Iceland ahead of us.

Reykjavik, is the worlds most northern capital city. It has a population of approximately 200,000 and the entire country of Iceland only has a population of just over 300,000. The island is built almost entirely on top of black volcanic rock, which makes the landscape look like something from another planet. Iceland regularly have minor earthquakes and also tend to have volcano eruptions every 5 - 10 years.

So what can we do in just 40 hours in one country? As we arrived very late on our first night, it was important we got as much sleep as we could, as our first full day involved us touring the country's famous "Golden Circle". The Golden circle is a route which takes you to some of Icelands most breathtaking sites. We were starting our tour at the Gullfoss waterfall. Also known as the Golden Waterfall, this popular attraction boasts a giant 3 step waterfall which ends with gallons of water falling into a deep crevice spanning 20 metres wide and 32 metres deep. What blows you away with the Gullfoss Waterfall is it’s sheer size. From the viewing point above the falls, it’s an impressive sight, but once you make you way down the footpath and closer to the waters edge, the loud sound of the falling water and the depth of the crevice is a breath taking sight. Photos really do not capture the magnitude of the waterfall.

After several photos and much gazing at the beautiful Gullfoss Waterfall, our tour continued to the Geysir geothermal field. This site was filled with little boiling hot springs all dispensing steam into the air. This trail of steam looked like somebody had lit little spot fires, but as we approached each spring we could see the bubbling water bouncing around like you would see when boiling a kettle. The most popular sight in the field was the “Strokkur” hot spring. Known for it’s erupting water, Strokkur blasts boiling water up to 40 metres high every 8 - 10 minutes. These hot springs and eruptions of water have been happening for the past 10,000 years. They are caused by the build up of water and gas pressure deep in the earths core. Depending on the position of the earths plates, these hot springs have been know to only erupt very rarely, but due to an earthquake in 1935 the Strokkur Geysir now erupts very frequently making it one of the most popular attractions in Iceland.

During our days travels we also had the opportunity so visit an Icelandic greenhouse, which is used to produce some of the countries finest vegetables. Their main product is tomatoes. This completely organic tomato farm, harnesses the geothermal energy created to heat and maintain the greenhouses at exactly the right temperature, perfect for growing vegetables. We were lucky enough to taste some of their natural tomato juice which they produce and sell. This juice looked nothing like any tomato juice i'd seen before. It was not the usual red colour which you come to expect. It looked more like carrot juice. But when we tasted it, it was amazing. No artificial flavours, just 100% natural tomato juice. Bloody Mary's will never taste the same again.

After a long day of sight seeing around Iceland, it was time to head back into Reykjevik and relax. As we set out for a short walk through the town centre, naturally we had to check out the popular beverages sold in Iceland. We could clearly see that the most common drink which was being ordered in bars and pubs was a beer called “Gull”. This locally brewed lager is extremely popular with the Icelandic people. In 2011, Gull won the award for worlds best standard lager, something that the locals are very proud of.  It’s marketed as a working mans beer. It’s clean and crisp taste makes it a favourite and is stocked in almost every bar and pub in Iceland. After some food and a couple of pints of the local brew, we headed back to our hotel with only around 14 hours left until we had to be back at the airport and head off to America.  The next day we were up and out early again keen to make the most of our last few hours in the country. Fortunately one of the most popular tourist attractions in Iceland, just happened to be on the way to the airport. So we wasted no time and jumped on to our tour bus and made our way to the famous "Blue Lagoon". The lagoon is widely considered the best natural medical spa resort world wide. Guests have the chance to bath in the natural hot springs which stay at a constant temperature of 37 -39 degrees. The spring holds over 6 million litres of geothermal seawater, which is renewed every 40 hours. A dip in these hot waters was just what Cara and I needed before heading to the airport. So after a relaxing swim, we boarded our bus and were off the airport and bound for the USA. At the start of our travels 2 years ago, we never thought that we'd ever get the opportunity to visit Iceland. Some times we had to pinch ourselves as we were seeing some of the most beautiful and amazing sites on the planet. Our 40 hour stop over was well worth it and we both would recommend anyone to make the journey if given the chance. For now though it's off to America. First stop… New York City!

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