Cinnamon buns, Golden Circle and Green Energy

The answer to yesterday’s challenge: it’s a photo of where the wing attached to the fuselage on the DC10.

We needed to be ready by 8 for today’s tour so John and I were out at 7am to buy breakfast – freshly baked cinnamon rolls from the Braud & Co bakery. We were so early the cinnamon rolls hadn’t been baked so, heroes that we are, we made do with warm almond pastries and cinnamon croissants. They were well worth the trip and might be a reason to move here!

We’re a little sleep deprived and there was muttering from all of us when the minibus didn’t turn up until 8:40. To be fair, we did only have a 2 minute walk to our pick up point or, if we were all a little more agile, climbed over our balcony straight into the minibus. Our guide for day was Ardis from Sterna Tours, a lady with a passion for her home country and an ability to drive a minibus whilst waving her arms around to illustrate her point and looking anywhere but at the road. She was brilliant.

We started at the Hellisheidi Geothermal Power Plant Exhibition. This is built at the base of the Hengill volcano and is just round the corner from yesterday’s mud spitting hole. We won’t give you the history of the plant, or green energy in Iceland, there’s a whole web page devoted to it. What is impressive is the care that’s being taken to protect the resources from over-harvesting and that water leaves the plant, through heavily insulated pipes, at 85 degrees and is still at 84 degrees when it enters homes, in Reykjavik, about 30km away.

Next stop, Kerio crater which, for any geologists out there, is a large scerio crater. All you need to know is that we walked around the top of a volcano and down into it.

Faxi waterfall followed. It is situated on the Tungufljot River which is a surface water river rather than a glacier water river. Apparently it’s easy to tell the difference between the two. Surface water rivers are sparkly and clear, glacier water rivers aren’t – who’d have thought it? Anyway, this is a popular river for salmon fishing and we learned all about the salmon run (just visible on the photo)

Our lunch break was at Geysir where we able to watch the Strokkur geyser spout water every 4-6 minutes. The area is full of boiling mud pits and you are kept well away from them. There are warning signs every few metres reminding you that the water, and mud is 80-100 degrees. There is also a very strong smell of sulphur hanging around the place!

Next was the 32m high Gullfoss waterfall. It was saved from becoming a hydroelectric power station by Sigridur Tomasdottir, the daughter of a local farmer. She campaigned tirelessly to save it and we were rather pleased she did! It is fed by the glacial Hyvita River, can you tell the difference in water colour from the earlier picture?

A short stop Fontana Spa followed. Bread is baked in the thermally heated sand and the water at the edge of the lake is boiling in places. Ardis is the lady in the hat, I think it’s specifically chosen we don’t lose her.

Pingvellir National Park was our last stop of the day. This is where the Eurasian and American tectonic plates are slowly pushing apart at the rate of 2cm a year. Give it a few thousand years and Iceland will be massive! The area is full of fissures where the ground drops as a result of the movement and surrounded by lava fields. There is very little vegetation on many of the lava fields because it is grazed by sheep , cattle and horses. It became much greener when we entered Pingvellir but it’s obvious plants struggle to survive – it’s mainly mosses and a few low growing grasses and shrubs. Any trees you see have been planted, they don’t grow naturally.

Gosh, we seem to have done a lot today and we still have the evening to go. Time will tell if we attempt another viewing of the Northern Lights. We have been really lucky with the weather so far. The sun has shone every day and it looks like there might be clear skies tonight…..