The Golden Circle, Iceland

Image

The Golden Circle, Iceland

“Earth’s crammed with heaven. But only he who sees, takes off his shoes.” Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Everyone who has been to Iceland will tell you that a day trip driving the Golden Circle  is necessary, and they are 100% correct. The Golden Circle is the most popular day trip  from Reykjavik.

The first stop is Gullifoss which I have already talked about.

The next place to visit is the geysir. The English word “geyser” is actually derived from this exact geysir here in Iceland.

There are lots of bubbling pools to check out, along with the two famous geysers, Geysir and Strokkur. Strokkur is the only one still active today, which erupts every 5-8 minutes or so, sometimes even more (meaning you’ll see it shoot out it’s steaming hot water multiple times) What’s cooler than watching a hot spring spout steaming water up to 60 feet in the air without any mechanical support? That’s geology for you.

The last  stop is Iceland’s first National Park, Þingvellir. Not only is it the first national park and Iceland’s largest lake,  but it’s also the location of Iceland’s first Parliament, started back in 930 AD. Back then an assembly of 48 chieftains would gather to discuss Viking law and hold court. It’s regarded as the founding of Iceland as a nation and historically important to Icelanders. Pingvellir has recently been accepted on the UNESCO World Heritage list because of this.

And for all you Game Of Thrones fans, this is also the place where many scenes of the show have been filmed,

 It’s  considered to be  the best place on earth  to view the North Atlantic divergent ridge (where the North Atlantic and Eurasian tectonic plates collide),

The plates are slowing moving apart at around 3cm per year, ultimately meaning the continents are being brought closer together.

I was lucky enough to be able to tour Iceland in a Smithsonian group led by geologist Scott Burns. It was on my bucket list to do Iceland with someone who could explain the rugged beauty, glaciers, climate change and volcanoes. Scott was just intimidating enough for me to know that he knew his stuff, and just as easy-going to answer my questions. I learned so much and it was fun. I look forward to more trips with him. I have a lot of this earth to understand.Thanks for everything.

Fly safe,

JAZ

Advertisements

Geothermic Activity in Iceland Means Hot Pools

Image

“If you want to find the secrets of the universe, think in terms of energy, frequency and vibration.” Nikola Tesla

Flying over Iceland, looked to me like I was  flying over the moon. Vast stretches of land are desolate and rocky due to some of the largest lava flows in history. It is as beautiful as it is bizarre.

We are traveling with geologist Scott Burns and he tells us that there is a lot more to a volcanic landscape than just a bleak lava flow. There is geothermic activity – something Iceland seems to have an unlimited supply of. They get all the heat and electricity they need from renewable sources like hydropower and geothermal power.

 We later make a tour of Hellisheioarvirkjun Power Plant, which is the largest geothermal power station in Iceland. There is an excellent Geothermal Energy exhibition at the power plant on how geothermal energy is harnessed there. https://www.geothermalexhibition.com

However when I hear ‘geothermal’, I don’t think ‘renewable energy’. Nope, the child in me screams ‘hot pools’ which is what I did as soon as I got to Iceland.

 The Blue Lagoon is one of the most visited sights in Iceland. While Iceland is a country brimming with natural hot springs (more later about that), the Blue Lagoon is not one of them.  The land is natural, as is the lava that shapes the pool, but the water is actually the result of runoff from the geothermal plant next door.The plant was built first, and it uses Iceland’s volcanic landscape to produce heat power. The runoff is filtered straight into the Blue Lagoon, which is what heats the water.That doesn’t mean it’s dangerous or toxic — far from it! It’s just not the natural phenomenon that many people believe it to be.

It is forty five minutes away from Reykjavik and closer to the airport so plan your visit accordingly. You have to shower naked for all hot springs in Iceland.  There are some private showers. They tell you to use  lots of leave in conditioner before  but if you put your hair in the water it will be destroyed for a week anyway. They have in water massages and scrubs with the natural minerals. Book the Blue Lagoon in advance because it fills up quickly. https://www.bluelagoon.com

I was looking for a non water massage after the long flight and I accidentally found myself at the Retreat Spa at the Blue Lagoon. It is expensive and unfortunately worth every penny. You experience the hot pools in a private luxurious way with a wonderful attentive staff, darkened rooms for scrubs and masks, fluffy bathrobes, private rooms for changing and showering and you can enter the public hot springs at any time. There were  people there like me who had found it accidentally and others who knew about it.  No photos are allowed. You can stay overnight or buy a day pass. If you have no budget, or can splurge, it is the way to go. https://www.bluelagoon.com/support/retreat-spa

Fly Safe,

JAZ