[ICELAND 2015] Day 5: Golden Circle Tour

Having slept through the whole night on the previous day, I woke up on day five feeling much better. Thank God for my travel mates who came well-prepared with medications :D;

Fortunately for us (and maybe slightly unfortunate for me who's recovering from a cold lol), it snowed heavily the night before, so the landscapes in Iceland has turned into a Winter Wonderland, basically. It does make for a picturesque view, so no complaints from me!

My last day with the BLA group started off with the Golden Circle tour, which is the most popular tour in Iceland and is considered as a quintessential introduction to Iceland's natural wonders.

The first stop on the tour was Thingvellir National Park, an important historical location for Iceland as the oldest existing parliament in the world gathered here back in 630 AD - little wonder it's listed as a UNESCO world heritage! The park itself has some beautiful geological formation and houses the Thingvellir Lake, where you can go for a scuba dive or even a snorkeling session. Yes, even in winter - I should know, because I was mad enough to go snorkeling here a few days later :P

It's like 10am in the morning but you can still see the moon in the horizon

These houses are situated around the area where the oldest existing parliament was! Can you imagine? Also, we were told by the guide that there were a few houses within the Park which burnt down / got destroyed, but they couldn't rebuild it on the park grounds anymore as it's now a UNESCO heritage site and well protected under the governmental laws (I think, a bit hazy on the details, and I don't pretend to know how their laws work lol)
Winter wonderland

The walk through the park was freeezing oh my God this was truly the first day where I really, really felt the cold getting to me (numb hands and all) - it was -9 degrees when we were at the park (lol and here I am, dreaming about going to Greenland in winter when the temperature is even lower than -9deg lololol). The weather, however, was blissfully beautiful. It was the first "bright" day we've had in days, so even though it was freezing cold, it was at least a clear beautiful day.

We made our way to the Friðheimar greenhouse cultivation centre, a family-run greenhouse and one of the main distributors of tomatoes in Iceland. Due to Iceland's often unpredictable weather, the greenhouse was designed to run even throughout the winter season with its artificial lightings. The greenhouse also has a cafe inside - there we bought a cup of tomato soup to see what the fuss is all about. (And yes, the soup comes in a cup - perhaps it's for easier bread dipping.) 

Maybe it's partly because of the cold or partly because we were hungry, but the hot tomato soup was seriously delicious! They even serve bloody mary and virgin mary - we went there in the morning and saw some people ordering it already lol.

After the visit to the greenhouse, we then made our way to the Geysir! The Geysir hot spring is basically where all other geysers get their names from, as it's the first geysir to have an official printed documentations on it. I felt like this was probably one of the more touristy sites in Iceland lol - people-watching was fun here: watching the people gathering around the geysir waiting for it erupt, ready with their camera or phones and other related gadgets, trying to gauge when it will erupt so that they can get a selfie in. Still, when it did erupt, it was quite a spectacle! (And everyone (yours truly included) predictably went "oooohhhh".)

We recharged and had lunch here at the food court / restaurant before making our way to the final stop of the day. 

Obligatory shaky group selfie
Our final stop of the day was my favourite - the Gulfoss waterfall was beautiful! As we reached there right before the sun descends into the horizon, the lighting was spectacular. We didn't have much time to explore around the area, but the view of the waterfall from the top was enough to satisfy us for the day. I would love to come here again and descend some of the steps towards the bottom of the waterfall (which the guide told us was not advisable during winter, as the steps can get pretty slippery).

Obligatory selfie

And with that, we ended the Golden Circle Tour and made our way back to our hostel. The next day I would have to say goodbye to my group of new-found friends as they head back to Malaysia :'(

Go to Day 4 (South Shore Tour) | Go to Day 6 (South Shore & Skaftafell)