Friday, May 06, 2011

Unexplored sights on the Golden Circle

There is much to see on the Golden Circle trip, as I've written about in the past. But as someone who's lived here for a while, I've taken the trip a few times and it's nice to include new sights each time, keep things fresh. I had some friends from home visit this past week and we took a few detours that I had not seen before!

This cave, or series of caves, at Laugarvatnshellar, were inhabited by a family until 1974!! I couldn't believe it but then I saw that their cave-home had a wood frontispiece and a door, and looked like it could have been made slightly homey inside. Still, it's a small cave. Apparently the family would make goodies to sell to visiting hikers and tourists. Now it just shelters sheep and helps with farming.

I had never been down to the edge of Gullfoss yet! The times I've been there it was either with a tour group (no time), or in the winter (too much ice). But this time it was dry, and VERY dramatic. I don't think I've ever felt this close to a roaring waterfall, like I could get sucked over the edge!

We drove out closer to Landmannalaugur, closer to the highlands, than I'd ever been. The road got a little rough but it was worth it- there are so many geological features I'd never seen the likes of yet. The area on top of this mountain was a flat, barren floodplain. There was a mysterious monolithic dam up here, and a lock, that was part of a power plant. When you crossed a bridge over this crazy, eerily silent and lifeless floodplain of black stones, you could see a sign that says 'Caution- area may flood rapidly and unexpectedly, with strong currents.' Not a place to wander off of the main road.

On the bottom of this mountain, however, was a recreated Icelandic homestead, based on the first archaeological site that was explored by researchers. It was awfully picturesque, but sadly the doors were locked. There was a great sign outside of this monument too, though.

The trip this day was horribly windy and rainy at times, but on the way back home, a burning red sunset made it all better. It looked like the mountains were on fire all Lord of the Rings-style. Sauron's territory, perhaps? Keeping watch over the lava fields.

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