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.