Today, the goal is to make it to the Golden Circle, an area that includes a geyser and a waterfall (as well as the original gathering for Parliament, which we’re skipping). I enter “geysir” into the GPS, making sure that I get the proper Icelandic spelling, and it tells us we’re just under an hour away. As we head out, it crosses my mind that we’re heading for the airport, which seems odd, because I don’t think it’s in this direction.
Still, we continue on, getting lost in a particular song that keeps playing on the radio that is completely and totally NSFW. It’s by a guy named Lloyd and it’s something of a screed to an ex-girlfriend of his, and it would never, ever, never be allowed on the radio in the U.S. As we discuss this song, and the many roundabouts in Iceland, and the idea of eating their national food–putrified shark, which is basically cooked in its own piss–and decry the overabundance of black licorice here, we are, indeed, getting closer and closer to the airport. About an hour into the trip, the GPS leads us to a hangar that happens to have the word “Geysir” written on it. dammit. Wrong geysir.
We make the best of it, and it turns out to be a fortuitous diversion. Nearby, there are a couple of lighthouses (we had learned from Sibba that lighthouses weren’t even built here until 1940. Prior to that, ships simply made sure to come during the summer months when it’s light just about 24 hours a day). The lighthouse is a picturesque red and white, but what’s really beautiful is the ocean surrounding it. And I mean surrounding. When we arrive here it’s like we’ve come to the end of the earth. We’re at the corner of the island, and water rushes at us and at itself, creating a layered series of waves, which crash into one another like opposing forces, deep out in the ocean. You can feel their force, taste their salt, smell the putrified shark they seem to be harboring. It turns out to be one of my favorite moments of the trip.
Still determined, we drive the two hours (now) to the actual geysir. Through roundabouts, across lavafields and lush farm lands, we come to an area where there are four steaming, roped off water holes. One of them burbles and bubbles, swishing around in its lair, clearly filled with unbridled energy, and then, with a giant suck followed by a swollen bubble, it erupts, shooting easily 20 feet into the air. It does that five times within the half hour or so that we’re there, showering the poncho-wearing tourists with hot splatters.
We drive about five miles further, heading towards a rainbow that happens to cover the sky and end right at our destination–Gullfloss waterfall. This isn’t the first rainbow we’ve seen. It seems like Iceland gets two a day, and the locals are nonplussed by them, they’re so regular. Gullfloss is a churning, multi-level waterfall that you can walk right up to, looking up at the water coming down and then down at the water as it flows past, leaving a hazy, spirited spray behind to play with the nearby sunbeams.
We head back to our apartment, park the car and then walk along the ocean to get to dinner that night. We’re headed to Hamborgarafabrikkan. This restaurant is Iceland’s version of a Kuma’s or a Burger Bar–serving up gourmet burgers with creative toppings, like Parma ham, hollandaise sauce, egg and other items. We’d actually started to watch a show about the place during our flight. The two owners were talking about how crazy they were to quit their jobs and try and start up a new restaurant with no money and pregnant wives at home. The show wasn’t that interesting.
But the restaurant actually was. Not only is it the most modern environs that we saw in our travels, it’s located across from the white French house where Reagan and Gorbachev agreed to end the Cold War, and there’s a lamb special on the menu that includes the exact menu the two ate that night. (We both passed on that and had burgers).
My favorite moment of the night was when one of the servers walked up to a large, flip-number sign that denotes the population, and added a number to it as the entire restaurant broke out into applause.
Next up: Copenhagen. Read about day four here.