Iceland’s Interior: Barren but Beautiful

Mike and I wanted to explore another area of Iceland, so we decided to take a bus ride through the center of Iceland to the small town of Akureyri, the capital of the North.  We chose to take this bus ride of 15 hours since it also hit the main sites of the Golden Circle tour, killing two birds with one stone.

The morning started out soggy as it stated raining about 30 minutes before we woke up.  It is not fun to pack a wet tent and get to the bus station in the rain, but we survived and got on our bus to start the journey. 

Our first stop was Pingvellir.  This is where the North America and Eurasia plates meet and there is a visible rift there which grows 1 cm each year!  It is also the location of the original government in Iceland dating back to the 10th century.  Each summer all the chiefs would gather here for a few weeks to make decisions on the laws and hold trials.  It is still a significant spot and the location where Iceland signed their Independence in 1944 from Denmark.  We had 30 minutes to explore the area via a walk way and the bus was to pick us up at the other end.  The valley edges were basalt columns and very much reminded us of Horsthief (a climbing area in Oregon)!  I was itching to climb the cracks and was scoping out good lines!

The next stop was Geysir, the home of the original geyser and how the name originated.  We headed up the pathway toward all of the people.  Along the way there were several small, steaming and bubbling springs.  The colors were beautiful blue.  Strokkur (The Churn) was the big attraction.  The geyser went off every 3 minutes or so to a height of 30m.  The signal is that the pool creates a dome and then it shoots upward.  It was impressive, but I really liked watching all the people with their cameras posed and all the false starts and the audible ohs when it didn’t go off.  It was quite entertaining.  The original Geysir only erupts after earthquakes, so we only got so see it bubble a little.


We stopped in the gift shop to use the WC and it was the most gimmicky shop ever.  My favorite souvenir was a can of Iceland’s Fresh Air!!

Next stop was Gullfoss (Golden Falls).  It was pouring down rain and windy for this stop.  We quickly hiked over for a good look at the falls.  They had two levels; the first was wide and cascading and the second was narrow.  The falls exited into a deep, narrow canyon.  You could get really close to the falls, but we declined since it was really cold and rainy.

This concluded the Golden Circle portion of the bus trip.  Mike and I decided it was a great way to see the sites and that the time allowed was plenty for us, so we were happy with our decision to combine the trip.

The interior of Iceland is dramatic with extremes.  It goes from stark desert to lush river valleys, to glaciers, and lakes.  We really enjoyed seeing the scenery during our bus ride north.  We had several scheduled stops, but at each of them the weather was so dreadful with wind, rain and cold, that we didn’t do too much besides drink coffee and get to know our fellow bus riders.  The fog was also low, so we didn’t get the great mountain views, but we could imagine how amazing they were based on the lower glaciers that we saw.

Our bus driver was an older gentleman who spoke little English.  At each stop, he smoked and drank coffee.  Throughout the trip, he would pull the bus over at all the scenic pull offs to smoke, while all of us would jump off to snap a few pictures in the rain and wind of the foggy scenery.  By the last of these stops, none of us wanted to get off and get wet again!

We arrived in Akureyri at 11pm after a dinner of a ham and mostly mayo sandwich for Mike, a waffle for Sarah and a shared bag of cheese puffs.  The bus driver offered to drive us to the campground which we jumped at.  There were two girls from France who found a hotel room nearby, so we tagged along to see if we could also get a room.  We ended up sharing a 4 bed room with them and we were thankful to be dry, warm and sleep in a soft bed for the evening.


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3 Responses to Iceland’s Interior: Barren but Beautiful

  1. Mary says:

    Sounds like you’re getting to see a lot of the country. Who knew the first geyser was in Iceland?? Learning new things with every blog post. Enjoy your last day in Iceland then on to London – say hi to Princess Katherine for me!

  2. Jonas Fridriksson says:

    You are seeing some of the most amazing sites in the world. Be sure to give my cousins a call. They are looking forward to meeting you and talking about your trip over a bottle of wine. 🙂

  3. Dad says:

    What fun you are having. We miss you terribly, but know you are on an adventure of a lifetime. Enjoying your blog and am going to print it up to send to grandma.

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