Proceeding in a small bus from Reykjavík, the Golden Circle (or 10-hour) tour hits the geologic and historic highlights in the environs of the southwest peninsular of Iceland. Within that short distance you'll see more different types of volcanoes than you could possibly remember (Iceland is the geologic hot spot of the world), Hveragerdi (greenhouse heaven of Icelandic tomatoes and bananas), Gullfoss (a magnificent waterfall system), Geysir and smaller cousins, and Thingvellir, the gorge by which the original Icelandic parliament met.
And then there are extras, depending on your tour guide, who also determines whether the tour is 10, 9, 8, or 7 hours. The extras may vary from nothing whatsoever to Icelandic ponies, sunsets, or fine landscapes. Your bus, if you travel in November the way I usually do, may have the additional excitement of becoming stuck in snow.
For the first two of the three tours I've been on (over the years), a pleasant person by the name of Edvard conducted the tourists around the countryside. He seemed a little stiff during the first, but on the second, a vivacious Austrian woman was along. I doubt anyone could resist her; Edvard couldn't -- it was the best tour I ever had anywhere with more additional stops and more additional information.
The third tour was led by a person who, apparently, hated rain, snow, mist, and cold weather. He didn't seem especially fond of people either. But I had a good camera with me that year.
The first highlight is an explosion crater (above). The bus stops by an innocuous little spot, you walk up an equally nondescript and easy slope, and this magnificent scene opens up in front of you.
The water in the crater had frozen to an icy green; actually, if you walk by the harbor in Reykjavík, the water varies in color from a very rich Prussian blue to a very rich icy green. It represents nature's way of saying, "Very, very cold." All the same, it doesn't get that cold around Reykjavík; it only seems so.
Technical note: The background for my entire series of tour spots is taken from a closeup of the rock wall at Thingvellir. For some reason, I take closeups and macros of land, water, and snow. I probably still can't help myself in spite of Fractal Painter, Kai's Tools, and so forth, even though they're so much fun to use.
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