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22 September 2013 @ 05:47 pm
More Horses and History - Day 5 of Iceland  
Friday morning began early with getting kitted out in my Viking once again. I had enjoyed the horseback riding well enough on Tuesday that I signed up for another tour on Friday - this time horses and the Golden Circle. (I'm not usually a tour kind of girl, but a lot of the things I wanted to do in Iceland were not things I could easily do on my own (horseback riding) or that were not wise to do on ones own (glacier hikes and caving), so tours it was.)

This horseback riding experience, through http://www.laxnes.is/Laxnes Farms, was actually much more satisfactory than the previous one, so I was very glad I did it. The trail also went through lava fields, but cut through streams as we went and the guides were much less focused on keeping the horses in a strict line, we just had to keep them in a general clump.

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Two fun stories from this ride - First, it was cold and rainy, but I was pretty comfortable in my woolens. When the back of my neck got cold, I put up the hood. A little while later, there was some excited chattering in Icelandic from the guides at the front of the group, then one of the ladies rode down the line, suddenly reversed a few people in front of me and returned to more excited chatter at the front. I didn't really think anything of it until one of the ladies told me after the ride that with my blue-grey hood up, they had looked back and thought I was a ghost. Anywhere but Iceland that would have been silly, but they have a very large proportion of the population that believes in the supernatural, so it sort of made sense. I showed her the photos of what I was going for and she laughed about it. Also, on the ride they told us the posture we needed to take to get the horses to tolt - the special gait that Icelandic horses use. It is very smooth and neat to watch, plus I realized that the posture is essentially what you see on some of the Pictish stones, with the feet way out in front and the rider oddly sitting back. I decided to give it a go a few of the times we were trotting and I got my little horsie to do it twice! :) Here's a picture of me on a stationary horse trying to get the right look:

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Once we finished the ride, I was collected by the bus and we headed off on a whirlwind tour of the Golden Circle - Thingvellir, Geysir, and Gullfoss. I had thought the full-day tour, with its added stops at a thermal greenhouse and other minor locations seemed thin, but the half-day tour was a little rushed, particularly at Thingvellir, but I suppose a lot of people have no interest in the historical nonsense and just want to look at the pretty stuff. Anyway, we only had a few minutes at Thingvellir, but I dashed down to the law rock and back and got to see some of the remains of the booths, despite the limited time.

The Plains of the Thing
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At the Law Rock in my fuzzy Viking hat
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Gulfoss
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It was SO COLD, I seriously considered putting the wool tunic back on. Being wet probably didn't help matters much either - the spray was so strong I was quickly soaked. Though, being already wet, that just meant I had the excuse to go all the way out to the edge of the waterfall to see it up close.
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The stop at Geysir was also really interesting and far too short for my tastes. Geysir does not reliably erupt any more, but Stokkur, the world's most reliable geyser is right next door and so easy to observe. I got to see several cycles, despite only being there for about 45 minutes.
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And up close...
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The crazy colored pools and the geothermal area (think Bog of Eternal Stench) were also facinating, but in much more of a steaming hellscape sort of way.
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Bonus waterfall on the way home
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When we got to my guest house, I got two of the girls on the trip, who happened to be from the same guest house, to take my bag of riding clothes in and leave it on my bed. My bed in the dorm was not hard to identify since I am apparently the only freak in the world who makes her bed in the hostel every morning. :P Thus less encumbered, I went in to town to look for dinner, ideally something HOT. Dinner ended up being a lovely fish fry (cod) at a place that came highly recommended. It was tasty, but super expensive, and I am not sure I can say it was superior to that served by White Lake Resort, though I may be biased.

The plan for the evening had been to meet up with some friends and check out the legendary Reykjavik night life. Unfortunately, when I got back to the guest house, I found that she was ill and not interested in going out. Just as I was trying to decide what to do, the smoke alarm went off. I'm a nosy girl, so I went to investigate. I discovered the cause was some Aussie girls doing their hair before hitting the town, so I asked to join them. IT was a little awkward, but I'm gregarious and, since they had just arrived in town, I was even able to be useful in guiding them downtown. It was a pretty fun night - a Mexican-themed place, then a microbrew place, then some street wandering. However, perhaps I am spoiled by the MadTown scene, but other than the fact that it ran very late, I could not say I was super impressed by the famed nightlife. Still, it was fun and I certainly slept hard as soon as we returned to the guest house.
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world_rim_walke: Cuteworld_rim_walke on September 23rd, 2013 02:12 pm (UTC)
Damn it, now I want an adventure.
eithni: drugzeithni on September 23rd, 2013 02:17 pm (UTC)
Travelblogs, the gateway drug.