(Continued from Iceland Album - Part 3...) It was such a beautiful day when we left Cabin Agnes and drove to Thingvellir National Park where we planned to spend the whole day hiking. I bought the most beautiful little book at the visitor center. I’d been hoping to find an Iceland souvenir that wasn’t the usual, and this was it.
Thingvellir: A Walk Along Memory Lane, by Hildur Petersen and Anna Bjarnadottir, is a beautiful story of two little girls who grew up together in the park (Anna's father was Iceland's Prime Minister during the 1960's.) The park's history and points of interest are woven together with personal memories and illustrated with sketches & photo-collages by Swiss artist, Karin Kurzmeyer. It reminded me a little bit of my flying adventure book, and turned out to be the perfect guidebook for our day. It was so much more interesting than just reading random facts. I wish EVERYwhere had an accompanying guidebook as artful and special as this one!
So we started down the trail in Almannagja (All Men's Rift), and as I was looking at one of the sketches in the book I realized we were standing in the exact same place!
Thingvellir is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It was home to the world's first parliament waaay back in 930AD. The park is also famous for its geology as it sits on the divide between the North American and Eurasion tectonic plates. Usually these continental seams are under the ocean, but at Thingvellir you can literally see the effect of continents moving apart. And there we were walking right down the middle when we hiked Almannagja. So cool. Live Science has a great article about it HERE.
We hiked the canyon trail to the very end, then returned along the lake path, which was dotted with picturesque little summer cottages hidden in the trees.
This one had so much glass it looked like part of the lake.
After a picnic, we hiked in the other direction back toward the visitor center, where we ended the day with ice cream (of course!)
On our last day, we had two things planned that I was sooo looking forward to: a horseback ride, and a visit to the Blue Lagoon. I used to ride and now I miss it, so any opportunity to get on a horse makes me happy. The guides were amazed at the sunny weather… usually you get outfitted with galoshes and raincoats. Not today! The Icelandic horse has two gaits that other horses don’t: the tolt and the flying pace. I’d been on an Icelandic horse before and there's no forgetting that tolt. It's heaven. It feels like riding on a cloud.
Blue Lagoon's geothermal spa was the perfect treat for my sore legs after that ride! Yes it’s kind of expensive and yes the waiting line is long, but it’s worth it just to say you’ve been. The water is the same color as the inside of glaciers — that milky ice-blue — and there are warm spots and hot spots, and mud masks for your skin. Blue Lagoon is one of National Geographic's 25 Wonders of the World, which I thought was pretty cool. By the time we got out we were sooo tired.
The landscape around the lagoon was surreal. We found a giant hole to leave the kids in. “There’s candy down there…!”
We spent our last night at a guest house in the little fishing village of Gardur. It had a view of the sea, but I thought the view of the laundry in the wind was just as pretty.
The next morning we had a hard time getting going...
… but the reward for getting up early was being bumped up to Business Class — sweet! As we waved goodbye to this beautiful country, we all agreed that we definitely want to come back. Thank you, Iceland!