It’s hard to pack for cold weather when it’s 90 degrees, as it was at home before we left. We did pretty well, but today was a challenge. Snow ringed some of the nearby hills as we left for the Gullfoss falls – not the largest in Iceland, but the largest that is easily accessible. The temperatures were below freezing as we climbed down the stairs from the overlook to the level where I took this picture. Rain, wind, and frozen spray from the falls drove us into the heated gift shop, where “California Girls” by the Beach Boys played on the radio.
We stopped down the road at Geysir, home of the geyser named Geysir that gave geysers their name. Is that clear? Geysir itself has grown quiet, erupting only infrequently, but there are many other geysers there, including Strokkur, which erupts at five minute intervals. In the cafe at Geysir, the Stones and the Doors were playing.
According to Wikipedia, Iceland has about 23 days of rain in September, which fits our experience. Our one sunny day came during our trip to Thingvellir, which not only gave us a chance to admire spectacular autumn colors, but also to explore a spot that is key to Icelandic sagas and to the history of the nation.
Iceland was settled in 870. Sixty years later, the settlers, mostly vikings, formed a national assembly at Thingvellir, on land that was confiscated from a man who was outlawed for murder.
In the best known Icelandic saga, Njal (pronounced NEE-ahl, from Neal, an Irish name) says, “With law our land shall rise but without law, it will perish.” The assembly moved to Reykjavik in 1798, but a quarter of the population met at Thingvellir in 1944 to declare independence from Denmark.
As we left the cafe at Geysir, “Aquarius” came on the radio. “No way!” one of us said, but there it was…