search instagram arrow-down

Iceland Day 10/11 – Thingvellir National Park

We may have said this before, but the weather here has been variable. Today was the bad side of variable. We awoke to some solid rain and biting wind. But our time is dwindling and rearranging days due to weather isn’t an option. So off we go with GoreTex and a positive attitude.

Thingvallavatn – the largest natural lake in Iceland

Thingvellir National Park is the only place in the world where the mid-Atlantic ridge is visible above sea level. The rift between the Euro-Asian and North American plates is pulling apart by about 2.5 cm every year. As they pull apart, the land is torn and many ravines are formed.

This is the rip between the two plates

Although the rift is quite wide, this bridge is basically at the center of it, so we are standing in separate continents!

We may look happy but it’s pissing rain and the wind is blowing.
In between the plates

The Silfra fissure is a place where people can snorkel or scuba dive within the rift between the plates. The fissure is up to 200 feet deep in places and the water is amazingly clear.

Europe on the left, North America on the right. Divers in the middle.
Divers in the water
Getting in to the water
Dave straddling the Silfra fissure. And learning his new waterproof boots have failed and he now has wet feet!

Since the weather was so unfriendly today we decided to call it quits and go find lunch. Lindin is a restaurant on Laugarvatn lake, about 30 minutes away. Kris had tempted Dave with reindeer burgers. Turns out the burgers are amazing, and they had yummy seafood soup and local Icelandic Toasted Porter for Kris. At least we were able to salvage part of the day!

An interesting way to have a burger with no bun!

Our last day in Iceland we awoke to clear-ish skies and eventually full sun so we decided to go back to Thingvellir and try the views again. We bid a fond farewell to Moi and Katla (our host’s awesome dogs), threw their ball for them one more time and headed out.

The Almannagja Gorge in Thingvellir National Park marks the edge of the North American techtonic plate. Game of Thrones filmed the Gates of the Moon here as entry to Lysa Arryn’s Eyrie.

The trail leads out of the gorge past Logberg (Law Rock), a rock outcrop that was the location for the assembly of the Althingi parliament.

Drekkingarhylur (Drowning Pool) – Iceland’s reformation in the mid 16th C saw harsh penalties for moral offenses when the Danish crown believed that blood was the only way to cleanse a society’s deep sins. Women convicted of incest or other random fornications were drowned in this pool.

Oxararfoss waterfall on the Oxara River

Thingvellir is also the site of the first Icelandic democratic parliament first held in 930 AD. As society developed in South Iceland, the population decided that an assembly would help ease disputes and create a fair society. Thingvellir was chosen as the assembly site as the region was easily accessible for most of the populated areas.

The summer residence of the Prime Minister

Thingvallakirkja – there has been a church on this site since the early days of Icelandic settlement. In 1000 AD the nation decided to give up the Old Norse pagan belief system of Asatru in favour of Christianity.

With that it was time for a quick lunch in the car and race to the airport for our flight home (with a quick stop in Duty Free of course)

Icelandic whiskey – traditionally smoked using sheep dung fire (tastes a bit like wet sheep wool)
A souvenir for Ryan – Brennivin is the local Icelandic infused schnapps, made from fermented potato mash and caraway seeds. The name Brennivin comes from the same Dutch root as brandy and translates as ‘burning wine’. It is often called Svarti daudi (Black Death). Having now tasted it, we can honestly say it tastes kind of like alcoholic dirt!

On the flight, we were treated to some stunning views of Greenland and the Canadian arctic.

The edge of Baffin Island

Until next time, bless (goodbye) Iceland.

One comment on “Iceland Day 10/11 – Thingvellir National Park

  1. Walt and Linda says:

    Have always enjoyed your travel pictures, brings back great memories for us. We loved Iceland, spent over two weeks there, circumnavigating the Island. Happy anniversary. Look forward to your next adventure. Walt and Linda

Leave a Reply
%d bloggers like this: