We flew into Reykjavík around 10:30 pm on a Saturday night, via Icelandair. We picked up our rental car (which we reserved ahead of time from a rental company near the airport) and immediately drove straight to Reykjavík City Hostel, where we pitched our tent at the conjoined Reykjavík Campsite, which was crowded with colorful tents of other visitors with the same idea. Though bedtime didn't finally arrive until around midnight, it was still twilight—which is about as dark as the island gets in July. We dined on packaged trail mix and granola bars and snuggled up in our brand new, zip-together sleeping bags, which we bought for this particular trip.
Day one dawned (only figuratively, since it never actually got dark) in a drizzle of rain, which explains the lush grass sprouting all over Reykjavík. After spending the first half of the day exploring downtown Reykjavík via the shopping district, most notably Kolaportið, Iceland's only flea market. We ate hot dogs from a food cart for lunch and stopped by a grocery store for a couple day's supply of food on the way out of town. Our objective for the rest of the day was to see the points on the Golden Circle, or basically 3 main spots to visit within an hour's drive of Reykjavík.
Our first stop after a visitor center for afternoon coffee and ice cream (below), was Þingvellir, which is an area of historical, cultural and geological importance (something about Iceland's first parliament being established there), but mostly lots of lush grass, pretty waterfalls and rugged cliffs.
After hiking around and taking lots of pictures of the scenery and each other, we got back in the car headed this time toward Geysir, the beautiful water geyser from which all geysers worldwide derive their name. On the way, we stopped in Laugarvatn to order pizza and watch the world cup finals with a bunch of wool sweater-wearing locals. We also stopped pretty frequently to befriend herds of Icelandic ponies (below), who seemed bored but sociable.
Our last stop of the night, which occurred in total solitude around midnight, was our encounter with Gulfoss, the largest volume waterfall in Europe. We camped in the completely empty parking lot, this time opting to sleep in the back of our 4x4 rather than pitch the tent for a brief overnight. Our sleep was so fantastic that we decided the next morning to skip setting up the tent and opted to sleep in the back of our car each night after that.
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