Bucket List: Iceland
Just setting foot on this small North Atlantic island of fire and ice earns bragging rights… and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
By Susan Zimmerman
When you have a country that’s off the beaten path, then off-the-beaten adventures go with the territory. And when that country is Iceland, then just about everywhere is off the path. This island is so laden with glaciers, volcanoes, waterfalls, and hot springs, it’s a wonder it stays afloat. Could it be all that steam heat keeps Iceland upright? There’s so much geothermal activity here that an endless supply of underground heat has been warming up the island for centuries, hence the capital city’s name of Reykjavík (meaning “Smoky Bay”) given by the founding fathers. This cosmopolitan oasis — where nearly two-thirds of the country’s 300,000 residents live — is also the jumping-off point for any exploit.
The Golden Circle and The Blue Lagoon
Call it an icebreaker to the Land of Fire and Ice (Iceland’s long-standing moniker) or consider it a warm-up to the steamy natural attractions that fill this compact island the size of Kentucky. Whatever you call it, the Golden Circle is named for good reason. The 185-mile circle tour to the central part of the country highlights Iceland’s omnipresent surreal nature. Even Icelanders take their visitors to see the trio of treasures that include the geysers (Geysir, the original hot springs for which other blowholes are named, and Strokkur, which spouts an almost 100-foot jet of water every 5 minutes more or less); Gullfoss (meaning “Golden Falls”), Europe’s largest waterfall with a 105-foot cascade; and Þingvellir National Park, situated in a rift valley where the American and Eurasian tectonic plates are pulling apart at 2 centimeters a year. After a day of looking at water, the only thing to do is get wet at the Blue Lagoon. The therapeutic warm waters of this geothermal spa are full of silica and sulfur. Its setting is an old lava field.
This bucket list activity wraps a lot of adventure into one stop with a glacier, a snowmobile ride, and, for Jules Verne fans (the French author who wrote the 1864 novel A Journey to the Center of the Earth), it parks visitors at the entrance to the earth’s center….
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