Iceland – The Golden Circle
A quick drive downhill and we arrive at Geysir. Geysir itself is a huge wart-like bump with tiny streams of water dribbling down it. The rock is streaked with slippery looking, whitish deposits and quite hollow; when you jump up and down, you expect it to crack, or a little goblin to lift up a crusty flap and ask you to keep the noise down. In the middle of the water there’s now a dead pool of crystal clear water with a rude looking hole in the middle, its ejaculations quenched by a tourist in recent years who chucked a load of gravel down it to tempt it into action. Instead, it killed it. I wonder if it was the same tourist who was swept away at Gullfoss. Maybe the ground recognised the murderer and shrugged slightly, making him loose his balance and plunge into the eager waters. I hope so.
We continue in our broken, straggly crocodile to a blue pool. Silica again. The water level is exactly the height of the ground, and so clear it’s disconcerting; you can see the bottom perfectly (and it’s quite deep), but it looks like there’s no water there at all. If you didn’t know you could easily walk straight into it. A very faint line of the same whitish deposit on the rock marks the edge of the water, as you get close. This is the only water here you can put your hand in (the rest is too hot) and people do, sending ripples across the surface, distorting the clarity. I have a go. It’s hot. Weird.
And on, past little holes bubbling and spitting and steaming, each with their own name politely displayed on a wooden plaque a safe distance away. Then we join the crowd around Strokkur, with a gap in the circle down wind. Apparently the spray is so hot we’re advised to keep out its way. Strokkur means ‘the churn’, because it does. It churns now; cameras are raised, then lowered. Then raised again as the water level in the huge, gaping hole suddenly bulges; then lowered when the water recedes.
The people who’d backed away shuffle forward again, joking nervously, but they don’t come quite as close as they were before. The water level rises again, swirling slowly, and some of the tourists start chanting; it hears them and goes back down again. It rises again, and again, then suddenly it just keeps on rising and swelling, forcing a huge green bubble of water up and up and with a massive rush up into the sky it goes in a steaming white billowing jet.
This is nature! This is rude! Four times, then it sighs back down its hole, exhausted. There’s a rush to the hotel for dinner and I stay a while to look for some bubbling mud, but can’t find any.
A baby hole, quite deep, makes me jump back with a squeak when it plops loudly and fingers of boiling water spring out at me. I’m wary of them all – couldn’t any of them suddenly do a Strokkur? I pick my way over the fragile crust of ground, worried about stumbling inadvertently into a blowhole, and retire to the hotel for my fresh salmon, watching Strokkur perform for each new wave of tourists from the window.
Here endeth the typed-up version – but my travel diary continues with the last two stops on the tour. Should really get round to writing them up… watch this space?!