“If it was sunny, it wouldn’t make for a great story” – Me, on the Golden Circle tour in Iceland


By: Jim Bamboulis

On Sunday, the Icelandic weather service issued a warning for Monday.

100km/hour winds,  several inches of rain, visibility drastically limited. Don’t go out unless you have to and if you drive, be extra careful. We were gearing up for a monsoon.

Do  you think that kind of forecast changes plans for the average Icelander? Doubt it. It’s business as usual.

And that includes bus tours. Including my bus tour.

Happening Monday. Which as predicted, was a shit show. The temperature was a balmy 5C (41F). It was the type of weather that made umbrellas useless. And unless you wore a full rain suit or even a rain/snow suit, wearing layers was useless too. It didn’t discriminate and almost violated your body.

What normally would be considered disturbing (and against the law), turned out to be a really great time.

But you wouldn’t know it by looking at me at the start.

Armed with my camera, umbrella and wearing my wife’s rain coat (admittedly I don’t own a rain coat…and it was 2 sizes too small already…and felt even smaller because I was wearing 2 extra layers of clothing) I was ready to tackle the trip.

Normally, I don’t do bus tours. I don’t like the restrictive nature and staying on a timetable bothers me, makes the whole experience feel rushed. But they’re a solid option if you have limited time.

This was my first of 2 scheduled tours on this trip. The Golden Circle is a must. It takes you around some of the most popular sites around southwestern Iceland, including GeysirÞingvellir National Park and the thundering Gullfoss waterfall. In weather like this, sometimes tours are cancelled. I can honestly say that I felt lucky that mine went on as scheduled. Lucky, because experiencing these sights in this weather was unique and exhilarating.

Geysir

Of course, people were putting their hands in the water
Of course, people were putting their hands in the water

 Þingvellir 

A National Park, this site marks the Mid-Atlantic Ridge where the North American and Eurasian teutonic plates meet and separate. It's also the site of Iceland's first parliament in 930. It remained there until 1798.
A National Park, this site marks the Mid-Atlantic Ridge where the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates meet and separate. It’s also the site of Iceland’s first parliament in 930. It remained there until 1798.

 Gullfoss

Gullfoss

The history with these 3 sites in amazing. They’re loaded with beautiful, rich Icelandic heritage and culture. And although I appreciate that aspect, what made as much of an impact for me was watching our planet at work with my own eyes. Seeing the wonder of both Geysir and Gullfoss was mesmerizing. The heat of the earth coming to the surface, the powerful nature of rushing water tumbling over majestic cliffs, just amazing! Besides seeing an active volcano, it’s a great example of what the country is known for; it’s fire and ice on clear display.

The rain was hitting (more like pelting) my face in the form of ice pellets. I couldn’t keep my eyes open, couldn’t keep my balance and sometimes had trouble breathing.

It was great.

Our tour had about 15 people in it. All of us bonded probably more so because of the weather. One lady told me, “you can’t control the weather but you can control your feelings about it. You can either look at this and be upset or laugh and accept it as part of the adventure of travel”.

Great attitude! I agreed whole-heartedly and added “if it was sunny, it wouldn’t make for a great story anyway, would it?”

The tour I did lasted half a day, about 6 hours. Picked up from the hotel and dropped off at the hotel. Easy and convenient. After spending the day on the bus and touring the sights, the rain finally let up on the drive back and finally stopped when the bus got back into Reykjavik.

Of course it did.

Have your own travel story from the Golden Circle? Share the love.

Happy travels!

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3 Comments Add yours

  1. We had the same kind of weather when visited the golden circle. I’ve seen it during winter as well, and I must say that a good weather definitively improve the quality of the visit 🙂 The light can change a lot. But, like you say, the most important is the spirit, you can still enjoy yourself even if the weather is shit.. but if the weather is shit during the whole stay, I suppose at one point you will lose this great spirit 😀

    1. travelmammal says:

      Hey!! Thanks for getting in touch. Yes I can only imagine how beautiful it must be in the winter and when it is sunny. It didn’t matter to me. I loved it no matter what and looking at your awesome blog makes me want to go back and explore more of stunning Iceland.

      1. It’s impossible to see everything in one trip, when I look at other blog, I’m think “I must go back, damn it, I’ve missed that”, but on the other hand.. I would like to explore other landscapes as well.

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