Monday, November 9, 2015

Gullfoss, Iceland

The third major sight on the Golden Circle is Gullfoss (Golden Falls).  When we got to Gullfoss, it was cold, grey, and drizzling. But the falls were still impressive, with a double cascade.

The falls were almost destroyed in the 1920s, when foreign investors wanted to dam the river for a hydroelectric project. The landowner's daughter walked barefoot to Reykjavik to protest, threatening to throw herself into the falls if development went ahead. The agreement was nullified (the investors failed to pay the lease), and Gullfoss was saved. It was donated to the nation in 1975 and has been a nature reserve since then.

This is the second cascade kicking up a tremendous spray of water. The falls drop 32m.

Q was clowning around at the edge of the waterfall. (As a side note, this was one of the few waterfalls we visited that had a guard rail. We were struck by how open many natural sights were in Iceland, allowing visitors to get very close to the falls in most cases.)

I was mesmerized by the plumes of spray.

This finished up our circuit of the Golden Circle, which was made more entertaining and surreal by our GPS.  I bought a road map of Iceland and had printed out directions from Google Maps to navigate our way, but just to be sure, I got a GPS unit with our rental car.  The GPS gave us a choice of voices and accents.  We chose Samantha, a female voice with an American accent.  But, unknown to us, there was also a preset tour of the Golden Circle, narrated by a man with an English accent.  We named him "Cecil."

As we were driving, we would get some directions from Samantha ("Go North on Route 1").  Then, a few moments later, Cecil would begin telling us a story ("Wool products have a long tradition in Iceland, particularly in the town of Mosfellsbær").  In the middle of Cecil's narrative, Samantha would break in abruptly to try to update our directions ("Take the second exit in the roundabout").  There was a moment of chaos while Cecil and Samantha spoke simultaneously, often giving different directions, and then they would both fall silent.

I had no idea that a GPS could develop Dissociative Identity Disorder.

Next up: The Langjökull glacier

1 comment:

  1. I liked the part where Samantha and Cecil would completely disagree on directions, because Samantha was trying to take us to where we wanted to go, while Cecil was trying to keep us on the tour route. So periodically we would approach a roundabout and hear an exchange like this:

    Cecil: Proceed into the roundabout, and take the second exit.

    Samantha: Take the first exit.

    Cecil: You have left the tour. At the first opportunity, make a legal U-turn.