Iceland…a whole country to explore and only two days.
We rented a car and set out to explore for as long as we could. We wanted to make it to the famous waterfall Gullfoss, but got sidetracked at Þingvellir National Park. So glad we did! Little did we know, Þingvellir is a site of historical, cultural, and geological importance and is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Iceland. It lies in a rift valley that marks the crest of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. Þingvellir is notable for its unusual tectonic and volcanic environment. The continental drift between the North American and Eurasian Plates can be clearly seen in the cracks or faults which traverse the region, the largest one, Almannagjá, being a veritable canyon. This also causes the often measurable earthquakes in the area.
Parliament, or Althing, was established at Þingvellir in 930 and remained there until 1798. It was Iceland’s supreme legislative and judicial authority from its establishment in 930 and remained for the duration of the Commonwealth, until 1271. Þingvellir National Park was founded in 1930, marking the 1000th anniversary of the Althing. It was later expanded to protect natural phenomena in the surrounding area, and became a World Heritage Site in 2004.
We did get to see some wonderful waterfalls. They have done a great job preserving this area. And there is a very nice, informative visitor center.
Just as it started to rain, we had to head back. Why? We had a reservation to ride Islandic ponies!!
Laxnes Horse Farm was founded in 1968 and remains family run to this day. I booked our ride before we left the US at www.laxnes.is. You have to contact them directly, since they do not use the tourist websites popular in Iceland. By doing this, they are able to keep their prices family friendly. They offer short rides, day rides or longer trail rides that last for several days
We entered the barn and were greeted by family members. They helped us find riding gear, including hats, gloves and boots. Then we were divided into groups and were led to the corral, where the ponies waited.
For more than a thousand years, from the settlement of the country in the late 9th century to the early 20th century, the small but amazingly strong Icelandic horse has played a vital role in Icelandic history. Dubbed “The most useful servant”, many Icelanders credit the horse for the survival of the Icelandic people. The settlers brought with them horses from Norway and the British Isles, strong and muscular they served their masters in war and peace.
In recorded Icelandic history, which spans over 900 years, no horses have been imported to Iceland. In the 11th century, import was made illegal, so the present day horse is very similar to what they were 900 years ago. This isolation has preserved certain traits lost to other European horses. Among these are the five gaits the horse is famous for. They are the sweetest and gentlest horses I have ever ridden.
We were very happy to have those waterproof suits on….it started to rain and it was pretty muddy! After the ride, we were offered homemade bread, cakes and coffee. Such a wonderful time. I can’t wait to go back!
That evening, since we stayed in Reykjavik overnight, we went back into town after dinner onboard the ship. It is a very easy town to walk around in. We eventually ended up at the Hilton, primarily to use the free wifi! Then back to the ship. The picture below was taken at 11pm!