After night #2 of very little sleep, Jenny and I hopped out of bed, grabbed some granola bars, and hurried to board a shuttle to our first activity of the day – riding Icelandic horses. Before the trip, I had warned Jenny –
They’re going to try to send us with the inexperienced group – don’t let that happen! We may only have 5 hours of riding experience between us, but we’ve totally got this!
Out on the trail, we followed guides through lava fields, and it became very clear that my horse had no intention of moving quickly or following directions. Jenny, of course, was already communicating with her horse through clicks and BRRR noises. As the group came to a split in the path, they have us the choice of continuing along slowly, or joining a faster group. Jenny and I began to line up with the faster group, until my horse suddenly turned and dashed back to the slow group. By the time I finally managed to slow the horse, the guides just shrugged with a look that said “Clearly this is where you belong.” So while Jenny was learning to tölt and gallop, I remained in a single-file line, surrounded by children and nervous tourists.
Once we arrived back at the stable, the riding company had already prepared us a bagged lunch and a taxi to our afternoon activity, a bus tour of the Golden Circle (the most accessible, and therefore tourist-packed, sightseeing trip near Reykjavik). Our tour guide was a nutcase – as our bus made its way from Geisir and hot springs, to the Gulfoss waterfall, he regaled us with anecdotes about Icelandic elves and trolls. We passed rolling fields of plastic-covered bales of hay and he proudly announced that it was Iceland’s national marshmallow farm. When we stopped at the Þingvellir National Park, he showed us where the North American and European tectonic plates were ripping apart, causing the island’s volcanic activity and hot springs.
In the evening, Jenny and I made our way to Tapas for dinner, where we treated ourselves to the only fancy meal of the trip : seven courses including lobster, whale, puffin, and brennivín, Iceland’s signature schnapps.
I’d recommend Ishestar’s Horses and Golden Circle tour to anyone based on the pacing and organization of the day.