So I canceled my Game of Thrones day trip in Iceland, and also the Golden Circle & Secret Lagoon day trip. I can’t do the Secret Lagoon because of the whole steam-causing-fainting scenario. See On the injured list.

At my followup appointment this past week after the hospital trip last week due to the fainting and breaking my nose and various other injuries, the doctor told me that I have to avoid similar situations involving being around or in steamy water. So no Secret Lagoon for me (or Blue Lagoon, either). Guess I’ll return that new bathing suit I ordered.

I can do a bit of museum and sightseeing on the day I arrive in Reykjavik around noon, although I’ll be pretty wiped out after a sleepless night flight (I never sleep on planes).

That first day I hope to at least see the Settlement Exhibition, Reykjavik 871 +/- 2, which is a priority for me as far as museums go.

The Settlement Exhibition. Image by

My check-in at the hostel is at 3 pm. I’d like to walk up to see Hallgrimskirkja Cathedral, and maybe take the elevator to the top if it’s a nice day.

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Hallgrimskirkja, Image by Atlas Obscura.

The next day will be my morning boat ride out to see the puffin colony. That boat will launch from and arrive back at the Old Harbor, which is near the Saga Museum, so I’ll check that museum out, too, since I am a saga lover. ❤

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Puffin colony in Iceland. Image by Pixdaus.
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Saga Museum. Image by

I’m also supposed to be able to get into the Whale Museum with the pass I bought for the Puffin Boat Ride. I hope I can. Here’s what it looks like:

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Whales of Iceland. Image by

One reason I canceled the Game of Thrones trip was to have more time in the city and also to have some rest between two really long day trips: Snaefellsnes Peninsula, which is to the north and west of Reykjavik, and the South Coast tour. Both trips take at least 12 hours.

But how can I, a dedicated Viking and saga scholar, go to Iceland and not go to Thingvellir National Park?

Thingvellir is where the Icelanders established their first national assembly, or Althing,  in June of 930 C.E., and held it annually thereafter until 1800, even after Iceland was absorbed by Norway.

The Althing was one of the first parliamentary assemblies in Europe.  It was also where the Icelanders made their laws, which were recited by the Law Speaker on top of the Law Rock.

The Icelanders made so many laws that it took three Althings (meaning three years) to let the Law Speaker get through all of them, all of which he had to have memorized. None of this stuff was written down in the early days.

Iceland was a great place for law.

“Law Speaker,” detail of a larger 19th C. painting of the Althing. In the U.S. public domain.

Unfortunately, the early Icelanders did not establish an executive branch to enforce their laws, although there were plenty of judicial processes for determining if a law had been broken.

But the victim of the wrongdoing had to punish the lawbreaker himself, with a lot of allies to help him. This led to some frontier-style confrontations, although there were also other ways to settle the problem through mediation, paying a fine to the victim, etc.

Two of the main punishments meted out by the judicial branch were lesser and greater outlawry. “Lesser outlawry” meant you had to leave Iceland for three years. “Greater outlawry” was for life, and anyone catching you while you were fleeing the country (or hiding in Iceland and not leaving at all) could kill you without it being a crime. Harsh!

Some of my favorite saga heroes were outlaws. ❤

Thingvellir National Park is one of the stops on the Golden Circle tour. I definitely want to see it, and also Gullfoss (Golden Falls), an amazing double waterfall, on the Hvita River, which is mentioned a lot in the sagas, because of how hard it was to cross. It still does present problems from time to time, especially when the nearby Langjokull glacier is melting in the spring and summer.

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Gulfoss. Image by

The location of Thingvellir is also geologically interesting, because it is at the junction of two tectonic plates, the American and the Eurasian, with a rift valley in between that you can walk through. The plates are pulling apart every year.

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Rift valley in Thingvellir N.P.  Image by TripAdvisor.

I guess I’ll have to go on a Golden Circle day trip, after all. 😛 Now to find the right tour!