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Friday, July 1 update: Heiðmerkur and Engi greenhouses, Iceland Riverjet, Faxi, Hotel Geysir, and Geysir

One last day in the Golden Circle area! I’d been seeing this sign around Laugarás, but I didn’t know what it was:

self service greenhouse

You can almost make out the Icelandic … kind of. The middle line is “fresh vegetables” (grænt means green). The last line is the part I didn’t get … But sjálf is self. So it’s a self service greenhouse.

inside greenhouse

Indeed, you gather what you’d like to buy, and then put money in the box. We also found a couple of smaller self-service produce stands in front of individual houses in this area. One is on the same street as this one, and one is just before you get to Slakki. The latter had excellent strawberries, and the former had great (and cheap!) banana bread.

Next it was on to our jet boat trip.

jet boat

Iceland Riverjet claims that their trip offers “breathtaking excitement.” The boat was smaller than I expected; I think it can only hold 10 people plus the driver.

jet boat seats

The name of the game is speed here. The boat goes up to 55 mph, which is really fast for a boat. The driver does hard turns, 360 degree spins, and heads right toward rocks before veering at the last second. There’s no history, no education– it’s all about going fast and having fun.

jet boat moving

My boys both enjoyed it, though the younger one (and I!) felt a little shaken up afterwards. If you’re looking for adventure, this is the place to go. They only allow ages 8 and up, though you can take younger kids if you ask. But they won’t tailor the ride for younger kids, unless you have 4 or more on your own private trip. So make sure your little one is a thrill junkie before considering this one.

Late in the afternoon, we headed to Engi (Icelandic link), another greenhouse vegetable market, though this one is only open on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays from noon until 6 PM.

engi farm market

You can shop for fruits, vegetables, and plants in the greenhouse, and/or head over to their hedge maze. The maze costs 500 isk per person ($4), but they apparently gave us a family discount and only charged for 3 of us.

From the outside, the hedge maze looks … hedgie.

hedge maze outside

But this is a serious maze, with dead ends, twists and turns, and row after row of identical looking lanes.

hedge maze overview

Your goal is to get to the platform in the middle. Once you get there you can climb up and look out on the area while savoring your victory. There is also a guest book you can sign. This was a great family activity, but you may not want to let younger kids wander by themselves.hedge maze middle

Past the hedge maze is the barefoot garden. This is a pathway you walk across, after removing your socks and shoes. The surface changes every 20 feet or so, from rocks to pine needles to wool to pine cones.

barefoot garden

This was … painful! Seriously. The wool was a wonderful reprieve from the sharp rocks and spiky pine needles. The best summary I can give is this: It was painful, but most of the kids did it again voluntarily. And your feet do feel good when you are done …

In the evening it was back up to spend some more time at Geysir. But on the way we stopped at the waterfall Faxi:

faxi waterfall

It’s just a minute or two off of road 35, only about 10 minutes south of Geysir. The waterfall is lovely, as you can see, and there’s also a very cool fish ladder right next to the falls:

faxi fish ladder

At Geysir, we decided to have dinner at the restaurant in Hotel Geysir. Their children’s menu looked exceptionally cheap, especially for such a nice restaurant and so we wanted to see for ourselves. Well, it turns out the children’s menu was too good to be true. At geysircenter.com, you can find a children’s menu with fish and chips for under $6, and pizza for under $5. But apparently, the correct menu is found at geysircenter.is; note that one is “.com” and the other is “.is”. Here you will not find a children’s menu at all, which is also what we found at the restaurant. They did allow kids to order a half portion of the entrees for half price, and I have a feeling that my daughter still got a full portion of salmon for half price. The food was very good; here’s the beef dish:

geysir restaurant beef

But it ended up being more expensive than I had hoped, given the vanishing children’s menu. You can also see Strokkur erupting right from your table:

strokkur from restaurant

This made the wait more enjoyable, though it’s not even close to the experience of being right next to Strokkur when it erupts.

After dinner, we headed to the Geysir area. I checked out some of the other geothermal areas, including the actual Geysir:

geysir

These days, it only erupts after earthquakes, though apparently it surprised everyone a few months ago. You can also see Little geysir bubbling away:

little geysir

But again, Strokkur is where you want to be. You can see the water start to move up and down, but you’re never quite sure when it will erupt, or how high any particular eruption will be.


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Friday, July 1 update: Heiðmerkur and Engi greenhouses, Iceland Riverjet, Faxi, Hotel Geysir, and Geysir was last modified: January 7th, 2017 by Eric