Lauren: Réttir and The Golden Circle

September 18, 2011

Yesterday was a very busy, long, and exciting day! I started the day off at 8am when I piled onto 1 of 3 coach buses with international students from University of Iceland and Reykjavik University to begin our adventure. Our first stop was Réttir. It was about 2 hours southeast of Reykjavik. Every fall farmers gather all of the sheep that have been grazing freely in the mountains and hills for the whole summer and sort them out to their respective farms. This is a huge deal and a longstanding tradition. Everybody stands in this huge circular pen and they just start grabbing their sheep and bring them to their own smaller pens that are located around the edges. The walls to this structure are about 6 feet tall and 2 feet wide so I was able to stand up on the wall and watch the whole thing. 

After the sheep are where they belong, they are all sent off to be sheared for their wool and some of them are sent to the slaughter house. Mutton and lamb are very common in Icelandic cuisine. Even the hotdogs have mutton in them. They also have a traditional lamb meat soup that I saw a few people eating there. Here’s a video where the farmers were trying to move sheep from a “holding pen” to the “sorting pen.” Watch closely because you can see the sheep start to break away from the crowd and start running in another direction (around 1:10). You can also see them jump. It’s so funny! I didn’t know sheep could jump so high!!

Anyways, we stayed here and watched the sheep for about 2 hours. Some people jumped in and started helping the farmers and their families sort but I stayed nice and safe on the ledge. Not only am I not a fan of touching most animals but I also was warned about the horns on these sheep. Oftentimes when inexperienced people [kids and tourists] try to help out in the Réttir, the sheeps’ horns ran get ripped off. I saw a few bloody sheep horns so I chose to stay away from that. Especially because I knew I wouldn’t just magically be good at this.

The last half of our journey was called “The Golden Circle.” The Golden Circle consists of three separate attractions Gullfoss (a huge waterfall), Strokkur (a geysir), and Þingvellir (the location of the first national assembly). Here are some pictures from these places:




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