18th Nov 2016 - Iceland
With balmy temperatures of 38 degrees, the thermal baths of the Blue Lagoon are quite a treat in the freezing weather. Fed by water from the nearby geothermal power plant, the lagoon is rich in minerals and believed to cure a number of skin conditions and other ailments. The lagoon is situated in the middle of nowhere, quite a way out of Reykjavik, closer to the international airport instead. But, due to its popularity, there are plenty of buses to get you there. Not from Akureyri however.
My final full day in Iceland saw me flying back to Reykjavik although we were late taking off as the inbound flight was delayed whilst trying to land due to a lack of visibility. Whilst I appreciate the honesty, not sure that’s the most encouraging statement to hear. It did eventually land and we were soon off on our way back across the island via a rather bumpy flight.
Bookings are recommended at the Blue Lagoon due to its popularity and I had some time to kill before mine so I went back to Hallgrimskirkja in the centre of town and climbed up the bell tower for views over the city. Given the ferocity of the wind at the top of the tower, I did spend longer queueing for the lift than I actually spent at the top!
Back down at ground level and it was time to head to the bus station to go to the Blue Lagoon. It’s quite an organised process from check in to changing rooms to lagoon, but nowhere is there a bigger noticeable difference in cultures than in a communal changing room. Those woman waiting for a cubicle to change, those who were awkwardly trying to get into swim wear whilst wearing a towel and those who couldn’t give a sh*t just what parts of naked flesh were on display! It did create an element of chaos. Once changed and all belongings in a locker, bathers are requested to first take a shower. Then you brave the outdoor elements, hang up your towel (or bathrobe if you’ve paid a bit more) and run in your bikini into the lagoon. The water is a very soothing, welcome temperature, although your head definitely feels left out as it is above water in approximately minus 1 degrees. This also means that once your hair is wet, it freezes pretty quickly. As does the free silica face mask that you are given making it not quite as comfortable to wear as it’s perhaps meant to be.
The lagoon has its own outdoor bar if you wish to have a drink and also has a number of lifeguards on duty. Given the temperatures that they have to stand around in, it is no surprise that they look a bit like the Michelin Man with their huge puffy jackets, hoods up, hats on, thick gloves and warm shoes. Quite what happens when they are called in to action I’m not sure – either they have to lose some layers first or they must be very strong swimmers not to drown with all the layers? Having said that, I can’t imagine they are needed that often. The lagoon never gets above shoulder height and as you move around you notice that some areas are definitely warmer than others. These areas are usually nearer the spots where the water emerges from the earth.
After a good two hour soak and face massage, I was shrivelled like a prune and it was time for a quick bite to eat and then to leave. My last night in Iceland was spent in a guesthouse near the bus station as I needed to be on the 3am bus the next morning in order to get me to the airport in time for my 6am flight home.