We woke up bright and early to make the most of our last day in Iceland. We were planning on heading to Keflavik to go to the Viking Museum there and then spend a good chunk of the day at the Blue Lagoon, arguably Iceland’s most famous attraction.
Unfortunately the rain that had plagued our visit to Jokusarlon the night before was back in full force. Sideways rain and strong wind buffeted our car on our drive out the Reykjanes Peninsula. The roads in Iceland are weird. They seem to sit up higher than the rest of the ground (maybe just by the coast for flooding purposes…amateur guess) and because of that and the lack of trees are very exposed to the elements. It wasn’t a fun drive and our tiny car was blown around a bit but we landed in Keflavik safely. What we didn’t do was our research. The Viking Museum is mostly outdoors and doesn’t open until noon, so Keflavik turned out to be a bit of a bust.
Unsure of whether or not the weather would get better we ventured to the Blue Lagoon, assuring ourselves that the terrible weather might make bathing in a hot spring that much more fun. We parked and got soaked running inside and started to get nervous that all the assuring might have been in vain. It was nasty out.
The Blue Lagoon is one of Iceland’s largest and most popular outdoor geothermal baths. Contrary to what a lot of people believe, the Blue Lagoon is man made. It gets much of it’s water from a nearby power plant, which does use actual geothermal heat form a lava flow to produce it’s energy. The Blue Lagoon stands out amongst many of the other hot springs because of the milky blue, almost neon hue the water takes. This is partially because of minerals like silica and sulfur which create a white mud that’s supposedly therapeutic and good for the skin.
Once we got down to our bathing suits and into the water, the rain tapered off, and while there was still a bit of a wind, it was a good day to relax. I’d heard talk here and there that the Blue Lagoon was too touristy and overrated. In my opinion this was false. It might have helped that we’d gotten there early and in in climate weather but it was not disgustingly crowded. Also, the 98-100 degree water felt amazing and there is a swim up bar. I sort of wish I took a bus trip and didn’t have to worry about driving and then I would’ve had more than one adult beverage (on second thought, it probably would’ve ended very embarrassingly and expensively so maybe driving was for the best).
Dumb as it may sound my favorite part of the experience was the therapeutic silica mud. It’s situated within boxes throughout the lagoon that you have to dig out with a spoon/stick/shovel hybrid type instrument and then slather on your skin in order to reap the benefits. Most people just put a little on their face. Katelyn and I devolved into 4 year olds and really went wild, covering our faces, hair, torsos, legs, etc and continued the juvenile behavior with a series of photoshoots where we ended up looking sort of like Michael Myers if his face was melting. It was a hot look. And that should be my argument as to why the Blue Lagoon is not overrated: sitting in an outdoor hot spring, getting a buzz on and putting mud on your face to look ridiculous is what vacations are all about.
Since we were taking a semi-budget vacation we paid for a package in the Blue Lagoon that covered entrance, gave us towels and bathrobes and a complimentary free drink, but if you really wanted you could go absolutely wild with massages and spa treatments (including a massage in the hot water), a four star restaurant, and accommodations right on the premises.
Since it was sunny out we had lunch in Keflavik, a nice little place overlooking the harbor where I enjoyed shrimp on garlic bread and the Icelander’s penchant for orange soda (which is so hard to find at home!).
We got back to Reykjavik around dinner time, and before we returned our car went down to the Icelandic state store to buy some beer to bring home for our dad. Iceland has one thing in common with PA. We both have to go to specialized stores to purchase alcohol and those stores have inconvenient hours. However, in Iceland you could rip a beer out of case or a six pack and just buy it as an individual. We got back to Reykjavik Backpackers, packed our bags and then headed out for one last hoo-rah.
We visited the Bunk Bar for one last happy hour, had dinner at the Big Lebowski Bar, and went back to Dillon’s Whiskey Bar for their happy hour. We ended the night at The Dubliner, an Irish pub downtown where we had way too many pints of Guinness (not very Icelandic, but hey it’s good stuff) and listened to an acoustic guitarist. I realized walking home once more in broad daylight that I was actually depressed about going home, which is a sign of a good vacation. I could have easily stayed for a week or two more and even now when doing research for these blog posts keep seeing things that make me think “I should have done that” (and I’ll actually be putting together a “things I wish I had time for in Iceland post.”
Iceland was an amazing trip and an amazing experience. I can’t wait to go back, and in the meantime, will consider it a personal success if I could get some other people to experience this very unique part of the world.