Iceland’s #1 attraction; the Blue Lagoon– The power plant uses the scalding hot water brought up from thousands of feet underground through boreholes to be used to generate electricity within steam turbines. The run-off water was too mineral rich and salty to be used directly in home heating systems, and an area was created to pipe the runoff water into. The lagoon was dug out of the lava field for this purpose. The story from my 2008 Frommers guide book says a person with Psoriasis decided to bath in the bluish-white water and instantly noticed his condition improved. The rest is history. Hundreds of thousand of people visit the Blue Lagoon Spa annual to soak in it healing waters. It is a big business, There is a luxury hotel, spa and restaurants and of course their high-end skin care products. Being close to Keflavik airport, it is convenient to visit upon arriving or before departing Iceland. Our flight arrived at 9 am, so everyone agreed, during the planning, that it was a logical choice to for us to go there directly from the airport. A perfect way to decompress after a long stressful day of airports, connections and a red-eye flight from Canada. Transportation buses run between the Blue Lagoon and Reykjavik several times a day so following our spa experience, we could get a direct bus right to our accommodations.
This group comprised of myself, my sister Mary (I wrote about our hike on Middle Head Trail, Highlands National Park, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia), my dearest friend Monique, who lives in Toronto, Ontario (and you may recall from my series on Kenya) and my co-worker Tracy, who resides in New Brunswick. I’ve done lots of adventures with her, one being – St. Martins Sea Caves.
After months of research, weighting the value of one tour over another, switching and nixing ideas due to timing complications, buying all the packages online with my fingers crossed hoping everything would work out, and that last minute flight changes wouldn’t disrupt our timeline.
Mary and I were departing from Stanfield International Airport Halifax. Our flight wasn’t until 8:20 pm but I was driving in from Oromocto, New Brunswick , and she was driving from Cape Breton. The plan was to meet up for lunch near Truro, Nova Scotia, around one pm. Being anxious about having four hours between me and the airport, I left very early and waited in a parking lot near where we both agreed to meet up.
I was snoozing in my truck with the seats laid back when I got an alert on my phone from Air Canada stating our outbound flight from Halifax was delayed. I made a quick calculation and then started panicking. Departing from Halifax at 9:15 pm would put us into Toronto after our Iceland flight departed. When Mary found me, I was frantic, saying, “We have to go, we have to go right now to the airport, I recall there is a 15:20 flight to Toronto. We got to try and get on it.”
She looked at me like I was crazy but led the way, speeding all the way to the Park and Fly, where we dropped off our vehicles, grabbed our bags and jumped on the transfer bus to the airport. At the ticket counter I was shaking, ready to beg, bargain or cheat our way onto the earlier flight. I explained we had to make our Icelandic connection in Toronto. “I have to be on that flight,” I said, almost in tears. The guy cracked a joke about sisters -“one so calm one so hyper.” We were given stand by-tickets for the early flight and he directed us to our gate.
And so you can see how it was almost miraculous that the four of us navigated three different airports – Fredericton, Halifax and Toronto, and came together to be on the same plane that would bring us to all be standing safely outside Keflavik airport with our luggage, trying to find our prepaid transfer-bus to the Blue Lagoon.
It is nowhere to be found and we are already twenty minutes late for our booked entrance time of 10 am. Collectively, we decide the easiest thing to do is to hire a cab to take the four of us from Keflavik airport to the Blue Lagoon. It is 22 km, about a twenty-minute drive. Mr. Taxi Driver loaded our luggage in the back of his van, opened all the doors and helped us get seated, talked to us about Iceland and passed his card to use suggesting we call him to be our private tour guide. The taxi ride cost $125 Canadian and to quote Tracy, “That is mind-blowing.” We got bamboozled in a pleasant and professional way.
We each had the Comfort package which included entrance to Blue lagoon, a silica mud mask, use of a towel and one drink of our choice. The first room you enter is the luggage storage convenient for travellers coming or going to Keflavik Airport. A smiling lady was waiting on another customer, which gave us a chance to separate our swimsuits, a change of clothing and personal items we’d need in the change room from our luggage.
In the main foyer an employee checks our reservation and hands us each an electronic bracelet – we watched a short video instructing us on how to use the bracelet that would open and lock our lockers, and tabulate any extras we might purchase. There was also a hygiene instruction about the shower and the need to apply heavy amounts of conditioner to your hair and leave it in. Voilà, the Blue Lagoon is ours to enjoy.
The bracelets and lockers were tricky, but I got the hang of it. This is where I finally got to slip off my sandals and slide into the bluish-white water. Down a ramp and out a door into the lagoon. Pure bliss. I waited for everyone near a cave area under a walkway bridge for a moment then made my way out into the open waters where the rest of the gang were already waving at me to come join them.
The water is a constant 38 Celsius and fantastic. With varying depths from knee deep to neck deep, you find where you are happiest and just exist in the moment. I walked, floated and swam around the pool. After seventeen hours of travel connections and a five-hour flight, several shifts in time-zones, I had no idea how long I had been awake but nothing was more rejuvenating than this. I have no pictures. My camera was securely locked up in the storage area, but pictures can’t do this place justice. No, it has to be experienced. The girls and I lined up at the mud spa station for a palm size blob of product and we smeared it all over our faces and necks and waited for it to dry, giggling and pointing out to each other what spots needed more coverage. The hard part was to remind ourselves not use to lagoon water to wash off the mask, because the silica and salt burn your eyes. Fresh-water taps are easy to find in several location along the walls to wash it off.
As a group, we happily bounded towards the bar and joined a line. I watched what others ordered as they went by. A lady held a pint of golden beer as she cruised by me and it caught my eye. The bartender greeted me with a smile, raising her brow indicating she was asking what I wanted. “I’ll have a Gull beer please.” My first introduction to the locate brew. Oh, it was so delicious. Once we all had our beverage of choice, we bobbed over to the far end and sat on a built-in bench. Grinning ear to ear, squinted into the sun. We commented on how lucky we were, the forecast called for rain and 12 Celsius. Just to the north and south of us was heavy cloud that looked like it might be raining in those locations, but above us was only sunshine.
I excused myself from the girls and went to the locker room to get my sunglasses. On the way back I walked along the wooden walkway and jumped in off the side of the rocks. There was a lady in a long down-filled coat standing at the edge of the pool. I assumed she was staff there to ensure the safety of the clients. ” Hello,” I said and struck up a conversation. I found out she was a local girl from Reykjavik, I couldn’t spell her name even if I wanted to. In a place called Iceland you would expect a local to be in tank-top and shorts on a relatively warm summer day. So I had to ask as it seemed peculiar to me. “Why do you have on a winter coat?” She replied, “When you are out here all day the wind is cold.” I nodded, understanding. Then I asked, “What would be a hot day here?” She said, “20 Celsius is a very nice day.” I again nodded in agreement. It was currently about 16 Celsius but felt much hotter with the sun beating down on us, submerged in hot water. “I wouldn’t want it be be hot out.” I thanked her for her time and departed.
With a mix of swimming, floating and ghost walking – at least that is what it looks like since you can’t see anyone’s legs – I made it back with the girls. We made another trip to the bar then shared stories; Monique and I about horse racing, Tracy and I about the gym and how others had backed out of the trip at the last minute. Mary and I shared some childhood experiences. Having brought this group together, I knew everyone, but everyone didn’t know each other and the Blue Lagoon was an excellent bonding experience.
3 hours melted away into oblivion. We spent the last 30 minutes of our time in the cave area soaking and talking to a lady who had come with a friend from California. She was as happy as we were to be here. With our bus departing at 3pm. It was time to get out. We found where we left our sandals, picked up our towels, and made our way into the change room.
I loved the strong pressure of the rain-head shower and I stood under it for a long time. Mary had a meltdown when she lost her bracelet and I assured her she was probably not the first person to do so. The front desk staff were helpful locating the account and settling her bill. We exited the building, Mary went for a smoke and Tracy, Monique, and I took a walk around the outer perimeter of the building for some photos.
We found Mary and headed for our bus transfer. I couldn’t find the QR code for our ticket but the bus driver let us on with the receipt. It is about a fifty-minute bus ride back to Reykjavik. Our driver was very helpful guiding us towards the correct line when we had to change buses. We were confused about what direction to go to find our Airbnb, then Tracy spotted the building on the horizon from a photo on the website. Her nickname for the rest of the trip was Hawkeyes. Finally dropping our bags in our rooms, we plunked ourselves down and made a plan for going out to dinner. Please join me again for a walk-about Reykjavik.
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