Sunday, March 06, 2011

The Blue Lagoon

I really need to write some more about our trip to Iceland, but my unpaid internship has been keeping me very busy. I woke up early today and that means time to get in a blog post before work.

We started our trip to Iceland with a visit to the Blue Lagoon.

Iceland is full of geothermal hot springs. The Blue Lagoon isn't a naturally occurring hot spring, it is the by-product of a geothermal power plant. To fuel the power plant deep boreholes were drilled to extract super hot, mineral rich water from thousands of feet underground. The water produces energy by driving steam turbines. The runoff water is still very hot but it is too salty to provide central heating for homes so it is piped in to a lagoon dug out of a lava field. The water is a milky, pearly blue and has a high content of silica and other minerals. The water isn't an even temperature, some areas are 'hot spots' where the temperatures are significantly warmer than the surrounding water. We found a little nook with a hot spot and soaked away the afternoon.

The Blue Lagoon is a tourist attraction, set up for visitors to Iceland. Natives go to their own local geothermal pools. Even though it is a tourist attraction it was fabulous. The facility is modern and clean.

There are regular buses between the airport and the Blue Lagoon and Reykjavik. Our flight was essentially a red-eye between the 8pm departure from NY, the flight time (about 5 hours) and the 5 hour time change. Even though we landed early in the morning our hotel room would not be ready until the afternoon. Our visit to the Blue Lagoon was the perfectly relaxing way to start our trip.

We boarded the first bus from the airport to the Blue Lagoon. We were the only people on the bus! It was our own private motor coach.

Michael was smart and had us pack a small bag with our swimsuits and a change of clothes. We locked our larger bags in a holding area at the entrance to the facility.

The walk to the Blue Lagoon was freezing - the wind was blowing an it was cold outside - around 30 degrees. The outside of the facility is all lava rock which makes for a beautiful and dramatic entrance.

Right before you enter you get to see a little bit of the water. It is the most beautiful shade of blue. The water is so thick with minerals you can't see your hand once it goes below the surface. In certain spots along the lagoon there are pits of soft, squishy silica that you can use as a scrub. The water really does make your skin feel amazing.

The facility has separate men's and women's locker rooms. The women's locker room was expansive - set up for hundreds of guests. Winter is off season and the locker room and lagoon was relatively empty. I can't imagine the crowds in the summer.

When you enter the facility you are issued a waterproof bracelet. The bracelet allows you to open and lock your locker and charge items. They just scan your bracelet as you exit and you pay for any additional services. You can get massages in the lagoon - you float on a small raft during the massage. It was too cold for floating during our visit, we kept submerged as much as possible.

The women's locker room had a vanity area stocked with hair dryers. All of the furniture was very modern with clean and simple lines. The locker room was fully staffed and kept very clean.

The facility has a casual food counter and a fancy restaurant that is carved out of a lava mountain - one entire wall is all lava. Michael made reservations and we had lunch in the restaurant. We sat by a window and had a lagoon view while we ate. The food was amazing. It was our first meal in Iceland and what a start. We both chose the seafood special. It was a piece of Atlantic char and a piece of salmon with a mussel on the side and a wonderful sauce. The seafood in Iceland was the best seafood I have ever eaten. It was so fresh and always cooked perfectly. The texture was firm but flaky and the taste was really delicate. I eat salmon because it is good for me, not really because I enjoy the flavor - it is strong for me. In Iceland the salmon was so light, it was really delicious.
When we were done relaxing in the hot pool we caught a bus right to our hotel in Reykjavik. The tour bus companies do a very good job of getting you exactly where you need to be.
This was the perfect way to start our trip!
Below is a scan of the official Blue Lagoon brochure. The steam really does rise off the water, it is striking with the lava hills in the background.