Monday, August 15: After resting for a while in our room, we drive about an hour southwest of Reykjavík to the Blue Lagoon, which sits in the lava fields of Grindavik on the Reykjanes Peninsula. Our original plan was to stop here on our way from Keflavik the day after we flew in to Iceland, as it’s only 20 minutes from the airport, but we waited too long to buy our tickets and the Sunday morning spots were all taken by the time we got online to book. Thus we bought 8:00 tickets for this evening, figuring we’d enjoy a relaxing time in the hot pools before we take off tomorrow morning for our long drive around the Ring Road.
The lava fields of Grindavik are a surreal landscape of scattered multi-hued rocks covered in moss and interspersed with grasses. It isn’t a landscape that invites walks, although apparently there is quite a demand for ATV adventures, or quad-bike rides.
We arrive a half-hour before our 8:00 timed entry. We walk down this paved walkway with an icy wind blowing right through us.
As it’s too early to check in, we follow other people along a path to the right of the entrance and spend some time walking around mineral lakes in a permeable lava field just outside of the Blue Lagoon. Because of its mineral concentration, water from the Blue Lagoon cannot be recycled and must be disposed of here.
At one end of the natural pools, we can see the Svartsengi geothermal power plant. The man-made Blue Lagoon was formed in 1976 during the plant’s operation. It is fed by the water output of the plant and is renewed every two days. Superheated water is vented from the ground near a lava flow and is used to run turbines that generate electricity. After going through the turbines, the steam and hot water passes through a heat exchanger to provide heat for a municipal water heating system. Then the water is fed into the lagoon for recreational and medicinal users to bathe in (Wikipedia: Blue Lagoon (geothermal spa)).
The silicate minerals are the primary cause of that water’s milky blue shade.
Finally, it’s near 8:00 and we enter the facility. For our ~$70 (each) ticket, the “comfort” package, we get one beverage of our choice, a towel, and two masks: a silica mask and a green algae mask.
Inside, I don my bathing suit and try to figure out the confusing lock system on the lockers. There is one scanner for a whole wall of lockers. When you shut the door of your locker, you scan your wrist band and it locks the door, flashing the number of your locker (#233). If you accidentally scan it twice, it opens the locker right back up again. I keep closing and opening the locker — yes, because I’m a klutz and technologically challenged(!) — and I’m a little leery that it is actually going to stay locked. As all my belongings are in the locker — passport, money, camera — I am worried it won’t stay locked when I leave the room.
Before entering the spa, all people must practice Icelandic etiquette: we must be naked for our pre-pool showering. There are lots of official-looking women in the shower area to make sure we do just that. I am already in my bathing suit, but have to take it off to shower thoroughly!
I don’t want to take my camera into the spa because I want to relax and not worry about getting it wet. We float around the pool and stop to get our silica mask, which we apply and leave on for 10 minutes; after that time, we simply wash off in the water. We float over to the swim-up bar and get some white wine, which we drink next to the vents, where the water is hottest. Then we lollygag over to the spa area and get our green algae mask. It’s funny to see all the people floating about with their masks on and wine glasses or beers in their hands. It’s all rather otherworldly.
After lingering in the Blue Lagoon for over an hour, we finally get showered and dressed and prepare to drive back to Reykjavik. We have a long drive tomorrow on the Ring Road to the north.
On our way back, we make a stop at a grocery store to pick up some snack food for our road trip tomorrow: destination Akureyri.
Total steps for today, Monday, August 15: 13,734 ( ~ 5.82 miles).