"Otherworldly" Reykjanes & Bathing with the Stars
Trip Start Oct 19, 2008
16Trip End Nov 03, 2008
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Where I stayed
Centerhotel Arnarhvoll (Reykjavik)
After having a shockingly easy time returning the wrecked car (and being given a new, even better one!), we decided that we'd head out and take the scenic route to the Blue Lagoon.
Backing up for a second: The Blue Lagoon is a spa in Iceland (apparently it's pretty famous, though I wouldn't really know, not being a big spa-going kinda girl). It's basically a big pool of geothermally heated, mineral-rich water. It's located in a valley on Reykyjanes Peninsula, just outside of Reykjavik.
Although we'd always planned to stop at the Blue Lagoon (all the info I read said that it was a must-do), I didn't think we'd really have time to explore Reyjanes. At the best of times, I think it's sort of off-the-beaten path for most visitors, but all the pictures I saw made it look beautiful. Not going whale watching meant that we'd have time to explore it a little, so I wasn't too disappointed.
It turned out that "off-the-beaten path" was a bit of an understatement. Most of the tourist museums & attractions weren't even open. The first one we went to, a restored and preserved Viking Ship was even boarded up for the season and the area around it was under construction. After trying to visit a second museum and getting completely lost, we just gave up and decided to enjoy viewing the landscape.
What we did see though was just.. beyond words. Fields and fields of volcanic rock, just slightly covered with snow, as far as the eye could see. It wasn't like the tundra we saw earlier this week--no moss or sort of flat, even land. This was jagged rock, covering hills and valleys, jutting out this way and that. I like the way that Ethan described it--"otherworldly". It gave the sensation of being both barren and full of mystery at the same time. I felt like it would be very easy to believe (as the Icelanders so, apparently) that the land is full of elves, gnomes, ghosts and other creatures. The pictures don't really do it justice--I hope someday, some of you get to see it.
After driving through the Peninsula for a little while, we finally arrived that the Blue Lagoon. The minerals in the water make the water this weird neon kool-aid kind of blue. It's a very high tech, modern architechture kind of facility. As soon as we went in, we were given electronic bracelets that we used to pass through various security areas (from the lobby into the lockers, into the restaurant, into the pool area). They were used as our locker keys, and we were able to charge food, massages, spa services and who knows what else to these little bracelets and pay when we leave. Needless to say, it would have been very easy to spend waaay too much there, but we were able to resist the temptation.
We got changed and headed towards the pool.. the air outside was freezing, but the water was very much like being in a hot tub (We're far colder than we look in the pictures!). At one point, it was even lightly snowing.. being outdoors, surrounded by mountains in such hot water while it was snowing was kind of confounding, but fun. We frolicked for a while, wandering around through the (artificial) caves and tunnels and mazes, tried out the silca mud facial masks, and generally enjoyed ourselves.
And then, it happened. Ethan and I bathed with Bjork! Seriously.
I'd thought about writing something like that jokingly, but then it actually happened! We were hanging around in the pool near this (fake) waterfall.. standing underneath it feels like getting a neck massage, the water pressure is so high--and there she was, standing about 3 feet from me. I actually didn't recognize her & process who she was until after she had already moved on into the "exclusive VIP lounge" place which was right near us. Apparently I was about the only one though.. Ethan noticed her right away and said that most people around us were staring and whispering. After hearing that, I was almost a little glad that I didn't recognize her. I sort of feel sorry for celebrities in that way, because they must have a very difficult time just going about their days, doing regular people things. It must get really tiresome being scrutinized like that, getting stares and whispers and feeling like the center of attention wherever you go. In any case, it was a pretty cool experience even without the celebrity encounter.
Tired, but very relaxed, we headed back into Reykjavik for dinner and a relaxing night in the hotel room before a VERY early morning the next day.