Sunday, 5 February 2017

Iceland - the land of fire and ice - part 5

Day 5

Day 5 dawned dark and slighter warmer than what I had become used to.  We checked out of our fancy hotel and headed west this time towards the Blue Lagoon.  I scoured the Iceland guidebook I had for mudpools or geothermal fields and found one named Krysuvik - Seltun and programmed the sat nav to it.  It started to snow just as we were passing through the outskirts of Reykjavic and it came down hard and heavy.  A few kilometres out of the city we turned south onto a narrower road which by now had been completely snowed over but had tracks from a previous vehicle so we followed it (and the sat nav).  Things got hairy at that point.  The road was off the main road and clearly not overly used (or so it felt) and with the snow pounding down and visibility much reduced we just kept going and hoping for the best.  We passed a lake on the left hand side and weaved through mountain passes and then suddenly had the ocean on our left hand side.  It is such a thing of beauty!  The ocean to one side, the mountains to the other and the snow white and thick on the ground.  After just a little while further the sat nav told us we had to turn right and we had arrived at our destination.

Krysuvik - Seltun

Stunning!  I am so glad we went here as it was another show of nature being all fierce and magnificent!  Its true its a little off the beaten path but if watching boiling water bubble out of the earth and enjoying columns of steam erupt from the ground is your thing, then this is a must.  Of all the places with high geothermal activity we went to, this was definitely the most active and also most certainly the most stinky!  The rich toxic smell of sulfur almost had us gagging.
There is a wooden meandering path that leads up along the side and you can walk along reading all the info about the area and geothermal activity.  We had the entire place to ourselves for most of the time and just took our time taking it all in (All this while it snowed heavily on our heads!)

After spending around 30 minutes here we decided to head out and make our way to the Blue Lagoon.

The car - after traveling for 1 or so hours in the snow

The Blue Lagoon

Hidden in the middle of nowhere, close to town called Grindavik is the famous Blue Lagoon
            The Blue Lagoon (Icelandic: Bláa lónið) geothermal spa is one of the most visited attractions in Iceland.[1] The spa is located in a lava field in Grindavík on the Reykjanes Peninsula, southwestern Iceland. Bláa lónið is situated approximately 20 km (12 mi) from the Keflavík International Airport and 39 km (24 mi) from the capital city of Reykjavík, roughly a 21-minute drive from the airport and a 50-minute drive from Reykjavík. - Source - Wikipedia

Its like arriving at an oasis surrounded by a massive lava field of jutting volcanic rocks that stretch out for as far as the eye can see. Here lies a stunning building offering you every kind of pampering while you soak your body in the 37 - 40 Deg C thermal blue water.  Pete and I arrived and got into the long queue and immediately decided to upgrade to the premium package which included robes and slippers.  You are issued with a wristband which you use to buy anything you need and are then ushered to lockers and showers where they insist you shower before entering the waterYou can leave everything in your locker and use your wristband to lock it and then follow the exit out towards the pools.
It was still snowing outside and felt rather surreal as we walked into the water, the cold air hitting my bare arms and back, snow drifting down on my face, and then, as you step into the warm water and become enveloped by the steam as it rises off the surface, it feels as if you are stepping into some alternate universe.  OK, Ok, maybe I am slapping this on a little thick and poetic but it truly was wonderful!

 Entering into the pools you are immediately hit by the warmth of the thermal water and the subtle hint of silica and sulphur.  Don't taste the water!  It doesn't taste all that good but simply allow yourself to be washed over with the warmth and goodness of this relaxing thermal spa.  We slowly moved around, snow still falling on our heads, amazed at the contrast of the white outside, snow covering the rocks that surrounded us and the heat that was enveloping our bodies.  Its a calm relaxing atmosphere and you almost feel like you are floating in space as you see faint figures in the distance, obscured by the steam that is coming off the water and who gradually come into view as you move closer.  Ok, I know, I am waxing poetic again.

 As we moved we came across a bar which offered your free drink (that came with the package) along with more beer and wine and prosecco, including healthy options of smoothies and Blue Lagoon green concoctions made up of vitamins, fruits and spinach which was actually delicious.  All you had to do was wave your wristband over the scanner and it was charged.  There are built in seats in the water and Pete and sat there slowly drinking our drinks, enjoying ourselves immensely.  Moving further around the pools we came across the face mask area.  Here they offer first the silica mud mask and then the algae mask.  Either one or both included in your package, depending what ticket you had bought.  5 to 10 minutes of each mask and your skin felt fresh and replenished so it surely was an all round pamper session.  Steam rooms, waterfalls, sauna's - all of it scattered around the pools makes for a wonderful spa day experience and I would say that no trip to Iceland is complete without adding this to your places to visit

We spent roughly 3 hours there.  In and out the water, the steam room, our face masks, helping ourselves to the bar and simply enjoying it all.  By the time we were ready to leave, the sun was trying to come out from behind the clouds and the snow had long since stopped.  We headed back to the showers, dressed, paid for our 'extra's' and then made our way to our final hotel, The Northern Lights Inn, which was literally 2 minutes drive away.

 The Northern Lights

Of all the hotels we stayed at, including posh hotel number 2, this was by far my favourite.  After we checked in the lady at the front desk showed us to our room and on the way showed us where the lounge was which was a giant room with a real fireplace, an abundance of sofa's, chess games, board games, puzzles and free coffee, tea and waffles which you could make yourself.  Also, we passed an 'honestly bar' which was a fully stocked bar that you could help yourself to, provided you wrote down everything you took in the book.  The rooms were the largest by far that we had been in and our window overlooked the lava field that stretched out over the snow covered hills and mountains that was sprawled out in front of us.  With two comfy arm chairs and a huge bathroom I didn't want to leave my room!  Also, they have a raised conservatory platform that you can access if you wished to view the northern lights (if you are lucky enough for them to show) in the comfort of the inside without having to go outside in the cold.

At around 6.30ish we went for our evening meal and decided to treat ourselves by NOT looking at the prices and ordering whatever looked good.  I ordered the free-range lamb fillets and it was absolutely delicious!  So good I had to share some of it with Pete just so I could enjoy seeing his face when he took his first bite.   I think we both agree it's the best lamb I have ever had in my life (I am not exaggerating) if ever so slightly underdone.  We shared a bottle of wine and ended our meal with coffees and then retreated to the lounge were I challenged him to a game of chess.  While playing our first game of chess the waiter came into the lounge and announced that the northern lights were out.  It was only around 9.30 and we had expected them much later.

Oh My God!  They were absolutely incredible and lasted for hours!  We took many pictures but at the time of writing this blog I only have access to two pictures.  

For hours we moved around the outside of the hotel, following the best angle for the lights, taking a million pictures.  We were truly lucky to get such a magnificent display on our very last night and I am so grateful we did as the northern lights was ultimately the real reason I had booked the trip in the first place and would have been somewhat disappointed if all we had got was that first night we went on the excursion.  Pete made a number of trips to the 'honestly bar' drinking Irish coffee after Irish coffee and I eventually said I was going to bed and left him outside to enjoy the magnificence of mother nature as she continued with her light display in the sky.

That night felt like the longest night ever.  I woke up many times, always looking out the window to check to see if something was going on in the sky, but eventually, it was time to get up, get dressed, have breakfast and pack to go to the airport.
Our car was a block of ice as it stood in the parking lot but we were eventually on our way, in the dark heading toward Keflalik airport and our trip home.

As we stood outside the entrance to departures, smoking a final cigarette it started to snow again and I reminisced about just how wonderful Iceland was and how much I hoped to one day return.  I am not much of a cold weather person, anyone who knows me knows I bask in the sun and tend to hibernate in the winter but this was truly a fantastic experience and the snow, ice and cold winter weather made it for me just that little bit more special and unique.  I would go again, surely and do some things differently, but I would also surely do it again in the cold dark months of winter.

1 comment:

Gail said...

Bernadette you truly are a wonderful writer and should for travel agents. What a wonderful time you must have had.