Iceland is home to volcanoes and glaciers, geothermal waters and harsh, treeless landscapes. It is one of the most beautiful and untamed lands we have visited. We landed at their small airport with great expectations on one of our adventures. We flew Icelandic air which was a treat in and of itself. The flight attendants were dressed in a neatly pressed uniform with hose and skirts, and their hair neatly pinned under a retro flight attendant starched hat. They looked impeccable, friendly and very accommodating. It was one of the best flights ever. Once we were in the airport we stopped for some pastries and coffee. The coffee was strong, but delicious and the pastries were light and sweet. The airport was no bigger than a large factory and you could walk from
end to end in minutes.
From the airport we hopped a bus to the famous Blue Lagoon. The landscape on the approximately half hour ride was lovely. The houses in the little towns rose out of the rocky land in bright colors. There were almost no trees, and the brush and bushes did not obstruct the view for miles. The hills in this area were rolling, and the roads lined with the volcanic rocks. We would love to spend a week or more there, but on this particular trip, we did not have that kind of time. We have seen reports of beautiful helicopter tours over the mountains, water falls and the volcanoes. They also have adventure hiking vacations around Iceland. We will have to go back. On this particular adventure we were all about the Blue Lagoon.
The Blue Lagoon is a geothermal spa built in the early 1980’s. The Lagoon is man made, but fed by water output from the nearby geothermal power plant. Superheated water is vented from the ground near a lava flow, so it is utilizing the underground volcanic waters. Iceland is rich in volcanic activity. The water is filled with minerals such as silica and sulfur. The lagoon bottom is natural mineral filled soils that are easy on the feet and feel like walking on carpet. As we approached the area, the bus dropped us off and we walked a rock lined path to beautiful bath houses equipped for even the least prepared traveler. As we walked towards the spa we could smell the sulfur and minerals in the wet heavy air. It smelled divine and it felt like someone was softly misting your face as you got closer and closer. It brought back memories of a time we had visited a natural hot springs in the Olympic National forest in Washington state on the Olympic peninsula, many years earlier with our kids on a road trip. We really enjoyed the way that warm slippery mineral water made our skin feel.
As we entered the large new buildings, we paid a fee to enter and were assigned a locker and a towel and a warm comfy robe. The staff was friendly and welcoming and eager to explain where everything was and let us know to be sure to ask if we needed anything. Once in the expansive area you can buy anything you need including suits, towels or flip flops. There were very clean, well equipped locker rooms for men and women, and even though it serves a lot of people, it never felt crowded. Once you get out of the locker rooms you face two-story windows overlooking the Lagoon, shrouded by mist over blue grey, cloudy, mineral rich waters. The steam was rising that day as the air was cool. You could see the bathers spread out over the expansive area sipping cocktails or spring water as they conversed in the largest natural Jacuzzi ever. It almost looked surreal as we went outside to walk down the many stairs and enter the lagoon. Life guards stand by around the pools even though it was not more than five feet deep anywhere. The lifeguards wore what appeared to be rain gear, even though it was not raining and they changed positions often, probably to avoid boredom. The pools were surrounded by black volcanic rock and bubblers throughout to bring in fresh mineral water and keep the pools comfortably hot.
We hung out together feeling refreshed, and once in a while we dug our hand to the bottom of the lagoon to bring up a handful of grey mineral mud to rub on our skin. It made our skin feel like silk and the hot water felt really good after a long flight. Every long airline flight should be followed by a dip in a mineral hot spring. The jet lag floated away immediately. Of course it helped that they were serving Blue Lagoon cocktails. The cocktails were blue, of course, and fruity. The combination of fruit juice to energize our system and the alcohol to melt away stress was a perfect combination. It would be easy to fall asleep in the Lagoon which is why they probably have lifeguards around pools that are so shallow.
We soaked in the pool for an hour or so and then went into the buildings wearing our fluffy robs and sandals to have a bite to eat at the restaurants overlooking the Lagoon. After a rest and some photos, we went back into the Lagoon for more relaxation and conversation with other travelers. We relaxed and shared stories with people from all over the world for most of the afternoon.
It was a rare experience to be surrounded by the harsh landscape and the warm softness of the mineral waters. It was invigorating and yet relaxing. To witness the pilgrimage of people to these warm healing waters, looking for comfort and adventure all in the same trip, reminded me of the balance and harmony we all need in our lives. There has been much written about the necessity and mystery of opposing forces in the universe; fire and ice, dark and light, soft and hard and yin and yang. Iceland and particularly its healing mineral hot pools of the Blue Lagoon provided that balance and harmony of the senses and of the soul. There are not many places on earth that are so rare and so uniquely comfortable. It is a destination that should be sought out by those that need a little healing and comfort. We left relaxed, comfortable with the earth and with life, and changed in some respects in our outlook on what is important. Seek out those things that make you better, that heal your senses and soul, and ground you to what is and what is not important in life.