The Blue Lagoon (Bláa Lónið) is most likely Iceland’s #1 tourist destination and was first on our agenda on Day 12 of our visit. I have to admit that I wasn’t all that keen on going to the Blue Lagoon, but as it was a Bucket List item for Mom, what could I do but acquiesce??
The Blue Lagoon is a man-made lagoon filled with the effluent from a nearby geothermal power plant called Svartsengi. According to Wikipedia:
Superheated water is vented from the ground near a lava flow and 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.
We were told by a staff member that the lagoon was “discovered” by a couple of men who were building a radio tower nearby. They spotted the blue water pooling in the lava rocks and decided to take a break and have a soak. It was commercialized and opened to the public in 1992.
As a belated birthday/Mother’s Day gift for Mom, I had purchased the Luxury Package for each of us, which included a bunch of stuff that you don’t get with the Standard Package. The best part was having access to the “Exclusive Lounge” (and our own private shower/changing room) and being completely pampered during our stay. We had an early morning reservation and were squired about by our very own personal attendant, Pétur. Pétur was absolutely adorable and even graciously attempted to teach us how to say a few words in Icelandic, although his efforts were largely wasted on us. Have I mentioned that Icelandic is a very difficult language?
One of the perks of the Exclusive Lounge was a humongous bowl of fruit. Knowing how expensive fruit is in Iceland and being rather produce-starved by that point in our journey, I totally gorged myself on fruit, determined to get my money’s worth in fruit alone!! After relaxing in the lounge for a bit, we decided to take the plunge into the lagoon. The Exclusive Lounge had its own indoor mini-lagoon and a private entrance into the main lagoon.
We made our way out into the lagoon and over to the silica pots. It is customary to scoop a handful of gooey white silica mud from these pots and smear it all over your face. You then bob around the lagoon with this mud on your face until it starts drying. (Sorry, there are no photos of this). You then rinse it off your face and marvel at how smooth and youthful your skin has suddenly become.
We sampled all of the other features of the place, including a sauna, a thunderous waterfall that absolutely pummels your body into submission, and a “swim up” bar. After bobbing around in the lagoon for a while, we spent the remainder of our allotted time hanging out in the lounge in our fluffy white robes, eating more fruit and chatting with the other Exclusive people. Our time was over before we knew it and we had to rush to get showered and changed before they kicked us out.
Next on the agenda was lunch at the Lava Restaurant. I was a bit apprehensive about this as it was HORRENDOUSLY expensive and there wasn’t a whole lot of food on the menu that either of us could/would eat. I finally decided on the Cauliflower (Cauliflower, capers, fennel, shallot onion, almonds) and Mom got the Salad (Hispi cabbage, rucola, eggplant, beans, radish, parmesan cheese).
They were both somewhat edible. For dessert, Mom got the Crème Brûlée and I got the “Ástarpungar” & Caramel, both also somewhat edible. We thoroughly enjoyed the experience and were amused by the many patrons of this very fancy restaurant who showed up in their bathrobes.
We had asked Pétur for some advice earlier about what other sights there were to see in the area, and he told us that Heidi was the person we wanted to talk to about that. So while we were eating, Heidi came over and chatted with us for quite some time, wrote down some notes and even printed a map for us. She was so very delightful and informative, and told us of an area we absolutely HAD to visit because it was “magical.”
After lunch and the obligatory souvenir shopping, we headed off in the direction of Grindavík, a fishing town on the south coast of the peninsula Reykjanes. We drove east for a ways, then turned onto Highway 42, which first led us to a strange green lake called Grænavatn (“Green Lake”) that is apparently an explosion crater and is filled with inexplicably green water.
Grænavatn is situated in a geothermal area called Krýsuvík and just up the road from the weird green lake is a geothermal field called Seltún. It was very colorful had lots of bubbling and steaming things.
Next up was a large lake called Kleifarvatn.
The geology in this area is quite fascinating. Kleifarvatn sits on top of an arm of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge and after a big earthquake in 2000, this lake lost about 20% of its surface area, presumably disappearing into rifts on the lake bottom created by the earthquake. The lake is said to be inhabited by a serpent-like monster. We didn’t see it.
Down the road, we saw these fish drying on open-air racks. Dried fish (“hardfiskur“) appears to be a staple of the Icelandic diet.
The rest of the day was pretty uneventful.
Feel free to visit the gallery containing these and a bunch more photos from Day 12 HERE.