Blue Lagoon (Bláa lónið), Iceland.
Today celebrates relaxation, especially when juxtaposed against three days of action-packed adventures covering a quarter of Iceland’s surface area. It is a day to be pampered at the mythical but expertly commercialized Blue Lagoon.
We arrive early at about 10AM, amid drizzling rain and a still-dark horizon. The check-in was nice and easy because we reserved our tickets online. Our “premium” package provided us with flip flops, a towel, and a bathrobe to use. And yes, you do have to get butt-naked for a shower before entering the lagoon.
First impression: it is blue. I mean, really blue, like a pool backlit by a giant aquamarine mirror. It is a sight to behold.
The spa area is already teeming with early spa-goers as we stepped in. However, it is still very easy to find an open spot to claim as your own. It is funny how time melts away as you explore the lagoon for the “hot spot” to warm up while your head stays in chilly weather and at times piercing rain amid strong gusts. People around seem to have built up immunity to the wind by smearing blobs of silica and algae on their faces in search of younger-looking skin.
Our premium package came with a two-course meal at the Lava Restaurant on the premises. The meal surprised to the upside: some of the chefs were members of the Icelandic Culinary Olympics team and the fresh, seafood-dominant menu was filled with tasty and sophisticated creations like Arctic Char, Langoustine Soup, and grilled Cod. An added bonus: you can eat here while wearing your bathrobe over your bathing suit.
After a few more lazy hours in the Lagoon, we clean up and find our guide for a 30-minute walking tour of the facilities. While it was fascinating to hear the science behind the lagoon, the psoriasis clinic, and the magical effects of silica and algae on the human skin, the best stories from her involved a discussion of the Icelandic people’s belief in elves. Apparently they live in the lava rocks and can only been seen in dreams, but they bring you good luck and the strength to make it through life’s rougher patches.
Our tour ends on the viewing deck, where looking below we can see spa goers still enjoying the geothermal heat after sunset amid dim lights. The was also a scientific demonstration of how algae from the lagoon is cultivated for sale in their $50-per-tiny-bottle cosmetics products. Business is good!
Relaxed and rejuvenated, we drive back to Reykjavik for our final night in town. A proper sushi dinner at Sushibarinn on the main street of Laugavegur allows us to taste fresh catches of the day along with horse sashimi and minke whale skewers – both delicious if a bit uncanny at first bite.
And of course, no Icelandic culinary experience is complete without a taste of the adorable puffin. They are currently out of season, having returned to the ocean for winter, but Sushisamba did not disappoint. We lick our lips, reflect on our good luck at being born into the top of the food chain, and drift into a last good night of Icelandic slumber.
“The time to relax is when you don’t have time for it.” -Sydney J. Harris