Day one: What exciting times were to be ahead!
Landing with a red-eye flight on my first day in Iceland was perhaps one of the best ways to kick that jetlag in the behind. It seems that most flights from the US land extremely early. While I was waiting around at the airport at 6am, I therefore got to see a couple of tour groups from Seattle being picked up by their local (and American) guides. Icelandair recently added a bunch of locations to their itinerary and the Western part of the US and Canada are a few of those.
Since my flight to Germany was also early in the morning (unfortunately!), I decided that the only way to make the best of my stay would be to check out the Blue Lagoon on my way from the airport to my accommodation. It is almost half-way in between Keflavik and Reykjavik, thus making it the perfect opportunity to dip into the healing waters when in transit to the airport (at the beginning or end of your trip). I was slightly apprehensive at first, not knowing what to expect, as it is a common tourist hotspot after all and usually I try to avoid those if possible. But my coworker had adamantly recommended it and I knew swimming and bathing is always a great idea after a longer flight. And today I still consider this one of the best ways to take it easy on your first day of a longer trip.
To dispel the myth and describe it in a nutshell: The Blue Lagoon is worth it. There are a few varying reviews on it, but in my opinion it’s absolutely worth checking out.
The Blue Lagoon opens at 9am and I took a regular Flybus from Keflavik airport. You can book in advance or purchase a ticket at the airport – either way it didn’t seem to make much of a difference. I did however purchase my blue lagoon entrance ticket in advance (together with transport), and it turned out cheaper than on site. I’d recommend you doing the same if you want to avoid a bit of a hassle and confusion over package prices. The Blue Lagoon offers a variety of wellness options such as an added-on miracle mask, slippers, sparkling wine and many more.
Being the person I am, I decided to go for the most basic option and it also suited the time frame I had planned for quite well. Be aware that you are able to store your luggage while bathing (there is a fee of $5 per bag). The lockers were pretty large, so carry-on baggage certainly fits into it (forget about a suitcase, though).
After changing into a bathing suit, rinsing off, and conditioning my hair, I was all ready to jump into the hottest water out there. Or so I thought. The moment I stepped outside, I was freezing cold, so I jumped back indoors. Luckily there is an indoor pool with access to the outdoors, so I was able to warm up a bit inside before poking my head out and swimming into the rain.
The Blue Lagoon truly is blue and as my luck had it, it had just finished renovations a few weeks earlier. I must have had the best water possible in the entire history of the Blue Lagoon.
There are several different temperatures of water. You will recognize the hotter ones due to the steam rising above the water. Those were usually my go-to-spots: Nice and cozy at a temperature of 40C and beyond. Of course I wasn’t able to sustain my well-being here for long, as it was simply too hot. Overall, the median temperature of the Lagoon is 37 to 40C– so pretty decent to keep warm for a couple of hours.
In and around the water you will find elevated stations which serve you alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks. I opted for a healthier blueberry-smoothie option. For 9 bucks I didn’t see it as overly expensive (keep in mind that Iceland is relatively expensive compared to the US and Europe. More on this later.).
I also got my mud-mask fix on. In the water there is a floating station with two to three people, who will slap two different kind of masks on your hand, which you will then rub into your face: The first one is the silica mud mask (which I have also been trying out at home after buying it at the airport). After letting it sink in for up to 15 mins, you are able to try the algae mask (for an additional time of 10mins). After rubbing the masks in, I was drifting throughout the Lagoon, looking for the hotspots and just overall enjoying myself. Since I did not bring my cell phone or camera, I was happy to find out that one of the employees took pictures of you right behind the mud mask station. We chatted a bit, and I found out that we had more in common than thought. She had lived in Luxembourg for a while and was missing the European mainland. My encounters with Icelandic people so far have proven nothing but positive and this was certainly one of them.
In addition to the different temperature pools, you can also find a hot waterfall and steam baths. If you purchase a massage, there is a secluded area in which you can get the full wellness experience on.
I was lucky to find out later that I had indeed come at the best time: In the early morning hours, when the weather was still quite agreeable with everything else. Sure, there was a bit of rain, but it didn’t bother me. The wind hadn’t picked up yet either, so it was still fine to swim around. But as the afternoon came around, the wind together with the snow and rain made it hard to see much, especially when facing wind-side. I therefore decided that after almost 3 hours of relaxation it was time to go back inside and finally make my way over to Reykjavik.
Thanks to the leave-in conditioner, my hair was not ruined (as some blog posts had suggested) and I was able to blow-dry my hair in the locker rooms. They provide quite a bit of luxury, which was great after a long flight and not bringing/forgetting much of my make-up or utensils in the checked bags. Since I had a bit of time until the next bus to Reykjavik, I also walked around the amenities and found an extended part, still under construction.
On our way back, the bus driver warned us of the snow and rain. As our luck had it, we drove into a full-blown snow storm and our return to Reykjavik took twice as long as usual. It was for this reason that I was happy to go on a guided tour in the next couple of days instead of renting a car. Weather in Iceland is simply unpredictable, especially during the winter months.