We had a super important plan for today—bathing the day away at the Blue Lagoon geothermal hot pools. Blue Lagoon has become somewhat of a tourist mecca, and probably pales in comparison to the dozens of natural hot springs that are sprinkled throughout the country. Despite this, we wanted to give it a shot and make our first full day as lazy as possible. We got up early and made the 40 minute drive from Reykjavik after grabbing a quick coffee. It’s necessary here to note that we were quickly learning how much better coffee is in Iceland than back home. It’s rich and strong, and that is perhaps why you are only served one size—small. The average to-go cup of coffee is smaller than a Starbucks Tall, but it perks you up plenty and helps you break down your “bigger-is-better” American mindset.
We could smell the sulfur as we approached the springs. Cold water in Iceland is fresh and pure right from the tap, but hot water is notorious for that sulfuric aroma. It lingered throughout our rental apartment every time one of us took a shower. Surprisingly though, as we got inside the building, we noticed it less and less. The lagoon is gigantic, and you have to buy a ticket ahead of time (65 euros for the Comfort level package, which includes towels, special face masks, and a free drink). The place is incredibly well organized. You get a wrist band that locks and unlocks your locker and is also scanned to pay for drinks at the swim-up bar, so you don’t have to bring anything with you to the water. We took our obligatory pre-lagoon shower, which is required to be done bathing suit-free, and pumped our hair full of conditioner to prevent the silica in the water from turning it to straw. It’s recommended that even with conditioner, you don’t let your hair soak in the pools. I have read horror stories.
The pools were gigantic. They sprawled in every direction, with enough capacity for hundreds. We slipped into the steaming water and drifted into spa-like glory. The water was hotter in some spots than others, which made it easy to wade around for an extended period of time without getting overheated. Using our free drink for Prosecco proved to be a good choice, and we proudly held our plastic wine glasses above the water in one hand and snapped Go-Pro photos in the other. There were stations in-water to apply special silica and algae face masks and also to get free photos taken. I propped myself onto several foam noodles, closed my eyes, and checked out. It was a more-than-worth-it trip, and we wandered back to Reykjavík a couple hours later, serene and sleepy (without straw-like hair!).
That night we went for dinner at Fish Company (“Fishfelagid”) for some more awesome Icelandic seafood. It was a cute setting inside a dimly lit wooden room, with friendly service. Our table split an appetizer—a poached egg over crispy thin potato strings, thin seared asparagus, fried wild mushrooms, truffle “sponge” (crispy and charred), and aromatic herb juice. It was literally unreal. The intensity of the truffle combined with the fluffy egg, crunch of the potato, and savory herbed vegetables made a perfect bite. My main dish was Ocean Perch with yolk paste and cauliflower puree, celery spaghetti, mini potatoes, and a dill butter sauce—washed down with white wine. Again, perfection. Two nights in a row I’ve eaten some of the tastiest food of my life. The seafood here is a must-do, and more than worth the price splurge (or, in NYC mindset, worth paying exactly what I would pay at home for worse seafood).
Katie and I went off after dinner to check out the bar scene again, and made some friends quickly at a bar called Boston, after a bar-goer walked over and plopped his over-sized headphones on my ears without warning. Friendly? Creepy? I still can’t decide, but it sparked some cool conversations out on the covered roof deck with people who lived anywhere from Iceland to Georgia (the country, not the state). Once again, we tumbled for home after midnight and the sun still hadn’t set. I think it gets dark for all of 2 hours at this time of year, and I have yet to see it.