Monday, 10 February 2020

Iceland 1 - Chilling in the Lagoon

15th January

We landed at Keflavik airport around 10am and it was still dark, but dawn was starting to break. We got the Flybus to Reykjavik passing through the lava fields that white instead of black as they were still covered in snow from a storm the previous week.


We were staying at Hotel Plaza Center  which was lived up to its name being very central and also very good. Nordic in style with little night lights flickering all around in reception and bar areas.



House in City Centre
After unpacking we went to look around the city. First we stopped at the Cafe Paris for a late lunch we both had omelettes which were delicious and pricey but that's the score when you come to these northern countries.

We wandered into some side streets where there were lovely traditional houses. Many with lights in the windows and outside. I love that Nordic way of using light. When it is dark few people close their blinds/curtains so the light can spill out. It was so good to see homes right within the city centre.



Tjornin
We then sauntered on to Tjornin, the Pond, most of which was iced up.  There were ducks, pigeons and very noisy swans all vying for food people were putting down - the victor often running of with its prize chased by other birds! As I , as well as many other birds, have a counter-current heat exchange system between the arteries and veins in their legs. Warm arterial blood flowing to the feet passes close to cold venous blood returning from the feet. The arterial blood warms up the venous blood, dropping in temperature as it does so. Isn't nature amazing?  The sun was setting and it was beautiful.

We went back to the hotel for a rest before heading out on our northern lights trip. Our guide had a lot of knowledge but she talked too much! We were taken to  ├×ingvellir National Park where it was pitch black except for a few lights in the distance. We got out  and waited. It was very cold so I ended getting back into the coach to wait there. Unfortunately the lights didn't appear and we were back in Reykjavik by midnight. We were really tired as we'd been up since 5am.


January 16th

Breakfast at our hotel was very good, lots of choice. Later in
Blue Lagoon
morning we got the bus to the Blue Lagoon which is about 50 minutes from Reykjavik in the middle of lava fields. Once there it was all very organised, we were given our wristbands, robe and sandals. Then it was off to the changing rooms ro change into our swimwear. A shower prior to entering the water was mandatory. Afterwards we were given a towel and after drying off hung it up, stepped out of the sandals then down the ramp into the water     

The icy cold outside is a shock to the system until you are well into the water which is delectably warm. then it is bliss! Lava formations were all around, some with snow on them, distant snow

Blue Lagoon
covered mountains, the blue milky water and steam rising from it made for a surreal, but very relaxing experience. 

A woman with a ladle gave us a handful of white silica mud to put on our faces, you keep it on for ten minutes and then wash it off with the water. The lagoon wasn't too full, and we found ourselves a lovely quiet area where we could sit on seats with the water coming up to our necks. 


We stayed in the lagoon for one and a half hours and felt totally chilled. Another shower after we went back in the building, making sure our hair was well washed as the minerals in the can make it go hard if you don't!


We had a snack in the cafe and browsed round the shop but didn't buy anything. Then we got the bus back to the city. I have to add a postscript that within two days of bathing in the healing waters of the Blue Lagoon my eczema disappeared, and as I write this, three weeks later, it still hasn't come back. 



Later we went to the Italia Restaurant on Laugavegur, the main shopping street in Reykjavik.  I've been to this restaurant on each of
Me in the Italia Restaurant
my four visits to the city and it is always very good. It is small and made up of cubicles each named after a place in Italy, ours was Sorrento. I had tortellini in a cream sauce with ham and mushrooms and it was delicious, Marian really enjoyed her meal too. We shared an amazing dessert of chocolate cake with cream and chocolate sauce with blueberries and redcurrants, I love how Nordic countries use berries a lot.

It had been a wonderful relaxing day, it was so good to be back in Iceland.


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