Tuesday, May 17, 2016

20151022 Iceland with its famous Blue Lagoon

When I was little, I wanted to visit Iceland because I thought it was a land full of ice. Ironically, it is quite a lot greener than Greenland while Greenland is quite a lot icier than Iceland.

Iceland is the land of fire and ice. What does this mean? It means that there are many geothermal spots and many hot springs, the most famous of which is the Blue Lagoon. As with most things in Iceland, it is not cheap to visit the Blue Lagoon so you've got to plan your day well. Our friend told us we could get the tickets at the counter when we reach so we didn't bother booking online. We were lucky because we went during an off-peak season and we went in the morning. Another friend went during Easter week and was told that the earliest entry time was 7pm. It was 2pm when they reached. So yes, I would recommend booking your Blue Lagoon package online

We booked 2-way transport from town to the lagoon via Bustravel Iceland at around S$72 for two. The price did not include entrance to Blue Lagoon. Being the kiasu people we are, we took the 8.45am trip and the journey took about 45 minutes. 

The thing about Iceland is how it manages to surprise you. I thought the Blue Lagoon was just like another other hot springs. Boy, was I wrong. 

As the bus meandered down the road into Blue Lagoon, we saw fields and fields of lava. According to the driver, they are pretty young lava fields. I guess this means that they were formed more recently; "recent" being a relative term. 

When we alighted, the driver informed us of the timings available for the return trip and we could hop on to any.

Since we were still feeling warm from the cozy interior of the bus, we decided to explore the lands around the Blue Lagoon. And what a treat it was. 

There's blue and then there's blue.

You'll see these gorgeous beds of blue water and if you're lucky, the sun will be peeping out while you take all those selfies.

The contrast of the blue against the dark lava field is quite spectacular. 

The unexpected photo spot at the Blue Lagoon

Gotta take me one of those contemplative floatfie shots

Marveling at the lava fields


The weather in Iceland can get a bit kooky. When you see the sun out, do as much exploring as you can because it may start pouring after 5 minutes. And with the long hours needed to travel from Singapore to Iceland, it's not very likely you will plan a return trip soon. Oh, of course you'll be quite pok (read: broke) after a trip here. 

Depending on the ticket you buy, you may need to bring along towel and slippers. You can be a Singaporean and wear slippers there instead of covered shoes. Then I salute you. 

I expected the Blue Lagoon to be similar to our local public swimming pools. You know, water to wade in, a small cafeteria and a small shop to sell some essentials. Maybe coin slot lockers, a filmsy entry ticket and basic shower facilities. 

WRONG!

The Blue Lagoon is definitely a 5-star wading pool. Water to wade in? Yes, but it's mineral-rich water that makes your skin so soft and supple. Small cafeteria? Yes, but it's with awesome smoothies and there's an amazing restaurant, Lava, which served us the best meal I had in Iceland. 

Here's proof:
Amazing warm bread served with a blob of ??

Arctic char with fennel, pearl onion, cucumber, toasted bread aioli

Langoustine soup with garlic-marinated langoustine, white chocolade, seaweed

FRESH Cod, sunchokes, almonds, grapes, brown butter sauce

Rack of lamb with cabbage, smoked onion, lemon, green cabbage, apple 


“√Āstarpungar” & caramel with caramel chocolate mousse, vanilla ice cream, salted caramel

There was a hiccup with serving our desserts. They got delayed and they served us the same item even though we ordered different sets. We didn't want to make a fuss so we tried to eat them. Not our cup of tea. 

It's important to travel with people with similar taste in food. If you are a foodie and will die without trying new things, then travelling with a picky eater will be quite a challenge. Of course you can eat everything yourself but you'll be too full to try more or you'll be wasting food in order to try more. 

A small shop to sell essentials? Yes, but they also sell high-end Blue Lagoon spa products. A hand cream sets you back a pretty S$55. The shop also sells swimsuit but fugly ones so bring your own. 

Yes, you need to wear swimsuit. If you are conscious about your body, don't be! Firstly, the steam at the lagoon makes it hard for anyone to really see your cellulite. Besides, if Kate Moss has them, us mere mortals should be ok with ours. And you can wear a t-shirt and shorts over your swimsuit. Secondly, the water is opaque so once you're in the lagoon, people don't see the parts of your body that are submerged. You are encouraged to tie your hair up and not go underwater water because the high silica content will tangle your hair like mad and sting your eyes like crazy. And finally, once you disrobe in the 4 deg.C air, you will be rushing into the water so whatever body hangups you have will last 10 seconds at most. 

So long as you don't slip and fall. x_x

If you intend to take photos, bring your weatherproof camera or casing. My brother's trusty Olympus weatherproof one worked well. I saw someone trying to use their iPhones for a selfie while they kept it inside a water-proof bag. Too much work.

Coin slot lockers, flimsy entry ticket and basic shower facilities? Wrong! 

These are our entry tickets:
We tapped the electronic wristbands to buy stuff, lock lockers, exit and make payment.

The shower facilities came with high pressure water, big cubicles and toiletries. You can also find cotton wool, cotton buds and hairdryers. Be warned though that some cubicles do not have doors and some body-confident people do use them. Don't worry, ladies and gents have separate areas. We had a shock though because a nude old lady used one of these cubicles facing out instead of the wall and was happily grinning at everyone who walked by. 

I had visited hot springs before and I can't say I'm a big fan. I prefer the cold and being hot makes me pekcek. 

Blue Lagoon changed my mind. The water was a balmy 30+deg. C and the contrast with the cold air was just nice. If you're too hot, you can stand straighter to cool down and vice versa. 

This is an underwater shot. See, it's really opaque. No need to hold your stomach in.

Yes, steammmmy...


You can buah as much of this on your face as you want. It's free! 

The landscape was not as ideal as we would like it to be. There were a number of cranes as they were building the Silica Hotel.

There's a bar there so you can order drinks (yes, alcohol) as you wade in the pool. You can also go for spa there. I'm not sure how long you can stay inside the water. I think we stayed until our fingers became pruney. And that was just about right. Because it started pouring after we showered.

Great time management. Just enough time to claim our complimentary drink as we looked at the  pouring rain. Yes, I bring rain on all my travels. 

We had rescheduled our aurora tour after the Blue Lagoon trip.

Guess what? It was postponed again. :(







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