Date: Friday 28th JulyPlace: The Northern Lights Hotel
From Selfoss we drove west, stopping in Reykjavík for a little walk around. We had a snack at Bædarins Beztu, a hot dog stand where Clinton ate on his visit to Iceland. Monica missed her chance for an easy joke.
We wandered up Laugavegur and Skólavörðustígur, popping into various shops (most of which carry essentially the same range). We got a few bits, and nipped into a tea shop for cup.
From Reykjavík we took the road to Keflavík, and then south toward Grindavík across a lava field.
In the distance we could see steam rising, this was from a geothermal plant. Water from a depth of 2km comes up heated, which drives turbines to generate electricity for Reykjavík. Hot water is also piped into town.
The Northern Lights Hotel is right next to the geothermal plant, with views over the lava field. The waste water from the hotel is sent to an artificial lagoon behind the plant, called 'The Blue Lagoon', or Bláa Lónið. This place is a must visit when in Iceland, it's very close to the airport so it makes a perfect way to begin or end a visit. Or both.
The geothermal plant makes a great backdrop, like a sci-fi set. One gets changed in the building, braves the cold weather for a few seconds and then straight into the warm water.
The water is full of minerals, and so is a milky white colour, these settle in nooks and crannies to form a thick white mud. Pots of this have been placed around the pool, and bathers can just grab a handful and smear it on. There's a sauna and a steam room, it's a great way to spend the day.
They have missed one trick, it should be possible to enter the water under cover, and then go outside in the water, similarly, one must leave the water to get to the steam room and sauna. However, they're redeveloping at the moment, so this may change in the future.
As one moves around the lagoon, there are relative hotspots at places where the water enters the lagoon, temperature variations are a bit of an issue, and from time to time clouds of steam waft across the lagoon. At times, it was hard to see my own hand in front of my face.
I did think it was a bit of a shame that the Blue Lagoon seems to have chosen to use English in preference to Icelandic in a lot of it's signs. I don't have a problem with making English prominent (indeed, I relied on it in Iceland), but I do think that it shouldn't displace the local language.
The meal back at the hotel was very good indeed, though there were fewer people there than I would have expected. The combination of hotel with Blue Lagoon was a winning one for us, we'd like to come back.
The next day we would go straight to the airport and onto the plane. Landing in London the temperature was so high it felt like we were starting the holiday! It was so nice to be in cooler climes for a time - the UK had been very hot and sticky.