The Blue Lagoon

Had a wonderful flight to Iceland with the no-frills Iceland Express. It just works, efficient and on-time, no idea why (neither being a typical characteristic of Icelanders). There were clouds all over Europe, but when we flew over the eastern Icelandic coast there were clear skies and gorgeous views of the mighty rivers and glaciers as well as the Westmann Islands off to the south.

The descent into Keflavik was grand, I had my suitcases in no time and was out the door while the Icelanders were going through a tax-free shop to load up on alcohol within 20 minutes of touchdown! My friends were parked right outside with their jeep, and we took off for Bláa Lónið, the Blue Lagoon.

Blue LagoonThis is an environmental-accident-turned-spa. They were drilling for hot thermal water (used here for heating and generating electricity) and hit hot water all right - but salt water, and filled with a silica clay sand to boot. It was eerily blue, left white deposits, and kept gushing out. It would corrode metal in a flash, so they just let it run. Neighborhood youth ("neighborhood" being defined in Texas terms as "anyone within an hour's walk or drive" from the place) started swimming in it, and it was discovered that the waters had medicinal properties - cures many skin diseases.

Analysis turned up that algae were the reason for the blue color. And studies are to have shown that the waters are good for all sorts of things. So they built a spa, and the tourists came. So many came that they moved the spa a bit further down the road (just leaving the old one, looks really bizarre) with a large hotel and lots more space to float.

We had a wonderful afternoon, it was sunny and warm (read: 13 degrees C), the water was warm, warmer, boiling hot in places, and the new facility is really so large that it was nice despite the busloads of Japanese and American and English tourists floating around. Except maybe for overhearing their conversations: One American woman to another: "Iceland is on the Gulf Stream, it flows unter the island." Another American tourist: "I wonder where they import this gooey stuff from?"

Afterwards your skin is really soft and you feel very relaxed. What a wonderful welcome to Iceland!

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