Bathing in the Blue

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Left Akureyri on a morning flight. I just had time to get one last latte at my favorite sunny cafe up in the hill before taking off for the airport.

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It felt just as striking this time as my first internal flight in Iceland: the lack of security and attendant paranoia. They didn’t even ask me for an ID when I picked up my ticket. And there’s no such thing as a security check.

When we got on the plane we did have to show some ID, but most people just showed a credit card with their name on it. I guess this country really does operate on credit!

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Pretty much the last thing left on my to-do list that I could actually accomplish (since staying another few weeks to see the rest of the country doesn’t look doable) was to check out the Blue Lagoon.

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I think I read that this is the most visited spot in Iceland. It’s right near the airport, so anyone with a couple hours and a layover can make the pilgrimage.

A reader on the blog suggested skipping the Blue Lagoon, saying it’s overrated and overpriced. And she’s right: it’s definitely expensive. The bus from Reykjavik and back, together with admission to the lagoon, costs around 70 bucks.

But you can’t spend two weeks in Iceland and NOT visit the biggest attraction in the country.

And, actually, I thoroughly enjoyed myself! It’s a little awkward, being on your own at a place like that, since everyone clusters and giggles in little groups or is locking arms (and lips) with a romantic partner. But once I got over worrying if I looked like a creep, it was fun.

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The water leaves your skin feeling silky smooth. And you can grab some silica from little buckets placed around he edges and rub it on your face as a mask.

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The lifeguards wear big yellow suits that make them look like firemen!

There’s a bar where you can grab a drink without leaving the water. And there are saunas and steam baths and a waterfall that pummels your shoulders into submission.

The water wasn’t as warm as I hoped it might be. It felt more like bath water that’s gotten a little too cool. But after a while I got used to it.

The water is basically discharge from the big geothermal plant next door. The water there is much much warmer-you wouldn’t want to swim in it unless you had a death wish. Apparently, people started sneaking in for swimming in the cooled down runoff years ago, and the lagoon developed a reputation for healing. The blue-green algae that turns the water blue and the silica that makes it opaque and milky are very good for the skin. Repeated bathing in the Blue Lagoon is an approved treatment in several European countries for psoriasis. And there’s even a clinic for treatments on site. And, of course, there’s the massive tourist trap that the spa provides.

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So that’s how I spent my last day in Iceland, floating in milky blue water until my fingers and toes turned to prunes. A relaxing finale after a busy two weeks. Tomorrow I head home. I’m hoping for an easy re-entry into my real life, but regardless, this trip has done just what I’d hoped for in terms of clearing my mind, reminding myself what it’s like to get by in a strange place, and to see my surroundings with new eyes and a sense of wonder.

Thanks for coming along on the journey!

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