Sunday, October 14, 2012

Icelandic Saga part 2

After a fairly comfortable night's sleep under my super soft duvet, I woke to the sound of rain, heavy rain, pounding off the corrugated iron exterior of the hotel. I wasn't particularly bothered, as I had booked a day trip to the Blue Lagoon the night before, and intended to float around in the hot mineral lake for the day. After taking out another top up mortgage, I went down to breakfast. I was in a much better mood than the previous night, and was willing to forgive the hotel for its money grabbing policies after viewing the offerings on the buffet table. I had two breakfasts (1 British and 1 European) which was going to have to last me the rest of the day, at least until dinner time. I wiped away the last crumbs of croissant from my mouth with the tablecloth napkin, and headed out to the waiting tour bus.

We drove for 45 minutes through a landscape of heavily fissured volcanic rock, a bit like Keith Richard's face, except for the covering of moss and lichen. The wind was blowing so hard, the rain obscured most of the view, but every now and then it would clear to reveal a landscape only Trolls could love.

At last, we pulled up in a large empty car park. The driver gave us instructions before opening the door and as soon as he confirmed we understood what was required of us, he opened it and stood back. A blast of Arctic air blew my hat off my head and sent it flying across the car park and off into the volcanic void. I struggled against the head wind towards the resort buildings, sans chapeau, until I eventually entered the sanctuary of the Spa building. Feeling a little disheveled, I handed my ticket to the po faced attendant and asked for a towel. "That will be 5 Euros," he said without blinking.
"What about a bathrobe?" I asked.
"Another 10 Euros." This time he was smirking.
I explained to him that if they had pointed this out at the booking stage I could have brought my own, but all he did was shrug.

You can't help feel that the Icelandic people are trying to recoup their gigantic financial losses, caused by their economic crash, from the unsuspecting tourists.  But what can you do?

Fuck all, that's what.

I stood in another line to receive my spa bracelet. This is a tool that allows you to lock up your belongings, as well as acting as a direct conduit from your now impoverished bank account. "Use it to buy refreshments in the pool," I was advised, as I stepped out of the shelter of the spa into another world.

The smell of Sulphur wafted across my nostrils as I lunged forward out of the building into the biting cold and rain, slithering on the silicon mud by the side of the lake. My feet shot out horizontally in front of me and I entered the pool arse first. It was quite an entrance.
Once I got my breath back, and a modicum of composure, I could see a vast stretch of baby blue water disappearing off into the distance. I could just make out a few heads bobbing in the opaque emulsion through the swirling mist that hovered just above the surface. Pots of green silicon mud were available to make your own face pack with, so I indulged, until I caught sight of my face in the window of a poolside bar. It looked as if someone with VERY bad congestion had just sneezed in my face, so I rinsed it off and contented myself with wallowing around like a Hippo.
After a couple of hours, I'd had enough, so I hastened back inside the Spa with a little more caution than I had left it.

I arrived back in Reykjavik several hours earlier than I had intended. It was still raining, so I was at a loss for something to do that didn't involve further collateral damage to my bank account. As if by some act of kindness by the Icelandic Gods, the rain stopped and the sky cleared sufficiently to allow the sun to break through. I wandered around the back streets, seeing the city in a new light, so to speak, and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. I still think the city architects need a good slapping for erecting some of the most god awful buildings ever constructed, such as the City Hall below, but there were pockets of charm and warmth despite their best efforts.

I found a small and quirky seafood restaurant down in the old harbour, that boasted the best Lobster soup in the world. And it was. Served with fresh crusty bread, it was sublime.

I headed back to the hotel to pack for my departure the following day, feeling a little more warmth for the city, and a lot poorer for the experience.

Here's a few more shots, including some wonderful shoes seen in a shop window.



  1. shoes that match the colours of the buildings...far out!!!

  2. A friend of my son's recently took a trip to Iceland with her grandparents. She came over to show me her photos on her laptop. I thought, part Ireland, part Hawaii..all quite fascinating apart from the wind, which she said was 'unreal'. She didn't complain about the prices, because I'm quite willing to bet her GPs took care of the bills.
    As for those shoes...Louis the XIV has returned!

  3. Good job they don't match the City Hall:)

  4. oh this looks amazing, Wally! Even with the extortion at the spa!

    Ali x

    1. It was lovely. I've never spent so much time submerged since our roof failed last winter.

  5. So the spa...? Hot water? Super hot? A little hot?

    1. it was above warm, except where the hot water intake valve was. ouch.

  6. I'm enjoying your travel journals.I can also see myself in those bowed shoes,they probably cost the same as a terraced house over here:)

    1. bowed shoes and horned helmet. just what you need for dealing with winers

  7. All looks fabulous. I could see myself getting into a scrap over those shoes! For decoration, only. I'd never spoil them on our pavements!

    Keith Richard......heh heh heh

  8. I have only been in Iceland during sunny weather (rare from all accounts) it was also icy and sparkly and really pretty magical. I suspect most of the time it is grim and rainy. It always beats me why you see so many plain grey or white buildings in Northern parts. This would be exactly the place I'd have wanted to build somewhere in blue, green, pink, with gingerbread eaves and twisty chimneys. I don't think painting your house yellow or red is really much substitute, although it's better than nothing.


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