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Beyond the Blue Lagoon - Hot Tubs & Coffee Scrubs in Iceland

ICELAND | Friday, 8 November 2013 | Views [4948]

Iceland is famous for its geothermal spas and open-air ‘hot pots’ that offer a luxurious retreat from the icy temperatures outside.

So when an opportunity to meet with a local Reykjavik swim club popped up I jumped at the chance. I thought of relaxing in milky blue waters in a serene seaside setting, emerging from the natural mineral bathwaters a new, refreshed woman… so understandably, when the club captain was clothed in a woolen knitted 1930’s style swim suit I was a little confused. I thought hot-pots were like natural Jacuzzis?

Slowly it dawned on me, I wasn’t in for a dip in the geothermal pool, but booked in for a swim in the open sea – which at under four degrees Celcius wasn’t too appealing.

After a few awkward smiles and protests from the corner of my mouth I was given boots & gloves, which I could only imagine were to stop the frostbite taking my extremities.

Looking beyond ridiculous in a bikini and booties I was ready to hit the water, but I was not going alone! No no, one little lady had got me into this, and she was damn well coming with me too.

The lovely Alicia from World Nomads reluctantly agreed to join me as we tiptoed our way into the open water, the icy pin pricks beginning to numb our legs.

The local swimmers were already in up to their necks, floating around as if it was the height of summer.

This was a mind over matter experience, I had to get in. These people depended on me (well that’s what I told myself). The shoulder dunk is always the worst bit, and in nearing zero degree water, it literally took my breath away.

Amongst cheers from the locals (I think this was all in my head) I did a doggy paddle swim round in circles and then headed back to the shore, whilst the pro’s headed off for a two-mile swim, probably.

Once out and wrapped in a towel, my body was in shock so I had to slowly bring it back to a normal temperature, which meant taking a dip in another part of the sea, a slightly (but not really) more appealing temperature of seventeen degrees, and then finally I could get what I came for and I was able to relax in the clubs's hot pot, shrivel up in the steam room which was followed by an authentic exfoliating coffee scrub down thanks to my new Icelandic lady friends.

This do-as-the-locals-do experience was a genuine chance to see a part of the Icelandic culture that you wouldn’t get from visiting a tourist destination like the Blue Lagoon. This ritual was like their version of café culture, friend’s catching up, putting the world to rights over an icy swim and coffee scrub down. Although entertaining to try once, I think I still prefer a cappuccino and eggs.

- Katie Yeates

Related articles:

A Taste of Iceland - From Licorice to Whale Meat

5 Ways to Experience Geothermal Power in Iceland

Iceland Food & Culture - A Tongue Twist of Delightful Options

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Tags: blue lagoon, cold, crazy, geothermal, hot pots, iceland, just go, ocean, swimming, travel

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