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Heittur Pottur and the Town's Best

ICELAND | Sunday, 19 June 2011 | Views [973]

Blue Lagoon

Blue Lagoon

Today was another gorgeous day in Iceland.  I was expecting it to be a lot colder here, so all my special technical clothing that I brought – cold weather/waterproof/windproof – is slightly overkill at this point, but I'll probably find good use for them once I start hiking in the colder areas or if it rains the rest of my time here.

For lunch I stopped by what could possibly be Iceland's most highly rated restaurant: Baejarins Bestu Pylsur (the town's best hot dog in Icelandic).  It's this tiny little shack by the water that sells just hot dogs and Coke.  But like the name suggests, this was the best-tasting hot dog I've ever had.  Seriously.  I had one with everything, which includes the homemade sauce, and it was delicious.  Apparently they cook it in beer and use fresh-baked buns; they even have little wooden blocks with cylinders scooped out so you can put your hotdog down without using plates.  I'm going to have to stop by there again before I leave.

Then I went to the Blue Lagoon, one of Iceland's “hot pots” (heittur pottur in Icelandic) – a manmade hot spring.  It's the most popular location to visit in Iceland and is located between the international airport Keflavik and Reykjavik.  It was created after a geothermal plant was built nearby, and is blue because of the blue-green algae in the water, and there is also white silica mud coating the bottom of the pools.  Basically it's a naturally hot spa that feels good and improves your skin.  Not a bad way to spend a sunny afternoon in Iceland.  Since it's a natural spa without any added chemicals, you need to shower without a bathing suit before you can get into the water; they even had posters showing where exactly on your body you need to wash yourself.  Slightly inconvenient, but when you think about all the other people bathing with you it's definitely a good thing.  Fortunately most of the showers had stalls, but you do have to walk down some corridors buck naked (another benefit of traveling solo).  Once you get out to the actual pool, they gather the silica mud in buckets that you can rub on your skin to exfoliate, so I took a fistful and smeared it all over my face.  Even though it's such a popular tourist destination, there was still ample room in the pool, and the water is hot but not too hot so soaking in there for over an hour didn't feel suffocating at all.  They even have an igloo-shaped rocky enclosure where you can sit to avoid the sun or the rain.  I highly recommend it.  I wish I had gotten to use it when my muscles were sore but in any case I'm gonna sleep well tonight!

Now that I've gotten past the initial culture shock of Iceland, I find Reykjavik to be kind of quaint.  I booked all my trips through Thursday today, and talking to the 2 Icelandic people at the booking offices, I find they are really charming and friendly.  I was asking how to pronounce certain Icelandic words correctly and it was funny when there was a slight language barrier.  It probably also helps that these were the longest single conversations I've had with people since starting my vacation.  So that's what human contact feels like!  Oh and I'm even getting used to the sulphur smell of the water.  Sure I smell like rotten eggs every time I wash my hands or take a shower, but the hot water feels incredible and my skin feels great.

I'm still trying to get used to the daylight here.  I had some slight difficulty going to bed last night.  I was waiting for the sunset around 1 a.m. but twilight seemed to last a very long time, so I'm not sure if it even gets dark here now or if it's about 24 hours of daylight.  I felt like I was going to bed during the middle of the day.  Now I see why everyone uses military time here because 10 a.m. and 10 p.m. look awfully similar.  I had to switch my watch to that time starting yesterday too because I think otherwise I'm going to get confused.  On the flip side this place must be incredibly depressing during the winter.

Tomorrow I am going on a day trip to see some geysers and giant waterfalls along the Golden Circle.  Tuesday is whitewater rafting.  Wednesday is another nature day trip and Thursday is snorkeling.  I still need to book Friday and afterwards.  The free breakfast buffet at the hotel is definitely a real treat; there's cereals, bread, croissants, meats, cheeses, butter, fruit, yogurt, orange juice, coffee and tea.  I stuffed myself this morning and this is the kind of vacation where getting a good start to the day is very important.

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