Posts Tagged ‘Keflavik’

People of the Blue Lagoon: a Photo Essay from Iceland’s Most Popular Geothermic Spa

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Smeared with silt, I thought this woman had a Ziggy Stardust vibe

In most countries, proximity to a power plant makes a location highly undesirable for both health spas and hotels. For me, it brought up images of Blinky, the three-eyed fish from the Simpsons. But that’s not the case in Iceland, where much of the Nordic country’s power is geothermal.


Ladies in the Blue Lagoon

Due to it’s unique location over still-shifting continental plates and multitude of volcanoes, Iceland is able to produce much of it’s power by harnessing nature. The outflow from such plants is lovely geothermal hot springs, like The Blue Lagoon.

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Bartender in the Blue Lagoon

Located off the road that connects Iceland’s capital of Reykjavik to the Keflavik International airport, The Blue Lagoon is perhaps Iceland’s most famous Geothermal spa destination. It’s easy to book a day tour here from Reykjavik and it’s a popular choice for visitors looking for things to do on a layover in Iceland, and those getting ready to depart from the nearby Keflavik International Airport. Even Beyonce and Jay-Z took a dip in the famous blue waters during their trip to Iceland.

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Toes in the Blue Lagoon

I first visited the Blue Lagoon in 2005, and the spa has made some significant improvements in the last decade, with more on the way. Construction is underway for the Blue Lagoon Luxury Hotel which is scheduled to open in 2017. Now there is a swim-up Lagoon Bar, where you can order Gull beer or wine and enjoy it without ever leaving the water, which remains a steady 100 °F (or 38 °C). The bartender just scans your entrance bracelet so you can settle your bill when you check out.

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If this image were scratch and sniff, you’d smell sulfer

Both Ana and I found the cold beer an enjoyable contrast to the warm mineral waters. There was a two drink maximum, which makes sense since lounging in the mineral water and rubbing yourself with clay and algae can be dehydrating. The Blue Lagoon’s vivid blue color is the result of sunlight reflecting on silica and algae, the water itself is an milky white. The minerals, silica, algae and mud, are considered good for your skin (but bad for your jewelry and swimsuit). There is even a clinic where the the water is used to treat skin conditions including psoriasis.

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Guests at the Blue Lagoon slather themselves with mineral rich mud

There are four different packages to choose from, with entry starting at €35 and ranging to €135 for the Luxury Package (which includes a table at LAVA Restaurant). Rumor has it you even rent the entire place out for yourself for $5,000 an hour.Packages are less expensive when you pre-book them online, but do not include transportation to and from the Blue Lagoon, which can be a pricey taxi ride away. Many tour companies in Reykjavik offer combination transportation and spa packages.

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Getting muddy at the Blue Lagoon

Unless you’ve brought your own towel, the €50 Euro package is the way to go. It includes your first drink and towel rental. While your nose does adjust to the sulfur-rich odor of the air, I definitely did not find myself with an appetite, so a meal might be overkill.

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Bridge over Iceland’s Blue Lagoon

Yes, it’s pricey. But a visit to the Blue Lagoon is it’s a delightful way to spend a few hours.

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With his ink, beard, and mud, The Whisky Pirate was my favorite person to photograph in the Blue Lagoon

Germaphobes need not worry, unlike dicey hot tubs, the water in the Blue Lagoon naturally refreshes itself every 40 hours.

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Swimsuits are available for rent. I’d advise not bringing your favorite bikini, the minerals are harsh are on delicate swimwear fabrics. My bathing suit remains crispy after repeated rinsing.

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Sample of Blue Lagoon beauty products come to you via employees like this guy

If you’re squeamish to smear yourself with clay, employees carrying trays of sample beauty products are on hand to encourage you to give it a try.

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Silt and mineral rich water in the Blue Lagoon

Please note: The Blue Lagoon will be closed for renovations January 5 – January 21, 2016.

Blue Lagoon Iceland

+354 420 8800

Opening hours:

1 October – 31 December* 9:00 – 20:00

Tickets from 35 EUR (pre-booking is required)

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Nordic Authenticity Plus a Dunkin’ Donuts: Scenes from Reykjavik, Iceland

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Looking down towards Faxaflói Bay from Hallgrímskirkja Church

Reykjavik, Iceland is the country’s capital and largest city. Located at 64 degrees north, it’s the northernmost capital city in the world. Approximately 200,000 residents live in Reykjavik’s greater metropolitan area. That’s about two-thirds of Iceland’s entire population of 320,000 people.

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Still life in Camera Shop

If you’re coming to Iceland, you’ll no doubt spend some time in Reykjavik and be charmed by it. Reykjavik’s compact city center means that the main sites are easily walkable (assuming the weather allows for that). Virtually everyone speaks English, making Reykjavik very user-friendly for visitors from the United States.

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Light streaming through the windows of Hallgrímskirkja

In summer, the white nights keep the city bathed in Nordic light for almost 21 hours a day. Winter brings the opposite, with only about four hours of sunlight near the winter solstice. Fall is lovely time to visit Iceland and not as crowded as it is during the summer.

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Interior of Hallgrímskirkja

If you’re looking for things to do in Reykjavik, Hallgrimskirkja church is worth a visit even for the non-religious. Besides it’s cool minimalist architecture and edgy art collection, it’s tower is a great place to get a good lay of the land and look out over the city and towards Faxaflói Bay.

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Hallgrímskirkja is about as Nordic design cool as churches get

Amidst all the authentic Nordic charm are a few odd imports. Taco Bell has a presence in Reykjavik. Sixteen Dunkin’ Donuts stores are slated to open in Iceland. The Dunkin’ Donuts on Laugavegur was packed every time I walked past it and offers speedy wifi… and donuts featuring the Icelandic flag!

Dunkin’ Donuts  featuring the flag of Iceland

Of all the cozy cafes and charming shops in the Icelandic capital, Reykjavik Roasters, was my favorite discovery.

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Still life with vinyl (and Ziggy Stardust) at Reykjavik Roasters

Reykjavik Roasters an exceptionally charming coffee shop located at Kárastígur 1. This coffee shop feels like the backdrop for a Kinfolk magazine photo shoot, with it’s blue coffee roaster and a collection of vinyl records and mismatched china.

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Obligatory hipster coffee still life from Reykjavik, Iceland

But unlike a lifestyle magazine, nothing about Reykjavik Roasters is trying too hard. Perhaps it’s the direct Nordic no-nonsense attitude that keeps this minimalist gem of a a coffee shop from feeling contrived.

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Moody light inside Reykjavik Roasters is made for Instagram

The coffee is fantastic (perhaps the best coffee in Iceland) and I regret not purchasing any to bring back with me.

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Minimalist Icelandic Coffee Shop Goodness

If you’re looking for what to do in Iceland, don’t miss a visit to Reykjavik’s stunningly modern Harpa Concert Hall and Conference Center. It’s facade was designed in collaboration with Danish/Icelandic architect Olafur Eliasson.

Gleaming glass of the Harpa Concert Hall’s Interior

The architecture is gleaming, modern, and quite frankly, dizzying with lots of glass and sharp angles.

The modern interior of the Harpa Concert hall is dizzying

Kolbrautin Restaurant at the Harpa is also highly regarded and on my list of “must try” spots for my next trip to Iceland.

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Pretty much exactly what I thought a hotel room in Reykjavik would look like

Reykjavik is a great place to spend a few days and be charmed by the capital city. IcelandAir allows stopovers of up to seven days so you can get a hit of Reykjavik and explore some of this fantastic country before heading to one of their other European destinations.

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