The other day Tommy asked, “So, will our family ever get to read a new blog post?” What a subtle reminder that I have not posted anything for almost two months. 😉 But I guess it is time to catchup! Everything has been going really well. We left as scheduled on September 18th and since then we have visited Iceland (Keflavík), Germany (Dusseldorf, Cologne, Munich, Dachau), and France (Paris). We’ve been in Romania (Bucharest) since October 2, during which time we’ve mostly just been working and walking to the park/grocery store. We did go to a wine & street food festival at the Parliamentary Palace last weekend and next week we will be visiting “Dracula’s” castle!
So, first up was Iceland and the Blue Lagoon!
We only had a 19-hour layover here, so we opted for the most well-known attraction, the Blue Lagoon. I wasn’t really sure it would be that great because I’d heard some people say that it’s overpriced, overhyped, and overcrowded. But honestly, we loved it! I’m sure there are lots of other great hot springs around Iceland that are quieter and cheaper, so if you are in the country for a while they’re probably worth looking into. However, if you’re only there for a layover, don’t let the haters stop you! The Blue Lagoon was incredibly gorgeous and the whole experience was so relaxing!
The standard package includes 1 silica mud mask, 1 drink of your choice, and the use of a towel. A few tips:
- Book in advance. This is not optional, they do actually sell out. You book a reserved time to enter, but you can stay as long as you want.
- Keep your towel in your locker, not in the cubbies by the door! The attendants will tell you to put them in the cubbies, but sometimes people don’t pay attention to the number and your towel gets taken. Then you have to steal someone else’s, and the cycle continues! Poor Tommy. ☹
- The package includes “1” free mud mask, but you can get more if you want. There is a little booth where attendants scoop it into your hands. They don’t scan your wristband and they don’t care if you come back for a second one.
- The drink options include smoothies, juice, beer, and cider. We chose Gull beer (local to Iceland) and it was delicious!
The lagoon is divided into a few sections. Right when you walk out there is the huge main pool. It splits off into two smaller pools that are connected (one on each side). You can walk under the bridges to get to them if you want to stay in the water, or you can take the wooden walkways. The main pool is definitely the most crowded, but it is so big you can still find a relatively quiet area. It has the mud mask bar to the left and the drinks bar to the right. The steam rooms, sauna, random “cave,” and waterfall are also to the left.
We cycled between the steam rooms, sauna, and pool a few times, which was super relaxing. We also got silica mud face masks, which were funny to put on (Tommy got probably double the amount that he needed!) but did make our faces feel softer and tighter afterwards. You just wash them off in the water, because the water itself naturally contains silica.
Our favorite spot was the smaller pool on the left-hand side. It usually had fewer people and it was near part of the geothermal machinery, so there was always dramatic white steam billowing in from the surrounding rocks! We were there on a pretty chilly day, so the water was also a little steamy. It was the perfect weather to soak in the hot springs! You can see how bundled up the “lifeguards” are compared to the pool-goers!
After a few hours in the Blue Lagoon, we headed back to find some dinner. Iceland is known for their seafood, hot dogs (weird, right??), lamb, skyr (yogurt-cheese type thing), puffin (yikes), and fermented shark. I also saw a lot of serrano ham and hipster juice drinks. I tried smoked salmon, serrano ham, and a multi-fruit juice. They were all delicious! If we’re ever in Iceland longer we may have to give some of the weirder items a try. Our restaurant also happened to be by the shore so we got to check that out briefly!
Even though we were only in Iceland for 19 hours, we really enjoyed it. I’d love to go back and drive the Ring road someday to see more of their incredible scenery. The only bummer was the prices! Here is a sampling of costs in Iceland:
- 20 minute taxi: $60-80!!! Uber is illegal.
- Small AirBnB in Keflavik (little town near the airport) – $100/night
- Blue Lagoon basic package – $58 per person
- Appetizer or salad at a “casual” restaurant – $10-25
So, if you’re going to Iceland for more than a layover be sure you’ve saved up, and definitely rent a car! Despite the costs, from the little I’ve visited in person and the many other photos I’ve seen, it’s an absolutely breathtaking country with a unique culture that’s 100% worth visiting. We were so happy to have this random chance to see a tiny bit of it!
Up next (and much more timely than this one) will be a post about Germany! Lots of love to everyone back home.