This morning we woke up and had breakfast, packed up the car and headed to Route 1. We were on a time crunch because we had an appointment outside of Reykjavik, but we really wanted to see Vik's black sand beach. While in Vik we stopped and finally had an Icelandic hot dog - it was delicious. Fun fact, we've yet to see mustard while we've been here. There is plenty of ketchup and some white stuff in a bottle, but after all of the paprika neither of us were brave enough to try the 'white stuff'. After finishing our snack, we made our way to the beach but the wind was blowing so hard and was so cold that we quickly turned around and went back to the car and headed out of town.
A few days ago the drive to Kirkjubæjarklaustur was foggy and rainy which prevented us from seeing the famous Dyrhólaey peninsula. Little did we know, not only were the arches not far from shore, but there was a road that got you really close to them for viewing. We decided the detour was worth it and were disappointed when we couldn't see the arches that well. As we were leaving we saw a few cars driving up a big mountain. Assuming there was a light house on top, we thought why not, and drove up. We were right, there was a lighthouse....and an amazing view of the arches! The wind at the top was so crazy and you had to be really careful near the edge of the cliff. (Now I understand why the rental car guy told us that if the wind blew the car door in the opposite direction of its hinges, the insurance wouldn't cover it) The lighthouse has been working since 1927.
Stopping at Vik and the arches/lighthouse put us a little behind schedule so we couldn't stop at anymore pull-offs (ok, I had to pull off to pet a horse...) You could seriously drive through the south of Iceland, stop at every single point of interest and you would be totally satisfied.
We had really great driving weather and made great time. Our appointment was at the Blue Lagoon and you had to reserve a time in order to get a locker. The lagoon is a geothermal spa that opened in 1992, though the pools formed in 1976 from the wastewater of a geothermal water plant that had just been built there. In addition to the lagoon, there is also an onsite clinic to help with skin issues as the sulfur and silica in the water is supposed to have healing properties.
The lagoon logistics were a little confusing. The directions for the lockers weren't clearly marked and I felt like you had a lot of steps to go through before you could even get to the lagoon: arrive and take off your shoes outside the changing area, leave shoes there, go to changing room (they don't tell you there are multiple rooms - some on the other side of the showers - so everyone is crowded into one), find a locker that is open, figure out how to unlock and lock your locker (if someone is standing in front of the small instruction plaque you're on your own), remove your clothes, place in locker, hope locker is locked, shower with their products, put conditioner in your hair so it doesn't get ruined by the lagoon, dry off, go back to your locker, put on your suit, take your towel and you are ready to enter the lagoon. You were supposed to shower without your suit before you got in the lagoon but most people showered with it on. I didn't use the conditioner because I wasn't going to get my hair wet in the lagoon.
When I finally did make it out to the lagoon, Tim wasn't far behind me as he had to wait to use a shower. It was such a sunny day, we were glad we took our sunglasses. The water is a pretty bluish white and boy is it HOT. I thought my toes were going to burn off because they were so cold before going in, but your body quickly adjusts. There are different levels of entrance tickets you can purchase. We purchased a level that got us a towel, a drink and a mud mask. We had done some research before purchasing and were considering the next level up that also bought you the use of a bathrobe but then read that people take them. I'm glad we skipped that, because someone took our towels which means we had to take someone else's towels, and so on. It's not worth the extra money for a bathrobe to get you from the showers to the lagoon only for someone to take it while you're soaking.
The lagoon itself was amazing. Like I said, it was a bluish color. There weren't a ton of people there so you didn't feel stacked on anyone else and the lagoon was much bigger than we were expecting. Our credit card was attached to our waterproof wristbands. The color of the wristband told the attendants what level we purchased so they knew to ask if we had received our drink. The bar was swim-up, as was the area to get the mud mask. All around the lagoon there were small areas to explore, including a cave with soothing music. Various areas around the lagoon were hotter than the rest. There were also wooden seating areas if you wanted to get out of the heat for a bit. The lagoon varied in depth, from a shallow walk-in area to the center that was about five feet deep (I couldn't stand in it but Tim could). After the pre-lagoon hoopla it was a very relaxing experience. We were able to explore the lagoon, sip our drinks and enjoy a relaxing afternoon after so many days of hiking. We also got some comedic entertainment in the form of tourists apply the mud masks ALL over their bodies - including their hair, as if they were applying soap in the shower. I have to assume there was a language barrier issue - but a quick look around would have also told them that no one else was applying their mud mask in that fashion.
An hour and a half after we entered, we decided to leave. I couldn't take the hot water any longer and anyone that knows me knows I can't sit still for much longer than that. We left the lagoon and headed to our hotel in Reykjavik, which was about 40 minutes away. Our hotel is in downtown Reykjavik which means small, one-way streets and little to no parking. I was very worried about repeating our trip to Dublin, where we drove around for an hour and a half looking for the hotel. This time we found the hotel right away, but it was located on a pedestrian street so we had to find street parking in order to check-in. Luckily we found parking fairly quickly and we were able to get checked in and then park our car in the hidden lot behind the hotel. See ya on Sunday Hyundai Tucson.
We think we may have been upgraded as we don't remember booking such a large room with a kitchenette and eating area. Nice! After unloading our luggage we went next door to the Public House, which is an asian-fusion gastropub. They served beer, wine and tapas. We tried the duck breast, beef slider and butternut squash dumplings. Everything was delicious. When leaving the Public House, we came across a random parade of classic cars going by.
Next we went down a few storefronts to the Lebowski Bar. Yes, there is a bar dedicated to The Big Lebowski. They have various paintings, pictures, and homages to the film. Of course, what Lebowski themed bar wouldn't have White Russians on the menu, and in this case 20 or so varieties of them. We had a few drinks and partook in movie trivia night. Unfortunately we didn't win the grand prize of 10 large beers, but we did get to see a friend who just so happens to be here the same time as us!
After the bar we decided to call it a night after a long day of driving. Time to rest up and get ready for our next excursion. Did somebody say puffins?!