Day 5 – Reykjavík

Today we had a fairly leisurely start, which was nice because I didn’t  sleep very well. I sleep better when it’s a bit rough. If it’s too smooth, I can’t sleep. This can have its uses, as it means I automatically wake up when we come into harbour and the sea calms down. No need for alarm clocks!

We joined our organised excursion and they drove us to the Blue Lagoon.  When you get near, you can see a plume of steam rising up against the dark backdrop of the mountains behind. It looks quite spectacular.

When we got there, I promptly lost mum. I just turned around in the ladies’ locker room to find us lockers, and she was gone. I got changed and then spent about half an hour searching for her, calling out, getting staff to search for her. In the end, I gave up and went out to the lagoon, in case she was out there. She wasn’t. I found dad and then he went looking for her. Some staff eventually found her and she joined us in the water. Turned out she had answered when I called, but I couldn’t hear her over the noise of a dozen hair dryers!

It was lovely. Just like a warm bath but with opaque, milky-blue water. Not as hot as some Jacuzzis or thalassotherapy pools I have been in, but very pleasant. The bottom of the lagoon is natural rock and sand, and is VERY uneven. Much stubbing of toes going on. Even I tripped up once, and I was wearing my Crocs! After about an hour, my fingers were starting to get pruney, so I applied the white silica mud to my face and let it dry for ten minutes. Then I went and rinsed all the salts off and the mud. Then I went back again and rinsed my sunglasses, which had been liberally covered in what looked like Plaster of Paris, but was really just the mud I had put on my face! By the time we had dried off and dressed, in changing rooms that are phenomenally badly designed and far too small for the number of visitors they cater for – currently around 1 million a year, and they arrive in coachloads, like we did – there was just time for a quick sprint around the shop and a loo visit before getting back on the bus.

We then got a guided tour of Reykjavik itself, which is very small and pretty and very green indeed. Some stats for you: Most of the original wooden houses burned down in 1919 and then they passed a law saying the replacements had to be built of brick or cement. 25% of the homes in Iceland run on geothermal hot spring water for all their heating and hot water needs. They use no gas, coal or oil for power. Nor did I see any wind turbines. And there are heated swimming pools everywhere.  Iceland used to be 25% forest. It now has only 1%, but there is an ongoing tree-planting programme in Reykjavik and so most of the greenery is now in the capital. The rest is lumpy black lava flows, where the only things that grow are moss and blue and white lupins (which are considered an invasive species, despite how lovely they look against the rocks). Yoko Ono built a sculpture/tower to commemorate John Lennon which is lit up on his birthday and stays lit until the anniversary of his death. Reykjavik has a small airport smack bang in the middle of it, built by the British during the war. Which is unusual. Although to be fair, it wasn’t in the middle back then! The big airport outside of town was built by the Americans. Gorbachev and Reagan met here for two-day summit which is believed to have been the start of the end of the Cold War. Until 200 years ago, Reykjavik was a small fishing village and the population was spread evenly around the island. Then they all moved to the capital and it now holds 300,000 people.  It has a surface area similar to Barcelona. They like their space here…

On our return to the ship at 3pm, we finally got some lunch! I had lost my bottle of water in transit and so was very dehydrated by the time we got back. My head was pounding. I drank half a litre of water and about the same in diet pepsi, and the combination of liquid and caffeine soon fixed the headache right up. Although later I did have to rush out of dinner before dessert to deal with all that extra liquid! Dessert was a gluten-free orange meringue pie specially made just for me, so I was happy to come back for it!

The thirst thing continued all evening. At about 10pm, I made an interesting discovery. Not all the items on the Room Service menu have prices. And when I ordered one of them – a “trio of melon”, if you must know – it didn’t seem to have a charge attached. I didn’t have to sign to pay for it or anything. Curiouser and curiouser. I will need to test this again, I think, to be sure… but free melon seems like a wonderful perk to have only just discovered after 16 years of travelling with the same company!

Tomorrow: Isafjordur.


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