Reykjavik and the Blue Lagoon
In September of 2014, I landed in Reykjavik for the first time. I was on a layover for about 10 hours on my way to grad school in London and I had purposefully chosen to be able to have a day in Iceland. Due to starting a low carb diet just days before and the fact that my camera for some reason decided to inexplicably break on me after about 20 minutes on the ground, I was in a bad and very grumpy mood for the entire day and resigned to just sitting in the bus station for hours before heading back to the airport. I am not proud of this and wished my mood hadn't been so influenced by what had happened. I pledged to make sure that didn't happen again when I returned to Iceland. Cut to May 2016, and finally being prepared for taking some time in Iceland's capitol. On my way over to Europe, I had another 10 hour layover that I took advantage of by going on a free CityWalk tour. The guide took us around different parts of the city and gave us some history lessons about parliament and the fact that he saw Kim Kardashian buying a hot dog a couple weeks before. It was a splendid 2 hour walk that gave me some insight into Reykjavik as an actually really great place.
The city virtually has no crime, their police force spends most of their time updating the Instagram account with photos of them helping citizens rather than enforcing law on them. Also, because Iceland is so small and the population isn't huge, it's very likely that accidental incestuous relationships take place. They have an online database to allow them to look up how closely related they are to someone else, and it's apparently led to some very awkward morning afters.
On my way back to New York, I took a much longer layover so I could better explore Iceland, rather than just Reykjavik. I arrived back into the country in the late afternoon and made my way to my hostel so I could rest up before my tour the next day. Of course, with my amazing luck, when I went to the bathroom and tried to get back into my room, the room key had fallen off the chain and I was locked out. I had no desire to pay the $25 fee to get a new key, and I was in no position to walk 5 minutes outside to the main building (as I was in shorts and had no shoes on), so I figured I'd just sit in the main lounge and hope to God someone with a key to my room would walk in. Thankfully I only had to wait about 15 minutes before a girl came in and I followed her into the room.
Now, here's where I might sound like a bit of an unsociable, grumpy monster, but to be honest, I had a lot of reasons to be. So this girl and I bonded a bit. She's from Germany and works in media so we talked about that a bit, and then after an hour or so, another hostel guest arrived. He's from Portugal and we all sort of started to talk. I had a tour the next morning that I had to be up for by 7am, so I was hoping to go to bed early (especially since I hadn't gotten a lot of sleep the past week from traveling). But as many people who stay in hostels do, they wanted to stay up late and go out, so they had on music and we're talking quite loudly. I didn't want to be a complete bummer, so I tried to engage, but I was getting really hungry and needed food, so I went out to get some and just walk around a little. Since it was approaching summer in Iceland, that meant that the sun was out almost 24/7, which was psyching me out and making me think it was earlier than it actually was.
I came back to the room, ate my food, and tried to make it clear that I wanted to take a shower and go to bed. But the girl kept getting on my case and wanted me to come out clubbing with her and the other guy. I am not against the idea of going out for drinks, but Iceland is notoriously expensive and also known for their "stay out until 5 in the morning" culture, which I can not do anymore. But she kept bothering me and I didn't know how to get her off my case, so I told them I was going to take a shower, thinking that might give her a hint, but she told me they'd wait to leave until I got back. I took the longest shower ever on purpose (also because the water pressure was on point), but still when I got back to the room, she was badgering me to go. The guy got up to go to the bathroom and she pulled me aside and begged me to go with her since she didn't want to go alone with him. I felt bad, but I also felt that it wasn't my responsibility to be her awkward third wheel.
She told me that I was "exotic" and that I needed to be there so people would be interested because she was just white and blonde like every other Icelandic person (which seemed like a humblebrag of herself and insult to me at the same time). I still was not convinced, so I climbed up into my bed and tried to make it super obvious this time that I was going to go to sleep now. During this, she got ready to go and asked me if I had any hairspray, which of course I don't, and then continued to humblebrag and talk about how she was worried she looked too much like Barbie. I think they finally got the hint though, because they left around midnight and I was finally able to fall asleep in peace, although because it was still bright out, my brain was really not letting me drift off for another hour. Of course, they rolled in at 5 in the morning, and I was not surprised, but I had my early tour that day and I wasn't going to get anything ruin my mood for this trip.
I'll post more about my tour later, but on my final morning in Iceland, I took a nice relaxing few hours at the Blue Lagoon. Some say it's not worth the money, and while it is a bit expensive, I feel like the experience is quite unique and such a relaxing thing to do before getting on a plane. I had originally signed up for the basic package, which was just a drive to the lagoon and the entrance fee, but upon arrival, I figured I'd upgrade a little bit and get the towel and drink add on so I wouldn't have to air dry after my visit.
I met up with my friend Susie at the lagoon and just let myself enjoy my final few hours abroad. I had heard all these rumors about the Blue Lagoon and how you had to shower naked in front of everyone and there were only a couple private showers that the line was long for, but this couldn't be further from the truth. There were plenty of private showers and it wasn't uncomfortable at all. They do warn that the water can damage your hair, so they provide conditioner for you to coat your hair with. I did this and it was like the perfect hair treatment. I think the mixture of the conditioner and the heat from the water gave my hair some moisture that it was in desperate need for.
After getting in my time, I got ready to leave, bid my friend goodbye, and got on the bus to the airport. It was a lovely last day in Iceland, and I know I will be back as soon as I can to this otherworldly place.