Bad Times at the Blue Lagoon

Bad Times at the Blue Lagoon

This post originally appeared on my occasionally updated travel blog, Like Locals.

It didn’t take long to realize the folly that was enduring the pounding freezing rain while we sipped prosecco at 8 in the morning at the world famous Blue Lagoon. At $100 a head, we tried to get the most out of the experience, but at some point we realized there’s no benefit to suffering through just because you paid for it (unless, of course, you’re a masochist).

I’ve endured less miserable conditions for free. Unfortunately, that is exactly the chance one takes when visiting Iceland on the early end of shoulder season. Or maybe it’s always that way in Iceland.

Through very brief breaks in the hail and freezing rain were we able to make out the rocky, volcanic terrain on the way to the hot springs. We then stood, underdressed and jet-lagged to check our luggage before heading inside the Blue Lagoon facility where we exchanged our soaking wet clothes for our nice dry swimsuits and reconvened at the indoor portion of the lagoon. I’d heard rumours that the showers were supervised by staff, and nudity was mandatory. Luckily, Iceland has taken into consideration the North American aversion to nudity, while a staff member did glanced you over to make sure you showered, the shower stalls had privacy doors attached.

We booked the first time slot of the day, but already it seemed that plenty of people were equally as foolish, none of them native to Iceland. We’d just flown five hours overnight from Toronto, and as appealing as the lagoon lobby was, we weren’t going to let a little inclement weather stop us from enjoying the mystically restorative waters of Iceland.

Outside, small groups of foolish tourists huddled in the fleeting warm patches of the naturally heated lagoon. When the winds picked up, every two or three seconds, the lagoons silica-rich water blew into our eyes and mouths. I had made the decision long before I arrived in Iceland that I was not going to to take out my contacts despite numerous warnings that the lagoon’s silica and mineral rich water could irritate them.  The fine print on most contacts advise against most activities you got contacts for in the first place. The lens are at risk when it’s too hot, too dry, too cold, and too damp, and Iceland’s natural state is too cold and too damp. I decided being nearsighted was more ill-advised than having to toss a pair of salty contacts away.

Every piece of Blue Lagoon literature warns about how the silica-rich water can wreak havoc on one’s hair and eyes, but barely two meters from the door, Icelandic wind had doused us from hair to retina with silica-laden water. Long story short, we survived.

Complimentary drinks at the Blue Lagoon, they said. It will be nice, they said.

We shuffled a small lap around the lagoon, our eyes stinging and our temples throbbing with the pain of a thousand brain-freezes. We made the obligatory stops at the mud and algae bar to lather the rich dirt into our skin, and then to the swim-up bar to numb the pain in our eyes and wallets with a complimentary glass of prosecco. Most of mine was immediately blown into the lagoon, but at nine in the morning, I figured it was for the best.

Our luxurious experience ended with a small meal purchased at the cafeteria. Essentially it was a $15 Lunchable. The experience still left something to be desired so we sought shelter in a small, dank hobbit hole, with a few other tourists. The sanctuary was offered only a slight relief as the natural heat from the springs made the floors into lava. We sat for as long as was bearable, hovering our feet above the ground, inhaling hot, humid mouthfuls of sulphur-smelling air until we’d had just about enough of our $100 a head visit to the Blue Lagoon.

Our experience at the Blue Lagoon was mercifully not typical. As with all travels, each traveller gets the hand they are dealt on the holidays they have booked. You hope for the best and make due with what you get. Typically, I’ve enjoyed good weather on holidays. Had we arrived at the lagoon to blue skies, the experience may have differed completely. Then again, having experienced Iceland’s indecisive weather, we might only have to wait fifteen minutes to experience a real Icelandic hailstorm.