My rubdown with Oskar [o-scar] at the Blue Lagoon was unlike anything I’ve experienced. The entire thing took place in the lagoon. First, I laid on this pool chair that had a floatable pad on it. Then, Oskar laid these large, heavy fleece blankets that were soaking wet with the wonderfully warm water over me so I’d stay warm. It was like I was getting a big warm hug from these blankets. Once I was all snuggled in, Oskar started with the sea salt scrub all over my body. Every few minutes, he’d “re-dip” sections of the blanket in the warm water and put them back over me. Endless, warm, non-stop hugs. After about 20 minutes, he very gently pulled me into the water and the massage began. Wow, seriously wonderful! I opened my eyes up a couple times to beautiful blue skies. It was just so, cool. So, yeah, it was wonderful. And it didn’t hurt that Oskar was very, very cute. And of course, tall. Sheesh!
As I walked through customs at Keflavik airport, I realized something: The first stamp in my old passport back in 2002 was at Keflavik airport. My old passport expired this year, so I had to renew it. And the first stamp in my new passport was again, Keflavik airport. What were the chances?
Anyway … I’m home. And completely jet-lagged. Grrrrr…! But it felt really good to sleep in my bed and snuggle up with my pooches. Given how cuddly Dewey and Frankie are, I think they’re happy I’m home, too. Oh, and I was finally able to see myself in a full length mirror. Um, I have bruises EVERYWHERE.
When I think about my trip, I really loved it. I had some expectations when I came here, but all of them were completely blown away. So … my Top 10 Takeaways of Iceland:
- The terrain is surreal! Most of Iceland’s terrain is the result of lava explosions and glacier movements, so everything kinda looks like hardened lava, or really jagged ridges. Only moss grows on it, and it’s dangerous to walk on because you can unintentionally fall into a gorge. A continental divide goes up the middle of Iceland, and you can literally see this huge crack dividing the country. It expands at 2 cm each year! It’s no wonder that until the 1700s, Iceland was believed to be the entrance to hell. With the active hot springs and volcanoes, I totally get it. There’s a genuine mysticism to the place.
- People drink to get wasted. They really do. It’s almost like being in college. Not every bar is like this, but in general, Icelanders definitely like to drink. And they tend to get piss-ass drunk when they do it. But they do most of their drinking at home before heading out to the bars around 11pm or so.
- Icelanders are extraordinarily nice! (And tall.) There are so many travelers here, it’s just a cool place to meet and chat people up, including the locals! And yes, the people here are definitely tall. While there are a lot of blondes, there aren’t as many as you’d think.
- It’s expensive. The average beer is around $7, and most sit-down meals will cost you at least $20. Even something at a fast food restaurant will cost you around $10. Collectibles and such are just as expensive. A nice wool sweater at 66 Degrees North, basically REI but with a little bit more of a fashionable edge, cost around $350. I found a beautiful pair of silver earrings I had to talk myself out of buying because they were $300. They’d be maybe $100 here. The lobster soup and salmon kabob I had was $25. And that was at the affordable place!
- The food is amazing! If you enjoy seafood, you’ll LOVE it here. It’s so fresh. Everything, actually, is pretty fresh. And it shows in the quality of the food. Come here with a palate that’s ready to explore. I heard great things about the puffin, shag, pony, etc. Oh, and the dairy and chocolate … to die for!
- They really know how to do R&R. Spas and thermal pools are huge here. And they’re a great way to meet people, including locals. Many of the thermal pools have bars at them. So if you’re looking for rest and relaxation, this is the place to do it.
- It’s incredibly clean (and green!). 85% of Iceland’s energy comes from geothermal sources (hot springs and volcanoes), making it very green. And it’s just clean here in general — people don’t really litter. (Smokers even use the cigarette dispensers!) They’re also huge believers in global warming. The glacier I hiked has receded more than 500 meters (Nearly 6 football fields!) in the past 7 years, and it’s depth has gone from 50 meters thick to maybe 5 meters. So yeah, being green is the lifestyle here.
- You’re safe here. Like, really. I spoke to more women here who said they feel really comfortable walking around alone at night, which I’d completely agree with. Even when walking around a bunch of drunkards. This is pretty big.
- Everyone speaks English. Impeccable English, actually. Most of the time, I was greeted in English, not Icelandic. If you’ve been to any foreign country, this is … unusual.
- It’s easy to get around. Reykjavik is a very walkable city, and the country is so small, it’s pretty easy to drive around, too. If you have someone to rent a car with, I highly recommend it!
- There’s A LOT to do! Okay, I know it was supposed to be a top 10, but this one is important to know. Between various hikes and tours, there is SO much to do. So be ready to come with an adventurous spirit!
In summary, Iceland is wonderful. It’s such an easy place to get to, and it’ll blow your mind. I really do think I’ll have to get back and experience it in the summer. With it being in “The Land of the Midnight Sun,” I’ve heard the party scene is just … great. I highly recommend Iceland!