Iceland Mag

3 Reykjavik

Iceland Mag

Culture

An American in Reykjavik: Tourist Behavior 101, My Trip to the Blue Lagoon

By Matt Eliason

  • Hazy conditions make the Blue Lagoon seem like a supernatural experience. 

  • DJ Margeir rocks out with the crowd during my visit to the Blue Lagoon.

  • Fans eagerly wait for the musicians to take the stage - I'm in here somewhere.

One of the most frequent questions I get asked from my friends and family back home in Chicago is... Have you visited the Blue Lagoon yet? Iceland’s iconic, geothermal spa is one of the few destinations that is universally known by the average American, so naturally it comes up in about 98% of the conversations I have about this small Nordic country.

In fact the only topic that appears more frequently when discussing Iceland amongst my American peers is the obscure geographical fact that, “Iceland is actually green, while Greenland is actually the one with the Ice.” For some reason, American geography classes really beat this fact into young American students, and unfortunately for me, I had to pretend to be interested when every single one of my former American colleagues recited this fact over and over at the expense of my own sanity. But I digress - My first trip to the Blue Lagoon was preceded by months of anticipation, but I am delighted to say that the actual experience lived up to the long-awaited hype.

I departed BSI bus station in Reykjavik around 9pm, en route to the Blue Lagoon for DJ Margeir’s Volume 3 launch party. My trip took place on a Tuesday, a random night for a midnight dance party, so the coach bus was relatively empty. After 45 minutes of driving through Iceland’s black, volcanic rock mounds, which can only be described as lunar-esque, I notice a large cloud of steam fading off into the distance. After winding through a few more unnecessarily narrow roads… (this reminds me – why are all the roads so narrow in Iceland? There are infinite amounts of space here, yet they refuse to make their driving lanes wider than the average American sidewalk) … we reached the front entrance to the iconic Blue Lagoon. The distinct smell of sulfur filled the air, as I made my way off of the bus. 

In order to reach the entrance of the Blue Lagoon facilities, one must weave through black volcanic rocks yielding a misty steam that made me feel like an extra in the Michael Jackson Thriller video. I was soon thrust back into reality when I was forced to wait in line for 30 minutes before being granted access to the locker rooms.

As I initially sighted the Lagoon, the first observation that jumped out at me was the stark contrast between the neon blue water, and the dark volcanic rocks that surrounds the geothermal pool. As I walked out to the pool I successfully avoided the tourist, gift shop trap, which was selling geothermal soaps and conditioners with authentic Blue Lagoon skin healing remedies. As you walk into the water, your mind tricks you into thinking that the water won’t be that hot, because it is just a natural body of water. However, the sting of the neon blue water resembles that first few seconds when you walk into a hotel hot tub, at a toasty 38 degrees Celsius.

The most surprising discovery I made upon my first few steps into Iceland’s geothermal springs was how drunk everyone was in the crowd. The architects of the Blue Lagoon have strategically placed a small bar upon entry into the pool, and at least 75% of the crowd was walking around with a pint of Gull, Iceland’s equivalent of Budweiser. The stage for the concert was set-up at the far end of the Lagoon, forcing the crowd to walk about 100 meters through the waist high water in order to reach the stage.

If I were to effectively summarize the blue lagoon experience in one short phrase for Americans looking to visit Iceland’s historic landmark, I would say, a relaxing environment with beautiful scenery. The blue lagoon is not an amusement park or nightclub with endless opportunities for entertainment. Younger kids might get restless after an hour at the Lagoon because the experience does not provide mind-stimulating entertainment. However, for those of you looking for a place to relax, grab a beer, and chill out in one of the world’s most prestigious hot tubs, the blue lagoon provides the perfect setting to accomplish that goal. 

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