Monday, 11 March 2013

Entering the Land of Fire and Ice: Through the Lava Fields to the Blue Lagoon.

Day three in Iceland and the rain had finally stopped. I was especially glad that the weather was dryer today as we would be heading out into the countries more rugged and dangerous areas in one of the specially designed all terrain vehicles.

The first port of call for our exploration into the wilds of Iceland was at one of the many black sand beaches along the coastline. This particular beach was used in the film ‘Flags of Our Father’. The black sand dunes created a suitable dramatic effect and the juxtaposition against the crystal clear sea and snow, which was beginning to fall, gave the whole place a kind of unique beauty not easily found anywhere else.

With the snow fall gentle, but gradually getting heavier, we headed for a nearby crater. After a short climb my girlfriend and I stood at the top of one of the many volcanic mounds that litter the landscape. Inside the crater different kinds of volcanic rock littered the floor and my girlfriend pointed out the different shades of rich reds and dark browns to me (being partially colour blind I took her word for it).

Looking from the top of the crater across the moon-like terrain it was like being on another planet. Iceland may be cold and harsh but it also has rich and dramatic landscape. After returning from the crater without slicing myself to bits we were meant to be heading to some of the thermal pools that are present all over the country. However, the road to them had been closed due to new fissures and vents of hot steam opening up and making the place far too dangerous.

This acted as a reminder as to just how unpredictable and treacherous it can be out in the wilds. Many reckless tourists end up injured every year in Iceland as they underestimate the power and threat of the ever-changing volcanic landscape. With some time to spare we headed through the fishing village of Grindavik on the way to the Blue Lagoon. The village is an incredibly ugly place and as the harbour was quiet there was little reason to stay for long. Soon we were off towards today’s main event.

The Blue Lagoon is a remarkably beautiful place. The water is blue due to the combination of minerals it filters through on its way to the surface. These minerals and natural clays are incredibly good for your skin. After solving the puzzle of just how the electronic arms tags operate the lockers in the Blue Lagoon changing area, I walked out and almost died from being hit by a minus five degree wind. I tried to take some pictures.

Taking the hint from nearly freezing to death, I realised it would have been smarter to come out fully clothed to take the pictures. Finally, I dropped into the embrace of the warm waters. The lagoon is a wonderfully soothing place to float around in. The stones on the bottom are smooth and the surrounding landscape is stunning. It's a beautiful place.

I could have stayed in the cloudy waters forever and while drifting around watching the steam rise and snowfall I couldn’t think of anywhere else I would have preferred to be. It was easy to drift in the gentle water. The Blue Lagoon also served as the meeting point for the random Dutchman who seems to always turn up abroad. Floating by we exchanged jokes on bicycles and mused about why there is a Dutchman at every location.

We left the warm waters and started on the short walk through the nearby lava fields. Here the blue waters intermingle with the rough volcanic rock and occasional fissures bubble away. As pretty as it was I couldn’t help but wish I was back in the lagoon instead of out in the freezing wind. Our journey through the lava filed came to an end and we headed back to Reykjavik.

Seeing the Blue Lagoon is essential for anyone visiting Iceland. I would quite happily come back to the country and be content to spend all my time just floating around admiring the surroundings. Tomorrow would bring more dramatic landscape as we headed into Iceland’s golden circle in search of waterfalls, mountains and geysers and tonight we would be trying to find the Northern Lights.

1 comment:

  1. Lovely description of the sites with a few Brysonesque touches - your encounters with other tourists, etc. I look forward to reading more about your travels, and, I hope, following in your footsteps.

    Doe Dahm
    Castleton, Vermont