Sunday, October 1, 2017

[GRINDAVIK] Sulphuric Skinny Dipping

Thinking of an Iceland layover? DO IT. Both Icelandair and Wow Air offer really cheap trans-Atlantic flights and the latter even gives you a few days of stopover in Reykjavik for free. Of course, booking earlier means getting cheaper tickets! What I like about the country is that the tours are very organized and even if you only have a day or two to spare, you are sure to find something that will easily fit in your schedule. I think the best one is a trip to the Blue Lagoon. Why? It’s so close to Keflavik International Airport!

Okay, this is the part where I engage in some geeky Geography verbal diarrhea. When you see KEF written on your itinerary, it means Keflavik International Airport which is located at a region of the country called Southern Peninsula. The capital lies in the region to the north, unimaginatively called the Capital Region. In any case, a Flybus can shuttle you either way in under an hour. The Blue Lagoon is also located in the Southern Peninsula, a mere 20 kilometers from the airport itself.

What does that mean? It means that even a few hours of layover at the airport can be maximized with a trip to the thermal baths. Reykjavik Excursions offers transfers from the airport to Blue Lagoon to Reykjavik. This is usually a two-way ticket: Keflavik – Blue Lagoon – Keflavik; Keflavik – Blue Lagoon – Reykjavik; Reykjavik – Blue Lagoon – Keflavik; or Reykjavik – Blue Lagoon – Reykjavik. Just make sure to check the official time table of the buses because the schedule changes depending on the season.

The entrance fee to the lagoon can also be booked via Reykjavik Excursions or via the official website itself. It is always cheaper to book package tours including transfers than buying them separately. For Blue Lagoon, they have three different packages with rates dependent on what’s included. The cheapest one, Standard, includes no more than the admission fee and unlimited silica mud gel. At ISK 8,000 (~PHP 4,000), it’s the cheapest one that you can get.

Add a thousand krona or two and you get a free towel, bath robe, and flip-flops. The most expensive package includes food or a spa treatment, if I’m not mistaken. You don’t really need flip-flops. The floor boards you step on outside are mostly made of wood and they weren’t really dirty. The bath robe might come in handy during winter, but then again all you have to do is jump into the pool to get warm. I advise AGAINST renting a towel. Why? They are all identically white and swapping is not as rare as you think.

But why would you steal another person’s towel? I don’t think people do so intentionally. When all of them look the same, it’s bound to happen. I guess this is where my bright yellow towel came in handy. The only caveat is that I stood out walking around like a human-sized banana. Photography is allowed in the pool but at your own risk. Most people buy a water-proof case available for sale onsite. Some just YOLO it, like me. What? My Galaxy S4 is a daredevil. Besides, all I needed was a selfie.

The pool temperature ranges from normal body 37 C to high 40’s. The farther away you go, the hotter it gets, as you get closer and closer to the natural mud/lava area surrounding the place. Some areas are off-limits to visitors and given Iceland’s reputation for being an island of fire and ice, I suggest that you curb your adventurous side unless you want to burn alive or freeze to death. Stick to the rules. There’s just no winning against Mother Nature, you know.

As for the crowd, it’s a wide mix of people. You have model types that make you feel bad about yourself. Men in their last trimester of pregnancy. Asian tourists with selfie sticks. You also see people from different age groups: children, adults, dinosaurs. I didn’t see anyone in their birthday suit, though, so better save the skinny dipping for when you visit a Korean or Japanese sauna. You receive a waterproof bracelet to access your locker and to save all the drinks you order for payment at the cashier later upon exit.

Lockers are available at the parking lot for a fee of ISK 550 (~PHP 275) PER ITEM which you pay upon retrieval of your baggage. I suggest a day trip from Reykjavik and back if you want to save up on locker fees. If not, then just squeeze the trip into your itinerary on the way to or from Keflavik Airport. The one-hour time window indicated on your ticket is strictly implemented. That’s how they make sure that the pools are not crowded. Once you get in, you can stay as long as you like within the day.

[GRINDAVIK] Sulphuric Skinny Dipping

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