If you go to Iceland, make sure you take your thermals, wind and waterproof clothing, oh yes and your swimwear.
Ah, this is how it should be. A warm bath under the open sky. Barren Icelandic mountains on one side, the sea on another and almost silence around us. Only the small talk among the few others we share this little pool with is heard.
A gravel road took us here to the coast in the north and it is more idyllic than we could imagine. The sun is shining and there is almost no wind. We are after all in a country where we were prepared for all seasons in one day. There’s so much weather in Iceland.
We stretch, feeling the water soften our joints. Here and there bubbles rise up to the surface. There is activity in the ground below us. Two small pools are located here by the sea. One a little warmer than the other. The dressing room is a simple screen in wood, where you can make a quick change and leave your clothes. We change pools. The ’cooler’ one is just the right temperature and we relax for a while.
When we are dressed again, we are mellow and clear on one thing: Why pay lots of money for a tourist trap like Blue Lagoon, now that we have experienced this!
We’ve been on the road for a few days since the last ’heitir pottur’ and now we´d like a hot bath again. So we do like the Icelanders and go to the local swimming pool. Oh, did you think it was inside? … You walk into a building, pay entrance fees and continue into the locker room where you change to swimwear. Then you go out. Outside you will find a warm pool and a hot tub.
The water is about 40 degrees in the small tub, where we get into conversation with Icelandic Bjartur. He looks like a viking. A Moldovan girl sitting close has clearly taken a fancy to him. We, on the other hand, are quite impressed when he finally steps out of the water and sits down in the little tub next to us, which is a cool 4 degrees and stays there! A perfect extra for Game of Thrones he is. They start filming here again soon and he is trying to figure out where and when.
We don´t mind working for our experiences. It is a 3 km hike up the mountain and into Reykjadalur to a heated river where we can bathe. We´re up for it. The trip takes almost an hour, in the beginning it only goes upwards. Here and there the ground is quite muddy. When we finally arrive it feels great to change into swimming gear and submerge ourselves in the hot water. We are not alone as several people are here for the same purpose, tourists and locals alike.
Joe is still changing clothes when I step into the river. I stop. Like when you put your toe in the bath and ask yourself if you really can manage this temperature or if it is too hot. It is too hot.
”If you go into the water a little further down and cross over to the other side it is better”, a girl from Reykjavik tells me. I do as she says and sit down next to her. Right above where I first stood, the water is bubbling. Joe joins us. Stiff necks and backs gets a pleasant geothermal heat treatment. There is something about the mineral-rich water that relieves the aches so very well.
We talk about it on the way back down the valley. Certainly there are some Icelanders who have their own little relaxing heitur pottir in their garden. Their own little bubbling bath, where they can bathe in hot water all year round. All natural. We pass raging bubbling ponds and hold our breath as we walk through the smelly gas. Some places you can swim. Other places you do not, as you´d dissolve in the acidic water. Under our feet is a country of constant change and movement. It gives and takes. Today we received.