After spending the previous night on a Northern Lights tour, I wasn’t in the best mood when I woke up the next morning. I had made the mistake of going for the cheapest tour available, which was a bus tour with Reykjavik Excursions. Four full buses with 300 people, stopping at one destination, waiting out in the cold and seeing nothing, and then having the tour bus decide to just head back. I was unimpressed!
So I woke up ready to go on my caving tour and I wasn’t feeling very positive about the day. However that all changed very quickly.
Hello caving with Extreme Iceland! I had been caving before in Budapest and it was really hard work, and I was expecting this to be similar, but in the end it ended up being fairly relaxing. It was comparatively warm inside the cave, and it was pretty awesome to see stalactites and stalagmites for the first time in my life. It was fun, easy and a good way to lift my mood.
After I was done caving, I had organised a transfer bus to the famous Blue Lagoon. Much to my surprise I was the only person on the bus! This led to a very long conversation with my Lithuanian bus driver. He asked me if I had seen the Northern Lights yet and I told him how I had from the plane window but how my night out with Reykjavik Excursions was a bit shite (putting it mildly). He then started telling me about his friend that ran a tour company called Time Tours and how it was much better and he could get me on the tour and I would get a discounted price. I will be honest, I was skeptical, and I was marginally worried that I was getting myself into a slasher movie kind of situation. So I agreed for him to ring up his friend and book me on the tour, on the condition that I would pay that night, and that I got a pickup from my hostel. I was thinking that I could at least get back to my hostel and make sure it was a legitimate tour company before I went out with them – but more on that later.
Eventually we arrived at the truly one-of-a-kind Blue Lagoon. I took all of about two minutes to take photos because I was so excited that I couldn’t wait to get in!
Once I had gotten my locker together, showered naked in the public showers (surprisingly liberating) and drenched my hair with conditioner, it was time to get in! I had been warned not to put my hair in the water, even with all the conditioner, but of course I chose to ignore that (actually really really good) advice.
The water was amazing! So warm and soothing and it smelled like sulphur but it was actually a really pleasant smell. Occasionally you would be in spot and all of a sudden it would get really quite cold and you would have to swim around for a bit to find another warm patch. It is worth mentioning how cold it was on this particular day – 0 degrees! So whenever I did get a cold patch I was always very quick to find another warm part of the water.
There is a waterfall in there that feels amazing on your back, like a gentle massage. There is also a steam room and a sauna within a cave. They give you a wristband when you enter and with it you can buy drinks from a little bar in the pool, as well as face and body scrubs and washes. After having a really amazing green smoothie and smothering my face with a clay mask, I decided it was as good a time as any to bite the bullet and take some selfies.
As it turns out, the lagoon is so amazing, not only does the water make your skin look better than ever, but the blue hue of the water makes it pretty much impossible to take a bad photo of oneself. Although the warmth does put some serious colour into your cheeks!
I ended up swimming around in the lagoon for around five hours. When it was time to get out I hopped in the shower, washed my hair and then suddenly understood why I had been told not to put my hair in the water. Think of what your hair feels like after two days spent at the beach without it being washed. Now imagine it being about five times drier, fluffy yet somehow greasy and despite numerous rounds of shampoo and conditioner it still feels straw. Getting a hair brush through successfully was borderline impossible. My hair didn’t feel normal again for about a week, but if given the opportunity to do it all over again I would probably do the exact same thing.
So after getting dried and dressed I was back to Loft Hostel. Once there I did some quick research on Time Tours and it looked pretty legitimate, so I decided I would go on the tour. I also decided that the mates rates price of 5000ISK (around $47AUD) was pretty decent. So off I went!
It ended up being a small group of about 12 people, and it was truly fantastic. I cannot recommend them enough! The guide was entertaining, funny and eager to make sure we had a great night, and the group I was with turned out to be bloody hilarious! Lots of Brits, Dutchies and a few Americans. The last person to get picked up for the tour was this hilarious Dutch guy who came out of his hotel in nothing but a dress shirt and a light jacket, this on a night when the temperature was around -7 degrees. We were all laughing and teasing that he would end up spending the whole night on the bus to keep warm. As it turned out, we ended up all eating our words because he was able to stay outside and withstand the cold longer than anybody else!
After stopping at numerous locations we finally managed to see a decent display of the lights! They danced and moved across the sky so gracefully, it was truly amazing. Getting a photo ended up being borderline impossible though. As it turns out, to get a great photo, you need a really damn good DLSR with a long exposure time. My shitty iPhone camera was completely useless, but my point and click camera managed to get a couple of average photos, but hey, average photos are better than no photos!
Getting to Reykjavik: This is a major hub between Europe and North America, but I highly recommend Iceland Air for reliable flights and connections
Loft Hostel: This is my favourite backpackers in all of Reykjavik, click here for more info
Camera: Images captured with an iPhone 4S
Remember: When I wrote this post Iceland was still very under the radar. It has now grown into a hugely popular destination for tourists – to avoid the crowds, I recommend visiting in the winter months