Are you dead or are you alive? Squint out at the colossal mountains in the background and you are forgiven for believing your arcane transport to the ethereal Yggdrasil cosmos. Here you are subsumed by the creamy bath, an elixir resembling Alizé and soy milk. Lay your head back, feel the volcanic heat on your skin, and the snowflakes on your tongue at 65° North. Thick steam rises in the air, opaque against the shy sun showing for just a moment on the winter solstice. You have slipped into the foggy underworld known as the Blue Lagoon.
Bláa Lónið (Blue Lagoon) is a natural hotspring which retains almost all of it’s supernatural charm despite being built for a flown-in for the weekend global audience. Without knowing what it looked like before the construction diggers came, the design remains a soft carving of nature. The wade-able landscape is subtlety divided into enough activity areas that serve as entertaining circuit training as well as relaxing unplugging. Social psychology and architecture will lead you do laps of: mud facemasks, off-shoot benches, sparkling wine, hot waterfalls, and saunas. The lagoon remains a strange and well-crafted wonder despite the shepherding.
Given the flocks of holiday-makers here, the compartmentalization of the lagoon is a plus because it means that you contend only with a subset of crowd at any time. Still, take some time to crawl to the most sparsely populated outer regions where you can lie down and pretend you understand the creation story of a world born of ice and fire. There’ll be enough time to see a world of bragging Skype calls and distant offices on the iPhones of patrons who haven’t left the bar.
The specialness of the location and the water’s X-factor is real, if hard to appreciate fully. Open your eyes too wide you will see a modern capitalist tourist trap which competes uneasily with the otherworldly nature. Our Airbnb host (and here’s the contradiction again), told us what it was like to go to Grindavík 40 years ago. It was a time when she could enjoy her own country’s offerings without paying €40 to a private company. That’s an unavoidable moral blemish part and parcel of this wonder of the bathing universe.