8. Kvika: The Bathless Taken


Distance to complete relaxation: 2.5/5 spigots

Through our previous couchsurfing adventures we’d come to be in possession of a hand-drawn map of a mystical out-of-the-way hot pot just outside the small town of geothermally active Hveragerði. In true fashion we found  a willing travel companion on Couchsurfing’s Reykjavik discussion, and planned to meet them for coffee on this winter morning. It was then that we encountered our first obstacle, the locks to our car were frozen. An hour of bringing down boiling water in thermoses, and a bic-fired key set us on our way: some daylight, but not much passion lost.

icehorseOur surfcoucher was late arriving to our rendez-vous, but again we were put at ease by the third-wave-birch atmosphere of Reykjavik Roasters. Another hour, and half the sunlight gone, we motored through the desert of snow to volcano-land, popping the ambient sounds of Jóhan Jóhannsson into the compact disc player. We were enjoying the route, even stopping off for a few Icelandic horses.



Unbathable. Try as I might.

We didn’t even rush our hour hike up the mountain, and did a stop-and-chat when our hike-surfer companion ran into a hostel homie.

And all of this would have been fine, if it wasn’t two days after the winter solstice at 66° North. This particular spacetime meant that the sun was setting, and legions of other hikers were descending the mountain with advice like “you’re 45 minutes away.” Still we maintained good spirits right up until an icy precipice that didn’t seem like it was going to be any easier to navigate in the dark. Adi fretted “my mom would be really disappointed with me if I fell off this cliff and died.” It seemed like the right moment to make the smart move, snap some nature porn, and GTF off the mountain.


Still we had to salvage what we could, so we made another poor – but not life threatening – decision to go to the smallest hotpot in Iceland.

Kvika footbath is a souvenir key-chain of a hotpot. It’s targeted towards people who want the upper and lower halves of their bodies to be different temperatures – and have a nice view of the expansive Atlantic while they’re at it. Yet our visit was a nigh unbearable tale of wind, extreme cold, heat, and complete darkness. The joke wore thin 5 minutes in, so we returned to the warmth of an Aktu-Taktu chip-merchant. You might like it a lot more if you could see anything at all and have non-adverse weather conditions.



The day was charcterised by false starts of all sorts, and Kvika in some ways was one of them. The promise of this bonsai-bath is alluring no doubt, but there’s more laughing than earnest relxation to be had here.


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