You know that build-up of excitement when you're riding the monorail towards Disneyland and you see bits of impending joy—the castle spires, the tip of Matterhorn Mountain, the jerky motions of riders in the Autopia—and you continue to ride through the park, hovering above...and before you break out in full hyperventilation with the anticipation of touching your feet to Disney-owned ground, you're there? Assuming you like Disneyland, that is. (I should note that I haven't been to Disneyland for a while, but my choppy memory tells me it might have gone something like that.) Otherwise, just make up your own, "Omg omg omg are we there yet?" situation.
That's kind of how I felt when our car pulled into the Blue Lagoon, one of the most famous attractions in Iceland. It's probably the only heated body of water I've ever been excited about lazily lying in. Because it's not just any heated body of water; it's geothermal seawater! It's full of minerals, silica, and algae! Which is good for the skin, or something! And then there's the otherworldly look of the water: milky white with a hint of blue.
Almost...there...so very close...
...And then we entered a mostly empty parking lot. That's how it is at 11 a.m. (it opened at 10 that day) on a Monday. Of course, lots of people take buses there, but even with the tourist crowd it was satisfyingly quiet that morning.
But the wind. It was not happy. Our initial reaction was pretty much, "OHHH JEBUSFUUHUAHUAHD WIND." (Or that was my reaction; I suppose it would be unfair to stick such uncouth words in Greg's and Diana's mouths.) Anything that wasn't securely fasted to our bodies (mothers with small children, keep note) was in danger of being blown away. On a day like that you definitely want to rent a robe, or bring one with you.
All was calm inside the locker room. I'm not familiar with locker rooms in spas seeing as I had never been in one before, but I think this is one of the nicer sort. We are in Iceland, after all.
Although wristband keys aren't uncommon, I don't think I had ever used one before. Hm.
AND THEN IT WAS LAGOON TIME. We waded around in there for a bit before taking turns photographing each other in the water. Getting in and out of the pool outside in the freezing wind felt like death (admittedly, it was funny to see the looks of horror disbelief as new swimmers stepped outside and realized how cold it was), but there's a pool just inside to the left of the locker room exit that has a partially submerged door so you can always stay in the water and not get shocked by the outdoor weather. Not that it matters if you're taking photos with dSLR cameras like we did, which you probably don't want to take with you into the water unless you have a waterproof case. Diana and Greg also bought disposable water-proof cameras in the gift shop so they could take photos in the pool.
Here's a rare capture of Diana in silly mode. And some not-so-rare dust on my sensor. Oops.
And a less rare instance of me making a weird face.
It's fun to just poke your head above the water so that the rest of your body is lost in opaque-ness. (Except you can see my legs because I had to lie down in the shallow water. Illusion...fail.)
Lunch at the Blue Lagoon cafeteria consisted of a simple smoked salmon sandwich and vanilla skyr. Sandwich was fine as far as satiating my hunger went. Bread. Meat. Skyr.
After lunch, we went back for another dip in the lagoon before the onslaught of hail drove us out. While cloudy and cold was perfectly unobtrusive to the Blue Lagoon experience, cloudy, cold, and "having your head pelted by little bits of horizontally flying ice" was less acceptable. It was time to go.
Granted, as soon as we left we wanted to go back.
When we got back to Reykjavik, one of our first stops was Tiger, a Danish discount-chain store located across the street from our hotel. It reminded me a bit of IKEA but without the furniture. Just lots of simple inexpensive stuff that was mostly visually appealing. Like...
...These plush blue blob whatchamajigs...what...okay maybe this is a bad example.
Some kind of generic ramen! Totally unexpected. I bought a few packs, but I didn't make them yet.
And a set of two-piece puzzles. For that special child. (As one of my friends pointed out, that bird looks drunk.)
Here's a lovely random mural we saw on Laugavegur.
And inside Kron, where I bought a pair of red flats by Camper and Diana bought TWO PAIRS OF SHOES. I don't think we'll be buying any more shoes for a while. (I really need new sneakers though, as the pair I have now is two and a half years old.)
Menu: It's simple. Burgers (including veg and chicken, methinks), fries, shakes, toppings, sauces. Instead of going for the Offer of the Century, I got a double burger with small fries and a shake. I should've quelled the glutton in me and gone for a simple single burger, but...eh, I'm not on a diet.
Interior: Homey, cluttered, worn. Lots of handwritten signs of adoration and burger-related ephemera. Cheery ceiling of Christmas lights makes me want the same for my room. You could sit right at the counter or grab one of the small high tables by the windows, which look out onto the mountain-backed harbor.
Burgers: The five-ounce double is a messy affair. Topped with American cheddar cheese, chopped onions, Heinz ketchup, Dijon mustard, and mayonnaise, aside from the basic lettuce and tomato, there's a lot of sauce between you and the meat. I thought it was too much sauce for what seemed to be a pair of juicy, good quality patties, but it's the Icelandic preference to sauce it up. I can live with that (I did eat the whole thing, of course), but If you have an aversion to any sauces, you better tell them before they make your burger.
The single seems to be a better, less messy choice. And I love that generic, squishy bun.
Shake: Reasonably sized, good thickness (not runny, not cement-like), not too sweet, and has a nice strawberry flavor. Win! Don't ask why Greg is coddling my cup. He's just Greg. We like Greg just the way he is...kind of.
Fries: Skinny, golden, and salted, like from McDonald's, but probably made with more love.
I wish I knew what photo they were looking at.
If you question the Icelandic penchant for sauces, just take a look at this counter. Of sauces. Whoaaa. That's one big tub of burger relish, and i don't even know what burger relish is.
There's an explanation for the shirtless man in the window: that's the owner, Tommi Tómasson! ...In his 20s. Here's the story he told me:
"It is a practical joke on me. My partner found this photo of me from 1984 in a magazine called SAMUEL, like the Icelandic version of People magazine. I had just come home from Los Angeles at the time, where I had been for almost a year training at Gold's Gym. This was just after I sold all my interest in Tommi's hamburgers. Anyway, he found the photo and had someone enlarge it. The text says, "Employee of the Month." Then he called me and showed me; there was nothing I could do. However, I used it as a promo when I turned 60 years old and one of the papers here published it with me in front."
Looks like he's still doing well at 60 years old. Go, Tommi! :)
We followed our burger dinner with a little walk by the harbor, and...
A visit to 10-11 so I coudl take photos of random things, like this IMPORTED Iceland spring water. ...I think they just use the same labels as what they export. Yeeeeaeh. Um.
The cutest container of plain skyr I've ever seen, or as I would rather call it, RAINBOW POWER SKYR. UPDATE (7/16): It's got a rainbow because it's called Kid-skyr!...doh.
Cute bottles of orange juice.
And my favorite, Fatty, Tongue Waggling Panda Ice Cream Pops.
Yeah, this is just what I do, folks.
Greg wanted a travel BBQ pack, but I said no. Then he got sad faced. JESUS CHRIST, GREG, BE A MAN.
I got a bottle of Mix for the sake of trying some sort of local soda. It was kind of like Mountain Dew, but super fizzy. Maybe less sweet. I mostly remember being knocked out by the carbonation and then my few sips being followed by seemingly endless burps.
Blue Lagoon, burgers, and burps—those are the building blocks of a meaningful day.