Sunday, 30 December 2012

Extreme bathing 3, Northern Lights 0

Wow! Wow Air is the first airline I've flown with where the safety announcement gets a round of applause. The quirky humour is refreshing. The flight passes quickly and Alex is the first to spot land. First impressions: a black and white land bathed in an eerie milky light.

The airport is small but modern and Alex is impressed by the architecture. By the time we've claimed our bags he's already asking if he can move there. We change money, pick up our car keys and venture outside. The wind is icy and frozen snow crunches underfoot. The Satnav takes us to the Blue Lagoon where we change into our bathing kits and go in search of our first Icelandic experience.

I was wondering how to get into the water without getting frostbite, but they've cunningly made the pool dip inside the building so you can enter the water without going outside. The water is naturally heated but the pool isn't natural, it was built to take the water from the geothermal power station just over the hill. It's still a pretty cool experience luxuriating in the warm water while steam rises into the chilly air above. The black volcanic rock surrounding it has a generous coat of frozen snow. There are pots of the mineral mud that gives the water its claimed beneficial properties, so Alex and I enjoy a face mask, much to Simon's amusement. Later the joke's on me, when I get back to the changing room and realise my face is covered in blotches.

It's dark when we leave and the roads are quite treacherous, but we make it to the Frost and Fire guest house at Hveragerdi without incident. Our room is perfect - spacious and cosy with a mineral pool right outside; there's also a hot tub by the river.

The only eating place open is a pizza and burger bar, but the pizzas are excellent. We order far too much and take half away with us. Alex and I brave the freezing wind and sample both pools, although I draw the line at the natural steam room - it smells too strongly of sulphur. The sky clears somewhat but there's no sign of the Aurora. We're in bed by 11.

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