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During my recent trip to Iceland I made a visit to the Blue Lagoon. The Blue Lagoon is probably one of Iceland's most famous attractions. It is a geothermally heated outdoor pool in which you can bathe, the average temperature of the water being 37-39 degrees Celsius (98-102 Farenheit). Heated water near a lava flow is taken from the ground, used to run turbines that generate electricity in a nearby geothermal power plant, and is then fed into the lagoon.
I booked my trip before I went via the Icelandair website, alongside my flights, hotel and other excursions. However it's also possible to book once you're in Iceland. The trip was run by Reykjavik Excursions but other companies also run tours here. My tour cost approximately £50 and this included entry to the Blue Lagoon and travel from my hotel to the lagoon and back. I took the trip one afternoon during the middle of my break, however as the Lagoon is situated very near to Keflavik International Airport, many people choose to visit on the way to or from the airport.
As with the other excursions I made, I was picked up from my hotel and transferred to a larger coach at the bus depot. From here, it took approximately forty minutes to reach the Lagoon, via black and rugged lava fields. The Lagoon itself is situated in the midst of this bleak landscape, surrounded by a modern building.
After showing the printed booking confirmation on the bus, I had been given a return ticket and an entry ticket to the Lagoon. It was a simple matter to show my ticket at the desk and be given, in return, an electronic wristband. This wristband was pretty cool - it reminded me of the ones you get in swimming pools with a key on the end, but this one is more hi-tech. You use it to go through the gates and return once you're done, as well as to securely fasten your locker and purchase drinks at the Lagoon bar, paying when you leave. I didn't actually use this service but I thought it was a great idea as you can't really carry cash when you're wandering around in a swimming costume!
It is possible to hire a towel for 5 euros, but I didn't bother as I'd had the foresight to borrow the towel from my hotel! It's also possible to hire towelling robes and swimsuits, but I didn't bother with either (in fact I find the concept of hiring a swimming costume a bit weird!).
When you go through the gate it's easy to find the changing rooms with the male area on one side and the female on another. Obviously I can't comment on the men's, but the women's was very clean, open and modern with mirrors, hairdryers and stools down one side and 'booths' with benches and lockers on the other side. I got changed and put my stuff inside a locker: the instructions for locking and, subsequently, unlocking this were clearly displayed.
I took my towel with me round the corner and, as instructed, had a quick shower before heading into the pool. There were both communal and individual cubicle showers. I noticed that Blue Lagoon shower gel and conditioner was provided in the showers. I had seen a notice stating that it's best to cover your hair in conditioner before entering the pool as the minerals can damage it, so I made the most of the free stuff!
After this I headed outside, where it was absolutely freezing and there was a cold wind! Luckily the distance to the water wasn't too great so I hurriedly hung my towel on an available hook and stepped down into the water.
The Lagoon is a clear bright blue in colour, surrounded by black volcanic rock. Dotted here and there around the outside of the Lagoon are boxes of white mud, which is apparently very good for the skin. I saw several people swimming around with their faces covered in this stuff, but I didn't bother with it myself as I couldn't bear to get out of the Lagoon once I got in! The water was lovely and warm, about the temperature of a warm bath, although there were numerous waves - possibly caused by the high winds! Also there seemed to be pockets of heat and cold that alternately made me warm up and shiver! I could feel sand between my toes, and occasionally rock (but nothing sharp). I'm not a very good swimmer, but I was able to touch the bottom of the pool at all times while keeping my head above water. I am tall, though, and someone shorter might find parts of the pool a little too deep for them.
There were a few other people in the pool, it wasn't crowded though and I wouldn't expect it to be on a weekday afternoon in the off-peak season. There were several children too and they seemed to be having a great time - surprising as I'd seen the Blue Lagoon as more of an 'adult' pool for some reason.
It's possible to get massages and spa treatments to break up your pool session, but I didn't bother with these as they cost extra. The water is rich in minerals including sulphur and silica, and bathing is supposed to be good for psoriasis sufferers. I had a patch of eczema on my wrist and I did find that it looked and felt a lot better after my bathe, although I suspect I would have to bathe several times to completely get rid of it.
I stayed in the pool for a little while, but then I had to get out - partly because my face was freezing and being constantly blown by the wind, but also because it was very sunny (although cold) and so bright I couldn't actually open my eyes at some points. I really wish I'd brought my sunglasses in with me!
After getting out, I showered (using the freebies again!), dressed, dried my hair and exited the pool. I wandered round the gift shop and bought a pen for my dad. There is a restaurant overlooking the pool but I didn't use it.
I went out to catch the bus again - bus times had been printed on my ticket and there was at least one an hour.
Overall I had a great time at the Blue Lagoon. It was expensive, but a once in a lifetime experience. Everything was very clean, well-organised and secure. I would recommend going on a less windy and sunny day if you can, as the strong winds and bright sun slightly spoilt the experience for me. I also think it would be more fun to go with other people - there's only so much entertainment you can squeeze out of swimming around by yourself! I think it would be amazing to go at night in the winter and watch the Northern Lights while you're in there.
Though I had a few slight issues, none of them were the fault of the Blue Lagoon management and overall I was very impressed with the place and the way it was run, so I'm going to give it five stars. Definitely a must-do experience if you visit.
If you would like to find out more about the Blue Lagoon you can have a look at the website, http://www.bluelagoon.com/.