Iceland 2009: Reykjanes

Tuesday 23rd June: Grindavík - Keflavík (24 km)

You know you are cycling in Iceland when ... you visit the Blue Lagoon.

Swimming pools can be found all over Iceland. Although most of the pools are outdoors, they are open all year because the water is always warmed, usually by geothermal energy. All Icelandic schoolchildren learn to swim; you will find plenty of them at the pools.

Route 41 near Keflavik

Approaching Keflavik on Route 41, the busiest highway in Iceland



Karen's diary:

More rain. We had soft drizzle for half the night and all the following morning. With such a short distance to go, we decided to take a half-day holiday and visit Bláa Lóniđ, that Mecca of tourism, the Blue Lagoon. It's much closer to Grindavík than to Keflavík so we rode there and back without panniers. My wrist had improved enough for me to be able to ride (but I couldn't use the brake). It seemed quite funny to dress up in full wet weather gear to cycle to a place where we had first to take a shower and then to dry off before getting into the pool.

Bláa Lóniđ is set amongst dark, bouldery lava fields, right next to a geothermal power station. Through the fog and drizzle we could see wisps and clouds of steam rising both from the man-made structures and from the ground itself. It was all eerily, hauntingly beautiful. The resort building is a low-key, modern structure of stone and glass. We were early and it wasn't very crowded yet. The facilities were quite luxurious but the atmosphere was relaxed and not at all pretentious.

Brian and I were already familiar with (gender-segregated) communal changing rooms and showers but Bláa Lóniđ is frequented by foreign tourists and I could tell that some of them were a bit shocked. It didn't bother me. It isn't possible to be snobby or prudish when everyone has to strip off together - without clothes we are all equal! The pool itself is large and beautifully landscaped. People of many nationalities lounged in the hot water or swam lazily about. It was still drizzling and the air was cool and foggy. It must look amazing in winter when the snow is falling.

The building was lovely, the café was nice. We had a really relaxing and enjoyable visit but at last it was time to go. As we left, hordes of people were streaming in. The car-park was crowded with cars, campervans and buses but the road back to Grindavík was quiet. We packed up the tent and set off. It rained all the way to Keflavík but we didn't care about rain any more.

We are back at Alex Camping. We have rented a cabin for three nights - an extravagance that we feel we have earned. It costs 9600 ISK per night but it is well appointed and the price includes breakfast. The storage room is full of bike-boxes, including ours. There are plenty of cyclists here, most of them just beginning their travels. Some of them want to talk to us, some don't... they are busy dreaming of the future.