The Blue Lagoon. Iceland’s most famous tourist trap. I mean, attraction.
I know it is THE most visited attraction in Iceland, partly due to its proximity to the airport and incredible marketing, but I just can’t figure out why. I went based on recommendations from other travel bloggers, but what they experienced and what I experienced were way different. Unless they were just trying to be polite. I am not.
It. Was. Awful. The Blue Lagoon is a big, fat “F” on the otherwise straight “A” report card that is Iceland.
Allow me to go into the recesses of my memory and share my horrifying experience with you. I will preface this post by saying that if you read this, and still feel you must experience this particular geothermal tourist trap, then I sincerely hope you have an enjoyable experience. Lots of people do. I am not one of them.
When I pulled into the parking lot in my little Nissan Micra, the first thing I noticed was three tour buses in addition to a parking lot full of cars. A week in Iceland had taught me one thing. Those buses meant Americans and British were here in droves. Shit. But what else did I expect? Locals do NOT go here.
Luckily, those big groups go through a different check-in line than us independent travelers. I didn’t wait in line long, and the check-in was painless. Robe? Check. Towel? Check. Flip-flops? Check. Bracelet that would not, no matter how many times I snapped the damn thing on my wrist, stay closed? Check. I cancelled a lunch reservation I had made because I could already tell I didn’t want to prolong this hell any longer than I had to, and certainly didn’t want to pay out the ass for lunch here.
I enter the locker rooms. My god, I have never seen so many tits and asses. There are so few actual changing rooms that everyone is forced to change into their swimsuits by their lockers. And everything was wet! Everything! Floors, benches, you name it, it was wet. It was so crowded I couldn’t even find a locker. I wandered to the end of a very long hallway and found one open.
Americans. Everywhere. Now, I realize I am an American. But after living overseas for several years and often traveling alone, I’m not accustomed to having that many conversations with strangers. Americans will strike up a conversation with anyone, as they did with me. In the locker room. Virtually naked. Her, not me. Cover yourself, Woman, before you start asking me questions! Those things are hanging heavy and dangerously close to me, and I do not want them touching me!
I went to change in private, and when I came back, an American women’s athletic team of some sort had taken over the section of lockers near mine. The first thing I saw when I rounded the corner to my locker was a perfect, firm, round, naked ass bent over getting something out of the locker next to mine. Will this hell ever end? Everywhere I looked, in the shower, on the floor, around the sinks, was long hair! Just a strand. Or two. Stuck on the shower wall. Clumped in the floor. Hanging off the sink. It was unavoidable really, and not because they weren’t cleaning. Attendants were everywhere, cleaning. They just couldn’t keep up.
Get. Me. Out. Of. Here.
No, I paid for a luxurious experience. I was sure once I got in the water, it would get better. This place is expensive for a reason. It’s on every blog post ever written about Iceland for a reason. “Go get in the water, Mary. Quit bitching and go relax. Have a drink since you get one included in the price you paid to see all these tits and asses.”
I had already showered and left a bucket of conditioner on my hair like they said to do if you planned to put your hair in the water. I didn’t. But I conditioned it anyway. The silica in the water really does a number on your hair and there was no way I was going to get on a plane tomorrow looking like Phyllis Diller. If you don’t know who that is, Google her.
So, my pasty white backside and saddlebags donned a cushy, white robe and flip flops that smelled like tires and headed out to the lagoon.
It was freezing outside! It wasn’t this cold when I arrived! Oh wait, I was wearing clothes when I arrived. Why was I surprised at how cold it was? I don’t know, but I was. I took off the robe and flip flops, prayed no one took mine instead of theirs when they were leaving, and walked down the runway, I mean, ramp, into the water.
Now I felt a bit better. The water was lovely and warm, like bathwater that never gets cold. I walked across the lagoon and found a nice, quiet place to sit and people watch while the super special waters of the lagoon ridded me of all my freckles and moles, and a saddlebag or two. Oh wait, it doesn’t do that. That’s just what I thought it should do for what I paid for this experience.
As I people watched, I also had to people-listen. Conversations in Kuwait, in Arabic, are often white noise to me because I don’t understand Arabic, so it’s easy to tune out. But when I understand everything, as I did here in little steamy America – I mean, in the lagoon – it’s a big distraction to listen to the conversations around me. The things people talk about. Let’s see, one group of sixty somethings was playing Marco Polo even though they all had their eyes open and were standing right next to each other, not moving. Another couple was discussing the fact that veggie lasagna isn’t really lasagna. Three girls were expounding on the benefits of whole wheat pasta. There aren’t any. Two British girls next to me couldn’t figure out why their hair felt so stiff. Didn’t they watch the instructional video before coming here? They didn’t condition properly. Oh dear.
But the conversations weren’t the worst of it. The photos were. My god, the photos! People brought their phones, unprotected, into the lagoon to get that perfect Instagram shot. Those that did buy the phone protectors were even worse. Those protector things were 30 dollars! Holy crickey!
The perfect shot. Let’s talk about that. I have never seen so many women in bikinis trying to look sexy for the camera while their boyfriends took their picture. The pouty lips, the hands-on hips, the slicked back Kardashian conditioner-laden hair. And then the couple selfies! The boyfriends wanted in on the action, so now it was kissy-selfie time.
You’re both wet with this hot water from the lagoon on your face. Do you know what’s in this water? You’re going to kiss that wet cheek? Oh dear.
I saw loads of women not bothering with the shower at all, much less showering naked like you’re supposed to. People were carrying their drinks around in the lagoon, no lids on them. Let’s not even talk about hair again. Or should we? Yes, let’s go there.
As I sat there on my little perch, observing, I imagined how many selfies I was in at that moment. There were hardly any people where I was, so it was a pretty good backdrop for a photo with no people in it. I couldn’t resist a photobomb. As the lovely couple, Spanish I believe, put their back to me to take their couples selfie, I squished my boobs together, puckered up my lips, and did a little Marilyn Monroe hands-on-my-knees pose in the background, just in case I was in their picture. Very unlike me actually, but I couldn’t resist a photobomb. I’d never done it before.
A few minutes later, as the adoring couple looked at their pictures, they got a rather befuddled look on their face and turned around to look at me. I just smiled, but I really wanted to blow them a kiss. They were not amused, but I was.
I began watching people as they entered the lagoon on the runway, I mean ramp. How could I not? Most of them were yelling, “Take my picture,” and posing on the runway, oh, sorry, I mean ramp. The women especially were making quite a scene. The posing in the bikinis. Really? It was literally freezing outside! I have never seen so many women who wanted attention or simply just didn’t care who saw them looking ridiculous trying to get that perfect shot, and how many friends, husbands and boyfriends were willing to accommodate them.
Maybe I was just jealous because I was here alone with only my saddlebags to cuddle with.
Maybe a glass of bubbly was just what I needed to relax and enjoy the warm, somewhat blue waters of the lagoon. I wandered over to the in-water bar, got a Prosecco in an open plastic cup, and tried not to spill as I made my way back to my perch. I drank my wine (it was the worst Prosecco ever) and promptly felt finished with this whole experience. But I wanted my money’s worth, dammit. So I stayed. I watched more hilarious photo taking, listened to more conversations (like, ya know, like, this is so awesome, like, yeah!) and tried to relax.
That’s when I noticed the very masculine, very Icelandic, attendants. I will call them attendants for lack of a better word, although they did not appear to attend to anything. They walked around the lagoon in their all black attire and neon green vests, looking like a SWAT team, and I still have no idea what they were doing besides looking incredibly bored and never taking their eyes off the disaster that was this hot, steamy tourist attraction. I so wanted to ask one of them if he enjoyed his job. I didn’t.
In the process of trying to relax, I see three men coming down the runway, I mean, ramp, (why do I keep saying runway?) into the water. The first one was, well, as round as he was tall, as my grandmother would say in an effort to be polite. The second had a hipster beard down to his chest cut in a perfect rectangle and dyed an odd shade of red. Dude, I hope you conditioned that or it’s going to be wrecked. The third was unremarkable compared to these first two.
There’s a reason I mention these guys specifically. The woman in front of me taking selfies while making Khloe Kardashian duck lips had no idea that these men were in the background of her photo. I could not stop laughing, because if I had, I would’ve cried over what I paid for this.
Fast forward two minutes. The rather rotund guy started squeezing a zit on his hairy boob! Oh, hell no! I made a beeline for the runway, I mean, ramp, to get the hell out of there. I made a wide circle around him and his hairy hipster friend, and in a second I was back in my robe and back in tits and ass land. Good grief, this nightmare just would not end!
Shower, rinse, and do not repeat! One stall had a hairy ponytail holder in it, so I went to the next one. The poor attendant. She was doing her best to clean and keep up, but these long-haired women were everywhere. The showers were like a clown car! After my shower, where I endured several conversations about how stiff this woman’s hair was and how there was no shampoo in the showers (that was in the instructional video!), I got dressed, dried my hair, dumped my robe and towel in the baskets, and headed for the exit, away from all that hair.
Of course, the exit is through the gift shop. I desperately needed hand lotion. The magical silica-infused waters of the Blue Lagoon had dried me out like carne seca on a rooftop. Oh look, here’s a tester of lotion. Now this is nice lotion. Wait, why isn’t it rubbing in? Why is it so slippery? I only used a little, why won’t it soak in? Wait, is this for hands or … I’m not going to finish that sentence. The more I rubbed, the more it seemed to grow and multiply and cover my hands, like something out of Ghostbusters. Ahh!! I wiped it on my pants and almost ran outside.
Outside I could breathe again. I listened to the comments of the people, all Americans, around me. They were just as confused as I was about why the Blue Lagoon is so popular. I’m sure everyone on the bus would be talking about it. Thankfully, everyone was covered up now and once in my car, I tried not to regret the 100 USD I dished out for the “premium” experience that included watching a man squeeze a zit on his boob as a Kardashian wanna-be took selfies in a lagoon I’m a sure is laden with back hair, conditioner, and spilled beer.
Speaking of beer, once I got back to my lovely Airbnb abode, I showered for real and headed out for a beer and some food where everyone was fully clothed and nothing was wet that shouldn’t have been. The Laundromat Café. Einstock White Ale. I love Iceland. And The Laundromat Cafe. The Blue Lagoon? Not so much…