Friday, March 18, 2011

Of all the things I did in Iceland, I can confidently say that this was by far the coldest activity.

The above photos were taken at the Blue Lagoon, one of Iceland's biggest tourist attractions, as well as one of the world's most acclaimed spas. I had planned on spending most of Friday at the Blue Lagoon, having made an appointment for a 2-hour in-water algae treatment and massage. Since Thursday was filled with diving and hiking about waterfalls and geysers, I was very much looking forward to soaking in this natural geothermal hotspot, getting that massage and coating my sun-deprived face with the Blue Lagoon's famous silica mask.

My massage/treatment was at 10:30 a.m. on a cloudy morning with temperatures at about 20°. And again.... the wind...

"It's ok, the water will be hot," I thought as I disrobed and climbed into the lagoon's massage area to meet my masseuse, who I noticed was decked out in fleece from head to toe.

I was in my new dark green bikini. Quite a difference in attire.

He asked me to slide up on a 6-foot wooden planked massage table that hovered on the water to begin the salt scrub.

I just looked at him.

"It will be ok. This is the coldest part," he said.

I looked at him, as the wind kicked up enough to blow my two French-braided pigtails behind my back. So, I climbed on the table, face-down. He wet a heavy fleece blanket and laid it over me, removing a part of the blanket as he scrubbed. Same thing, face-up.

While the scrubbing felt awesome, I couldn't get over how cold I was. Yes, there was a blanket over me, but those blankets cool down, you know. And when they do, the masseuse would dip it back into the water and lay it back over me, which means the blanket had to be removed from my barely clothed, wet body. Again, I say, the wind...

Next came the algae treatment. Spreading the algae all over me, he had me wiggle into a giant plastic bag. When I was fully coated, he tied off the bag, put an inflatable pillow around my neck and and slid me onto a little raft. He then proceeded to massage my head and face, rubbing conditioner into my hair.

All of this was considerably warmer, but the best part of the treatment was when he slid the mat out from under me and placed what I can only describe as a noodle, under my knees. This, was a very cool feeling. Supported by only the inflatable neck pillow and the noodle at your knees, you (inside your plastic algae bag covered with thermal blankets) just float around the warm lagoon for about 30 minutes. I'd say it's pretty impossible not to doze off.

Post-floating, I shimmied out of my algae bag and he slid me back onto the little raft to commence what I was most looking forward to after yesterday's hiking and a subzero scuba trip - the 50-minute massage.

It wasn't the best massage of my life, but it was comical to assess what actually was happening at that very moment. Here I was, in Iceland, floating around some geothermal lagoon with a strange Icelandic man massaging my right butt-cheek and thigh. What was the rest of the world doing??

Ahhh, life is good.

When the massage ended, I was free to roam around, exploring the lagoon and its steam baths and saunas, masking my face with endless silica treatments.

Aside from freezing my tush off in the beginning, my only real complaint is that the property wasn't as photogenic as I had anticipated, but that's all ok. After having seen this place in travel magazines, on travel shows and on subway ads for years, I can now cross a visit to the Blue Lagoon off my bucket list.

Photos taken on 3.11.11.

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