I Almost Got Naked in Iceland

 

Iceland is cold in March. There was snow and ice everywhere and it was just starting to get light when my airplane landed at Keflavik International Airport, 50 miles from Reykjavik.  Outside it looked like a cold winter day in a medium-size American city.

A major storm had just hit Boston and I had just stayed a day there on my way to Reykjavik. It was bitter cold but it was sunny. I bounced from Boston to NYC, which wasn’t much better.

When I left home in Utah it was a pleasant 70 degrees outside. Most people wouldn’t want to go on a vacation that would take them back into winter, but I am accustomed to vacationing during the month of March and it has worked out well for me most places I have visited.

One feature Iceland is well-known for is hot springs. Homes and businesses are heated with geothermal energy. Hot springs also play a big part in tourism. The best known public geothermal hot spring is the Blue Lagoon. This site is promoted everywhere in Iceland, especially the airport.

My hotel in Reykjavik was the Radisson Blu Saga Hotel. Because I had missed booking day trips before I got to Iceland, I decided to swing by the ITA desk in the hotel. Taking the advice of the agent about what a first-timer to Iceland should visit, I booked trips to the South Shore and Golden Circle.

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Icelandic lifeguard on duty at the Secret Lagoon.

Included with the Golden Circle trip was a stop at the Secret Lagoon. I was instructed to bring a swimsuit with me the morning of the tour. This didn’t seem like a big deal since the only other items I was planning to take were my coat and camera equipment.

I was picked up for the tour at the hotel by a full-size tour bus. Other tourists had been picked up earlier from various hotels and we were going to make a few more hotel stops to pick up more.

The tour guide was a school teacher by profession and was interested in knowing where everyone was from. There were people from Korea, Europe and United States, among others. The man sitting next to me was from Australia.

Visiting the Secret Lagoon was slated for the end of the day. We first visited many of the popular Golden Circle sites including Gullfoss, Thingvellir National Park and Haukadalur.

The last stop before returning to Reykjavik was the Secret Lagoon. On the drive there we were instructed about the process. The lagoon would provide the towels. We were to go to the changing rooms and store our personal items on the shelf space. We were also instructed to shower before entering the geothermal pool. 1930’s world history popped into my mind. Am I really supposed to fall for this?

As we entered the building, we were offered a towel and directed to a changing room to our left. As I turned the corner I noticed everyone was going into the same room.  The room opened up and was quite large in size. I saw the shelves along the wall. There were no lockers, just shelves.

This is when I noticed men and women in various stages of undress. I quickly decided this was an experience I would feel more comfortable passing on. I left the dressing room (more of an undressing room at that moment) and went back to the main room. I turned my unused towel in to staff who had puzzled looks on their faces.

Icelanders like to drink. So do all other Europeans. Asians and Australians too. Okay, pretty much the whole world. They sell booze at the Secret Lagoon and they don’t care if you take it into the hot springs with you.

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I’ve mentioned before that Iceland is expensive. Beer is no exception. Now was not the time for me to object to cost. I selected one of the unfamiliar brands simply based on the can design.

Tuborg Gold it was. I’m not here to critique beer but it was a mediocre. The only other thing worth noting about the drink is European beer is strong. The rest of the time at the site was spent staring out the large window and watching all the nationalities mingle. I could be wrong, but it did appear a couple in the corner of the hot springs were getting a little too comfortable and were getting quite frisky with one another (see couple along the edge in the lifeguard photo.) I guess it was the alcohol.

I started a conversation with the Australian next to me as we returned to town. I asked what he thought of the experience and he didn’t have much feedback. I continued to press him. But the changing room, was that weird?

“Nah. I’ll get naked in front of anyone.”

Good to know. I guess I should have been asking the girls instead.

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