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Iceland's Blue Lagoon

The spa's geothermal bathing area.
The spa's geothermal bathing area.

One of the strangest tourist traps in the world has to be the Blue Lagoon in Iceland, located 50 kilometers from Reykjavik en route to the airport.

Milky water of the Blue Lagoon.

At a latitude equivalent to Siberia and Alaska on the Arctic Circle, this geothermal spa of bluish-white seawater feels like sitting in a warm pool of milk of magnesia. The spa uses geothermal power to heat the facilities and provide electricity, which comes from boiling saltwater pumped from deep underground wells. It's one of the few spas in the world that relies solely on renewable energy.

Icelanders have put on quite the display of man harnessing nature's power, in fact: Next to the Blue Lagoon is a power plant that generates energy by pumping seawater into the ground. The resulting steam turns the turbines that produce electricity for the island’s inhabitants. The hot water, containing beneficial minerals and a high silica content, then ends up in the lagoon, and visitors from all over the world flock to experience its benefits.

Clean energy: it's a hit with spa-goers.

In Iceland, clean energy is producing huge revenues. People pay to bathe in water from its power plants – and the water's also good for making expensive beauty products.

Even more alien than this idea is the feeling you get from a massage with your body covered by a warm wet blanket as you sit on top of a floating raft in the pool, bobbing around on the milky water full of steam.

The mud baths offered at the Blue Lagoon aren't just a spa treatment; they’re designed by a national health institute to cure ailments. Once the bathtub is filled with hot, slippery brown mud, you slip completely naked into the tub and the attendant piles heaps of mud on top of your body from the waist down.

There are several health restaurants on site after you’ve had the treatments. And all the veggies are grown from the on-site greenhouses supplied by the plant.

Lagoon from a distance.

Many visitors find the Icelandic climate among the strangest in their travels. One day while I was hiking, it suddenly started raining with fog rolling in and out. We were inundated with sleet and blowing wind, and just as quickly the sun appeared, all in a period of 30 minutes. Few Icelanders carry an umbrella, but most wear a waterproof coat with hood as the rain appears randomly without notice.

Reykjavik has 17 public swimming pools heated by geothermal water, and they are open all year long.

If you’ve been to Iceland prior to the currency devaluation that occurred several years ago, you’d feel like a pauper with your middle-class salary. But now the Icelandic kroner has declined like a submerging whale, you can afford to buy a meal at New York City prices rather than Copenhagen prices (which are double or triple New York City prices). So now a once-$10 beer will cost you around $7.00.

The cheapest time to visit a somewhat expensive country as Iceland is the beginning of April to the middle of June. Days are longer, prices for everything from accommodation to airfare are lower than the summer tourist season, and you’ll avoid too many tourists.

Many travelers like myself chose to visit the Blue Lagoon en route to the airport. Just add additional travel time for a stopover.

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The spa's geothermal bathing area.
The spa's geothermal bathing area.

One of the strangest tourist traps in the world has to be the Blue Lagoon in Iceland, located 50 kilometers from Reykjavik en route to the airport.

Milky water of the Blue Lagoon.

At a latitude equivalent to Siberia and Alaska on the Arctic Circle, this geothermal spa of bluish-white seawater feels like sitting in a warm pool of milk of magnesia. The spa uses geothermal power to heat the facilities and provide electricity, which comes from boiling saltwater pumped from deep underground wells. It's one of the few spas in the world that relies solely on renewable energy.

Icelanders have put on quite the display of man harnessing nature's power, in fact: Next to the Blue Lagoon is a power plant that generates energy by pumping seawater into the ground. The resulting steam turns the turbines that produce electricity for the island’s inhabitants. The hot water, containing beneficial minerals and a high silica content, then ends up in the lagoon, and visitors from all over the world flock to experience its benefits.

Clean energy: it's a hit with spa-goers.

In Iceland, clean energy is producing huge revenues. People pay to bathe in water from its power plants – and the water's also good for making expensive beauty products.

Even more alien than this idea is the feeling you get from a massage with your body covered by a warm wet blanket as you sit on top of a floating raft in the pool, bobbing around on the milky water full of steam.

The mud baths offered at the Blue Lagoon aren't just a spa treatment; they’re designed by a national health institute to cure ailments. Once the bathtub is filled with hot, slippery brown mud, you slip completely naked into the tub and the attendant piles heaps of mud on top of your body from the waist down.

There are several health restaurants on site after you’ve had the treatments. And all the veggies are grown from the on-site greenhouses supplied by the plant.

Lagoon from a distance.

Many visitors find the Icelandic climate among the strangest in their travels. One day while I was hiking, it suddenly started raining with fog rolling in and out. We were inundated with sleet and blowing wind, and just as quickly the sun appeared, all in a period of 30 minutes. Few Icelanders carry an umbrella, but most wear a waterproof coat with hood as the rain appears randomly without notice.

Reykjavik has 17 public swimming pools heated by geothermal water, and they are open all year long.

If you’ve been to Iceland prior to the currency devaluation that occurred several years ago, you’d feel like a pauper with your middle-class salary. But now the Icelandic kroner has declined like a submerging whale, you can afford to buy a meal at New York City prices rather than Copenhagen prices (which are double or triple New York City prices). So now a once-$10 beer will cost you around $7.00.

The cheapest time to visit a somewhat expensive country as Iceland is the beginning of April to the middle of June. Days are longer, prices for everything from accommodation to airfare are lower than the summer tourist season, and you’ll avoid too many tourists.

Many travelers like myself chose to visit the Blue Lagoon en route to the airport. Just add additional travel time for a stopover.

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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