Velkomin á Íslandi (MO’NING ICELAND!)
I’ve just returned from a short trip to Iceland and it’s bloody cold alright. If you’re headed over there in Winter, take another layer for Christ’s sake. And whilst you’re at it, here are a few things you should do:
The Blue Lagoon is cool; but beneath the novelty veneer, don’t forget it is essentially a heated lido. They do lidos slightly differently in Iceland though- there’s no bag of chips for a quid, so probably best to bring your own. Another difference is the temperature: the water is around 40 degrees Celsius, which is d-e-lightful. That makes up for the chips bit.
Accompaniments to this outdoor bath are (free) face masks and (not free) lagers. Bear in mind to factor in time for these activities though, as the lagoon is sizeable and you’ve got to navigate your way through a constant thick mist (the lagers and the mask are on different sides). On the other hand, if you’re there with someone/some people you don’t want to be with, worry not- it’s brilliantly easy to lose them in the maze-like layout. Also, there are massive blokes in jackets and high vis walking around the perimeter of the pool- easily mistaken for security, but in fact, they’re the lifeguards. They won’t take photos for you.
Now, they’ve also got a few waterfalls in Iceland. The Icelandic word for waterfall is ‘foss’, so if you see ‘foss’ at the end of a town’s name you know what you’re in for – a good ol’ Icelandic time and some plummeting water. Skogafoss is an impressive waterfall carved into the landscape on the south coast, with a viewing platform some 500 steps up by foot. These steps also make for a great spectator sport at this time of year as they’re covered in ice, making them the most slippery steps in the Northern Hemisphere. So pull up a chair and take in the breathtaking waterfall, plus a steady stream of tumbling, injured tourists.
Geysirs. Definition: a spring that throws forth intermittent jets of heated water and steam. There are only a few places in the world to see geysirs so if you have a chance, these hot, foul-smelling, jet-like eruptions are worth the trip. It’s like a patch of acne upon the earth’s surface with the angriest of red and inflamed pustules, where the most active bursts every 10 minutes or so. Eruptions can reach over 20 metres in height and only those with lightning-quick reactions can record such events on their iPhones. Each eruption tends to be followed by a chorus of sighs signalling the realisation we have to wait to see the 34th consecutive eruption for one member of your party to get the perfect Instagram post. In addition, courageous drone pilots can be seen navigating their quadcopters through the geysir area, whilst onlookers pray and hope an eruption will swallow them up. Modern-day geysir entertainment.
One final item to cover, probably the most important – over half of the Icelandic population believe in elves. Bloody elves. According to Icelandic folklore; elves usually live in rocky areas, have magical powers and cause ‘trouble’ if people try to disturb their home. In fact, building projects are sometimes altered to prevent damaging the rocks where they’re believed to live. Now, I didn’t see any elves and I’m pretty damn sceptical to say the least but if you see one, do let me know- send us a tweet or something. Bless (bye)!