Visiting a hot spring is a must in Iceland. It’s one of their most famous features, one of the main reasons to go. There are hot springs all over the country, from refined and elegant spa experiences to little spots on the side of the road. The hot springs have been incorporated into the Icelandic way of life, and it’s very common for every town to have its on public pool. These facilities always makes use of the hot springs, so you can still simmer in some hot water, even if it’s not in a fancy location or with drinks provided to you.
One of the most famous, and most popular spots, is the The Blue Lagoon. A newer hot spring, called The Sky Lagoon, is also gaining in popularity. They are both near Reykjavik, so easy to get to, and they offer slightly different experiences, so really it’s personal preference which one is better. I considered going to both of these, but at the recommendation of my traveling friend, went to a different hot springs that is also new.
Hvammsvik Hot Spring
Hvammsvik Hot Spring is also located fairly close to Reykjavik, and we scheduled a pickup to come right to our hotel. It was about a hour drive to reach the hot springs, and there were no other towns or really even houses nearby. It’s pretty remote.
But the remoteness is beautiful. It’s a stark beauty of rolling hills, the sharp cliff faces and the bay all around. Like many of the areas in Iceland, Game of Thrones filmed some scenes on the property, but I don’t know where or what scenes (although really you could just assume all of Iceland is a film set).
This hot springs only allows visitors by online reservation, so make sure you reserve in advance. I assume that this is to limit the amount of visitors – there were only about 15 people there while we were there.
There are 8 different hot pools of varying temperatures and sizes. They advertise that the hot springs are filled by the ocean, and since I accidently tasted some of the water, I can believe that. I did not mean to taste seawater, but I guess what is done is done.
Since they are right next to the water, they advertise ocean dips, where you walk out into the ocean water for an experience. I had originally planned to do it, as it is supposed to be you conquering your own self, and controlling your body through the cold. Or something like that, I’m not really a spiritual kind of person. But I was going to try it, but then I forgot to put on my water shoes, and the ground was kind of rough, and there were some angry birds in the area…. and to make a long story short, I just didn’t feel up to it. But I still want to do it, maybe one day.
Curious about the angry birds? Well, if you aren’t, you should be! Read on…
One of the very nice perks about the hot springs is the ability to get drinks while in the pool. There’s nothing like relaxing in hot water with a cold drink. I had a VES, which is a can of alcohol made of vodka, ginger and lemonade, and it was actually really good! I would give it a solid recommendation. Now I need to figure out where I can get this drink in the US.
After our relaxing time in the hot pools, we went into the café to try some of their delicious seafood soup. The waitress brought over bowls, set them on the table and turned away. We both peered down at our soup and were surprised to see there was no liquid involved. There was some seafood to be sure, but it was just resting in the bowl, with no liquid to be found.
Dave and I turned to each other, confused, wondering if the definition of soup is much different here than at home.
But before we could say anything, the waitress turned back to us with a pitcher of liquid and poured it in. Turns out it was just a fancy display, and we were saved the embarrassment of having to ask if we forgot what soup is.
The Arctic Tern
After my previous cliff hanger mentioning the aggressive birds, you may be wondering, “hey, what’s with the angry birds already?”
Well, I am ready to tell you, after having to come to terms with it. After our lunch, we decided to walk around the property. I wanted to head down to the beach and at least touch the water, since I had chickened out before. As we walked down the path, we heard the most awful sounding screech. We both started looking for the source of it, and didn’t see anything.
Must have been the wind….
But after another minute, another screech. I started looking around on the ground, as I was sure it was some kind of insect. But Dave figured it out – the attack was from above.
A bird was hovering right above our heads, swooping down to peck at us. We had stumbled onto the territory of the Arctic Tern, one of only two types of birds capable of hovering in place, the other being the hummingbird. And it was mad.
I tried to still make my way down to the water and take photos for another minute, but it was a very threatening bird, and despite being medium to small sized, and also, it’s a bird that I could probably swat away, it was pretty intimidating so we left the area. From the safety of the human road, we talked smack about the bird, and how we probably could have taken him. But it was all talk, as we weren’t going back over there. The bird won this round.
Our transportation arrived shortly afterwards to take us back. The five hour trip felt like it was over in an instant. I wish we could have had more time, I would have loved to soak longer, get more photos, and not be attacked by birds. Maybe next time…