From the Blue Lagoon to the Alsatian flats

A 12-hour journey that began at 4am in the morning in Grindavik, Iceland’s Blue Lagoon clinic ended on a whimper (literally) in Strasbourg, a city sitting at the edge of the German border, tiring enough to erase a near-perfect day yesterday spent in the Blue Lagoon and soaking up the silica mud.

We joined busloads of tourists for the 45-minute shuttle from Reykjavik, driving to snow-covered lava moss with the distinct advantage of staying over at the clinic for a night – which simply meant we got free entrance into the Lagoon and more time to dally. Situated 5-10 minutes walk down a winding path from the actual building through flammable (!) moss-covered lava fields, it was quite the adventure trudging through the snow when it turned dark.

Set up so that the changing rooms lead out directly into the lagoon, it proved quite a shock to see women of all ages, sizes and various states of hairiness starkers, as nonchalantly as the day they were born, sauntering, squatting, towelling and gossiping simultaneously. TC and I exchanged our experiences and found that pretty much the same happened in the men’s dressing area.

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I couldn’t help my personal hedonistic streak from surfacing when bathing in Iceland’s sub-Arctic location; its unusual contrast of glaciers and constant volcanic activity meant that we were dipping into geothermally heated water tinted a milky Curaçao blue because of the silica mud – the very same mud that you can dredge up with your foot from the uneven ground and apply onto the face! As the perpetual misty swirls arose from the lagoon, it was like descending a few steps into a cheery, bluish, mild-climate version of Valhalla – only littered with chattering tourists holding up glasses of beer while they waddled slowly around. If that was hell, it had never felt or tasted so good. In that steamy, atmospheric pool, I held up TC’s more portable camera instead, and wandered around with a hand out of the water the entire time clutching it like a trophy.

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That very good thing came to an abrupt end when we needed to depart Iceland in an early morning flight but I had truly underestimated just how tiring the entire day would turn out. TC was suitably impressed by the beauty of the city but I found my own command of French entirely too new and too shaky to make a proper impression (or even getting the locals to understand). It was pure torture navigating our way in the deepening dusk to Les Artistes – our accommodation in the quiet residential area of Elsau in Strasbourg. Dinner at Hippopotamus was an equally stilted affair but hilarious to see snooty french waiters living up to their reputation.

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