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Hello, Reykjavik!

View Iceland / Norway / Sweden on akgearhard's travel map.

We spent our last 2 days in Iceland in Reykjavik and have thoroughly enjoyed the city. We do our best to keep our city experiences short, sweet, and deep - and we did just that with this one! We stayed at a fabulously quirky place called the OK Hotel that sits on the main street and not only comes with a great view of the cozy downtown, but also the snowy mountains and water. They have several rooms, each uniquely designed, and located above a pub (remember our place in downtown Dublin?!). We arrived mid-afternoon and were "buzzed in" to the empty pub where a phone was waiting on the bar with a number for us to call in order to check in. The gentleman on the other end of the phone gave us the code to a safe that happened to be sitting next to the phone, where we found our magnetic key set and let ourselves in to our room. It was like a mystery! Our room was appropriately finished with a world travel decor and was complete with an indigo wall and lots of world globes! So fun! In addition to walking the streets and sampling the food and drinks that we'd heard so much about, we spent a significant amount of time cuddled up in our window seat and watching the people below walk in and out of the shops and those across the way sip their fashionable drinks and chat for hours at the coffee shop. It was wonderful people watching!

We couldn't leave Iceland without the traditional Blue Lagoon experience. We booked an arrival time between 6-7 pm because I wanted a chance to see everything before it disappeared into the darkness. We were fortunate and got a gorgeous sunset show with odd clouds as a bonus. That comes back into play in a moment. The Lagoon is set up like Disney World. That is, smart. Everyone gets their own individual bracelet which can be used to go anywhere you'd like and purchase anything you need - including drinks from the bar in the lagoon. Swim right up and place your order. You're automatically down an Icelandic Cider if a chicken like me has to brave the cold to order a drink. No way, José! Luke is that brave - and that kind - but the bite in the Iceland wind whispers in my ear that I should practice safety first and stay warm. Fortunately, we could just swim up to the bar with our bracelets. The kids even got slushies. Smart. Don't worry about the converter that's on your phone so you can figure out just how many Icelandic Kroner you're spending. In fact, don't worry about anything. You can't get out of the facility without taking your bracelet off and paying, they'll make sure you take care of it all later. Smart.

So, to address the OMG naked shower question pre-lagoon - yes, locals do make as big of a deal out of it as you might read, but they give open and private shower options (with lovely conditioner and body soap) to make sure everyone follows through. The kids both swear it "ruined" their hair, but it was just short-term.

Back to those odd shaped clouds... Just as we were putting the finishing touches on our ridiculously thick, creamy, silica mud masks, the hail started. We got about 10 seconds of warning from a handful of friendly little hail pellets suggesting that we take cover. Looking around, there was nothing but blue water and lava rock. We figured we'd survive, so we snuggled into the water and ignored the warning with a confident laugh. That was the end of that. The skies opened up and the hail pellets turned into girls' softballs! If my memory serves me correctly, these are larger than boys' baseballs (probably not because girls need more surface area to hit but because they like to take more stuff out when they make contact with something!). These suckers came pelting down at rocket speed (this time with intention) and the problem was that they were taking out sections of mud mask with them which was particularly hazardous around the eye area! Thankfully, Iceland's weather is terribly moody and the hail was simply an introduction for over-sized snowflakes, which were next in line for the stage. The flakes were Colorado in size - the big and peaceful kind that often start our storms, but rarely finish them. The kind of flakes that you might be lucky to catch if you happen to flip the patio light on late at night and the snow is just starting to fall. The kind of flakes that allow you to actually hear perfect silence. These flakes came rolling out of the odd shaped clouds like clumsy tumble weeds that couldn't seem to find their way to the water. The snow didn't last for long, but it was quite surreal to see each white flake dissolve as it met the hot steam just above the water. The snow disappeared as the darkness arrived and I found what my family swears was the single hottest point in the lagoon and we nestled up against the lava rocks and enjoyed the night (bracelets on, drinks in hand, and the softest skin ever!).

Posted by akgearhard 16:34 Archived in Iceland

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