Iceland – Without a Change of Clothes

Iceland Traditional House

No luck with the weather and we woke to more overcast grey skies and a rather damp scene.  After breakfast we walked into the city to see the parts we had missed on the first day.  We had liked the Sólfar Suncraft so much the first time that we made for the seafront again and made a second visit before we walked further along the promenade towards the docks until finding our progress barred by road works we abandoned this route and turned instead towards the city centre.

There were some bright new recently constructed buildings that reflected the new wealth of Iceland but many of the older buildings and houses were utilitarian grey enlivened by gay coloured aluminium cladding, not gentle pastel shades like those in eastern Europe but strong vibrant primaries – reds, yellows and blues that were presumably chosen deliberately to cheer up long cold winter days.

Maintaining property must be a nightmare here and the timber must require constant attention as in many places the bony fingers of frost had picked away at peeling paintwork allowing the damp to penetrate the wood underneath with no doubt dire and irreversible consequences.  I like to repaint the house every twenty years or so whether it needs it or not, I wouldn’t be surprised if they have to do this painful operation twice a year in Reykjavik at least!

There was a raw wind and steely weather with iron grey shafts of chill that meant that we really needed to have our coats buttoned up and hats pulled down over our ears as we walked around the administrative centre of the city and the country, the President’s house and the Parliament building, the main square and the hotel Borg and around the town pond that was cold and uninviting even for the sea birds that were congregating at the edge of the water in search of food handouts and looking rather sorry for themselves.

Actually the weather was beginning to improve slightly and we returned to the hotel at about lunchtime, confident that the missing bag would surely have turned up by now!  No such luck and Kim is definitely not amused any more and now it is definitely my fault especially when I fail to agree that there might be something to be gained from driving to the airport to give someone a slap.  Kim was in a mood now big time and we drove to the airport with an oppressive silence, a Lara Croft steely resolve and a racing certainty that someone would have to pay for this inconvenience.

While I parked the car she went into the airport and when she didn’t return after a few minutes I thought I had better go and find her and help mop up the blood.  I searched the airport a couple of times and finally found her at the British Airways check in desk with the bizarre news that the bag was in Glasgow with no realistic prospect of it turning up in Iceland today.  Glasgow? What on earth was it doing in Glasgow?  I tried to make comforting noises that I hoped wouldn’t be interpreted as being unhelpful or in any way confrontational and then we left the airport and drove to the Blue Lagoon in weather that was deteriorating quickly into a miserable gloom that matched Kim’s desperate mood perfectly

The Blue Lagoon geothermal spa is one of the most visited attractions in Iceland. The steamy waters are part of a landscape constructed by lava formation and the warm waters are rich in minerals like silica and sulphur, which are used as a skin exfoliant and bathing in the Blue Lagoon is reputed to help many people suffering from skin diseases such as psoriasis. The water temperature in the bathing and swimming area of the lagoon averages a very comfortable 40 ° centigrade all year round.

The lagoon is fed by the water output of a nearby geothermal power plant because in Iceland, renewable energy provides over 70% of the nation’s primary energy and over 99% of the country’s electricity is produced from hydropower and geothermal energy.  At the Blue Lagoon as part of the process of power generation superheated water is vented from the ground near a lava flow and used to run turbines that generate electricity.  After going through the turbines, the steam and hot water passes through a heat exchanger to provide heat for a municipal hot water heating system and then the water is fed into the lagoon for recreational and medicinal users to bathe in and is changed every forty-eight hours.

Iceland Keflavik The Blue Lagoon

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