Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Icelandic Hot Springs

Thanks to all the geothermal and volcanic activity, all over Iceland there are naturally occurring hot springs. Everywhere you travel from large towns to the smallest homestead you will find pools have been made to capture the hot water coming out of the earth.

The Icelanders love their hot springs and the tradition of bathing in them goes back to the earliest settlers. Some of these ancient bathing sites still survive, but most have now been changed to covered pools with plastic hot tubs used to capture the waters.
We are not ones for visiting swimming pools at home and we didn't really feel the same need, as everyone else visiting Iceland seems to, of racing to the Blue Lagoon. However, we did find the idea of soaking in a remote outdoor pool more appealing.

And I'm not sure you could get any more remote than the one we finally ended up in. We were visiting the Westfjords which are at the north west tip of Iceland - just a few degrees off the Arctic circle (we were at 65.6 degrees north and the Arctic circle is 66.5)
Our hotel was in a little fishing town called Patreksfjordur and whilst eating our evening meal we chatted to one of the hotel staff about the hot springs in the area. He told us about a spring, used by locals, over in the next fjord just past the village of Talknafjordur.

So after supper we set out for what we were told was a 10 minute drive. Well, about 20 minutes later, having negotiated high mountain passes, frozen lakes and snow, we hit a dirt track heading out along the side of the fjord towards the location of the spring and a further 5 minutes later we arrive at Pollurinn (the puddle). And it was heaven.......

It may not look like much but the small wooden changing rooms have warm floors thanks to the hot springs, a hot shower (Icelanders shower before and after bathing - so you should too - when in Rome and all that!) and three pools of varying heat - hot, medium and cool - all bit Goldilocks.

So me being me I rushed in, showered, changed into my bathing suit and jumped in - straight into the very hot one - well it was a cold, clear evening and now about 10pm - so I wanted to be warmed up a bit - and warmed up I was, this was perfect, I love hot baths and to be sat in a deep hot pool, in the open air, was heaven. However, it didn't last long before I felt like I was reaching boiling point and had to rotate around the other pools. This was heaven on earth and I decided there and then that this was how I was meant to live!

We stayed in the pool to well after midnight - wait for the northern lights - finally, at 1:15am, decided we had to get out and head back to our hotel. On our way back the Northern lights finally made a brief appearance - so we finished our evening standing at the top of a mountain, in the pitch black, with soaking wet hair freezing to our heads watching the night sky light up - a magical way to end the most perfect of evening.

All I can say is thank god for heated seats, on getting back into our car, and we were brought back to earth with a bump when we found our hotel locked up for the night! - we had to sneak in through the kitchens to get back to our room!

Have a good day today
love Lizx