Swimming in the Blue Lagoon

We were awake early this morning as the Boudicca was going into port, because her engines were rumbling loudly and our beds were vibrating quite a lot, from about 5.00am onwards.  It was difficult to get back to sleep after that, so were up and in the dining room in good time, as we had to be along to the Neptune Lounge at 9.00am to leave for our excursion, which would take us to the famous Blue Lagoon in Reykjavik, capital of Iceland.

We have been to Reykjavik before, in June 2006, and we had done the city and island tour then, but not the Blue Lagoon.  So that’s all we’d be doing today.

We disembarked the Boudicca and had to walk a fair distance to the waiting excursion buses, walking past another cruise ship in port, Holland America Line’s Princendam, which was much larger than the little 28,000 ton Boudicca.  As we were walking along, there was quite a strong smell of bonemeal or fertiliser, mixed with the smell of fish. Fishing is, predictably, the main source of income for Iceland.

Iceland is a fascinating country, containing many volcanoes, a lot of them still active, which was evident from the lava landscape as our tour bus took us on the hour-long journey to the Blue Lagoon.  En route we passed many of the typically-Nordic wooden houses perched on the rocky hillsides, and miles of landscape formed from old lava flows.

Iceland’s whole population is only 330,000, so we thought the guide might have poked fun as us British people because the Iceland football team (consisting mainly of amateur players) had beaten England 1-0 in the recent Euro 2016 competition.  Pride goes before a fall and all that…

The Blue Lagoon is a world-famous destination in Reykjavik because the pool, situated among lava-formed hills, is naturally heated geothermally.  The average temperature is about 39-40ºC and the pale blue colour of the water, which gives the lagoon its name, is due to the various natural minerals in the water, many believed to be therapeutic.

Eventually we arrived at the lagoon and alighted from the bus, our towels and swimming costumes under our arms.  Inside, we were issued with an electronic wristband which would not only open our lockers but could be used to pay for drinks at the swim-up bar in the lagoon.

In Iceland they are very particular about hygiene, so we had to take shower, using soap, before entering the pool.  As we went to the lagoon area we could smell the sulphur in the air, a sort of rotten egg smell.  Going down the ramp into the hot water was bliss; it was like taking a bath.

The Blue Lagoon also sells itself as a spa, so we saw many people swimming or relaxing while wearing kaolin and mineral white face packs.

The water was not terribly deep; I could stand on tiptoe in the deepest parts and the rest was chest-deep.  It really was extremely pleasant just drifting along, swimming gently, in the naturally hot water, from which steam rose into the cooler air.  I could imagine it would be quite an experience to come in the winter, when the nearby hills were covered in snow, and yet here we would be in the hot water.

After about half an hour we decided to go and get a cold beer (!!) from the swim-up bar.  The local beer was called Gull but we were highly amused to see that the fruit-flavoured  ‘slush’ drinks were called “Krap”.  An American lady near me also found it funny, and she roared with laughter when I mentioned to her that, if she bought one, she could tell her friends that she’d had a ‘Krap’ in the Blue Lagoon, ha ha!   🙂

We enjoyed our beers and had another gentle swim, then we decided to go back in and get showered, dried and changed, as we had to be back on the bus for 12.10pm.  The ambient air temperature felt cold as we emerged from the pool, although the day was actually quite sunny.

Back in the changing room I got dried off and dressed.  One thing I discovered was that felt extremely warm and was sweating.  Meeting up with Trevor outside, we handed back our wristbands, paid for our beers (over nine quid a pint!) and went to have a look around the (highly priced) souvenir shop.  Then it was time to go back on the bus for the return journey to the Boudicca.  What a fabulous experience the Blue Lagoon had been, and something else we can say we’ve done!  🙂

We enjoyed the coach ride back, looking out of the window at the changing scenery.  As we reached the outskirts of the main Reykjavik town centre, some people asked to be dropped off so they could walk back to the Boudicca.  We decided, however, to return to the ship and have some lunch; we intended to go ashore again later, as we were not due to sail again until 9.00pm.

After a light lunch with a glass of wine, we had a half-hour power nap to make up for our disturbed sleep in the early hours of this morning.  Then we got ready to disembark the Boudicca and take the shuttle bus into town.

However, the shuttle buses were parked a long way away (where we’d picked up the coach this morning) and my broken toe, enclosed in my Nike trainers, was hurting rather badly.  So we didn’t get very far before deciding to turn back.  We therefore spent the rest of the day on the ship, doing the usual things – afternoon quiz (nope! still no win), enjoying a few drinks, then relaxing before getting ready for our evening meal.

This evening I decided I’d had enough to eat for the day, so I thought I’d give dinner a miss, just going up to the Tintagel Restaurant in time for the coffee-and-liqueur stage.  In the meantime, I sat in the Lido Lounge, enjoyed a couple of glasses of cava, while listening to background music and doing some of this blog.  Then I joined Trevor after dinner and we went into the Neptune Lounge for the evening’s entertainment.  But instead of it being the usual pre-show dancing, tonight they were putting on a performance of the TV game-show “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?”  They asked for three volunteers from the audience, so I put my hand up and was chosen.  🙂

The host then carried out the ‘Fastest Finger First’ elimination round, where we had to put the following cities into order according to whichever was closest to the equator:  Aberdeen, London, Manchester and Portsmouth.  My order was Portsmouth, London, Manchester, Aberdeen and not only was I the ‘fastest finger’ but I was the only correct answer.  Therefore I was invited to take my place in the hot seat and play WWTBAM.  🙂

Instead of actual money, of course, I was playing for Fred Olsen prize points.  The game followed the same format as the TV show, where you could use lifelines such as 50-50, Ask the Audience and Phone a Friend.  I ended up winning a virtual £64,000 which was actually 18 prize points, as I couldn’t answer the £125,000 (20 points) question and I’d used up all my lifelines.  It was all good fun and I will be able to trade in the prize tokens at the end of the cruise.  🙂

We then settled down to watch the Boudicca Show Company’s nautical-themed performance of “Oceans”.  We have actually seen this show twice before on other FO ships, but it is an excellent show, full of high energy singing and dancing.  Once again we enjoyed it very much.

Then, of course, we stayed for the 10.00pm quiz.  Did we win?  Did we heck as like!

We finished off the evening by going to the Lido Lounge where we listened to the Timeline Duo performing; we weren’t sure whether they’d improved since the last time we’d seen them or whether they just seemed better because the duo we’d seen in February on the Adonia was so dire.  They passed a bit of time however before the Late Night rendition of “Name that Tune”.  We scored 16/20 which was (predictably) not enough to win.

Then it was off to bed, well after midnight once again, to complete a full and interesting day.  Tomorrow we would have a full sea day once again, en route to Greenland.

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