July 18, Blue Lagoon, N63°52' W22°26'
The event for today was a visit to The Blue Lagoon, a major tourist attraction to be sure, but better than I expected; it's an artificial lagoon, generally about four feet deep with a bottom surface not unlike a swimming pool. The water has salt and other minerals, and is supplied by the nearby Svartsengi geothermal power station. The water maintains an average temperature of 38C (100F), though there were spots that were warmer.
It is very well organized. Everyone gets a silicone armband with an embedded RFID chip. This is used both to lock and open surprisingly spacious lockers, but also to keep.a running tab of expenses. Our group got one free drink from the wade-up bar (could be beer, wine, or various soft drinks) and a free facial mask (a sort of mud you slather on your face, wait ten minutes, then wash off. One section has a waterfall that feels like a hydrotherapy spa, pounding your back and shoulders. Staff serve as lifeguards and will take your picture with their phone and email you with a link - free. People also took their own phones in to the lagoon - you could buy a protective bag (just a zip-close sandwich bag, really) but many people just held their phones out of the water. I offered to take pictures of couples and groups who were struggling to do it as selfies.
It was not as crowded as I expected, as the number of users is rate-limited; I spent about an hour in the water. Leslie opted instead to walk around the outside of the facility, taking pictures of the surrounding pools (not part of the attraction.)
On our way back to Reykjavik we stopped briefly at a memorial to the crew and passengers of a US military plane that crashed in the area in 1943.
In many places we saw the lava covered with a gray moss. This moss is very fragile, and it's forbidden to walk or drive over it, but it serves as the first step in breaking down the lava into what eventually becomes nutrient-rich soil.
Back in Reykjavik, we walked by the Harpa Opera and Ballet Center, intending to use the free toilets on the second floor. When we got there, those were unavailable, so we instead used the pay toilets on the bottom level. The rest of the day was free - Leslie and I had excellent fish-and-chips at a local food hall and made reservations for dinner at a nearby bistro.