Monday, July 16, 2007

Reykjavik's Blue Lagoon

The Blue Lagoon is one of Reykavik’s most famous attractions: A wide thermal pool that draws families, couples and simply the curious, who wade through the hot spots, sip beer beneath a bridge, slather mineral mud on their faces.

It’s part tourist trap, part transcendent voyage into an ethereal universe. Steam rises from the pool, carved from a lava landscape that looks like it should be on the moon. It’s an attraction for real people with real bodies; cellulite is a familiar here, and nobody winces at it.

I don’t expect it to be a social experience. But soaking, it seems, brings out the chat.

A lovely Norwegian mom and her 15-year-old, Ingeborg, advise us about the mud. Don’t get it too close to your eyes, the mom warns.

From there we move to fishing – the Mediterranean is losing it’s tuna, we’ve read – and whale hunting, still practiced in Norway.

What do these Norwegians think about it? The mom thinks it’s OK, as long as the fishermen are conservative about the haul. The daughter thinks it’s not a good idea. “Why do it when there are other resources?’’ she asks.

The mom, dad and daughter have spent two weeks driving around Iceland. Ingeborg has liked the Westfjords best … but thinks the roads need help.

The subject moves to America; it always does. “Americans are egocentric, I think,’’ says the daughter. “The spotlight is always on them. And Americans, they are always afraid,’’ she says. She’s never visited the U.S., but she clearly reads. She’s always had opinions, the mother says.

The daughter doesn’t understand the outcome of the last presidential election. Another election is coming soon, I tell her.

A Spanish couple joins in. He works for an American multinational. The coming American election is a hot topic among Europeans; they always want to know who will win. We don’t know, we tell them.

The Spaniards, too, have spent a couple of weeks driving around Iceland. “I’m a curious person,’’ he tells us. “I came here for a few days once on business. I thought it would be interesting to look around.’’

They’ve enjoyed it here, but thought the geothermals at Yellowstone more impressive – especially when combined with Yellowstone's wildelife. Still, Iceland has fjords with icebergs .. something you can’t see in Wyoming.

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