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Kaffibarrin

Blue Lagoon, Iceland, Reykjavik

The Blue Lagoon and Runtur in Reykjavik

My friend Carolyn arrived this morning and we met up at REX hostel. She was in the same condition as I was the morning prior, so she went for a quick catnap to recharge for the day. The day had dawned wet and windy, but our plans consisted of a trip to Iceland’s iconic Blue Lagoon so we weren’t overly concerned with getting wet.

At 12:30, we board a bus from the hostel to The Blue Lagoon and arrive around 30 minutes later to a first-class facility. We check in, hire towels, and scope out the surrounding facilities- gift shop, restaurant, cafe and viewing platforms. We receive bracelets with a chip that activates the locker system and allow us to purchase anything on premise. All we need to do is stash our belongings and scrub down…The Blue Lagoon awaits.

In the locker room, the attendants are running a pretty tight ship, specifically making sure things are kept clean. Shoes come off and can go nowhere near showers, showers need to be taken prior to entering the lagoon, and you have to shower sans bathing suit. There is an attendant making sure you comply. We are also told again and again to make sure we condition our hair prior and leave some in, so the chemicals in the lagoon don’t wreak havoc on our dreads. (Thank you!)

We exit through large glass doors to an otherwordly sight. The wind is whipping and the rain is still falling, but the blue-green lagoon sprawls out in front of us like a giant hot tub, bubbling away. A mist hovers on top of the water, hiding bathers in the distance. We climb in and search for the hot pockets, extra warm areas which you luckily discover now and again. We rub silica on our faces, chat with Icelandic locals and tourists alike, and purchase a glass of bubbly at the swim-up-cafe. Any remnants of jet lag leave my body.

A few hours later we are looking and feeling more like prunes than humans, and the wind is picking up, spraying sulphuric water in our faces. Put it this way, it’s a little less relaxing than when we had arrived, so we ask some friendly fellow bathers to snap a photo of us, and decide it’s time to dry off and head back to Reykjavik.

The bus is leaving at 4:30, so we have plenty of time…or so I thought. After inquiring, we realize the bus actually left at 4. So we head to the cafe for a snack and run into our friends from the lagoon, Doruk and Cha, who kindly offer to give us a lift back to the city. They drop us back at REX and we make plans to head to dinner with them a few hours later. They want to try authentic Icelandic food. I can’t help but think, “been there, done that,” but remind myself to maybe not get so adventurous tonight.

We meet up with the guys and walk through the city center. It’s Saturday night and things are slowly starting to show signs of life. We end up at Einar Ben, one of Iceland’s award-winning restaurants that sits on what feels like the second floor of someones home. Having dinner there was more like dining in a formal living room than a restaurant.

After browsing the menu, we are all feeling a bit lost. We confirm our hunch that Blue Ling is indeed a white fish and we order four. We think we’re playing it safe, but I’m not sure I would have ordered the fish if I knew it looks like this. However, dinner is amazing – one of the best meals I’ve had in a long time. We are refueled and ready to tackle Reykjavik’s nightlife head on.

When we leave Einar Ben, Reykjavik has turned from a sleepy daytime city to a bustling nighttime hot spot. It’s 11:00 and people are everywhere. (I’m not sure where they all hide out during the day!)

They are all partaking in what Iceland calls, Runtur, or “round tour.” Apparently, the Icelandic people behave all week and let loose on the weekends. To say they let loose might be an understatement, Binge drinking, blacking out, falling over, and peeing in the street – all of this is acceptable, as long as it occurs between the hours of 11pm and 4am on Friday and Saturday nights.

We begin our runtur at a local pub with great live music. We sample the local brew on draught, Viking, and a bottled pale ale called Einstock – which could possibly convert me to a beer drinker (or maybe I just like the viking on the bottle.) We love this pub, but it wouldn’t be a round tour if we stay in one place all night, so we head to the next place on the list, Kaffibarrin. A London tube sign sits above the door, and I immediately feel at home. When we enter, it’s like we’ve entered someone’s winter lodge. It’s cozy and dim-lit, warm and festive…and PACKED. Come to find out, this bar is owned by the lead singer of the band Blur and the local clientele consists mostly of Icelandic movie stars. Unfortunately, I don’t see anyone I recognize.

We cozy up to the bar and sample shots of Brennevin, Iceland’s infamous liquor, which tastes like a less harsh version of vodka with a hint of caraway. We finally head home around 3:30, but it seems that many are just finding their groove. People are still lining up to get into bars, and this will continue into the later hours of the morning, but we have a rental car to pick up this morning, so we play the responsible card and head back to REX for a few hours of shut eye.