On the morning of our first real day in Iceland, indulging in a very palatable breakfast buffet, I glanced out the window and thought how lucky we were to have such a bright, sunny day upon us.
Then, without warning, it began to hail. Five minutes later, it snowed. And five minutes after that, the sky was cloudless again.
Such is Icelandic weather; it’s a mercurial country in both terrain and climate. We would learn this the hard way a day later, but for now, it was off to bask in the warm and sulfur-y waters of Iceland’s famous blue lagoon.
A bit pricey, the entry package included a locker, a towel, a fluffy bathrobe, one drink from the swim-up bar, and a mud mask. Before entering the lagoon, you have to shower sans swimsuit and it’s recommended that you wash your hair. Apparently, the sulfur does terrible things to your hair, but I couldn’t be bothered. I met Jamie outside the locker rooms and we padded barefoot out into the frigid mountain air.
I will say this: the walk from the bathrobe hangers into the actual lagoon feels absolutely brutal at first, but within seconds, you get used to it. There’s something invigorating about standing in a bikini in 3 degree Celsius, with icy wind whipping in your face. It also makes the warm water of the lagoon feel even more welcome.
It felt superb, and the setting couldn’t have been more beautiful: black mountains, puffs of steam wriggling off the surface of the lagoon, and pale, milky blue water. Throw in two cups of Gull beer and it was easily my idea of a perfect afternoon.
Of course, as soon as I ran out to grab my camera, the clear blue skies suddenly grew cloudy and it started hailing. Still, we lingered in the water longer than we should have and emerged a little drowsy and dehydrated. (You’re supposed to take breaks every twenty minutes; an uninterrupted hour probably wasn’t the best idea.)
Rejuvenated by the lagoon, we optimistically headed off to the town of Selfoss, wondering what it might have in store for us. Answer: nothing. TripAdvisor had described the town as “dirty, nothing more than a quick stopover to get supplies before continuing on.” It was right.
Undeterred, we made it our mission to scour the one-road town for a pub. Spotting an information board at the end of the road, Jamie got out and located one pub listed under the myriad shops and whatever else they’d thrown on the board. (Seriously, there was a long list of items, but I can’t imagine what they were. Shop? Cafe? Street corner? Traffic light?)
We drove past the pub, which appeared open, and then parked the car back at the cabin we were staying in. Jamie insisted we walk, so we bundled up and headed outside.
“At least it’s a nice afternoon,” I said.
As if on cue, the wind kicked up and it started to snow. By the time we reached the pub, the sun was out again, but we darted inside anyway. A sign on the door instructed us to take off our shoes. I’d never been in a pub where you had to go shoeless, but that made it more exciting.
It was practically empty inside as we approached what looked to be a bar. A handful of young people were playing cards in the corner, which should’ve been our first sign that something was amiss.
“Can I help you with something?” asked a girl.
“Yes…is this the pub?” Jamie asked, rightfully uncertain.
“No, this is a youth club. It used to be the pub, but the pub moved. I can show you where it is.”
She pointed us further down the road and we left, slightly embarrassed, to hunt down the sole pub in town. It was a fruitless hunt; we found one sign that simply read “BAR” and pointed in the direction of a bustling Dominos.
By the time we retreated to our cabin, it was a little after seven and still very light out. The aurora forecast had been downgraded to quiet again, and I was feeling sleepy from the sulfur exposure, so we spent the first night on our roadtrip in bed by nine. (But the cabin was pretty neat!)