Day 6: 5th October 2009
The ferry trip back to Þorlákshöfn was calm and we cruised into the dock bang on time, which is more than can be said of the bus back to Reykjavik, which appeared to have been hijacked by a loony bus driver that insisted on getting us back at twice the speed, whether that meant that we bounced around for the entire journey or not. Once back in Reykjavik, we tried soup of the day (broccoli) in the sheep’s head cafe, which was surprisingly good, and not something I would have considered eating at home, then headed to the hostel.
Reykjavik still had the same below-freezing temperatures as when we had left a couple of days before, but now the sun was gone and the arctic winds back. Once we had checked into the hostel, we could only think of one thing that would suit such a cold afternoon that was filled with the occasional sprinkling of snow: spend it in the outdoor swimming pool next to the hostel. It might seem like a slightly crazy idea at first, but bathing in the open air means that the atmosphere is less stuffy
Writing the Travel Journal
Note: It is a journal when handwritten, but a blog when I type it up
and therefore less likely to breed bacteria. It was also heated by the area’s naturally hot water, which saved on the power usage, and relied not on chemicals to keep it clean, but on the local people actually being clean before they get in the pool. This last part seemed more ridiculous than the idea of swimming outside on a snowy October afternoon, coming from a place where some people are so dirty even the bacteria keep well clear, but there are strict rules here that mean everybody has to have a good naked shower before they get anywhere near the pool. The rule is strictly enforced by a bunch of changing room attendants, which feels slightly disconcerting, but when everyone else is doing it, you might as well join in. After the shower, there came the real test. Since arriving in Iceland, none of us have gone outside wearing less than 3 layers of clothes, and now we stood in the freezing cold, soaked head to foot and wearing nothing but swimming trunks. John realised the foolishness of the situation and said ‘I can’t do this’ before turning round for a hasty retreat, but I managed to talk him
John Relaxes at City Hostel
Legendary hostel receptionist Ricardo looks busy in the background
round and once in the water we were fine. The water is warm, the pools are surrounded by hot tubs of varying temperatures (from a cool 38°c to lobster cooking temperature), there are steam rooms dotted around and there are no chemicals threatening to burn your eyes out. All of this, and the fact that it was freezing when we got out, meant we stayed in the pool for a couple of hours, long enough for our skin to shrivel up like a sun-dried pensioner.
We spent the evening walking into town for another Mexican, where I tried enchiladas with ‘mole’ sauce - chilli and chocolate, which while not terrible, is probably not something I’d try again, and then had a quick walk around until the light snow started to become a heavier storm, and we decided to head back. By the time we were back at the hostel, there was enough snow on the ground to have closed schools, cancelled bus services and probably caused general chaos in Britain, but which the Icelandic people (and probably most of the rest of the world) would call a light dusting.
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