Return to Iceland.....Savor the memory as there is no going back……

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October 1st 2017
Published: November 30th 2017
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The Blue LagoonThe Blue LagoonThe Blue Lagoon

Draws them in by the thousands
This entry needs a little background……in 2012 we were fortunate enough to spend more than two weeks in Iceland. Iceland is an amazing country that offers lava fields, glaciers, waterfalls, hot springs, tundra and all sorts of geological wonders. We think of it with fond, fond memories and dreamed of going back. It is a truly an incredibly unique spot in the world and frankly….there is no other place quite like it. When sitting with friends who ask what is our favorite country we visited, Iceland is one of the countries at the top of our list.

Family and friends often ask why we don’t return to some of these wonderful locations that we have experienced and told them about…. our standard answer has been…… there is a big world out there and we want to see so many more places. In the back of our head we knew we would make it back to Iceland. The land of fire and ice called to us. Icelandic Air offers their travelers the ability to stop for a few days in Iceland when flying on their airline at no extra cost. After our trip to Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Armenia and Italy we decided
Faxifoss Faxifoss Faxifoss

The Icelandic word for waterfall is "foss." Notice the salmon ladder to the left.
to end our travels soaking in the warms pools at the Blue Lagoon. It just made sense……warm therapeutic waters to break up the flight back from Europe.

We confess we are water people and drawn to oceans, lakes, rives and are always interested in jumping into warm thermal waters. On our last visit to Iceland we regretted not spending two nights at the Blue Lagoon as it was so incredibly great…. so that is exactly what we did on this trip. We will tell you about that in a moment.

The flight from Italy was uneventful. The only interesting part was that our connecting flight out of Berlin had a large number of twenty-somethings headed for holiday in this most unique spot. We arrived late, stepped outside into a rainy cold night and were deposited in a hotel for the night. The next day, we were picked up by Gugga, our travel guide from five years ago and a fellow travel blogger. It was great to see her as we had returned to her native land for two specific reasons….the above mentioned Blue Lagoon and some sights we had missed. How is this possible you ask?

Unique and powerful waterfall

Very simply…..on our last trip here in 2012, we were completely jet lagged on arrival and had made arrangements to take a tour of the famous “Golden Circle” right out of the gate……poor judgement on our part. We were quite eager to explore, but didn’t plan on acute fatigue, which did us in. On what is considered the most famous tour in southern Iceland…..we struggled to stay awake! Here we have a great guide with a wealth of knowledge and we cannot take it all in as we are half conscious of the whole ordeal…….ok, we really could not remember as much as we had hoped. When we planned this adventure, it was to revisit places we’d been and really take the time to enjoy the grand scenery. Well…..we stayed awake this time and it was great. We really enjoyed the trip and of course really enjoyed seeing Gugga again. guggabraga

Stark, stunning, fire & ice, other worldly and inspirational are all descriptions that fit when explaining this unusual topography which is Iceland. It is no wonder it is a destination frequently by Hollywood. If you haven’t been to Iceland yet a trip is in order.

Fantastic viewsFantastic viewsFantastic views

Around every bend

One thing that we did take notice of and were surprised by about was how crowded things were and how many tour buses we encountered. We were in Iceland in early October which we thought would be off season. Obviously, many tourists didn’t get the memo because there were plenty of crowds. In 2012 we visited Iceland in August which is peak season so coming in October we were surprised to see more people visiting than the last time we were here. In our conversations with Gugga, we were educated that they don’t have a down season any more. In the past five years we’ve seen many magazine headlines touting the beauties of Iceland and encouraging people to visit while it was still undiscovered. Many people must have read those articles because it has been discovered.

Now don’t get the impression that we’re trying to steer you away from going to Iceland….quite the contrary. It is still a great destination, but make sure you have reservations for your accommodations and be prepared to see more tourists in certain places than you may expect……by the busload. Iceland has been discovered friends…..great for their economy, but they will also struggle
Stunning sceneryStunning sceneryStunning scenery

Amazing sights
in the future to deal with all the tourists and the associated waste created by hosting all these visitors.

Returning to Iceland did teach us why we won’t want to make a habit of going back to countries we’ve visited…....

Our dream was to spend two nights in the luxury hotel out at the Blue Lagoon. Why?.....because the last time we stayed one night and it was heavenly….. we wanted more. It’s a great place to stay, with fine cuisine and unlimited time in their pools.

When we came through the duty-free shop at the airport we bought some beer (ostensibly to save a few dollars as everything in Iceland is pricey). We had it outside our room cooling on the rocks. There is something magical sitting on a bench in the cool Icelandic afternoon looking at the stark landscape and interesting shapes.

The hotel is also in close proximity to the Blue Lagoon so it is a short walk on a lighted path to the thermal waters. The landscape is eerie and inviting whether day or night but we prefer making the walk at night with the moon above, the steamy waters surrounding us and the stone silence in this part of the world.

As we approached the lagoon we were again surprised by the crowds. When we were here five years ago the tour buses headed back to town about 8pm which left the pools to the locals and the few people staying at a couple of nearby hotels. In 2012 when we left the pools at 10pm we were two of maybe fifty people spread out in the pools. Through the fog we could barely see the other guests. It was quiet like a library. It was amazingly private and surreal. This time we were with 2,000 of our closest friends…. uh….. no. They have gone an added a walk-up bar in the pool. WHAT? Yes…. Sad really. Our hearts were broken at what it has turned into. If you had not been before we imagine you would love it…. Because you don’t know what it could have been. We know. We know how amazing it was. We know how quiet it used to be. Now people are drinking, talking loud, shouting to friends across the pools. The demographic has shifted quite a bit as there were an incredible amount of twenty and thirty somethings in the pools. We won’t be going back.

Now we will say that we enjoyed our second visit to the hotel even though the prices of the stay and the food have gone up…. actually sky rocketed. As we mentioned before, the hotel has private thermal pools so we spent most of our time in the hotel pools instead of the famous “Blue Lagoon”. It was delightful, quiet and just what we wanted. Overall, we are glad we went back even though we experienced a bit of shock, disappointment and sadness in what the Blue Lagoon has become. But it was fantastic to see what we had missed the previous time and get caught up with Gugga. If you would like Iceland’s greatest guide, private message us and we will put you in contact with her.

Our last night in Iceland was in Reykjavik and we didn’t do much but go to dinner and go back to our hotel. That last morning Dave woke up with a headache and a head cold so he needed to rest. We did walk the city streets for about an hour before dinner which was enjoyable. We had a nice dinner and enjoyed seeing the town again. Reykjavik is a great city to wander about and is quite scenic.

This trip proved to us what we suspected… cherish the memory. Life moves on and things change. When you go back it will not be the same…. You may like it…. but you might not. We still love every inch of Iceland but the Blue Lagoon no longer holds that magic that it once did. Thank goodness the hotel had those magic pools to keep us content for two days.

Please read our past Iceland blogs:

Blowing off some steam in Reykjavik

Wickedly Wonderful Western Fjords of Iceland

Rainbows, Eric Clapton and thermal waters in Iceland

Additional photos below
Photos: 58, Displayed: 28



Famous church
Protecting a buildingProtecting a building
Protecting a building

Utilizing nature to insulate
Healing watersHealing waters
Healing waters

Makes your body feel great from the heat and minerals
Solitary RoadSolitary Road
Solitary Road

All roads do lead to somewhere in Iceland.....
The Blue Lagoon The Blue Lagoon
The Blue Lagoon

Lots of amenities here, including a restaurant and a very large gift shop.
Love the moss colored housesLove the moss colored houses
Love the moss colored houses

Interesting entrance

Stand around for few minutes for the chance to see it blow

30th November 2017

That water looks so inviting! It is a place that Bill needs to see with his Icelandic heritage.
30th November 2017

Iceland .... the land of Bill
Yes Bill needs to go trace his roots. A very unique country and both of you would love it.
30th November 2017

A tale of an amazing country
A good reminisence of the Blue Lagoon reflected during your wonderful trip to Iceland, Dave and MJ. Often I found that dream gets broken when i revisit a place to walk down the memory lane. Only couple of days ago I was in Chiang Mai and revisited my old love Tharn Thong Lodge close to Chiang Mai. To my surprise, i found that time has not put any dent to the tranquility of the place that i enjoyed staying. So i understand the pain you felt for Blue Lagoon, MJ. Enjoyed your story.
30th November 2017

A tale of an amazing country
Thanks for following along. Glad your dreams were not broken when visiting Tharn Thong Lodge. Serenity now. Iceland is one of our favorites but no desire to do the Blue Lagoon again. We will erase the recent visit and remember it as it was....hopefully.
30th November 2017

Sad about the Blue Lagoon
I didn’t get to the Blue Lagoon when I went to Iceland in 2016, I feel like I missed it now! My employee is going to Iceland on Saturday and was asking me how busy I thought it would be and I wasn’t sure, but as she’s in her 20s, it should be all good for her although I recall it being super expensive when I went!
30th November 2017

Sad about the Blue Lagoon
I wish you had gone in 2016 but even still would encourage you to experience it once. You won’t know the difference and maybe you will get lucky and not have a croweded day. I doubt it but I’m attempting to be positive. I’m sure your 20 something employee will fit right in. Yes Iceland is expense and the hotel at the Blue Lagoon has gotten extremely expensive. I don’t think a ticket into the lagoon is all that pricey. Most people take the bus from town and return to the city. Thanks for following along. MJ
30th November 2017

Never Return
Hi Guys, It gets rather better the further you go from the 'golden circle', but I'm inclined to agree; it's an awesome, wonderful place, on its way to being the victim of its own success. It will take more than that to stop you two travelling though. We even suffered the same problem during the school holidays in Scotland this year! Life is an adventure whichever way up.
30th November 2017

Never return
On our first visit we had over two weeks so we saw much of the country and the North and northwest were our favorites. Such an amazingly diverse country.I’m sure getting away from the city is the way to go but this was intended to be a quick stop to enjoy the thermal pools. Lessons learned. MJ
30th November 2017

Timing is everything
When we were in Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Armenia together I recall your excitement you were returning to Iceland. But your blog reminds me of the old adage when travelling "Timing is Everything." Our travel experiences can be twarted by insurrection, catastrophic or political events...unpredictable but making one wish we had not delayed travelling there. Or oft it can be if one waits too long the destination becomes 'the flavour of the month' making remote seem crowded like a tourist city in the evening. Makes me think I'll let Iceland quieten down...or maybe (cos I don't like crowds in paradise) it is too late for us to visit there. No matter...the next on our wish list should be remoteness heaven. Yep...timing is everything...the challenge for us is to ensure time does not run out.
30th November 2017

Timing is everything
We were taken aback by the crowds. I’ll bet western Iceland is still pristine and it is off the beaten path and few go there. I’m glad we had a real Icelandic experience a few years ago. Thanks for reading and commenting. MJ
30th November 2017

Revisting old loves vs finding new friends
We haven't made it to that part of the world yet, so my first reaction was one of dismay. But as you say, we won't really know any different and despite the crowds it all sounds fabulously exotic to me. I'm glad you were able to salvage your thermal pool dreams in your hotel pool. Love your pics! :)
1st December 2017

Revisiting old loves vs finding new friends
Iceland is amazing even with the crowds. On our first trip we went far and wide and really enjoyed the North and Northwest parts of the country. You can still find less crowded locations. This time we admit we were on the Golden Triangle which is the heaviest traveled. I would recommend doing Iceland sooner than later. MJ
1st December 2017

Ahh....the Memories
When we have really enjoyed a destination, we romanticize it so much that a return visit could almost never live up to our vision of it in our dreams. I think that is why we have rarely visited destinations twice. Like a lost love from our past, they are often best left in our memories. That being said, Iceland is gorgeous and the photography opportunities are too great. I know we will get there eventually. Enjoyed reading this entry and all your recent travels!
1st December 2017

Ahh.... the memories
We can't wait until you go so we can see your amazing photos. Iceland is rare and has the most unique topography. You will love it. If you read our past blogs you'll know there are some areas fewer tourists go to. One of the reasons is most people only allowed 4 or 5 days to see this country.... and that cannot be done. As you say... a lost love from our past. MJ
1st December 2017

Indeed Iceland has changed drastically over the years. I consider myself fortunate to go to Iceland most years with work, but I have noticed the impact of mass tourism in some of the most beautiful parts. Economy vs environment - the struggle continues! Winter in Iceland is just starting to get noticed, but it is still fairly quiet (for now). Keep exploring, Dave.
1st December 2017

We were hesitant to discuss the crowds because we wondered if we just hit a bad week. Until our guide told us they no longer have a slow season we were not sure. I’d hate for anyone to miss this amazing country so I would go sooner than later. You’ve taken note of the changes also and we agree with you that it has been rather dramatic. With that said Iceland is still unique and stunning. Wish travel magazines would slow down with those articles. MJ
2nd December 2017

Stunning Iceland!
Gosh, very inspirational, I love your descriptions of this unique country. Also loved the photos of the velvet clouds and grass-covered houses :) I've often considered revisiting places I've travelled to to rekindle the memories, but very useful to remember that although memories stay the same, the places will always move on, and it would be important to remember this before returning. Thank you for getting me to think about this one.
2nd December 2017

Stunning Iceland
Yes the places continue to move on. Iceland is spectacular and I recommend everyone going. I'd go sooner than later but it is worth the trip. Love your description of the velvet clouds.
2nd December 2017

Blue Lagoon or not!
Yes, it is getting more crowded in Iceland. I think many tourists are doing these short layover kind of trips and so they stay mostly in the Golden circle area. During my June trip this year, I did not see many tourists outside of Golden Circle; except one place near Lake Myvatn where I saw tourist buses with European tourists. But Iceland is a place that beckons due to its natural beauty. Worth taking multiple trips there. As for Blue Lagoon, well, you have to contend with people there trying to soak in the quintessential Icelandic experience!! Photographs in the social media make it look like an other-worldly place.There is no escaping the crowd there! At least you have managed to keep the tourists out of your lovely photographs!
2nd December 2017

Blue Lagoon or not!
Glad to hear what we suspected that if you got away from the Golden Triangle you'd have fewer tourists to contend with. Iceland offers endless unique and natural beauty. Loved your blogs.
5th December 2017

Iceland a popular destination
I've heard that Iceland is fast becoming an extremely popular destination. It is still on my bucket list. The crowds are a bit daunting but I'd still like to explore it. Our son has recently returned from Iceland and he keeps wanting to go back. Lets hope we can get the opportunity before it is too full of tourists. Thanks for the blog and comparison. I agree, no place is ever the same when you return to it, so it's worth savoring the memory.
5th December 2017

Iceland is a popular destination
Thanks for following along. I'm glad your son enjoyed Iceland and I hope you can go sooner than later. It is one of those locations that you want to return to. I think getting away from The Golden Circle the way we did the first time would be a different experience.Happy Travels.
7th December 2017

We also loved Iceland
We also loved Iceland. It was the last trip we did before we joined TB so we don't have any blog entry from there (but our mascots actually have one ( They had their own blog for a while). We will go back in the future and we already look forward to it. /Ake
8th December 2017

We also loved Iceland
Glad you and your mascots enjoyed Iceland. It is a unique location.
11th December 2017

Gotta love Iceland
Iceland tops my list of favourite destinations too. I'm a Geography teacher so you'd understand where I'm coming from. Very nice to read that you had a chance to stop there again on your way back home :)
11th December 2017

Hello Elton,
Great hearing from you again. It was good going back to Iceland. It is an amazing country.
16th December 2017

Ah Iceland...
...great post guys, brought back many great memories...we too rank Iceland among the top of our list of destinations, really hard to put my finger on it but it somehow it just grabbed hold of me and really hasn't let go...will hopefully make it back some day, we didn't see the northwest and would really like to explore more around Vik...and agreed, Reykjavik is just plain cool...we stayed one night at the same hotel at the Blue Lagoon (night before we left to come home, figured we would treat ourselves and it was closer to the airport) and loved the private thermal pool (despite the enormous cost to stay there!). BL seemed destined to become an overcrowded tourist trap, it was busy when we were there in September, but still cool to see once...cheers! Jeff
16th December 2017

Ah Iceland....
Iceland does something to you. It is so unusual it leaves you wanting more. You must go back and see the NW. Glad you experienced the hotel next door. It was amazing and made us happy even on our second trip. Keep traveling.
6th January 2018

Thank You!
As always, your blog inspires and educations in the most delightful way. Happy New Year! Happy Trails! Safe Travels! Looking forward to your next adventure!
6th January 2018

Thank you Joanne
We have not heard from you in awhile. Glad you had time to read one of our blogs. We did a bit of traveling off the beaten path this year. We had a good time. Enjoying reading your current warm weather adventure. We live in Florida now so hopefully we can meet sooner than later. MJ

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