Iceland's population is around 320,000 and they do all their infrastructure themselves. They have their own government, print their own currency, give out their own literary and cinema awards, everything. With so few people, it's crucial that everyone contributes to society. "Rush hour" in the morning lasts about 30 minutes between 8:30 and 9:00, with everyone walking or driving to work and school.
Tour pickup also happens at the same time, so I got to experience three days of standing on the street corner, watching rush hour while waiting for my bus pickup. It was like the movie Groundhog's day. With so few people, I recognized many of them by the third day. Guy that stalls his jeep while waiting for an opening in traffic every morning; blonde business woman with the blue streak in her hair; girl on a motorized scooter going to school; man in a silver SUV bringing his daughter to daycare, etc. They all follow the same routine every morning like clockwork.
The tour bus driver for the transfer to the Blue Lagoon this morning was hilarious. His name was Thordur, pronounced just like it's spelled, but with rolled r's. The Grey Line of buses has a central bus station, and they send out a fleet of mini-buses to collect everyone from their hotels throughout Reykjavik. Once you're at the bus station, you go into the booking office and sort out your reservation and they print you a ticket. Then, you go back out to the buses and find the correct one for your tour. I could immediately see how the system works. Some people never get the hang of it. Once I was on the proper bus for my transfer, I listened to Thordur explain over and over, to one Japanese tourist after another that the pickup at their hotel was NOT necessarily the bus they would be on for their tour. After the sixth one wouldn't wait for him to finish explaining and kept interrupting, he put his head down on the steering wheel and said, "Jesus Christ, why can't people just talk English?" which I thought was rich, coming from someone who "talks" English as a second language himself.
Once we were on our way out to Keflavik, he got on the microphone and started explaining all about the towns we were passing through on the way, and the mountains all around and some of the folklore about the elves that an alarming percentage of Icelanders still claim to believe in. He had music playing on the radio, and the dispatch radio turned up at the same time, so you had to really concentrate to pick out what he was saying, but his stories were so funny! Apparently the Blue Lagoon used to be a popular destination for teenagers to make out when he was that age. So then they put a fence around it, and the teenagers started bringing wire cutters. So then they put a taller fence around it, and the teenagers became very good climbers! Now they charge an admission price, which he thinks is highway robbery.
So now I'm hanging out in the cafe area at the Blue Lagoon, with my luggage safely stored, enjoying their free wi-fi. Since I'm not bathing, I only had to buy a visitor's pass, which worked out to about $15. I personally don't think it's highway robbery at all.
On the way up the sidewalk to the entrance of the spa, there is a little side path you can take to an area of the lagoon where there are no swimmers allowed. I took the big camera out there and got some neat shots of the water and the surrounding lava field. Here's an iPhone shot.
And here's the area with the swimmers. The plume of steam in the background is from the aforementioned geothermal power plant.
So that's about it for the Iceland trip! I'll chill here at the Blue Lagoon for another three hours, reading my Kindle and surfing the internet, and then I'll be on my way home. This has been such a fantastic trip - I'm a little sad to leave, but I did just about everything on my checklist of activities, and I am so excited to get home so I can edit the photos from the big camera.
Iceland trip by the numbers:
- Camera batteries exhausted: 1.5 (I always bring 3)
- Photos taken: 767
- Memory cards used: 1 (8GB)
- Number of tourists that asked me to take their photo for them: 4