Thursday, January 14, 2016

Iceland, day 2.2

Thingvellir is the historical and cultural epicenter of Iceland. An assembly of chieftains met there shortly before the year 930, so Iceland had the world's first parliament. Around the year 1000, Iceland chose to adopt Christianity at this spot, even though the head guy was not a Christian. A number of stipulations were made, including a married priesthood and the permitted continuance of ancient ways (that's a vague euphemism, since I do not know which forms of Viking debauchery and mayhem were allowed). As our guide put it, the Icelandic compromise meant agree to certain compromises and conditions, but in reality things peacefully stay the same. As for my take on the place, I gladly absorbed the broad view, shall we say, and the pristine air and the pure water rushing through the rift we were in that straddles North America and Eurasia. I loved the idea of engaging this rift valley of seismic movement. Indulge in metaphor mania! I meditatively looked out as far as my eyes could see, perched like a sentinel on the viewing boardwalk. I walked the footpath lower into the valley, figured I had had enough and walked back up to the visitor center. It was about 1150 hours. A discomfiting site greeted me. The mini-bus was go. I double-checked the parking lot. Gone. I had the fellow at the gift shop call the tour company. The tour folks called back and instructed me to go back from whence I came, all 800 yards, give or take. So I jogged and fast-walked back down the rifty-looking pathway, almost brushing into clutches of other tourist groups. I calmed myself by knowing they would wait for me; they would have to. I pictured my being a laughingstock. When I reached the lower parking lot, the one I was supposed to have originally gone to, our bus was just arriving. I greeted it and our driver, relieved. Trond said all was fine and assured me I was not holding things up. Our folks were in the cafe, gift shop, rest rooms, or outside. Whew. That was a workout. But I was not mocked or derided.

Then it was on to the Secret Lagoon, which is a natural hot springs in the village of Fludir. All this is part of what is termed the Golden Circle. I should note that the famous, everyone-says-you-must-visit Blue Lagoon was closed for "repairs" consisting of maintenance, cleaning, and dredging. So if anyone castigates me for missing the Blue Lagoon, I've got this "secret." Walking into the visitor center, I heard one of those leaving the place, a man with what sounded like a British accent, yell to us, "Don't believe it. It's freezing in there." Great. I figured I was going to hate this. I'm neither a swimmer nor a lounger of hot tubs. I would give this a few minutes with my teeth chattering in the cold and my lips turning blue, as they did when I went swimming in my childhood.

We were required to take a shower before entering the hot-springs lagoon. Signs instructed us to take a naked shower, sans swimsuits, but I can report that the male participants showered with bathing trunks. I sure as hell was not going to be the lone exception. Leaving the dressing room and shower, I stepped onto the deck. . . the deck with ice on it! Right then and there, I almost turned back and shelved the whole thing. I would have been the only one to do so, from all the evidence. I walked over the icy deck into the stinging cold air and into the luxuriously steaming, welcoming, inviting, relaxing, comforting hot-springs (in some places very-hot-springs) lagoon. It was immediately soothing. And surprisingly social. (Maybe that's why people like hot tubs.) I was so gracious as to not only talk to bikini-clad lagooneers. There was a gal from Australia who was a lifeguard traveling through Canada, New York City, and Iceland; a retired couple from near Manchester, England; several others from Australia (which is a long, long ways away, isn't it?); a small handful of Americans.

I didn't want to leave. Who ever wants to emerge from the decadent languor of a perfectly warm bath -- into the cold?

(Incidentally, I took no photos. Cameras do not record the warmth enveloping mind and spirit, not even the waterproof cameras a few of the Aussies had.)


Snarkk said...

A natural hot tub sounds good -- this one may be a better experience than the touristy Blue Lagoon. Pics are awesome. Thanks!

Pawlie Kokonuts said...


Pawlie Kokonuts said...

I concur. It probably IS better than the obligatory Blue Lagoon. Certainly not crowded; more intimate.