Although it hadn’t snowed last night, only one lane of Highway 1 towards Hveragerdi had been cleared, making for an interesting drive in ‘The Snow Plough’. The scenery is absolutely stunning but it’s quite unnerving when the driver behind is almost touching your bumper. They must trust their breaks, that’s all I can say.
On entering Hveragerdi we stopped off at the service station and vinbudin for a bottle of wine, and to peruse the local walking trails board, before parking up by the thermal pool. Unfortunately it was closed for repairs, much to our disappointment. We both had very fond memories of the hot and ice cold plunge pools from our trip two Winters ago, after our dog sledding experience with these lovely people and the even lovelier huskies.
From the car park we followed a local fitness trail out of town. Who needs gyms when you can keep fit outside? Even if the temperature is -7 degrees C. Despite a biting wind the sky was clear, and along the way we spotted several steaming fumaroles and warm streams. We worked our way back to the car for a sheltered lunch, and then walked in the opposite direction across the river and through the park, up to the old woolen mill remains. The air smelt of sulphur and you could see steam vents pretty much from wherever you stood, so it’s impossible to forget that you’re in a seismically active area.
Back at the car by 3pm, we decided to head home through the mountains before darkness descended. This is very much skidoo territory and we saw quite a few on the tracks leading off the main road, and parked up at the service stations. I’d love my own skidoo.
We dropped ‘The Snow Plough’ off at 4pm, and walked up to a surprisingly busy Laugardalur pool. Taking a hot bath in public is obviously the done thing in Iceland on a Saturday night, and frankly I’d choose this anytime over a pub. Rich had to come back and rescue me from the boot changing area five minutes later as I’d managed to wedge myself into my super dooper duvet jacket. Fortunately I’d not reached the hyperventilation stage despite panicking that I’d not be able to get my coat off and would have to ask a stranger to cut me out of it.
After the obligatory naked shower we ‘discovered’ four hot tubs we’d not seen on our last visit, and kept ourselves entertained by dipping in and out of these as we got too hot or cold. Rich then managed to get hit on the head by a rogue ball in the children’s pool, causing him to lose his balance and his tinted glasses which he’d been using to protect his eyes from the water. It’s always a bugger when you can’t close your eyes properly, so he has different sorts of eyewear for all sorts of occasions. I spent ten minutes scouring the pool and asking fellow bathers if they’d seen them, but to no avail. So we gave up and asked reception if they’d hold on to them should an honest person hand them in. That’s if one of the toddlers, or ‘fat babies’ as Rich calls them, hasn’t already squished them. The thermal baths are a haven for fat babies, and you’ll often find yourself being used as a landing surface or flotation device by a little one you’ve never met before. They look absolutely adorable. No cold pools, spitting kids or psychotic lifeguards here. If I’d been born in Iceland I’d definitely have learned to swim before the age of 11.
Once our skin was completely water wrinkled, and we’d had enough of the American woman who wouldn’t stop talking loudly in the hottest hot pot, we donned the yaktrax for the walk back to the apartment, ate left over chili for dinner, and packed for our whistle stop trip to the far north of the country the next day.