After what I’m sure will become a typical Icelandic breakfast of bacon, eggs and hot dog sausages, we donned the yaktrax and walked into town to collect our hire car from Cheap Jeeps Car Rentals – a trusty Subaru Forrester. They’d opened up for us  especially as so few tourists hire cars in Iceland during the Winter, and instructed us to just throw the keys back through an open window once we’d finished. Their 4 year old son was very cute, and had already learned how to say ‘ice cream’ in English. He’ll go far.

Within minutes we’d nicknamed the car ‘The Snow Plough’. Winter car hire here really is cheap and cheerful and well worth the effort if you’re used to driving in snow, as it can save you a fortune on organised tours.

Unfortunately halfway to Grindavik, a small coastal town south of Keflavik, I realised that I’d left my camera recharging in the apartment. I could have cried as I so love taking photographs and using them to help me cherish the memories. As it was Boxing Day (December 26th) there weren’t even any shops open where I could buy a disposable one, so I’m afraid that this blog will be illustrated using words and a few pictures from a previous trip two years ago.

Interestingly, Grindavik’s lifeboat was donated by the UK’s very own RNLI a few years ago. We parked by the harbour for a quick stroll in the biting wind, before driving back into the town and east along the Hopsnes Peninsula road, towards Krysuvik. The road quickly became an ice sheet so Rich turned the Snow Plough around, and I drove us back into Grindavik for a spot of lunch at the only place open – the service station. Whilst a burger and chips wasn’t cheap by happy meal standards, there was enough to fill our bellies without me having to eat the bun.

About 2km down the road we parked up at the bottom of the local hill – Porbjorn, and made it to the top with only one fall each – mine when I turned round to check on Rich as I heard him slip over on the ice. Even a local snow buggy got stuck and had to reverse after trying to ovetake us. It really is like  a lunar landscape, especially when covered in snow, and with so much walking within easy reach of the town we decided that we’d definitely come back for longer during a summer visit.

By 3.30pm the sun had started to set so we descended and drove north to the Blue Lagoon. Whilst some people describe it as a tourist trap, I’ve always loved it, and we come for a soak whenever we’re in Iceland. It was the quietest we’ve ever seen it, but still as atmospheric and other worldly. Until I heard some South Wales accents close by and got talking to a couple from Newport. It is indeed a small world.

I will never tire of the feel of the silica mud between my toes, the blue water, and the very hot spots. There are even tubs of the mud dotted around the pool edges for you to apply as a face mask. You certainly walk out feeling very clean and fresh! The water is warm without being scalding, and the heat encourages you to float rather than swim, and eventually to do a sort of crab like bounce rather than walk because your muscles have become so relaxed. The lagoon is big enough to escape noisy groups, has saunas, steam rooms and a massaging water jet, and if you’re feeling flush, you can book an in-pool massage in advance.

Me in the Blue Lagoon, complete with face pack. New years Day 2011.
Me in the Blue Lagoon, complete with face pack. New years Day 2011.

After a few hours of bobbing and floating we forcefully ejected ourselves and I treated myself to a bottle of their much loved shower gel and hand cream. The products are not cheap admittedly, but I make them last, and using them always brings back memories of the lagoon. We skipped the cafe this time, but if you want to eat on site there’s also a restaurant, and a bar with a rooftop view of the lagoon. Instead, despite Dervla’s absence, or maybe because of it (!), Rich drove us back to Reykjavik and the apartment without me needing to look at the map, and we dined on leftover pasta and tomato sauce whilst plotting the next day’s adventures in the Snow Plough.