After a lie in to enjoy the typically cosy Icelandic duvets, we forced ourselves out of bed and in to the guesthouse cafe for breakfast. With as much tea and coffee as you could possibly want, yoghurt and fruit, ham, cheese, eggs, salad and fresh bread, you certainly get your money’s worth. The cafe was also lovely and quiet (in April), which I was pleased about as I’d had to pop a tryptan to stop a migraine from developing. Me and my quirky brain.
Having already decided to take it easy today, we wrapped up warm and set off to explore the village and its surroundings on foot. We found the still closed campsite – it opens in May and is ginormous, and an outdoor gym – something which I wish we had more of in the UK, before nipping into the Samkraup mini-market to buy some nibbles for lunch.
Guesthouse Flúðir’s gorgeous dog – Glacier, finally melted, having seemed very wolf like when we arrived yesterday, and now greets us eagerly awaiting strokes and tummy tickles. He likes to sit by the recycling bins and greet locals as they come by.
The hire care, originally nicknamed ‘Starlight’ has now been renamed ‘Aurora’, because we’re in Iceland. We fired her up to take us to the first of today’s long awaited destinations – the Secret Lagoon. Except it’s not so secret any more and there were tour buses in the car park when we arrived. Being charged just over £30 for entry as well drew an exclamation from both of us. But I guess that’s what being on the tourist route does to places, and to be fair they do have to maintain the premises. Whilst the price seems a bit steep, it is definitely worth a visit, at least during quiet times. I’d have been miffed to have paid that much and then to have had to fight for space. I suspect it’s going to get to that stage during the summer though as it’s now well and truly on the Golden Circle route. Which is why we’ve learned to come here out of season.
Showering naked is always a novelty for British tourists, but you have no choice in Iceland – thems the rules. It’s always a tad amusing to see first timers terrified of revealing flesh, and then discovering the liberty of just letting it all go and not worrying. The Secret Lagoon changing rooms are small, but it looks like work is underway to extend them. Again – another reason to visit before it gets too big and loses its specialness.
A short walk from the changing rooms takes you outside, and within seconds you’re submerged in gloriously warm water, between 36 and 40 degrees C, so not too hot, just right. It’s apparently the oldest natural swimming pool in Iceland. Your feet get a massage from the gravel underfoot, and the water is crystal clear. After an hour, we felt suitably broiled, so got ourselves dressed and followed the walkways surrounding the pool to visit the hot springs. Be warned – they are very hot, and have names like ‘litli gesysir’, so don’t muck around, and don’t get too close.
Back to the guesthouse for a glass of appelsin (orange pop) and chillax time – we always go internet free on holiday; before setting of for today’s second must see destination – Restaurant Minilik, one of only two Eithopian restaurants in Iceland. Despite always wanting to try Ethiopian food whilst living in London, I’d never gotten round to it, but we were determined to make up for that tonight.
Azeb, the co-owner and chef, hails originally from Adis Adaba, and her food is incredible. Inside, it feels like you’re in Ethiopia, rather than a cold place near the Arctic, with decorative pieces that Azeb has collected from home adorning the walls, ceiling and floor. Azeb cooks to order, and her husband recommended several dishes. Both Rich and I went for lamb, and amazingly, the flat breads are all made out of teff flour, which meant that they were gluten free – perfect for foodie coeliacs.
As is the case in so many parts of the world, in Ethiopia you don’t eat with cutlery – you use the bread and your fingers to scoop, adding touch as another sensory experience, and meaning that you enjoy the food even more. It sounds like it could get messy, but you quickly get into the swing of things, and for me, it beats using a knife and fork any day. It’s also made me eager to eat more Ethiopian food, although we’re short on global cuisine restuarants in our current neck of the woods. Minilik is absolutely worth travelling especially to Flúðir for though, and is open lunch time if you’re traveling through. We’ll definitely return.