April 13, 2018
back to reykjavík \ horses \ the blue lagoon
Behind the Scenes:
Our horses were Claudia (Cam's) and Casanova (Ava's).
We left our Airbnb early for a morning ride through volcanic lava fields at Viking Horses, a stable and horseback riding tour company located just outside Reykjavík's city center. We had done so much driving, exploring and taking photos that it would have been nice to do anything else, but it was particularly wonderful to get the chance to ride Icelandic horses.
The Icelandic horse is unlike any other in the world because the breed has been isolated on Iceland for centuries. They are known for their small, pony-like stature, wild manes, and a unique gait: the tölt. In a complete contrast to our experience at the Sólheimasandur plane wreck, we were the only people on the early Friday morning ride. We had our tour guide, Lesley, entirely to ourselves, and for an hour and a half we rode together, talking about Iceland, about horses, about travel, and our homes. We had such an amazing, immersive experience that there are hardly any photos, just the ones from the GoPro.
It's challenging to have authentic experiences while travelling, especially in the age of social media. But sometimes you get lucky. Sometimes you find yourself on the back of an Icelandic horse, in the place where it was born and belongs, and you don't want to have your photo taken. If you find yourself in the moment, be there. Because in 10 days, 10 years, or in 100 years, you'll remember how it felt even if you can't recall or find the photo.
After having a quick lunch with Lesley at the stables, we left to check into our last Airbnb in a residential part of Reykjavík. We had saved the most identifiable Icelandic attraction for last: The Blue Lagoon. It was Cam's idea to save the lagoon until the last day. Most people go on their first day since it's only a half hour from Keflavik Airport, but finishing the trip with it was an amazing idea because we could thoroughly enjoy it and relax.
Plenty of people and websites will say that The Blue Lagoon is a tourist trap, and it is, and for good reason. The water is the most unbelievable milky blue. The lagoon is gigantic: you can swim under foot bridges and through lava rock caves to escape the crowds and be alone. The floor is slippery smooth with algae and the first facial mask is free. It is a wonder of the world, and to skip it because a lot of people go there would be a shame. It was extremely windy and overcast the evening we went, but those weather conditions are favorable. If it's too bright and sunny, the blue water is actually very difficult to see. Again, the weather was on our side: sunny in the morning for our ride, and overcast in the evening so we could experience the Blue Lagoon in all its glory.
You'll also read a million horror stories about how you have to shower naked and how it's a whole complicated process. It's not. There are plenty of shower stalls with frosted panes, and quite honestly, no one is monitoring if you're truly naked or not. It's very modern, and very clean, you get a locker, a wristband to open it and buy drinks with, and they even provide you with shampoo and conditioner (which you should leave in your hair, the minerals in the lagoon will dry it out).
We finished the night and our trip off by going to the Blue Lagoon's restaurant, Lava, named after the volcanic rock that the dining room is built into. Lava looks like a Bond villain's lair, or like Syndrome's dining room in The Incredibles. It was our big splurge of the trip and absolutely worth it. We headed back to our Airbnb and readied our bags one more time to leave for the airport the next day.
- We call them Icelandic ponies in the US, but in Iceland, they are the Icelandic horse
- Consider how big the maximum group sizes are when booking your horseback ride. Big groups are impersonal, as slow as the worst rider, and no fun
- Go to the Blue Lagoon at the end of your trip if you can, it's such a relaxing way to end your trip (and you've earned it!)