Saturday, January 7, 2012

Travel: Iceland Day Three

So! Today was to be the Spa day, so I was very excited but also a little nervous, as I was going to get my first massage (ever!) when I arrived there. I booked the “Deluxe Blue Lagoon Massage” which is an indoor massage- NOT an outdoor massage (the outside ones are done actually in the water. Just didn’t fancy that). So when I showed up at the place ( which by the way, even the walk to the place looked magical) the guy at reception was like “go outside and he’ll be ready for you” and I was like “errrr, no, I wanted an indoor massage” and he said “you have to specify that” and I showed him the email when I had specified “indoor” and he was like “…..Oh…..Ooops, sorry, allright we’ll get you a discount on the massage because it will have to be 50 minutes now, not an hour, because he has to set up the room.”

I was fine with that I guess, so I went to get changed. The changing rooms were really confusing actually- they were like a really weird maze. But I tried to get changed as quick as poss to have my massage. I got to the therapy room and the masseuse looked so… normal? I was expecting either A) a woman, or B) a fit Norwegian-y looking guy. I’m not sure why?? Lol! Anyway I lied down and went under a cover thing, with my face in the massage towel hole thing, undid my bikini top, and he got to work. I was really looking forward to this massage but OH MY GOD IT HURT SOOOOOOO MUCH!!!! I mean the guy did say “you are really tense- your calves are like rocks” which I guess might be down to me being a chef, because we spend so much time standing up and all that. But honestly, it was quite painful, and only half an hour of the way through he said “say if I am doing this too hard” and I thought “yeah, you couda told me that 30 minutes ago!” so from that point occasionally if it got too tough I was like “ow” or “ouch” to see if he got the picture. And the when it came to the neck/shoulder massage bit, he kept trying to make my head relax or something, and shaking my head/neck and saying “relax” and it was like- I don’t think I know how!?!? It wasn’t what I was expecting; I just wanted to be rubbed a bit with nice music in the background and oils and things like that. But to be fair, everyone asks me this “but did you feel better the day after your massage?” and the answer to that is a definite yes. Actually when I started going on my holiday, I did feel like my calves had been hurting a lot lately, and then after the massage they didn’t hurt anymore, so that was nice. He must have “unknotted” them or something. So after my massage I got my shower cap on (which loads of people on trip advisor recommended me to do- to stop the sulphur from damaging my hair) but once I got into the pools literally NOWONE was wearing one, so I felt like a bit of a numpty. I mean, c’mon guys, how cool does this look?

The place does smell a bit of sulphur, but you get used to it. And the water wasn’t as hot as I was expecting, but you kinda have to wade around a bit because you tended to get patches of very hot water in various areas, I felt like a cat looking for the warm spot in the house to sit on, haha! I expect the heat is patchy like that because it’s naturally geothermally heated, so the exact heat can’t be regulated. And there are these pots around of this volcanic silica face mask stuff, that is naturally produced there, and you put this on your face and keep it on for 20 minutes. I thought the whole thing was fairly cool, I mean, it looked more breath-taking on the website, but it was still pretty awesome lying in hot water, whilst it’s snowing, whilst looking out at snowy volcanoes/mountains.

They had a sauna and a steam room too- the steam room smelt far too much of sulphur for me, but the sauna was quite nice. However, soon after getting in there, this man with a little boy with armbands came into the sauna. He filled the wooden bucket of water and added some more water to the sauna rocks, which I thought, fair enough, it COULD be hotter in here. But then he just KEPT doing it. Kept throwing ladles and ladles onto the rocks until I had to walk out because it just became too much for me (and I’m quite good with the heat actually). I just kept thinking- that’s just a bit rude really, everyone was leaving because it had got too hot for them, and he hadn’t asked anyone round him whether it was all right to add more, he just kept doing it. I was just thinking- you add any more heat to this place and your son’s armbands will explode, haha! He must have been Swedish or something, used to higher temperatures.

After about an hour I reckon, I came out and went to have lunch at the Spa restaurant. They had a few little cafes dotted about, but this was the “Lava” restaurant, which was supposedly the “posh” one. I ordered a Blue Lagoon cocktail- which I was super psyched about, because Blue Lagoons have always been one of my favourite cocktails. The traditional recipe is blue curacao, vodka, and lemonade. I was pretty happy with what they brought me- A proper blue Lagoon cocktail at the Blue Lagoon- Marvellous!

For lunch I decided to go for the vegetarian option, which sounded quite nice- a chickpea, Icelandic potato, and cauliflower curry. It was ruuuubish! Ok so it wasn’t that bad, but everything in it was just too “crunchy”. The chickpeas were too firm, the potatoes were tasty but could have done with a few more minutes cooking, and also weirdly enough the cauliflower was served cold and pickled. Also when when I needed the bill they completely ignored me even though there weren’t many people in the restaurant. I noticed this soon became a theme in a lot of the restaurants I went to- they would ignore me, someone dining on their own, but they would pay loads of attention to the couples and families. I don’t get why, it was pretty irritating, but whatever- I left there and I didn’t tip (the waitress was an unfriendly thin blonde cold bitch anyway), quickly bought some chocolate from the gift shop, and left on the coach to get back into town.

I went back to café Stofan when I got back, and stayed there for a couple of hours again, had an absolutely scrumptious Butterscotch, apple and cinnamon muffin, with a double espresso- lovely!

A couple of hour later and once I’d showered and refreshed myself at my hotel; I decided I would have dinner at our hotel restaurant, called “Fjalakotturinn” (yeah your guess is as good as mine..). I did my research before I got there, and I knew that on something they called “The Advent Menu”, they were serving Reindeer! So I knew at some point I would have to have a meal there. Unfortunately though, the advent menu was a set 4 course menu, with the two starter courses being langoustine and smoked eel dishes, so I pretty much begged (literally, almost got down on my knees, haha) the waitress if I could JUST have the reindeer. She talked to the chefs and they let me do it, which was nice. She did ask me though “are you sure you do not want some sort of starter??” but the honest answer was “No”, because very disappointingly I couldn’t have had any of the starters, even from their normal menu. There were 6 choices of starters, but all them were fish or seafood dishes! I mean, occasionally in posh restaurants in the U.K there’s no veggie option, but to not have any non-fish starters on their menu seemed absurd to me. They don’t advertise themselves as a seafood restaurant, so I think they really ought to revise the menu.

Anyway, they brought me some bread, I ordered a v expensive glass of cabernet sauvignon (which was excellent) and then they brought me a little amuse bouche thing in a ramekin- lamb tartare. Was absolutely scrumptious, very finely diced raw lamb, mixed with diced celery, fennel and apple, garnished with dill and a little Skyrr- absolutely lovely and refreshing and tasty! I thought a very clever but clean dish. My reindeer main was STUNNING. The reindeer was cooked very rare though, I would say rare, almost bleu. Pretty much raw in the middle. I didn’t mind though, I know good meat shouldn’t be overcooked. The reindeer had a delicious sauce, was served with roasted blue new potatoes, baby carrots, cauliflower and broccoli, and celeriac puree. I don’t have any pictures of the dishes in there, because it was far too dark, but here’s a picture of the kind of quality food they serve there, marvelous.

I then waited in the hotel to be picked up for my evening excursion- to go see the Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis)! Sounds exciting, but honestly, it wasn’t all that amazing. The weather conditions weren’t the best (still a little cloudy) so our tour guide said we might struggle to see it, but basically we went hunting in our coach to find some clear sky and stand underneath it. The guide’s English was amazing, considering he was explaining to us the astro-physics behind how the northern lights work (something to do with the poles, and magnetic stuff, and sun spots- I think I understood the vague principles). He also explained that the lights tend to come in phases, like one month you will get amazing shows every night (which apparently it was like that this September) but other months it can be completely dead. So we found a bit of clear sky and all stood underneath it, whilst the guy pointed out constellations and planets and things like that. It was so very cold that night actually, that we all stood for 30 minutes, and nothing happened, so our tour guide said that we would go back in the coach, and try to drive down to the coast, where apparently it was clearer. Meanwhile I got chatting to this really nice guy, from Hastings. I think his name was Liam, but I can’t remember- you guys know bad I am with names. But he was a really interesting guy actually, he was travelling with his wife, and when he didn’t work as a teacher, he performed as a comedy actor! And I thought, wow, weird, so coincidental with all of Nick’s stuff, so I told him about The Bath Comedy Festival and all that.

We managed to get to the coast, where there were loads of other coaches with different tour groups I guess, and we were all looking into the sky, with waves crashing below us, with a lighthouse to the left of us. Quite scenic I guess. And then “they” happened. One of the guides shouted “Norfen lights! In de skhy! Norfen Lights! In de skhy!” and we all looked up and there they were. The only way I can explain it, is that it kinda looked like a spot light beam, green coloured, with a little wiggle at the end, in the middle of the sky. And it glowed brighter every so often and then went duller again. It wasn’t like how you see on TV or on postcards, it wasn’t the most magnificent show, the beam didn’t really move much or anything, but it did look really weird, and I’m glad to say that I have seen it, if you know what I mean. I don’t have any photos of the whole thing, because you can only take a photo of the northern lights if you have a really decent camera.

The coach got back SOO late (I think 1:30, 2 in the morning!) so I had a midnight snack of some crisps I bought at the coach station earlier (SO glad I bought them actually- because I was hungry, and they were the nicest tasting crisps ever, crinkle cut but not too thick, and sour cream and chive flavoured! Mmmm!). I then dropped off to sleep, because I knew I had a very active day coming up.

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