We had a fantastic week in Reykjavik Iceland in March of this year. We weren't sure what to expect, but nearly all of our experiences were great. We stayed downtown in a wonderful old hotel near the harbor, which is very scenic and functional .
The town is colorful and with endless geothermal energy and greenhouses, Iceland grows veggies, greens, fruit and beautiful flowers year round. Imagine eating fresh strawberries for breakfast when it is snowing and 20 degrees outside!
The city has several wonderful thermal pools that are only a few dollars to use for the day. A typical facility has 2-3 large indoor and outdoor pools and numerous hot tubs of varying temperature in both salt and fresh water. Nice.
Reykjavik is full of great cafes and restaurants, all with great food and of course alcohol. I quickly found a favorite local toasted porter. Yum. Lots of live music too, that is if you can start your evening out around midnight! You may have heard of the famous hotdog stand downtown. We had a late night hotdog here....i'm not sure why they are so famous but they serve about 200,000 a year! They are good, but, for me, not worth eating again! Oh, try the Minke whale. Pretty dang good.
We spent a couple of days out in the interior, riding horses, visiting glaciers, water falls and the great rift zone. Iceland sits on top of the mid-Atlantic ridge spreading zone, and thus is growing yearly by several inches. The rift zone is characterized by a several mile wide area of down dropped blocks, with a very large lake in the middle of the low spot. Essentially a massive sag pond. Each side of the zone is characterized by tensional faulting in the basaltic lava flows, and submarine lava flow are visible (below). Very cool!
All of Reykjaviks water is glacially derived (no surprise). The glacier is located more that 80 km from the city, and it takes the water about 400 year to travel underground to where the production wells are located. Needless to say, Iceland tap water is really good!
We did splurge and spend a night out at a very remotely located hotel by the Blue Lagoon geothermal spa. What the internet pictures and the sales ads don't tell you is that the spa is co-located with a geothermal power generation facility! It is clear on Google Earth if you know what you are looking for. With the power plant, hotel and spa at your back the landscape was pretty rugged and eerie.
Really nice, private hot pools at the hotel. The pools are all natural and the bottom is coated with 6-8 inches thick of a white silica ooze. The lava is rich in silica. As the naturally 135 degree hot water is produced in the wells and transported to the pools, the silica comes out of solution and ends up on the bottom. Most everyone just scoops up gobs of it and spreads it on their body!