Thursday, November 10, 2016

Day 5 Iceland- Blue Lagoon Geothermal Spa

The Blue Lagoon- a geothermal spa
Our last day in Iceland included a day trip to the hot springs Blue Lagoon. This was part of the package we bought on Icelandair. We found it to be a very good deal and if you happen to come across a deal as good as this one, by all means go for it. The Blue Lagoon trip included a van/bus pickup from Reykjavik to Blue Lagoon, Blue Lagoon Spa Comfort Experience pack, and bus transfer from Blue Lagoon to Keflavik Airport.

Everyone on our bus was also on their way to the airport. This meant that everyone on the bus had to check in their luggage for storage at Blue Lagoon. The line was hideously long as was the line to get into Blue Lagoon. Luckily, it was pretty organized and the lines moved at a reasonable pace. Please note that these lines do cut into your pool time. Overall, our pool time ended up being about an hour and a half. It wasn't long enough but just long enough to experience and want to return.

If you want to save money, bring your own towel from home or your hotel. Our package included a towel so we only had to carry our bathing suits with us. The Blue Lagoon Spa Comfort Experience pack included entrance fee, use of Blue Lagoon towel and bathrobe, skincare samples, one drink at the swim up bar, and a skincare voucher which we ended up not using. The Blue Lagoon also issues a high tech bracelet that opens and locks your personal locker and keeps track of purchases. It's a little tricky to use the bracelet to lock your locker since it is extremely sensitive to all the lockers nearby but there are available attendants to help you if you have trouble.

The locker room can be quite chaotic. My suggestion is to get in and get out as fast as possible. This requires you to pick a locker where it isn't crowded, strip down and put your things away, and take a quick shower for cleanliness. There is free shampoo, conditioner, lotion, and hairdryers on hand. You really don't need to bring any personal products. If nudity bothers you, there are some private stalls available. Being American, nudity does make me feel uncomfortable but in Iceland, it didn't matter. I even passed up the private stalls and just showered in the open. It was more efficient and no one cared. I went out to the pool but did not have a good plan to meet up with my partner. It took awhile to find each other but didn't hinder the fun. There isn't a lot of towel hangers to keep up with the ratio of people. Also all the towels are white. Just remember where you hang your towel and all should be fine. People were not into stealing from what I observed.

See where everyone hangs their towels and robes in the back?
Now the water! The water is hot but you get used to it. It is like a very hot bath or jacuzzi. The water is quite shallow. I'm 5'2" and the water came up to my chest. I am not a swimmer but at no point did I feel unsafe. The grounds are pretty big and even though it was crowded there is still a sense of privacy and intimacy. People are very respectful and polite. The line for drinks at the swim up bar takes awhile but its worth it to be able to sip a cold smoothie made with Skyr in the warm pool.

Submerging ourselves in the warm water.
His and hers smoothies.
Gopro picture.
There is a lot to do at the pool. You can book yourself a massage that takes place in the water. There are also sauna rooms, smaller pools, and pots of free mud available for your skin. It's pretty fun. A note about the water: it's salty. I thought I was doing myself a favor by wearing contacts but it turned out to be a horrible idea as some of the grainy water got into my eyes and it felt like my contacts and eyeballs were getting scratched. Next time I will just wear my glasses and deal with the fog. If you have long hair, definitely put it up. The water kills your hair. For weeks after, my hair felt coarse. I knew the water would damage my hair so I made it a point to get a haircut after Iceland instead of before the trip.

Mud mask!
The Blue Lagoon was such a fun experience and a great way to finish off an Iceland trip as well as relax muscles after a glacier hike. Once we got past the check in process and were in the water it was really relaxing. Everyone had a good time. There were a few with their gopro. Just shows how unique the experience was and everyone wanted to capture it. There are also Blue Lagoon employees walking around with an iPad taking pictures of people but we didn't come across them on our session. Last but not least take note of the time. There are clocks everywhere. Make sure you give yourself enough time to clean up and retrieve your luggage from storage. You don't want to miss your bus to the airport!

The steam.

Photo Credits: Desmond Chow

Blue Lagoon
240, Grindavik 420-8800

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

A Visit to Murray's Cheese Caves

We were invited by Google to have a tour of Murray's Cheese Caves on Bleeker Street. Did you know that Murray's makes their own cheeses?

Murray's Cheese Shop
 It's a very interesting process. From start to finish there are a few steps.
  • Collect milk from cows and goats. 
  • Heat the milk. An agent called rennet must be added to the milk which will cause the curds to separate from the whey. 
  • Cut and cook the curds. Drain and salt. 
  • This state is then molded and pressed into the shape of cheese needed. 
  • Dry the cheese and take to the cheese caves!
Compliance with sanitation and food safety first! Hairnets and lab coats.
Safety socks for shoes.
Cheese comes in a variety of shapes and sizes. Burrata!
Cheese can get very stinky. Stinky cheese is kept in a separate part of the cave.
Like fine wine, cheese needs to age. It can take a few weeks, even months, to get the desired taste. This aging process can get very smelly and moldy. A cavemaster will have strict watch over the cheeses and do additional steps to preserve the cheese and get it to perfection.

The finished product.
There are many different styles of cheese to choose from. Sharp, mild, soft, crumbly, blue, stinky, the choice is yours to what tickles your fancy!

Pair cheese with nuts and dried fruit to enhance flavor.

Murray's Cheese
254 Bleecker Street
New York, NY 10014