World’s Coolest Hot Springs: The Blue Lagoon, Iceland

November 19, 2011 by staff 

World’s Coolest Hot Springs: The Blue Lagoon, Iceland, During my trip to Iceland last summer, I spent three nights near a tiny village called Kirkjubaejarklaustur. I never figured out how to pronounce it, but in Iceland that was no problem. Everyone we encountered spoke English.

The spelling and pronunciation of Icelandic sites isn’t all that’s exotic about the island country in the North Atlantic Ocean. The scenery is spectacular, with steaming hot springs, desolate stretches of lava fields and huge glaciers spilling out of the mountains. The active volcanos add a dash of excitement — and are particularly fascinating to someone who’s spent many days exploring the land around Mount St. Helens.

With 30 volcanoes, Iceland is probably one of the few countries in which geology is a major attraction.

In the past two years, Iceland has made the headlines only when one of its volcanos erupted. In April 2010, the eruption of Eyjafjallajokul (again, don’t ask me to pronounce it) sent clouds of ash across the Atlantic, shutting down air traffic. Last May, the Gr?msvotn volcano erupted, sending an ash cloud over Kirkjubaejarklaustur.

Iceland exudes a cheerful, clean ambiance that welcomes visitors. After spending a week there, I’d love to return and venture farther off the beaten track.

My family’s decision to visit Iceland came as an afterthought. A niece was getting married in France, and as my wife, Cindy, researched air fares from Portland to Paris, she discovered that the cheapest airline — by several hundred dollars — was Icelandair. Iceland’s airline flies directly from Seattle to Reykjavik, with connecting flights to Paris and many other European destinations. And, unlike most airlines, Icelandair doesn’t charge more for a stopover. So we opted to stop in Iceland on the way back from France rather than visit another European country.

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