Monday, September 03, 2007

Reykjavik - Sunday and Monday

Good thing today is a holiday and I don't have to be at work quite yet because I am just now easing back into productivity after mourning the completion of my much anticipated vacation. I highly recommend having a few re-cooperation days before jumping back into the routine. Saturday we were back in my apartment by 2 pm but it felt like 6 pm and we were worn out by the travel so the only thing we accomplished was ordering Thai food, going out for pedicures, a little email reading and a dvd during which I fell asleep before it was half-way through. Yesterday I wanted to just catch up on blogging and continue the relaxing but Erin wanted to take advantage of her one day in New York. So we went to MoMA and saw the Richard Serra exhibit (which we both really enjoyed) and did some shopping at H&M where Erin bought a very cute dress for a wedding she is attending next weekend. After the isolation of Iceland, the Labor Day weekend crowds on Fifth Avenue were more overwhelming than usual and we quickly retreated back to my couch for an evening of tv movies and chocolate chip cookie making. Once again I fell asleep on the couch around ten.

I easily woke up at 6 am to help Erin to the car that whisked her away to the airport. I wasn't tired so I made breakfast, watched some tv, caught up on my blog reading and had a very long conversation with my parents. I've been piecing at the unpacking and the cleaning and the laundry and I have also created slideshow number one: Reykjavik, where we spent our first two days in Iceland.

Personally, if I had to do it over again I would only spend one day in Reykjavik. It was a very cute little city but there wasn't a lot to do. When I booked our flights Icelandair had a special where we could add a few extras to our trip for $7 a piece. The extras included the whale watching trip I mentioned in my top 5 - an amazing bargain! - and a 48-hour Reykjavik pass which granted us admission to various museums, free use of the buses and some other things we didn't end up using. We used the pass to visit the Cultural Museum because of all things they had a display on the trek to Utah by the Icelandic Mormon converts. Erin wasn't too excited about it but I couldn't pass that by. The final $7 add-on we purchased was admission to the Laugar Spa which was the fanciest, most amazing sports club I have ever visited! It was located outside the city center so we had to figure out the bus system to get there which was a bit of an adventure but we had some help. I didn't know what the passes included and was a bit surprised and bewildered when I handed over the voucher and the woman at the desk simply gestured for us to follow her to get our retinas scanned!! I am not kidding. She scanned our eyes then asked for our birthdays (not our names and she had already handed me my voucher . . . strange). She scanned us past a security system more high tech than my office building with giant panes of glass that swooped in to block the way after one person was swiped in. We followed her down some stairs and down a hallway where she used her key pass (not her eyes, or ours) to swipe us past another security door leading to the locker room. The only instruction she gave us was that this was the locker room, we must shower without our suits and a concierge desk was on the other side of the locker room. Confused we walked into the locker room and located a couple of open lockers and tried to decide what to do next. Do we strip down naked and go take a shower or do we wear our suits and remove them once in the shower? What is the protocol? Seeing women walking around completely naked I decided to use one of the robes provided and carry my suit to the shower where I encountered that bizarre sign instructing where I must wash before going any further. I stuffed my suit, robe and towel in a cubby hole outside the large open shower area facing the mirrors (awkward!) and took my shower - a bit embarrassed when I had to walk over to the open entry to get soap out of the one dispenser. I was curious how Erin would do in this situation. I'm not one to strut around naked but she is extremely private. We lived together a few years ago and she always shut and locked her bathroom door (we did not share) regardless of who was around and she always went in her room to change with the door shut. Unlike me, I have no qualms about changing in front of my sister or even most friends. Or strangers at the gym, but I know this is uncomfortable for her. But she did it and we laughed and giggled about how silly it felt. Still unsure of the protocol we put our suits on under our robes and left the locker room clutching our locker keys and towels. We were standing in a long hallway that was completely empty with doors leading to mysterious places. We first checked the concierge desk that was completely empty. While we were debating what to do someone walked up to the door to the right of us, scanned her eye and entered a darkened room that looked like a sauna of some sort. We walked out the glass door leading outside and up some stairs to the outdoor pools. The pools and hot tubs are shared with the public pool facility next door. We removed our flip flops, robes and towels and slid into the hot tub. No one else had robes or flip flops or even towels! Strange. Erin spotted a hippy couple we had been shadowing all day - they were at the church that morning, on the whale watching trip and here they are at the pool! We talked to them for awhile - he was from the UK, she was from Georgia and they had an adorable 6-month old who really seemed to enjoy the water although they were paranoid her diaper might not hold and they would end up with an embarrassing incident.

Having gained some courage after our soak we went back into the spa facility in search of the hidden perks - and we found them after I scanned my eyes to the right of the mysterious unattended concierge desk. Beyond the door was paradise. It was warm and the lighting was dim, the walls were tiled and a waterfall was on the opposite wall. People were happily walking between steam rooms and saunas in swimming suits. We deposited our robes on a hook and entered a steam room smelling of citrus and verbena with citrus colored tiled benches conforming easily to your back. We put our feet up on the tile islands in the center and breathed deeply. We moved from there to a slightly salty hot tub and then tested the saunas where the wooden planks were too hot to sit on. I discovered this giant plunge barrel full of icey cold water. I walked up the steps and managed to climb down the ladder into the ice water only up to my knees before retreating back to the hot tub. Later I was more brave and plunged in nearly up to my neck sending water splashing over the sides before I jumped out and ran to the welcome warmth of the hot tub that stung my frozen legs as I slid in. We spent a happy three hours here, moving from room to room, discovering what I deemed the nap room - a dark room with a fire in the middle and lounge chairs in a ring. I nearly fell asleep lying on my back with the fire flickering shadows on the ceiling. There was also a cafe that smelled heavenly but we had no idea how to order food so we just sipped glasses of ice water flavored slightly with chunks of orange. We didn't leave until closed. Erin was happier than I had seen her in a long time.

Here is the Reykjavik slide show:


michele said...

i thought they only scanned retinas in the movies!

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