• Judson Blane

Part 1: A Pedacito of a Solo Trip to Iceland

I had wanted to visit Iceland for as long as I can remember. After reading about where the Icelandic Parliament met since the first vikings, I now know it as Þingvellir National Park. Incidentally, it’s also the only location where the North American and European tectonic plates meet landfall.


This trip was a long time coming. As it would turn out, I did this in the final days of young “WOW” Airlines. WOW, at one time, offered a one-way, direct flight from LAX to Reykjavik for (if you pack extremely light) as low as 80 dollars.


This, along with an extended layover policy, was a bid to bring more tourism to the financially struggling economy following a few volcanic eruptions. However, small ones happen frequently, akin to earthquakes in California. And Bring tourism they did.

The sun setting on Iceland's Black Sun Beach
The sun setting on Iceland's Black Sun Beach

After touching down and jumping into a rental car, You quickly leave the airport behind, and right away, the landscape is unmistakable and otherworldly. There’s virtually no plant life besides moss and grass and volcanic rock as far as the eye can see.

A marker for one of the first places the first inhabitants came ashore to Iceland around 800 AD
A marker for one of the first places the first inhabitants came ashore to Iceland around 800 AD

I had booked a “ Sea view cabin” in a town called Grindavik for my first two nights.

The drive to the cabin wasn’t long, but I took a slightly longer route, hugging the coastline. There were a few points of interest along the way that I stopped for.

A lighthouse on the drive to Grindavik, Iceland
A lighthouse on the drive to Grindavik, Iceland

I had read about Grindavik in a guidebook, and there were essentially two entries, the Blue Lagoon is nearby and the Lobster soup at the Harbor Restaurant. I planned to do the first but ended up doing both.


As you may be aware, the Blue Lagoon is most definitely Iceland’s biggest attraction, partially because it’s actually really cool and partially because it’s close enough to the airport that you can do it on a brief layover. Due to the popularity, they limit the number of guests and require a reservation. There were two slots available, so I jumped on one.


First, arriving at the “Harbour view cabin,” It was clear it would have been better described as “ Industrial Harbour view, tiny prefab house.” Don’t get me wrong; I really liked the place. It was incredibly cozy and laid out very well.


The entry was electronic, and there was no staff whatsoever on the property. I never interacted with a soul there in 2 days. I loved that. After a short nap, I forced myself out of bed. Having not eaten in nearly 24 hours, I was low on energy, but this was my one and only chance to see the Blue Lagoon, so I jumped in the car.


Already through the parking lot, you can catch glimpses of the iconic blue water through the tall volcanic rock walls that line the pathway to the entrance. Upon entry, the place definitely has a spa vibe. Despite having a reservation, I was still made to wait in a line, though as I was solo, unlike everyone else there, I was able to rush right in. Fortunately, I had added a meal reservation, so that was my first stop.

The iconic blue water of Iceland
The iconic blue water of Iceland

The restaurant sits adjacent to the lagoon through glass walls, but just distanced enough that you aren’t staring at people in bathing suits, it’s fancy, and there’s a dress code. This was probably the fanciest and definitely most expensive meal I’ve ever had by myself.


I wanted something local (the infamous puffin and whale was absent from this menu), so I ended up with a Lobster soup, not knowing I’d have one again the next day. A little sad not to savor the experience, but anxious to get into the water, I paid the confusing check (Icelandic krona are roughly 100 times the dollar, it always looks crazy expensive).

View of the Icelandic Blue Lagoon from inside
View of the Icelandic Blue Lagoon from inside

The men’s locker room was as international as you might imagine, with all levels of nudity and modesty on display. I threw on the house slippers they provided and robe and hit the pool.


The origins of this place aren’t exactly what you might think. Public pools are significant in Iceland; they say the public pool is to Iceland what the pub is to Ireland. As the only country in the world fully powered geothermically (one of the upsides to the constant volcanic activity), many of these pools are fed by natural hot springs.


In the 70s, construction workers were digging and inadvertently opened up a hot spring that started flowing mineral-rich blue water. They made it a public pool that became really popular. So there’s your origin story.

Introducing The Blue Lagoon
Introducing The Blue Lagoon
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