Iceland, Where Is Brooke Shields??

Blue Lagoon, Iceland, Reykjavik, geothermal, water, fun, travel, photo, Olympus

When planning our trip to Iceland, we decided that because the Blue Lagoon was on the way from the airport to Reykjavik that it would make a lot of sense to stop there after landing as a way to relax after a not-long-enough overnight flight (and a long layover in JFK).Blue Lagoon, Iceland, Reykjavik, geothermal, water, fun, travel, photo

Getting there

So after landing in Reykjavik, we found the bus that takes passengers to the Blue Lagoon (along with all the luggage), right outside of arrivals – you can’t miss it once you walk outside!   There are buses that go to the Blue Lagoon and others that go into Reykjavik.  Just look at the buses or ask!  Folks are very helpful.

Blue Lagoon, Iceland, Reykjavik, geothermal, water, fun, travel, photo

The arrivals area at the Keflavik airport

Blue Lagoon, Iceland, Reykjavik, geothermal, water, fun, travel, photo

Right across from that arrival area, you see the buses

Once you get to the Blue Lagoon, right by where the buses drop you off, is a storage room where you can leave your luggage (for a price).  You can bring a bag in to the changing room and there are lockers there but they are small.  We packed the bathing suit, a change of clothes and some toiletries in the smaller bag.  There was a little of a wait to get in as the place was full and they control how many people will be in at once (which I take it as a good thing).

In the changing area they clearly ask that everyone shower without clothing on BEFORE getting into the lagoon.  I assume it is for hygiene reasons but it seems most people ignore that…

The lagoon – minus Brooke Shields

Though it was a little cold that morning, the moment you step into the lagoon (which is sort of a light baby blue) you begin to warm up.  The lagoon is quite large and you can remain close to the area where you drop your towel/lounge or you can go further away to areas that are much more quite on the opposite side.  That day love apparently was in the air as there were many couples on that opposite side…  You can also hunt down the areas where the hot water comes in if you want the temperature a little hotter.

Blue Lagoon, Iceland, Reykjavik, geothermal, water, fun, travel, photo, Olympus

Beautiful waters and landscape

Conveniently (probably for all the British youth that may visit), there is a corner of the lagoon with an in-water bar area for those who want their drink on while in the lagoon.

Blue Lagoon, Iceland, Reykjavik, geothermal, water, fun, travel, photo, Olympus

The bar scene

Once in the lagoon, you can go to a couple of spots to find the local white-ish mud to put on you to rejuvenate your skin.  Though always uncertain about the effectiveness of such muds, I partook.  Clearly, not a flattering look but I look 18 years younger.  Well worth the embarrassing look captured below!

Blue Lagoon, Iceland, Reykjavik, geothermal, water, fun, travel, photo, mud, travel with children

The muddy faces blend well with the steamy air of the lagoon!

Oh, and it is worth saying that kids enjoy the lagoon too as you can see above!  But be sure to put the arm floaties because, even if they know how to swim, the waters are not clear so if a child goes under, they are unlikely to be seen.  No need to ask for trouble!

So, despite the similarly-named film, there was no Brooke Shields anywhere that I could tell.  If you go and you spot her, please let me know!  Otherwise, know that this is a great first stop to make after landing in Iceland from a red eye flight – it will help you recover some from the jet lag and lack of sleep, even if a bit on the touristy side!

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Read and see more about my trip to Iceland:

  • Thingvellir (or “Þingvellir” in local alphabet) – where history and nature meet
  • A “post card” from northern Dalvik
  • Our week-long itinerary

How I Found the North Island of New Zealand Different than the South Island

Geothermal, New Zealand, Taupo, colorful, Canon EOS Rebel, travel, photo

When I planned my trip to New Zealand, I decided based on my interests and what was on offer to spend more time in the South Island than in the North Island.  However, this does not mean the North Island lacks places to explore.  I left the visit to the North Island for the last 4 days of my month-long trip down under making Auckland my base and then traveling around the center of the island to visit places like the Waitomo glowworm caves (incredible!), Rotorua, Taupo, Huka Falls, and the geothermal fields.  There was so much to see that even 2 days for these sites was a bit rushed.

Huka Falls, New Zealand, nature, dam, travel, photo, Canon EOS Rebel, nature, majestic

Huka Falls

I noticed a few differences between the two islands during my visit quite easily:  two different worlds.  Clearly, the North Island is more densely populated (this does not mean it feels crowded) and there was more evidence of human presence along the roads traveled in that part of the North Island whereas the South Island felt more vast and empty.  Also, the presence of the Maori culture was much more evident in the North Island than it was in the parts of the south Island that I visited.  Finally, the North Island also seems to have more going on in terms of volcanoes and geothermal activity but the South Island has the more extreme mountain scenery (the Southern Alps, glaciers, fiords).  Here is a bit more of the North Island…

Meeting the Maori Culture for the First Time

One of the highlights for me of the north island was to get a small peek at Maori culture by visiting the Auckland Museum (I highly recommend it) and one of the cultural visits in the Rotorua area.  It was great to understand better the songs and dances of the Maori, including the scary “haka” that I was familiar with only through watching the All Blacks rugby team in action!

Sample Maori meeting hall - being greeted when we arrived

Sample Maori meeting hall – being greeted when we arrived

Maori dance performance

Maori dance performance

Hot Lava, Anyone?

Another highlight for me was visiting the geothermal fields and understanding why those fields exist and are so active – the area is a very “alive” volcanic area.  I visited a few sites where I saw geysers and thermal pools.  The Artists Palette and the Champagne Pool were my favorite among the various famous sites near Taupo.  But everywhere you looked, you could see a column of steam coming off the ground, not only in the areas set up for visitors but just about anywhere you looked.  I have never seen anything like that before!  Of course, along with all this comes a strong “aroma” of sulfur.

Geothermal, New Zealand, Taupo, colorful, Canon EOS Rebel, travel, photo

Geothermal, New Zealand, Taupo, colorful, Canon EOS Rebel, travel, photo

Geothermal, New Zealand, Taupo, colorful, Canon EOS Rebel, travel, photo

Part of the Artists Palette pool

Unfortunately, the weather was not cooperating too much so I did not get a good view of the lakes in the area.  It rained a good bit the weekend I was in the North Island so I am sure that kept me from enjoying some nice views.

Geothermal, New Zealand, Taupo, colorful, Canon EOS Rebel, travel, photo

Auckland

In Auckland itself, I limited myself to the Auckland Museum and the Maritime Museum, and to do a very long walk around the central business district (“CBD“), Ponsonby (where I stayed) and “K” road (Karangahape is the proper name).  While the central business district had some neat architecture that I assume is early 20th century, it was the districts of Parnell and Ponsonby that seemed to have more of the charming feel.  I did not explore beyond this central core of the city so there is likely more than I got to see.  For instance, the central business district waterfront area is only a fraction of the coastline that is available to the city, which is bounded on one side by the Pacific Ocean and on the other by the Tasman Sea.

Auckland, New Zealand, architecture, green, design, art, Canon EOS Rebel, photo

Buildings seem to grow out of the ground in Auckland!

Auckland definitely felt very different than everything else I had seen in NZ in the trip.  It is the most populous city in NZ (around 1.3 million residents out of the 4.something in the entire country).  By comparison, the next largest city I visited, Christchurch, has about 350,000 residents.   Dunedin, a charming southern town, even less.  After spending a week in the southern half of the South Island, coming to Auckland required a bit of an adjustment for sure.

Other Areas

Among the many things I did not see but heard were worth seeing were the Coromandel Peninsula, the city of Wellington, islands off Auckland like Waiheke, the areas on the north of the North Island, etc.  It seems, therefore, that I need to return to NZ to complete my visit 🙂  GLADLY!

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