After an exciting 5 days of adventuring from Reykjavik to the Golden Circle and across the southern island of Iceland, we were all ready to head home. There is nothing worse than having to rush to the airport so we were delighted when Mike told us that he booked us an afternoon flight back home. We slept in, cleaned up the cabin, packed up the van, and said goodbye to our cute little cabin and treacherous snowy road we parked on the last few days. Before heading to the airport we made one last stop to the Blue Lagoon for some much needed relaxation time. The Blue Lagoon is a geothermal spa located near Grindavik on the Reykjanes Peninsula pretty close to the airport. We got on our swimming suits, rinsed our bodies and put on the required conditioner in our hair, and headed to the warm water blue lagoon. The story of how they discovered this silica based water is quite fascinating and dates back to 1976 when they were drilling down into the lava fields to find hot water to pump into their mills to produce electricity when they discovered this light blue like water. After realizing that the white in the water was coating their machines and ruining them, they quickly deposited the water in a nearby lava field. At the time no one dared touch the water except for one man who had bad psoriasis and noticed a change in his skin after working with the water and steam at the plant. After asking many times he was finally given permission to bathe in the waters and it was then that he discovered that they were truly healing waters. Many people on the island starting bathing in its waters. Still, it wasn't all that safe with the rough lava floors and nothing to control the heat. So in 1992 the Blue Lagoon company was formed. People from all over the world come here to soak in the healing waters. One of the fun parts about being here was that you were able to get a silica or algae mask for free. Mike and some of the kids enjoyed that. There was also an in-water bar where each of us got a free drink. The kids loved walking around the warm waters sipping on their fruit smoothies. There were definitely warmer parts of the lagoon than others. We explored as much of the lagoon as we could and even Madeline, who up to this point wouldn't get in a hot tub, enjoyed the warm soothing waters. After spending a good 2 hours in the water just relaxing, we got cleaned up and headed to the airport all rested up. I wish every end of a vacation could end with a trip to the Blue Lagoon.
There were just a few more things that we wanted to see before our trip was over. Iceland is known not only for its amazing glaciers but also for its amazing waterfalls. There were so many cool waterfalls to choose from but since this trip was all about exploring the southern island, we choose two that were the most conveniently located from the main highway...Seljalandsfoss and Skogafoss. The weather was kind of yucky today with overcast skies and intermittent rain but we didn't care because the days we really needed sun we had it. So we set off on another somewhat long drive but not as long as the day before. It was about 1.5 hours to Seljalandsfoss Waterfall. This is a unique waterfall where you can take a path to walk behind the waterfall. When we got there it had temporarily stopped raining which was good. The closer we got to the waterfall the more we were grateful that we had on our rain-gear because the mist from the waterfall was pretty strong. We braved the platform in front of the waterfall to get a family photo before stepping over the TRAIL CLOSED sign like all the other tourists to walk behind the waterfall. It was SO WET. At first I had my big camera out, constantly wiping the lens until I gave up, put it away, and just enjoyed the experience because let's face it...when do you ever get to walk behind a waterfall in Iceland??? I probably spent more time behind the waterfall than everyone else. Madeline wasn't a huge fan of all the water mist in her face so she and Mike went ahead. Peter and Emma stayed behind with me to grab some photos with the GoPro...what an ingenious camera that one is.
After this interesting experience I'm not sure the kids were really up for more waterfalls as we were all a bit cold but we got back in the car to warm up and eat snacks on our way to Skogafoss Waterfall. Skogafoss Waterfall is one of the largest and most elegant waterfalls in Iceland. Luckily, it is also one of the waterfalls that can be accessed even in the wintertime. This waterfall is situated along the Skoga River at the cliffs of the former coastline. It was fun to walk along the snowy, and sometimes slippery, path along the river to get to the base of the waterfall. The kids had just as much fun skipping rocks in the river as they did enjoying the beauty of the waterfall. We could've spent more time there as well but the weather was kind of rainy and cold so we only stayed for about an hour. The trail you can take to get a view from the top was closed and dangerous this time of year so we stayed at the base of the waterfall to enjoy its beauty.
After two waterfalls and feeling rather wet, we decide to make only one more stop at Reynisfjara Beach. This world famous black sand beach is found just beside the town of Vik. It is known for its towering basalt stacks and wicked strong waves. No one plays in the water there as there are signs everywhere warning of sudden strong waves that will sweep you away. They are called sneaker-waves, and they can appear when least expected, even on incredibly still days. There are no significant landmasses in between Antarctica and the shores of Reynisfjara, meaning waves have thousands of kilometers to build. It is advised to never turn your back on the waves, and keep a safe distance of at least 30 meters (98 feet). Aside from these sudden and dramatic shifts in the tide, the rip currents offshore are infamous for their strength and ability to drag helpless people out into the freezing cold open ocean. A number of fatal accidents have occurred at Reynisfjara, the last of which occurred in January 2017. Needless to say, we did not get close to the water AT ALL. We did, however, enjoy the sea stacks and a quick walk along the beach before heading back to the car after it started to rain again. By this point we were kind of done for the day so we packed up in the car and headed back to our cabin for our last night before heading back home to Colorado.