Hello, folks. Last time, we left off at the end of our first full day in Iceland. We have yet to tell you about our first tour, which involves punctuality, boats, fashion, and marine life. All of which, I’m sure, are riveting discussion topics. At least, Mark and I had a blast discussing each of these in detail.
Our tour (whale watching) was scheduled to begin at 9 a.m., and we were to picked up from our hostel at 8 a.m. to ensure our prompt arrival. The pickup went smoothly enough (we didn’t recognize the van, so the driver came in and made sure we were among his passengers), and we headed off to the bus terminal to catch the bus to the boat. Sounds like a smooth transition, right? Well, we had another miscommunication with the driver of that bus, in which Mark thought he said “Another bus will be coming at 9 to pick you up,” and what he actually meant was “We’re leaving at 8:30 to make sure you get to the boat on time, and the boat leaves at 9.” Oops. We did make it onto the right bus (and thus, onto the boat), with only a few more mishaps (apparently, we had to exchange vouchers for tickets not once, but twice).
Aboard the boat, and surprisingly we weren’t the last to board, we were encouraged to pull on bright orange overalls/coveralls for warmth. Boy, were we ready to strut our stuff down the catwalk! I will admit that I’m glad we had the coveralls, though, because the wind made things very chilly on the boat.
The purpose of the tour was to see whales, dolphins, and porpoises in the Faxalói Bay, and we managed glimpses of two of the three: a minke whale (Mark), and white-beaked dolphins (both of us). Each time there was a spotting, there was a giant rush of people from one side of the boat to the other, and I wanted no part in that madhouse. I will admit that I do love being on a boat, if just because it makes everyone’s walking abilities even out to that of my own. Mark didn’t quite share that sentiment, although he did find it funny for his own reasons.
Toward the end of the trip, our guide spotted The Octopus, a yacht owned by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen. In her words, “This is what happens when you have too much money.” After reading the Wikipedia entry, I quite have to agree. At the same time, though, what’s it like to have that kind of money to throw around?
Once back on dry land, we had more fun with buses (we asked two separate drivers if they were ours, and received answers in the negative), got some more coffee (this is becoming a theme), and chatted with a pair of German cousins who apparently were also planning on heading to the Blue Lagoon for the afternoon. Well, we finally found our bus and headed out.
Once there, apparently I had misplaced our tickets, so we had a bit of a struggle getting our voucher to register (but it did, and we were able to get in, so it’s all good). We held up the line for about 15 minutes. Oops. Once inside, we had to shower very thoroughly to make sure our bodies wouldn’t taint the mineral waters (lots and lots of nudity, yikes!), and finally head out to the water. Which, by the way, felt like a hot tub we weren’t encouraged to hop out of after 20 minutes. Wonderful. Mark convinced me to upgrade our tickets, which gave us each a towel (we had brought our own), a free drink at the lagoon-side bar, and a take-home mini-spa package. It was a good choice. Kudos to Mark.
We floated in the water (well, I did, because apparently Mark sinks like a stone), [Mark here: It’s a perfectly legitimate thing! Some people do not float.] and sipped our drinks (Mark had beer; I had sparkling wine) for an hour or so before we headed over to the mud mask station. Mark braved the rabid crowds of people to snatch a handful of facial-cleansing mud, and proceeded to deck himself out. I had fun laughing at him, and he gave me mud-mask warpaint in return. We had to wait 5-10 minutes for the mud to dry before we could rinse it off (by ducking our faces into the lagoon), and Mark struggled to keep a straight face for that time. He failed. Miserably. He also kept forgetting to keep the entirety of his face above the water.
After the mud masks, we tried out the steam baths/saunas. I found it hard to breathe in the steam bath, so I had to duck out pretty quickly. Mark actually went in twice, but didn’t stay long either time. The sauna was better, but more awkward for me, because there was less space (I was shoulder-to-shoulder with people), so I didn’t stay in as long as I liked. But the experience was nice.
We headed out, showered (more gratuitous nudity … maybe it’s a European thing?), and grabbed a quick bite at the Lagoon cafe before realizing the time and “sprinting” to the bus. This time, the driver took the time to scold us. Oops. I fell asleep on the drive back. Apparently I was more relaxed than I thought. We made it back to the hotel, where I took a long nap, and Mark went out for a solo walk (detailed in the upcoming post). I think it was a good day.