By Tammy Davis
Day One – Grindavik, Southern Iceland
Healing at the Blue Lagoon and the Northern Lights Inn
Our plane landed an hour early. My watch and phone automatically adapted to the 6:00 AM arrival, but it still felt like the middle of the night to me. Heavy fog outside the taxi and heavy fog inside my head. It had been a hard couple of weeks before our trip.
As we made our way from the airport to our first stop in Grindavik, I wondered where in the world I was. Planet Iceland. The nickname made perfect sense. The terrain is mostly lava rocks covered in moss. No trees, only some scrubby shrubs. Our inn was the closest lodging to the currently active volcano, Geldingadalir. It was hard to differentiate between the clouds and the smoke from the volcano and the fog. It definitely felt other worldly.
In addition to being close to the active volcano, our hotel was near the Blue Lagoon, a man-made geo-thermal pool. Eighty percent of Iceland’s tourists visit this spot, so I figured it was a must-do. The Tiffany-blue water against the dark, almost black lava rocks was stunning. The hot water, which comes from 6,500 feet underground, felt luxurious after a long flight. We floated and tried different facial masks from the swim-up mask bar. The steam from the water swirled around the guests whose faces were covered with white or black or green skincare goodness. We looked like aliens. Relaxed, happy aliens.
I always love an interesting back story, and the Blue Lagoon’s is particularly good. Blue Lagoon was never intended as a tourist destination. During the planning and construction of the geothermal power station, engineers thought the run-off water would seep through the lava, but the drainage didn’t work out the way they thought. Instead, a beautiful body of water took shape. In 1981, a man with psoriasis asked the chairman of the plant for permission to bathe in the pool. His psoriasis got better so others with skin conditions asked to swim in the mineral-rich spot. It opened to the public in 1987 but was still mostly used by people with skin problems. Today it’s the number one tourist destination in Iceland, and National Geographic named it as one of the 25 Wonders of the World. Not bad for an engineering mistake.
Blue Lagoon helped relax and restore our bodies. Our hotel, the Northern Lights Inn, was about to refresh my heavy heart. I left the Blue Lagoon before the girls and went into the hotel restaurant alone for a bite to eat. The name of the restaurant hotel is Max, named after the owners’ beloved golden retriever who passed in 2012. There was a sculpture of Max in the restaurant and pictures of Max all through the hotel. Max loved the guests, good food, and enjoyed running through the landscape. I had just lost my beloved dog, Bruzer, and seeing all the references to the owners’ good dog, Max, seemed like a memorial to my good dog, Bruzer. My Bruzer would have also loved getting lots of attention from the guests and running through around the hotel grounds.
I love thinking about what heaven might be like. Maybe Max found Bruzer and somehow they watched over us together. Maybe Max told him about the moss-covered lava rocks and maybe Bruzer told him about our woods full of pine trees and honeysuckle. I bet Bruzer said that he, too, is in pictures and artwork all over our house. He might be pouting that he doesn’t have a statue, so we might have to work on that.
I had no idea that even more comfort was coming my way. The next morning the owner and his daughter checked us out. I returned the key card, but he pushed the card holder back towards me. I didn’t realize it until later, but there was a beautiful message on the back, a prayer I will keep forever. This prayer helped me with other burdens on my heart. It was called:
A Prayer For The Stranger Within Our Gates
We hope that God will grant you peace and rest while you are under our roof.
May those you love be near you in thoughts and dreams.
When you leave, may your journey be safe.
We are all travelers. From birth till death we travel between eternities.
May these days be pleasant for you.
May you always be helpful for those you meet
and a joy to those you know and love you best.
God always sends us what we need exactly when we need it, if we just pay attention. I imagined those I love and those I loved before being near me in my thoughts and dreams on this big Iceland adventure. That gave me a measure of peace.
We checked out of our little inn in the middle of the lava field and headed towards our next stop, the capital city of Iceland. We were refreshed. Our bodies had adjusted, and our hearts were soothed. About half way to the city, the fog cleared. We could see the ocean to the left and the mountains to our right. The clouds had passed, and the fog had lifted. Iceland didn’t seem quite so strange, and we didn’t feel quite so disoriented. And, the sun came out like it always does.
Tammy Davis is a teacher and a writer finding lessons in everyday life. Follow along on her big Iceland adventure on Facebook and Instagram and YouTube @tammydavisstories. Read part one on www.tammydavisstories.com.