As Icelandic As It Gets
The Reykjavík Pool Experience
First, a note on the Blue Lagoon
Given you’re reading this blog, I’m willing to bet you’ve heard about the Blue Lagoon. But still, before I move on to the public pool experience, I just can’t stop myself from adding to the plethora of Blue Lagoon tips out there: get an in-water massage!
Perhaps I’ve just been lucky getting the right masseuse on the right day, but floating in the milky water of the lagoon being massaged and nudged and turned by those professional hands, always (I say, as though it’s a weekly splurge for me—I wish!!) leaves me feeling that I’ve just invested in my future health. Not to mention the prolonged state of relaxation that follows.
Now, let’s head to the pool!
But as the Blue Lagoon is not walking distance for Reykjavík’s visitors or residents, what I really wanted to highlight here is the pool culture more generally. There are public pools in every neighbourhood, each with a slight variation on the basic combination of pool, hot tubs (or ‘hot pots’ as they tend to be called here, a direct translation from the Icelandic ‘heitir pottar’) and sauna. Many also have shallow children’s pools, some have water slides, one is right on a beach. You may want me to name my favourite, but in all honesty, I go to about six on an equally regular basis and that’s only because they’re the closest (I lost count long ago of the number of pool trips I’ve made—a Spanish friend of mine goes every single day when she’s here, including when she lived here for five years); besides, Melissa already made a few specific recommendations for you in her ‘Grounded By Ash’ post below.
Coming from Australia, ‘going to the pool’ was always a summer holidays thing, or a school thing, or a fitness thing. Here, it’s four seasons, it’s for all ages and fitness levels (don’t make me admit how often I skip the pool and head straight to the hot pot), and it seems a cultural activity. Not just in terms of it being a tradition, but because you’ll always find Icelanders in the hot pot swapping stories or discussing the news, much like regulars in a café, or neighbours across a fence.
As I sat in the hot pot this afternoon, it struck me that a trip to the pool often doesn’t make its way onto Icelandic travel itineraries. So I thought I’d try to rectify that for any potential visitors who happen upon this blog ☺