Monday, April 18, 2011


I took a more extended break from working in Vík this week. My friend, Skarpi, invited me along with him to visit the farm where he grew up near Borgarnes. The name of the place is Litla-Brekka, which means a small hill. I caught a ride into Reykjavik in the morning and had a lot of time to kill, so on impulse I went to the Blue Lagoon. I hadn't ever really wanted to go there, but I figured why not? It's about a 45 minute bus ride from the BSÍ bus station through a large lava field near the international airport, and when you buy a bus ticket, you get an entry ticket to the pool for a slightly lesser price. It's still a pretty big rip-off, though.
I suppose it was worth it to visit the place just to see what all the hype is about. But it's really not that great. Maybe it would have been more fun to go with someone instead of alone. It's sort of notorious as being a place where people go to have sex in public. The water is an eerie blue color, and it's thick with silica that makes it look like milk. Once you put anything under the water, it disappears, so you can imagine how it's perfect for getting away with things even a few inches under the surface.

I could only manage to swim around for an hour before I couldn't see the point anymore. It's not to say that the place is totally lame. It's very beautiful, and if you're not used to being able to swim outside when it's snowing, then it's really cool. There are boxes of silica that you can smear over your face and body and it feels nice. The water is also partially sea-water, and for some reason it is easier to float in than, say, the Gulf of Mexico. I'm glad I went, just to say that I did it, but I wouldn't recommend for tourists to waste a day on it. There are a lot of other amazing things to do than float around in a sperm bath listening to British people chattering about shampoo. But that's marketing for you.

I met up with Skarpi around 3 in the afternoon. Borgarnes is about an hour away, and the farm just beyond it. We met his very cheerful and charming uncle who is amazingly more DIY than Æsa (but he does have a lot more resources available). Since they have a working farm in addition to the guesthouse and lodge, they can provide a lot more homemade benefits to guests. There are horses, sheep, chickens, and a salmon river. The family has owned a giant piece of property there for a really long time, and Skarpi is directly descended from one of the most famous vikings who lives there. So that's cool. It was also really interesting to see where an Icelander grew up. Normally when people take you on their childhood tours, it's hard to stay captivated by their experiences, but this was completely different. I'm romanticizing the hell out of it, of course, but to be in a remote place, surrounded by steep mountains, a frigid sea, and enough space to feel completely alone...well, it's beautiful. I can't begin to compare my childhood experiences with the outdoors to a place like this. Plus, these people work. And it's hard work that doesn't always have the benefits of modern convenience.

Skarpi intended on taking us both on the ATV for a tour around the farm, but we only managed to explore the old barn. I think we got a pretty good ride in, but a few seconds after I asked if he had ever gotten the quad stuck anywhere, he told me that no, it was pretty much impossible. And then we hit some quicksand disguised as a rock path. In the series of photos that I took, you can see the progress of it sinking all the way down to the chassis, where it thankfully stopped.

So we were forced to abandon it. Skarpi put in a good effort trying to get it out, but his uncle would have to pull it out some other time. Oh well. It's nice that they are such an easy-going group of people. Perhaps having so much space to be alone contributes to that charming attitude.

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