Krauma Geothermal Spa, Western Iceland

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I’ve never been one to seek out baths, hot tubs or saunas. Although others find these experiences relaxing, I think they are rather dull and uncomfortable. So, when my husband (who loves all of these things) told me that he had made reservations at a geothermal spa north of Reykjavik, I wasn’t brimming with enthusiasm.

Just about everyone knows about the Blue Lagoon, the popular geothermal pool that is not too far from Kevflavik airport. Even though we were open to “touristy” experiences, we preferred to seek out some less crowded places in Iceland, if at all possible. Krauma was recommended to us by our host.

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Krauma is about 65 miles north of the capitol city
in western Iceland, near the Borgarfjörður fjord. Boiling water (about 212 degrees Fahrenheit) is piped into Krauma from the nearby Deildartunguhver hot spring. According to Krauma’s website, this hot spring has the highest flow rate of any hot spring in Europe, pumping about 180 liters (approximately 48 gallons) of water per second. This hot spring provides much of the heating in homes in this region of Iceland, as well. The boiling hot water is mixed with icy glacier water from Rauðsgi to make the temperatures suitable for soaking.

All around Krauma, hot water boils in pools and steam rises in clouds—it is a haunting yet beautiful sight.

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Admission to Krauma is about $30 USD per adult. You can bring your own bathrobe, swimwear or bath towel to Krauma. (Swimwear is required here.) You can also rent these items. Bath towel rentals are about $6 USD; bathrobes are about $10 USD; swimwear is approximately $6. A comfortable, warm locker room is provided. You’re required to take your shoes off when you enter the locker rooms (I didn’t notice this on my way in. Oops.) Hairdryers, curling irons and other tools are available to use.

Scandinavians take their baths seriously. Guests are required to shower before entering these pools. Shower well. As in, naked. (Be prepared to get over yourself; literally no one cares what you look like.) Krauma provides the nicest-smelling soap, shampoo, conditioner and shower gels—think Aveda’s Shampure scent. It also provides a diagram with the places that they want you to zero in on and take extra care with; some of these spas and pools have been known to have attendants to ensure you wash off the right way. Tripsavvy has a great etiquette guide for Icelandic hot springs. Also, read more about “how to behave” at these geothermal pools at Iceland Magazine.

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Admittedly, Krauma doesn’t have all of the extra spa experiences like other geothermal spas. Krauma was just fine for us: it had five natural geothermal baths, a cold tub, two saunas and a relaxing room with a fireplace. There is no talking allowed in the relaxing room, which is more difficult for some than for others (others=my husband, who immediately started talking when he sat down). The cold tub is about 40 degrees Fahrenheit (a hard no for me; I don’t even go into the ocean on our beaches until the water is in the low 80s). The five geothermal baths range from about 90 degrees F to about 110 degrees F. There are two larger baths and three small, cochlear-shaped baths.

We popped in and out of each of these warm baths. My husband tried the cold pool, which was madness akin to “polar plunges” on our continent. Once we were accustomed to the hotter temperatures, the cooler ones were entirely too cold. One of the pools had an “infinity” pool feature, which I quite enjoyed.

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Before we knew it, we had spent nearly two hours at Krauma. I loved the soft, relaxed feeling I had throughout the rest of the day. I was surprised how relaxing this experience was; it was part of one of my favorite and most memorable days in Iceland.

 

Read more about Krauma on Trip Adviser.

 

 

 

 

The Struggle is Real

“You know what would be fun,” my husband asks happily early one morning as he pulls his running shoes on.

I regard him with a distrust that is only brought on by fifteen years of relational experience with questions like this. He has a look in his eyes, and I am ninety-nine percent certain that he is not going to say “going to Disneyworld,” or “hopping on a plane to an all-inclusive resort in Aruba.”

“What,” I ask half-heartedly. It is early and I haven’t had my cup of coffee.

“I think it would be fun if you would start running and we could run together as a couple,” he replies. “Like,” he adds, “a hobby.”

This feels like an insurmountable topic for 7 a.m. I respond with a grunt.

I am not a natural runner. I am not an athlete. I am utterly confused by those who think climbing walls and jumping off of platforms into a giant puddle of mud is a rational way to pass a Saturday morning.  “Fun Runs” seem to be a theme in Florida.  To me, “Fun Run” is an oxymoron.

But don’t get me wrong: I have tried to run.

Because I secretly envy those who can just jump out of bed at 4 a.m., go for a six mile run and dive into their day, endorphins buzzing. Like, “carpe diem,” and all that crap.

I want to be like that.

My attempt several years ago at becoming a “runner,” however, yielded a laboriously slow shuffle.  Painful to behold, really. There was no glisten of sweat. There was no sheen.  There were no cute running shorts that stayed in place; they creeped up painfully to become the wedgie from hell.

I am not one who exercises for the fun of it. I think either you are one of “those people” to whom it comes naturally, or you aren’t. I am in that latter group. It will always be a struggle.

Exercise is something that I MUST do, whether my heart is in it, or not. This is true particularly after the birth of my last baby six years ago. My body didn’t care too much for the pregnancy and set several important bodily functions, one being my blood pressure, completely amuck.

And you know that “bounce-back” everyone talks about? Nothing bounced back. Not after the third baby.

So the suggestion that we run together as a “hobby” didn’t fill me with boundless enthusiasm.

But it got me thinking.  It is never too late, right?

My husband wants to have a hobby with me. I have two working legs, a pair of running shoes and a pudgy German Shepherd who could afford to lose a little weight, also.

So I am willing to try again.

Because according to my Pinterest feed, “Courage does not always roar. Sometimes it’s the quiet voice at the end of the day saying I will try again tomorrow.”

And that is what I will do.

 

© 2017 Mary Ann Magnell ALL RIGHTS RESERVED