Thursday, May 21, 2015

Where's the Most Amazing Place to Go Swimming?

I don't like beaches.  We all know that.  I do love to swim however.  As a matter of fact, I used to run a swimming pool and teach lifeguards.  I can tell you that swimming and going to the beach are almost entirely unrelated.  So, last year for the summer, I included some beaches that most people would never have thought of.  It's my way.  For my third anniversary of writing this blog, I thought that I would help people see one of my favorite places in an entirely new light.  I thought that I would help you see it more like I do.  That wonderful place is Iceland.  Geysers, Waterfalls, the Leifer Erickson Memorial, and Reykjavik are all things that we know are in Iceland.  We also know that there are glaciers and volcanoes, hence the tag line of it being the land of fire and ice.  But, let me tell you something that you didn't know about Iceland.

Iceland is one of the most ruggedly beautiful, yet completely civilized countries in the world.  The midnight sunsets are something unique that you can't see anything quite like anywhere else in the world.  Iceland has over 300 significant waterfalls and over 40 volcanoes, including Eyjafjallaj√∂kull which shut down a lot of airports back in 2010.  There are also 13 glaciers in Iceland, led by Vatnajokull, the largest glacier in Europe.  But here's some things that you may not know about Iceland.

That myth about there being no trees in Iceland?  False.  There are not an overabundance of them, but they are more plentiful in the Eastern part of the country.  Iceland has only been an independent country since 1944.  The fact that they expressed their thoughts that they should be independent to the Danish rulers and the decision was reached in one of the most amicable transfers in history is one for the record books.  Icelanders are only second in the world to their former rulers in Denmark for happiest people in the world.  The Icelanders love where they live, they love their lives and they love who they are.  It makes one wonder what it is about northern latitudes that create such happy people.  You would think that people would be happier in the southern climates with the beach at their disposal all the time.  Well, let's see.

Iceland has figured out how to harness that thermal energy coming from all those volcanoes.  The government has piped it into every building in the country to provide heat.  So, heating costs aren't much.  That's one thing that would make us all happy.  But, better yet, they've channeled that thermal heat into recreation.  We've all heard of the Blue Lagoon, one of the world's premiere spas.  We've all had that thought about how we would like to go there, because it would be a hoot to don a swimming suit and go outside and swim in Iceland.  How cool would that be?

Pretty cool, let me tell ya.  If you like to swim, Iceland is the place for you.  There are hundreds of pools all over the country that are open from early morning until late at night all year round.  They are outdoors, indoors, and combos.  They have pools, hot tubs, waterslides, kiddie play pools, saunas, health clubs, and all kinds of stuff.

Once the thermal heat was conquered in Iceland, these places started popping up all over the place.  Reykjavik has a bunch of them.  People in Iceland love to swim, soak, and get out no matter what the weather is like.  In the city, every subsection has one.  It's where the Icelander goes to relax and have some fun.  You don't even have to drive in Reykjavik.  You can take the bus to several of their pools.  If you want to try out local culture, go for a swim.

Some of these swimming complexes are enormous, but they are all well patroned.  At this point in time, the local beaches here in New England will be opening for the summer, but the water and the air are too cold to make it worth getting in the surf.  Strangely, we could all be swimming in the pools in Iceland, and we could have been doing it all year long.  It's something to think about as we go into the throes of climate change.  The people who live in the north love to live there.  The statistics tell us that.  Why?  Who knows.  Maybe it's because of the swimming.

There are tons of us each year who go to Iceland to see the glaciers, the icebergs, the northern lights, the city of Reykjavik, the volcanoes, and the waterfalls.  It's one of those great places where you don't really have to worry about the language, and you don't need to book a tour.  You can just go and wing it pretty easily.  But, just for the fun of it, bring along a swimsuit and visit the pools.  You want your friends to think that you've lost your mind, while you've actually found a great find.  Tell them you went to Iceland to go swimming.

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