Circumnavigating Iceland, Part 5: Icelandic Horses, The Blue Lagoon and Our Adventure Ends

We were somewhat late getting started back to Reykjavik from the Westman Islands and the Captain really revved the ship. Unfortunately, with the seas high, we were staggering around inside, trying to keep our balance. At dinner, the boat tilted about 25 degrees and everything slid off the table. There were crashes of china and glasses from trays and places where they were stacked, and I swear I heard a collective groan from the kitchen. The ship immediately slowed, and we finished our meal in a relatively stable manner, but that night I had to tuck myself into my bed again so as not to roll out on the floor.


I’ve not mentioned Icelandic horses, and they do deserve a mention. The Icelandic horse is a breed developed on Iceland.  Although the horses are small, at times pony-sized, most registries refer to it as a horse. Icelandic horses are long-lived and hardy, with few diseases; Icelandic law prevents horses from being imported into the country and exported animals are not allowed to return. What is unusual is that the Icelandic displays two gaits in addition to the typical walk, trot, and canter/gallop commonly displayed by other breeds. The following information is from Wikipedia.

The first additional gait is a four-beat lateral ambling gait known as the tölt. This is known for its explosive acceleration and speed; it is also comfortable and ground-covering.

The breed also performs a pace called a skeið, flugskeið or “flying pace”. It is used in pacing races, and is fast and smooth, with some horses able to reach up to 30 miles per hour. Not all Icelandic horses can perform this gait; animals that perform both the tölt and the flying pace in addition to the traditional gaits are considered the best of the breed.

The ancestors of Icelandic horses were probably brought to Iceland by Viking-age Scandinavians between 860 and 935 AD, and genetic analyses have revealed links between the Mongolian horse and the Icelandic horse.

If you want to see these five paces of the Icelandic horse, check out this You Tube video:


We disembarked the next morning, with all of us rocking and rolling on dry land. We went to a hotel for an overnight but took the rest of the day to visit the Blue Lagoon.

The Lagoon is a geothermal spa and is considered to be one of the 25 wonders of the world. It is located in a lava field on the Reykanes Peninsula in southwestern Iceland and is supplied by water used in the nearby geothermal power station. The warm waters are rich in minerals like silica and sulfur and bathing in the Blue Lagoon is reputed to help some people suffering from skin diseases such as psoriasis. The water temperature in the bathing and swimming area of the lagoon averages 37–39 °C (99–102 °F).

This time I did not bathe but remained outside in a restaurant, so I could watch everyone who did – and take pictures. There is a bar in the lagoon, and anyone paying the entrance fee to the lagoon can get a drink.

That’s Hubs, waving from in line to get a drink, and here’s the braver members of the group, getting smashed in the water!

That night we had a lovely farewell dinner of lamb – we had three meals of lamb in two days! – and the next day wended our way back home. But the adventure wasn’t over  – held up 90 minutes in Reykjavik, we missed our flight from Boston to RDU and couldn’t find a single hotel room in proximity to the airport at 11PM at night. Our kids found us a room in Waltham, a $60 cab ride away and we finally plopped into bed around 12:30, with tickets for a flight the next morning.

I hope you enjoyed the trip with me!



25 thoughts on “Circumnavigating Iceland, Part 5: Icelandic Horses, The Blue Lagoon and Our Adventure Ends”

  1. I lived in Waltham when I studied in Boston (at a particular university there!) We are almost related!! The Iceland adventure was a great series, thanks Noelle.

    1. Although I grew up in Plymouth, I think that was the first time I’d ever been in Waltham. All I knew about the city is that we used to play Waltham in the state basketball tournament — but long ago.

  2. Thank you for sharing! I always love your posts! 💜 I have a blog tea party on the 3rd and I’m encouraging my blog readers to drop their link off on my posts. Would you care to share your world with us?

  3. Pingback: Circumnavigating Iceland, Part 5: Icelandic Horses, The Blue Lagoon and Our Adventure Ends | Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life

  4. Hurrah to the small, strong horses of Iceland! It is heroic to see them carry such large human beings with such grace and willingness. So interesting that they have developed these two, smoother (for the humans on their backs, anyways) gaits… I have seen the Icelandic Horse breed in upstate, NY. One of my nieces works at a stable and rides them. I think it is terrific that Iceland protects them from diseases by limiting horse immigration from other parts of the world. On another note, I cannot imagine attempting to eat dinner with waves that (eventually) knocked everything onto the floor! You and your husband are hardy adventurers…

    1. Thanks for your comment! If we hadn;t had a load of anti-nausea medicine on board, eating would have been impossible. As it was, I had to warp myself in the blanket and tuck the free ends into the tight space between the mattress and the wall, in order to keep myself from getting rolled out of bed.

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