Hot Rocks, Cheap Energy, and a Big Spa

Driving on a smooth-but-narrow paved road through a vast, moss-covered, lava-flow landscape, our guide explained, “This lava flow is 1,000 years old. We call it the Lava of Christianity because it hit the same year we became Christian.” Living on an island of live volcanos in the middle of the ocean is not always easy. Iceland has weathered an eruption every four or five years for at least a thousand years. With the eruption of 1783—one of the biggest lava flows in recorded history—the population dropped from 50,000 to 38,000. The eruption of  the Eyjafjallajökull volcano in 2010 stopped air travel across Europe, inconveniencing a lot of travelers. But the 1783 Laki eruption had a bigger impact and literally helped change history. Its volcanic dust impacted weather and crops in Europe for several summers, causing widespread hunger. Some historians say those conditions contributed to the economic unrest that led to the French Revolution at the end of that decade.

Geothermal power plants tap into the heat spilling out from deep in the earth. Across Iceland, you’ll see an infrastructure of pipes and power plants tapping into that natural source of energy. And ever since the advent of thermal-powered greenhouses—which you’ll see glowing in the mist around Iceland—local boys no longer have an excuse not to buy their girlfriends fresh flowers.

Geothermal power plants tap into the heat spilling out from deep in the earth. Across Iceland, you’ll see an infrastructure of pipes and power plants tapping into that natural source of energy. And ever since the advent of thermal-powered greenhouses—which you’ll see glowing in the mist around Iceland—local boys no longer have an excuse not to buy their girlfriends fresh flowers.

It seems nearly every visitor who can afford the steep entry fee decides to kick off or cap a visit to Iceland with a luxurious soak in the famous Blue Lagoon. This giant spa complex is just 15 minutes from the airport. With so much geothermal energy, Iceland is a culture of swimming pools and hot tubs. Locals say soaking in a warm and cozy tub loosens people up and gossip flows freely. Floating around, I eavesdropped on lots of conversations...but don’t understand a word of Icelandic.

It seems nearly every visitor who can afford the steep entry fee decides to kick off or cap a visit to Iceland with a luxurious soak in the famous Blue Lagoon. This giant spa complex is just 15 minutes from the airport. With so much geothermal energy, Iceland is a culture of swimming pools and hot tubs. Locals say soaking in a warm and cozy tub loosens people up and gossip flows freely. Floating around, I eavesdropped on lots of conversations…but don’t understand a word of Icelandic.

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