Happy birthday to me,
Happy birthday to me,
Happy birthday dear Naomi (and Lauren-for-yesterday and Janet and Yael)
Happy birthday to me!
Sto lat, sto lat,
Niech żyje, żyje nam
Jeszcze raz, jeszcze raz,
niech żyje, żyje nam,
eh Naomi (and Lauren-for-yesterday and Janet and Yael)!
My day began at the stroke of midnight with skype calls from around the world and having one of my greatest joys in life indulged – being sung to (in no less than 3 languages). It was about 3am by the time I slept which meant a little sleep in in the morning and unfortunately missing saying goodbye to Halla and Berglind. They’d very sweetly left a card and gift for me (taking the language count to 4!). A few more skype calls and off and away for my birthday treat.
I just managed to catch the bus as it pulled out of the bus terminal and the headed towards one of my favourite points on the planet – the Blue Lagoon. For the uninitiated, the Blue Lagoon is a reservoir of geothermal water fed in from the nearby geothermal power plant. Thanks to the white clay and blue algae in the basin, the water is an opaque pale blue making it look and feel as though you’re stepping into a lagoon of warm, powder blue milk. It is surrounded on all sides by lava fields giving it an other worldly feel. It is without a doubt the countries biggest tourist draw card but I choose to believe that there’s something quite special about naturally occurring phenomenons like this that bring people from around the planet to one point to share in its wonder.
After a contemplative drive, I couldn’t help but smile as we pulled up in front of a now familiar sign only this time, instead of proceeding straight ahead to the actual lagoon, I turned left and followed a gravel path around and over milky blue riverlets to the Blue Lagoon Hotel, ok, technically ‘clinic hotel’.
I checked in and was ‘congratulated’ on my birthday (I may have mentioned it a few times when I made the reservation plus I believe they were given one other tip off) and shown around the hotel which disturbingly includes a psoriasis treatment clinic which is mercifully separate to the smaller guest-only lagoon. I was then shown to my room. I don’t mind telling you I paid a pretty penny to stay here, a rather extravagant gift to self, so I was a little disappointed to find the place a little more ‘clinic’ than ‘hotel’ – two single beds, no complimentary toiletries, no mini bar and worst of all… no wifi!!! What about the rest of my birthday messages? Who would sing to me now?
The saving grace was the view of absolutely nothing but mossy lave fields as far as the eye could see. I couldn’t see a soul and no one could see me, emphasising the solitude of the occasion. My beds were also laid with alfoss blankets which we loved so much on our last trip that we bought one back with us. I don’t know the fate of that particular blanket but these two will comfort me tonight.
I dumped my bag, put my cosies on and headed back across to the main lagoon which has been more developed each time I visit. This time is no exception with the addition of an in-water kiosk selling ice creams, drinks and DIY facial treatments.
Despite my love for this place, I have to admit, I wasn’t feeling the vibe – perhaps it was the warmer weather, the larger than usual crowds, the fact that I hadn’t been able to book a massage, the disappointment at the hotel, being disconnected or maybe that I’d built up this moment and had expected something magical to happen but it didn’t – it was just me alone in a crowd on my birthday. I wanted too badly for this moment to be something it just wasn’t.
I couldn’t spend the day like that – it was too pathetic, I had to start again, take a fresh approach and clear my mind of all that was weighing on it so I got out, fetched my notebook from my locker and just wrote and wrote and wrote out all that was hurting, disappointing and angering me until I could write no more. I put the notebook back and started again. To give this fresh start its best possible chance, I made a bee line for the kiosk and charged an almond magnum to be electronic bracelet and floated off singing happy birthday to myself (low enough so others wouldn’t hear). You know what, it worked!
I spend the next several hours floating around in a bubble of bliss occasionally stopping to smear myself with therapeutic white clay and in lieu of the massage I couldn’t have, I got a frozen ball of algae from the kiosk which I was assured would make me look younger if I melted it all over my face!
When I’d had my fill, I got out, smothered my hair with conditioner and headed back to my room to overdress for dinner. Without even having to pull the birthday card, I was given the best seat in the house right next to the lagoon. I ordered the vegetarian option which I paired with a half bottle of red and finished with a piece of cake – every birthday needs cake! When he came to clear my table, I couldn’t resist telling the waiter that it was my birthday which elicited the appropriate response. Although he didn’t sing, he did tell me that there was a viewing platform above the restaurant that I could go watch the sun’dip’ from. I went up and took in the view over the lagoon, now closed, silent and surreally beautiful. I was all alone but not lonely. It felt like a gift.
Content, I wandered the path back to the hotel where I encountered a man with a tripod taking far more impressive photos than those you see here. We introduced ourselves and watched the sky change colour as it approached midnight. Before the strike of 12, I quickly blurted out that it was my birthday to get one last well wish in for the year to come. Ben and I strolled back, swapping travel stories and mutual relief at not being the only one a little disturbed about paying a premium to sleep in a psoriasis clinic!
We parted ways and I retired to my room, pushed back the curtains, opened the doors and sat a while on my little balcony wrapped in my alfoss blanket contemplating the year gone by and the one that lays ahead. I came back in but left the curtains open, happy to sleep in the light of a new day, a new year and new start.