We were using a very "local" rental car company who first wasn't present at the airport, and who finally gave us a scratched-up car with a heavily-deflated tire and a quarter tank of gas ("just bring it back with a quarter tank, and you're all set!") Oh, and the car-return procedure was "Leave it parked in short-term airport parking, with the parking ticket and the keys in the glove compartment, and the doors unlocked. Don't worry; we'll find the car." So a little excitement there, but [spoiler alert!] the car didn't fail us during our trip, and our savings basically covered our Blue Lagoon visit (see below), and so now we definitely feel like thrifty geniuses. :)
Our first impression of Iceland was a somewhat bleak but oddly familiar landscape...
Lauren quickly realized that it was very reminiscent of Hawaii, which makes sense as both places are volcanic islands in the middle of an ocean. The flora and temperature are certainly different, but we took a few pictures during our stay that could just as easily be Haleakala.
Our first stop in Iceland, and I believe the first and highest-priority bit of planning Lauren did for the entire trip, was at the Blue Lagoon, which is a geothermal spa near the airport. The weather was 55 degrees and drizzly, but the mineral-heavy water was like a natural hot tub, with plenty of silicate mud lying around for you to rub on your face and skin. Lauren got us the works here: a private changing room and lounge, dinner at the fancy LAVA restaurant by the pools... Oh, and an in-water massage, in my case delivered by the friendliest, burliest, and most attractive dude I've ever met, Joi (erm, thanks again, hon?).
At the Blue Lagoon, we also had the luck to run into some of Lauren's classmates from Kellogg, who were leading a KWEST trip to Iceland (similar to the Baltics trip that Lauren and I joined a year ago). Small world!
Overall, the Blue Lagoon was a great spot to relax and unwind after lots of aggressive sightseeing in Ireland and a flight that day. As we headed in to Reykjavik and checked in to our hotel, we were well-rested and ready to explore a new country.