Icelandic swimming pool regulations have more than once reached international headlines. From horror stories about the “shower police” telling you to get naked and wash your private parts to a ban on drying your testicles with the common hair dryer, going to a swimming pool in Iceland is a different experience.
This became painstakingly clear not so long ago when I was guiding a group of businessmen. Executives from two companies had come to Iceland to celebrate a successful new partnership. The first stop on their itinerary was a relaxing bath at Iceland’s most famous pool, the Blue Lagoon. On the way from the airport to the Blue Lagoon I told the group some interesting facts to get them into the mood. Did you know that the water of the Blue Lagoon makes your skin soft as a baby, but dries your hair out? And that you can get a complimentary conditioner in the showers to prevent this from happening? I also told them about the hygienic custom in Iceland to shower without a bathing suit before entering the pool.
Meanwhile, the group had finished drinking Iceland’s signature spirit, Brennivin (“burned wine”, a drink made from fermented potatoes also known as Black Death). When we reached the Blue Lagoon I confidently led them out of the bus, got them their entrance wristbands and seated myself in the spa’s luxurious Lava Restaurant. The restaurant has windows from floor to ceiling with a clear view over the pool. I ordered a cappuccino and made myself comfortable.
Just when my drink arrived I saw a group of excited men running out into the cold – completely naked! The bright color of their skin was even more noticeable against the milky-blue color of the water. It didn’t take me long to realize this was my group of businessmen. I sunk deeper in my chair, hiding behind the plant on the table. Through the leaves I could just see how people in the pool were laughing loudly and how the confusion of the men was growing. Not much later they were sent back inside like children to put on their bathing suits.
When they came back out again I got some angry looks in my direction. Luckily the relaxing water of the Blue Lagoon soothed everybody’s nerves and by the time we had to go to their hotel in Reykjavik everybody was in a good mood again. At least they’ve got a story to tell back home! And so do I …