September 7, 2017
The magic of the Icelandic landscape tells a fairytale in itself. A lone chapel with a turf roof stands before a hillside amidst a long grassy pasture. Teal water splashes against vertical columns of charcoal cliffs. We linger down a paved road that steers us into the pristine backdrop of the Tröllaskagi Peninsula. In passing a quaint seaside village, you can almost smell the sea salt in the air from just looking at the colorfully painted buildings ornamented with anchors and buoys. And in this Troll Peninsula, we find a museum with a dedicated space for the tallest Icelandic man towering 7’7” tall. But the most majestic part of our day was when we stumbled upon the beer spa.
Outside Dalvik, the Bjorbodin Beer Spa is where our regal dreams came true. The novelty (and the beer) drew us there so strongly you would have thought there was a magnetic field present. A real life spa that caters to the beer enthusiast! Kayla, Katie Green and I walk in not completely knowing what to expect. There’s a bar to our right and a tranquil looking setting behind the glass doors on our left. It immediately feels like the perfect yin and yang and I feel the intoxicating magnetic energy simultaneously luring us in both directions.
We calmly enter the spa and ask the receptionist with a thick accent for details over a claim we heard about bathing in a tub full of beer somewhere around here. The rumors are true. It’s a complete spa experience, but ours didn’t feel as relaxing after trying to suffocate our boisterous laughter for close to an hour. Our spa experience felt more like an ab workout with Jillian Michaels.
Since we hadn’t made a reservation and a man recently flaked on his beer bath, I’m sure the hesitant receptionist was happy we walked through her doors. She tells us the prices for a single and couples bath, but we were able to negotiate a special, unconventional rate for three. We follow her down the hall to the last private room on the right. There is a timber framed tub filled with a murky golden substance and an exclusive beer on tap within arm’s reach. We notice that there are only two glasses on the bath-side table, but sharing beer goblets would be the least strange part of our journey. “Here are robes for after you undress.” Her daily narrative quickly changes when she is reminded that three 29 year old American females are standing before her. “Or if you want to wear bathing suits, you can choose to do that too. It’s up to you.” “We’ll be leaving our bathing suits on” plays through all three of our minds telepathically.
We each peel off our robes and dip into the pool of beer. Amongst the slew of selfies, documenting videos and free flowing beer on tap, I pause for a minute. Yesterday we soaked in a cheese tub and today we’re bathing in a beer bath tub. “I feel so royal!” Aside from the sheer bizarreness of it all, the bath contents actually reap some health benefits for your hair and skin, especially if you suffer from conditions like eczema.
After 25 minutes pass, our Icelandic host knocks on our door to end our session. We try our best to compose ourselves after our self-induced paparazzi show while we pat dry to let our skin fully absorb the minerals. She then leads us upstairs (where our beers are not allowed) to a dark room full of empty hospital looking beds. Without any instruction, she indicates to our chosen tombs and proceeds to meticulously tuck us in, one at a time. If soaking in a bathtub full of beer (clothed) with my two besties wasn’t the weirdest part of my Thursday, this definitely was. Clearly neither of us are well versed in spa etiquette, but this was unexpected and unexplained.
What is happening? How long is she going to leave us up here? What’s the benefit of this? Is this suppose to be relaxing? Because it’s definitely not. Being bound like a mummy by a middle aged Icelandic woman is not my idea of a soothing time. Where did she go? Will she hear us if we laugh? Will it be rude if we laugh? Probably. Katie, please don’t laugh. The bathroom is too far away. And while you’re at it, self: don’t look at Kayla either. You’re armless body might very well be the feature of her daily Instagram story. Seriously. What is going on right now?
After what felt like a half an hour later, our little woman relieves us of our sterile situation. Downstairs, we embrace what’s left of our beers as she invites us to use the sauna. When our appointment fully expires, we retire to the establishment’s bar for a refill and soak the night away in the outdoor hot tub overlooking the fjord. For such a memorable snapshot of our friendship, we had never been so conscious of how we were “those people.” Maybe we should have done a bit more research on how this is a real spa and that introducing the word “beer” into its name doesn’t automatically turn the experience into a keg stand frat party. But going into the evening already knowing what to expect would have lost half of its fun.