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SWIMMING POOLS IN REYKJAVÍK

SWIMMING POOLS IN REYKJAVÍK

Published August 8, 2003

Sundhöllin
The city’s oldest functioning swimming pool still has a bit of that charming depression era feel. Almost always guaranteed babe-free, as the clientele consists mostly of older men who spend their time debating politics in the hot tubs, and some of them may in fact have been there since it opened. It has some very ancient workout equipment so you can attempt to beef up before venturing out into more babe infested areas. It is the city’s only indoor swimming pool, but you can go naked up onto the balcony if you wish, in segregated men’s and women’s areas. Two moderately warm tubs, one with a permanent Jacuzzi, and a steam bath. Also the only pool to have jumping platforms.
Vesturbæjarlaugin
Its main advantage is that the shelves where you leave your towels are numbered corresponding to your locker numbers, hence ensuring that you most probably leave with the towel that you came with. Its main disadvantage is that it is colder than most other swimming pools, which is tolerable in the summer, less so in winter. Four hot tubs of different temperatures. One of them has a very powerful water massage machine. The results are somewhere between painful and pleasant, but definitely worth a try. The steam bath is very steamy, but the effects are not quite those of a proper sauna. The only swimming pool which has instructions in Finnish on washing, which may or may not say something about the Finnish clientele.
Neslaug
The bare necessities. 2 tubs and a pool, but the steam bath isn’t bad. The pool is divided up into a warm children’s section and a colder adult section. The greatest asset of the kid’s pool is that you can just tip your head on land and lie there floating. The entrance system is pretty straight forward, you give the man your money and enter, put your clothes in the locker and take out the key. For added excitement, you can even undress in a secluded area outside. The pool’s main novelty is that it’s the only pool not sterilised with chlorine, instead they use saltwater. In the basement, there is a broken tread machine and some weights. The pool is adequate, but in need of a facelift.
Laugardalslaugin
The biggest one, built in 1966, on a spot where people have bathed at least as far back as 1772, amongst eels both living and dead, and where some people got stuck in the mud and drowned or expired due to overheating. But Reykvikians remained undaunted and swimming has continued in this area. Today you will find a large pool a fine selection of tubs of various temperatures and a water slide. It has one major disadvantage in its locker system. You are issued a coin which you must put in the door of your locker. However, once undressed, it transpires more often than not that you’ve lost it. This issue is often hotly debated in the papers on slow news days, with quite a few people demanding that something be done.
Árbæjarlaugin
Babe hell, particularly on good weather days. Has many novel features, including the fact that you actually enter the pool before swimming outside, hence skipping those frantic mid-winter runs to get into the water before losing a limb to frostbite. The tubs are also within striking distance. For added amusement, water sprouts out of the bottom at irregular intervals, making sure you keep moving. Its best feature should be the lie down Jacuzzi, but for some reason you can never be sure whether you’re lying or sitting, so you never manage to get comfortable. The steam bath, however, is the closest you can get to a proper sauna in the pools. The garden also has some sculptures by Teddi (see p. 19). Probably the best and most varied pool.
Nauthólsvík
A pier for seaplanes during the war, and used for public bathing afterwards, until being closed due to pollution, but has recently reopened and is thoroughly cleaned up. Warm water from the tanks on top of Öskjuhlíð, having previously been used to warm up dwellings in Reykjavik, pours down into the sea, thus making a part of it fit for swimming. It tries its best to maintain a beach feel, and sometimes succeeds, although the sight of Icelanders playing volleyball and barbecuing in temperatures most people would consider unfit for going outdoors in can range from hilarious to tragic. Worth a visit for the novelty. It has swimming pool facilities and you must pay the standard fee in order to use the hot tubs.



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