The May 22 travel section of London’s Sunday Times openly mocked an Icelandic national treasure with a full-page photo and the tag line “This place stinks.” The body of the text was a good deal more cruel than the headline, pointing out that the dressings rooms “have all the charm of a municipal gym” that the floor of the lagoon feels like “uncooked liver” and that “young men acting Germanically” may be filling the lagoon with urine.
That this article caused a scandal in the local media, points to the double standard applied to much of Iceland. As it happens, few native Icelanders attend the Blue Lagoon. They claim it is disgusting and overly crowded—essentially the same argument Susan D’Arcy made for the Times. In fact, had Susan D’Arcy lasted in more than five minutes, (she points out that she didn’t), she could have heard the many nasty local rumours about deaths and filth in the Blue Lagoon.
Where the Sunday Times goes wrong is in its opening assumptions. Ms. D’Arcy attacks the Blue Lagoon for not being natural—“it isn’t even a natural volcanic spring”—and for having other guests—“The blonde [in the poster] might have been gloriously alone; I was not.”
This seems akin to complaining that at Disney World there really weren’t any flying fairies, as in the poster. Or, worse, that say in a trip to Rio de Janeiro, there’s this big city that you never see in the posters: “It’s not even 100 percent beach.”
While there is something lacking in D’Arcy’s argument, she has a bit of a point. The Blue Lagoon is extremely pleasant, and it is a perfect way to complete or begin a trip to Iceland—unless you’re a germophobe or Germaniphobe. But the Blue Lagoon is not the be all, end all of one of the most naturally beautiful countries in the world, just as Bobby Fischer is not the most important historical figure here. Some perspective on all sides would be nice.
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