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Iceland’s Blue Lagoon: Gothic swimwear & metallic tattoos! Reykjavik hip restaurants, RuPaul Battle of the Seasons.

Iceland’s peculiar culture and apocalyptic landscapes have always stirred my imagination. I was curious to know — what is the island of Bjork really like?

Last month, I spent a few days in Reykjavik and found out for myself. Let’s start by dipping into the Blue Lagoon, eating Icelandic cuisine

… and mingling with RuPaul’s Drag Race queens? That’s right — I saw Pandora Boxx, Alaska 5000, Sharon Needles and others perform in this most unexpected of places.

We’ll open with a few words from photographer Joey Wong, who went on this adventure with me.

“Iceland always felt like a far-flung destination … it’s a place that everyone has heard about but very few people have been. However, now is the time to go because it’s actually not that far, expensive or inconvenient (less than 6 hours from NYC, and 7 hours from Seattle).”

We traveled on Iceland Air, which offers a free stopover (in Reykjavik, before continuing on to Europe) for up to seven days. The airline will soon offer more direct flights from US cities, including Vancouver and Portland, making this a great deal.

We were hosted by the CenterHotel Thingholt or “Þingholt,” a stylish boutique hotel with decor inspired by the surrounding nature. Loved the contemporary lobby — I’m standing in front of a stone wall with water flowing down, reminiscent of Iceland’s many waterfalls.

Pretty Attitude sent me this fabulous astrology tank top, and Goth swimsuit with pentagram-like straps! They have an enticing selection of edgy, romantic fashion in both black and white — including cut-out bikinis, fringe jackets, and doll dresses. Check it out on the Pretty Attitude online shop.

I glammed up my look with silver and gold metallic butterflies, from Tattoo You. This indie company carries designer temporary tattoos by famous artists like Dan Smith, BJ Betts, and Myra Oh. All the designs are of the highest quality — they stay on for a week, even if you go into the Blue Lagoon! — and the “ink” ones look 100% real. I had a hard time choosing from the many designs on the Tattoo You site.

Now that my outfit is ready, it’s spa time! How to get to the Blue Lagoon?

Visit Reykjavik arranged for a FlyBus to pick us up from our hotel, and take us to the Lagoon. It’s located in Grindavík (near Keflavik airport), just under a hour from the capital city, so this is most cost-effective option unless you have a rental car. (More info about how to get here is on their site).

The Blue Lagoon has different types of passes, ranging from standard to luxury. They recommend booking in advance through their site, since during busy times, only a limited number of visitors are allowed in. The Blue Lagoon provided us with a towel, bathrobe, locker access (with a wristband to secure your goods), and free drink. If you get the most basic option, be sure to bring your own towel and robe, or you’ll turn into a Popsicle after coming out of the water!

When I stepped outside, the windchill hit me — but as soon I got into the steaming pastel blue bath, the feeling was heavenly. The lagoon is man-made, and the warm water comes from a nearby geothermal power plant. Underground layers make the Blue Lagoon rich in sulfur and silica, minerals known to soothe the skin.

(Shop for Gothic / Alternative one-piece swimsuits and bikinis below!)

Unlike hot tubs (which I despise), the waist-deep water feels soft and natural. The temperature is not so hot that you’ll feel lightheaded or overwhelmed; my friends and I waded around for 1-2 hours before taking a break.

I gave my Tattoo You temporary tats the ultimate soak-test… and they stayed on perfectly, the whole day! The golden rose is from the Myra Oh metallic pack, available here.

How do you like my Gothic swimsuit from Pretty Attitude? My dark purple lip gloss is from Anastasia Beverly Hills.

A lot of locals come to the Blue Lagoon with yearly passes, so this isn’t only a a tourist destination. The venue does a great job at keeping everything hygienic and not over-crowded.

An important note about hair! I read that the Blue Lagoon’s sulfuric waters will mess with hair color and texture. So as soon as we finished taking these photos, I tied back my hair and put it in a shower cap. It was worth covering up my hair, since the steam will seep in even if you tie it up. If you have brightly colored hairstyles like us, we recommend bringing a sturdy plastic shower cap, even if you end up looking a bit goofy!

The Blue Lagoon also provided us with in-water massages. My friends were bundled up onto floating boards and rocked back and forth, like alien babies in a womb… It’s not for everyone, but apparently quite the experience! As for me, I didn’t want to put my head in the water, so I opted for a seated massage in the corner of the pool.

After several hours in the restorativewaters, we were ready to eat. The Blue Lagoon is home to LAVA Restaurant, run by a top Nordic chef. The second floor has a viewing area of the Lagoon.

LAVA is known for its contemporary dishes, made from local Icelandic ingredients. The restaurant served us a four-course tasting menu that began with arctic char.

I’ll let the photo speak for itself: cod and roasted langoustines, with fennel, pear, and dill. I’ll show you more of Iceland’s tasty food later in this post, but first…

… let’s dive into the fabulous side of the city! I’m posing at the rainbow entrance of Kiki’s Queer Bar. 

Joey writes, “There really is no LGBT ‘scene’ or gay bar hopping in Reykjavik, but the approach that I’d use is that it’s because gays are widely accepted in Iceland so there is no need.”

“But there still are alternative events that will surprise and excite people: like RuPaul’s Battle of the Seasons.” Our favorite drag queens from the TV show were on a world tour — and had a show in Reykjavik while we were there.

Above — I’m chatting with the drag queen of Halloween, Sharon Needles! I met her and other fan-favorites during the VIP meet and greet before the performance.

Pandora Boxx wore the most beautiful, customized skull and roses corset. She has such a sweet and gentle energy, which comes across both in person and on the LOGO TV show.

Jinkz Monsoon gives her best snarl. She’s dressed as Debbie Jellinsky, the evil wife from the Addams Family.

I’ve seen a lot of drag shows around the world, and  the Battle of the Seasons takes the cake, in terms of pure “extravaganza.” Competitors from various seasons of the reality show took the stage, one after the other, and lip-synched for their lives. Judge Michelle Visage introduced the acts and took part in them too.

Some sang their own songs, like the sassy Alaska 5000 who brought the house down with her hit, Your Makeup is Terrible.” Nobody can strut and give attitude like her!

My Goth friends and I cheered on Sharon Needles during her RuPaul’s Drag Race season, and were overjoyed when she won. She didn’t disappoint with her first act, where she popped out of a vampire coffin. (Watch this in my video compilation of the show.)

Her dark, surprising acts are a welcome departure from typical drag artists. Sharon Needles did a moving rendition of “Everyday is Halloween (a Ministry cover from her PG-13 album), while wearing a mask that transformed her into an old hag. For anyone who grew up relating to the spooky side of life, this was a performance that gave goosebumps.

I was in awe at the talent of all the queens. Ivy Winters did a quick-change act, and flew above the crowd as a butterfly on stilts. Pandora Boxx made us laugh with her frenetic ditz-girl comedy, and everyone cheered when she burst into Iceland native Bjork’s “It’s Oh So Quiet“.

The drag queens also performed numbers together, and did a “Snatch Game” while impersonating celebrities like Anna Nicole Smith and Liza Minelli. The costumes were out of this world, like this tutu that lights up when you press on the “buttons.”

For footage from the Reykjavik battle of the seasons, check out my video compilation above and here.

I can’t wait for the next “condragulations” tour! The Ru Paul BOTS site has info about tickets and upcoming tour stops.

And now, as promised, a food tour of the best restaurants in Iceland. One of the benefits of being an isolated, northern country is that you have the freshest air and waters, and hands-on farming where animals are raised ethically. All this makes a difference in the quality of the food.

We can’t stop raving about dinner at Apotek, where the cuisine is influenced both by Icelandic ingredients and Argentinian preparations. The phenomenal cocktails pay tribute to the building’s former incarnation – a 19th century pharmacy – with categories like  painkillers, stimulants and even placebos.

I couldn’t believe the fresh, crisp flavors of this Arctic char on a pink Himalayan salt block, sprinkled with poppy seeds.

Beautiful presentation and creative ingredients, without fuss — I can vouch that Apotek is one of the best restaurants in Reykjavik.

For a more casual but equally delicious experience, we are huge fans of Icelandic Fish and Chips. We were treated to this Viking-worthy array of salads, three kinds of battered fish, cauliflower and broccoli “tempura,” and nine dips including tahini and avocado flavors.

Joey says, “The light batter and the variety of dips are what set it apart, showing that Iceland can succeed by elevating “normal” foods with their own Icelandic twist.”

The bistro put its heart into preparing organic, healthy, fresh fare. These desserts are handmade with ingredients like coconut shavings and nuts. (On a side note, I’m obsessed with Skyr, the high-protein thick yogurt that is an Icelandic specialty.)

Matur og Drykkur is a new restaurant is led by a young chef, who wants to preserve the cuisine of the past while making it accessible to today’s diners.

The ever-changing seasonal menu and small plates are ideal for sharing with a group of friends. We tasted homey lobster soup, and tried unusual fare like goose hearts and cod chips with butter (above).

Joey writes, “Despite the increased popularity of fusion in many world cities, you can still enjoy unique and traditional Icelandic food at Matur og Drykkur – such as horse, which was amazing.” We encourage you to come with an open mind, and experience food and drink that you won’t find anywhere else in the world.

There’s still a lot more to share from my Iceland journey. I hope this post gives you a glimpse of the colorful, fascinating, unexpected culture — and encourages you to visit!

Are you surprised by Reykjavik’s food and gay scene? Would you visit the Blue Lagoon?

(Below – here’s where you can find a Goth swimsuit like mine.)

SHARE & COMMENT

44 Comments

  1. Posted May 15, 2015 at 8:27 pm | Permalink

    Omg everything looks so awesome!!! The food, the show and loving your new swimsuit!!!!

    • Posted May 16, 2015 at 1:34 am | Permalink

      Can’t wait for our next travel adventure!

  2. Posted May 15, 2015 at 9:07 pm | Permalink

    Oh I must go!

  3. Posted May 15, 2015 at 9:08 pm | Permalink

    yepp, it does look my ladies had fun in iceland! the food looks delicious (the non meat one)

    And the people you met..great indeed <3

    • Posted May 16, 2015 at 1:34 am | Permalink

      So many great people here :)

  4. Posted May 15, 2015 at 9:33 pm | Permalink

    Stylish outfit

  5. Posted May 15, 2015 at 9:33 pm | Permalink

    I seriously need that swimsuit. I am a big fan

    • Posted May 16, 2015 at 1:34 am | Permalink

      It’s my new favorite!

  6. Posted May 15, 2015 at 9:33 pm | Permalink

    cool look

  7. Posted May 15, 2015 at 9:35 pm | Permalink

    Great

  8. Posted May 15, 2015 at 10:51 pm | Permalink

    Must get that suit

  9. Posted May 16, 2015 at 12:41 am | Permalink

    have to go back!

  10. Posted May 16, 2015 at 12:53 am | Permalink

    考えすぎたってイイコトないし、気楽に一杯♪

  11. Posted May 16, 2015 at 1:32 am | Permalink

    That’s badass – I’m going to Iceland in August!

    • Posted May 16, 2015 at 1:35 am | Permalink

      So exciting! I’d go back any time

  12. Posted May 16, 2015 at 2:01 am | Permalink

    nice!

  13. Posted May 16, 2015 at 4:09 am | Permalink

    This was so informative! Iceland (mostly the Blue Lagoon) has been on my travel list for so long, but I’m so excited to explore these other places your recommended whenever I get over there.

    • Posted May 20, 2015 at 4:13 am | Permalink

      I am glad!! i hope you can visit.

  14. Posted May 16, 2015 at 10:13 pm | Permalink

    It was great seeing you, La Carmina, you and your photographer were so nice! If you ever come back to Iceland I’d love to have you over to our place for coffee.

    • Posted May 20, 2015 at 4:14 am | Permalink

      Thank you, I’d love that!

  15. Posted May 16, 2015 at 10:41 pm | Permalink

    good to know you : )

  16. Posted May 16, 2015 at 10:42 pm | Permalink

    Love that Goth swimsuit

  17. Posted May 17, 2015 at 11:36 pm | Permalink

    It’s not just the place, it’s the people. :):)

  18. Posted May 17, 2015 at 11:36 pm | Permalink

    YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSS

  19. Posted May 17, 2015 at 11:37 pm | Permalink

    good to know you : )

  20. Posted May 18, 2015 at 9:05 pm | Permalink

    thank you for this.

  21. Posted May 18, 2015 at 9:06 pm | Permalink

    That blue lagoon looks amazing. I want to go to there.

  22. Posted May 18, 2015 at 9:06 pm | Permalink

    so… cute! can’t… breathe.

  23. Posted May 18, 2015 at 9:06 pm | Permalink

    Wow… Yummy.

  24. Posted May 18, 2015 at 9:06 pm | Permalink

    so gorgeous!

  25. Posted May 20, 2015 at 4:33 am | Permalink

    lol this fits in with my current timeline as dragcon was in LA last weekend

    • Posted May 21, 2015 at 8:43 pm | Permalink

      I wanted to go so bad!

  26. Posted May 20, 2015 at 4:33 am | Permalink

    is exquisite

  27. Posted May 20, 2015 at 4:33 am | Permalink

    ^.^

  28. Posted May 20, 2015 at 5:23 am | Permalink

    very nice pics. greetz from germany…

  29. Posted June 15, 2015 at 6:14 am | Permalink

    Lovin’ your Gothic swimwear <3 It really matched with your metallic tattoos!

    Swimsuits Direct

  30. Posted July 5, 2015 at 12:29 am | Permalink

    What an incredible place.So jealous.I am loving your styles…Now check mine

    :)

    https://www.etsy.com/shop/GoddessGoldTattoo

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