Guðrúnarlaug Hot-tub - the Saga Hot-tub in Sælingsdalur Valley in West-Iceland
Seeing that Iceland is a volcanic island then you will find several hot pools in Iceland with natural geothermal water. There is one in particular that I like, called Guðrúnarlaug hot tub. It is in an area of West-Iceland which is a pure Viking area.
Top photo: Guðrúnarlaug and the changing room
Visiting Guðrúnarlaug in 2010
A landslide fell on the original hot-tub so the original "laug" hot pool of Guðrún had been closed for 140 years, as it were. A replica of the original hot pool was made close to where the other pool was and built in the liking of what we believe that the hot pools of the Vikings looked like. It was taken in use in October 2009, and I first visited Guðrúnarlaug in August 2010.
The Vikings from one of our old Icelandic Sagas, Laxdæla Saga, lived here more than a thousand years ago. I read Laxdæla Saga in college and fell in love with the colourful characters.
The changing room
Visiting this area makes me feel like stepping back in time. Here lived Guðrún Ósvífursdóttir, the most noteworthy female character in Laxdæla Saga. Guðrún Ósvífursdóttir, Bolli Þorleiksson, and Kjartan Ólafsson made up the best-known love-triangle in the Icelandic Sagas.
Kjartan and Bolli were first cousins, but Kjartan's father, Ólafur pá, had offered to his half-brother, Þorleikur, to be Bolli's foster father. Kjartan and Bolli were thus raised up together at Hjarðarholt in Laxárdalur and loved each other very much and were always together.
Visiting Guðrúnarlaug hot tub in 2015
It is written in Laxdæla Saga that Guðrún spent a lot of time in or by the hot-tub by her home Laugar. And Bolli and Kjartan visited her on several occasions and both of them fell for her. And Guðrún fell for Kjartan. But when Kjartan was abroad Bolli asked Guðrún to marry him.
When Kjartan returned to Iceland he was very hurt as he loved Guðrún and had meant to marry her. He had asked her to wait for him for 3 years.
This led to a chain of events where Bolli ended up killing Kjartan and the 49th chapter in Laxdæla brings tears to my eyes, as Kjartan didn't defend himself telling Bolli that he was doing an evil deed, but that he would rather die by the hand of Bolli than kill Bolli himself.
Written in Laxdæla is: "Bolli gave no answer to Kjartan's words, but all the same he dealt him his death-wound. And straightway Bolli sat down under the shoulders of him, and Kjartan breathed his last in the lap of Bolli." :(
The historical Helgafell on the Snæfellsnes peninsula
Of course, this was revenged as was the tradition back then and Bolli was killed. Guðrún was pregnant with Bolli Bollason at the time and lived at Tunga in Sælingsdalur, where she had moved with Bolli after he killed Kjartan back in 1003. Bolli and Guðrún are my ancestors 28 generations back through Bolli Bollason.
Guðrún asked her good friend Snorri goði at Helgafell if he wanted to switch homes with her as she didn't feel at ease living in this area anymore after all these killings. She being pregnant with small children on her own. In Íslendingabók - the Icelandic database for the genealogy of Icelanders I see that Bolli and Guðrún had 5 children.
The information sign by Guðrúnarlaug - Gestur and Guðrún.
Snorri was having some problems himself at Helgafell, so he agreed and moved to Tunga and Guðrún moved to Helgafell on the Snæfellsnes peninsula. And later on, when her son Bolli was 12 years old he helped in revenging Bolli his father.
You will find an information sign by the hot tub about 4 of Guðrún's dreams, which Gestur Oddleifsson from Hagi on Barðaströnd deciphered. Gestur told Guðrún that she would be married 4 times - which came true.
The information sign by Guðrúnarlaug tells us about the 4 dreams of Guðrún
She first married Þorvaldur Halldórsson. Her second husband was Þórður Ingunnarson and they had 2 children according to Íslendingabók. Her 3rd husband was Bolli Þorleiksson, and her last husband was Þorkell Eyjólfsson who lived with Guðrún at Helgafell. They had 2 children.
Þorkell and Guðrún are my ancestors 27 generations back.
At Helgafell you can visit what we think might be Guðrún's grave north of the church. The grave turns towards the church according to Irish tradition.
The memorial stone for Guðrún Ósvífursdóttir at Helgafell in Snæfellsnes
It is amazing seeing 1008 written on the memorial stone, which is the date when Guðrún moved to Helgafell, but the memorial stone was put up in 1979 and is made out of rock from Mt. Helgafell.
I love visiting Guðrún's grave, sitting by it pondering on the lives of the Vikings in the Sagas. I feel so close to the past on this spot.
Kjartan Ólafsson is buried in the graveyard at Borg at Mýrar, but he was the grandson of Egill Skallagrímsson at Borg, whose story is written in Egilssaga - the Saga of Egill.
The memorial stone for Guðrún at Helgafell
There is a hotel almost next to the hot-tub and camping ground. I have stayed at the hotel and visited the hot-tub late at night and early in the morning when nobody was around and I was there all by myself.
Just turn away from the hotel and sit in the hot-tub looking in the direction of the replica of the old Viking hut and you will feel like you have stepped back in time :)
Guðrúnarlaug is open to the public and there is no entrance fee. You take off your clothes in a small changing room above the hot-tub and get into the tub. It is warm and lovely.
Guðrúnarlaug hot tub and the hotel
On another occasion, I was here alone with my husband in a drizzle and very calm weather. It was just like out of this world, bathing outside in nature in a replica of the hot-tub of Guðrún Ósvífursdóttir. Pure heaven and very romantic :)
I hope Guðrúnarlaug isn't overly crowded now. The thing with the natural hot pools in Iceland is that so many visitors want to take a dip in them nowadays (which I fully understand) that they cannot self-clean anymore and there might be some bacteria in them now :(
With my husband at Laugar in Sælingsdalur valley
Sælingsdalur is located in West-Iceland, some 167 km north of Reykjavík, which is around 2.5 hours of driving. To reach Sælingsdalur turn from ring-road 1 turn onto road 60 for Búðardalur village. Drive for 16 km as if you were going to Hólmavík and turn left on side-road 589.
Drive for 3 km on a paved road to Hotel Edda (which I think has switched owners now). Up in a hill immediately above the hotel, you will find Guðrúnarlaug hot-tub.
Here you can see the location of Guðrúnarlaug on the map. GPS: 65°14'42.5"N 21°48'09.8"W
I love visiting this area. And there is an elf-church in the valley as well Tungustapi in Sælingsdalur - the Church of the Elves in West-Iceland - Icelandic Folklore.
In the vicinity is Eiríksstaðir Viking longhouse, which is another Viking valley depicted in Grænlendinga Saga and Eiríkssaga, which I also recommend visiting.
This is the first travel-blog I wrote on Guide to Iceland back in 2013 and since then I have written some 270 travel-blogs on my travels in my country. I hope you enjoy them.
Have a lovely time in Iceland :)
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