Sundlaug Akureyri is the swimming pool in Akureyri, Iceland’s second city. Jack and Eddie, 3 and 2, loved every inch of Iceland but called on to talk about it, more than the tractors, the snowploughs, the volcanoes, the friendly artic fox cub, the humpback whale tales, the trolls or the hot rivers, it was the waterslides at Akureyri that really blew their minds. Anyone who asks how Iceland was gets the same reply: 'there were waterslides!'.
The complex has a large range of pools and bathers can get in the water inside, and swim out through plastic flaps to the outdoors… where there are two water slides, splash-pool, four hot-tubs, steam, sauna and a family park with a popular playground. Basically, boy heaven.
After the perhaps too-fast-for-a-two-year-old-slides at Borganes I prefaced our arrival by telling Eddie that mummy didn’t like the big slides, why didn’t we go on to the yellow one, in order to give him an elegant way out of doing something far too big and terrifying for his age. ‘I try it just one time,’ he told me, and arrived back in the pool via slide with a force sufficient to hold him underwater for a few seconds and popped back up with a look that was ecstatic. (The boys wore float vests in the pools and we always had someone at the bottom of the slides to catch them as well as at the top.)
He proceeded to take me by the finger again and again – to give me confidence no doubt – with the words ‘want mummy do it with me’ so that I too could ‘enjoy’ a slide that I did, it transpiredt, find quite terrifying. Long and enclosed, the shoot starts off steamy and then goes black. Very black, before it turns into the blackest hell you’ve ever been. At this point you can't see anything but can hear the distant shouts of children echoing up and down the tunnel, making me convinced I was about to collide and maim some child stuck in the darkness in front of me, and then, a few dread heartbeats later, the darkness becomes less intense and then you’re back into the light then whoosh… into the pool.
Is it a surprise that in Icelandic pools, I got the impression that the whole town visits, all the time – but I never really saw anyone put on a pair of goggles and swim.