Saturday, January 18: Reykjavik
So This is Iceland
It is now 7:30pm local time. We’ve had a busy and tiring day.
We left our house on Friday around 4:30 or so. We had a forgetful start. We locked up the house, and got in the car to leave. Suddenly, I remembered that I had forgotten to grab my jacket on the way out. So I had to run back and get it. I thought that it was a very good thing that I remembered it.
I got back in the car, and we started backing out. At that moment, we realized that Amy didn’t have her jacket either. So we pulled back in, I went back, and brought out her jacket.
We got as far as Route-9, when I suddenly thought to ask Michael if he brought his jacket. He hadn’t. So we had to turn around, drive back home, and I ran in and grabbed his jacket.
A pretty sad beginning, if you ask me…
We made reasonably good time until we got to Boston. There was a bit of a slowdown around the Alston-Brighton tolls, but then it eased a bit. Fortunately, we had left plenty of extra time, although not as much as we had planned, due to the jackets fiasco.
But when we got to the first of the tunnels to the airport, the traffic almost stopped! It was really bad. We watched the clock advance faster than we did. We got out of the first tunnel and started moving again just around 2 hours before our flight was set to leave.
Unfortunately, we were planning on staying in the economy lot, so we had to drive all the way over there, wait for that bus, and then wait for it to meander through all of the other terminals before we could get off at Terminal-E.
In the end, though, we had enough of time. We checked our bags, got through security, and then got to the gate more than a half hour before departure.
Unfortunately, just as I was about to board, I was pulled out of line, and they had me check my bag in a test fixture. It came really close to fitting, but it was extraordinarily tight, and they decided that it would not fit and that I had to check it at the gate. I was concerned about my netbook, cameras, etc. leaving my possession, but it turned out OK.
We had checked in on-line only around noon on Friday, and we had lost our three seats together. The best we could do was to put Mike in a window seat, me next to him, and Amy a few rows above on the aisle.
They handed us a small water bottle (with authentic water from Iceland!) as we entered the plane.
Shortly after take-off, when we had climbed to about 33,000 feet, I started trying to sleep. I was still awake when they brought around drinks, so I had a small ginger ale, and then tried to sleep.
Mike and I probably got around an hour or two of so-so sleep before they announced we were beginning our descent into Iceland.
By the time we got off the plane, hit the bathrooms, and got to baggage claim, our bags were already out. Michael was hungry, so we stopped by a coffee kiosk (sort of like their equivalent of Starbucks), where Mike got a breakfast sandwich.
Not surprisingly, we were all pretty tired. We got the car, and despite the fact that it was around 8:30 or so in the morning, it looked like the middle of the night (and felt like it as well, since back home it was about 3:30am).
Driving to the hotel was a bit of a challenge. It is always interesting to navigate when all of the words are a million letters long and totally unpronounceable. But we managed to get to the hotel with no major issues (fortunately, we had a GPS).
We checked with the hotel to see if we could get in to our room early, but our room was not ready yet. We were not due for the continental breakfast that day, but the clerk invited us to have some breakfast on the house anyways. Mike was more tired than hungry, but Amy and I had something to eat. Then we lounged in some chairs until our room was ready.
Apparently I fell asleep in the chair for about 20 minutes before Michael woke me and told me that the room was ready. We went up to the room, and promptly took some short naps.
In European tradition, the beds just had a comforter on them, no sheets. Despite my nap in the chair, I still fell asleep with little difficulty.
We got up around 11:30 or 12 and drove to a large cathedral in town. The high point of that visit was taking an elevator up to the top of the bell tower, where we got good views of the city. Then we went across the street to Loki’s cafe and got some authentic Icelandic food for lunch.
It wasn’t that much in quantity. For example, I had a bowl of soup that had a broth with lots of vegetables and a little meat for flavor, and then a piece of flat bread with some cheese and smoked lamb (looked like ham) on top, toasted. Mine came with coffee. Amy and Mike had more fishy stuff and some really good hot chocolate. That set us back about $60.
I found that I was rather thirsty most of the day. I drank whenever I got the chance. In fact, that was one reason why I ordered the soup--to get more liquid into me.
One nice thing is that apparently tipping in restaurants is not the norm here.
The sun came out a bit through the clouds. It was low on the horizon, and so compared to home it looked like it was almost sunset, but an hour later the sun wasn’t that much lower.
We found that after lunch we all felt a bit more refreshed and more awake. I don’t know if it was the food or being exposed to a modicum of sun.
After lunch, we drove to a place that in Icelandic is called “The Pearl”. It is a building with a large glass dome that looks over the city from a hill top. There is a pool in the bottom, with a fountain that erupts similar to a geyser every few minutes. At the top is a restaurant, viewing deck, and gift shop.
It was above freezing, but I was feeling a bit on the chilled side, despite my jacket.
We made a quick stop at the hotel (where I got a hat), then we drove to a pond where they pump in geothermally heated water, so one corner stays ice-free, and there are a billion birds. By the time we got there, found a place to park, and got to the pond, it was about 5pm and the sun had gone down. It was still sort of light, so we took a bunch of pictures before it really got too dark.
We drove back to a Subway for a “cheap” dinner, then came back to the hotel. I’ve been charging devices, uploading pix, and then typing this up. Now it is about time for bed.
The TV was really strange. They seemed to have a channel devoted to Chinese related news, being broadcast in English, in Iceland. Weird.