Monday, November 11
After staying up quite late packing and getting ready to set out for the land of Ice, we woke up pretty groggy and not looking forward to dealing with the airport and its many hassles. We weighed our suitcases (each of us with 2, a carryon backpack, and a carryon personal item -- maximum allowance of STUFF), and my large one was 0.5 lb overweight, the other was under; Romeo’s were both around 0.8 to 1.0 lb overweight. We went back and forth deciding if it was worth a risk.
We eventually just decided to plead with the agent if there was any issues. We packed our stuff into Erin’s little Hyundai Elantra and with the three of us in the car, we barely all fit. Erin drove us to the airport so we wouldn’t have to deal with the train while lugging our stuff. On the way, we stopped for me to get one more brötchen (bread roll).
We got to the airport and hauled out all our stuff. I said goodbye to Erin (cry!) and we headed inside. The ticketing agent for Iceland Air was really nice. While scanning our passports, he asked how long we would stay in Reykjavik. I replied, “Five days” (wondering couldn’t he see our tickets on his screen?), and he smiled and nodded, saying, “Oh, verrrry good!” This response made me wonder if he was Icelandic, with such enthusiasm about our trip. When I asked, he replied “Oh, no, I’m part Italian, part Spanish.” Errr... Okay.
We loaded our luggage up on the scale and he said nothing about the weight. In fact, it didn’t even seem like he checked our stuff, since he had us put everything up at once rather than one at a time. Whew!! The only other issue we were worried about was Romeo’s carryon, which was a large backpack (the backpacking kind...). We thanked the ticket agent and headed to grab a bite to eat. Our brötchen was pretty dry and not too great, so we were still hungry.
I’m sad to say, we ate at McDonalds in the airport. I’m even sadder to say that it was pretty darn good. But actually, that was just about our only option, so maybe that excuses us? Anyway, after eating we headed to security.
I’m not sure if it was the time of day, day of the week, the terminal, or WHAT, but I have NEVER in my entire LIFE seen a security line so SHORT! I literally walked up, was greeted by a cheerful man who checked my boarding pass, was directed IMMEDIATELY to a security line. Had exactly ZERO wait, put my stuff in a box and walked through the metal detector.
I always seem to set those things off, so I got the pat down. For some reason, the little wand kept ringing around my crotch, so I got a VERY thorough pat down. (No, nothing crazy inappropriate like a strip search, but she had to feel my pockets and the surrounding area!) When she had me turn around to check my back, I saw Romeo was receiving the same treatment. We laughed seeing each other getting searched. Finally they let me collect my things and I saw my backpack and been kept behind the conveyor belt. They wanted to check inside and I guess my metal padlock (used primarily for locking my stuff up in hostels) had concerned them on the screen. They briefly checked it out, determined it wasn’t a threat, and let me go.
I took about 5 minutes putting my carryon back together, as my computer and iPad had been inside and now required repacking. Romeo got questioned about some of his prescription medicine (it has icepacks to keep it cold, so they always freak out about that), but we made it through fine. I think the entire time I was being searched and questioned about my very dangerous lock, NO ONE came through the security line behind me. Like I said, I’ve never seen it so empty. It was AWESOME.
After all that, we headed to our gate. It was about an hour before boarding time, and there were about 5 other people in the waiting area. We killed time watching clips online and surfing facebook, and around 12:50, they opened the desk. A few people got their tickets checked and went through, but there was no mad rush to the desk or huge line. Romeo and I walked up and after greeting our Italian/Spanish friend again (who was checking tickets), we went through a doorway into another waiting area. We sat down by another door that looked like it led to an airplane.
Finally everyone was in this other room and then they repeated the process, only this time, rows were called by number. Once again, no mad rush to the desk when rows were called. Everyone queued peaceful and nicely. We boarded near the end, as I had requested seats near to the front. We got on and got seated. The guy seated next to me ended up being able to move to an empty row, so we had some extra room in our row.
I kind of expected Iceland Air to be low budget and maybe a little crappy because the flights were quite cheap. But, I was pleasantly surprised by the seats as well as the TV monitors. They looked new and they were touchscreen (none of those gross and annoying remotes in the armrests). We had a huge selection of movies, TV shows, documentaries about Iceland, informative short films, and music.
I was feeling a bit sick as the plane took off. I put on an episode of Family Guy and tried not to think about it. They came around for drinks (free) or snacks/meals (paid). We both got water and I chugged mine and took some medicine. Then I watched the movie Fantastic Mr. Fox. It was good but a little weird. I was especially intrigued by the way the movie used the word “cuss” instead of any actual cuss word. Here are some gems: “Badger: If you're gonna cuss with somebody, you're not gonna cuss with me, you little cuss!” and Mr. Fox: The cuss am I? Are you cussing with me?" and Mr. Fox: “This is going to be a total clustercuss for everybody" -- Yeah, it’s kind of obvious what they meant, but I thought it was an interesting change and glad they left out any actual obscenities since it was an animated movie.
Anyway, after this I blogged your previous two entries, and by then, we were about to land in Iceland! The weather was pretty grey and ugly when we cleared the clouds. It was also very windy and the plane was quite shaky. I got very nervous right before we landed and couldn’t help imagining us getting blown into an accident of some kind. But, thankfully, we were fine.
We got off the plane, headed to get our baggage (using the free baggage trolleys!), and I am so sad to say there was NO IMMIGRATION checkpoint to get a stamp in my passport. I wanted one so bad!!! Dangit.
When we got past that point, we headed to get some Islandic Kroner (money) and then picked up our rental car. We had a Hyundai i30 automatic transmission. We signed everything necessary, then headed out into the elements to get our car. It was extremely windy and blustery, and starting to sprinkle. We found the car and packed up all our stuff. We noticed immediately that the fuel tank was not on full, as we had been told it would be. It was about 3/4 full. Romeo drove me back around to the rental car desk, and I showed them a photo of the tank and the guy wrote on our contract that it we only had to bring it back at that level.
Satisfied, we finally set our GPS for Reykjavik and headed out. The international airport is actually a little far from the city, so it took us a little bit to drive in. Romeo drove and got accustomed to the roundabouts, and we found our place with only one wrong turn.
We were a little confused about where we were staying. The GPS took us to an area that looked to be businesses, but I found the correct street and house number. It was just a door with no sign. I got out and saw a small paper in the window saying the name of the guesthouse. It also said in order to check-in, we had to call Sam at some phone number. Very frustrated, I went back to the car to tell Romeo and complain that, if someone is in need of a guesthouse, chances are they are tourists and DON’T HAVE A CELL PHONE!
After a deep breath, I decided to go back and knock on the window. I did so, and rang a doorbell. Finally a girl who looked about 18 came to the door and opened it. I said I needed to check in, and she started to say something about needing to call, but then she saw something over my shoulder and I turned around to see a man coming out of the building behind me. He looked at us and waved. The girl told me that was the owner, so thankfully I avoided a potentially hairy ordeal with not having a phone!
It was pretty casual, with no paperwork or even ID check. He led me upstairs and actually let me choose which room I wanted between two. Romeo hauled our suitcases inside, and we got settled. The owner, Sam, pointed out the different things in the surrounding areas such as a supermarket and pizza joint. After searching online and seeing how expensive most meals are in Iceland, we decided to go to the supermarket and get something to cook in the guest kitchen provided.
We headed back out (thankfully no rain this time), and over to the 24hour supermarket. I had a ball finding American brand products and my self control got some exercise trying to restrain myself from buying everything. We settled on getting some frozen pizzas and snacks for the next few days. We also got Romeo a hat since his jacket doesn’t have a hood, and some wool socks since his thin cotton ones also have holes in them.
Finally we headed back and cooked our pizzas and enjoyed relaxing in our sparsely decorated, yet clean and comfortable room. I was also pleased to discover the heating was through the floors, like in Korea! We went to bed somewhat early, after deciding to do as much sightseeing as possible the following day since it would be the only clear day in our itinerary.