Iceland & Scotland Day 1: Always a [Mis]adventure
Ordinarily, I would begin my blog post with “We’ve arrived in Iceland!” However, we only managed to stay in Iceland for 12 hours before departing for Edinburgh as our primary Icelandic stay will be at the end of the trip. Nonetheless, at the time of this posting, we will have arrived somewhere that is definitely not North Carolina.
My first solo international flight proved to be just the right amount of adventure (read: almost heart attack) as you’d expect as I made it to my third and last flight of the day (Minneapolis to Iceland) just as they were finishing boarding, having just run from my previous flight. While I can’t say I would be disappointed to be stuck an extra day in Scotland or Iceland, I was none too excited about the prospect of potentially hanging out in Minneapolis for the night, so was quite relieved to make it just in time. Of course, we sat on the runway for quite some time after boarding so I probably needn’t have run.
In a manner reminiscent of a rainy flight into Boston years ago, which seemingly skimmed the water as we sped towards the runway, landing in Reykjavik was almost a watery affair. Safely-landed and luckily with an international text plan to aid in finding my family in the strangely-organized airport, I headed to find my luggage, gliding through customs quickly and easily (has anyone actually ever said that?) I stood a full 15 minutes waiting for that suitcase, believing it jinxed, but it did finally emerge onto the conveyor belt and I quickly joined my cousins and aunt.
As we only had a short time in Reykjavik for the day, we decided to take a “Hop On, Hop Off” bus tour to at least soak up the “important” parts of the city. Since we say the sites predominantly through the bus window, some of my photos may appear a bit dingy. The first stop posited us at some sort of dome overlooking the city, near something that had to do with energy distribution. I had a map that detailed the stops; however it turned into a paper airplane during our 5 hour stay in the airport later that day so I really can't recall anything about the place.
What struck me most about this ride, and the bus ride from the airport to the city, was just how clean the area was; not a piece of trash in sight. Perhaps my optimistic imagination, perhaps reality, the air also seemed fresher, devoid of the pollution, humidity and city smells that even this Asheville transplant has gotten used to.
The funny thing about the terrain was just how desolate it looks, but in the best way possible. Truly, the landscape looks as though an enormous miles-wide volcano erupted a millennia ago leaving flat, rocky land in its wake which has only just begun to spring anew with a light dusting of stalwart moss. As it turns out, I later researched the volcanic history of Iceland and there are currently 30 active volcano systems, so I guess I wasn't far off.
The topography seems to allude to the country’s hardy and unpretentious Viking routes, not any less displayed in the food. When we finally got to eat lunch – perhaps breakfast to my body but I didn’t care, I was so hungry – I, of course, chose the restaurant's (and apparently the country’s) most popular dish – Icelandic Fish Stew. It was a no frills, filling fare of what seemed like fish flavored mashed potatoes and gravy with a side of delicious sweet rye bread.
What had dawned (or flown into) a beautiful, clear day turned cold and rainy after lunch so we opted to take the bus back to the station to return early to the airport rather than endure the rain.
After a long bus ride, we still had two more hours until we could check in our bags, which then turned into three hours because there just wasn't anyone manning the station. After that wait, we also had to wait go through passport control – turns out EasyJet maybe isn’t so easy. Fortunately, this gave us just enough time to have a rather random array of items for dinner, for me a tika masala pita, green juice drink (I was REALLY missing my daily amount of spinach!) and an Icelandic Pale Ale (which tasted like any other mid-grade pale ale, really.)
We are finally landing in Edinburgh soon, flying towards the night this time. As I don’t think I’ve slept more than two hours in the past 36, I’m quite ready for a good sleep before touring this next city.
The funny thing is, I wrote this post while on the plane to Edinburgh. As it turns out, my suitcase is, in fact jinxed, or perhaps I jinxed it. I'd taken 4 flights in the past day and a half but my luggage had only taken 3. We stood at the carousel until we were the last ones there, but with no results. My bag is still in Iceland with no direct flight to Edinburgh in the next couple days. I had a weird feeling the whole trip that this would happen, so this time (learning from last trip's mistake) I packaged anything that could be necessary plus a change of clothes into my carry-on backpack, leaving only some clothes in my suitcase. Perhaps next time I will just bring the backpack as I can obviously survive with solely its contents anyways.
Regardless, I'm excited to explore a new city, a new country tomorrow and maybe even be reunited with my favorite pair of running shoes soon.