Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Icelandair and First Icelandic Impressions

We decided to take advantage of Icelandair's reasonable price and stopover deal on a recent trip to Copenhagen and Baltic countries. It was a good start I thought when Icelandair personnel handed us a bottle of water upon entering the plane. After all, it was thirty five degrees celsius in Toronto and most of us were dressed in spring/fall gear ready for our adventure. As hubby inserted our carry on luggage into the overhead bins, we heard an annoyed voice, "Hurry up and move out of the way," coming from one of the flight attendants. Disturbing.

Our seats were tiny and cramped, unlike any other airlines we've endured. The back of mine buckled like a piece of cardboard every time I moved and the arm rests were separating, threatening to pinch us if we dared relax and lean on them. It was an older plane. Nonetheless, we were impressed with the selection of inflight entertainment which included documentaries about Iceland. Very interesting. I investigated the seat pouch and discovered a "Loftslag" bag. Many airlines, have plain white ones. These were made from recycled paper, had illustrations and definitions along with weather and climatic conditions on the back. Nice. They also had written permission, in fact, it was suggested we take them with us.

Bus transfers were available for purchase inflight. Great idea. These transfers take you to the capital city of Reykjavik (pron. Rek-vik...the written letter "a" seems to suck up surrounding letters in Icelandic).

After landing at Keflavik International Airport (pron. Kev-lik), we were sent out into the rain and down a flight of metallic stairs, carry on bags in tow, onto the runway, where we were herded onto a bus that had no more than a dozen seats...standing room only. In the terminal, as is the case in many airports, there was a long trek to customs where people crowded in disorderly bunches until proceeding to an officer. (Our next flight several days later had lengthy delay, more bus discomfort, additional rudeness from personnel, but I won't dwell on that because this was a small part and did not ruin our adventures).
"How long will you be staying in Europe?" I was asked by the customs officer.

For once, I responded quickly, "Three weeks, Iceland until Wednesday."

I hate to admit this but I have never thought of Iceland as part of Europe. Of course it is. It belonged to Denmark until sometime in the 1940's and has been an independent country of 300,000 pop. ever since.

As we loaded our far too many bags onto a cart, we exited the terminal to a misty 12 degrees. NOTE - It seems it's possible to purchase duty free items when incoming and prior to leaving the airport. The returning Icelanders take advantage of this to stock up on the all too expensive liquor.

Upon describing the landscape, a comedian in the show "How to be Icelandic in 60 Minutes" (more on that later), said, "Tourists leave the airport and think they've landed on the moon."

It was truly barren.  Since I hadn't slept in 18 hours, I didn't care. All I wanted was find a bed, so I didn't even flinch as we passed the famous Blue Lagoon. Unfortunately, my stomach did. Good thing I had liberated the loftslag bag from the plane just in case. We arrived at our airbnb host's house, headed for our temporary home and immediately fell asleep.

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