one part travel, one part home, one part DIY, one place to create

Posts tagged “iceland

Day 11 – Tuesday, March 1st, 2011 – BLUE LAGOON

Our last day in Iceland started with more rain and snow. Oh, and coughing and nose-blowing and fever. Thankfully I was already improving but unfortunately for Nia she was worsening. I guess I should be thankful for the good immune system I have because I wasn’t near as bad off as Nia was  [I love you Vitamin C, even if your magic is all in my head].  The only good news about today is that we were going to the Blue Lagoon, and praying it would have healing powers!

We had some breakfast, or well not much of it since we weren’t feeling good, and made some sandwiches to take for lunch time. Then it was back up the baby elevator to pack up and check out. Checking out just involved turning in our giant key. And waiting for the bus to come pick us up for the Blue Lagoon, which was supposed to come around 9 or 9:15am but of course it was late because I don’t think Icelanders own clocks or care to own one. As a part of our hotel package we got transportation to the Blue Lagoon, admission, and transportation to the airport from the Blue Lagoon all included in our hotel rate. And it was a heck of a deal! When the bus showed up it was pouring snow and it was more like a big van that we had to stuff ourselves into with our 100lbs of luggage and 12 other people. Turns out the van was just taking us TO the bus, probably the same bus we were on the day before, and we were able to leave all of our luggage with the bus until it came back later to drive us to the airport.

We were the first group of people to make it to the Blue Lagoon that day, it was a little after 10am. This also meant we were pretty much the first people in the locker room. You got this bracelet that was a key fab (like this electronic thing that only worked for your one locker) and you could also charge stuff on it so you didn’t have to carry around a wallet. This was a great idea, except that mine took about 80 tries to get the locker to open and close. I warned Nia before the trip that we were going to have to shower naked in the open locker room before putting on our bathing suits and jumping into the lagoon. She didn’t believe me. And her and Dave just thought I loved nudity or something. Low and behold, the lockers had signs telling you to shower without your bathing suit. But to our delight they had made some shower stalls for Americans like us who weren’t down with being naked in a big room full of other people. The locker also suggested wearing a swimming cap and if you didn’t you needed to use special conditioner before and after swimming. We would later regret not wearing that swimming cap.

I was thrilled to be able to take advantage of my new waterproof camera for some sweet photos of the lagoon. We spent the first bit of time swimming around taking photos before putting the camera up and enjoy our last bit of time in Iceland while relaxing in the naturally heated, 105°F of heaven. We too advantage of the free silica mud stored in buckets around the edges and had an exfoliating facial and body scrub. It snowed nearly the whole time we were in the lagoon (notice the snowflakes in our hair!) which just made the experience even cooler. The huge difference in temperature of the lagoon and the air outside made for lots and lots of steam surrounding the whole place, so lots of the pictures were a bit foggy. As you may or may not know, one of the previous seasons of The Bachelorette was filmed in Iceland and one of the group dates was at the Blue Lagoon. Since Nia and I are big fans of the show, we were thrilled as we recognized many of the spots where scenes were filmed! Including a sweet waterfall and a sauna.

After swimming around for a few hours we sprinted from the lagoon to inside the locker room since it was so cold outside and showered and layered up again in our winter clothes. Conveniently, the locker room had hair dryers. Inconveniently, our hair felt like it had been soaked in a nice blend of olive oil, honey, and glue. Even after washing, rinsing, and repeating – about 3 times. Sick. Then we went out to the gift shop and restaurant area to enjoy our sandwiches with a nice hot cup of coffee. And made a few purchases to bring back to family and friends. Before long it was time to go and we took the 2:00 bus to the airport (thankfully our luggage was still with the bus). On the way out we took a few more photos of this unreal place.

Our flight didn’t leave until like 4:30 so we had a bit of time to kill at the airport. The airport decided we would kill some of that time by giving Nia extra security checks in private rooms. I’m still not sure what happened in there. After we went through all of normal security and headed into the gates, they stopped Nia and said, “oh, this is her, please come with us” and immediately Nia thought it was an emergency at home or something. Needless to say, it was just an emergency that required her to get felt up and questioned about who knows what. This once again proved Nia’s point that she has never once gone through security seamlessly. After all of those shenanigans we still had some time to walk around all of the airport stores (twice) to spend the last of our Icelandic monies. I’m pretty sure I also walked off at some point and didn’t tell Nia where I’d be and she wasn’t too pleased about that. But at least we wound up with some sweet souvenirs.

We agreed that on this leg of the flight I could have the window seat so I’d be able to get more sleep since I was going to be the one doing the majority of the driving home. This meant Nia got the middle seat – a middle seat that happened to have two messed up arm rests leaning in towards her seat – therefore, making the tiniest airplane seat possible. The lady on the other side of her kept leaning into the armrest making her seat even smaller. It turns out the row of 3 seats can convert into a row of 2 larger seats with a tiny middle for a table by adjusting the armrests. Our armrests were stuck in the “2 seat” position. Not long into the flight Nia asked the flight attendant about it and they made the lady on the outside of our row move to a new seat, leaving Nia and I sitting in two more spacious seats. And knowing airlines, that extra space probably would have cost us a few hundred dollars more. Too bad Nia was miserable the whole flight due to the cold/cough/sinus infection she had developed. I was at least able to get some sleep during the 6 hour flight.

We arrived at Boston Logan around 6pm and called the Red Roof Inn to get a taxi since our friend Rob wasn’t able to pick us up. The taxi man on the phone told us to wait at the departures zone. Turns out they are just too lazy to go through the arrival zone. So we waited and waited and Nia thought I heard him wrong about where to be or what color car – but finally he showed up to take us back to the Red Roof Inn. I said a few prayers that my car would still be there and not be destroyed by wind-blown scaffolding and buried in a blizzard. Praise God there were no problems! The driver helped us load up all of our stuff from his car to mine as he was suprised we were about to drive and not stay the night. Our original plan was to drive through NYC and stay the night with our friend Becca. It was now about 8pm – we got going a lot later than we thought we would since the flight got in late, the taxi man took forever, and Boston driving is crazy. First on the agenda was to grab a coffee and some double cheeseburgers at McDonalds. Then Nia and I decided to forgo staying the night in NYC and drive straight through the night home. Which really meant I would be driving us straight through the night home due to Nia’s condition. We made a pit stop at Walmart somewhere in Connecticutt for Nia to get some meds and I waited in the car. I got in trouble by the parking lot security twice for waiting in the fire lane. How was I supposed to know that it would take an hour to grab cough drops and Sudafed? I wasn’t aware that we were at the SLOWEST Walmart in America.

Tuesday night and Wednesday morning really blurred together since I was in the car driving for 14 hours; I’m not sure where one day began and where one ended. Well, actually I do remember that we were in NYC right at midnight, stuck in traffic. I didn’t know there could be traffic jams at midnight – traffic jams that consisted of me and about 100 tractor trailers – I guess we are the only crazy ones driving the Interstates through the night.


Day 9 – Sunday, February 27th, 2011 – MORE AIRPORTS

It was our last morning in Copenhagen and what better way to say goodbye then one final bacon, eggs, and pancake meal with real maple syrup. We packed all of our things and somehow made room for all of our souveniors as well. We decided to take the 5A bus to the airport since it actually picked us up at the hotel and took us all the way to the airport for the same price as the metro Nia and I took on the way there which left us walking another mile.

Today was going to be a day with a lot of waiting. We waited at the bus stop for at least 45 minutes, waited in the long line to check in at the airport, waited in security (I think Nia still didn’t get it right and had to be patted down), waited at the gate until boarding time, waited in our seats on the plane until we finally took off, waited at baggage claim once arriving at Reykjavik (thankfully it showed up this time), waited in line to buy bus tickets to the hotel, waited on the nearly hour long bus ride until finally arriving at the Metropolitan Hotel. We made it to Iceland at last. And it wasn’t quite as beautiful as it was during our layover 7 days prior when I first fell in love with this country. It was rainy and snowy and windy. And we felt terrible – Nia definitely worse than me. [Unfortunately for Dave, he had quite a bit more waiting than we did. He was heading back to the US and not joining us in Iceland and his layover was in Canada. Turns out the flight he was almost late for this morning was delayed (surprise), causing him to miss his connection in Canada and ending with a night spent in Canada because the next flight to Charlotte wasn’t until the next day.]

The hotel was quite an interesting place. We booked it because it was the cheapest and still really close to downtown. I’m not sure if my favorite part was the tiny two person elevator that jumped each time you got off. Or the small bathroom where you could take a shower while sitting on the toilet – literally, the sink, toilet and shower were all just right together in a tiny little room and when you took a shower, well, the whole place got soaked. Or that everytime we went to the lobby their was a different person working the front desk. Do they have like 30 minute shifts here or something? Or the room key, which was a giant key on a giant wooden keychain; apparently you’re supposed to leave it at the front desk each time to leave. Umm yeah, probably because no one wants to tote around the world’s biggest room key all day. Or the fact that they were the most laid back people. EVER. [When we first checked in the girl said, “well, you can pay now, or later, or whenever really.” Oh is that so? Gah I feel like in the US they won’t even speak to you until you pay up.] Or when we decided to book the Golden Circle day tour and Blue Lagoon tour they just gave someone a call real quick and said OK, they will pick you up at 8:00. Really? Well I sure hope they show up because I have no idea who you could have called during your 10 second phone conversation.

We took a nap for a little bit and then decided to walk downtown and have some traditional Icelandic supper. Our restaurant of choice: Islenka Barenka – Nia picked it out after browsing google and some guide books we picked up in the lobby. Reykjavik is quite a bit smaller than Copenhagen, so it was much easier to find our way around walking. We even found some of the places shown in the episode Ali went to Iceland on the Bachelorette. Remember when the guys had to write poems in Icelandic for her and the crazy guy Casey sung to her in front of a statue? Yep that was right near the restaurant! This was an interesting meal. We ordered the “Journey Through Iceland” and split it. The menu said we’d be taken on a surprise journey through Iceland with an appetizer, main course, and dessert. And boy was it a surprise! We asked the waiter what we’d get and he said he didn’t know, just whatever the chef felt like making.

First course: extremely thin sliced pieces of lamb stretched out over the dish covered in melon and sauce and smokey flavor. I’m still not sure if this was even cooked or not. Second course: foal and catfish atop mashed potatoes. Yes foal, as in baby horse. Dessert: brownie with ice cream – this part was quite a disappointment. After cleaning our plates we walked back to the Metropolitan and headed straight to bed. A day of travel if exhausting, especially when you don’t feel very good. But tomorrow would be a better day because we’d be exploring the beauty of Iceland.

Day 3 – Monday, February 21st, 2011 – AIRPORTS

Day 3 began on the airplane with a six hour time change. We landed around 7am in Reykjavik, Iceland and prepped for our 7 hour layover. We spent the first 3 or 4 of the 7 hours asleep on some 50 ft long couches in the airport voted best in Europe. Or something like that, they had a few too many signs around letting you know it was the best airport ever. Maybe if they had free wifi, THEN it’d be the best airport in Europe. That was frustrating.

My first impression of Iceland: the people are incredibly nice. You know how in the airports in America you aren’t really supposed to sleep and it freaks the security people out? Well of course I’m paranoid the whole time we are napping that we will get in trouble and about halfway through our sleep we are awoken by a security man. So my first thought is he will tell us to stop sleeping. Nope. He asks what time our flight leaves because there was a flight leaving soon and he was concerned and wanted to make sure it wasn’t ours. Now is that nice or what?! After we had a cup of coffee and croissant and browsed the Icelandic gift shops it was time to board our next flight to Copenhagen. But my heart did do a little jump for joy knowing we were coming back to this place to spend a few days at the end of the trip.

I mean look at that place! Heaven! Beautiful view from the plane as we took off! A few hours later we landed in Copenhagen. I referenced my handy Day to Day Guide to Copenhagen book for info about our hotel and how to get there from the airport. Since Europe doesn’t like to give free wifi in the airports, we had no way of getting in touch with Dave since he had already been in Copenhagen for a couple days. The book said the Radisson Blu was near the Amagar Bro metro stop. So with confidence, I told Nia we needed to buy two metro tickets to Amagar Bro. But first, we’ve got to get our luggage, which conveniently doesn’t show up on the conveyer belt. Every travelers fear. We made a friend who’s luggage also wasn’t there and him and I went to the help desk to report them missing. A breathed a huge sigh of relief when the help desk lady says all of our luggage is already there, it arrived on an earlier flight than we did. I’m glad to know my luggage didn’t have to sit through the same 7 hour layover that I did.

We walked what felt like a mile through the airport to the metro station. I swipe my Visa to purchase two metro tickets from the machine and it demanded a pin #. The thing about credit cards in America is that we don’t have pin #’s. I tried my debit card pin #, my zip code, and after the machine printed out 4 cancellation receipts because I had no pin we realized we needed a new plan. An airport security man told us we would need to exchange cash since the machine wouldn’t take our card without a pin. Nia and I walk back through the mile long airport corridor to the exchange place to get some kroners. Back to the machine where we realize only coins are accepted. I make Nia ask some strangers for change and we were out of luck. I went on a mission back down the corridor to find an actual person to buy tickets from. We were in luck, 2 metro tickets in hand, we were ready for the Radisson Blu. A few stops later and we find ourselves taking the elevator up to street level of the cold and dark city. No Radisson Blu in sight. We bust out a map as two girls walk by and we asked if they knew where the hotel was. What a relief to hear “Oh, thats a far walk, you should take the taxi. Just go down that street and veer left and go straight and you’ll see it.” I’m amazed at how well they speak English, yet discouraged to know we’ve got quite a journey ahead of us.

At this point we haven’t eaten anything since the croissants in the morning, have been wearing the same clothes for two days, are tired, and wondering “Is Dave even worried about us???” Since we’re too stubborn to take a taxi our only other option is to walk what felt like 3 miles toting all of our luggage down the sidewalk of this city we’ve never been to, in another country, at night time. The Radisson Blu sure looked like Cinderella’s Castle as we finally made it to the front door. We check-in, go to the room and find a note from Dave saying he will be done playing Poker at 9. Our clocks said 8:45. When he came through that door we had never been so happy to see him before! And it was good to know he was actually worried about us. So what does any person do after traveling for days, exhausted, and hungry? Go to McDonalds. We ordered quite a few things from the coinoffer menur and were pleased to end our evening with double cheeseburgers and fries.