Friday, March 19, 2010

Iceland Review Pt 1

Ever since I met D almost 7 years ago now, I've started to have increased trouble with going away on my own. Over 90% of all my travels have been solo until then.

In fact, 3 days after our first date, I was going to the Caribbean. Half a year after that, I had gotten a ticket to the French Open at Roland Garros through their international lottery so I was going to dust off one of my lifelong ambitions.

I remember being in tears at the airport because I didn't want to go. It was as if I was one of those crying kids that didn't want to go to camp as the parents were dropping them off. Once I got through security, I was fine. I guess I just wanted to share the experience with him.

Well, I didn't cry on the day of Iceland trip but I grumbled about being too tired to go and wanting to stay home and was questioning what got into me back in January when I booked the trip.

Meanwhile D is just laughing and saying he goes through this every year with me while I denied it. He knows and I know that there is something in me that craves the solo exploration of new places. D doesn't have this and is not interested in cultivating it but I do. Where I get it from? Who knows? None of my family travels or moves for pleasure, just for work.

By far, this trip had the most moving parts (I'm sure when I make it to India or Africa, the scale will probably expand even more). I had 3 types of currency (Cdn, US, Euro) in order to navigate and eat my way through airports, 4 by the time I reached Iceland as I had to exchange Euro for Icelandic Krona at the airport. Plus there is the whole language thing...

They just had some snow when I arrived so I didn't see what the lava fields really looked like right away. What I didn't know was that in the south, they were evacuating people out of their homes because of avalanche warnings.

By the time I transferred to the bus station and started my walk to the apartment, I was getting really weary and a bit disoriented and forgot how to use my world phone. I forgot that I didn't have to use the area code and the + sign when dialing because it links into the local network of whichever country I'm in as if it was a local phone.

So after 3 attempts and hearing a bunch of Icelandic in my ear, I gave up and decided to start walking. I was supposed to call the owner of the apartment first. Luckily, I walked by a pay phone so I tried to used it without knowing how much a call cost.

I put in change I had and the phone wasn't working right because I could hear him but not the other way around. Tried the other phone and was successful. They really ought to label their phones with the cost!

I started walking and couldn't find that pathway I was supposed to take. He recommending that I not walk on the main roads as it was not as safe because it is semi highway but I couldn't find the path due to the snow whereas the roads and sidewalks were clear.

I later found out that there are pipes under the streets and major sidewalks which carry the gray waste water out of buildings and houses and serves to melt the snow and makes snowplows unnecessary. Private homes have this technology for their driveways too -- very cool. So I made my way on the main roads and couldn't find the link to the side street I wanted.

Turns out it is common there just to walk through things to get to the street you want and make your own path. It was Sunday morning in Reykjavik and people there party seriously everything weekend til 5am so the streets were dead. Eventually I made it and my diversion cost me 15 min or so.

My apartment was located in a fairly affluent area of Reykjavik. The cars in the driveways were Audi, BMW's and where I was staying, Porsches. My original plan was to stay here until I found this apartment. Where I was ended up costing more than the hotel but the flexibility and privacy I gained made it more than worth it.

Plus I get a kick out of staying in a place that costs more than all the real estate we own added up. Even with the 50% drop in the real estate market for Iceland, the houses in that subdivision would still be listed in the 700000 euro mark. Out of my league.

When my apartment orientation was over, I fired up my computer to send D a quick email before I crashed and found out that he had sent me a frantic email wondering where I was and should he be going to Boston?

It turns out that he had gotten a few calls from Icelandair wondering where I was and asking him if he knew because they couldn't find me(?) and if I didn't show up in 5 minutes, I was going to miss the flight. D told the fellow that I've been at the Boston airport all day and I had just told him I was heading to my gate. It was impossible I wasn't there.

I had no idea this was going on. Where was I? Sitting in my seat drinking water, thinking just how fortunate I was to have been upgraded to business class! Apparently, what had happened was that they changed planes after I had checked in and printed my boarding pass the day before so my seat number had changed though no on told me.

My pass triggered an error when they scanned it but they overrode it at the gate and let me on the flight. My new seat was one row behind in economy. Once the fellow announced my name on the plane and found me and checked that my boarding pass did say the seat I was in, they closed the flight and I got to enjoy my upgrade.

One thing I didn't know was that Icelandair will not serve you a meal if you are in economy. That's a first for me as all other transatlantic flights I've been on do. I got a meal this time but next time, I'll know to eat before boarding as I am not the biggest fan of airplane food.

I'm still shocked that they would go to such lengths to make sure I was on the flight. I cannot see any North American airline bothering to do that.


  1. I only like to go on trips if the entire family goes together... I once went to Scotland with my sister for a few days w/o husband and kids & found that I didn't enjoy it one bit! I like looking at my kids faces when we explore a new place.

    That first day seems kind of rough. I don't have a good sense of directions so probably can't do what you did. All the roads and streets look the same to me so I’m the last person you want to ask when it comes to directions.

  2. Hi Sandra!

    Yes, the first day was a bit hairy. I think if I hadn't been on the road for almost 23 hrs, I would have handled it better.

    I too think that is it for me too. I really love seeing D's face when he sees things for the first time.

    Because he isn't able to take as much time off as I can, my trips serve as scouting trips for us and if I am really drawn to a place, then we go back as a couple and I get to see his reaction then.