Friday, August 19, 2011

Greetings from Iceland

Hey Snowflakes!

No pics yet (sorry about that) but I just wanted to pop in and send warm wishes/greetings from Iceland. I'm sitting in the lobby of the Grand Hotel enjoying the Internet for a few minutes before catching an early dinner and then maybe taking an evening stroll for some pictures.

So far, the trip has been an adventure, but it's all good. That's how these things go, right?

I arrived at airport two hours early on account of the fact that they dictated all international travel requires you sit there for two hours before boarding. Well, the airport in Austin is not open at 5 am so I had to sit around and wait for the airport to open. No biggie, I just took a nap and rested.

Then I went to check my bag and the lady behind the counter said, "Rey-ka-what?" She had never heard of Reykjavik. When I told her it was the capitol of Iceland, she asked me, "Is that in the United States?" Ho boy! We're having fun now.

Next stop: JFK. While I love NY, I have grown to HATE the airports there, especially JFK. It's a zoo, let me just get that out upfront. I landed in the JetBlue terminal which is very pretty but it's like a blue circus. They have the "Blue Bar" this and the "JetBlue" that. Everything is BLUE and everything is geared towards sucking money out of your wallet by charging you too much for something you would not otherwise buy (I guess they are following the Apple business model, only substituting "blue" for "white" or some such thing.) Eh, no worries about the blue stuff but I could not find the exit doors to this blue circus. I finally had to ask some security guard. "Excuse me, sir," I asked, "how do I get out of this BLUE CIRCUS I appear to be trapped in?" He told me that, "his wife didn't believe him when he told her they painted everything blue." (I was like, "oh yeah! They really did BLUE up the joint!") Then he told me I had to go through some little door, down a dark alleyway off to my other terminal. Oh boy, we're really having fun now.

Of course this dark alley lead to more security and that was a joy. First the DHS guy told me he'd never seen a boarding pass that looked quite like mine (!) then they pulled my camera bag off the rollers for "having too many electronic devices" in it. I didn't even know they checked for that. No worries though, I just let them hand inspect it. Luckily, I had a nice lady and I chatted with her, telling her about my trip and all. She gave me the "bomb swab" thing with the pads and poked around a bit before letting me go. I had told her, "I think I'm carrying every camera Canon makes. Oh, and here's a Fuji just in case the brand lets me down." She laughed at my extreme toy excess and let me go.

Iceland Air shares a terminal with British Air so it was kind of fun being in there for a while. Oddly enough they had two restaurants that both appeared to sever: Mexican food! (?) Go figure. One was more like a chi chi type of joint, withe fireplaces and such and the other was a "beach like" joint with surf boards (because, hey, we all know how famous Mexicans are for their love of....surfing? Right. Another taco please!) Against my better judgment I opted for the "Mexican surf shack" joint and had a really nice Hawaiian (don't try to keep up, it's just confusing at this point) passion fruit margarita, which was TASTY and a chicken dish. I didn't think I was even hungry until they brought the food out but then I scarfed it all down so it was all good. If given a choice between the chi chi place and the surf shack, I'd have to almost always advice, go with the surf shack, they probably have better drinks.

Boat drinks aside, the terminal had high back chairs and all kinds of punchy colored seating. Very Scandi in design, I felt like I was there already (almost!) Well, with only the 5 hour flight to go.

I got on the plane and found out I had a seat in the VERY LAST ROW. Ho boy, number two as, not only did I have a seat in the last row but somebody was already sitting in it. We sorted it out and I moved over a row and wound up sharing a wonderful flight with a very nice lady from the south of Utah going to Iceland to visit her family heritage sites. She's a blogger too so I hope to catch up in Internet land once I'm back to a desktop and not stealing wifi from a hotel lobby across foreign continents. Free Bandwidth! Yes, that's the cries of the London looters, they just appear to be using baseball bats and grabbing TV sets on the side. You know it, babe, it's all about the bit streams.

Anyway, back to the trip, the flight was fine. Not too bumpy, I did manage to sleep a little bit. They handed out this menu for snacks and food but I wasn't hungry (thanks to the surf shack in JFK) so I managed to fend off the desire to chow down some airline food. We flew up over Boston and then out of Goose Bay which, I was told, is part of Labrador. Love the dogs, but never been on the ground up that way. No worries, we were flying high and over it all. We hit Greenland and got to see it from above just as they were serving us some orange juice. That was quite fun, we had juice over Greenland and got to see some of the jutting dark peaks and snow capped mountains of it all from the comforts of seat 34 on Iceland Air flight 612 from JFK to Reykjovik. Nice! I finally broke down and got some chocolate cake too.

Arrival at airport was exciting. We'd seen the sun setting (basically. If you could call it that. We're so far north, it takes about an hour to get down up here) and made the airport terminal in the dark after 11 pm. The sun had just set and, when I got out of the plane, I could see my breath in the air. That was a shocker, as I was prepared for it being cold, but had forgotten how your windpipes do that in the cold. Note to self: exhale produces cloud. Film at 11. (ok, maybe no film yet, but I did get the video camera charged up. Does that count?)

My luggage got lost (stuck in JFK) so I had to fill out extra paperwork and didn't make it to hotel until about 2 or 3 am. The airlines gave me some kind of "overnight pouch" which has a T-shirt, some toothpaste and the like in it. I'll have to photograph what's left of it at some point so you can see too. Luggage was at hotel this morning so it worked out all good. Actually, shhh! Don't tell Iceland Air but it's very convenient if they loose your luggage at 3 am and deliver it the next day at 9 am since that means you don't have to carry it though the airport parking lot. Lucky me! I mean, um, shame on them for losing my luggage like that. (Yeah, right!)

I was so tired upon arrival, I slept until noon. It's about 6 pm now and I'm finally waking up and coming back to life.

The room itself is lovely. It's go two double beds, mini bar, flat screen, etc. (what you'd expect I'd guess) but I have a balcony that I can walk out and enjoy, plus there's a VIEW. Oh man! There are lovely mountains just outside my hotel room. For those of you from Texas, not to worry. Mountains are these big things that occur sometimes in nature, they're just really a bit like lumps of earth piled up high and stuff. Eh, I'll have to explain more (and provide photos!) when I get back.

Brings me up to today. I got the laptop converted to 220 Europlugs but we don't have Internets in the room or electrics in the lobby so I'm typing fast and hoping the battery doesn't wind itself down. I unpacked all of the camera gear and packed a small walking bag. Might grab a quick dinner and then head out for an evening walk to take some shots of the city before the sun....oh wait!

I keep thinking that, because I'm so far north, the suns going down at like 4 pm. It's not. That star don't set until near 11 pm so I can actually hit up dinner and then squeeze in a FEW HOURS of shooting. Yeowza. Being so close to the top of the world does have it's advantages, not to mention I love the dotted colored roofs on the houses I can see from my hotel room balcony.

Yeah, so far anyway, life is good.

I hope you are all doing well and I promise pictures to follow.

Until next time....in ICELAND this time....

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