Current status, feeling rather cosmopolitan, sitting in the corner of the lovely Alda Hotel lobby, on a comfy sofa, overlooking the tattoo shop across the street.
We arrived at about 8.00pm last night after what felt like a pretty long day of travel. The flight from Paris is roughly 3.1/2 hours, but the Orly airport check in experience was lousy, and stressful. We arrived after a short and easy tram journey to T4, but needed to then find our way to T3. Absolutely no signage so after a 10 minute walk in the wrong direction and asking a friendly cleaner, we headed back outside and it was a 15 minute walk from where we first started. My suitcase wheel started to scream like a wounded animal at this point, not irritating at all, and the airport was like a sauna. Take into consideration that we’re wearing our Iceland “big coats” and Jesus H Christ. Then, finding the terminal, and the correct check in gate, and dutifully joining the queue, we got to the front, only to be told there was another queue we needed to join first to drop off our hold luggage. Should add that there was more than one way to joint the first queue, so people would just rock up to the front, and be dealt with first. Queuing! – us Brits are Olympic champions! Also no signs to state that we needed to join the other queue first, but hey. Self service bag drop kiosks, several with touch screens that would not work, and when it finally did work wouldn’t scan my passport. We got around it eventually, but, with banks of expensive looking machines, and 2 members of staff employed to troubleshoot the very many of us that couldn’t get them to work, who dreams of the halcyon days of just putting your suitcase on a conveyor belt with an actual person. I fail to see how anything I saw at Orly yesterday made anyone’s travel experience better or more efficient, or used less personnel.
So finally through security, flight boarded and left on time without issue, but rammed to the gills with overly exuberant students, and a handful of put upon teachers, clearly on a trip. They spent the entire flight, congregating in the aisles or bellowing at each other down the length of the plane. Why do teenagers think monochrome neon tracksuits are a good look btw? They all looked like they’d escaped from an Alabama state penitentiary.
Never had I been so glad to have bought a pair of cheap bluetooth headphones because the noise cancelling power was a treat! Although, it being the first time I’d paired them to my MacBook, one of the poor students accidentally got to listen to Sarah Lancashire tell her mother she was a lesbian in Last Tango in Halifax, as I accidentally paired to the wrong device …..
When we finally punched through the clouds on our approach to Keflavik airport, it was just wow. Rivers of black rock capped with ice, and a landscape that was just other-worldly.
Then we had an hour’s wait for our transfer, and our transfer then took another hour and twenty minutes as you change bus again at a bus terminal on the outskirts of the city itself. We were very happy to see our hotel.
We took ourselves off to Hlemmur Food Hall, a few minutes walk from the hotel for something to eat and a quick drink before crashing very hard. It was a lively place with a great atmosphere, lots of twinkly lights and little bars and restaurants all within, surrounded by communal seating. You could choose from pizza, tacos, Vietnamese pho, fish and chips and various small plates inspired by Icelandic local ingredients. Lots of craft beer and I really liked it. The sort of place where anyone was welcome and the giant gentlemen sat next to me resplendent in a fabulous full skirt with pink petticoats was testimony to that. It felt inclusive, safe and welcoming. This is nice.
We had chicken confit croquettes with tartare sauce, and then from another place, amazing arancini. Possibly the best I’ve ever had, and Craig had fries that were just insane. I don’t know what they’d done to them but they were almost like lightly battered. This is a good start.
We were lucky enough to receive a complimentary room upgrade when we arrived, and this meant a balcony, so how happy was I to swish back the curtains to fresh snow this morning! So pretty, and just before the sun was coming up at nearly 10.00am, which is nuts….
This morning we chose breakfast in the hotel, a buffet selection which was really good, thickly sliced smoked salmon, cream cheese and toast is my thing entirely.
Then we started to walk to the Perlan, Iceland’s national museum, about 25 minutes away, through the fresh snow, and up a pretty steep woodland path which looked like Narnia this morning. Every vlog I’d watched before coming here said bring crampons. Nowhere was it mentioned that the main paths are actually heated. All that geothermic energy put to very good use, so 80% of our walk was on a totally snow free surface.
Loved the Perlan. The “Arora”, (their spelling), planetarium show is wonderful. When my husband says “again!!” after it’s finished, you know it had to be good. My little astrophysicist enjoyed it immensely, and if you love the music they play in the background, watch out for the QR code to scan as you leave, it’s now firmly in my Spotify to listen to again later. Great use of technology and interactive exhibits. Although, you do leave with a dreadful sadness about what we’ve done to this planet since the rise of mass industry, it’s heartbreaking to see it illustrated so clearly. May join Extinction Rebellion, just saying. The observation deck has spectacular views, and the restaurant under the dome is fabulous. Although we didn’t realise that it revolved until a few minutes after we’d been sat down. Neither it seemed did some other visitors, as Craig had to return one chap’s coat as it was well on it’s way to a full orbit…..
This afternoon we swung past Hallgrimskirkja Cathedral, spectacular as it is, architecturally it wasn’t really our thing, inside is very austere and we narrowly missed getting shut in before mass started. We ran away…..
Another quick skirt of the waterfront and, frankly, no photo will do justice to the mountains in the background, it just won’t. Took the obligatory tourist pictures in front of the Viking longship sculpture, and 11.000 steps later, we’re now back at the hotel.
We are booked on a Northern lights trip tonight, and we’ll find out in a couple of hours if it’s going ahead or not. Until then, dinner plans are very much on the fly. Will keep you posted in my next little journal.
TTFN, V x
Looks fantastic and always a place I have fancied visiting. A good friend went last year for her 50th and said it was one of the best experiences of her life! Hope the northern lights shine for you and that the hospitality is wonderful. Xx
Thanks, we were lucky and we did get to see them. There’ll be another post soon 🙂