We didn’t pack enough clothes for Iceland.
It is another travel day but our flight isn’t until 6pm local time so we have one more day in Helsinki. We stay in our airbnb until one minute before our 10am checkout time and then head two blocks to a laundry because I have officially run out of underwear as of yesterday. Which is awkward. We need to do some laundry, stat. I googled ‘laundry near me’ and there is a 5 star place close. We go looking and find it tucked away in the back of a court. We stick our head in this door and are greeted by the friendliest laundry dude we have met to date. Yes, he assures us, we can do our laundry. He loads our clothes into a huge washer, adds soap and tells us to come back in an hour. We head to a breakfast shop that we passed and head on in. The counter man who took our order is also the cook and also delivers the food. It is a small operation. He has to read us the menu (it isn’t in English) and we decide on two omelettes and the small breakfast plate. All of it is excellent, but the small breakfast plate bears some attention. He described it as ‘cheese toast with egg foam dip and cow greens.’1 Egg foam dip. We gotta try this. And it was EXACTLY what he said it was. Somehow he whipped an egg into a foam, topped with small chives and served it in a small bowl. The cheese bread was a grilled cheese sandwich (with fancy Finnish cheese, I presume) and you took it and dipped it in the foam and it was fantastic.
We get the laundry complete and head downtown on our last tram ride to the main train station where we put our luggage into a storage container so we can head downtown to shop unencumbered by rolling luggage. Then we head out into the big city once again. The day would turn into a combination of shopping for sourvineers and eating as much crap food as we can. We had already had a big breakfast, then grabbed some ice cream cones. Then some chips and salsa. Burgers. Crackers. If we saw someplace to eat, we stopped. Which meant that by the time we caught the 3pm train the airport we were working on gas bubbles of epic proportions. It would not be a pleasant flight to Iceland for anyone aboard the plane.
Checkin for the flight was extremely unpainful and we waited two hours for the flight to depart which it did at 18:00 and we arrived in Iceland at 18:20, which was weird because it definitely felt like two hours than 20 minutes. We landed, waited for 15 minutes for a shuttle to the car rental agency (which, it turns out, is a three minute walk from the terminal). There is a huge line at the rental car agency, but I had checked in online so as soon as I punched the ‘already checked in’ button, we were called to get our car. We get We head off to the apartment we have rented in downtown Reckycklna…. Kristjen, our host, tells us that if we have trouble finding our place, we should look for the Iceland Penis Museum and we would be right across the street. Not sure what we have gotten ourselves into.
The drive from the airport is underwhelming and longer than we expected. There is a lot of really cold and old lava which looks like a giant field of rocks. Big rocks. Not a lot of ice. Truthfully none of us are feeling good. AJ has picked up a cough and is starting to run a fever. Jan and I ate too much crap and are getting worn down. Iceland may have been one country too many, but we will see what we feel like after a night of sleep.
Well. Turns out we don’t feel great. It is now Tuesday. Day after we arrive and there is one thing on the schedule for today. Puffins. Jan’s favorite animal of all time and her number one request for the trip. Want to see puffins. We have a 0900 departure from old town harbor to see the puffins and if I could go back three months and punch myself in the face for making a 0900 departure after a day of travel, I would do so. Stat.
Fortunately we ‘gained’ two hours of sleep by moving two time zones to the west when we flew from Finland last night. So 0900 feels like 1100 to us and it is what we need. AJ is now officially sick. He has a pretty good fever going and is also tired so the plan is to jam AJ up with some motrin, see the puffins and then retreat back to the house to lick our wounds.
The good news is that the apartment is excellent. Two bedrooms, big kitchen/living room and a view over the main street of Reykjavik. And having a car is good as well. Means instead of walking the 2.5 kms to the old port, we can drive and maximize sleep time.
We are on time for our puffin trip and it turns out to be a hoot. We are in a RIB (Rigid Inflatable Boat) that has 12 shock absorbing seats on which we perch. The RIB has two monster outwards on the back and it is a short 5 minute ride to the island where the puffins live. We get super close to the birds and watch the cavort in the water and on land. We get to two islands and return in an hour which is the perfect amount of time. We go back to the apartment whereupon Jan and AJ immediately fall asleep for 3-4 hour naps. We hang around the rest of the afternoon with a short trip to the grocery store to get provisions for breakfast and lunch over the next couple of days.
We are going to review our assessment of Iceland. A good night of sleep, sensible food and some coffee have made us look at the big island in a much more favorable light. Once we got out of the rock field between the airport and the capital city (which I cannot spell and ‘spell check’ cannot fathom), we begin to see green. There are huge glacier covered mountains that you can see from the city that are begging for exploration. The old harbor is well protected and has a ton of stuff to see/do. We will head out tomorrow in our car to explore a bit more of the country, but Iceland is definitely trending up.
There are two other things that make this a good place to visit. First is that we haven’t found anyone that doesn’t speak English which is awesome because their language is like martian. And second is that although the currency isn’t Euros (they use skittles or some such thing), we could use our credit card the entire time and didn’t need to pull any cash out of an ATM. Excellent!
1He did not say cow greens, but every time I see any green other than iceberg lettuce it becomes ‘cow grass.’