May 20th, 2018
I'm not much for complaining about airlines. In my experience, one is generally the same as the next (much like banks) and, as someone who has never been able to afford first class, I've settled for simply being a bit uncomfortable for a few hours while traveling. That being the frame, let me tell you...our flight experience was horrible.
I won't go into details here, saying only that Icelandair will need to do a fair amount of work as they manage their growing pains in the ever increasing Iceland tourism business. I bring this up only to set the scene...
Though we'd made adjustments to the time difference and our sleeping schedules leading up to our Iceland trip, the flight where we were counting getting a few winks to store up energy did not allow for such and had a host of other troubles. We arrived at Keflavík International Airport in a state Kristin accurately described as "discombobulated."
There was a fair bit of time between landing and the shuttle getting us to where we picked up our discount rental car. There were insurance negotiations, the weird battery message on our car's dashboard, and the whole GPS fiasco. And there was a lot of wind.
Our travel to the country wasn't entirely terrible. As we waited for our plane, we enjoyed a beverage and a meal in one of the many O'Hare restaurants, making friends with the British fellow sitting next to us. His son raced formula cars and he was in the country to watch him compete. He'd been to Iceland himself on a few occasions and delivered a number of tips for our journey. Still, Kristin and I were both quite happy to be on our own and free to travel under our own power as we pulled away from the airport and headed toward Reykjavik. We were ready to continue our journey.
It wasn't a planned stop, but our exhausting travels left us both more than a bit peckish and me a bit cranky. We rolled into Reykjavik and were lucky enough to find an ideal parking spot in what we would later find out was the heart of downtown.
We stumbled down the street in search of food, coffee, anything. We were immediately greeted with a picture window showcasing a massive selection of breakfast foods and a sign with the word "buffet" beckoning us inside.
Making our way in, we questioned the hostess as to the price, and received a response asking us for our room number. This was, in fact, a hotel buffet.
"But...we need food."
I don't know if the hotel actually allowed outsiders into their buffet for a price or if the hostess just took pity on me, but she gave a sympathetic look and gestured me indoors. I grabbed Kristin, who was already on her way out, and the glories of coffee and breakfast were ours.
I've told everyone who has asked about our Iceland trip that they should make a point to stay in other locations in addition to Reykjavik. Our own plan was a road trip, following what is essentially the loop of the Ring Road clockwise around the island, staying in various towns until finishing our trip in Reykjavik. We made the right call in planning the road trip, but we were a bit ambitious in it's beginnings.
Immediately, after our travel troubles and our desperate coffee and buffet, we were on the road again...five hours to Akureyri. We would have been better with a bit of rest before the drive, but the plan was the plan, so we hit the road. And what a lovely drive it was.