Longest. Day. Ever. (BUT, totally worth it for the amazing experiences I had in Iceland and Sweden...)
The day started with a 5:15 am alarm clock at Tommy's in Kiruna. I slept in my clothes, just grabbed my bags, put my boots on, and we were out the door by 5:25am.
The airport was about 10 minutes away, and I was really sweating it. I mean my flight was at 6am! But Tommy kept telling me it would be fine because the airport was super small.
Thank goodness he was right. I walked right through security - well, minus getting my bag searched for the yogurt I was trying to sneak in. Then they made me stand there and eat it before I could get on the plane. I refuse to throw away good food!
Anyways, I was on the plane by 5:50. Took off on time, and I slept for most of the 1.5 hour flight to Stockholm. (The window seat and no one sitting next to me helped that cause.)
Flight number 1 of 4
Back in Stockholm, I stopped at the same juice place I did on the way through a few days ago. It's as close as I was going to get to my regular morning smoothie I have at home. ;)
I found a place where you can leave your bags for the day (or a few hours or whatever) and dropped off my backpack and my suitcase. Did my research on the airport yesterday. (OH - since I shipped some stuff home I managed to stuff one big purple Sorel boot in my red suitcase and the other one squished in the bottom of my backpack -- so I didn't have to walk around all day in those big heavy things any longer!) With the luggage gone, I got my ticket for the Arlanda Express and took off for the city center in Stockholm.
On the ride there, I realized I left my phone in my backpack. Being phone-less is like my worst nightmare! I mean I'm pretty addicted to it in general (even though the apps don't really work internationally), but the big thing is being without my camera!!!!!! I was so distraught I actually coconsidered going back for it...but with a 40 minute train ride and only a few hours to see the city, I had to go on without it. :(
I got off at city center and had my map in hand. It was a gray cloudy day. Not raining but looked like it could any second. And COLD. Walked straight to Old Town (Gamla Stan) - this cute little area - I love narrow European streets and old neighborhoods. Shops lined the streets and I went in about every single one. Fashion is so cool here. Europeans have such better style than we do. So I couldn't leave Stockholm without some clothing purchase. I decided to get some Tiger Jeans of Sweden jeans. They did the alterations right there in the store in about 30 minutes. Unfortunately, I was using the Iceland exchange rate in my head instead of the Swedish one and ended up paying a completely absurd amount of money for those jeans, hahaha. Dang it! (For the record, those exchange rates aren't even close. So while I thought they were really cheap...they were actually really expensive.)
The only other thing I bought was my Christmas tree ornament that lights up and says Sweden on it. I didn't see anything else in Stockholm except Old Town and the area around it -- and the areas on the walk between there and the train station.
Thank goodness I was wearing my watch (since I didn't have my phone) so I made it back to the station and to the airport in plenty of time for my flight. The airport is big and nice. It seems like European airports are always nicer than the dirty American ones I am used to... I had vegetarian lasagna and a fruit smoothie at a little cafe in the airport and it was really really delicious!
Made it to my gate on time and stayed awake for most of the 3 hour flight back to Reykjavic, Iceland.
The plan was to try and sneak out of the airport for a bit to see Mundi again, but it didn't end up happening. Not for a lack of trying though, haha. We landed at 3:30 and I literally was the second person off the plane. I switched my seat to an aisle seat closer to the front so that I could jump up and run when they opened the door. I had time to make it out there, but Mundi didn't get off work until 4, and I really needed to head back in through security and immigration by 4:15 to catch my 5pm international flight back to Denver. I had been excited all day to see him again so it was a let down when it didn't happen... :(
I didnt get any food at the airport because I thought I still had plenty of snacks left in my bag. So it was a surprise to me when I got on the plane and saw I only had two bars left! That never happens - I always have food on me, haha. I broke down and ordered some over priced and over cooked chicken dish on the plane and called it good.
I wanted to stay awake on the 8 hour flight back to Denver so that I would sleep that night when I landed. So I watched three movies to keep me up: Good Will Hunting, Rain Man, and The Fault In Our Stars. I think I had seen the first two already a looooong time ago, and I saw The Fault In Our Stars in the theater. I cried watching it. Again! I am generally not a crier at movies, but dang it, that movie is so sad!
Oh, one funny thing about the Iceland Air flight: the lights on the plane look like the northern lights! So I got to watch those for 8 hours and loved every second of it. (Video on YouTube). Also, it was like an eternal sunset out my window while we flew! The whole 8 hours was just beautiful!
Landed in Denver beyond exhausted and so hungry. Staying up for that whole flight was a really poor choice. Also a poor choice was not getting more food on that plane, because since it was Thanksgiving, everything was closed at the airport!! I scrounged up some snacks at a convenience store place and called it good. I mean, this is like the opposite of what a Thanksgiving meal should be in the US! ;)
I was so tired by the time I boarded my next flight (two hour layover) that I literally was nodding off standing up. Pretty impressive! I think I had been up for almost 24 hours by that point. (I wouldn't recommend trying it.)
I was asleep on that flight before it even took off from Denver and I didnt wake up until we hit the ground in KC. And somehow I didn't pay attention when I checked in online and ended up with a stinking middle seat towards the back of the plane (neither of which I like). Lucky for me the sheer exhaustion won and the seat didn't matter. ;)
My awesome brother was waiting for me just outside the airport when I landed - at 11pm. I owe him big time for that one. (I didn't want to leave my car at the airport at $7/day for 9 days and I wasn't sure I would be able to get a cab on Thanksgiving!)
I wondered if the jet lag would keep me up when I got home, but I literally was out as soon as my head hit the pillow. Which was nice because I had to get up and be at work the next day at 8am! I'm crazy, I know. But hey, price you have to pay to squeeze every possible minute out of your vacation time!
All in all, it was an awesome, successful trip. Saw two beautiful new countries, met some great new people (one I hope to see again!), ate some interesting new foods, and finally saw the northern lights!