Tuesday, January 20, 2015

My quick (bust of a) trip...

Well, I had high hopes for a last minute week long trip to Europe...but (spoiler alert!) an Icelandic blizzard put a quick end to that.

I'm back in that states - and back at work now - and it's only Tuesday.

I left Friday night for Iceland, spent Saturday and Sunday there, and then the blizzard hit and all flights to and from Europe were canceled.  Which included my flight to London and then on to Morocco that same day!

The flights from the US to Iceland were also cancelled, so there weren't many airplanes there.  Thankfully, there was a plane attempting to make it back to Boston on Monday, so rather than spend my vacation snowed in in Iceland, I hopped on that flight and safely made it back state side.

Whew.  Talk about a whirl wind of a trip...

Anyways, here's the quick re-cap of the crazy intercontinental weekend I just had:

These were a couple of the places I had googled -- places I wanted to go over the weekend in Iceland:

Taking off from Denver on Friday afternoon

Mundi picked me up early Saturday morning and we went straight to bed to get caught up on some sleep.  Woke up a couple hours later and had breakfast:  toast with butter, banana, and cheese.  (So weird, but pretty good!)

The weather wasn't really too bad yet:

So we took off from Keflavik to head to the one and only city in Iceland, Reykjavic, for the day.  
This was our view on the drive:

As high as the sun gets in Iceland in January ^^

First stop was Hallgrimskirkja, the famous church in the city.

And right out front is this statue of the Icelander who really discovered the United States first -- before Christopher Columbus!

We took the (sketchy) elevator up, climbed the stairs to get to the very top, and enjoyed the sweeping view of the city from above.

Walked up and down the main roads, grabbed a sandwich at a little shop,and then fed the leftovers to the ducks who were happily swimming in the small icy patch of water that hadn't frozen yet.

(That aggressive duck about took my hand off!)

In the middle of the frozen lake:

Next stop was the Reykjavik 871 +/- 2 Exhibit -- a small museum named after the year Iceland was discovered (871 +/- 2 years) built around the first home thought to be built in Iceland.

I'm not much for museums, but it was small enough and interactive enough to keep my attention. :)

From there we kept walking...to the local Farmers Market, where Mundi bought the worst smelling and worst tasting thing I've ever eaten:  SHARK.  I seriously thought I was going to throw up.  Not a fan.  At all.  But apparently it's like a delicacy there. 

One of our last stops for the day was Harpa, the music hall and conference center in Reykjavik.  It is built right on edge of the water, and the lighting of the sun going down was just too perfect to not get a picture! 
Thank you, crazy strong wind, for making my hair look like that...

The concert hall was beautiful and the glass walls were really something when the light came through.

On our walk back to the car (that we left up at the church) we stopped in a coffee shop and I actually ordered my frirst coffee-like drink!  A chai latte -- and I liked it!  I'm so happy I can finally not be the ONE person in all of Europe who says, "Oh sorry, I'll just have water.  I don't drink coffee."  :)

And the last interesting thing we saw:  a penis museum.  For real.
 I mean seriously -- why is this a thing?  Why is there a penis museum!?

Made the one our drive back to Keflavik and met up with four other couchsurfers for dinner (Mundi cooked).  We spent the night chatting and having some very interesting conversations between the following nationalities:  USA (me), Iceland( Mundi), one Chinese born Australian, one girl from Madrid, Spain, one from France, and one from Korea.  Seriously.  You can't make that up.  (And I still stand by the fact that Couchsurfing is the coolest!)


Sunday was a much more uneventful day, and I actually didn't even take any pictures! That might be a first.

We went to church Sunday morning (quite interesting to not understand one word!), hung out around the house, went for a run in the cold/snow (Icelanders are hard core!), baked a pumpkin pie, and then went to Mundi's parents house for dinner and a movie.

After the movie - Casablanca, since that's where I was supposed to be heading the next day - Mundi's mom said, "I have some bad news.  Your flight is cancelled."  And this was just after we were just talking about the big storm coming, but how they get this all the time and those planes can fly in anything.  HA!

And sure enough, I never go an email or phone call, but the Iceland Air website showed it:

I was screwed.  I spent a solid hour on the phone -- mostly on hold -- trying to work something out.  They could get me to London in two days, but I couldn't get to Morocco for three days...which was half of my trip gone.  

Other option:  attempt to get back to Boston that afternoon on one of the few planes actually trying to make it out.             Yes, please.  I'll take it.

So on Monday, I packed up and went to the airport, hoping and praying to get on that flight -- and that that flight made it out of Iceland!  The winds were so strong.  Unlike anything I've felt before.  I mean, I could hardly stand up when I got out of the car to walk inside the airport!

I was expecting a super bumpy ride -- or at least take-off, but somehow they timed the departure in between storms or something and it was smooth sailing the whole time.

Funny story:  I was using the planes free wifi and got an unexpected FaceTime call from Carson.  I thought, what the heck, I'll try and pick up and see if this works.  And sure enough, it did!  We actually talked for quite awhile and he got a pretty sweet view from somewhere over the North Atlantic Ocean. :)

Landed in Boston Monday evening.  I think one of the worst things about traveling international are the super long lines and lengthy process to get back IN to the country.  Boston Logan had recently upgraded to the electronic version of this, and while it was a breeze for me, so many older and less technology savvy people were really struggling with the machines and holding up the line...

I got this piece of paper and went to wait in yet another line.   

That is the face of one tired traveler, haha.

I hopped in a cab from the airport and went straight to Angie and Luke's cute apartment in Dorchester -- like 10 minutes from the airport.  (Why can't KC's airport be closer to everything!?)

Thankfully, they were all hungry, too, so we walked to an amazing Indian restaurant and chowed down.

It took the waiter at least 8 tries to get this semi-presentable picture of all of us:
Good food and great people :)

Needless to say, I crashed hard on the couch that night when we got back.  Jet lag is real. people. ;)


At the airport the next morning (at 5am!) , I grabbed a bagel and cream cheese from Starbucks.  And somehow I managed to actually cut my hand with the plastic knife.  A plastic knife.  Who does that!?

We sat on the runway for EVER in...whatever city I was in at that point, ha.  Somewhere between Boston and KC.  I don't remember.  But look at that line of airplanes waiting!?

Made it back to KC around 11, roommate picked me up, and I showered and went straight in to the office for a half day of work.  

What a weekend I had...

Oh, and this was the news from Iceland the next day -- the day after I got out:

The place was pretty much shut down!  I mean look at those cars literally frozen in place on the highway!

SO happy I made it back when I did.  :)

Not much vacation time burned means I get to go on another fun trip somewhere cool.  

Let the planning begin! ;)

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