I always delay packing for trips, but this is the first time where I had to take a bag of unpacked stuff to deal with later (along with my overpacked new suitcase, backpacking backpack, electronics backpack and books/etc. backpack).
Part of the problem was I had misjudged how much time I had. I was scheduling that I had until 2:30 PM to leave, when that was really when I wanted to get to the airport. When you skirt things as close as I do, that extra hour is make or break. I ended up in the cell phone parking lot, trying to fix the 16 pounds overage in my overstuffed suitcase, as well as dealing with all that extraneous crap.
At the check-in desk, I was still 10 kilos over for my suitcase (with some leeway to arrange stuff into the big backpack). I literally had sweat pouring down me as I threw bags and stuff from the suitcase to the backpack and from the backpack into the smaller backpacks and into my peacoat pockets (which is something I’ve always considered, but never have come down to doing).
In the end, I was still 3 kilos over, but they let me through without paying the $95 extra for overage, since it was getting close to boarding time and I had obviously been working at it. I told them that I couldn’t imagine I would have the same leniency from Iceland to France (which remains to be seen).
Got through to the shuttle, over to the Satellite terminal. They already started boarding. Got some water and ice in my Nalgene from a cafe. Gulped down 2/3 of it, asked for a refill, joined the line as they announced that all passengers should be in said line.
At the check-in counter I had asked if there was any chance for a seat with legroom, but they apologetically said that the plane was relatively full. My policy is always to ask three times: check-in counter, gate desk and on the plane. No one was at the gate desk, so I asked on the plane. For whatever reason, there were two exit row seats that weren’t labelled or taken. I got to sit there, alone, with all of my stuff scattered around me. They let me keep my laptop backpack on the seat next to me, provided it was seat-belted in. They were very apologetic that the seats didn’t recline (which was possibly why they were unused, but that’s a fairly typical arrangement for an exit row seat). They were so apologetic that they gave me free headphones. Not apologetic enough to give me free food.
Was fairly surprised that you had to pay for the meals on an international flight on an acclaimed airline. Even the low-budget transatlantics give you meals. Dished out 9 Euros for chopped up chicken, cookies and salad. After eating and watching an episode of Two and A Half Men, I slept on and off until about an hour before landing, tilted over my electronics backpack.
We arrived at around 6:20 AM, local time. Additional security, as in metal detectors and the like, because they don’t feel the US meets European standards of security. Odd, as I don’t recall doing this when going into the UK or France.
Took a bus into town (1,700 one-way. I paid 3,000 for the round trip.) Then left my bags at the bus station (1,000 Icelandic krona, which they said was 1/2 price, about $8 USD) and walked around for a bit, fairly zonked.
In town, almost at the center, there’s a pond with some mallards and geese. A couple tourists here and there took pictures of the birds. A 4th grade class was on a field trip. Reykjavik is fairly small and European-looking. Pretty much everyone on the street was either a schoolkid or a tourist.
A bit of construction going on. Cold, but not killer with rain coming and going during the day.
Things really don’t open so early here. It was a bit after 9 AM, so the tourist place was open. Got some tips. Lucked out, as Wednesday is free museum day for some of the museums. But the National Museum doesn’t open until 11 AM, so I walked around at the University of Iceland and saw a free internet kiosk that I used for a bit.
While walking around the National Museum, my contact lens was bothering me and I was extremely exhausted, with intermittent headaches. Decided to lay down for a bit on a bench on the 3rd floor, 16th Century-21st century. Ending up falling in and out of sleep for an hour, always wary that someone could show up.
And show up someone did. The museum employee told me that there was a special room for laying down, on the 2nd floor. I asked if it was the reading room (that I had been reclining in for a bit, earlier). I got to the 2nd floor and looked around a little and a 2nd employee came, told me his colleague had told him about me and directed me over to the “Rest Area”, which was a little room like a school nurse’s room.
I ended up in there for about another hour, with my eye tearing throughout from contact lens irritation. I was considering moving on, but decided against it, until a female employee came in to check in and made it clear that I couldn’t stay for that much longer. She was willing to call a cab or a doctor, which seemed very protocolish, but reasonable. I saw that I had been in the room for about half an hour or more anyway, so I told her that I was all right. Took a picture of the room and left.
Walked around Reykjavik a bit more, saw the Culture House (which was lacking its ancient books that it is acclaimed for) and a bit more downtown, eating my Nature Valley granola bars along the way (didn’t buy food, as I had slept through the time period had thought I might buy Icelandic Fish & Chips or go to a buffet). Went back to the bus station to meet up with the woman that’s hosting me. Hung out with her, took a long nap, ate some bread, thick Icelandic-style yogurt and cheese and came back here to write this.
Tomorrow/later today, I should be going on an Express Golden Circle trip, which covers Thingvellir, Geysir and Gullfoss. The next morning, early flight to Paris, wherein I am concerned I might have more difficulties swinging getting the luggage through. We shall see. Maybe I have learned a lesson for next time, as my stress before leaving definitely did not set me up for a quality first part of this trip. At the very least, I will double-confirm when I need to be leaving.