Thursday, September 29, 2016

Iceland in 3 1/2 hours

After years of traveling around the globe, it took until Monday's layover for me to truly feel like a world traveler. On Monday, rather than hang out in the airport during a 7 hour 40 minute layover, I took a bus into downtown Reykjavik. While looking at different airfares, the detour through Iceland appealed to me the most because we were there only six months earlier, therefore I could make the most out of the three and a half house I would have in the city before I had to catch a bus in time to catch my flight.

To maximize time I bought a bus ticket on the airplane. I knew where to catch the bus. I knew the bus would take about an hour. What I did not know was how close the bus station was to downtown Reykjavik (a 10 minute walk) or what the weather would be like once I landed (perfect -- about 48F, clear blue skies, no wind. I did not need the gloves or hat I packed).

With the perfect weather I modified my plans and first went to the top of Hallgrimskirkja church first for a panoramic view of the city. It was here I had another dose of "wow! I am a world traveler!" There were four different possibilities for paying (euros, krona, US dollars, or credit cards) and I had all four on me (I used euros). 

The church was only a couple of blocks from where we stayed, so I popped in there to see if they had the electric converter I left behind (they have over a hundred, so she gave me a random one). From there I went to the Bonus grocery store to buy six bars of Icelandic chocolate and black current tea bags (as per requests from Don and Ashley).

Along the street I noticed parts were temporarily closed to turn it into a pedestrian friendly zone. On the same street was a book store recommended to us by John. The owner (Svenson?) is very friendly and would not let me leave until I had a book in my hand. It didn't matter that the book is in Icelandic, it is a souvenir of our brief visit. Later I realized I should have left it in the airport for someone who reads Icelandic to enjoy.

By this point I am feeling mighty productive, and grinning from ear to ear about how well the day is progressing. I have only been in Reykjavik for an hour and have accomplished four big things on my long wish list. Fortunately the rest of the trip went just as well.

Next stop: an Icelandic hot dog. Trust me on this one. I don't eat hot dogs anywhere else. At about $4 each, this is the only affordable food in Iceland. I enjoyed it.

My next destination was across a busy street: The Harpa. The Harpa is a performing arts center that is less than ten years old. After our last trip I learned you can walk around the inside of it (we didn't even try on our last trip). With the brilliant blue sky, I went inside and was rewarded with stained glass reflections on the floor.

Back across the busy street to my last destination -- Settlement Exhibition Reykjavik 871 +/- 2. It is called that because it was founded in 871, plus or minus two years. The inside of the museum has the remains of a hall excavated in 2001. As a fan of archaeology, that was neat, but I was still expecting something more. I got more out of the computers in the lobby that talked about the historical documents used in their research then I did in the exhibit. Oh well. Glad all three of us did not go there in March.

I still had some time to spare so I walked along the ocean before heading to the bus station. I smiled the entire time I played tourist, happy to have not spent the day in an airport. I look forward to more adventures.

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