Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Iceland: Air and Day One (which is just a night)

Super Shuttle picked me up around eleven for my two o'clock flight. I always take Super Shuttle, even though it almost always sucks, because at this point in my life, it's worth the $30 savings to suffer mildly for an hour and half. I do not take the subway and air train to the airport, because at this point in my life, it's not worth the $15 savings to suffer intensely for two plus hours. I was having a great day, though, because I was able to squeeze in an AM yoga, and the worst part of flying for me is that it usually means that not only does my body get smashed like the last pretzel, but I don't have a chance to stretch it all out.

At the airport, I paid $15 for a chicken sandwich and a salad to take on the plane because I knew we were arriving around midnight (five hour flight plus five hour time difference, which actually turned out to be only four, since Iceland doesn't abide by Daylight Savings), and I doubted that any food would be available. Imagine my surprise when the (excessively verbose) air hostesses announced that dinner would be served in flight. Free hot meal on plane? It's been literally years. Anyway, the meal consisted of some inedible seafood/mayo salad (imitation crab?), some unidentifiable meat-ish balls (six) in saucy rice (downed it; probably racked up 1800 calories in those six bites), and a cookie-flavoured brownie (downed it; calorie count up to 3000 by now). There was coffee, but I managed to pass. Michael ate my naff roll; I ate the side salad I'd bought at the airport. An hour before landing, I ate the sandwich as well. Calories for the day? Priceless.

When we landed at the Keflavík airport, I decided that I desperately needed chocolate, preferably with nuts. We hit the ATM for some krónur (you get basically nothing for a dollar: 62.5 of 'em, and they're basically totally worthless) and I went to buy chocolate and gum. I love buying foreign chocolate when I travel; it was in England that I discovered the (totally awesome) Aero Bar (preferably mint, though orange is okay), which is now available at select US stores, and the chocolate-covered Harvey's Mint Cake (think very, very firm York Peppermint Patty in bar form), unfortunately still not available in the US. I purchase over ten dollars worth of candy (four chocolate bars and a small pack of gum—warning: green means melon in Iceland; if you want mint, you have to buy pink). The first chocolate bar, a Nitzza bar, had pictures of hazelnuts and raisins on the wrapper, so I was super stoked. Too bad the one hazelnut inside had been pulverized and spread uniformly throughout; it was unsatisfactory, and the chocolate was low low low quality milk (sugar) flavor. Bar number two (I don't remember the name, though it was long and flattish like the Nitzza and came in a starry blue wrapper) won the most interesting award, but wasn't to my taste (I gobbled it nevertheless): a strip of soft, black licorice coated in milk chocolate and rice krispies (I know; eww). Took me halfway through to identify the licorice; again, the chocolate was low low low milky. Bar number three was a Lion bar (possibly attainable in the US; I'm uncertain), which involves (crappy super sweet milky) chocolate and rice krispies (yet again) wrapped around a core of layered caramel and marshmallow. Too much going on and too sugary. The last bar (and the only one I currently have anything left of) is the best: it's a Sirius bar, and it is serious indeed: sweetish bittersweet dark chocolate wrapped in plain white paper with black print, when you open it, you find that its weight (200 grams) consists of two bars stacked together. Probably the best non-imported chocolate you can get in Iceland. For some undetermined reason, the wrapper has a small six-pointed star printed on it, but we've noticed a lot of six-pointed stars around Iceland (windows, etc.), and we doubt they are related to Judaism.

Thus plied with candy, we took our luggage out front to catch the bus to Reykjavík (about 45 minutes from the airport (such that it actually has it's own small airport), and far too expensive by taxi). A private tour bus company (flybus) seems to know when the big flights get in, and always has a big charter bus waiting to take passengers into the capitol. We paid $20ish per person for this ride. It was after midnight; the sky was gray and wet and gloomy, but it wasn't dark (nor has it ever been since we've arrived). The bus took us to the bus terminal, within city limits, but a 15 minute walk from our guesthouse (i.e. bed and breakfast), and it was raining, and we had luggage, so we proceeded to the taxi stand, where we waited. And waited. And waited. A blonde girl showed up and waited as well. We asked her if we were in the right place and she said yes, but still no taxis came. Finally one came, but it pulled up at the drive-through fast food restaurant attached to the bus terminal, ordered food for its four occupants, paid, and drove away. The three of us stood in the rain. When another taxi came, I asked the girl if she wanted to share with us (it was, after all, after two in the morning by now, and raining, although not dark, and it seemed cruel to leave her alone). The driver took her to her stop first (the Salvation Army, which is apparently a respectable guesthouse here), and she paid Kr1,000 ($15ish) for her ride (we'd been in the taxi literally about five minutes; geez), such that we only had to pay Kr300 when we got to our stop (about two minutes later). It pays to be nice.

Even though it was still raining, we let the cabbie drop us off down the block from our guesthouse because our block was all bunged up with traffic (please note that there is and has been NO TRAFFIC at all at any time in all of Iceland, except on that one street in Reykjavík). Our guesthouse was number 55, so we walked back and forth in the rain (but not the dark) three or four times between numbers 49 and 61 until I happened to look up and see the word "Von" (the name of our guesthouse) in slight relief on the second story of a white stucco building. We rang the unlabeled door (no sign, no number) which went unanswered, but when we tried the knob we found it unlocked, and at the top of the stairs was a handwritten sign saying, "McCartney: please choose room 1 or 6 and leave the key of the room you don't choose on the microwave; breakfast is in the fridge." Super hospitality. We took the back room with the king bed (6, if you're wondering) rather than the front room with the two twins (every other guesthouse since then has been two twins), washed up in a very sulfurous scented half bath, and hit the sack.


courtney said...

ugh. i will never super shuttle again! when one thinks of "shuttle" you think of a short, fast trip. when one thinks of "super" you think top of the line, speedy and perhaps amazing. super shuttle is neither of those.

Tigerlily said...

If you're visiting home and want to make an expensive side trip, there is a candy store in Carmel that imports British candy, including Aero bars and wine gums (my fav), but of course they're priced twice as much as any regular American candies.