Monday 25 September 2017--European airports are kind of strange early in
the morning, very busy with the hustle and bustle of passengers arriving from
North America, but oddly subdued because everyone is half asleep. The
WOW flights arrive at KeflavÝk very early, getting in and out of the gates
before Icelandair take their turn. When I was here in 1999, Icelandair was all
there was, and the businesses in the terminal (what few there were) operated on
split shifts, opening for a few hours in the morning for the eastbound flights, and
a few more in the afternoon for the westbound ones. Those busy times are
extended now, and other airlines come and go throughout the day. There are
many more shopping options now, too, although not everything is up to speed at
4:30am. I'm here a half an hour ahead of Marc, so I poke around idly. Even at
this hour, I could buy a bottle of whisky, but I already picked one up in Boston.
Marc arrives, and we pick up our rental car and drive into ReykjavÝk. The pitch- black sky is veined with deep purple hints of daybreak. Our Airbnb, a couple blocks down from Hallgrimskirkja, is available early, as no one was in last night. It's not the most charming street, but it's quiet, and our ground-floor apartment is reasonably private. We get our things settled, have a quick dram--the Talisker for me, Lagavulin for Marc--and crash as daylight floods the sky. Marc has been told by friends not to sleep during the day on the first day over, and that's good advice when you're arriving in a European destination midday. But we're in bed at 7:30, and sleeping away the morning in ReykjavÝk is a lot more sensible, I think, than sleeping away the afternoon in Edinburgh or Amsterdam.
We're up at noon. Head out to Laugavegur, ReykjavÝk's main shopping street, in search of a pair of waterproof pants for Marc. I urged him to get a pair months ago, but he hasn't been able to find anything suitable in QuÚbec. As we search through outdoor stores like 66░North, Marc gets his first experience of Icelandic sticker shock. We are seeing pairs priced at ISK 30,000 and more-- over US$300. Shopping around, the best we can find is about $150. We decide to put it off for tomorrow.
We have lunch at Hl÷llabßtar, the vaguely Middle Eastern fast-food kiosk in Ingˇlfstorg, passing up the opportunity to stand in line at the nearby hot dog stand. (Icelandic hot dogs get a lot of rave press...I've yet to investigate.) Then we go shopping for some basic groceries, including beer from the VÝnb˙in on AusturstrŠti. Haul it all back to the apartment, and zone out for a while. First day over is always a little rough...we're doing all right.
We have a pint at Micro Bar before dinner at Nˇra. The latter has had a makeover, with more emphasis as a restaurant and less as a cafÚ/bar. Stops at Sk˙li Craft Bar and Dillon Whiskey Bar round out the evening.
Map of today's route
Some addresses and routings are approximate.