howeverbrief: (Smile)
[personal profile] howeverbrief
Maaaan, if I don't at least try to start this, I'm not sure when I'll get to it.

ICELAND TRIP (Insert fanfare here)!
Day -1.5 (Flight to D.C.):
We got up waaaaay too early to catch our 6:00 a.m. flight. We were very thankful that my sister could take us to the airport since just the parking fees would have been ridiculous. We flew to Denver without incident, had what I consider some of the best food I ever had in an airport (a crepe with a southwest omelet inside) and then took off for D.C. Once we arrived in D.C., it was a mad dash to get the luggage, get the rental car and find the hotel so we could meet with an acquaintance named Jill that Mike knew from Texas. We hung out at Ben's Chili Bowl (mmm, chili dogs) and talked politics because she is a political coordinator out there and Mike lives and breathes politics (obviously, given his convention experiences). Very interesting lady doing her dream job, which is always fun to see. She suggested that we stay away from the Mall the next day due to the heat advisory and the inevitable crowds of people and if we were going to see anything in our limited time, we should stop by the National Archives.

After that, we walked around the capital a bit and saw the White House from afar (we tried to get closer but police were telling everyone to get away from the fence) as well as a few other impressive buildings (like the Eisenhower Executive building, which took something like 70 years to build and is featured on exactly zero things I've heard of before), all of which was very cool to see at night. We headed back to the hotel, where we first had trouble getting drinks out of the vending machine; then Mike managed to spray Sprite all over the corner of the hotel room I was sitting in. Stellar.

Day -1/1 (D.C. proper; flight to Iceland):
After checking out from the hotel, we started the day off with eating at Florida Grill, which was touted as being some of the best southern food in D.C. It was pretty fantastic food; however, the service was ridiculously slow. We spent a ton of time staring at pictures on the wall of famous people who had been there and wondering when we'd be able to eat and leave. Fun!

Around this time we deviated from what Jill suggested and went to see part of the mall. Mike's phone kept warning him of the extreme heat advisory, but since I had never been to D.C. and didn't know when we'd be there again, we had to go see at least some of the famous sights. (Mike had been before as a kid.) We were able to see the Capitol building, which I'm pretty sure is under constant construction of some kind. I also walked up while Mike was having his weekly talk with his family to see the front of the building and some of what was around. We really didn't have to be warned about the heat because we were sweating the moment we got outside, but we still walked from there to the Lincoln Memorial, which I had to see because I had a huge crush on Lincoln as a kid (probably because I'm from Nevada and we're all fetishists out here, lol). Even though we were melting, we were also able to duck into the National Archives for a bit, and I would have liked to see more, but we ran out of time before having to go to the airport.

We got to the airport in time to have a nice Italian dinner near the gate and cool off before we jetted to Iceland. For some reason, I had thought the flight was really long, like the other flights we've been on to Europe, so the six-hour flight was a pleasant enough surprise. (Not sure why I thought this. When you look at the map, that logic does not make sense.) I was a little put off because Mike had booked us seats in an exit row, and what's very different about Iceland air is they don't let you put anything under the seat during take-off and landing if you're in an exit row, so it was a bit hard to entertain myself during the flight. At least it was a short-enough flight!

When we got to Iceland, it was 6:00 in the morning their time. We didn't sleep at all on the flight, and with the seven hour time difference, we were bound to crash pretty hard when we did. After a bus ride to our hotel, where we found out we couldn't check into our room until 2:00 in the afternoon, we ate an odd breakfast and stared at a large TV in the lounge where they were playing some BBC show about pornography addiction or something, which just added to the very surreal nature of the whole experience of finally being in Iceland.

We were able to get into the room earlier than expected, a very tiny but modern room that was Mike's least favorite of the whole trip. Here we figured out that Mike's phone wasn't working which lead us to try to find a phone store to fix it. After that, we found food then crashed for a bit in the middle of the day before waking up, showering and heading to the Reykjavik Botanical Gardens, which is all we had the energy for. We were able to watch some Olympics before turning in for the night because I love the Olympics. Haha.

Day 2 (Reykjavik to Borgarnes):
Mike went out and got the car rental in the morning, which was good because we needed it! This day started out very rainy. We experienced most of the extreme shifts in Icelandic weather, all in this one day! One minute it would be sunny, the next, down-pouring rain, the next, cold, etc. It was quite the introduction to the country. This is also where we got our first taste of the road, which had no shoulder. Even the main road all around Iceland, called the Ring Road, is mostly a two-lane road, with certain parts that are covered in gravel rather than paved and one-lane bridges littering the landscape. With a population as small as theirs, you can get away with this, since there were long stretches of road where we would see little to no one driving, which was a bit bizarre at times. To get back to my main point, though, the roads have no shoulders to pull off the road onto unless there is a rest-area or point of interest nearby, so you have to be very careful to stay on the road until it is safe to pull over. Most of the places you can pull over to have giant maps of the area, though, which is pretty cool if you're lost.

I spent most of this day in awe of the landscape. There is little I can think to compare it to, especially coming from Nevada. You could see desert, moss, geothermal fields, lava flows, glaciers and other crazy things all in the same day if you went a certain route, it seemed. Very different from anything I've ever seen before.

We packed a ton into this day. We walked around Kerid, a volcanic crater with a beautiful blue pool in the bottom of it (you could hike down too, but given Mike and my respective foot injuries, we didn't want to risk not being able to get back up). We toured Skalholt, an ancient center of learning that was mostly a really old church. (Even though Icelanders are not religious people, it seems that, like many other areas in Europe, church sites were centers of learning that sought to educate and protect ancient people in a way that has lasted into modern times). Nearby to Skalhold was Geysir, which is a geothermal field with geysers that go off at certain intervals. (The big geyser is the one that was firing that day. The little geyser, which the site is named for, hasn't erupted since the 70s. Fun fact, the English name for this phenomena comes from the original Icelandic.) Lastly, we stopped by Pingvellir, a UNESCO site noted for not only its historical and cultural significance (being the ancient site of Icelandic parliament for many years) but also its geological significance (the same place is the site of the meeting of two tectonic plates, the European and Asian I think?). Very very cool to see even if we didn't make it all the way down to the actual site of where parliament was because it was too far of a walk. I would definitely like to see more UNESCO sites in my lifetime, though, as it was endlessly fascinating.

We drove to our hotel for the night in Borgarnes. This room ended up being the largest of the rooms we stayed in, with something like three bedrooms and a kitchenette. The man who showed us in also made sure to point out a small puddle of water on the floor and tell us not to slip on it. (?) Like many around Iceland, the place was heated by geothermal power, which lead to a distinct smell of sulfur whenever we turned on the hot water. We'd get semi-used to this as the days went on, though the plumbing was never really all that kind to us and we had problems in every hotel bathroom we stayed in, some worse than others.

In town, we ended up eating at the local cultural museum and walking around a bit before retiring back to the room, where I colored in a coloring book I brought while Mike watched British comedies off of BBC. I think we were still very jet-lagged at this point, so that's our excuse. ;)

Whew, this is definitely a work in progress, and I'm a little tired and sore at the moment. I will be back with more hopefully soon.
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