My thoughts on the trip to Iceland. Travel blog to follow. Want EVE stuff? Then wait for the next post.
I flew out of Dammam, Saudi Arabia. Of course, most international flights leave at absurd hours, somewhere between midnight and 4 am. Of course, I’m UTC +3, so it really isn’t late for anyone else. I used KLM to Amsterdam, and a connection with IcelandAir (which I thought was Icelandic, but evidently that airline went away in 1979…go figure).
KLM (I have nicknames for all airlines, KLM being KMFDM) isn’t really a good airline. The flight crew members were very friendly and helpful, but the A-330-200 used was worn and a number of things were worn or broken. My return flight forced me to sit in a seat I didn’t want because my seat was unable to recline…in business class! I fly business class because 1. I can afford it and 2. I need the extra space. The food was lackluster, although I only ate the breakfast on the outbound flight. After having worked a full day and staying awake until the flight, I needed my Zs, so I didn’t eat dinner. KMFDM’s seats in business are not lay-flat, so sleeping was difficult.
And I had forgotten my Ambien…rats.
On flights I normally load up on Deadmau5 and just snooze. It worked this time, probably sleeping 3 out of the 6 hours of flight. It was enough, I think.
In Amsterdam, I had almost an 8 hour layover. I checked in to the IcelandAir (Icelandic, dammit!) to spend the day. The front desk clerk told me I should just jump on the train and head into town. I told him no, I’d get into too much trouble.
They have coffee houses, ya know.
The Icelandic lounge isn’t a true Saga level lounge, but rather a ServiceAir lounge shared by every airline under the sun. It was small and not very well stocked compared to other international lounges. I would be allowed to use the KMFDM one on the outbound flight, but due to a much shorter layover (and layout of Schipol airport, I was not able to check it out).
I sat in the lounge for about 7 hours, playing EVE and Minecraft. I jumped on TeamSpeak and chatted with one of my corpies from California. And I drank beer.
Mmmm, beer. Strictly forbidden here in Saudi, and I’m not brave enough to try the bathtub gin produced by several of my co-workers. So, getting a chance to drink is much like when I was in the Navy and on liberty: binge, binge, binge!
The Icelandic flight was comfortable on a Boeing 757-200. The business class seats are nice for the short 3 hour trip. And the food! Very delicious. Surprising, as I’ve heard nothing but negative feedback about Icelandic. I must have gotten lucky, I guess.
Iceland & Reykjavik:
Keflavik airport (Meeks Field for the history buffs) is small, but it should be. There aren’t many people in Iceland, about 320,000 or so. My current residence, Al Jubail, has a population of 225,000. Reykjavik, my destination, only has about 118,000. Where, like we say back home, everybody knows everybody, and nobody knows nothing.
Keflavik is in the flat lava landscapes about 50 minutes outside of Reykjavik. There is a bus service that is reasonably cheap, but I chose a taxi. I was able to talk to a driver and get the skinny about the place. He was very helpful.
I stayed in the Guesthouse Sunna, which is a typical Euro-style guesthouse. And with everything in Iceland, it is fairly expensive for what you get. Plenty of hot water though, with that wonderful sulfury aroma.
Reykjavik is at the foot of the mountains, so the scenery is beautiful. There are a few touristy things to see, which I pretty much ignored. I’ll leave them for another trip. The city feels small, and the downtown area is fun to walk around in…if you don’t mind the weather or inclines.
And jeez, it is cold. I went from 40 degrees Celsius in Saudi to 40 degrees Fahrenheit with a stiff wind and some rain. I brought a coat, but it was really too heavy for daytime. And really was too warm even at night.
Of course, I don’t remember many nights. I drank pretty heavily, and if it weren’t for photographic evidence, I would have thought I visited fewer bars than I did.
And the sun: it is up all the time. Or pretty close to it. And it was only May. Nothing like latitude to mess with your circadian rhythms.
DEE-fucking-lishus. I never had a bad meal. Even the burgers at the Harpa were decent. Moreover, the lamb steaks and cutlets in town were incredible. The lobster soup is definitely something to try. I did not get a chance to have a hot dog from the stand in the city center, but they are supposed to be the best ever.
Oh yeah, did I mention that EVERYTHING IS WAY EXPENSIVE? Island nations, especially small, non-industrial ones, have to import practically everything. And the price tags show. Even the local beer isn’t cheap. I had a large budget to blow on this, and I pretty much spent all of it. Every evening meal was at least $60 per person. I know I was laying out more than that.
But it was good. Oh so good.
People were generally friendly. A number of them didn’t quite get why I said “g ’morinin’” to them. Perhaps it is a cultural disconnect. Or, maybe, they didn’t want to speak to this tool of a tourist. Who knows? English was very common, and all menus and signs were in both íslenska and English.
Tasty as tasty can be. Stuck on themselves, though, but that is typical from what I understand of Icelandic culture. Women have to be strong because the men are douches. Of course, no cutie would give this guy a second glance, but I like to think they did.
AND…yoga pants. Lots and lots and lots of yoga pants. Thank you. (Any gal wanting to model their yoga pants to see if they stack up against the Icelandic girls, please email the author).
Beer and Booze:
The beer was ok, but always seemed a little watery. Still, better than typically American mass-produced lagers (this from a guy who mainly drinks Lone Star).
The booze…well, the local liquor sucks. A bad take on bottom shelf gin, I couldn’t stomach it. Fortunately, my corpies brought plenty of good Scotch.
AAAAAND everything was expensive. Even the local stuff. *sigh*
A nice place to visit, but I wouldn’t want to live there. Too cold for this Southern boy, and vastly too expensive. Now, if I could make Saudi $$$ in Iceland, I could be persuaded to stay.
So, sorry for the travel blog. I will follow up with my take on FanFest. I was hoping to have my video completed by now of the trip, but I have been a bit too lazy.