With some navigational help from an old friend, we left Brooklyn on Wednesday afternoon with spirits high, ready to begin the next phase of our journey. The night before leaving we checked in for our flight and opted for seats in row 6 thinking, at the time, that it was a bulkhead row and it would therefore provide more legroom for the 5.5 hour flight to Iceland. The IcelandAir website and SeatGuru had different configurations for the cabin layout and so we double checked with the counter agent when we arrived at JFK. She told us that row 6 was not a bulkhead.
We were prepared for a long cramped flight. Then, when we boarded the plane, we discovered that the "non-bulkhead" seat was actually the last row of first class, extra-wide seating! The first-class curtain had been moved forward a row. Pure bliss!
I decided to celebrate with an Icelandic beer.
Since we were directly behind the "real" first class, we also had the opportunity to sneak some peaks at the mysteries happening "behind the curtain." Behold... First Class Oshibori!
Our first glimpse of Iceland through the airplane window included a beautiful sunset... at 11:45 PM. This sunset probably lasted around 2 to 3 hours while we took a bus from the airport into the city of Reykjavík.
The novelty of the "midnight sun" did not quickly wear off...
The first order of business was to procure some dinner. Unfortunately, just because the sun is out does not mean that the locals are awake and serving up food to hungry tourists. Sadly, we had to settle for Subway. But, I still managed to convince myself into believing that the tuna in my Túnfisksalat was caught by local fisherman. We can dream, right? Since this Subway franchise was inside a gas station, we also perused some other local snack options.
Our hunger sated, we went on to further explore the city. We were still struck by how odd it seemed to have the sky lit up by the sun while all the streets were completely empty. We only ran into maybe two or three people (perhaps silently returning home from the bar - or going to work at Subway?) and five or six cars while we were out and about, but indicators all around the city pointed to a group of people with a wonderful sense of humor.
We also fell victim to some pranksters while walking down a line of shops in Reykjavík. A guy in a car pulled up and asked us if we knew where he could find the closest ATM. As we were explaining that we didn't know the area, his partner in crime in the backseat sprung up from his hidden position on the floor and squirted us with his water bottle. Jerk. Fortunately, we were wearing our rain jackets to keep warm and so we stayed dry. I'm not sure if this guy was a local or not, but this was a somewhat tame reminder to us to remain on guard for worse as we travel around the world.
So as to not end on a sour note, I'll add that we befriended two kittens on our walk and also ran into Leif in the middle of town.
We got the impression (as much as one can from a brief walk around the city) that Iceland was a quaint, artsy country with a lot of pride in its past. We wish that we could have stayed a bit longer to explore.
But now, we are safely tucked away in our hotel in Amsterdam and have more to see and learn in Holland!
For more beautiful pictures of the Iceland countryside I have to plug Arnitr, who is a contact that I've had on flickr for a while. Great pictures!