Monday, October 24, 2016

Iceland 2016: landing in Keflavik

Well, I'm in Iceland! 

The time is 7:45am and it's still completely pitch-black dark outside. It's also sleeting and guess who's rain gear is in their checked backpack? This guy. My flight out of Chicago's O'Hare International Airport was surprisingly quick, it only took about 5 hours and 24 minutes to arrive north, across the pond at Keflavik International Airport. Flying on Icelandair was a charm. You're handed a bottle of mineral water sourced from a glacier in Iceland as soon as you arrive onboard and the plane I flew on, a Boeing 757 was named after one of Iceland's volcanoes (just like the whole Icelandair fleet is). 
Everything about this airline is like outdoor adventure-themed, and I love it. The whole in-flight safety video is done with animated graphics overlaying video clips of people hiking, kayaking, scaling a glacier in Iceland. For example, when the video is narrating how to evacuate the aircraft in a water emergency, it shows a video clip of people jumping off a cliff into a pool of water below. An animated inflatable slide that you'd find popping out of an airplane is overlayed over it so it looks like they're jumping down the slide. Random, but pretty sweet. Even the in-seat entertainment system's default screen shows the Icelandair logo on a photo of a tent in the backcountry. Super cool. This 757 sat 3 by 3 abreast and luckily I had a window seat and an entire row to myself to stretch out across. I attempted to catch a few hours of sleep, under the thick warm quilts the flight attendants gave us. Being 6'2, I did have generous amounts of legroom but perhaps my overall excitement kept me awake. I'm running on maybe 2 hours of sleep. Bring on the jetlag haha.

We landed at around 6:30am and departed the airport, walking across the tarmac towards customs and immigration. Boom, another stamp in the passport. Heck yes. The airport in Keflavik international airport is filled with travelers my age from all over the world. One of the best things I like about airports is just seeing this wave of diversity and talking with people to learn where they're from and what their backstory is. I picked up my bags and headed for the duty-free shop to buy a pre-paid SIM card for my old Nokia brick phone I used when I lived in Vietnam years ago. It still works! Even though just about the entire country has free Wi-Fi, cellular service with AT&T is non-existent. That's totally okay with me though. 

Exiting customs with my pack on my back, I stopped at a cafe to grab a coffee, road map of Iceland, and a croissant for breakfast. I'm writing this post from that cafe at this moment and an early 2000s Usher album and a bit of T-Pain is the music of choice playing over the speakers. Well, the sun has yet to come up and won't until about 9am, so I'm going to catch a quick nap, pick up the rental car. and get on the Ring Road. The sunsets is at 5:09pm today, gotta take advantage of the daylight, and explore this new country.