– Denton, Texas to Reykjavík, Iceland –

Kristy here, as special correspondent for Ripley, who unfortunately couldn’t make this particular journey, since no one is putting my precious baby in the cargo hold of an airplane. Maybe someday (haha) we will have a private jet, and Ripley can travel the world, but for now, no planes for Ripley.

So, if you didn’t hear about this, Mark had a work conference in Iceland this week, and he actually left on April 8th. He’s been in Iceland for almost a week, and I left for Iceland today. Well, yesterday, but with timezones and whatnot, it would be a little confusing for me to refer to any of this by a specific day, so let’s just say I’ve had one really long day that encompassed April 14th, when I left DFW, and and April 15th, when I arrived in Iceland. Since it was all one day for me, it will all be one post.

Anyway, his work paid for his plane ticket, so all we needed to pay for was mine, so we decided we would vacation here when he was done with his work for the week. Iceland has recently become a pretty popular tourist destination since flights here have become much less expensive than they once were. April is a little early in the season, but it isn’t covered in snow anymore, so that’s a plus.

Our adorable hotel (with kitchenette) in Reykjavík
Our adorable hotel (with kitchenette) in Reykjavík

Whew. Ok, so now I will get to the meat of my story and stop explaining myself. I got up at 4:30am this morning so Ripley and I could get some exercise before we were trapped on a plane or in a cage all day, depending on which one of us you’re talking to. We worked out for an hour each, and then I went to the airport, and Ripley hopped in her big cage to spend the day waiting for her grandma to get off of work and come to pick her up and whisk her off to the farm in Gainesville for some bonding time with dear Uncle Django, my parents’ red heeler mix. She drives him crazy, so I’m sure he was thrilled to see her.

My flight left around 10am, and I had a very long layover at JFK, in New York. I got to sit around for about 6 hours, waiting on my flight to Iceland, which left just after 9pm, Eastern Standard Time. Let me tell you, that makes for a really long day, and I would argue that my day was only half over, considering that I arrived in Reykjavík at about 6:30am, Greenwich Mean Time. If you travel a lot, you know that the best way to avoid jet lag is to try to immediately adopt the local time, so that meant that I wouldn’t go to bed until a reasonable hour Friday night (meaning at least another 14 hours awake).

Mark met me at the airport, which is actually in Keflavík, which is 30ish miles outside of Reykjavík. The airport is called Keflavík International Airport, and it was built by the US military during WWII. In 2006, the airport was completely transferred to the government of Iceland, and it became the international airport, while the airport in Reykjavík itself transitioned to operating only domestic flights. It still is not a large airport by any means, which I appreciated. It was very obvious where I needed to go, despite the language differences.

Kristy in front of Hallgrímskirkja
Kristy in front of Hallgrímskirkja

To be fair, and let me clarify this here and now, very many signs here in Iceland also include an English translation. Iceland has a population of around 330,000 people (60% of whom live in the capitol region), which is a little smaller than the city of Arlington, Texas, which has a population of 379,000. As you can imagine, the people of Iceland need another language to communicate more easily with the rest of the world, so many people here learn English in school. So far, we haven’t met anyone we couldn’t communicate with. But I guess that’s me getting ahead of myself.

So, from Keflavík, Mark and I rode a bus back to his hotel in Reykjavík. I (very excitedly) took a shower and brushed my teeth when I arrived. It’s so nice to feel clean after a long flight. Since it was still so early in the morning, I cheated and decided to sleep for a couple of hours before Mark needed to head back to his meetings in the afternoon (since Friday and Saturday morning were still technically conference days). Before noon, Mark woke me up, and I sat in the hotel room in my pajamas and tried valiantly to stay awake for the rest of the day. It can be really hard, and I dozed off once, but I managed to stay awake until Mark got back from his meeting after 5pm.

I took another shower (more to wake me up than anything), and we went out to dinner with his colleagues from the conference. I can’t imagine my conversation was very witty, considering I hadn’t slept enough to keep a giraffe going for the past two days. The restaurant was rather upscale, and the menu included Icelandic delicacies like horse, puffin, and whale. I wasn’t terribly impressed with that, as you can imagine, but I did have a lovely bean loaf, which seems to be a rather prolific vegetarian option here in Iceland. It was basically a chickpea patty over a vegetable stir fry with a mild tomato sauce. It was fine, but considering how expensive it was, I was pretty embarrassed that I couldn’t even finish half of my plate. Everyone makes fun of American portions, but I haven’t visited a country with portion-sizes that were any smaller for anything other than soft drinks, but I digress.

Skyr, delicious and filling Icelandic yogurt
Skyr, delicious and filling Icelandic yogurt

Since it was still a little early to go to bed, we wandered around the city for a little while, taking in the sights. We didn’t stay out too long, but the days are already quite long here, so we had plenty of daylight left. When summer comes, nights here will be shorter than they were in Alaska, since we are slightly further north.

It is also worth mentioning that the weather is still quite cool. The average daily temperatures are around 40°F, and the mountains surrounding the city are still covered in snow. Since we will be spending some time outside the city starting tomorrow, I expect we will be seeing quite a bit more of it as we travel around the rest of the country.

As it got a little later, we stopped by a grocery store and picked up some skyr, or Icelandic yogurt, for our breakfast tomorrow. Mark has conference work to finish up until around noon, and then at 3, we are picking up the car we will be using for the rest of the week. We are going horseback riding on Sunday, so stay tuned for more intriguing days than this one. I don’t think you’ll regret it (at least not too much).

– Trip Total :  4,050 miles

[ Quickie total tally: 37 miles (home to DFW by car) + 1,391 miles (DFW to JFK by plane) + 2,590 miles (JFK to KEF by plane) + 32 miles (KEF to Reykjavík) ]

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