Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Iceland: Day 1

Tuesday was a very long day at work. Not because of the endless e-mails, or the training issues, or even the looping water cooler talk, but because that evening, I was going to Iceland.

A spur of the moment purchase landed me a 5 day, 4 night trip to Iceland through Livingsocial. The words, “airfare included,” made the deal too good to pass up for me and my friend, Emily.

An overnight flight to Iceland’s Keflavik airport had us landing at the pitch black hour of 6:30am on Wednesday and in proper Iceland style, it was raining. Our group of now DC, NYC, and Boston flights was greeted by a bright yellow parka and blaze orange hat. Her name I cannot spell, but sounded like the title of a pirate manning the cannons: Arrrrr-guuunner. (she shall now be known as “Argnr”)

In that early and beautiful morning, we raced through the darkness; past what Argnr told us were lava fields, on the way to our hotel in downtown Reykjavik. By the time we arrived, the black sky and rain were replaced by a light grey sky and rain. From there, we had two hours to check in to our rooms, eat breakfast, and, for some, take a nap. The rest of us, on the other hand, set out on a walking tour of the capitol city.

The hotel and center of town were located just a few blocks from the harbor. In no time we were walking past Icelandic coast guard ships and little fishing boats, clustered along the docks. In the distance you could see a pillar of light from the recently lit Imagine Peace Tower, a memorial to John Lennon by his widow, Yoko Ono.

But to me, the most impressive sight on that harbor was Harpa, Reykjavik’s Concert Hall. The massive structure of metal and glass seemed suspended over the harbor itself, past the edge of its pier. Inside, the massive foyer spanned all 3 floors with tables and cushioned chairs circling up to the ceiling.

From the back of the hall, out some fantastically geometric windows, you could see the entire bay and to the mountains beyond before it opened to the ocean.

After the music hall, it was back out into the rain and up to Hallgrimskirkja, the tallest cathedral in Iceland.

Once the tour came to an end and it was back to the hotel to book optional excursions for our free day and a happy hour with our fellow travelers. With our excursions booked and feet exhausted, Emily and I sat down to be properly welcomed to the country, a Viking beer and a shot of Brennivin.

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