Although it was not our intention to spend a day and night in Iceland on our way to Scotland, I would highly recommend doing it if you had the opportunity. Icelandair even encourages the layover by not charging people extra to have an extended stop in Keflavik/Reykjavik before heading on to their final destination. I wouldn't think you'd need very much time there to get a great feel for the country--I think two days would be sufficient--and the two main attractions (from what I could tell) are the famous Blue Lagoon geothermal spa and the rather charming city of Reykjavik. And, of course, there's the volcano. My aunt and uncle spent two weeks there, and a former student of mine is spending six weeks there this summer, so of course a person can find things to do. But. If you were doing a whirlwind kind of trip, you can do a lot in one or two days.
Brother Tyler and Sarah are hoping to visit Andrea next year, and after my relatively lovely experience, they're thinking they might travel with Icelandair and have a (planned) stop in Iceland. I hope they do. (And, of course, I hope their plane doesn't break down in Seattle like ours did.)
We landed in Iceland at 9:30 in the morning, and pretty quickly learned that we would be stuck there for the day and night because there were no more flights to mainland Europe.
It was one of those "it is what it is" deals, and even though I was mightily disappointed I wasn't going to be taking a nap in my sister's Glasgow flat that afternoon, we thought we might as well make the best of it. It helped that the airline covered our hotel stay and meals while we were in Iceland.
All of us who had missed our connecting flights were bussed to a hotel, and by a happy accident Jason and I had to sit on the floor at the front of the bus. I chatted up our driver who told me that there were two things a person could do: go to the Blue Lagoon (we didn't have swimsuits, so we opted not to) or take a bus from the hotel to Reykjavik. I learned from my dad and the few group tours I've been on that sitting at the front of the bus is a good idea because (1) you might find out some fabulous information from the bus driver and (2) you will be the first person off the bus.
Getting off the bus first at the hotel proved to be a major bonus because we got checked into our hotel room quickly. After many long hours of traveling, I was feeling a bit desperate for a shower.
If I had had my international wits about me, I would have inquired straight away at the hotel desk for a city map and when and where the next bus was going into town. But because I was tired and hungry and didn't know exactly what we were going to do for the day, we didn't ask until later in the afternoon. And, alas, when we did make it into Reykjavik we had only a short window of time to be there because we needed to make sure we got the last bus back to our hotel.
That small mistake notwithstanding, we were still able to see a bit of Iceland.
First we ate lunch. We ordered the local fish, which, for a non-fish eater like myself, was a bit more fishy and salty for my taste.
But we nibbled at it, and patted ourselves on the back for trying something new. However, for dinner we had the chicken.
Near our hotel:
Reykjavik really is a beautiful city, and I wish we could have spent more time there but it was quite cold and we had not packed for those kind of temperatures; and it got dark rather early, and we didn't want to be wandering around the city in the dark.
We still got to wander around a bit and managed to find the Hofdi House.
Its claim to fame is being the location where Reagan and Gorbachev met to discuss ending the Cold War. Hooray for historical sites!
Very pretty building.
It wasn't open for tourists, but I was happy to see it anyway. And it gave us the opportunity to have an adventure not unlike the kind you see on Amazing Race.
We had to hustle to get the Hofdi House in order to take pictures and then be able to run back to the bus station to catch our bus.
The distance wasn't that far--not even a mile--so we were pretty confident that we would be okay on time. But, not being quite familiar with how roads intersected, we misread our map and ended up overshooting the bus station and ending up on the wrong side of a freeway. We finally got on top of a hill to see where we needed to go. We had about 4 minutes to get to a location that seemed a long ways away, so we started sprinting down the shoulder of some major road. We were darting across traffic, running down embankments, and checking our watches every 30 seconds.
We run into the bus depot's parking lot to see our bus. driving. away.
And, Amazing Race fans, you would have been proud of me.
We saw that the bus was going to have to backtrack a bit through the parking lot to get out onto the road, so I ran through the parking lot, waving my arms, and eventually running in front of the bus so that it would stop and let us on.
We made the bus.
So, that was our adventure in Iceland. It was lovely, and while I don't imagine I will ever go back, if I had the chance I would.
I went to sleep dreaming of having elevensies with my sister the following day.
Unfortunately, we got to the airport and discovered that Icelandair doesn't fly to Glasgow on Mondays, and so we would be routed through Amsterdam and arrive in Glasgow that evening.
It was one thing to miss a day with my sister. It was an entirely other thing to miss TWO days with my sister, and have to waste more time hanging out in an airport instead of hanging out in Scotland.
I was undone.
I cried and cried and talked to a very nice airline representative who told me there was nothing that could be done. Perhaps we could be on the flight to Manchester (England), but there were no guarantees that we could catch the flight from Manchester to Glasgow. Please, I sobbed, I just want to get to Glasgow. She was sympathetic, but when you're dealing with airplanes and flight plans and small things like oceans, there's only so much a person can do.
We flew from Iceland to Amsterdam, and what seemed like a small eternity, flew from Amsterdam to Glasgow.
I finally got to see my sister.
And our Scotland Adventure finally began! First stop: Edinburgh.