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Iceland & Greenland Adventures - Part IAuthor: Linda V. (More Trip Reviews by Linda V.)
Date of Trip: July 2005
June 29, 2005 Wednesday; 11:55 p.m. Icelandair Flight Vacation - Day 1
Oh my gosh!! I'm sitting in business class, and I have my own row! Woo hoo!! What a treat. I'm just so excited!
Darlene and I got to the airport at 9:30PM and found the Icelandair counter. No passengers in line - yeah! The ticket agent for business class called us over, and I said, "Oh cool! You're gonna upgrade us!" He laughed implying, "in your dreams." We joked around with him, and he got ready to hand us our boarding passes. My friend, Renee, is traveling from Columbus, Ohio to meet us in Iceland and her flight was cancelled due to weather. She'll try to leave tomorrow. The agent printed our boarding passes and gave us the good news, "For your friend's troubles...you've been upgraded!" We thanked him repeatedly and chatted a bit more.
Off we headed to Gate 12A and waited about an hour or so to board. Naturally I kept gushing about being in business class - seat 4A. When we got on the plane we discovered that there is no first class - we're in the best seats of the house. Yippety do dah. I've got 3 pillows (one from home), 2 blankets, 2 travel gift packs. I'm really living. They gave us a choice of juice, wine or water, when we boarded the plane. Then they came around with the digeplayer. I can watch 8 movies, a bunch of TV shows, and music videos. I just don't know what to watch first! I also have my iPod Shuffle - loaded up with 200+ songs, so I am set.
Let me go into details about the trip. Nina (my roommate from Antarctica), Renee (also from my Antarctica trip) and I all booked this trip in October. Darlene decided to join us and booked the trip 2 months ago. GAP Adventures is our tour company. They led my trip to Antarctica last year. Since then they have purchased the Little Red Boat (the Explorer) and do all kinds of adventure cruises. This will be their inaugural trip to Iceland and Greenland. We received a 15% discount from the regular rate of $2795 (still expensive). The price has since gone up to $3075. This trip is called the Fjords & Viking Odyssey. We're on the boat for 12 days traveling from Iceland to Greenland, doing zodiac cruises and hopefully seeing lots of wildlife (polar bears, walruses, whales and puffins). This will be great. We have a chance to go on a ton of zodiac cruises. In Antarctica, we were only able to do these 2½ days out of 11. After the cruise we'll spend five days in Reykjavik. I've rented a car for us, and we're staying at Room With A View - apartments right in the downtown. They came highly recommended on various message boards. Originally my reservation was for Room 602 at $159 per night. With Darlene joining us, the room was too small, so I had to go with Room 510 at $280 per night. Ouch! At least we're splitting it 4 ways.
Renee was originally going with her boyfriend, but they split up. She lost his $500 deposit and switched to our room. Darlene will be with 2 strangers. This should be a fabulous trip. Friday morning we're all supposed to go horseback riding on the Icelandic ponies. The weather forecast is rain and wind...hmm...we'll just make the best of it. We are hoping to go dog sledding at the end of our trip. Let's keep our fingers crossed. The 10-day forecast shows temperatures of 55 for a high and 40's for a low with rain every day. Sunrise is at 3 AM and sunset at midnight. That'll give us plenty of time to play.
Well I better drink my split of champagne and check out my digeplayer...I've ordered the tandoori chicken salad for dinner along with chocolate cake. I had to pass on the foie gras, prosciutto-wrapped cod, and goat cheese stuffed Portobello mushroom. Ahh...
June 30, 2005 Thursday; 10:10 p.m. Reykjavik, Iceland Vacation - Day 2
We arrived after the fabulous business class flight - it took less than 8 hours. Unfortunately wasn't able to finish watching "The Wedding Date." The movie had about 10 minutes to go when the flight attendant took my digeplayer away. Bummer! Too bad the flight wasn't a bit longer.
We went through immigration very quickly. This is the first time I remember not filling out a customs form. We had to wait quite awhile for our luggage at the carousel. We didn't find an ATM so we headed outside to the FlyBus. They accept credit cards (as do most places in Iceland). We boarded and headed from Keflavik to Reykjavik. The drive was nice - so far Iceland appears to be lots of volcanic rock. It's pretty with all the moss growing around it. The day was gray and wet. We had to transfer to a mini bus at the bus station and continued on to Room With a View.
Room With a View is an apartment building above a bookstore right in the center of town. We arrived at 4:30 p.m. and took the tiny elevator to the 4th floor reception and met the owner, Arni. He was very helpful. He brought us over to Room 512 with a small balcony and view over part of the city. The leather couch is very comfortable. The bathroom is pretty small. We have a kitchen behind folding doors and a small dining table. There is a double bed in the bedroom. The floors are all hardwood - overall fairly nice.
Arni gave us pointers on where to eat and walk. After changing, we headed out for several hours of walking. The town is really cute. Our hotel is on a great street - Laugavegur - plenty of shopping and restaurants. We found the 10/11 store. The Bonus Supermarket was already closed. Many stores close at 6:00 p.m. Restaurants and bars are open much later. We checked out the Icelandic Wool sweater place - ouch - mucho expensive! There is a cute one with the Icelandic ponies on it. I also found those "Thor" type hats with Viking horns. Nina and I may need to get some (and braid our hair).
We made our way to the harbor and found our boat, the Explorer, and tried to get aboard. Ernie from GAP came out and talked to us. He was on my Antarctica trip. We aren't allowed on the boat until 4PM tomorrow, but we can drop our luggage off earlier. The guard in the shack let us look at the manifest. It's not final, but it looks like those of us in triples got converted to doubles. Yeah! Now Renee will be in a room with a stranger from Canada, but at least it won't be real crowded. I suggested that they upgrade us to the Captain's Suite. Hey never hurts to ask! Ernie says the boat is not full - 80 passengers instead of the 110 or 120 it can fit.
We visited the tourist information center and collected some brochures. We continued walking and checking out menus and bakeries. We ended up at the fish 'n chips place. I settled for just chips -- frozen French fries, but they went down okay. One of the restaurants had a yummy looking chocolate cake - kind of a Death by Chocolate number. I'll have to go back for it tomorrow.
It's still pretty bright outside - I won't be able to stay up much longer. Viking horses in the morning! (Arni told us we can just leave our luggage in the room. He'll bring Renee and Nina up tomorrow morning.)
July 1, 2005 Friday; 11:58 p.m. The Explorer - Day 1; Vacation - Day 3 Icelandic Horses & Leaving Reykjavik, Iceland
"Once a journey is designed, equipped, and put in process, a new factor enters and takes over. A trip, a safari, an exploration, is an entity, different from all other journeys. It has personality, temperament, individuality, uniqueness. A journey is a person in itself; no two are alike. And all plans, safeguards, policing and coercion are fruitless. We find after years of struggle that we do not take a trip, a trip takes us." -- John Steinbeck, Travels With Charley
We are safely on the ship and heading north along the coast of Iceland. We'll then cut across toward Scoresby Sound in Greenland.
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