So last year was Iceland. That was pretty spur-of-the-moment. We decided in May and went in August. Done. I would love to go back, particularly to see northern and eastern Iceland.
This year is up in the air, though. St. Petersburg, Russia is maybe an option, but talks stalled a bit over the break, and I’m a little undecided on traveling with children. Greece or Germany are still appealing.
I’d toyed with going on an adventure cruise with Explor Cruises to the Amazon last year, but the prices were nauseating (see the “Voyage to the Heart of the Amazon”) and I didn’t get a great feeling when I spoke with the agent at Explor Cruises.
That exact same cruise is offered through a few other agencies, including REI, which at least gives proper credit to the actual company running the cruise, Amazon Nature Tours. It’s also cheaper through other agencies.
REI also offers a bunch of other tours. I could take up cycling and do a cycling tour in Europe. (Frankly, though, I find cycling in populated areas terrifying; probably not a good choice.)
In short, I want to take a big trip this year, I’d prefer it be international, but I’m having a bit of option paralysis.
It’s August 23rd. After an overnight flight (including my first “visit” to New York), I was blearily standing in Keflavik International Airport with The Runners. One (A.) was there to run a half-marathon, and M. was there for a full marathon.
I will never forget that first look at the beauty of Iceland from my plane. The color palette was just… different. Different greens and browns, and lots of black.
(One does not just fly in to Reykjavik, apparently, unless you’re already in Iceland or (maybe) the UK. One flies to Keflavik, then buses or drives to Reykjavik.)
So I was tired and wired, and it was my first time standing a place that didn’t have English as it’s first language on signs.
Before I left the airport, of course, I had to use the bathroom. The clean, huge, clean airport bathroom. It was a unisex bathroom with a full door in a hallway of a few bathrooms, rather than a stall.
I didn’t know public bathrooms could be so clean.
I let The Runners lead the way to the bus area and figure out where we were going. Two people trying to navigate is already the start of an argument; adding a third to the mix would have killed my fatigued calm.
As we head out of the attached bus station, I start to get a look at the landscape around me. It wasn’t (yet) drizzling, but it was a little chilly (the fairly static 10°C it stayed except in the glacier area).
The rocks were… black. (Basalt, so go figure, but still startling.) The grass was more like moss. The street signs were indecipherable–or, more accurately, decipherable in several ways, most of which were probably wrong.
I have traveled through or lived in cities and towns from Texas up to Kentucky/Indiana/Ohio, and up until then, I’d thought asphalt was asphalt. Nope. Clearly made of local rock, the roads and sidewalks were startlingly dark.
The bus ride was quiet, and I gazed eagerly out the windows at the landscape. Moss-grass over bumpy landscape as far as the eye could see (I was facing inland). People had made little rock towers in the fields along the roads. Normally I’d have guessed they were tiny graves, but they were pretty frequent and more like towers than piles. I couldn’t really get a good photo, courtesy of the speed of the bus and greyness of the day.
Once we got to town the Reykjavik bus station, we stood in the parking lot and spun in circles, trying to figure out where to go. We couldn’t really see Reykjavik proper from the station. My iPhone was either low on battery or unsure what to do without a proper data connection, and, well, The Runners already had navigation on their minds, so with a Surface, a couple of iPhones, and some mild exasperation, they picked a direction and we started walking towards what should have been our guesthouse.
It was drizzling and (still) chilly, which made the short 2/3 mile walk to get into the city a bit of a blur in my tired mind. I must have looked like a fish out of water, gaping at everything, alternately grinning in wonder and frowning at the weather, dragging my suitcase behind me.