Thursday, August 3, 2017

The Trip Over and Day 1.

View of Dulles Airport from arrival gate.
 I left Alaska at 1:30 AM, mostly awake but not recovered from the previous trip.  I was only home 23 hours before winging away to Iceland.   The first flight got to Seattle but we had to wait a while before the plane could get to the gate because the other plane had not left yet. 

In Seattle, I took the same plane to Washington, DC where we got there and had to wait almost an hour before the plane at the gate moved out so we could finally park.  Fortunately, my connecting flight was not for another couple hours.
I had to go from gate B35 to A20 so I had a wonderful walk between the two.  One of the unique things I discovered that blew my mind, is the smoking lounge I found.  Its a closed room where smokers could go to enjoy their cigarette before heading off to take their plane.

There were several people in the room taking advantage of this opportunity.  I think this is the first airport I've seen with this particular advantage.  It was hidden away between two restaurants.

I guess this is a nice facility but if someone who was extremely allergic to smoke walked by as the door opened, they might have a problem.  Other than that, it worked quite well.
 On the way between gates, I discovered this wonderful little spa for people who need to relax a bit from the stress of traveling.  If I hadn't been so tired, I might have taken advantage of it.  I was afraid of falling asleep during the massage.

It was on a corner part way to the gate.  I love the title but it describes how I feel when I get a good massage.  Years ago, just before I had eye surgery, I had a wonderful body massage to fully relax me so I wouldn't worry.  It worked beautifully.  In fact, I was so relaxed, I appeared almost drunk.
 Further down the way, on the left hand side, I found a Chapel for those who needed solace.  While I waited for my flight I heard an announcement of a Christian service beginning at 7:30 for those who wished to attend.

I grabbed a picture as I walked by.  I'm not used to seeing many Chapels at airports.  They might exist in most airports but I don't usually find them. 

This one looked as if had someone on duty when I strolled by.
 The gate for my flight is here.  It was moved a couple of times before it settled at gate A20.  I arrived early enough, I saw Air France loading up its huge plane destined for Paris.

They loaded by area calling out the numbers beginning with one and it was done in both French and English. 

Although the plane was due to leave at 8:35, it did not leave the gate till a bit later and once on the  runway, the pilot stated we'd be delayed another half hour to 3/4th of an hour due to storms out over the ocean. We finally got on our way just before 10 PM.

The plane had 7 seats across in a 2-3-2 format with toilets placed along the way so they were not all in the back.  That meant, you didn't have to struggle back if you were only at row 15.

The picture to the right was taken from the airplane.  I saw a sliver of light flashing across the sky but it disappeared before coming back.

I do not know if it was the northern lights, aka Aurora Borealis or sunrise, either way it was absolutely breathtaking.  The picture did not do justice to the deep fiery reds at the bottom.
 Finally, we reached Iceland about 5 hours later.  This picture is taken of Iceland as the plane approached for a landing.  The ground is flat and of a color reminding me of the tundra from my part of Alaska.

In fact, even after landing, it was rather desolate without any hills, trees, or green.  It was totally flat but you could easily see the ocean from the ground. 

The airport is located about a 45 minute ride from Reykjavik and requires some sort of transportation to get between the two.  I paid for a bus to take me directly to the hotel rather than trying to figure out how it works.

When I get to Finland, I will try to figure out the local bus system because I have time. 
The plane parked way out at the edge of the tarmac to debark and catch a bus to the terminal.  since we were running a bit late, one of the first things I did was to find the restroom.

It is very different to those in the United States. There are individual stalls with sinks and toilets.  The picture to the right is of the sink.  You place your hands under the center end to get water but when you want to dry your hands, you put them by the outer wings to activate a flood of air.

It looks odd but it was sooooo cool.
 I found this on the wall as I wove my way to baggage claim.  It is obvious, they are redoing the airport so things are a bit strange but I loved the sign.  In addition, it does not say baggage claim this way on its signs, it says "Arrival" so you follow those signs.

As soon as we got off the plane, the area had a huge self service restaurant just next to the stairs taking you down to the bathrooms.  There is an elevator for those who cannot do stairs.  It is fast and easy to use.

Every so often, I found information booths, small nooks with a latter i on the outside.  Fortunately, most people here speak English in addition to Icelandic so that makes it easier.

There are also tourist spots advertised on the wall giving people a chance to find out what is available.  Even my hotel offers to get you on tours should you want to go on one.

I followed the signs leading to baggage claim but first I had to go through Passport control.  It was easy and they had people available to help you find the correct line. 

As soon as you get out of passport control, you end up at the baggage claim area.  It took a while for our luggage to arrive due to parking so far out. 

My two bags were among the last off loaded.  When you have your luggage, it is time to go through customs but it is recommended you stop at the huge duty free shop.   Customs was easy as I had nothing to declare.
 Once out of everything, I found the bus to get on for a ride into town.  I grabbed a picture of this sculpture found on the outer edges of the parking at the airport.  I have no idea what it is made of but its quite pretty.

It is almost like the rest of the rainbow tore away, leaving only this.

We took the road out of the airport, heading for Reykjavik.  It is a beautiful two lane road each way filled with roundabouts and exits for people to hike, picnic, or just stop to view the scenery.  

It took quite a while to get to town because the speed limit was never over 60 kph which is about 35 or 40 mph.  I had time to enjoy the view as we drove.
 As we drove into town, I saw some clouds in the distance by a hill which might have been vapor plumes from a geothermal entity.  The ground got rougher and I started seeing hills off in the distance.

We passed small towns filled with low rise apt buildings, saw the rough shores filled with black volcanic rock, or trails which seemed to go nowhere.

This picture shows the two lane road going toward the airport.
This area shows small bodies of water found inland.  The shore is quite rough but there are more hills so the countryside does not have as windswept a look as earlier. 

If you look carefully to the right, you see something resembling a crane used at a port.  We ended up driving right by it.  There were tons of shipping containers.

It seems as if none of the towns we passed were ever far from the water.  I even saw a freighter chugging out in the ocean, parallel to the shore.

I finally go to the hotel around 9AM but we had to wait till 2 to check in so I spend time dozing in a chair  I tried not to sleep but couldn't help dozing off a fair bit.  As soon as I got my room, I fell into bed and slept for 5 solid hours.  As soon as I get this written and my other blog updated, I'm off to bed.

Tomorrow, I am going around town to shop for a few things to eat and check out some local sights.  I'll have more pictures for you including my hotel.  Its more of a hostel than a regular hotel.  I got a room with shared bathroom to save money.  The wonderful thing is it comes with a shared kitchen and free internet.

Check back tomorrow for additional information. Saturday, I'm scheduled to take a day long tour of the southern part of the island so I'll share the photos either later Saturday or Sunday.  Let me know what you think.  Have a great day.

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