Today, the real adventure begins.
Our flight to Iceland was not until 1.20pm in the afternoon. We got up early and had a fulfilling American style breakfast at Mad Restaurant. We needed to have a heavy breakfast because we decided to skip lunch and have a nice dinner instead upon arrival in Reykjavik, Iceland. As we ate, we planned on what we had to do upon arrival in the capital, before actually starting our road trip. Since we won’t be collecting our car till the following morning, we would have time to explore the city of Reykjavik and do some grocery shopping, stocking up on food for our road trip.
We headed back to our hostel, packed our luggage and prepared to check out of our hostel just before noon. My only regret was not being able to spend more time there, especially using that time to mingle with the other visitors and backpackers in the hostel, chilling in the lounge area, and finding out what other people were cooking up in the kitchens. The hostel fondly reminded me of the old days during my backpacking trip. Gosh I am getting old. Who knew, we could make a friend or two there if we stayed there for a couple more days.
As we arrived at the airport, we immediately checked in. Checked luggage weight restriction imposed by Iceland Air is 23kg per checked luggage. This is less generous than Singapore Airlines’s 30kg. But it wasn’t a problem for us. All of our huge luggage barely eked out 20kg each. Check-in was swift, as we did it ourselves using the self check-in terminal. All we simply had to do was loop our luggage tags around our luggage handles and hand over the luggage to the staff manning the conveyor belts. Once we were relieved of the burden, we calmly went through security and took our time to explore the transit area of Copenhagen Airport.
The transit area of Copenhagen Airport is quite nice. It’s not that big, but big enough to ensure that you are well occupied in terms of shopping and dining instead of being bored with nothing to do. They have a great selection of dining options, and had some interesting boutique shops selling interesting things from local brand names. Dark parquet furnishings covered the entire floorspace of the airport that softens the harsh concrete and steel facade. After exploring the airport to our heart’s content, we headed to our gate, where our plane awaited. This is the first time that all of us would board the plane of Iceland’s flagship carrier, Iceland Air.
It was a fairly short hop. Three hours from Copenhagen to Reykjavik. We knew that meals were not served onboard and comes at a premium, so we didn’t order any. I did not expect that there would be personal in-flight entertainment onboard the plane. Iceland Air exceeded all expectations. The screens behind each seat were large and in high resolution. Interacting with the entertainment system was done by touch. The screen itself is a touchscreen interface. The plane is fairly new, very clean. The seats, flushed leather, was wide. However, the legroom leaves something to be desired. It was not a big deal, as it was just a three hour journey. The cabin crews were polite and professional, which I appreciated very much. I realised much later that each and every Iceland Air plane had a name. The plane that we boarded was Hengill, named after a volcano on the southwest of Iceland. Neat.
Once we landed, we collected our luggage and headed out. We were informed earlier that someone would be there to pick us up. Someone with my name on a placard. I scanned the throng of people waiting just outside the doors, past the immigration checkpoint and managed to spot a man with my name on it. I approached him and he welcomed us to Iceland. As we exited the airport, and to his car (a Mercedes taxi to be precise, very posh), the first thing I realised was the immediate landscape. It was white! Everything was white! Snow everywhere. Packed snow grounded noisily beneath my shoes as I walked. It was truly the first time travelling to a country that has snow everywhere. I initially had a hard time walking, but I trudge my way forward nonetheless and soon found solid footing. I realised that I made the right decision in switching my pair of leather shoes to a pair of waterproof hiking boots. It made walking on slick ice and snow much easier.
The drive to our hotel took 45 minutes. We soon realized that it is conveniently located close to Laugavegur, a popular shopping street with lots of souvenir shops, fancy restaurants, clothing boutique stores, grocery stores, bars and pubs. Nordic Visitor certainly has chosen a very good location for our first night’s stay. Upon arrival, the taxi driver gave us a welcome package from Nordic Visitor, containing a folio. The folio is printed with the company logo, and in it contained a personal welcome letter, signed by our tour agent who arranged everything for us, our reservation vouchers for all our accommodation and outdoor activities, customized itinerary, a huge foldable travel map, meticulously annotated by hand by the man himself, a road trip guide book, and an emergency phone with credit and emergency numbers on speed dial. Colour me impressed. They not only value you as a tourist and a customer, but also value your safety while you are out there driving. That is how you treat your customers, with care and respect.
We got ourselves settled, admiring the cosy rooms that the hotel allocated to us. We headed out to the main street of Laugavegur, did a little bit of grocery shopping, and finally, finding a fancy little restaurant where can splurge for dinner, celebrating the momentous occasion of arriving in Iceland safely.
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