Thursday, January 7, 2016

Day 1 - Winter in Europe - Reykjavik, Iceland

Day 1 - Traveling to Iceland

I can't believe that I am here in Europe as I write this post. It has truly been an adventure leading up to this point and we are only on Day 1. It's about 1:30 in the morning here in Reykjavik and I'm currently awake in the hopes that I might be able to see the Northern Lights. 

Starting back at SeaTac, we were informed that there was increment weather in Iceland (high wind gusts) and that the airport might be shutting down at the same time that we would have been arriving on Thursday morning. So an immediate detour was made to fly to Edmonton, Alberta to fuel up on extra fuel in case we needed to fly an extra 2 hours and land in Glasgow, Scotland. Initially, I panicked knowing that I might miss out on opportunities that I had scheduled the day I arrived in Stockholm. But once I realized that I truly had no control in the matter, I decided to go with the flow and just savor the moment and that I was even going to Europe to start with.

The flight from Edmonton to Keflavik flew by and the weather didn't hit hard as they had expected. I befriended the guy that I was sitting next to, Josh, who was a 2003 graduate of WWU and is married with 3 kids. We figured since we had missed our connecting flights to our next destinations that we would stick together through the unexpected adventure in Iceland. We were informed that we would be staying overnight with all accommodations included so how could we not make the most of getting to experience a day in Reykjavik! 

We left the airport around 10:00 AM and it was still pitch black outside. The sun didn't even rise until 11:11 and the city of Reykjavik wasn't bright until after noon. That was a crazy thing to experience, not being used to the lack of sunlight in the north. It was a 50 minute drive to our hotel, which is located next to the Reykjavik airport. Disclaimer - the Keflavik International airport is where the connecting flights to other countries are. The Reykjavik airport is for the locals whose final destinations are in Iceland. The hotel is beautiful and I have a gorgeous view of the mountains from my room.

After settling into my hotel room, I headed down for lunch in the hotel and had an amazing lunch filled with chick pea salad, potatoes, tilapia, and lamb. I then went and had desserts with fresh, unprocessed whipped cream! There were apple tarts and triple dark chocolate fudge, and cake. I was in heaven to say that the least. And then I was quickly reminded of how amazing Europe is when I got a cup of coffee and put a little cream in it. It was smooth and heavenly, just like I remembered it from when I was in Europe last time.

After lunch we took a bus to downtown and saw a gorgeous cathedral called the Hallgrimskirkja, which was consecrated in 1986. It was very minimalist in architectural design but it had a GORGEOUS pipe organ with nearly 5,250 pipes included. It definitely was the focal point of the entire church. 

We then continued to walk through the main streets of downtown and went along the Harbour to find the stainless steel Sun Voyager  sculpture. Although simple in design, it's meaning and precise location truly create a symbolic hope for the people and ancestors of Iceland. The artist, Jon Gunnar Arnasson, wanted to portray within the sculpture the promise of undiscovered territory, a dream of hope, progress, and freedom. And the view of the sea with the the mountains in the background is truly breathtaking.

After some sightseeing, we found the Dillon Whiskey Bar where we had some traditional Icelandic gin (Brennivin) and a Viking Classic Amber. I will say it was the best and smoothest Amber I have ever tasted. 

We conversed with a few of the locals in the bar and was surprised to hear of the things that they were sick of seeing in Iceland. For how raw its beauty is, I'm surprised that anyone could get sick of it. 

After a beer and some gin, I realized how long I had been awake without getting an ounce of sleep. We made our way back to the hotel and I crashed at around 5:30, and it was pitch black outside.

My flight for Stockholm leaves at 7:35 in the morning and I have a shuttle picking me up at 4:00. I am so glad that I got to see a taste of Iceland and its beauty, but I am excited to get to Stockholm and truly start my musical adventure!

Until tomorrow my virtual European travelers!


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