6 Days in Iceland: Day 1 - From Baltimore to Reykjavik
On the Monday we were supposed to leave for Iceland we had a busy morning. It all began with the issue of trying to fit all of our heavy winter clothes into one suitcase that weighed less than 44 pounds. I spent 2 hours the previous night rolling up all my clothes (to save room) and creatively maneuvering all of our stuff into tiny little crevices. I was so proud of my efforts and felt like I was able to “beat the system” in a way because we saving money on baggage fees. Since we were so tired that night and wanted to sleep early for the flight, we decided to wait until the morning of our trip to weigh our bags. That was a big mistake because we took our duffel bag to the post office scale and found out our bag was 45 pounds…… I was beyond mad. We took our bag home and started trying to take stuff out and decide what we should leave home. After much debate and frustration we just decided it was worth it to take another suitcase and not take the chance of leaving behind a piece of important clothing.
After that huge dilemma we were off to BWI airport in Baltimore, MD. Our flight left at about 6pm and was a direct flight to Keflavik International Airport. It was going to be approximately 6 hours long. Our flight was on an airline called WowAir. We arrived at the airport around 3pm, expecting to deal with numerous issues. For one, we now had an extra bag to check, and also we assumed that airport security was going to be a mess. However, both went extremely smoothly; our second bagged did get checked, but it was for FREE! Then when we went through security, we were the only ones in line. It went by so quickly, so we ended up having about 3 hours to kill at the gate.
While sitting at the gate we decided to get dinner at the airport, rather than eating on the plane, in order to save money. After the 3 hours passed we were ready to board our flight to Reykjavik! It was a relatively small plane for an international trip. (Very similar to a JetBlue plane). Most of the people on the flight were not even going to Iceland, but since the plane was so small it had to make a stop in Iceland in order to refuel before heading to the rest of Europe. Our seat was in the very last row of the plane, which ended up being great because there was no one behind us and we could recline our seats back relatively far. This made sleeping much easier and more comfortable. Since the plane was small, there was very little legroom, like even less than usual. Overall, the flight was not bad. I was able to sleep for a majority of the flight, in hopes of trying to stay awake the entire next day when we would land.
By the time we arrived in Iceland, it was already Tuesday at approximately 6am. We grabbed our bags and headed off the plane, only to find that we had to exit the plane outside and get onto a bus. We were all so tired and the 20 degree weather only made us all feel more miserable. My first thought when I got off the plane was, “great, this is what we’re going to deal with all week” It was snowing so much and the wind was swirling it around as if it were a tornado. We all ran off the plane, trying to avoid slipping on ice, and safely made it on the bus. The bus then transferred us to the main terminal where there were numerous shops, duty free stores, and most importantly.. FOOD! We were both starving so we knew we would want to get breakfast before anything else. The only thing standing in our way was customs.
We had heard a lot of horror stories about going through customs and since this was me and my boyfriend’s first international trip via plane, we had no idea what to expect. All we knew was that it was probably going to be a long process in which the staff asked us our reasons for visiting Iceland. We waited in line for roughly 5 minutes and when I got up to the window I handed the man my passport and he stamped it and said, “welcome to Iceland”. I was confused because I expected there to be much more than that. I thought to myself that maybe this was just the beginning and that soon there would be another area where I would have to talk to someone about my reasons for travel. After we reared the corner we saw all of the shops and we immediately headed for a shop that was serving breakfast. I ordered an omelet with bacon.
After grabbing food, we went down to the baggage claim, praying that our luggage was not lost. We quickly found our bags and sprinted for the passport line, or what we thought was the passport line. There was a long hallway we followed for a while that seemed very secluded from the rest of the airport. Since neither my boyfriend nor me really knew where to go, we both just started following people from our flight hoping we would find our way out. After walking down this long hallway we came up to a set of double doors that appeared to be the entrance for customs. We were both a little nervous because of all these horror stories about people not being let into countries because of things they say, or stories not matching up. We quickly went over our itinerary, stating where we were going, the name of our hotel, and the reason for coming to Iceland. Nervous, we opened the doors only to find…. Rental car services…. We felt so dumb that we both just started laughing. We started looking around for our rental car service and headed over to pick up our car. Our rental car was through the company Budget.
When we got to the counter and asked for our rental car, the man began asking us numerous questions. He tried to convince us to upgrade to an automatic car instead of manual. He also tried to convince us to get all wheel drive instead of two wheel, which we also said no to. He then warned us that there would be many roads that we would not be able to travel on if we did not upgrade. Since we had done so much research leading up to this trip, we knew that this would not affect us because the areas we wanted to explore did not require four wheel drive. This research saved us a ton of money and we did not get sucked into buying useless upgrades.
After we picked up the rental car we headed out into the blizzard. Our car was about a quarter mile walk and it was freezing. Niether of us had many layers on because the plane was so hot. We quickly found our car, got in, and sat eating our breakfast and trying to take in the fact that we were in a foreign country. It was approximately 7am at this point and it was still pitch black outside. It was crazy because we did not know what we were driving next to. There were mountains everywhere and we couldn’t see them. Once we finally maneuvered ourselves out of our spot, we started driving for the first time in an international country!
Read about day 2 here.