Like all great vacations, it started with a cold. I woke up the day before leaving and knew I had caught something, but luckily seemed to have avoided it being something serious. Just keep in mind that throughout the timeline of this post my throat is as raw as your favourite diss track mixtape.
Most of the pictures below were taken by Tyler, but a couple of them were mine. We both have the same phone with the same camera, so, good luck picking out which are which.
We arrived at PDX around 1pm for our 3:30pm flight and swiftly ran into our first #issue of the trip: The TSA machine wouldn’t take our digital boarding pass because the date was written the European way (03/10/2018) and it didn’t recognize that as meaning October 3rd, the day that it actually was. A quick trip to the Iceland Air counter for printed boarding passes was all it took to solve this one, though, and before you could say, “It’s astounding that TSA can’t service euro-style dates at an international airport” we were through security and ordering up some Ramen at the Hisho Sushi in the D concourse.
I got the spicy ramen with pork, Tyler got the regular ramen with chicken. It was, idk, fine. The pork was very dry, but the noodles and broth were pleasant. I’d say maybe 6.5/10? I asked Tyler just now how he’d rate his and he said, “6.5/10? Maybe a seven?” so clearly this is objective truth.
The flight from PDX to Reykjavik was pretty uneventful. I was greeted with this bottle (background) of actually really good water (PH 8.5, a little basic, but smooth), and this kind blanket (foreground) whose messaging was a little off considering I was going towards Iceland, not leaving it.
I slept for about 90 minutes of the 450 minute flight, woke up to see the sun finish setting (see cover) at, what would be for my internal west-coast bioclock, about 5pm, and then was hopelessly awake for the remainder.
I’ll take this moment to deliver a brief aside that will become relevant again in (presumably) the final entry in this trip log. On every leg of our transatlantic flights we have seats 27A and 27B. PDX-KEF was a Boeing 757 with two columns of 3 seats, and we were lucky enough that there was nobody in 27C, so we spread out over the whole row. I took window and Tyler took aisle with the understanding that we’d switch off on future flights.
To pass the time, we amused ourselves with the various pleasantries included in the Iceland Air seatback literature. Examples include this horrifying beige woman escaping disaster in a very safe manner
and these fun, quirky snack descriptions.
I ended up watching ‘The Croods’ to pass the last ninety minutes or so, and it was fine in a way that, under any other circumstances I would have regretted the significant waste of time, but considering I was deliberately attempting to waste time, it served my purposes well enough.
And then we landed in Iceland. First off, I’ll tell you that it was still dark (about 5:30am local) so I can’t tell you how pretty the island is or anything. That said, I can definitely tell you about the oddities of Keflavik Airport.
For example, the actual terminal building is very small, and there aren’t near enough gates for the amount of planes that come in and out. So when we arrived, we just parked out in the middle of the tarmac and deplaned on to a pair of busses which shuttled us to the main terminal; a trip we estimated took about 7 minutes.
Inside wasn’t any less strange. The bathrooms are in the basement, there was a (very good) mens choir performing in the middle of the concourse, and the food options were: A supermarket that specified it was only for departing passengers (you had to show your boarding pass when checking out, apparently there was a separate market upstairs for arrivals), a tapas/alcohol bar, and a sandwich/juice bar. Tyler grabbed some food from the supermarket (or, as we called it, the Weird Store), but I ate on the plane (vegan tortilla wrap; tasteless but fresh feeling, 8/10 as far as airplane food goes) so I just grabbed an Icelandic orange soda which tasted kind of like emergenC in a good way.
When it came time to find our gate for the flight into London, we found it downstairs, which was slightly concerning because we were already on the ground level and you don’t often find planes underground. Lo and behold, after going through the ‘gate’, we walked back upstairs into a small room that is used exclusively for queueing onto more busses, which then took us to our plane which was once again stationed out on the broad expanse of tarmac.
This plane was a Boeing 767 with 3 columns in a 2/3/2 formation, so we once again had a whole little ‘row’ to ourselves. I took aisle this time as it was Tyler’s turn for window. I did my best to doze off as we took off, but about 30 minutes into the flight I was bumped by a baby walking up the aisle. I closed my eyes again, and was borderline asleep until I got bumped again, and now there was this large man on one knee next to me, holding the baby, conversing with the woman in the seat across the aisle from me. This would have be okay, I guess, except that he was simply too big to be kneeling and holding a baby in the small plane aisleway and ended up not only repeatedly elbowing me, but effectively shoving his baby in my face-space. After a few minutes of this, he somehow, like, shook the baby enough to make it cry and he ran off to try and make it stop. As if it wasn’t bad enough that there was a baby on my flight, this dude brought it inches away from my face and then made it cry. Definitely this trip’s first 1/10 experience.
Also, we ended up landed a bit late, presumably because of delays at the airport, as we just did some loops a bit north of the city for a while. While not the best thing that’s ever happened on a plane, it wasn’t terribly inconvenient as we weren’t running late for anything, and also we got this amusing map on the in-flight tracker.
But then we were in London and got to experience the joy of passport control, which actually moved pretty quickly, and then a very long ride on the underground. It was long because we flew into Heathrow, which is rather west of London, and our AirBnB is on the east side of town, so we had an approximately 90 minutes, two-transfer trip ahead of us.
Our first train was “a Picadilly line to Cockfosters” which in its own right, is very funny, or at least was to our jet-lagged, travel-addled brains. Then, we transferred to the Jubilee line at Green Park, and then to a DLR train at Canning Town, but we actually messed that one up and got on the wrong train, so we ended up getting off at the next stop and Ubering the last mile or two to our AirBnB.
Our host met us there to check us in and was a totally pleasant chap overall, even walked us over to the nearest pub so we could grab a bite. We both ordered the same beer (Hop House Lager from Dublin) and the same meal (Beer Battered Cod), as we were, at this point, too tired for independent thought.
The beer was very good, smooth, profoundly drinkable, and the cod came out as an absolutely massive portion.
For the record, and I feel like I normally wouldn’t have to clarify this, that is a regular, full-sized plate with regular, full-sized utensils.
Needless to say, we had leftovers because there was no way we were eating that much cod in one sitting. I wasn’t too hungry to begin with, and also eating was hard because of my aforementioned torn-up throat. So after eating a bit, we walked back to the apartment and promptly both accidentally fell asleep for a few hours.
We woke up at about 9, but were still tired so opted for a night in and to get good rest for a presumably full day tomorrow.
For the record, we both just had midnight-snack of our leftover cod and we’re pretty sure we each have at least one full meal left of it.
I’ll leave you with this panorama Tyler took off our AirBnB balcony.