It’s been nearly a year since Katy and I booked this trip to Iceland. We booked it impulsively around 1 a.m. while hanging at a bar with friends in Wrigleyville. We had just returned from Italy, and were so jazzed from the trip that it was essential to have something else on the books ASAP. With a quick scroll of Groupon Getaways, we found a deal we couldn’t refuse and so Iceland it was! After months of waiting, researching and figuring out what to do while in Iceland – we are finally here!
The trip from Chicago to Reykjavik wasn’t too bad. We flew Air Canada and had the plane pretty much to ourselves… it was about 1/4 capacity. One of my favorite things about flying international is the free in-flight entertainment. The timing of our trip meant that the queue was stocked with recent Oscar nominees, many which I haven’t seen. I got started on watching “The Theory of Everything” right away, but before I knew it – we were in Toronto.
At the Toronto Airport (YYZ), Katy and I were both impressed by the friendly and helpful staff. Each official we passed went above and beyond to ensure we knew where to go and offer tips for efficiently moving through customs, retrieving our baggage and checking in for our next flight. The process was a bit of a hassle as we had to lug bags around, switch terminals and go through security screening again.
Once we got into the gate, we found a snazzy restaurant that was equipped with iPads at every table. From the iPads you could browse the internet, track time until your flight boards and order food and drinks. Katy and I took advantage with carbs (Italia throwback!) and cocktails. Typical of most airport dining, the prices seemed a bit unnecessarily inflated for the quality – but nonetheless it provided us the sustenance we needed to get us through our next leg… Toronto to Reykjavik!
In the realm of international travel, it was another short flight with only 5 hours in the air. Icelandic Air had much more limited selections for in-flight entertainment, but did feature some of the Icelandic films that were nominated for Edda awards (Iceland’s version of the Oscar’s). I chose to watch “Life in a Fishbowl” which has received much recognition locally with a record 12 wins, one for each category it was nominated. The movie itself was fine. It was somewhat predictable and the script felt incomplete, but I enjoy watching international films and the exposure to Icelandic language was good prep for the days ahead.
We landed in Reykjavik at 6:05 a.m. Iceland time. Interestingly, they required all passengers arriving from North America to go through another security check-point prior to going through customs. Not a big deal, but when incredibly tired from a full day of travel, taking off my snow boots for the 3rd time seemed a little excessive. Moving through customs was easy enough and there was ample signage (in English) to direct us to Our airport transfer. As we walked out of the airport into the dark Iceland morning, I noticed a sky full of stars and a heavy wind! It’s not often that we get to see stars as the Chicago sky is usually too illuminated by city lights, but wind – that’s something we know a thing or two about.
When we arrived at our hotel, Best Western Reykjavik, we were thrilled to learn that our room was already ready for us! We were so ready to take a rest and drop our bags, that the $60 equivalent fee for early check-in was a no-brainer. We soon learned that at no additional cost we were upgraded to a junior suite, which was indeed pretty sweet! Here’s our Iceland home for the next week: