Northern Lights in Iceland - Day 6: Homeward Bound
November 19th, 2013
As with all trips, they quickly come to an end. Yesterday, I mentioned to Richelle that it felt like we had been here both for a moment and yet again, it feels like we have been here for forever. There's an ease to Reykjavik that I didn't seem to anticipate. Then again, Reykjavik is a small city. It shouldn't be that difficult to get around. Being a small city, things opened late and closed early. That part took some getting used to. And it was something we didn't quite pick up on until the end.
I was happy to discover the free breakfast on Sunday wasn't a fluke. Which was a nice surprise. For me. I did feel bad that Richelle and Danielle didn't get the same breakfast surprise. But it was my last time to consume the creme biscuits and skyr yogurt, so I took full advantage of this moment. I didn't know the food situation where we were going, so it was a carbo-loading time.
The three of us met downstairs at around 9a. We had checked into our flights and checked out of the hotel. When the bus came to pick us up, we were ready. Our final adventure before going home was about to begin. We were going to the Blue Lagoon.
The Blue Lagoon is a geo-thermal man made spa in the middle of nowhere. The drive to the spa was like how I'd expect the moon to look. Rock formations pepper the landscape as far as the eye can see. Mountains and glaciers are in the background. And out of this scene, the Blue Lagoon.
On Saturday, the guide told us about the geo-thermal "rules" when we were in Geysir. The water is heated because one million years ago, a volcano erupted and that heat is still warming up the water and earth. That just makes my head hurt to comprehend. But it was very cool to consider the magnitude of everything.
Tom, the guide from Sunday said it best. He mentioned that Iceland doesn't have a centralized tourism "philosophy" yet, and it is something they need to figure out. Iceland doesn't know if they want to be known for Luxury Tourism or Extreme-Tourism or Eco-Tourism or any other kind of tourism. We pretty much decided that it needed to be Eco-Tourism. There was no other option. Everything we did on this trip was based on the outdoors. And every guide mentioned both Local and Global Warming and the effect it has on the country. How could the goal of tourism in Iceland not be ecologically based?? But I digress...
Back to the lagoon. It cost us 500 ISK (about $4) to leave our luggage at the lagoon. Our bus took us to the lagoon and would then take us to the airport, so our luggage had to go somewhere. We moved from the luggage building to the main building. Here's where we really didn't know what was going on...at least at the time...
Our package included a bathrobe, towel, slippers (which we weren't actually given), a drink and a facial treatment. As we checked-in, they gave us a bracelet, which was our payment system. Best. Idea. Ever. The first stop was at the locker rooms. Lockers were accessed via the bracelet (nice) and there was plenty of room to change into your suit...in actual changing rooms. Again, the Americans were more than happy to change in an enclosed space and not in and amongst humanity. We bundled up in the swimwear and robe and brought our towel into the shower area. Towels were left on a rack, robes were worn outside. Once you showered first.
People were supposed to soap up in the shower. Sans-suit. Most people didn't. Cause, Americans. The one thing I had heard (multiple times) was that the water causes great trauma to your hair and you should put plenty of conditioner on prior to going in the water. I remembered that part and complied. I don't need my hair to freak out. Ever. Bathrobes on, we made our way outside. Into the cold.
It was 35 degrees Fahrenheit outside. The water in the lagoon...105 degrees, so we obviously very quickly left our robes on the racks and hustled into the water, desperately trying not to slip and fall on the ice pooling on the walkway into the water. As we walked in, it was knee or waist level, but you weren't really wanting to stay waist level for long. We sunk into the water to our necks and crab walked through the pool. To the bar. The float up bar.
Our package included a drink. And it could be any kind of drink. Danielle and I chose sparkling wine. Richelle, red wine. Pretty dang perfect. Floating. Drinking. Floating. We picked up a facial mask a little later and floated around with mud on our skin for a while. Some areas were hotter than others. We really liked those areas. I did see where the in-water massage areas were. And man...I really wanted one of those. But with the cost for the bus and ticket and package and bus again, I didn't want to spend too much more on the trip. Plus, we found a waterfall that gave a good massage itself.
After an hour in the water, the decision was made to take a bathroom break. Once outside of the water, we all were on the same page...food and water were needed. Definitely needed. We also decided that an hour in the 105 degree water was enough on the body. The bar will only serve you three alcoholic beverages. There's a reason. Not that we had more than one. But just the one was plenty. Sandwich. Water. And we were done. Done with the Blue Lagoon. Done with Iceland.
The nice part about Iceland is that busses are taking people everywhere at all times. It's not difficult to find your way around. The hard part is being ready for the busses when they are ready to go. We were ready.
Keflavik Airport wasn't that far from the Blue Lagoon. And the Iceland Air presence was much more...ample here than back home. Of course it was. There's only one airline leaving KEF. People left the bus quickly and got a little shovey when getting their luggage. Because of the lines they knew there would be to get their boarding passes. We were carrying on luggage, so we bypassed the whole line and went through security. We also did some light shopping and went to our gate. Where we were promptly told our bags were too big. And....they were??
Honestly, it was kind of a relief to get rid of the bags for a while. The problem was our connecting flight. We landed in Boston at 545p. Our flight to Chicago leaves at 755p. So we had less than two hours to get off the plane, get our bags, go through customs, hop a bus to Terminal A, print our boarding passes, maybe check our luggage, get through security, grab a Starbucks and get on the flight. It's the last flight out. And I was more than a little concerned. But there's nothing I could do about that. We were all in the front section of the plane. We could only do what we could do. Option B was to stay with Danielle overnight in Boston. We would rather not deal with Option B. Not that we didn't want to hang with Danielle for another night. But I knew I had to go to work the next day. And I was ready for home.
I somehow ended up with an Exit row. Yay, but...I was dealing with the gaggle of ladies around me who had tons of baggage and food for the flight, but didn't seem to be able to organize themselves. The couple next to me were quiet enough, until the lady in the middle decided to sleep. No judgment there. But she seemed to overtake the entire row, which kind of doesn't help anything. Whatever. I watched two and a half movies and did some blog writing. It passed the time.
Once we landed, it was a race against the clock. The three of us stuck together, because we had Plan B to consider if the planned plan didn't work. First stop was Customs. We moved quickly into the room to find...hardly anyone around. Yes!! I was the third person in line and paying attention to my surroundings. The couple in front of me were not. She was on the phone. He had lost his will to live. The Custom's Lady (a very Boston woman if there ever was one) kept saying to them "Row 2. Row 2. Hey!! Row 2". Boston Lady became increasingly irritated when the couple didn't move. And then she realized the woman was on the phone. You can't be on the phone in Customs. And Boston Lady started to lose her mind. Even I tried to poke at the phone couple. And I may or may not have pulled a "Jesus Christ!!" at the situation. (Ok, so I did). I think that endeared me to Boston Lady and she told me to go around the couple. Done.
Customs was a breeze. We gathered our luggage (if you drop your luggage at the gate and not in the Departure section, your luggage will be put on the conveyor belt first. Life lesson.) and were not subjected to further search. Now, on to our next terminal.
I mentioned it on our first day, but Logan Airport is not connection friendly. Not at all. We waited for the bus to take us to Terminal B. And we waited. And waited. The clock was ticking and no bus was coming. I have to believe it was a minimum of 15 minutes wait. Which doesn't sound like much, I understand. But when you have a small window of time, every minute counts. Especially if, like me, you're in the middle of having a nervous breakdown.
Here's where we started to win the day. The flight to Chicago on American was maybe one of the last flights out in the day. So when we got on the bus, the remainder of the steps came together quickly. Richelle and I walked directly to the gate agent and dropped off our luggage. There were maybe 5 people in line for the TSA check and scan. The bathrooms were close by. Starbucks was right there (though their computers were down all day, so we had to pay in cash). And we even were able to find a seat with an outlet to charge my phone. Best of all, the flight home was not even close to being full. Richelle and I were able to spread out and zone on the flight home.
|A lovely scene to end our journey.|