Iceland, Day 1: Stuttgart to Frankfurt to Reykjavik

I promised to blog about our trip to Iceland, and now, with a week+ delay, here’s the first part of my report. The days in Iceland are very long in the summer, and we regularly didn’t even get back to our vacation rental until after 10 pm — and it was still light.

Anyway, on to our little adventure just south of the arctic circle. Chris and I normally don’t like flying out of Frankfurt, since it involves taking trains, which can be delayed and connections missed, causing all kinds of inner turmoil. That happened once when we were flying to Thailand, and we got to the check-in just as they were closing the desk.

This time, our trip to Frankfurt was complicated by extra baggage we were taking with us for my daughter and her boyfriend. But the train was on time, and everything went smoothly, despite the heavy lugging involved. There was one little adrenalin moment when the woman at the check-in told us we were only allowed one piece of luggage each. But I showed her the printout of the electronic tickets, which I had already given her and she hadn’t bothered to look at, clearly stating that we were allowed 2 pieces each. Her comment: “What, it’s not like it’s printed on your forehead.” My snarky response, (which I didn’t voice), “No, it’s printed on the tickets you didn’t even consult.”

Our flight to Reykjavik was a little late, but luckily not too much. When we came out of baggage claim, a young man from the car rental agency was there to meet us. We learned quite a bit about his life, that his folks had emigrated to the US but had recently come back and founded their little car rental agency, Green Motion (which I highly recommend to anyone considering traveling to Iceland and renting a car). He was now studying in the States but had come back for the summer to help his dad out. Our little VW Polo was waiting for us out front when we drove into the parking lot. It was an incredibly personal and friendly rental experience compared to what we’re used to from big companies.

When we got to our vacation rental for our first night in Reykjavik, our landlady was there to meet us, handed over the keys, and chatted with us a bit. We nabbed a very nice place through AirBnB, a one bedroom apartment only a couple of blocks away from the main shopping and restaurant district.

After decompressing a bit from train and plane, we were off to explore the town and find some food. We weren’t far from the big, modern pseudo-traditional church, Hallgrimskirkja. I feel like calling it a cathedral, but since it’s Scandinavian, it’s Protestant — Lutheran, to be precise.

Reykjavik

The church is right on Leif Erikson plaza, and being descended from Vikings myself, I of course couldn’t resist hamming it up a bit in front of the statue.

Reykjavik

Downtown Reykjavik is a couple of funky streets of shops and restaurants that feel like they belong to a much smaller city. The city of Reykjavik has a population of about 120,000, with about 200,000 living in the greater Reykjavik area. That’s almost two-thirds of the population of Iceland, which has a total population of about 340,000 people.

Reykjavik

I found it quite interesting how popular Reykjavik is with the backpacking crowd, given how expensive it is.

While we were wandering around the downtown area, we started looking at menus, getting hungrier by the minute. We finally ended up choosing an Icelandic fish and chips restaurant that was full to overflowing, popular with both tourists and Icelanders. I had a basket of langostinos, a very messy affair, but worth it.

Reykjavik

Still lots going on for us travel-wise, but I’ll post more about our trip when I have the time: waterfalls and mudpots and hotsprings and lava fields!

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