The Layover: Iceland in 14 Hours

Selfie at Blue Lagoon

14 hours. 7 moments.

1 — Arrive at Keflavik International Airport at 11:25 p.m., walk for a worried few minutes, fearful about not finding food at this hour (7:25 p.m. EST), until we reach the classy, European-like food court where we spot a wonderful café called Joe & The Juice, playing electronic music while two Icelandic employees mix smoothies and panini press yummy sandwiches. We sit. Connect to WiFi. Eat.

Joe & The Juice at REF
Two hip employees at Joe & The Juice
Joe & The Juice at REF
A turkey panini and avocado and banana shake.

2 — An hour or so later, look around at the now, much emptier food court. Realize it’s getting late. Foursquare search: “airport hotel.” One result: “Airport Hotel Smari.” Walk out of the airport. Slow. Walk to the only person we see, closing up shop at the convenience store near the door. Ask for directions. Go outside only to feel the instant chill. And…rain? Go back inside. Wander aimlessly. But then pull out Foursquare to see map. Go outside again.

3 — OH SHIT. IT’S HAILING! HURRY. THAT’S THE BUILDING, RIGHT? OMG. THIS IS TAKING FOREVER. TWO MINUTES? YEAH, RIGHT. HOLY SHIT THIS HURTS. AHHHHHHHH. (Real screaming, from me, at least). WAIT…IS THAT A FUCKING TUNNEL? (Yeah, we essentially walked out the entrance down the driveway without the tunnel when there was one a few feet away). THIS IS TAKING FOREVER. (More screaming. Hail hits hands, body, face, eyes. So much pain. Run toward entrance. Gather sanity.)

REF tunnel

4 — Enter hotel. Acknowledge own ridiculous appearance. Approach counter. Glasses fogged. Can’t see. Manage to get a room. Go to room. WiFi doesn’t work. Make unfortunate realization that the sun’s coming back out at 2 a.m. If only we had waited even just 30 minutes before making that treacherous pass from airport to hotel… Pass out.

5 — A few hours later, wake up. Sleep in. Wake up. Check out. Get free breakfast. Admire the partly cloudy skies. Walk out to—not again—hail and wind. Lots of wind. But not nearly as painful as last night’s traumatic experience.

View from Airport Hotel Smari
The view from the top floor (No. 7) of this airport hotel is…the parking lot.

6 — At 9:30 a.m., Reykjavik Excursions takes a fully booked bus of both young and old to the renowned Blue Lagoon. Rocks. Lots of rocks. Like Hawaii. Sudden hailstorm. But only briefly. Deboard bus to light hail and partly cloudy skies. So this Iceland really is icy. So much for just Greenland being icy.

Bus to Blue Lagoon

Bus to Blue Lagoon
Approaching the Blue Lagoon. Otherwise, not much to see here, folks. #ICELAND

7 — Enter Blue Lagoon. Photos. Mud mask. More photos. Drink a popular smoothie called “Green is Good”—inside the lagoon. Enjoy the warmth. Don’t keep body above warm water for too long. Occasional light hail. But warmth.

Blue Lagoon

Blue Lagoon

Blue Lagoon

Selfie at Blue Lagoon
Blue Café at Blue Lagoon
Blue Café at Blue Lagoon (original name, huh)

And now we are in London, after checking into our lovely Airbnb off the Kennington Tube station and picking up doner kabobs (Turkey, you’ll never leave us) for a late-night meal.

The London Tube
Waiting for the London Tube

On to more #adventures.