The day we return home is always bittersweet – we’re excited to get home to the pups and our own bed…the ability to use more than one electrical outlet that doesn’t have an adapter in it – but we also see the things we loved about the place we’re leaving.
Great restaurants, art galleries, coffee shops…amazing views, people, and conversations – all things that propel us forward to talk about our next destination on the plane.
This is usually me planning our next trip before our current one is even over – I’m working on it, I swear. #beinthemoment
So, on our last day in Iceland we had great intentions for breakfast, the top of Hallgrimskirkja, and the art gallery near our AirBnB that we hadn’t gotten to – in reality, we checked off two of those three: (1) the view from the top of Hallgrimskirkja, and (2) breakfast at a cafe we discovered the day before, named Kaffibrennslan. Lucky for us, we ended up walking into the church right as the doors were opening so there were only 10 or so people in line for tickets ahead of us. 1000 krona per person to ride the elevator to the top and take in the view from what is the highest point in the city. Even on a gray morning the city and surrounding landscape were amazing. The houses and buildings that cascade down the streets from the church with their different colored roofs – the coast weaving in and out- bits of new construction illustrated by cranes and new, taller and taller structures.
After taking in as much of the view as we could, we rode the elevator back down with a few other early morning tourists and decided to stop in the church itself. There is something very simple, but very beautiful about Hallgrimskirkja – the way it calls on the Icelandic environment for inspiration – the ends of each pew resembling basalt pillars.
Afterwards, we made our way down the hill towards food and caffeine at Kaffibrennslan – two Americanos and two sandwiches later we sat in that pre-flight, quiet reflection. This may have had a little to do with being out late at Kiki the night before – but let’s go with pre-flight reflection. This really has been a great adventure that I’m considering a scouting mission – we’ll be back for sure – hopefully with friends and family so we can share what we’ve done, and explore new places! Since it was winter and the weather was a bit uncooperative (it never is here) we were restricted a bit – the upside being that the entire area was a bit quieter than in summer/high tourist season. Hopefully next time we can get farther out and see some of the amazing environment that lays beyond.
From here it was a whole lot of travel – back to the AirBnB to grab our bags, the mile walk to the BSI bus terminal, the 45-minute bus ride to the airport, and so on.
The Keflavik Airport was once again easy to navigate and move through – jumping off the bus we printed fresh copies of our boarding passes, cleared security and border control, and entered our terminal for some food and duty-free shopping. Icelandic security is a bit different in that Brendan and I seemed to have different experiences – him having to take off belt, boots, etc. – whereas I didn’t, but every bracelet and ring had to be taken off in my case. Still no explanation on that one.
Icelandair however – a dream to board and fly state-side, was a bit of nightmare to board on the Iceland-side. No zones, no calling by rows…just droves of economy passengers lining up at random and cattle calling their way past the desk agents, onto the plane and jockeying for position to stow their bags, before grabbing their assigned seats. All very Icelandic in what we have determined is a very “it’ll all work itself out” mentality the country’s people seems to have. If you’re expecting a tight and organized boarding procedure on the way back – don’t – just go with the flow and know that you’ll eventually be in your assigned seat. The in-flight entertainment system alone is worth the stress boarding provides.
The flight itself was uneventful – thankfully. Landing a little late (I blame the boarding process), we power walked to Customs, as we were told that multiple international flights had landed all at once and we’d be in line for a while. Thankfully I had downloaded and used Mobile Passport. Completely free to use, it let us submit all of our customs paperwork electronically and cut 200+ people in line. We ended up leaving Customs faster than the Global Entry people who pay for their expedited service. I’m inclined to not even share this detail, mostly because I don’t want to wait in line as people catch onto it, but at the same time I don’t want the service to shut down from lack of use!
From here it was a hop, skip, and brief bus ride over to the parking lot and off to scoop up the pups. We’re home.