Day Two – Close Shaves and Camelot (4/2)

Day Two – Close Shaves and Camelot (4/2)

e descended like a night raven out of the arctic sky, stuffed to capacity with Vikings and coming in to Reykjavík thirty minutes late. As mentioned earlier, we needed to get through passport control and over to the new flight gate, with a ninety-year-old mom in tow, in one brief hour. And we were in the very back row of our slowly unloading plane. I was already figuring out how to get a following flight after a presumed missed-connection. If I were a betting man, I wouldn’t cover this.

I will mention that the man I had simmering hatred for, the man with noise-canceling headsets and a crinkle-happy son, nudged me while I was looking out the left side of the plane during descent, viewing the bleak Iceland terrain. Turning, he gestured out the right side where I could see a volcanic glow in the middle-distance. Really, it was a nice thing to do for an absolute tourist such as myself – the sight of the Mordor glow across the black plain will stay with me. In gratitude, I removed some of the uncomplimentary adjectives about him from my mental blog assembly.

It took fifteen minutes to drain our plane of Vikings, and then we (the literally last off the plane) found ourselves on a real cold set of stairs. Yes, we were outside in the frigid air and had to take a bus to the terminal. Tick tock went the clock.

At this point I will remind everyone that this is how my brother prefers to travel; just-in-time.

Anyway, we made best time down the cold halls of Reykjavík airport, with me scouting the route ahead while the slower ladies (Mom and JB) brought up the rear. We were supposed to meet my sister here but I wasn’t looking for her in particular – she was running late as well on her own flight and her transfer time was even shorter.

So into the passport hall we went, to stand in line and fetch out my pocket watch, crawling forward so that eventually a bureaucrat could give me a frown and a stamp, freeing us. And back we went through the airport, the long distance we’d already come but on the upper level this time. Looked on a departure screen and saw our flight listed – ten minutes until gate close! Even more frantically I scouted ahead, doubling back to not lose mom and wife. Tick tock.

Made it with less than five minutes to spare – general boarding was underway and there were about twenty people to pass through with us on the tail end (a couple of latecomers drifted up behind us, having possibly stopped for breakfast or something on the way over, I don’t know). Spotted my sister further up the line, just passing through the gate, and exchanged boarding pass waves. Thank Christ – we pulled it off.

Another cold bus ride out to a plane in the middle of nowhere. We got to stand on the top of an open-air ramp exposed to arctic winds a second time while people inside the warm plane slowly sorted luggage and children once again. And finally, we were in our seats, having gotten the final overhead bin spot. I couldn’t believe we pulled this mad scheme off.

The flight over to Amsterdam was pretty smooth. Glass-flat air, a quiet ride, with only a guy fumbling with a bag of crisps. eating them one at a time, crunch-crunch, for forty minutes (my favorite noise: crinkling). And when the entire row of people who already had an exit row dropped their seats in unison into my lap, I backed mine a little back myself so I wasn’t crushed. This enraged the guy behind me who kneed me and jostled me for about ten minutes. I have to admit that feeling his diminishing kicks and thrashes was like strangling someone to death. Yes, keep it up, but I’m on top. Eventually he expired, in that he swapped seats with his girlfriend and gave me a furious Dutch stare. I’ve got to admit that after ten minutes of defeating her embittered boyfriend, I pulled the seat back up so I could read (that probably pissed him off even more).

So, we got into Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam on a rainy noon. After walking a runway length to get our suitcases (quite a slog, but all bags were recovered and un-pillaged by Vikings). Everything seemed to come together after that. Our ride to the hotel was standing by (they even had complementary coffee at the desk). So we rode through rainy streets to our nice hotel, checked in, and had a long, and kinda poorly serviced meal (it was slow, and they didn’t bring me a fork to eat with for a long five minutes, leaving me to stare at my steaming noodles of my only meal of the day – sigh).

After all that, after a three-hour nap, everyone else in my group went to the sauna and I walked the parks around the hotel.

And it was gorgeous.

A picture shot the next day, showing a nice open bike lane, fully separated from cars. I mean, how hard can this be?

Cars were absent from my walk. I think I saw one. But bikes all hushed past on wonderfully-marked and isolated lanes, so safe that 99% of the rides I saw had no helmets. And walking paths, so many, veining their way along canals and neighborhoods of compact apartments. I just strolled around in the early evening air, keeping an eye to where the hotel was but enjoying the isolation and the occasional dog walkers (their dogs so pleasant and friendly, unlike Yankee Confrontational Hell Hounds), cyclists and strollers. I only wished I’d brought my camera along to bolster the blog with such pleasant images. Just the nice end of a rather nice day that followed our nightmare on the day prior.

Anyway, a pleasant day in a wonderful city that American cities could pattern off of (yes, you’d have to give up your F-350 but it’s a stupid way to get around anyway). Looking forward to what our touring brings us tomorrow. See you then.


>>>NEXT DAY<<<