Comparing schedules we decided on late February 2013 for our Iceland trip.  I love to travel and love planning trips almost more than actually going on them.  So beginning in November 2012 I started my packing list, my countdown, and my online shopping spree.  Such fun I was having.  Sherri didn’t need to make many purchases since a Minnesotan already owns lots of robust cold protection items.  Besides, she was pursuing her doctorate and was keeping busy with that and all her other responsibilities.

We discussed how long to stay based on the things we really wanted to see/do.  Tops on both of our lists was witnessing the Northern Lights.  So after some research, I decided that we should spend a few days and nights in Akureyri which is the second most populated city in Iceland topping out at 30,000 hardy souls.  Sherri agreed so we made plans to land in Reykjavik at the international airport, catch the Flybus across town to the domestic airport and fly north to Akureyri later that same afternoon.  Our international flights landed within minutes of each other (which is how most of the international flights operate) so Sherri and I made plans to meet at the waiting area just after customs.

We did indeed meet there after our overnight flights and let me just say that flying Icelandaire is exceptional even in the cheap seats.  Sherri and I both loved our separate overnight flights with comfy seats and personal media in the seatback.  She and I chatted it up for a few minutes, I hit the ATM and nearly drained my bank account because I forget that commas and decimals points are reversed in Iceland and off we went to the domestic airport.  Sherri was a bit fatigued but that was to be expected for someone battling cancer.

We parked our bags at the domestic airport and had a few hours to kill so we headed to University of Iceland.  We both are drawn to academic settings and we just wanted to be on campus to get a feel for our surroundings, catch up more, and maybe get a bite to eat while we waited for our domestic flight to the north.

We were dropped off at a student center with lots of activity, a cafeteria and a bookstore.  HEAVEN!  So we chatted, browsed, noshed and marveled at the surroundings both inside and outside.

Reykjavik is tucked in between mountains and sea and the vistas are glorious.  The weather that day was just awful as we left the international airport.  We were fully prepared for awful weather the entire week and our first day was all that we expected.  But as it turned out, the worst weather we encountered was during the first 4 hours we were there.  We had moderate temps and very little precipitation for the rest of our stay.

We left campus shortly after noon and returned to the domestic airport so we could collect our bags and get checked in for our 3pm flight.  That was a huge waste of time.  Domestic flight is as convenient as catching a taxi.  You get dropped at the door or park about 20 yds away, show your ticket and check your bags and that is it.  No one sniffs your shoes or looks at you naked or makes you queue up.

The flight to Akureyri was gorgeous.  It is only about 45 minutes but you leave the bustle of Reykjavik and head north into desolate, barren, isolated territory not far from the arctic circle.  As soon as we were airborne, the landscape reflected deep, deep snow and lots of ice.  Air Iceland is the domestic carrier and they rival Icelandair for gracious hospitality.  It was a wonderful flight.

Akureyri is a ski town.  It is cozy, warm (despite the snowcover), and charming just as you would expect of a ski-town. We checked into Kea Hotel which sits at the base of the iconic church that appears in most photos of this inviting town.  This hotel offers across the street access to restaurants, sundries, shopping, and browsing.  We checked in and went exploring.  We were delighted to find the restaurant right next door offered soup and bread (sounds like prison food but it was savory and delightful) for less than $10US daily.  It was self-serve so you could eat a loaf of bread and consume a couple gallons of soup if you were so moved.

A long day chased by warm soup and a glass of wine meant an excellent night’s sleep awaited.  Heavy cloud cover all but assured there would be no chance to see the lights on our first night.  So we tucked ourselves in, and in the few seconds that separated me from deep sleep I counted myself among the luckiest on the planet.  I was pursuing a dream and loving every minute of it.


To be continued. Again.Image