Friday, June 3, 2016

A Week in Iceland! Part 1

May 24

After the disappearance a few days ago of the Egypt Air flight, we expected security at the airport to be tighter than usual.  Instead, it was quite lax.  I forgot to take our my baggie full of liquids and nobody challenged me.

We boarded the plane at 8:15 last night and I was so tired that I slept virtually the whole night.  Arrived 6:30 this morning. That's when things began to go downhill rapidly.

We had a big checked bag, a carry-on each, plus my handbag and Dimitrios's briefcase, 5 heavy pieces in all, to shepherd through the arrival process.  There were passport control, baggage reclaim, and customs to get through, and a sea of human beings surging forward to reach them all.  Passport control was so crowded that the officials had to keep turning the escalators off and on again because there was no room at the top.  The baggage reclaim, then customs, then figuring out how to get to our rental car company.

Turns out a man from the car company was waiting for us, who drove us to the office. The car was cheap in the beginning, but by the time we had added a second driver, a sat nav (GPS), and an automatic shift, it began looking pricey. Then they wanted a $300 deposit, to be credited back to our card "within 20 days" after we had returned it.  Deal breaker.  We had their man drive us back to the airport.

Now what?  In the end, we booked the bus transport, not very expensive.  The 50-minute bus ride into Reykjavik provided us with our first proper glimpse of Iceland.  The landscape was eerie and bleak, consisting of lava fields thinly crusted with mostly brown vegetation, giving an overall impression of desert camouflage.  The apartment complexes we passed were ugly white buildings with splashes of bright paintI wanted to add a video taken from the bus, but Google no longer lets me unless I download their app, which I'm disinclined to do.

The bus takes you to the main bus depot, where you change to a minibus that takes you straight to your hotel.  We were tired and upset by now and I suppose that's why we weren't alert.  You must always stay alert while traveling!  All I know is that by the time we arrived at that bus depot in Reykjavik, Dimitrios' s briefcase had gone missing.  It contained his iPad, but that wasn't the worst of it.  Far worse, a couple of medical books with precious notes in the margins, his UK address book, and most of all, a spiral bound notebook with all the seminal idea for various chapters of the book he is writing - written, he said, clearly and accurately.  He doubts he could ever reproduce them.  He had hand-carried all these precisely in order not to lose them.

"You can reproduce them,"  I said.  "You have it in you."  But he insisted his confidence that he could actually write the book had been dealt a severe blow.

The bus depot staff were very, very helpful.  They called the airport police for us and the rental car office.  Nobody had found it.  "You will get it back," a kind bus driver assured me with a handsome smile.  And if it's stolen?  "No, I can't think that," said he, and somehow, that helped.

Back to the airport (with roundtrip tickets the bus company so kindly gave us), still lugging around the rest of our baggage, to have a look for ourselves.  We retraced our steps as much as we could, but nothing.

I tried repeatedly the "Find my iPhone" app, using my iPad, but it kept saying Dimitri's iPad was off-line and thus could not be located. I put it into Lost Mode, with a message to a finder to contact us at our hotel.  Too soon to take the drastic measure of erasing it.

It was early afternoon by time we wearily checked into our hotel.  Our room is interesting, to say the least.  It is a studio apartment.  In approximately the middle, a short wall screens the queen bed, covered with two white duvets, each folded in half lengthwise.  The other space is a sitting room, with an ancient, tufted, leather settee, quite worn.  In front of that, a a large,round, white coffee table.  The black wooden chandelier above that has 6 arms, three of them broken off.   Across from these, mounted on the short wall screening off the bed, is a large, flat-screen TV.  The floorboards are broad and black.  Along one side of the room is a mini kitchen, with a 2-burner cooktop, tiny sink, and mini fridge.  The bathroom, by contrast to all this, is extremely modern, the floor and walls covered with exposed aggregate concrete, the aggregate consisting of rounded pebbles.  The sink and toilet are strange, pod shapes.  There was a large shower, all glassed in.  The glass had never had the limescale removed.  Ever.

We were too exhausted to care!  We only had strength to go eat our first meal since supper the night before, and then to sack out.

It was 4:00 by time I climbed wearily into bed.  Woke up ages later, after a long, refreshing sleep, to bright sunshine.  I had fallen asleep in sunshine and awakened to more of it, unaware at all of the very brief Icelandic night.  Took my shower, layered on clothes because it's cold here, and windy.  Dimitrios just sat on the ancient sofa, saying nothing.

Trying to be cheerful, I said, while applying make-up, "Well, I must say, I had no problem sharing that little bed with you last night."

"What night?"

"Last night."

"Last night, we slept on the plane."

"That was yesterday.  I'm talking about the night we've just waked up from."

"It's still yesterday," he groaned.

"No, it's not.  My iPad says it's ten o'clock."

"Ten o'clock at night, my dear."

And he was right.  By eleven o'clock, the light began to wane a little, as though thunderclouds were obscuring the sun.  My turn to groan.  After a nap that had seemed to last forever, I had "another" long night to go through?  Could only get 2 channels on the large TV, one Icelandic and one Chinese.  So we said some prayers, pleading for the return of the missing briefcase, got in bed, and closed our eyes.