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Published: October 21st 2009
Somehow I always get a seat on the wing.
London, on the last day of September in 2009, was pretty forgettable. By the time we flew away, the sun had failed to break through the clouds, but nor had any rain. It was just grey and dull, nothing more. It wasn’t particularly cold, but nor was it the kind of weather that got men of a certain age wearing Hawaiian shirts and sandals. The three hour flight to Iceland gradually saw these clouds fade away to be replaced by bright sunshine by the time the Atlantic Ocean had made way for the southern coast of Iceland’s Reykjanes peninsula. The majority of our preparations for Iceland had revolved around the assumption that it was going to be pretty cold, with it being just below the Arctic Circle and with us going outside of Iceland’s main summer season (essentially just July and August), so this sunshine seemed immediately to be making a mockery of our preparations. Of course, the fact that it was sunny didn’t mean that it was warm, and giving that my backpack had weighed in at a measly 11kg, I didn’t feel any particular urge to start working out what winter clothes I could start dumping
The Seat in Front
I think they may have been exaggerating the 'warm' bit.
Keflavik airport doesn’t feel like any other airport I’ve been in before, although admittedly I’ve only been to seven in my life. The expected hustle and bustle of people getting from A to B was replaced by deserted corridors, in fact once the small crowd of people from our flight had rushed off while we stopped for a toilet break, we found ourselves completely alone. Round a few corridors, down a flight of stairs, there was nothing but walls and security equipment that looked like it had been switched off years ago, if it had ever been switched on in the first place. It was all starting to get a little disconcerting when we finally saw movement; it seemed that we had finally found some life, but it turned out to be three solitary backpacks going round the endless conveyer of baggage reclaim. We quickly grabbed them and headed for the exit, stopping to get some money from the nearby ATM (oddly, in Britain, I would only ever call it a cash machine, but abroad they become ATM’s), and to take in our first taste of Icelandic cuisine, which we intended to be a sandwich or
A random advertisement in an empty airport
something to keep us going for a few hours, but ended up being a pot of Skyr. Skyr is somewhere between cream cheese and yoghurt and was, apparently, a food brought to the country by the Vikings. Apparently the stuff the Vikings bought over essentially tasted like sour milk, but luckily the modern version had, in this case, a vanilla flavouring that actually made it quite tasty, if somewhat unusual.
After our Skyr we decided to step out into the sunshine and wait for the bus to Reykjavik, one of which we had just missed but we assumed they must be pretty regular. Stepping outside of the airport had the effect of completely blowing away the preconceptions that we might be in for a balmy couple of weeks, initial descriptions of it being ‘fresh’ and ‘a bit nippy’ quickly becoming a more accurate ‘it’s bloody freezing’. We stood outside in this for a while, deciding that we would soon get used to it, but after about 6 or 7 minutes we took refuge in the airport once more.
As it turned out, our idea that the bus must be pretty regular was completely wrong. The next one would be coming when the next flight came in, which made a lot of sense but also made us regret stopping for a Skyr. Luckily the next flight was only an hour or so away, which we spent popping outside at regular intervals to see how long we could stand the cold for. I think we nearly managed 10 minutes at one point.
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