Monday, February 12, 2018

Iceland Expedition: Heading Home

First of all, I want to encourage you to go back and take another look at (or even reread!) the three previous expedition  posts, now that I’ve had the chance to add some pictures, links, and additional video! Much better than the wall of text that was there previously!

Thursday was our last day in Iceland, and we sadly prepared to go home. Our flight left at 3:30 PM from KEF, so the morning was a leisurely one, as we woke up, packed, and prepared to leave. Based on our previous morning track record, we did not attempt to schedule any excursions for that morning, and I gave the group a departure time about thirty minutes earlier than one I felt was still extremely comfortable. We also enjoyed the entertainment of some schoolyard bullies at the school across the street, as we finished up our breakfast.

Our Airbnb (and little "seven passenger" car)
The next step was to pack into the car for the drive to the airport. We had been riding seven deep all week, but, this time, we had to fit in our full size suitcase (which ended up between Steven and I in the back seat) and all of our backpacks, stuffed to the gills. It wasn’t the most comfortable car ride I’ve ever taken, but it was bearable.

At the airport, we dropped off the rental car (after a side quest to refill the gas tank), hopped the shuttle bus to the terminal, and proceeded to check in and drop off our bag. Having learned our lesson, during check in, several of our group members asked to have their middle names added to their ticket, so that they would match their passports exactly. Imagine our surprise and frustration when the agents for WOW just shook their heads and told them not to worry about it. Now if only we could get that attitude transplanted to BWI and the WOW employees that work there!

Welcome to KEF
This wasn’t the only instance of the level of security or “standard procedure” being much lower than in the US. As we walked towards security, I had my passport and my ticket out to hand to the nice lady at the entrance to the queue. However, there was a sign that said “state your nationality” on her podium, and she never asked to see my ticket or passport (Mike corrected several of us for saying “United States” instead of “American,” during this interaction). In their defense, both the ticket and the passport were checked at customs, just a few minutes later. Also, that’s the first time I’ve been through a metal detector instead of an x-ray machine in a long time.

Icelandic hotdogs (finally!)
Having made it into the terminal, Mike, Steven, Tanner, and Katy finally got to try some Icelandic hotdogs. The way Steven described it, “You can taste more of the casing on it.” From that description, I didn’t think this was something I needed in my life.

WOW Airlines
We congregated near the gate and got to board one last bus to ride out to our plane before taking off. I was relieved to see everyone clear the turnstiles right after me. Nobody was getting left in Iceland! At the beginning of the trip, I had joked with everyone, “You’re all grown adults. If you get in trouble over there, I will leave you!” Unfortunately, I didn’t ever consider that it might be in the US, before we even took off. The joke all week was, “We never leave a man behind! Expect when we do.”

The purple plane
I was lucky enough to have an empty seat next to me on this flight (as well as the flight in), so I napped a little bit, read, and edited some video. When we landed, I looked out my window to see some random guy holding up a sign that said, “Tom in 11A loves stinky cheese!” Life is never boring.

I don't know who Tom is, but he has awesome friends!
After clearing customs, picking up our car from the parking lot, and stopping for something to eat, we began the long drive home. Mike volunteered to ride in the small third row seat next to the suitcases in the back, and was a champion. We made one pitstop in Harrisonburg for Cookout milkshakes and ended up making it back to the Park and Ride around 1:30 AM. Not too bad, even if I do say so myself!

Goodbye, land of ice!

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