This is to be our most ambitious international trip to date, not only because we’ll be bringing our three-year-old plus our nearly ten-month-old baby, but because we have planned such varied lodging experiences—the usual hotels, guesthouses, camping, plus a backcountry hut reached only by fording two streams. Yan had traveled to San Francisco, twice, to get a visa to Iceland, the first time having completed incorrect forms and being too early, since the layers of instructions could not be more confusing: VSF Global processing on behalf of the Norwegian Consulate, in turn processing on behalf of Iceland. Now having made all the arrangements and adjusting our circadian rhythm using the Entrain app, we’re ready for this adventure.
Flight and Ride
Departing from Ontario International Airport is a luxury. We avoid LAX when possible. The first leg takes us to Dallas. From there, it’s a red-eye flight to Keflavík. Arrival is simple. Immigration takes but a few minutes. Through the baggage claim area, we are herded through a shopping area for groceries and duty-free items. We get some water for the road. The bulkiest items to arrive are the car seats and double stroller. Getting everything carted out and loaded onto the rental car shuttle and then off again is a terrible chore. We apologize to everyone around us. At the Fox car rental station, Yan and the kids wait outside, thinking it would be quick. Here, we are first introduced to Iceland’s unrelentless winds, the type that penetrates all your clothes and into the bones.
The Ford Kuga barely fits everything we have. Everything is crammed between seats, since the double stroller takes up the entire back.
Driving into Reykjavík is easy. The maximum speed limit for the entire country is 90 km/hr. The first task is to get lunch. Approaching the old city center, we come across an intersection with Thai food restaurants at each corner. We decide to try one; the food hits the spot. Then, we visit the Culture House and the Settlement Exhibition. We learn about the first settlers and their stone, timber, and turf roof house from AD 871±2. From there, we stop by the front of towering Hallgrímskirkja on the way to our first hotel.
ION Adventure Hotel is the only place where we will spend more than one night. We find it tucked into the Nesjavellir hillside not far from a geothermal power plant. The Northern Lights Lounge overlooks the vast landscape with floor-to-ceiling windows. We unwind in the heated outdoor pool, taking in the views, unafraid of the cold Icelandic winds. Dusk and sunset seem drawn out as the sun makes its near-horizontal descent to the horizon but never gets far below it. Midnight remains like one long blue hour of light.