Day one in Iceland is in the books, and I’m reminded of how traveling reinvigorates my soul. My favorite part about any kind of travel is meeting some pretty amazing people from all walks of life… I will discuss the friends we made in day one in just a moment. First, let’s dive into how our travel adventures began, because… it simply wouldn’t be a Michelle travel day without some form of travel cluster eff, requiring me to unathletically sprint through the airport in all of my glory.
Travel Chaos, but at least we had Snacks:
Emily and I began our travel endeavors to O’hare airport around 5PM on a Wednesday, thinking we would have plenty of time to get to the airport for our 7:30PM flight… we were wrong. You win again, Chicago rush hour and O’hare Cluster Eff International Airport. Long story short: one partial Uber, one broken Blue Line train, and one late functioning Blue Line train later, we arrived at the airport at the humble time of 6:40PM. Our plane was boarding in ten minutes, and we were at the end of a very long, slow-moving international security line. At one point I thought for sure we were going to miss our plane, but instead of panicking, I put my sales hat on and went to work with the 100 people ahead of us in line. Big shout out to those innocent civilians that let the two gingers in peril cut to the front, you’re the bomb! That was only the first hurtle, though. Security was no easy feat when you have 37 granola bars and enough snacks to feed the entire country of Iceland stashed away in your carry-on luggage between the two of you. It was a barrier we managed to overcome, despite much TSA scrutiny and interrogation. We knew the Iceland food was expensive, so it was worth the additional judgment. We love our snacks and we were not willing to part ways with them, never mind the fact that it was 7PM and our plane was about to leave us (and our snacks) behind. Anyways, we get through security, proceeded to sprint to our gate, which of course, is the furthest gate away from the security checkpoint. With sweat dripping down our faces, our 37 granola bars on hand, we barely made our flight, and off to Iceland we went.
Iceland Landmark Adventures:
We went straight from the airport to the Blue Lagoon, thanks to Emily’s awesome planning… it was PERFECT. If you travel to Iceland on a morning flight, I highly recommend you go to the very first opening at the Blue Lagoon… it’s so much better with less people there. It’s the best spa experience I’ve ever had. We got face masks, drank cider beers, and lounged around in our little white robes and free flip flops.
From there we wandered around downtown Reykjavik. We walked along the waterfront where the city meets the ocean and enjoyed the purest fresh air of Iceland. We ate lunch at this amazing local place called, Ostabúðin… it was so DELICIOUS and had the best cozy vibe. The English Pub stole our heart from happy hour into the rest of the evening, until we went to dinner with Emily’s friends. We ate at Islenski Barinn… the food was awesome, and the vibe once again had charming local flare.
Up next, we plan to go horseback riding via the lava tour and check out the famous church views here in Reykjavik called Hallgrimskirkja… that’s an “r” a “k” and a “j” next to each other, SO THAT’S A NOPE (SNL skit reference, anyone?)
Advice from the Locals, Never Try to Outdrink the Icelandic Folk:
We picked up our rental car and enjoyed the hospitality of the three lovely Icelandic lads at the counter who helped us. We requested a red rental car for the redheaded crew, but they unfortunately didn’t answer to our request (and didn’t find my joke as funny as I did). Instead, they gave us several restaurant and local bar recommendations with the final words of advice, “The Icelandic men, they can be ruthless (in terms of their drinking), don’t try to keep up with them, you will lose.” In other words, pace yourselves and don’t try to prove yourselves, you American idiots—they have obviously seen this before. Noted, even the Irish broad within me seemed to understand very well, that this would be a lopsided battle that would never end well in our favor. That advice came full circle when we stumbled upon the most adorable pub we could find in the heart of downtown Reykjavik called, The English Pub. I knew I loved this place from the moment I saw their bartender team unis. A giant friendly man by the name of Goodnar was wearing a shirt saying, “I’m not having a pint, I’m having six. It’s called tasting, and it’s classy.” The other bartender, Hawk, was wearing a nice business plaid top, while sporting sweat pants cut into shorts on the bottom and a man bun. Business on top, party on the bottom. RESPECT. After the owner came through with free beers all around… for 3 rounds… the third bartender said, “we don’t drink people under the table… we drink ourselves under the table and bring you with us.” So… the enterprise boys were correct in their warning. However, Emily and I were responsible and gifted our beers to the rest of the bar.
We met some inspiring new people at the Old English Pub, Artur and Dennis. These two fellows were camped next to us as we watched the soccer game (in which I was quickly informed it’s futbol not “soccer”). Two people from two different walks of life that became good friends several years ago and now travel together to fun places often. Artur is a successful man originally from Brazil, who came from nothing. He moved to America 20 years ago to pursue the American dream, and was homeless when he first came to America. He built a successful business from literally nothing, and now lives to serve others who are less fortunate. Dennis is a lawyer from New York City, who is probably very successful, but you wouldn’t know it by his humility, kindness, and genuine nature. He reminded me of my dad and also of the reasons why I miss and love the friends I had made in the Northeast last year… hard-working, no BS, and loyal beyond belief.
After many unplanned hours spent at the English Pub (THIS PLACE NEVER GETS DARK SO YOU FEEL LIKE IT’S 5PM WHEN IT’S ACTUALLY 10PM), Emily connected with an old friend that happened to be in Iceland for the night, so we met them for dinner. Marcus, Alex, and Kelsey. Turns out Emily’s friend, Marcus, went to high school with one of my best friends from NHLN, the lovely miss Jamie Hersch. Marcus now also lives with Jamie’s brother. Such a small world that was all coming together in seemingly the most random of places. Kelsey had just met Alex and Marcus earlier that day, and had opted to travel to Iceland alone… also from Chicago. She made me SO excited for my next trip to Italy, where I will also partially travel alone. Alex just quit his job in NYC and is in the process of rediscovering his passion in life, it reminded me of when I quit medical device sales to do broadcasting and I was so excited for him to gain his life and happiness back.
In my opinion, meeting new people is one of the great beauties of traveling to new places. It forces you to open up, expand your world to embrace new cultures and new people, which in turn can teach you so much about yourself and the world.