September 19, 2018
The day I never wanted to come, even though I’ll admit I had became pretty homesick. Kubo and I sat at a table in the dining area at the Reykjavík campground, not really saying much, with blank stares on our face. Months ago it was easy to pack the itinerary for our final day, catching some other spots on Reykjanes before heading to the airport. Now that the day was here, we had little desire to do anything but sit and stare as the minutes counted down.
I was still recovering from battling whatever horrible food borne illness I had contracted the night before, so I toasted up a few slices of bread, and tried to finish off the last of our juice. Eventually we wandered back to Carl, and gathered up all food and items that we would donate to the free shelves at the campground, and we watched as other travelers swooped in to claim our goods (and I had to resist taking items off the shelf to bring home!).
After procrastinating longer than we should, we packed up our belongings, playing the difficult luggage Tetris game as we tried to figure out how to get everything squeezed back into suitcases, and have room for all the extra goodies we were bringing home (mainly my two lopapeysas and huge wool blanket… and all the Maggi soup mixes I insisted on taking home. I’m clearly backwards from every other American going to Iceland who tries to bring as much American food with them from home… instead, I bring Icelandic food home with me). We were smart and had packed a collapsable 70 liter duffel bag, which we ended up using for our sleeping bag and dirty clothes on the return trip, which helped make room for souvenirs and lazy packing behaviors our other bags. Soon we hit Road 41, stopping at an N1 station to give Carl a good washing and vacuuming before heading to the airport.
A brilliant blue sky taunted us, though I was smart enough know that there were winter storm warnings starting that evening for most of Iceland, so as sad as it was to be leaving, I felt like we were getting out just in time! We easily found our drop off location at Keflavík International Airport for Carl. We spent some time getting the table set up in the back and taking some video video of the van before Kubo drove me to departures with all our luggage, and then went back to park him. Kubo had grown quite attached to Carl, so I’m not sure if he cried or not, but he did drink one last beer to drown out the memory on his walk back to the airport.
I, in the meantime, found the tax refund window and filed for my VAT refunds and made my way back to the Icelandair check in counter by the time Kubo showed up. We checked in, and as one of my checked bags was about to disappear into the baggage black hole, I noticed the tag they had placed on it said “BOS,” “Why is my bag going to Boston?!” I exclaimed, and the counter lady literally hurdled herself on the conveyer belt and yanked my suitcase off of the belt just before it was going to disappear! Now THAT is customer service!! Something had gone wonky in the computer, and it was replaced with a proper DEN destination tag. Whew, so happy I caught that!
We found the airport to be less chaotic than it was upon our arrival, and breezed through security (though I did get some weird looks when I started to take off my shoes… apparently you don’t do that in Iceland), and we had a big ol’ chuckle about how security dumps you into a huge duty free store. I snagged lots of mini alcohol bottles as souvenirs for coworkers along with Síríus chocolate bars, which led to the conundrum on what to do with like 10 pounds of mini alcohol bottles when both my carry ons were stuffed! Not wanting a repeat of not receiving our in flight meal in timely fashion, we grabbed some meals at the food court, and then went through our exit passport check, which led to another duty free store you had to walk through, and then made our way to the gate. It’s true, there’s like nowhere to sit in the Keflavík airport, so we were happy that we weren’t here excessively early. When it was time to board we lined up and took a shuttle bus out to our plane. Oh man, we really are leaving 😦
Our flight home ended up being almost 8 hours due to storms in Denver preventing us from landing. I didn’t really get much sleep, despite our food arriving pretty early in the flight (sigh… my last taste of true Icelandic skyr), and Kubo and I were both brain dead when we landed. So brain dead that when immigration asked me “whose this young man with you?” I just stared at the guy, and then at Kubo, and then back at the guy, unable to verbalize who Kubo was, which led to some awkward laughs as Kubo explained that he was my boyfriend. With that, we were released officially back into the United States. It was weird, everyone was speaking English and highways were really really wide.
I wrote this blog on the 6th month anniversary of arriving in Iceland. I actually had tears welling up as I wrote it, as I’m pretty sad that I finally have documented every single day of our fantastic trip. Though I had some challenging moments in Iceland with cultural differences and homesickness (I’m actually quite a homebody for how much I travel for work and personal reasons), I knew I had to go back as soon as it would be feasible. I had concerns before we went that I would somehow be let down by Iceland after doing such extensive research while planning my trip, and I found the opposite to happen, and Iceland literally kept a piece of me as I departed on that airplane on September 19th. There’s definitely things I would’ve done differently on our trip, but I think that’s just natural. It was a jam packed, very busy trip, so I do want to take some future trips to Iceland that really don’t have an itinerary laid out, and it’s more of a general exploration thing, and definitely need to get back to the Highlands. This won’t be the last time I’ll blog my shenanigans in Iceland!
Follow along on our entire 19 day Iceland road trip adventure! Click here for a comprehensive itinerary, with links to each day’s adventure.