Laugavegur 2018 day 1

First of maaaybe three blogs this trip. The flight was delayed but mostly uneventful. We flew over Liverpool, the Isle of Man, saw Northern Ireland and followed the western Scottish islands.

And then we reached Kef. We parked in the middle of nowhere and took the bus to the terminal. The non-Schengen area is now verging on impossibly busy but good news: they’ve installed automatic passport gates at last and as the vast majority of non-Schengen passengers are North American, we Europeans (for now!) get to jump the queue by using them instead of the human passport inspectors.

Bad news: once Iceland Excursions had shuttle buses going into Reykjavik non-stop. Now they’re Greyline, it’s one bus an hour and you go to a person holding up an iPad instead of going to the kiosk. I love Greyline but they’re clearly not the company to travel into Reykjavik with anymore. By the time I’d figured out how it all works now, I’d missed the 4.30 bus literally by seconds and am left typing this on the floor while watching the time and waiting for the 5.30 bus.

And it’s now a single minibus instead of their flagship executive coach! The luggage compartment is tiny anyway and now we’ve got a lady who thinks she’s Victoria Beckham trying to fit three or four large designer suitcases in when it’s all already piled up behind the seats. It’s not going in. I think she’s trying the crying tactic (“I’ve had a long day and my luggage was lost”) but physics is physics and the bus is full. Oh, Greyline. You used to be absolutely superb but one minibus an hour isn’t enough. We’ve just turned away ten or twelve people and finally we’re off!

Being on a minibus instead of a coach does at least mean we don’t have to be decanted at the main terminal or get dropped (hopefully) at the designated bus stops – we can go straight to our assorted front doors.

Well, in a manner of speaking. I got to my hostel, phoned the number on the door (for check-in after 3pm – ie as early as you’re ever allowed to check in!) and was told, in a so-excited voice “we have some houses – you’re not in the hostel, you’re in a house. They have shared kitchens!” That wasn’t the plan! I knew how to get to my pick-up spot tomorrow morning from the hostel!

The house is only one street back. It’s the top two floors of someone’s house. I’m up in the roof, accesses by stairs so steep they’re virtually a ladder. How I’m going to get a 13kg luggage down them in the morning, I don’t know.

Off I went into town, woefully underestimating the rain. The distance to Hallgrímskirkja, where I need to be at 7am tomorrow, is easily fifteen minutes, unladen. I decided I was going to get a taxi. It’s a ludicrously heavy bag and I’d have to get up so early.

I shopped, I found the tourist information still open at 7.30 on a Sunday night, they booked the taxi for me, since I’m too chicken to phone two strange Icelanders in ninety minutes. Taxi arranged, I came back along Laugavegur – the shopping street in Reykjavik, not the hiking trail I set off for tomorrow. I’d wanted to go swimming, try out the new outdoor pool at Sundhöllin but by the time I got back, ate, re-packed and got to the pool it wouldn’t be worth it. I promise myself that next Saturday evening if I survive the next six days though.

No roof, no electricity, no internet and a walk 1006 jumbo jets long – that’s 47.5 miles in normal measurements. In the snow, even at this time of year.

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