NY Fokker 50 and FI
B757, with Icelandic scenery
Hi everyone and thanks for reading my report! Comments and questions are always appreciated.
, you know how this goes—it was spring break, and I just had to go somewhere. Where could I go... Texas? Mexico? Other Spring Break destinations? Hell no. Why ever would I do that... I'm not interested in getting drunk. I decided, along with M, to go somewhere way more interesting.
Looking at one-way transatlantic flights to Northern Europe, three airlines stood out. These were LOT, Air Berlin and Icelandair.
Well, soon it was decided what we'd do. Fly with LOT from Chicago to Copenhagen via Warsaw. Also, we'd be returning with Icelandair, Keflavik to Boston. What to do in the middle? Good question. Well, after conferring, we decided to try Atlantic Airways. BOS
would be done directly on JetBlue's E-190, a new aircraft type for me.
Here's the full trip summary:
, 763, 23MAR, SP
, E75, 24MAR, SP
, 319, 26MAR, OY-RCG
, RJ8, 27MAR, OY-RCD
NY 166, RKV
, F50, 27MAR, TF-JMR
NY 167, AEY
, F50, 28MAR, TF-JMO
, 752, 30MAR, TF-FIA
, E90, 31MAR, N190JB
So, why these airlines? And why these destinations? Well, as I said before, price was a big factor. However, to get to the Faroes there's not much choice... Air Iceland is again the only airline flying on our required route to Akureyri. JetBlue offered me a nice new aircraft for the log... And LOT... was supposed to be a 787. Nevertheless, Poland is a new country for me. Icelandair was supposed to be a 753... and since I found out at the gate it wouldn't be one... I held a grudge against them for a couple of hours.
Anyway, that's about it for the introduction.
Alright, well, if you remember, in the last part, I had trailed off with the departure of the Avro RJ
-85 back to FAE
: Føroyar Og Atlantic Airways: Tórshavn, A319, RJ85 (by dc9northwest Jun 21 2013 in Trip Reports)
First stop afterwards was the Reykjavik Bus Station, where I'd leave my bags for the next couple of days, not wanting to carry it all the way to Akureyri when my backpack would certainly suffice.
Then, we headed towards Reykjavik city center. The first sight seen along the way is also (arguably) the most interesting one in Reykjavik. It's a rather spartan (as expected in the North) cathedral, called the Hallgrimskirkja. While spartan, both inside and out, and lacking the “grandeur” of a Catholic cathedral or the well-done (medieval-ly well-done) wall paintings of monasteries in Northern Bukovina, it is architecturally quite interesting, and well worth a visit. Not to mention the tower gives a quite good view of the entire city of Reykjavik, its surroundings and, of course, Reykjavik City Airport.
Right outside the cathedral is a statue of Leif Ericsson, the viking who actually discovered America. Of course, as a nautical nation, Iceland has quite a passion for viking seafaring sagas. Furthermore, it is generally believed Leif Ericsson was born in Iceland.
Leifr Eiricsson Statue:
Inside the cathedral, you can find an organ. In fact, at some point, we walked by the Cathedral and there was an organ concert inside (it's been a while, at least I think it was an organ concert).
Afterwards, we headed by Laugavegur, the self-proclaimed main street of Reykjavik. This was also where our hotel (OK hotel—and it's not just OK
) would be located once we'd return from Akureyri.
Reykjavik Main Street:
Walking westward, we discovered the Harpa Concert Hall, a rather new building on Reykjavik's seaside promenade.
Further west, is what I'd call Downtown Reykjavik, with all its government buildings.
The main government building is the Althingi... Which reminds me of a funny parable regarding drunken stupors.
As we were walking east on Kirkjustraeti, I notice a couple of guys drinking somewhere at the entrance of what seemed to be an apartment building. For some reason I think they were Eastern European. I'm not sure if I ever heard them speaking a Slavic language or I just assumed that since they were quite drunk (although we all know Northern Europeans also can have this habit). Anyway, we proceeded to Austurvollur (Western Field... right, Sveinn?). At some point, I realized one of the drunkards was walking this way as well. However, we headed towards the park and he, determined by his drunkenness, straight for the Althingi. Very determined, you see. We stopped and stared, curious just what drunken antics we'd see today.
At some point, we think he's gonna crash into the Althingi building. However, suddenly, he stops. He unzips his pants, and, well, starts pissing on the Parliament building of Iceland. Now, I don't know what measures passed by the Althingi he was protesting against, but you could definitely tell just how displeased he was. He was, quite literally, pissing on the parliament and what it stands for. in any case, it's good to see that in Iceland you're allowed to protest against government decisions in any way you so desire. I say this because, quite suddenly, two guards slowly walk up to the man. One of them tells him to stop pissing on the building. The other just watches from a distance. Assuming there was also some threat of prosecution, the man stopped pissing on the Althingi. He started pissing on the sidewalk, now in full view of everyone in the square. No problem anymore. The guards let him finish he's business. Apparently it's only not allowed to piss ON
the parliament, and not on the pavement in front of it.
In any case, it seems that Iceland has quite the developed sense of protest against government decisions... Apparently, you can piss on them (for a while).
At this point, any ill-will towards the city of Reykjavik disappeared. This was thoroughly entertaining, and the city is really not that bad, anyway
I guess the most entertaining part is that the man just walked away... Can't imagine anything like this happening in the States.
This pond below is called Tjornin, or “the Pond”. City Hall is built right on the edge. There's also a nice park here in which you can relax.
Over the Pond:
The City Hall building is quite modern and is interesting if not pretty (M feels it ruins any pictures it's in :P)
As we head South towards Sudurgata and the airport, I notice the following sign. No tractors during workweek rush hours, eh? Are they allowed at other times? What do you do with a tractor in central Reykjavik anyway?
No tractors during the workweek rush hours!
As we were approaching the Reykjavíkurflugvöllur, a rain shower started. Just in time for us to take cover inside the small terminal of RKV
Reykjavik City Airport:
You know how in most of the world, there's (at most) a 30-minute limit for check-in? Iceland has one too at RKV
—but check-in doesn't close at T-0:30. It opens at T-0:30. Therefore there was quite a bit of waiting time for us here... There's really not much to do at RKV
aside from watching other passengers rush to board their Fokkers and Dashes.
Soon, it was about time for check-in to open, and we got our boarding passes for the Fokker flight to far-flung Akureyri. They said boarding would soon be called. I was thinking—hey, wait a minute—where's security? Could it be? Could it be that there's no security on Icelandic domestic flights? We'd just have to wait and see. About 15 or 20 minutes from schedules departure time, boarding was called and, yeah, no security. Oh, such a great feeling. Thanks, Iceland, for never pissing anyone off with your foreign policy.
Air Iceland 166
Seats: 08A, 08B
We boarded our Fokker and... well, there's not much to say about this flight—obviously check-in was very efficient. The seats were not all that comfortable, nor the legroom all that great... I proceeded to fall asleep, hence I won't comment on the service until the return journey.
The cabin was a bit dark, under-lit, and featured some quite ugly commercials...
Wing taking away from your bag space:
Seatback and ugly commercial:
I present you some standard A.net shots for your enjoyment.
Not much legroom:
We proceed to take-off, IIRC
, from Runway 13 from RKV
Insert here your preferred story about an Icelandic domestic flight, but not loud, so you don't wake me. I can tell you that the weather was quite cloudy and the window not quite in a pristine condition...
A few shots on approach—we pass AEY
to the East and circle back to land on Runway 19.
We leave of machine, TF-JMR and catch a taxi to our guesthouse, the Gula Villan. Not bad, our own private bathroom and all that's needed for our stay... I can recommend it.
Then we head to central Akureyri, just to find most everything closed. After a bit of a misunderstanding, we grab some grub for the local Subway (open 'til 22:00!) and head back home. Before going to Subway, here are a couple of night pictures from Akureyri.
Central Akureyri at night:
Long-exposure shot of Akureyri:
Towards the airport:
The next morning we wake up really early—we have a tour of the Lake Myvatn area in our plan, booked through Saga Travel. Our driver, Olaf, finally shows up a few minutes behind schedule due to dispatch sending him to the wrong address. Not a big deal, I suppose. I'd give anything for 15 minutes of zero (Celsius) degree weather right now. After picking up another passenger, Olaf proceeds to drive towards Lake Myvatn.
View of Akureyri from across the fjord:
Our first stop was at Goðafoss, The Gods' Waterfall. Here, it was freezing, quite literally. The wind was blowing from the waterfall towards us, and it was just cold enough for the small water droplets to be more or less frozen by the time they reached us. That said, it made for some quite nice photography, I must say
Olaf stayed in the car due to the weather conditions.
It was actually really, really cold:
The river spraying our faces with ice particles:
Back on the road towards Myvatn.
Why did the snow cross the road? Because it got blown by the wind.
Here comes the Sun:
The Sun now shining over us, and the weather seems much better. Here are some pseudo-craters around Lake Myvatn.
Craters? No! Pseudo-craters:
, part II
And heeeeere's Lake Myvatn.
Next stop were the lava formations of the “Dark Cities”, perhaps the highlight of the tip, for more reasons than one.
Dimmuborgir (sadly, no ICS Vortex):
More views of the lava formations follow:
Afterwards, we headed towards the Grjotagja, some nice underground caves with 40 degree water inside.
At some point Olaf said they thought it would be impossible to sell tours of Iceland in winter to foreigners... I'd think the opposite—they couldn't sell it to Icelanders. Foreigners have no idea what Icelandic winters can do
Here's a dog driving a red car:
Even dogs can drive in Iceland:
40C water inside a cave:
Next stop, the Muddy Volcanoes of Namafjall Hverir.
At Namafjall Hverir:
Good news, everyone, I've found water on Mars!
Water on Mars:
Soon, it was time to head back to Akureyri, not before stopping for lunch at Vogafjos, the Cowshed Cafe. They had actual cows in the shed, and no beef on the menu
Back to Akureyri:
We then headed back to Akureyri and enjoyed a few hours here before going back to Reykjavik. We decided to walk to the airport, some 3 or 4 kilometers. A pleasant walk overall. We passed through a more residential area of Akureyri, and the Botanical Gardens covered in snow. At the airport... we arrived too early, but the guy at the check-in counter checked us in anyway. We grabbed a snack at the Airport Cafe and watched the non-action on the apron.
Path to walk to the airport:
As you can see, not too many people there. Of course, the Fokker 50 only holds about 50 people
Time to return to Iceland's capital.
Back to Reykjavik:
TF-JMO would do the honors this time. Again no security check before boarding.
Air Iceland 167
Seats: 08A, 08B
A cabin view:
The flight was similar to the one to Akureyri, except I didn't sleep as much. Same cabin arrangement, etc. Therefore I can show on what was served on board. Just a small snack and a drink.
We approached Reykjavik from the West and landed on Runway 13.
Reykjavik from the West:
Then, we headed straight to the OK
hotel, where check-in was a painless process, even without any physical reception desk. The room was great—featured a kitchenette, seating area, modern bathroom... and was decorated in a very unusual style. Here are some pictures.
The lobby was non-traditional as well, as seen below.
The location is on Laugavegur street.
The next day, we proceeded to the Thjodminjasafn, where we had breakfast and spent half the day exploring Iceland's past. Perhaps you'll permit me to try to be the first to include a human skeleton in an A.net trip report!
This history museum was quite a nice experience, though placed in a bulding built in a rather brutalist style.
Human Skeleton at the Þjóðminjasafn Íslands:
Volcanic Eruptions (Eyjafjallajokull, anyone?):
After visiting the Museum we head back to the center and find a place to eat, close to the Tourist Office. Unfortunately I don't remember its name...
Tourist Info place:
Close by, is the Harpa concert hall (again). Further East is the Solfar (Sun Voyager) sculpture.
Another view of Harpa:
We decide to take a night stroll as the chances for Northern Lights were good. We didn't end up seeing any, but here are a couple of night pictures nevertheless.
Hallgrimskirkja at night:
Solfar (Sun Voyager) at night:
The next day, our departure day from Reykjavik, we left our bags in the OK
hotel and proceeded to climb (by elevator
) to the top of the Cathedral.
From the top of the Hallgrimskirkja:
View of Central RKV
Afterwards, we grabbed our bags and headed to the Bus Station to catch our coach to Keflavik International Airport.
On the way to the airport:
Upon arrival, we were checked-in for our flight to BOS
, by one of the most disinterested check-in agents I've seen! I'd chosen our seats in advance, but we had to drop off our bags anyway, and for some reason online check-in didn't work... Probably something to do with a flight to the USA.
Check-in desks at the Keflavik airport:
Right outside was this weird sculpture... Which only reminds me of one thing—a crashed 787 engine. Not sure what they were going for. Maybe a commentary on the 787's poor performance up to that point.
A crashed 787 engine? Bad choice, KEF
We pass through security and we find what seems to be an airport with a lot of things to do (eating and shopping). So far, so good. We decide to grab something to eat. Soon, it's time to head towards the gate and board the scheduled 757-300. Well, here's where the bad news starts pouring in.
The part of the concourse for flights towards the USA is simply not large enough for the demand. Lots of flights, lots of people. Not much room. Furthermore, when I look outside, I notice a Boeing 757-200, TF-FIA at our gate. Damn. This prevents any enjoyment for the next hour or so. It's the second 753 to 752 change this year...
The good part of KEF
And the not-so-great:
... I'm afraid due to how FI
's operation is structured, KEF
will never be one of my favorite airports—clearly there's no point in making it larger looking at passenger numbers... but virtually all the passengers are there at the same 2-3 hours during the way, so the airport becomes insanely congested... Not much room at all.
Really tight down here with all the US flights departing. Thumbs down:
Boarding time comes, goes, nobody moves. Some minutes later, we do move, and go up the escalator, into the jetway, and into our 757-200. FI
offers a bottle of water upon entering the aircraft—nice touch. We head to our seats. PTVs are present on FI
's 752. OK
, not bad. I was still not pleased that I didn't find out about the aircraft change until reaching the gate, though...
Seats: 22E, 22F
ETD/ETA: 1700-1840 (5h40)
Welcome water (nice touch):
After a while, we were pushed-back and proceeded to join a queue of US-bound flights out of KEF
... Then take-off for our 5-hour journey into BOS
. At some point, I proceed to fall asleep (and sleep on and off).
Icelandair does not offer free meals on their flights. OK
, but nor is their menu terribly interesting... M decides to order some oatmeal. She pays for it, and waits, and waits... Nothing. Getting skipped for free food is one thing... Getting skipped when you just paid for it is something rather incredible, and IMO a very poor showing from the Icelandair F/As.
Southern Coast of Greenland (hidden by clouds):
Picture-heavy 752 safety card:
I doze on and off or just gaze out the window... This flight was a rather uneventful one for me, and certainly not the best I've ever taken. I'd rate LOT quite a bit higher than Icelandair, to compare the two longer-haul segments of my spring trip...
Soon, we were approaching Boston... Well, sooner than I'd've liked, since the USA can't hold a candle to Iceland
That said, Boston is one of my favorite cities in America. And one of the few ones where you can walk around, especially without feeling unsafe (ahem, Chicago). Yes, well, usually the immigration agents are nice in Boston, as well. Furthermore, this marks the first time I've arrived in Boston at a reasonable hour (with my final destination for the day being Boston), the other two times having gotten in at around 3 am and 4 am respectively.
As I said before, immigration was not bad, though I definitely had to wait for M for a while... But I took that time to find our bags so we could proceed to customs immediately. Out, and ready to catch the shuttle to the Hyatt Harborside, where we had our reservation. Obviously there'd be no more walking about at this hour...
Hyatt Harborside at Boston:
View from the window:
The view from our window was quite good—runway 14 at BOS
was right there. You could also see the action at concourse A quite easily. The hotel did not impress me, and I found quite the error in their in-room hotel's guide (whatever it's called). They advertise services that are either not available (called lying) or that no one knows about (so what's the bloody point?). In fact, I consistently find that under the aura of niceness the USA provides the worst customer service in the civilized world (of places to which I've been)... I guess this fake niceness is responsible for “surpassing in people's expectations” countries like Italy, Spain and France, where the people in customer service positions are not friendly (usually—in fact I've rarely seen them smile), but at least attempt to do their job as they should, and listen to what the customer says.
The next day we took our time and walked through Boston, since our flight would leave at 17:00. I'll attach some views of Boston below, but without much commentary since Boston is a well-covered city on A.net and a well-known one on a global scale.
Some views of Boston:
By the Aquarium:
Street in Boston's Beacon Hill neighborhood:
I noticed something interesting at the Massachussetts State House—General Hooker Entrance. Quite an interesting name, I'd say.
Many hookers here—they have their own general entrance:
We took a water taxi back to BOS
(and the free route 55 bus to the terminal) for 10$. BTW, Boston city provides free public transportation coming in from the airport! Now that's pretty thoughtful.
Water Taxi to BOS
Boston Terminal C:
Soon, we were at Terminal C. We had checked-in for our jetBlue flight and it was time to drop-off our bags at the counter. Then we proceeded through security.
On one FIDS screen I saw a 4-hr delay. No points for guessing this was an UA
A jetBlue E-190:
After walking around for a while, it was time to board the E-190 (which arrived with a small delay). The crowded nature of the terminal made it somewhat more difficult to snap photos in the gate area.
First E-190-100 flight:
ETD/ETA: 1705-1857 (2h52)
Seats: 17C, 17D
On board, it was typical jetBlue. Comfy seats, and PTVs with Live TV
options. I like this airline... People may say that flying in the US is a pain, but those people tend to fly UA
or US... In fact, VX
are quite nice little carriers IMO.
Ah, one bad thing about jetBlue is their horrible, horrible in-flight map!
Horrible in-flight map:
jetBlue snacks were soon distributed, alongside a beverage. This presumed low-cost carrier offers more than the aforementioned legacy airlines...
Ginger Ale for me (kudos PH
!) and Tonic Water for M:
The E-190 was a nice ride, and one now approaching an end. We were on finals to ORD
, and my last quarter at University was about to start.
A last view from ORD T3
Iceland: a terrific little country with marvelous sights.
Reykjavik: clean and orderly though not the most interesting city. Then again, if you go to Iceland, go for the scenery...
Air Iceland: decent carrier and I don't expect more of them.
: IMO poorly-planned (terminal-wise) but the lack of domestic security procedures makes up for it.
: good until you reach the boarding areas, but not further.
Icelandair: a mediocre carrier who I'd fly again but wouldn't go out of my way to do so.
airport: good by US standards, average for world standards.
JetBlue: I heartily recommend them, as they're above average by US standards.
Hotel in Reykjavik: Truly recommended. I'd pay extra to stay there next time I'm in Reykjavik.
Gula Villan guesthouse in Akureyri: I'd stay there again, no worries. Decent accommodation.
Saga Travel: Good tours, I'd recommended them to whoever's interested in seeing Northern Icelandic nature
Hyatt Harborside at BOS
: meh, aside from the views. It's a win-win with downtown Boston and Boston Logan on either side.
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