15 September 2018
Today is just a travel day but is officially Day 1 of our Arctic Express trip and we get our expedition gear and instructions this evening. It has rained heavily overnight and the wind is cold so we decide not to go for a morning walk. Gill has sprained her ankle so she isn’t keen on walking anywhere. We start with breakfast downstairs and make a sandwich to take with us on the flight. Despite being very close to the Central Station, we take a taxi to save Gill’s foot. We weren’t sure how long before the flight we needed to get there nor how long it was going to take to buy tickets, find our train and get to the airport so we left plenty of time.
I had been led to believe that the queues for tickets could be very long at the station. We had no problem getting to a machine, but getting it to part with tickets was a different matter. You could select an ‘English‘ option and the instructions were easy but there was such a time lag between selecting an option and something actually happening that by that stage you had usually given up and pushed another button which confused it totally. On my fourth attempt I decided to be patient and just wait for something to happen – and was rewarded eventually with 2 tickets to the airport (DKK36 each).
Next step was to find the train: easy once you know but because your ticket can be used on any train in the next hour it doesn’t give any details. And the trains go to the airport on the way to other places so you have to know what to look for. I ask a young woman who locates the right thing on the board for us and points us in the direction of a platform. There we are greeted with a sign that confused us more so I ask again. Another woman points us to Track 5 where a man said he overheard her telling us but that the train on Track 6 also goes to the airport and comes sooner (then woman comes back to tell us the same thing).
The carriage we get on is jam-packed with families with baby prams and strollers, many people with bicycles and travellers with suitcases. This made it very challenging for everyone to get in and out, but we all managed to get off at the appropriate stations. At the airport, we struggle to find the check-in counter for our Icelandair flight. Then we discover that all the flights in that area are operated under SAS and there is a shared automatic check-in area and then bag-drop. We didn’t check-in on line and end up with middle seats miles apart – thankfully it is only a 3 1/2 hour flight. Checkin is at Terminal 3 but then we are directed to Terminal 2 for departures that has us concerned for a while (I’m becoming very good at asking people).
After security and duty free the area splits into different gate areas but we are too early to know what our gate is and there are no seats. We eventually find a seating area and eat our lunch while we wait. It is all very efficient once we get our gate number. I sit next to a very nice Icelandic woman who’s son had lived in NZ for 6 months on a student exchange programme. It is pouring with rain and very cold when we arrive and unfortunately we can’t get an air bridge. They advise us to put on a sweater when we go outside to the bus!
Gill’s foot is very sore to walk on and once we get to Reykjavik it is a long slow walk to baggage claim and customs. There were several flights arriving from Copenhagen at about the same time and we waited quite a while at the wrong carousel before realising the number was wrong. We were amazed that no-one wanted to see our passports and we just walked out the nothing to declare lane. The arrivals area was packed and it took us a while to find the ATM to get some Icelandic Krona (about ISK71 to the NZ dollar so conversion is tricky) and then to find the Flybus station to get tickets to our hotel. By this stage it is after 5.00pm even after adjusting 2 hours for the new time zone.
It is a 45 minute drive from the airport into Reykjavík and the driving rain makes the barren landscape seem even more desolate in the evening gloom. At the bus station we are divided into different groups for transfers to our hotels and thankfully we get to stay on the same bus. The Fosshotel Reykjavík is huge and thankfully has restaurant and bar because we certainly don’t feel like venturing out to find food – it has been a long tiring day.
We are shown our room and then we have to find Quark Expeditions to get our bright yellow parkas and cabin tags for our luggage. The lovely Marcelo helps us with formalities. Neither of us feel much like eating but decide we had better have something: a spinach soup served with fresh bread from the bar. Then we just have to sort out our luggage again for the morning before falling into bed exhausted.
Please join me over the next several posts as I take you on our Journey to the Arctic (and more).
Arctic Express: Northern Lights
Day 1: Copenhagen to Reykjavik
Day 2: Reykjavik to Constable Point, Greenland
Day 3: Scoresby Sund: Frederiksdal & Flyvefjord
Day 4: Scoresby Sund: Nordvestfjord & Ingmikortilaq
Day 5: Scoresby Sund: Eskimobugt & Immikkeerikajik
Day 6: Scoresby Sund: Danmark Island & Vikingsbugt
Day 7: Scoresby Sund: Cap Hope & Ittoqqortoormiit
Day 8: Scoresby Sund: Steward Island & Constable Point
Day 9: Constable Point back to Reykjavik
Day 1: Reykjavik: Blue Lagoon
Day 2: Golden Circle
Day 3: South Coast
Day 4: Jokulsarlon
Day 5: Eastern Fjords & Moorudalur Valley
Day 6: Moorudalur Valley & Lake Myvatn
Day 7: Akureyri & Trollaskagi Peninsular
Day 8: Grabrok Volcano & Snaefellsnes Peninsular
Day 9: Snaefellsness to Reykjavik
For this and other similar tours see:
Peregrine Adventures (Comfort tours)
Geckos Adventures (for 18 to 30s)
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