Iceland, airplane trouble, a surprise trip to Scotland, and finally Amsterdam!
Here we sit, nibbling fruit and cheese on the shores of the IJmeer. Yes, we are finally in Amsterdam! Our legs are tired from a day pedaling back and forth across the city on various errands in preparation for our EuroVelo bike trip. It feels good to be back in Amsterdam. It’s easy to fall back into the relaxed groove of summer in Amsterdam, although this time we’ve traded the houseboat for a swanky pod hotel and now a tent (more on that later).
We left home Wednesday morning on a very long (and cheap!) flight agenda: Dallas to Boston on JetBlue (5 hour layover and a switch to Icelandair), Boston to Reykjavik (8 hour layover), Reykjavik to Amsterdam, arriving about 9 PM on Thursday. Of course, things didn’t quite go as planned…
The flight to Boston and and layover was uneventful. The Icelandair flight to Reykjavik was most noteworthy for the interior design of the Icelandair planes and what we learned about Iceland. The cabin lights along the fuselage were a very cool white color temperature, reminiscent of sea ice, and the ceiling lights along the overhead bins were color changing LEDs that looked like the slowly morphing Northern Lights (the photo doesn’t do it justice). Very thoughtful design and great branding.
The flight was a surprise opportunity for us to learn about geothermal energy. Iceland sits along the fault where the North American and European tectonic plates meet, and is a “hot bed” of seismic and volcanic activity. There is A LOT of heat and energy stored underground in Iceland. There are active volcanoes, geysers, and hot springs around the islands, and this energy from the earth is harnessed by the Icelandic people for a variety of purposes.
Around Reykjavik they extract the naturally occurring hot water and steam from underground to heat their homes, offices, water, and even keep the streets and sidewalks snow-free (there is a network of geothermal hot water pipes under the surface of the streets and sidewalks that heats their surface!).
What percentage of Iceland's energy usage is from renewable sources?
The 8 or so hours we spent in Iceland were a pleasure. The “food” in the Boston airport was, well, disgusting so we were pleased to find a super-yummy place in the Keflavík International Airport. “Joe and The Juice” serves fresh juice and delicious sandwiches on toasted brown bread. It sounds hippy-dippy, but it was delicious!
We took a bus from the airport to Reykjavik (about 40 mins) and spent a few hours walking around the quaint and quiet city.
After the quick Reykjavik walkabout, it was back to the airport for the flight to Amsterdam.
Our 4:30 departure was delayed slightly by an equipment issue, but we were soon back in the air. We were exhausted. Mila and Jette managed to get a little sleep on the plane. I nodded off just long enough to give me a crick in the neck!
At some point in the flight, the captain announced that we were having “equipment issues” and would be landing in Glasgow, Scotland. I almost never get nervous on commercial airplanes, but I have to admit that I was a little bit jittery. It is not everyday that the captain of an airplane on a trans-Atlantic flight announces “equipment issues” and a bee line for the first chunk of dry ground!
We landed safely in Glasgow and sat on the runway. After some time we were directed off the plane and into the airport terminal which was, by that time, already closed. After a while they brought us bottled water and said they were flying a part in. As midnight approached they announced that the airline would be finding hotel rooms for all of the passengers. We were shuffled downstairs, through immigration and into a long line of 200 or 300 people. Names were taken, arrangements were made, and we were soon in a cab to one of the airport hotels where we waited in another long line to check-in. It was after 1 am on Thursday when we finally put our heads on a pillow. The last bed we had seen was on Tuesday night.
Though still tired, we were up early Friday morning for a quick breakfast and a shuttle ride back to the airport. Word among the passengers was that we would be departing at noon but that wasn’t to be. We ended up spending a full day at the Glasgow Airport. It was our first trip to Scotland, and we didn’t see much, but we made the best of it!
It was beautiful, sunny day. We lounged on the airport lawn with some of our fellow travelers and played volleyball with a free, promotional beachball from one of the vendors in the airport.
It wasn’t cloudy or raining. Could we have really been in Glasgow?!
We finally arrived in Amsterdam at 10 pm on Thursday about 60 hours after our Dallas departure. We checked in to the very fun and swanky CitizenM Hotel on the ground of Schiphol Airport, so it wasn’t long before we were snoozing in a real bed! The CitizenM is a “pod” hotel. The showers are glass “tubes” in the room with color changing LED lights controlled with an iPad. Fun stuff.
After one night in the fun and funky CitizenM, we switched to a tent in the equally fun and funky Camping Zeeburg Amsterdam campground.