Jeremy and I stayed in one of the interior rooms of Hotel Fron. Mom and my brothers had large, apartment-style space with windows looking onto an alley just off Laugavegur, the main street through the city center.
Apparently their room was also right above a night club. All Mom heard all night was the BOOM BOOM BOOM of the bass.
We went downstairs for breakfast — Mom needed coffee just to drown out the leftover BOOM — and to wait for Dad. If he made it.
Mom was finishing her first cup when she thought she spotted him on the street. We ran around to the front of the hotel and there he was, luggage trailing, looking desperate for sleep and a light for his cigarette. Mom and I threw our arms around him, and he smiled and asked where he could get coffee.
We’d been extra worried that Dad wouldn’t make it to Reykjavik because Dad isn’t the jet-setting type. He’s a nervous flyer. He doesn’t plan the trips. He doesn’t travel a lot. Mom, however, travels nearly every week for business. She’s been to all 50 states, she knows every airport, has status with every airline. Okay, so maybe not every airline, but the woman knows how to get around, and if the passport debacle had happened to her, none of us had any doubts that the dragon lady would have gotten a passport and gotten herself to Iceland. But with Dad, we weren’t convinced until we saw the whites of his eyes on the street in Reykjavik.
Turns out we needn’t have worried. Remember chipper blonde behind the Iceland Air desk? She didn’t just get him a seat. Dad flew first class. He sat next to a Norwegian woman who explained the difference between the lox they enjoyed on the plane and the lox she’d eaten in Alaska. He had a glass of Jack Daniels and ate caviar and stretched out and relaxed.
We crowded into coach quickly during boarding because the air conditioning on the plane was out, and then ate meatballs of uncertain origin.
Nevertheless, he had arrived, and we were all happy about that.
Matt came down for breakfast and found himself in another food nightmare. Breakfast was the same as yesterday. The had what we’d call lunch meat; that was out. They had tomatoes and cucumbers; out. They had cereal, but only plain corn flakes and Cheerios, not his usual sugary fare. Dejected, he settled into orange juice and toast with jam. There was sugar out for coffee, so I told him to pour sugar over some Cheerios, but my suggestion was filtered through teen angst and Mom already making his toast and jam as he complained about the cereal. Now that we’re back, I’m planning a book: “The Picky Traveler: How to Eat Chicken, Pasta and Sugary Cereal Anywhere in the World.” The book will include a forward by my brother, of course, and a chapter by my mom on tormenting international waiters and waitresses with special requests for plain chicken and pasta with white sauce, regardless of the menu choices.
After much toast and coffee, we moved on to whale watching that afternoon, which was cold yet invigorating. We only saw one far-off Humpback whale, but we saw plenty of puffins, and Atlantic dolphins played in our boat’s surf for a long time. After shooting at least 50 frames of dolphins, my mom came over and asked whether I’d gotten any dolphin pictures. She’s always eager to document every moment with the camera and isn’t afraid to try to recreate moments she misses, tell everyone where to stand, how to pose, or tell me what to shoot to ensure complete coverage. So I usually shoot these from the hip while looking at her and remind her in a snotty fashion that I took a few photo classes at a rather famous journalism school.
She doesn’t care, she just wants pictures of the dolphins.
We went on a super-jeep tour of the Golden Circle the next day. Jeremy got up early that morning to walk around the city. It was Saturday, and evidence of Reykjavik’s night life was everywhere. The drunks were still heading home, and broken bottles littered the streets. Jeremy even spotted blood spilled on the street. I slept in, so the street cleaners were out by the time I made it down to the street level for breakfast; I missed the carnage.
Next: the Golden Circle, including how to float on a glacier in a super jeep. Hint: three p.s.i.