I arrived at Keflavik airport - the international airport - (not to be confused with the domestic one that is in Reykjavik city proper) at approximately 9:30 in the morning. I was hungry and had the “I’m not really on vacation anymore” grumpiness settling in combined with a stomach that needed more food since the only thing I ate at Paris Charles De Gaulle was a pain au chocolat and a coffee. I was also worried about my dog, who was very sick at this point in my trip and I just couldn’t wait to get home to him.
I inquired with the Icelandair staff about heading out on an earlier flight, learned there was not an earlier option, then exited the secure area of Keflavik. KEF is another small airport, its not as small as Riga but it still isn’t a place I want to spend 7-8 hours. Once in the public part of the airport, I ordered a huge almond milk latte and a toasted turkey sandwich from Joe and the Juice at Keflavik then sat around with what was probably a surly look on my face while pondering my options. At least all of the Joe and the Juice employees were attractive, I made sure to sit facing the counter so I could steal glances every now and then. It’s the little things.
I was tired but I wanted to do SOMETHING. I spoke to some airport info staff and they told me there was a place to check luggage for a fee on the airport property and that the next flybus to the city left soon and arrived in Reykjavik at 12:30. What I’ve learned in my travels is that if you’re on an island, no matter if it is tropical or not, times and schedules are flexible by about 15-20 minutes. This only drives me crazy when I am on a tight schedule like I was that day. I bought the $32 round trip flybus ticket, knowing I’d have only about an hour in the city. Kind of ridiculous to do it, but as I said, I needed to take my mind off of Rocco and the reality of going back to work.
If you ever check your bag at Keflavik Airport, I’m saving you a lot of time right now by telling you that you walk all the way to the back of the property, towards the water (you’ll see it) and walk to the building with the Orange Geysir sign. They rent cars and charge about $11 to check your luggage. I had to go into every rental car place, about 5 of them, and ask if they checked bags or knew who did because no one knew. I felt like a lunatic at one point. But that actually wasted a lot of my time right and I’m sharing this info so that no one else has to waste time. Also beware that sidewalks are not the shortest path to Geysir but a lava rock gravel parking lot is, you’ve been warned. Don’t wear your best shoes.
After that, I practically ran back to where Reykjavik Excursions picked up to take people to the city and got on a full bus. We left a teeny bit later than the schedule said because Island time and waiting for people. I chose to get off the bus at the central bus terminal (BSI) in Reykjavik because 1) I know that city well now and 2) it was closest to Mikkeller and Friends Reykjavik, and 3) it's the first stop. I jumped off of that bus and power walked to Mikkeller and Friends Reykjavik. I love that place, I love the atmosphere, the beer selection, the location. It would be my Cheers if I lived in Reykjavik.
I arrived at the unmarked building that I know to be the home of Mikkeller, ran up the stairs to the second floor, and saw that it was closed. Epic sad face. Not knowing what exactly to do with myself, I walked downstairs to the unnamed pizza place that serves food and some of Mikkeller’s beers and sat at the empty bar, a little defeated. I was worried that I would be disappointed and it would not have the array of beer options the upstairs bar offered.
It was still fairly early for a Sunday and the two guys working were just setting up. One of them greeted me in Icelandic then switched to perfect English when I smiled and said hello and then he said hi. I asked what was local and good. He asked me what I liked to drink and I said “stouts and IPA’s, and oh yeah, sours!” His eyes lit up and he grabbed the beer featured above and set it in front of me. He said sours were his favorite and he rarely meets anyone who likes them too and I had to try that. Omnipollo Bianca blueberry lassi gose is not a beer I had heard of before nor would I have tried it if I saw it on the menu. I would think that blueberry would be too sweet. However, it was a perfect blend of somewhat strange elements that were completely delicious together. IS completely delicious, it is not in the US market, I’ve asked, but I am hoping I can track some down when I’m in central Europe in October.
I chatted politely with the two bartenders, and one mentioned that he had an upcoming trip to South America and I asked where he was going and joined their conversation. We all swapped some stories about where we had been. Then before I knew it they asked me if I was ordering food and I looked down at my watch and saw that I had to leave to catch the flybus back to Keflavik. It was the shortest of happy hours but it certainly improved my mood. I like to try anything and everything and I especially like when someone recommends a food, drink, or restaurant and we can bond over it later to talk about how much we enjoyed it. So thanks to that bartender at the unnamed pizza parlour underneath Mikkeller and Friends Reykjavik, I have a new brewery (Omnipollo) to learn all about and track down their beers.
When I paid for my beer, I thought the total sounded like a lot, even in Icelandic kroner, and Iceland is expensive anyway. I checked my statement a few days later and saw that it was $17 beer. More than I’d usually pay but I needed that beer and conversation, the break, and the little trip to the city. So when I say this was the most expensive beer in the world, you can do the math on bag check, bus ticket and the beer itself…I regret nothing because it was delicious.
I power walked back to the BSI terminal and hopped on with a few minutes to spare. It was an absolutely beautiful and sunny day in southwest Iceland, the trip back to Keflavik was a lovely one and I enjoyed looking out the windows the whole 45 minute ride there. I sat next to a lady from Sweden who was headed home after her first trip to the island and she also loved it. Iceland is a must-see. It is small, and somewhat quaint, and I guarantee you that you’ll see a few of the same people more than once if you’re in the Reykjavik area for more than a couple of days. But people are nice, they know how to have fun, and the country is beautiful and otherworldly. I am actually already making plans to head back next year as a stopover to somewhere similar, yet not the same.
Back at the airport at 2:30 pm, I had to collect my bags from Geysir (ten minute walk from the terminal!) and check my bag. The recommended time to get to the airport before your flight to the United States is 2 hours, my flight was at 4:45 pm. The two hour rule: obey it, you will not be sorry. It is slow and there are 3-4 security checkpoints. You also walk through duty-free shops 2-3 times. There is a huge food court with a lot of tasty options, but again, TWO HOURS!
I felt like it was the perfect ending to my trip and Icelandair really doesn’t disappoint me. The flights are inexpensive and the service is good. You pay for food and drinks on board but it is better than food you get on US domestic carriers. I’d rather have the hot sandwich I paid for on Icelandair than the pasta and veggies I was given (and didn’t eat) on my way over on American Airlines. The movie selection is also pretty good and free!
I just can’t say enough good things about Iceland, so go.