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Coming to you live, from Reykjavik…

A colleague – a funder of Global Voices, actually – scheduled a meeting. Since most of the attendees are in Europe, it seemed reasonable to hold it in Brussels and not unreasonable to hold it on a Wednesday.

As the one non-Euro invited, I had a slightly more serious travel challenge. Flying into Europe for a weekday meeting is not for the meek, or the poor. Since most people coming to Brussels on Tuesday night, leaving on Wednesday night are businesspeople, airlines charge a lot of money for these tickets. $3500 was the best I could do online, which is way outside of the Global Voices budget.

So I decided to get creative. Icelandair would fly me to Amsterdam for a mere $500, getting me into that city midday Tuesday. I’d visit our wonderful Netherlands lawyers – Kennedy Van der Laan, who are representing us pro-bono as we incorporate – then take the train to Brussels. Dinner with a friend, breakfast with a reporter, the Wednesday meeting, a train back on Thursday morning, and back to Boston by Thursday night.

The flaw in this plan became apparent as I left Brussels this morning. It was snowing hard. Not hard enough to slow Belgian or Dutch trains, but hard enough to slow Schiphol Airport to a crawl. (A civilized, polite, extremely Dutch crawl.) We waited four hours on the tarmac to de-ice before leaving for Reykjavik.

Once we got to Reykjavik, I began to understand why not everyone considers Icelandair a great bargain. Basically, there’s two sets of flights from Keflavik airport each day – flights from all over Europe that arrive at the airport around 3pm, then another set of flights that depart for the US around 5pm. (I’m sure there are other flights going in the other direction, but frankly, I don’t care right now. Stop nitpicking.) Miss those 5pm flights and you’re staying in Iceland.

Which helps explain why I’m composing this post from the Hotel Loftleidir, with it’s scenic view of the tarmac at Reykjavik City Airport. I can’t fault Icelandair’s efficiency – they issued two dozen vouchers good for three meals, a hotel room and bus transport to and from the airport. The hotel’s nice enough and I’m looking forward to a stroll around the downtown of a city I’ve not been to since my honeymoon almost nine years ago.

But the line I got from the customer service agent as she handed me my voucher has stuck in my mind: “Sorry for the inconvenience, but you’ll only be delayed 24 hours!” Or perhaps it’s the discovery that Icelanders refer to this time of the year in their fair land as “the shitty months”. The season in the old Icelandic calendar was called “Thorri”, and evidently wasn’t very popular:

Thorri is a cold, dark and depressing month and according to the 18th and 19th century poets, you are very likely to loose your spirit and will to live during Thorri.

Here’s hoping I make it home before losing either my spirit or my will to live. Or my willingness ever to attend a mid-week meeting in Europe ever again.

Ducks on the ice outside of the Reykjavik City Hall (Radhús)

The next afternoon: Let the record show that I’ve lost neither my spirit or my will to live. It’s been a beautiful, crisp, clear day, and I watched the moon set and sun rise from a hill above town… at 9.30 am… before spending four hours exploring this beautiful city. As 24 hour delays go, this is one of the best I’ve had… For photographic evidence, see here.

5 thoughts on “Coming to you live, from Reykjavik…”

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  2. It’s been a beautiful, crisp, clear day, and I watched the moon set and sun rise from a hill above town… at 9.30 am… before spending four hours exploring this beautiful city.

    Wow. :-)

    Glad you still enjoy Rejkjavík more than Tony Bourdain did…

  3. Think of it this way: $500 round-trip to Europe with a day-long vacation in Reykjavik (all expensives paid!) and $2000 sitting happily unused in the GV coffers.

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