The last in a series of incredibly attractive, impeccably-groomed Lyft drivers ferried us the few miles to the train station. We selected one of the many airport-bound trains and were soon circling the city.
A few hours later, we were descending into Iceland, a ruffle of chocolate brown bounded by the blueberry sea, frosted peaks far off. Still in the warm embrace of the Euro zone, we walked directly from the plane to the blustery parking lot, where our $75 bus ride awaited.
A dusty Martian landscape stretched into the distance, sparsely dotted with brilliantly purple scrubby flowers. The bus wound through the lava field, at times nearly touching the ocean shore, then veering off inland. Brightly painted houses began appearing on the hillsides as we approached Reykjavik. In a big parking lot, we unloaded from the bus, and there was a confused scramble to get on the tiny shuttle buses allowed into the city. Having once been a Girl Scout, I had prepared by scouting out the Google Maps, and we hopped off several stops early but much closer to our Airbnb.
Down a little alley off a main street, around some plastic lawn furniture and across a wood plank set haphazardly over a mud pile, we found our most expensive accommodations of the trip: a little white room with a dark little bathroom whose taps produced overwhelmingly sulphurous water.
After further research, we determined that $26 burgers were about the cheapest meal we’d be able to get in this town, so we walked over to the adorable Laundromat Cafe, where we sampled Icelandic beer and tried not to think about our rapidly shrinking bank accounts.
The sunlight was just beginning to fade when we drew the curtains around 10. 12 hours later, we rolled out of our Airbnb in search of breakfast. It was a brisk, breezy morning, but the sun was out, and the locals — all clad in discreetly stylish black outfits and exceedingly blonde — were out basking in this rare vitamin D. We settled on cappuccinos, a chocolate croissant for me, and tuna on toast for Chelsea. We ate in the restaurant’s fenced-in, lightly shaded side yard, watching the neon bowling ball roll again and again across the wall at the Big Lebowski bar next door.
Hours early to the airport, we bought disconcertingly expensive sandwiches for the plane and savored a last glass of wine before boarding our final flight home. Soon, far below, stretched the craggy peaks and swirling glaciers of Greenland.