Day 2 of the trip was relatively unevenful: after the Blue Lagoon in the morning (included in Day 1), we headed to the airport. Our flight to the US with Iceland Air was nearly six hours, and included flying over the rugged and icy landscape of southern Greenland. The cloud cleared as we flew over, revealing a vista of jagged inlets, icebergs and a vast central icesheet. I was instantly smitten and am determined to visit one day. That’s the thing with travel: every time you go somewhere you see lots of other exciting places on the way that are just crying out to be visited, and the bucket list of destinations grows even longer. Who wouldn’t want to go here, though?
Sadly Iceland Air doesn’t offer free wine, so I consoled myself by sipping on the rather tasty liquorice liqueur I’d bought at the airport, as well as eating another packet of my favourite Icelandic snack, bitafiskur.
We eventually touched down in Washington Dulles in the midst of a thunderstorm, and readied ourselves for the rigmarole that is passing through US immigration control (and for anyone visiting the US, don’t forget that you now need to apply online for an ESTA before travelling – you can’t anymore just simply tick the form on the plane asserting that you are not intending to commit acts of terrorism and were not involved in Nazi genocide during World War II). Remembering the ‘aliens and other baggage’ line that existed back in the nineties at JFK, I was again struck by how friendly US immigration officers have become. In between being fingerprinted, we were told about the immigration officer’s grandchildren, and he asked my doctor friend Van about tips to deal with diabetes. Given this, it was no wonder we had to queue!
We then picked up our rental car (a Fiat 500 we have named ‘Chet’, which lends itself well to “Chetty Chetty Bang Bang”) and Van volunteered to brave driving the car, in the dark, through the outskirts of Washington DC towards our airport motel. The car was swanky and new, which unfortunately meant that it had a bizarre keyless ignition system, that to our minds did nothing but cause it to beep uncontrollably with no discernible cause. Even once we’d quietened the car, the initial drive was a little, er, challenging, given that we couldn’t operate the windscreen wipers, so once the rain restarted we were reduced to using the spray clean function to be able to see what the hell we were doing. Luckily, we made it unscathed to the motel, where it was most definitely time for bed!
Highlights: The view over Greenland; seeing that the old ‘aliens and other baggage’ immigration queue had been replaced by excessively friendly immigration guards.
Lowlights: No meals or free booze on the plane; terror when driving a car we had no clue how to operate (although luckily, I wasn’t driving) through the metro DC area.
Coming next: Thomas Jefferson, the Blue Ridge Parkway, deep fried Oreos…