This is the long overdue final posting or our trip! The final few days of our trip were a mix of emotions, and we ran the gamut! Tuesday saw us feeling sad as we dropped our new friends off at the airport and bid them adieu for their journey home. Prior to dropping them off, we got an opportunity to share some more quality time with them wandering through Reykjavik, shopping and trying Icelandic sweets.
We then enjoyed some alone time wandering the streets by ourselves (and a few thousand other tourists). We wandered down to the building where the historic Iceland Summit with President Ronald Reagan and Soviet Secretary General Mikhail Gorbachev occurred. The whole world waited while they met. This meeting was the precursor to the “wall” coming down and the end of the Cold War. We wandered further afield and stopped at a local restaurant recommended by the hotel. Street Lamb Food is a small place close to the harbor where the food was the best we had tasted on the trip. Kathy loved her meal that was somewhere between a gyro and a burrito that was filled with savory lamb and a mix of fresh vegetables. Dave had something similar, but more closely resembled a thick quesadilla that had a different variety of vegetables but still the savory taste of lamb. Soon we were at our new hotel where we settled in for the night.
The next day dawned early and we headed out to Snaefellsjokull National Park where we drove down a dirt road so that Kathy could see a beautiful lighthouse that overlooked the Atlantic Ocean. Dave got to add some more birds to his life list so it was a win-win all the way around! That evening was spent just wandering around again, enjoying the beautiful city of Reykjavik.
Our last full day in Iceland saw us first mount a Search and Rescue mission to the airport where we “saved” one of our group members IPhone from the inner sanctums of the Lost and Found Department! Next we headed off to explore the south coast of the island. We headed out to find the bridge that spans two continents, North America and Europe. Along the way we got distracted and stopped at a trailhead along the road. We hiked through the black sand, lava rocks, and the cotton grass and ended overlooking the ocean and watched the wave’s crash against high cliffs. It was a beautiful moment and we had the view all to ourselves. Not a single other tourist was willing to brave the two mile hike in and then the hike back…in gale force winds no less. (Not that we were that special. We had no idea the trail would be that long!) But, it was well worth it!
Getting back on task, we soon found ourselves at the bridge that spans the Mid Atlantic Rift. Like the Silfra Fissure where we snorkeled, this bridge is in the gap between the two tectonic plates. We walked across the bridge and Dave remarked on the fact of how many people can walk from one continent to the next? (Okay, people may be able to walk from North America to South America. And, okay, people may be able to walk from Europe to Asia across the Ural Mountains or River. And, okay, people may be able to walk from Africa to Asia. But we’re talking on a small island here people!) The trip back across the bridge brought on the wrath of the Norse Gods and we were suddenly pummeled with torrents of rain and sleet that was propelled along by gusts of wind.
Realizing that we might want to find something indoors to do, we choose to spend the late afternoon wandering around the National Museum of Iceland where we learned the history of Iceland. The interesting comment from the docent at the center was how WWII, while considered by most an evil war that should never be repeated and they mourn the loss of lives, actually helped the country of Iceland gain independence. At the time, they were under the realm of Denmark. However, while the Danish were under Nazi occupation, Iceland decided to declare independence. In addition, the occupation of Iceland by the US military helped to build infrastructure in the country including roads and airports. This was game changing to help the country on a path of independence.
Well soon it was time to come home….or maybe not. Buffalo was supposed to get slammed by an historic snowfall and our flight home from JFK to Buffalo was cancelled. While we could get from Iceland to JFK, we were going to be stranded at JFK until the next available flight to Buffalo which was not until 06:30 in the morning the next day. Arriving at JFK almost 24 hours before our new flight to Buffalo, we wondered if this rescheduled flight would go as scheduled. We predicted correctly and that flight was soon cancelled. The next available flight was not scheduled until Sunday at 3:30 pm, stranding us at JFK for 53 hours – IF that flight wasn’t also canceled.
We checked out the TWA Hotel at the airport. They wanted $350 per night! While the pain of sleeping at the JFK airport or the $700 for two nights lodging weighed upon Kathy, Dave was more concerned about missing the Bills game on Sunday. A trip to the information desk gave us a last ditch effort and a brilliant idea. Instead of spending 53 hours at JFK, we flew to Rochester, rented a car, and drove home – just 3 hours after our initial scheduled arrival. We didn’t see a single snowflake in the air along the entire drive! We also had no snow on the ground in Lockport…………..at least until 07:00 when finally the snow started to drop in our area. But, we made it home, slept in our own bed, played with our own cats, and will be able to watch the Bills game. Well, assuming they can get the rental car to the Buffalo airport and drive back through the snow and travel bans still in the area!