First Stop: Reykjavik.

I'm up and moving after my first wake up of the trip. It's a beautiful morning here in Reykjavik, Iceland. I'm staying at the http://Kex Hostel in downtown Reykjavik. It was an old biscuit factory that opened as a hostel / hotel a few months ago. It's a great place, with a real cool vibe. It's complete with its own bar, cafe, and even a barber shop. This is my first experience staying at a hostel, and I'm really enjoying it.

I was the first to rise in the dorm this morning (sharing a room with five other guys). I think a few of them are sleeping in, while some didn't get to bed in time to sleep in.. I feel like I'm adjusting to the time change pretty well. I caught a short nap yesterday afternoon, which hit the spot, and went to bed at a reasonable time last night. Even though I was tired, I had to convince myself it was time to sleep. I woke this morning feeling pretty darn good.

Yesterday, which actually spanned a couple days and time zones, started out with a walk down the street from my house to catch the airport shuttle to Sea-Tac airport. The flight from Seattle to Reykjavik on Icelandair was nice- right at seven hours, which passed relatively quickly with the help of the in-flight entertainment. Nice plane. My best descriptor for the flight attendants would be "glacial"- cold and slow moving. But in general, a good experience.

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Arrival in Reykjavik was a piece of cake. Got my passport stamped, collected my luggage, and boarded the shuttle for downtown Reykjavik, about a 40 minute drive from the airport. I shared the shuttle with a young lady from Canada who is traveling Europe for two months. We were on the same flight and are staying at the same place. We arrived at Kex with several hours before check in, so we decided to store our luggage and go walking.

I needed some cash, and we found an ATM just up the street. My anxiety level peaked as the ATM rejected my card… Uh oh.. Tried it again. Same result. Uh oh.. I have another debit card from another bank, which fortunately worked and I put some Kroners in my pocket. A phone call to my bank later fixed the issue. I contacted my banks before leaving- I guess this one needed to be contacted twice.

After having some breakfast at Kex, I set out again to check out town. As usual in a town by the water, I found my way to the marina. This one's a bit different- home to stout ocean-going vessels rather than the mostly pleasure craft I'd see at home. I walked around downtown, snapping photographs and people watching, while surely being people-watched. Visited some beautiful churches, one with a tower offering a commanding view of the Reykjavik area. Had dinner at Cafe Loki where I had a plate with herring and egg on rye bread, mashed fish and potato on rye bread, and rye bread ice cream. I know the selections sound interesting, but the food was amazing.

Every step of the way Ive encountered friendly people from all over who are eager to share the experience. Over dinner I met a couple from Calgary visiting Iceland for a month, and a girl from Pennsylvania giddy after riding an Icelandic horse. They're small horses, but she claims it hurts their feelings to call them "ponies". In the airport in Seattle I met a family returning home to Norway after visiting family in Seattle. On the plane I shared the row with a young couple from Sweden. One of my "roommates" is a teacher from London spending his summer traveling. Another from Maine, one California. All very nice people reaching out to meet others and have a good time.

The world's eyes were on Norway yesterday after two tragic incidents took place in and near Oslo with a terrorist bombing of a government building and a shooting at a youth camp outside the city. One of my relatives living in Oslo was a block away from the explosion- she was safe, but obviously is shaken. I'm traveling to Oslo tomorrow where I will be staying with a cousin. I'm reading that security is heightened. I'll be safe.

So that brings me up to now. Sitting here in the lobby in a comfy chair with my feet up. Just finished some breakfast. It's a nice out. Better get moving.

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