Taking a sip of my Dunkin’ Donuts latte, I make a futile attempt to shake off the red-eye from the flight from JFK to Keflavik International Airport (KEF) in Iceland. In less than six hours, I’ve crossed the pond to land in a near-empty airport just shy of seven in the morning local time.
About Keflavik Airport
My first stop after departing the plane is a much-needed respite in the restroom. While called “toilets” rather than the conventional European “water closet,” the restrooms at KEF are half-baths complete with a personal sink, toilet, and enough room to change your clothes comfortably.
Customer service representatives for the airport speak English very well. However, the layout of the airport may be slightly confusing to first-time visitors. Follow the signs for “Arrival” to find passport and customs security.
I exchange $120 for roughly 12,500 krónur (kr) for walking around money, which has am exchange fee of $14. Before this trip, I signed up for and obtained a Chase Sapphire card, which allows me to use a credit card without incurring multiple foreign transaction fees. I’ve already received a compliment on the card’s heavy-duty composition from the Airport Direct desk clerk.
Tip: Buy duty-free spirits and sweets at the airport, as these products will be more expensive anywhere else in the country due to the heavy taxation on alcohol and sugar.
Airport to Reykjavik Transportation
There are two travel options to get to Reykjavik from KEF; FlyBus and the Airport Direct bus, both of which are essentially the same but run by different companies. Each offers WiFi and will stop at specific hotels and guest houses as well as the main bus terminal in city center if you need to transfer. However, Airport Direct has an additional transfer option to go to the Blue Lagoon.
I opted for the Airport Direct bus. For less than $60 round-trip, the 45-minute ride transports you through rural Iceland into the small city.
Those who sit on the left-hand of the bus (from KEF) will see the clean lines of square housing popping up from the country’s unique environment. Those on the right side will be able to take in the expansive natural views, complete with the area’s sensitive moss. While beautiful, don’t step on the moss.
Solo in the City
In Reykjavik and four hours until my check-in at the Loki 101 Guesthouse, I stop into the Café Loki for tea and a bite. The staff is exceptionally friendly with resting half-smiles when not engaged. Across from Hallgrimskirkja church, the café offers an amazing people-watching opportunity. This morning includes a bride being photographed under the gray and cloudy sky.
Nearly all patrons are speaking English and solo travelers like myself cordially talk to one another, expelling tips and tour reviews. A local cat wanders in, brushes against my legs, and makes a home beside me. Tasted the following:
- Loki Tea – 500 kr.
- Caffe Latte – 580 kr.
- Pancake with Skyr and Caramel Sauce 700 kr.
Skyr (Icelandic pronunciation: [ˈscɪːr̥], English: /ˈskɪər/ SKEER) is an Icelandic cultured dairy product. It has the consistency of strained yogurt, but a milder flavor. Skyr is technically classified as cheese, although widely regarded as yogurt. It has been a part of Icelandic cuisine for centuries.
With American music playing like Rapper’s Delight by The Sugar Hill Gang and the buzz of English, it hardly feels like I’m in a foreign country. Yet, I have arrived, joining the millions of tourists who visit this country each year.