Waiting for my Airport Direct bus, I sip a Dunkin’ Donuts latte in a futile attempt to shake off the red-eye from JFK in NYC to Keflavik International Airport 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.

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 more like closets (or a typical half-bath) complete with a personal sink. Taking advantage of the bit of personal space, I refreshed myself with makeup and a much-needed teeth brushing.

Customer service representatives for the airport, as well as Airport Direct, spoke English very well. However, the layout of the airport may be slightly confusing. Follow the signs for “Arrival” to find passport and customs security.

I exchanged $120 for roughly 12,500 króna for walking around money, which is roughly a $14 fee. Prior to this trip, I signup for and obtained a Chase Sapphire card, which will allow 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: Word at the airport is to buy duty-free sweets and spirits, as these products can be more expensive in the city’s capital Reykjavik.

The Airport Direct bus is equipped with heat and WiFi, perfect to get your barrings in the new destination. For less than $60 round-trip, the 45-minute ride transport 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.

Cat napping at Café Loki

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, even the French ones, 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:

  • Loki Tea – 500 kr.
  • Caffe Latte – 580 kr.
  • Pankcake 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.

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