Monday, April 2, 2012

Hella What?

When it comes to booking flights, I seem to have a short memory of exactly what pain and suffering I have gone through before.

When looking at new flights, I will think things like, “That’s a nice connection, 6:30 in the morning is a little early, but it will be fine.” Or, “That’s a nice flight, the layover is a bit long, but we’ll find something to do.” Or my personal favorite, “It’s a long flight, but I will be able to sleep on the plane.”

I need some type of warning buzzer on my computer when I start trip planning, something like the Pirate Skull or Mr. Yuck, saying “Warning: Stupid Alert!” Preferably, one of those flashing pop-ups that you cannot remove from your screen. And, once I have completed the trip planning, when I actually hit the “Submit Reservation” button, it should forward me to photos of zombies walking through airports, with the message “This is You on this Trip”. Who knows? It might actually get me to think about the flight times and connections.

Probably not.

Well, we are now in Iceland, at the Hotel Ranga, which is located near Hella, or as Karen says, “To Hella, and gone.”

The only other time I have flown Icelandic Airlines (now, Iceland Air), was in 1972 with a couple of high school friends heading off to a European tour with backpacks. I have fond memories of that flight, mostly involving the fact that we were 18 and they served us beer and liquor as we crossed the Atlantic. We didn’t even have to show fake i.d.!

I have read mixed reviews about Iceland Air, but the service on board was great! The “equipment” (euphemistic term for, the plane) was a bit on the older side. It looked somewhat familiar, but I think it was just the name. The stewardesses, however, were dressed exactly the same as in 1972, complete with little hats and dresses.

The flight was fairly pleasant, only six and a half hours from Seattle to Iceland. Of course, we had to get to Seattle first. The other problem was that it was 6:30 a.m. when we arrived in Iceland, fresh from traveling all night, with our personal time clocks set around “O Dark Thirty”.

Aboard the little De Haviland Bombardier from PDX to SEA

We went through the passport booth, which was the fastest I’ve ever experienced. I think they have the view that if you are getting off in Iceland, you are too stupid to cause any trouble. Customs involved two lines, one marked “If you have something to declare.” And the other marked, “If you have nothing to declare.” As far as I could tell, they both went to the same door, marked “Ut”, which was exactly what it sounded like. So there we were standing “Ut”, looking for our rental car.

They recommend that you rent a four wheel drive in Iceland. I don’t know that it is technically required, but the land is a bit frozen, rugged and barren. After driving for about twenty miles, Karen commented, “This reminds me of the planet Hoth in Star Wars * * * but in a good way.”


After being here, another good reason to rent an SUV is for personal protection, as everyone else seems to drive big vehicles. I think a Hummer or a 2-ton military vehicle would be just fine.

Part of the reason the land was so barren was that, after getting our car and heading out of the airport, we learned that we were not in Reykjavik at all. There is an airport in Reykjavik, but it is for domestic traffic, a little hard to imagine in a country this size. We were in Keflavik, as in “Where the hell are we?” A long ways from Reykjavik.

We had planned our driving from Reykjavik, not that it particularly mattered. The roads in Iceland are marked with unpronounceable names to places that do not appear on the map. My Google Map directions, directed us to “Head northwest on Einarsnes to Bauganes, continue onto Suöurgata (which, by the way, Google Map cannot find separately, I tried), turn right toward Hringbraut, etc..., none of which showed up on any signs on the road. Karen, in the meantime, has a map and is saying, “We want Highway 1, where are we?” To which I helpfully reply, “I think I saw a 1, but I think I saw a 40 as well.” “There isn’t a 40 on the map.” “What are we looking for?” She spelled out... “H * * V * * E * * R * * A * * G * * E * * R * * Ö * * I”. “Okay, Hagarmommer it is.

What does this next sign say?” “Suöurlandsvegur, sound familiar?” The highway signs had repeated references to “Vik”, which was not particularly helpful since we had no idea where that was. Eventually, we started to see references to “Hverageröi” to which we would say, “It’s that place, Higamakamaka”. We drove by Hverageröi, which is a couple of buildings set in frozen, rugged and barren land, as opposed to frozen, rugged and barren land without any buildings. We then started looking for “Selfoss” which we actually thought we could pronounce. Somehow, I’m not sure exactly, we made it to the Ranga Hotel, without actually taking any wrong turns. The only reason I’m pretty sure that it is the correct hotel is that it matches the photos we have and they claimed we had reservations. Of course, it wouldn’t surprise me to find out that there is another Hotel Ranga sitting out somewhere in separate frozen, rugged and barren land where they are awaiting our arrival.

We are cozy and warm, we have wine and this hotel has a delightful lodge feel to it, wherever the “hella” it is.

View of the Hotel Ranga main lodge from our little patio.


Anonymous said...

vertu viss um að bæði vera hlý yfirhafnir, horfa á ís á jörðinni, en adventuring út að þeim brjálaður heitur blettur í fjöllunum. Njóttu þú elskar fugla. :)

Anonymous said...

Well keep warm and if you see Sheridan and Tarquin send my love.