And BOOM, just like that, we had left Svalbard and all its polar bears behind, and jumped on a plane towards Iceland, for the much anticipated two wheeled part of our project. Cycling all of Iceland on our trusted Cinelli Hobootleg Geo bikes.
But first : a little stop over in Oslo. And with little, I mean SIXTEEN HOURS.
Now, I'm the first one that enjoys a good layover in an international airport and goes into full "people watching" mode, but I have to say that landing at midnight, carrying all your luggages and the gargantuous bike boxes with you, without enough time to realistically leave the airport and explore the city, but at the same time having to wait 13 of said hours before you can check in for the next flight and enjoy the traffic in the duty free zone... Well, that's not really my jam.
Or anyone's jam, I suppose.
But hey, what could we do, upon realizing that apparently a TON of long flights have night layovers in Oslo's airport (every corner fo the airport was literally crowded with people using every inch of the available floor spavce to sleep) and that we had so somehow keep an eye on all of our luggages while asleep?
Simple: BUILD A FORT using the boxed bikes, in a construction area of the airport away from everyone, and lay our inflatable matresses and sleeping bags out for a good night's sleep!
PRO USAGE OF SPACE IN AN AIRPORT : unlocked.
In short :
- Good night sleep? Check.
- Food and plenty of hours to work in a cafè while waiting to check in? Check.
- Unpacked and re-packed our bike bags for the million-th time? Check.
- Three and a half our of extra wait because the flight is late? Check.
Fast forward all of this and... WELCOME TO ICELAND!
Now, a mentally sane group of people, when travelling abroad with something more than a backpack, normally would beforehand check things like "how far is the airport from the city?" or "Is there public transport or do we have to organize some sort of transportation to bring all of our oversized luggages with us?" right?
But we're OH SO NOT mentally sane, and decided to never even consider these kind of things. Initially our plan was to: land in Iceland, put the bikes together in the airport, trash the bike boxes, put all of our stuff in the panniers, and ride to Reykjavik before it was too late.
What we didn't know is that the airport where international flights land is 60km away from the city, we didn't have any of the tools needed to put together the bikes, and we would have never EVER made it in time for, let's say, breakfast of the following day even!
We might not be mentally sane, but there's one thing that we certainly are : stupidly lucky!
And our luck, this time, came in the form of a wonderful man.
Meet Jon: Cinelli's only authorized reseller in Iceland. 48 years old, with a scruffy beard, very funny and, in this case, our saviour.
He showed up at the airport with a gigantic Cinelli flag, borrowed a car for the occasion (as a true cyclist, he only owns bicycles) and even rental a TRAILER to cary our bikes. A TRUE HERO.
On the way to Reykjavik, we got to know each other and exchanged biking stories
He drove us to his shop, a super cool basement filled with Cinelli bikes, and let us use his tools to put the bikes properely together. We didn't have enough words in our vocabulary to thank him enough for the help he gave us!
As it was getting late, we left the bikes in the shop and he drove us to the centre of the city, where our second miracle of a person was waiting for us.
Meet Nanna, a free spirited, creative, absolutely lovely and welcoming local 30-something amazing person that was (and is) our contact with one of our sponsors, Guide To Iceland.
She helped us, in the months leading up to the project, to plan out what not to miss in Iceland, which way to go, what to avoid alltogether and much much more. And yes, she was also crazy enough to say : "hey no problem, you can stay at my place while in Reykjavik."
And just like that, she saw three heavily bagged, stinky, loud and unorganized italians apper into her tiny, super cute apartment.
It was friendship at first sight. Even on our first night there, we stayed up super late getting to know each other, telling stories about travels, life, and the usual ton of super bad jokes we're mostly known for. We were feeling already home in Iceland.
The following two days in Reykjavik unfolded in the perfectly chaotic manner that's mandatory when three very unorganized people are gearing up for 40 days on the road: cycling up and down the city, desperately looking for all those little bits and bobs we had obviously forgotten, paying a visit to another one of our sponsor TRAWIRE, to collect the super fast wifi pocket modems we're constantly using to have internet access even in the most remote areas of Iceland, talking to every bike shop owner to gather intel on the cyclability of this country (everyone kept on telling us we're crazy) etcetera.
But not without induling in a bit of strolling around the city (raykjavik is gorgeous), eating out in tiny hole in the wall kinda restaurants, following Nanna to a young punk music festival (where we unfortunately discovered how ridiculously expensive beers are in this country) and having dinner with both Nanna and Jon the following night at Jon's place.
To top it all off, after the dinner at Jon's, we all headed out with our bikes and rode into the sunset for a wonderful 40km circle around the city, in some wonderful little spots. Sadly, the weather decided not to be as wonderful as the views, and we got heavily rained on a few times along the way. Classic Iceland.
With our hearts full, our panniers loaded and our bikes ready, we left Reykjavik the next morning (July 16th). Time to start cycling all of Iceland, finally.