Day One

Birds in Hella

I’m sitting at a beautiful airbnb in Reykjavík across from my fabulous wife while my son flips through some activity books on the couch. We’re all tired, sweaty, hungry, and did I mention tired? Above all, though, we’re Icelandic residents. (Well, 23)

Two weeks ago things really hit their stride. As I talked about in my last post, we had the apartment packed up and coordinated a fancy-dance of movers from our storage unit to the apartment to a shipping container. Remarkably, the timing all worked perfectly and we made it happen. The majority of our household goods are in a container up in Saco, Maine waiting until later in the month to ship to Iceland. By that time we hope to have an apartment rented where we can get things delivered.

After the packing shenanigans we spent a night with friends and then a few more nights cleaning out the apartment. Giving back those keys felt like more of a milestone than the packing did, somehow. We also sold my car to a friend and sold my wife’s lease back to the dealership, though at some cost. That wasn’t great, but it’s done.

Finally, we all went to see Toy Story 4 with friends to celebrate a birthday for my godson. It was cute. We couldn’t stick around much afterward, though. Saturday morning started the trek to Calabash.

For our first leg of the drive we went down to Washington, DC and met up with an old college friend, Doug, and his family. I haven’t seen Doug since I left Indiana, so that was a real treat. We caught up on his life and ours and had some insanely good food at the Silver Diner. On full tummys we loaded back up and drove on.

In the end we spent about 13 hours on the road getting to my parent’s house. We made it early enough to spend a little time with them that night in addition to the next day. It was too short a visit, but it’s all that could be squeezed in, unfortunately. It was good to see Mom and Dad and let Wit play with them a bit.

The following Monday we made our way to Charlotte and rented a long-term storage unit. It’s a pretty cool one that’s inside these long hallways that all look the same. When our shipping pod showed up the next day everything fit nicely. We spent a few days saying goodbye to friends and family there as well, including a nice party with most of Leah’s family.

On June 30th we were finally ready for the big trip. I’m a little bit crazy when I travel so we ended up at the airport about 5 hours early and squatted in line at the Jet Blue counter in Charlotte. Our first flight was at 4 p.m. taking us to Boston where we’d then have a 2-hour layover and then a 5 hour flight to Keflavík. An hour and a half later, once the counter opened, we found out that big bag was too heavy to be allowed on IcelandAir’s plane at all! OH NOES. So we sat there in the middle of the check-in area and swapped heavy things around between bags to even out the weight. We had a small upcharge for the heavy bag, but we were moving again. Sadly, our plan to bring Wit’s car booster seat was for naught as it was too wide for the throw-away bag we’d prepared for it. I hope some lucky person at the Enterprise car rental in Charlotte picked it up.

The flights themselves were a blur. Wit and Leah got a bit of sleep in on the longer flight, and the attendants were cool. I love IcelandAir.

6 a.m., July 1st we touched down in Keflavík. We haven’t been to that airport in 3 years and boy has it grow up. It’s easily the best airport I’ve even been to. The bathroom is made up of individual private rooms. The sinks have the water, soap, and dyson dryer thing all integrated in one spot. You put your hands in the middle to wash and move them outward to the side and they dry. It’s magic. Next up, customs…

I prepped our brand new Italian passports and we walked into the EU line, which was totally empty. As we approached the self-check-in kiosk a security worker waved us through the family line. We walked up to the window, showed our passports and got a “Welcome to Iceland” about 3 seconds later. That was easy!

Since we had so many bags and aren’t too familiar with the bus system we decided to rent a car for a few days to get settled. Car rentals in Iceland are mostly manual transmissions, with the automatics costing much, much more. The thing is, I drove my friend’s stick shift in high school a few times and that’s about it. Wow do I suck at it. I stalled about 11 times getting it around to pick up Leah and Wit but then I managed to make it all the way from the airport to the Residency Office without stalling again.

Living in Iceland as an EU citizen requires that we register with the Residency Office. There’s an online form with a bunch of documents needed that we filled out from Charlotte, but the real processing doesn’t happen until you show up in person. We got to the office around 8:30 and they opened at 9, so we camped out at the door. It’s a good thing, too. When the door opened there were about 25 people in line behind us.

We met with a nice woman at the counter who asked for a few things that we had also prepared. She scanned a few docs and got Leah to sign a letter and we were done. The biggest hurdle, and the one that had me the most worried, was over. Despite the aid of a lawyer and checking the document requirements a hundred times I still worried we were going to show up and they were going to say “no.” What a relief. As we were leaving they informed us that in a few days we’d be getting an email about the results.

I called out host at the airbnb and he said the place was ready so we went straight over to decompress. A few days passed…and by that I mean an hour. That’s right, 1 hour later we got the emails with our kennitala. Wit and I are officially residents of Iceland.

Klambratún

For the rest of day one we had some snacks, took a nap, walked to the local supermarket and got a few bits to survive. We cooked dinner and walked through the park. Wit discovered a playground filled with kids and families having cookouts so we hung around and helped him play. They even had a zip-line.

It’s now 9 p.m. and Wit is getting a bath before we send him off to bed. We’re all still extremely tired from the travel but we’re relieved to have the hardest parts behind us. I think I’m going to sleep damn well tonight.