A Trip To Iceland & Greenland - dswphoto
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  • A Trip To Iceland & Greenland

My trip to Iceland and Greenland, taking in the atmosphere of Temple Bar during a short stopover in Dublin, camping on the Greenland ice sheet in the Arctic Circle, drysuit diving in the 2°C waters of Silfra, congratulating Jason on visiting every country in the world in Reykjavík and catching up with long-time friends Philippe and Shirley in Paris.


Day 0.

Arriving outside Dubai Airport on Wednesday evening. With Thursday being a public holiday the airport was slightly busier than normal with people taking advantage of the three day weekend.


After dropping off my pack at the baggage dropoff I caught the train to the new D gates.


After my friend Jason earlier in the year invited me to Iceland to celebrate visiting every country in the world, I started looking at what else I could see and experience in a part of the world I had never been to before. The Lonelyplanet guidebook said that it was possible to do a daytrip to Greenland, flying to the east coast in the morning and then flying back to Iceland in the evening which really intrigued me.

After further research I settled on doing a 4 day trip flying into the old US Air Force base at Kangerlussuaq on the west coast, booked through Greenland Travel, a company recommended by the LP guidebook.

Ireland was also a country I had never been to before, so I organized my flights to include a 30 hour stopover in Dublin on my way to Greenland.

On my way back to Dubai, I also organized to catch up with my friends Philippe and Shirley in Paris, who I hadn't see in 6 years since they had moved back to France.

My flights for this trip were on five different airlines, flying 7 segments:

Day 0: Flying Air France (AF) from Dubai to Paris (DXB-CDG).
Day 1: Flying CityJet (WX) from Paris to Dublin (CDG-DUB).
Day 2: Flying WOW air (WW) from Dublin to Keflavík (DUB-KEF).
Flying Air Iceland (NY) from Keflavík to Kangerlussuaq (KEF-SFJ).
Day 5: Flying Air Iceland (NY) from Kangerlussuaq to Keflavík (SFJ-KEF).
Day 10: Flying Icelandair (FI) from Keflavík to Paris (KEF-CDG).
Day 11: Flying Air France (AF) from Paris to Dubai (CDG-DXB).



After arriving at the Terminal 1 D gates, I headed to the Marharba lounge for dinner.


The Air France 777 waiting at the gate. It had arrived late into Dubai so there was a ~30 minute delay until they started boarding.


Boarding was relatively painless. It was my first time flying Air France and when I went to check-in online I was offered to upgrade to a better (but still economy) seat (aisle in forward section) for $50. After I checked the seat map though and my default allocated seat was already in the '$50' zone(?) as it was a completely full flight.


En cas de dépressurisation. The very chic pre-flight safety video.


Soon after take-off sandwiches, water and some juice were served. After a quick bite I reclined my seat and tried to get some sleep.



Day 1.

After a surprisingly decent nap, about 90 minutes from Paris hot breakfast was served.


After our late departure from Dubai my 90 minute connection for my flight to Dublin had reduced to 60. Upon landing and once the doors were opened a Mum & Dad just in front decided to stand and block the the aisle while their three sleepy teenagers slowly gathered their bags from the overheads. It was only for 2-3 minutes, but it was inconsiderate that they stopped anyone else from disembarking from our aisle while they tried to get their kids organized.

After catching the train to the K-gates, I boarded the last bus out to the Cityjet BAe 146 for the flight to Dublin.


Cityjet was previously owned by Air France-KLM but now operates under a code-share arrangement.


It was my first time flying a BAe 146. Seating was 6 abreast, the same as a 737 or an A320 but in a slightly narrower cabin.


Looking down on the French countryside soon after take-off from Charles de Gaulle Airport.


Pain au chocolat and coffee served on the short 90 minute flight.


Looking down at the eastern Irish coast as we come in for finals at Dublin Airport.


"Have you collected the correct bag?" in Irish. Luckily it was only a short wait until my backpack arrived on the luggage belt.


About to catch the Aircoach into the city. Only 11 euro's for the return trip into the city with the ticket I had prebooked online.


After the bus dropped me off in the city centre, I made the short walk to my hotel for the night. It was only 9am and too early for check-in, so I dropped off my bags and headed out to explore and see a bit of Dublin.


Outdoor adventure.


Rings.


Moore Street.


Spire of Dublin. The 121 metre tall spike is supposedly the world's tallest sculpture.


A monument to Charles Stewart Parnell, a late 19th century Irish nationalist politician, on O'Connell Street.


Daily Mail.


The Custom House on the banks of the River Liffey.


These painfully thin sculptural figures are a memorial to the Great Famine of Ireland.


Hero.


Parliament Square at Trinity College.


Dubhlinn Gardens with Dublin Castle in the background.


At about 12:30pm I was starting to get a little hungry so stopped for lunch at BóBós Burgers and had a Moroccan lamb burger.


After the tasty lunch I headed out again to see some more of Dublin. Christ Church Cathedral.


Cúig.


A pair of front doors as I walked through the back streets.


A mural of Michael Mallin, an Irish rebel and socialist who took an active role in the 1916 Easter Rising, and executed soon after.


One of the main gates at the St. James's Gate Brewery.


Guinness Storehouse, a seven story Guinness-themed tourist attraction at the brewery.


Harkin's. I then wandered back along the River Liffey to the Eliza Lodge Guesthouse to check-in just after 2pm.


My room for my one night stay in Dublin for 120 euro's. I was abit knackered after the red eye flight and the Dublin walkabout so crashed out for a couple of hours.


Beats. After a good rest, I headed out again to the local Tesco's to pick up a few snacks for Greenland.


Sráid.


The 200 year old Ha'penny Bridge.


Afterwork beers.


Dropping off my shopping from Tesco's back at the hotel.


The view of the Millenium bridge out my window. I went out again to explore Temple bar.


Temple bar is an area on the south bank of the River Liffey with quite a lively nightlife.


American.


McGills.


Meascán.


Cigarette.


For dinner I stopped at O'Sheas Irish Restaurant and ordered a pint of Guinness to start.


And enjoyed the chef's special of sirloin steak and baked potato for the main.


After the decent dinner, I continued my walk through Temple Bar.


A band entertaining both locals and tourists in one of the many bars.


Skate City.


The area had a quite a lively, colourful and fun atmosphere and seemed to have a good number of both locals and tourists.


Street party.


Yellow & black. I then headed back to the hotel to get some rest after a great day exploring central Dublin.



Day 2.

Looking out towards the spire and over the River Liffey at dawn at the beginning of day 2.


After a run along the river and after showering up I headed over to the Lemon Jelly Cafe for breakfast. A hot chocolate to warm me up from the chilly morning temperatures.


And then had the surprisingly filling and very tasty half Irish breakfast.


After heading back to the hotel to pack and check out, I caught the Aircoach back to Dublin Airport and checked in for my WOW air flight to Iceland.


And with my boarding pass airside. WOW air is an Icelandic low-cost carrier that was founded in 2011 and has a fleet of nine Airbus aircraft.


And boarding just before midday for our 12:20pm flight to Keflavík International Airport.


Air Canada, Aer Lingus, United, Emirates and American Airlines planes visible at Dublin Airport as we taxi to the runway.


An energy bar and a lamb pita sandwich I bought on board during the 2.5 hour flight.


The village of Sandgerði in the distance as we descend into Keflavík.


After landing I went to the luggage belt to collect my pack. After 20 minutes it still hadn't arrived. I happen to glance over at the over-size luggage collection point, and saw it sitting with quite a few other backpacks waiting to be collected.

Welcome to Iceland. My flight to Kangerlussuaq, Greenland was not until 5:30pm, or 2.5 hours away on Air Iceland, a subsidiary of Icelandair. After talking to four different airport personnel and being mistakenly corrected three times that I had supposedly meant Icelandair, I then tried the staff at the Icelandair sales desk. After again trying to mistakenly correct me that I had meant Icelandair, I was finally directed to the far end special desk where I was finally able to check in for my Air Iceland flight!


Airside after checking in. The terminal was very busy with numerous Icelandair flights due to depart to the US and other places.


I was still hungry after the snack on the WOW air flight so grabbed a burger. After 4pm the terminal became almost deserted and all but one of the food restaurants had closed for cleaning.


At 5pm we were shuttled out to the far side of the airport where the Air Iceland Q400 was waiting for us.


Departing on time for our 3.5 hour flight to Greenland.


Complimentary coffee.


The flight was about 60% full and I had a spare seat next to me.


The destination for my Greenland trip, Kangerlussuaq, is one of the farthest inland settlements in Greenland and is located at the head of the fjord of the same name. Kangerlussuaq was founded in 1941 with the construction by the US of Sondrestrom Air Base. Following the end of the Cold War, the last US Air Force personnel left the base in September 1992. It then became Kangerlussuaq airport, and is still the main hub for Greenland air travel.


Getting a glimpse of the Greenland landscape as we make our descent.


Looking down on one of the many glaciers in Greenland.


Heading east up Kangerlussuaq Fjord


After touching down, the Air Iceland Bombardier taxied and parked up on the apron. It was only ~200 metres to the terminal, but with the slight rain, a bus was waiting to pick us up. Also on the apron was Air Greenland's one and only A330.


Greenland is not officially part of the Schengen zone, but there was no immigration formalities once we arrived at the terminal. Apparently the necessary passport checks are done by airline staff when you check-in back in Iceland.

A guy was holding up a sign for the Old Camp accomodation, and once we collected our bags, he drove us for the short 2 kilometre drive to the camp.

The Old Camp is a hostel situated in the old American Air Force barracks in Kangerlussuaq, and was near the end of airport runway with the runway lights visible in the distance on the far-left.


And my cosy room for the night. Toilets and showers were shared but quite nice and clean. The walk-up rate for the hostel was a not so cheap 875DKR/$130 per night. The total price of my 4 day/3 night tour was 1,265 euro's and included airfare, accomodation and all meals except two lunches. Given that the price of the airfare alone from Iceland was ~750 euro's, the price wasn't too bad.


At 7pm one of the buses took us for the 5 kilometre drive to Restaurant Roklubben for dinner.


The restaurant was situated on the shores of the very picturesque Lake Ferguson.


It was a good chance to chat with some of the other people who had also just arrived. Most of them were from Europe, and mostly from the Scandanvian countries. I sat with Patrich and Oddný, a couple who were chiropractors in Reykjavík, and Gorum and Peter, who both lived in Stockholm. Peter, originally from Hungary, was a researcher for a hedge fund and had a PhD in statistics. Gorum, originally from Poland, worked for an energy trading company and had just run the Reykjavík marathon a week prior.


For the starter we had smoked halibut, salmon, shrimps and salad.


And for the main we got to try some delicious local cuisine, with wild muskox stew, roast reindeer, potatoes, rhubarb presive and waldorf salad. It was a great meal with some tasty food and interesting company.


At about 10pm our ride back to the Old Camp arrived, and we headed back to get some sleep before the start of my overnight excursion to the Greenland ice sheet tomorrow.




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