The hardest part of traveling

I’m at Schiphol Airport only to discover that my flight is three hours four hours delayed. Fortunately I have my laptop with me, so I decide to just accept it and do some work. I’m thankful that I have work that I can do almost everywhere. I text my family and friends that the travel plans are delayed and contact Iceland air asking them what the plan is. They don’t know so much and can only tell me that I’ll find it out in Reykjavik when I arrive there. Either my connecting flight to Canada is also delayed and I can catch it or I have to get the next flight tomorrow which means I’ll have to stay a day in Iceland. I’m fine with both for now. There is not so much that I can do anyway. What’s more, the hardest part of the journey is already taken. Let’s go back a few days.

It’s Friday night and I’m waiting in a burger restaurant. I’ve invited my friends to celebrate my birthday and to say goodbye. One by one they arrive and not much later we’re enjoying dinner together. One of them surprises me by ordering a huge milkshake with fireworks on top, awesome! While eating and talking together I realise how blessed I am to have these wonderful people in my life. Being surrounded by friends who care about you is one of the most valuable things in life. It’s also one of the reasons that make it harder to leave. The night goes way too fast and before I know it, I hug the last ones goodbye. I’ll see them again in a couple of months.

Saturday morning I take an early train to Groningen, to visit my family. I’ve planned to stay there the whole weekend. The last days together before my next adventure. I asked my dad to teach me how to cut wood, something I want to have learned before I go to Canada. In the backyard of their house, my father shows me how it’s done and then hands me the axe. It takes some practice to get into it, but I enjoy every moment of it. Cutting wood is quite heavy work and I understand why lumberjacks are so muscular. I’m having a lot of fun and my father is happy that I help him cutting the wood. “Why haven’t I done this before?”, I ask him and he replies: “I’ve been wondering that myself!”. We keep cutting wood the whole afternoon until it gets dark and we’re getting hungry for dinner. We spend the evening together playing games while the fireplace keeps the house warm, I love it.

This Sunday is a special day: it’s my birthday! As tradition, there are 32 balloons and colourful garlands hanging in the living room. I start the day again by lighting the fireplace, the reward of the hard work we did yesterday. We have breakfast together and in the afternoon go for a nice walk. The whole day it’s raining, but when we’re outside it’s dry. Perfect birthday gift. My parents also have a very nice gift for me: a pocket espresso machine, called Nanopresso. It allows you to make espresso everywhere as long as you have coffee or a Nespresso cup and some hot water. I think I’ll use it a lot soon when I’m hiking in Canada. I like it to be with my family on my birthday. Friends on Friday and Family on Sunday makes it a perfect weekend.

Monday morning is the time for more goodbyes. I say goodbye to my dad when he goes to work and a bit later to my mom at the train station. My sister joins me on the train, because she has to go to school. We say goodbye at the next station when she brings me to the train to Utrecht. We wave at each other until we get out of sight. I’m not good in goodbyes, for me it’s the hardest part of traveling. I love going on adventures, but I hate to leave loved ones behind.

Birthday party 1
32 years old
Walking with my family 2
Birthday party 2
My dad showing to to cut wood
Walking with my family 3
32 balloons
Me cutting wood
Walking with my family 4

During the day I pack my bags, always challenging for me. I almost never manage to get everything in or stay below the weight limit. After all, you have to pack quite a bit if you’re going for a couple of months to Canada. I finally manage to get everything in and then go to my local coffee place to meet with a friend. We talk about the travel plans and enjoy some last time together for now. Then follows a dinner with other friends and when I come home I meet with my neighbours for a cup of tea. Since I can’t make it too late, they offer the idea to have breakfast together before I leave.

That brings us to today. My alarm was set for 6AM, but I wake up about fifteen minutes earlier. It’s the day of adventure! I get the last things ready and make a lunch package, because Icelandair wont’t provide food on the plane. Then my neighbours arrive and we have breakfast together. A good start of the day. After breakfast I get my bags and take the bus to the station. I make one last stop at Starbucks to say goodbye to my friends there and take the train to the airport. I’m nervous for my luggage but to my surprise the backpack weighs less than expected and everything is fine. Until I look at the departure screen which states that my flight is three hours delayed. For a few seconds I hope it’s a mistake, but unfortunately it isn’t. I sit down at a desk, open my laptop, do some work and write this story. My sister has given me several presents for my birthday, one of them being money for coffee on the airport, so I think I’ll get myself some coffee soon and watch a movie while waiting for the plane.

I end up not watching a movie, but reading a book and walking around the airport and after a whole day waiting, the plane arrives. It’s already dark outside, but I’m happy it’s finally here. I get on the plane and have a nice surprise: a whole row of seats just for me. Weather it’s because of the storm or the delay I don’t know, but the plane is half empty. I enjoy the luxury and lay down on the chairs and watch some series. When we’re almost in Iceland it starts to dawn on me that I’m actually going to Canada today or one of these days. It’s scary, but also exciting. I’m on a new adventure. It started with a delay, but who knows what nice things will come up this time.

When we land in Iceland we’re told that they’ve arranged a bus to a Reykjavík and a hotel. My next flight is tomorrow at 5pm, so I’ll have a couple of hours to discover Reykjavík tomorrow. The bus ride is about 45 minutes and I meet a friendly guy called Paxton from America. He happens to have lived in Utrecht the last two years and since I’ve traveled a lot in the United States, we have enough to talk about. I’m glad I met him, because even though I managed to stay positive the whole day, now that I’m tired and hungry I find it more challenging to stay happy. Sharing stories with this new travel friend helps though and we manage to see the good in the situation. Staying positive actually gets easier when we arrive at the hotel. It’s a nice Hilton hotel with comfy rooms. We don’t stay in the hotel long though, because we’re hungry and go into the city to find something to eat. Just a few streets further we find a nice burger place that is about to close (it’s 11pm now), but the people are so nice to offer us their last round. Not much later we’re enjoying good burgers and Icelandic beers. The bill say 3000 Icelandic króna, but fortunately that’s only about 21 euro. We agree that this delay is a good thing. Life is full of nice surprises and this sure is a great start of my adventure. Later that night back at the hotel I enjoy a comfy shower and am thankful for how this first day turned out. I surely didn’t expect this morning that I would sleep in Iceland tonight, but I enjoyed this day and hope to continue the journey to Canada tomorrow.

Flight delayed
The plane finally arriving
Street in Reykjavik
Where my plane should be
Ready to fly
Dinner in Reykjavik
Working at the airport
Time for a good book and coffee
Nice hotel in Iceland

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