Monday, July 16, 2018

EuRoad Trip 2018: It Starts

One day I was looking at the map, plotting world domination, when I noticed there was a chunk of 8 countries I hadn't been to. In the middle was this big blue thing called the "Baltic Sea".

 Wouldn't it be cool if we just road tripped around that? Yes, we decided. Yes that would be cool. We actually started and ended the trip in Berlin but Google Maps didn't allow any more stops in one itinerary. I thought that was fun. Ending in Copenhagen would have been fine with me but rental cars are so crazy expensive when you don't return them to the same place that it was worth it to complete the circuit.

When we landed in Newark I noticed a friend was there waiting for me. See it?

It's the A-B brewery in Newark, New Jersey. Hurray!

We had a good sized layover before our flight to Iceland, so we took the liberty of sampling the airport's lounges.

First we ransacked the Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge.

It was a good opportunity to practice my French. I'm all about those brisures de chocolat.

They had a fridge of the finest Canadian beers. Like Labatt Ice.

They had a decent little snack selection. The salty edamame was a nice beer accompaniment.

The maple quinoa salad was sort of Canadiany... I suppose.

We took the tram to the next lounge we wanted to check out: the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse.

This has got to be the best looking lounge I've seen in America.

The menus were a little bit on the small side but the joint was full service. A nice server lady brought us whatever we wanted.

I think my sparkling wine and mac n cheese combo would impress the 10 year old me.

Britishy bathroom soaps.

We then went to the last lounge on our list. Art & Lounge was one of those private company places that multiple airlines use. Interestingly one of those airlines was El Al, the Israeli airline. As a result there were a ton of signs about which food/drink was kosher and which was not.

Our plane was named the Hengill after a volcano in southern Iceland.

Yes, yes I am missing the hot springs. It was fun to be flying Icelandair but it was sad that we wouldn't be leaving the airport.

Our flight was late enough that our connecting flight out of Reykjavik was demolished. The schedule was so bleak that they booked us a flight on Lufthansa instead. Fine by me!

After 12 failed attempts, this year was tiny Iceland's first appearance in the World Cup ever, and you could tell by the airport that they were a bit excited about it.

Iceland is the smallest nation to reach the World Cup, breaking the record set by Trinidad and Tobago.

We attempted to somehow weasel our way into Icelandair's Saga Lounge but the giant blonde woman at the front desk was not having it. When we asked her what the other options were at this airport she brusquely replied "This is the only lounge in Iceland". I thought about making a dash for it but I assume she had a viking axe strapped to her back.

On the bright side I was able to negotiate about $80 worth of meal vouchers out of Icelandair for the sizable layover they had created.

We built ourselves a complimentary Icelandic feast.

Lydia even whipped out the calculator so we'd get as close to $80 as possible without going over.

Lydia had a sammy and some yogurt as a little starter while we contemplated our attack.

Iceland has great soups. They have great fish and meat, and the weather's usually cold, so it makes a lot of sense. Lydia went with the "Classic Icelandic meat soup: free range lamb, herbs, and fresh root vegetables".

I rocked the "Nord seafood soup: cream of seafood soup, filled with delicious fresh seafood and smoked herring brandat". Each bowl of soup came with a couple mini loaves of bread and butter.

We did a little soup switching.

I washed mine down with a local brew called Gull. The name means "gold" in Icelandic.

We went to the Blue Lagoon like 5 years ago. Been at this travelin' game a long time.

Even the drinking fountains here were awesome.

The signs in airports are pretty much giant language flashcards.

The only small problem with the Lufthansa flight was it didn't go directly to Berlin, it had a layover in Frankfurt. The only small problem with the second flight was that when we landed it no longer seemed to exist. So we went through the whole sad "dude where's my plane" routine again with German people this time. Whatever universe.

The customer service corral had its own little free snack bar. You know I hit that. We had a laugh about how we'd been sitting in airports eating and drinking free stuff for about 24 hours at this point.

"Pimp your hot dog" is a phrase I don't hear enough in this life.

Finally we got on another damn plane that actually took us to where we wanted to go. We collected our chariot: a Skoda brand station wagon.

Our Airbnb was on the outskirts of Berlin so we had a little bit of a drive to start off with. It was late and we were hungry so we hit the McDonald's. I'm not ashamed. Technically my first European meal was a delicious Icelandic soup so now I was free to do whatever. The machines have already come for the last crappy jobs in Europe so we ordered from a touchscreen.

We were invited to "pimp our burgers" as well. I was beginning to wonder if America had already completely ruined Germany.

They had a Chicken Box which looked like it was a mix of chicken mcnuggets and fried chicken wings. Genius!

We dragged our tired bodies to the Airbnb and passed out, with dreams of pimping all sorts of foods in the morning.

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