Iceland 2009 – Entry #2

12:48 PM HYATT HOTEL

I had a fitful sleep, concerned with my lack of luggage.

I made my way down to the hotel’s restaurant to enjoy a hearty breakfast. My stomach was already fantasizing about the meal it would receive. Back home, $8 could buy a good sized, filling breakfast. It might not be healthy, but right now I could only think about energy for the day.

I sat down and received a menu; my stomach cried. I politely made my order, limited to $8 as I still didn’t have any additional funds at this time, and waited for my English Muffin to arrive. That’s right, you heard me; I had an $8 US English Muffin. I suppose next time something like this happens I will ask Air Canada for the cheapest hotel to go with the food voucher, not the 5 star hotel where it costs $15 for two eggs…

I asked the waitress if the little jam carousel on the table cost extra. She looked at me with disdain, shaking her head no. I quickly piled six small jars of jam onto my muffin. I really didn’t care what I looked like then; I was too damn hungry to care about anyone’s opinion other than my stomach’s.

A few seconds later, the muffin was gone, and my stomach voiced its complaint. Nothing I could do about it.

I gathered up my backpack, and checked out, thanking them once again for their kind consideration.

1:05 PM BOSTON LOGAN INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT

Well, only 9.5 hours until my flight… fun fun.

I headed back to Air Canada to find out about my luggage. They had no idea where it was. They were reasonably sure it was with Icelandair by now, and I would have to ask them at their ticket counter. Of course, with only one flight per day out of Boston, their staff didn’t show up until 4 – 4:30 PM. Perfect, now I could spend the entire day worrying about whether my belongings were still in Toronto, had made it to Boston, or were in Iceland.

I went upstairs to the ticket counters, sat down, and waited. I read a bit more of the book I had with me but I was finding it a challenge to get into. The concept was interesting enough, but the story was slow to find its feet.

I opened my laptop, hoping to tap into some free internet. I mean, I could easily eat up 9 hours playing Eve… sounded like a good plan to me.

$9.99 US per day for the airport wifi. Dammit.

Right about then Lars walked by. Lars Loge (I don’t have the right o character on my keyboard. I could save this draft, walk over to the free hotel internet computers, and use their European keyboard, but I am too lazy). Where was I? Oh yes. Lars Loge was a Norweigan Documentary film maker whom had also missed his flight, heading to Iceland for a two day film festival they were having there.

We sat and chatted for a bit, finally coming to the topic of MMOs and EVE Online. From there, we spoke for a good hour before he couldn’t take anymore, salivating at the bit, wanting to get in touch with CCP to do a documentary about the entire system CCP has built, why they won’t commercialize it and sell out like other MMOs, how they manage to maintain such a complex market system, etc, etc. So, CCP, if you’re reading this and are interested, let me know; I have his contact information.

I texted Chris Whiteford about my boredom, and about how Boston sucks. Now to be fair, it was my mood that sucked, not Boston, and Chris politely reminded me of that, suggesting I go find the “Cheers” pub from the famous TV show.

So we did.

Lars and I spent the better part of the next few hours walking around Boston, looking at many of the historical settings Boston has to offer. It really is quite the beautiful city to experience.

I had fully planned on posting pictures, but the one thing it turns out that I forgot to pack was the adapter for getting my camera connected to my laptop. Ugh.

We headed back to the airport for around 4:30 PM, giving the Icelandair people the benefit of the doubt.

Nobody was there yet.

I asked around again, only to find out they weren’t to open their ticket counter until 6PM.

You know, I have to rant here.

Every other transportation medium has advanced significantly in technology. Train stations have no problem communicating with each other, finding out exactly where things are located at any time.

Even FedEx has a system for tracking between planes, trucks, etc. You know exactly where your parcel is, what it’s doing, when it was there, and when it will be where it’s scheduled next.

Apparently our parcels mean more to us than ourselves.

There is ZERO inter-airline communication. Air Canada has no way of talking to Icelandair. They have entirely different systems, and can’t even pick up a phone on their customer’s behalf to make an inquiry for peace of mind.

You would think this would reinforce my hatred of Air Canada, but it’s the same for all the airlines. Even the information desks really were lacking any information about the airlines. Hell, I had to ask four different TSA security officers where to even find the information desk before one of them knew.

End rant.

Lars and I sat around until 6:30 PM, when the Icelandair people finally decided to show up.

Our luggage was waiting for the plane. It was amazing to physically feel the stress roll off of my shoulders. I felt lighter, happier; I couldn’t remember the last time I experienced such a thing.

We entered the gate for our plane, found a decent restaurant, then Lars treated me to a few beers and a decent meal. He felt bad for me being broke and hungry, and who was I to turn him down?

We were sitting at a table for six, the only one in the restaurant, when the waitress informed us we would have to go on a waiting list for a table for two. My story is out of order here, as this occured before the good meal I mentioned above. My brain works that way sometimes, sorry.

We stayed sitting, both a little tired and cranky from our day, when an older gentleman sat down with a pint at our table. We invited him and his wife to join us, thus securing the table with enough bodies to tell the waitress to go to hell.

We introduced ourselves and quickly found that traveller’s kinship I’d heard so much about.

The couple were from England, though mum was Irish. I say “mum”, because we introduced them as our parents to the waitress, just to have some fun with her.

We spent the next hour finding out about “dad”, his military service, many anecdotes from English life, and that they were both fascinating people. Lars had also served in the military, as drafting is still mandatory in Norway, and shared a few of his tales of youth.

Not to feel left out, I told a few of my own memories from my days in the Tribal Liberation Force, my stationing in Dal, and my rank of Colonel… go ahead, laugh out loud at me; I wanted to have a story too!

Dad then told us about their current travels, and how they were lucky they could do it, given how much they had spent on our education. We nearly had bankrupted them, and should be grateful sons, which we were.

We had a few more rounds of beer, Samuel Adams. Now previously in my life I had always found American beer to taste like cold piss, but this Samuel Adams was actually pretty damned good.

9:05 PM BOSTON LOGAN INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT

Finally, the call was made over the intercom for our flight. We boarded quickly, found our seats, and the smiles of relief we felt were all that needed to be said.

Lars and I switched seats, him getting the window, as he was only going to get the five hours sleep the flight offered before he had to make up a day of work he had lost at the film festival. He would be going all day whereas I was hoping to check in to my hotel and go to sleep.

As Lars slept, I enjoyed Zac Effron in 17 Again. It even brought a tear to my eye. Yes, it was cheesy. Yes, it was overdone. Yet still, it was a touching moral story none of us should forget. Maybe I was just really missing my wife, and the basic story was about a guy who married his high school sweetheart, regretted it and blamed her for all his failings, then got the chance to go back and do it all again.

Honey, if you’re reading this, I love you. You are the most supportive, most loving woman I have ever known, and if not for your constant patience, encouragement, edification and support, I wouldn’t be where I am now. Thank you for all you are and all that you help me to be.

6 AM KEFLAVIK INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT

Honestly, this was one of the most modern, gorgeous airports I had ever seen. It was less than five years old, and totally of unique architecture. If the rest of Iceland was anything like this, I was going to have an incredible time.

I quickly made it through customs, found my luggage waiting (phew! again) and made my way up to the waiting car CCP had provided.

Apparently I wasn’t the only one CCP was waiting for.

I spent the next half hour ignoring the barren, rocky, treeless landscape of Iceland, instead chatting up a few CCP employees on the ride. CCP BigDumbObject was there, one of the mission tech support guys, one of the Minmatar Wildfire Epic Arch content writers, and one of the Sleeper AI programmers and his wife.

Eat jealousy, bitches!

I handed each of them autographed Roc Wieler pictures (of COURSE I brought autographed Roc Wieler pictures, duh!), and we all had a really fun time, arriving at our final destination, the Grand Hotel in Rekjavik.

The hotel was gorgeous, and even though the sun was now rising over the barren, rocky, treeless, sulfur smelling Iceland horizon, I couldn’t wait to crawl into bed.

“We just require a credit card deposit for any additional costs you may incur.” she said at the counter.

*sigh

Within seconds I discovered the difference between the people of Iceland and the people of North America. The people in Iceland were genuinely nice. There, I said it.

I explained to her that I didn’t have a credit card on this trip, and hadn’t made it to a bank to exchange some Canadian for some ISK (snicker, ban his account!)

She said, and I quote, “No problem, sir. Get some sleep and when you feel refreshed we can take care of it with a cash deposit.”

I momentarily fell head over heels for this woman that was giving me sleep… sorry honey.

I went upstairs to room 749 of the Grand Hotel, threw my bags down on the extra bed, took a quick look around, then felt my stomach grumble. I swear it never shut up.

I went back downstairs to ask about the breakfast menu. I figured I might as well get to the bank, get some money, have some breakfast, then maybe rest.

“The breakfast bar is open now, sir, just through those doors.” the lady at the main counter said.

“And how expensive are the items?” I asked, remembering my nightmare in Boston the previous morning.

She looked at me, confused. “Sir, the breakfast is included with your room.”

My eyes opened in excitement (thanks stomach for that).

“Which items are free?” I asked, cautious of anything free.

“All of it, sir.” She said with a smile.

I thanked her, then practically ran for the breakfast buffet.

The CCPers were there enjoying their meal, and I quietly joined them, having even more interesting conversations.

Over the 90 minute breakfast I learned a few things about CCP, just from talking with these people.

  1. They take their responsibilities VERY seriously. Not a one of them would let anything slip. They know the rules. They respect the rules. I respect that.
  2. They are a lot funnier than I would’ve thought. Most geek type programmers are hardcore and serious. Not these guys. While I’m confident they are among the best programmers I had ever met, they managed to keep a light hearted sense of humour about not only themselves, but about the game. I like that.
  3. They can eat more than a starving Brutor. Seriously, I was shocked.

After I finished my gluttonous meal, calling for a wheelchair to get rolled to my room… ok, that part didn’t happen, I just wish it had.

After I finished my gluttonous meal, I slowly walked back to my room, wiped away the meat sweats and brushed my teeth. I collapsed under an incredibly warm duvet and was dead to the world… for a few hours.

6 responses to “Iceland 2009 – Entry #2

  1. See, that’s why I always pack as light as I can. Rant appreciated.

    I really hope he comes through with a EVE documentary. That would be SICK!

    Such a fun adventure so far. JEALOUS!

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