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6 posts from June 2005

June 30, 2005

WE'RE IN!

Yes, Caitlin and I start school on July 11! This is very exciting as the class consists of us both taking Icelandic in the morning and then Caitlin will stay for a fun camp in the afternoon. It is only for two weeks, but that will certainly help.

What about Kelsey you ask? Why she will attend day-care specifically designed for those in this course! The best part is that while I have to pay a small amount for my own lessons, Caitlin's portion is free! For more information on this school, click here: http://www.namsflokkar.is/.

In other news, it looks like our UAB has been here since June 4, but we only just learned of this today. Our POV (car) is slated for July 12 and our HHE will arrive not long after that.

We were also able to tour the "lallow house" (Kelsey speak for yellow house) that we will move into on July 21! It is probably the same size as our current house (maybe a tad bigger) but is much better organized. Apparently, the showers also work, the electricity doesn't go out every time you plug in the vacuum cleaner and the backyard was mowed in the past decade!

In short, we love it! The kids are also excited as we may be acquiring a new fun backyard toy as well as one for the basement. Now, we could tell you what they are or we could just make you visit and find out for yourself! Did we mention that we may actually have a guest room?

Not So Much Whale Watching...

I will, of course, spare you the brutal details but anyone who knows me well knows that I should know better than to sit in the back seat of a car OR anywhere on a medium-size boat without taking Bonine, Dramamine or simply thinking twice and staying home.

Well, we had stayed home on Tuesday, so on Wednesday, I really wanted to be a good mom and show the kids the city and have some touristy fun! What did I pick? Yep, a whale-watching cruise. You would think that time I went on one between junior and senior year of college would have taught me, but NO!

So, we went and not only got there on time, but early. So, we sat on the already moving (waves are always active here) boat for 40 minutes. Then the girls could not sit still, up the ladder, down the ladder, pick me up, I want hot cocoa! So, we went down to the cafe and that is pretty much the end of the story. Basically, I was a basket case for an hour and a half while the girls watched out the window.

On a good note, Caitlin saw a humpback whale, and a few others, we just don't remember all of the different types mentioned. Unfortunately, no pictures of those, but we did take a nice picture before the boat left the dock and many pictures of the MANY puffins that live on a nearby island.

We also had a nice exploratory walk afterwards as it was a gorgeous day and got to walk past the "lellow" house before stopping at Ommukaffi for some coffee and cocoa. Then, it was back to Laufasvegur and the Embassy to meet up with Pete and get Mama's (super-yummy) tacos for dinner!

Now, for those of you who are not of the weak stomach set OR have the presence of mind to use anti-seasickness medication, I do highly recommend this cruise. It is run by Elding or www.elding.is. Like everything in Reykjavik, it is pricey*, however probably worth it if you really want to see them!

*The girls were free but my ticket cost $57.61 at the current exchange rate!

June 27, 2005

The Dinoia Family in Iceland

Yes, we have been here for almost 3 weeks and are just now starting up a web-site! Sorry for the delay, but internet took forever to get and then there are just too many things one can do internet wise. Do we do a blog or web-site and how many photos do we really want to put up??

While this is technically the first entry, we will 'go back in time' and do a storyline of our time in Reykjavik. We have managed to do a few interesting things and don't want to forget any of them!

June 10, 2005

The Base

Our first visit to NASKEF Keflavik was today, thanks to a gracious co-worker of Pete's who accompanied us and gave us a tour ofthe Nex and commissary. If you have checked out the exchange rate between the U.S. Dollar and the Icelandic Kronur (http://www.xe.com/ucc/), you will instantly know why we are so grateful.

It is outrageous (most of the time) what one pays for items on the local economy. Then there is the 17.5% Value-Added Tax (sounds like it adds value, right?). Nope, not really! Of course, you will have this tax wherever you go and you cannot always get it back. The rules of each country are completely different and equally as confusing. Now that 8.5% sales tax doesn't seem so rough, does it?

I have digressed, sorry! So, we went to the base and I went nuts. I had been cooped up at home for two days with nothing but pasta and water and I wanted food, darnit! The poor person who accompanied me actually mentioned halfway through that he "could always bring me back on Saturday"! Given that we had nothing in our house, however, these were but mere necessities.

So, many $ later I am leaving the commissary and Pete drives up only to be stunned by the two overflowing carts of groceries The kicker is that had I been at a U.S. grocery store, I would have easily paid twice as much. The base has the best prices around and for that, we are all truly grateful. Without the base, there is simply no way a family of four could survive on the local economy. More examples later and a big thank you to Fred* for the two trips to the base!

*names have been changed to protect me from my husband, the Mr. Security!

June 08, 2005

Lava rocks, of course!

Yes, this is our front yard and those are lava rocks. You will find them all around us in Reykjavik and, no, as Caitlin feared, they are not hot. They have been cool for quite some time and make quite the playtoys, yard decorations, you name it!

These are two of the first photos we took in Iceland. Let's face it, you didn't want to see pics of us after the plane ride nor later the first day. These were taken around 7 p.m. on June 8th. Caitlin was being shy (or maybe just tired), but check out her outfit!

June 07, 2005

Our trip to Keflavik, Iceland

Our arrival almost wasn't! Granted some of it was our fault (will we ever get this moving thing together?), however, the massive thunderstorm and many accidents that hampered traffic on the evening of June 6 was most definitely not our doing.

We made it to the Avis rental car return approximately, oh, one hour and fifteen minutes prior to departure? While not so bad if the return is next to the terminal, the new BWI car rental return is a good 10 minute drive from the airport in good weather. Not only that, but technically after one returns the car, they take a shuttle rather than drive.

Now, very logical, however, one isn't always moving overseas for 3 years with 4 duffles, 4 suitcases, a laptop bag, video camera bag*, a stroller, a toddler car seat, 2 adults and two children. We had just unloaded the car (and I began to freak at the mountain of stuff) when a very nice Avis employee offered to drive us to the shuttle area. We immediately packed up once again, drove to the shuttle area and looked for carts.

Guess what? The shuttle area is on the other side of this large indoor waiting area. The shuttle also doesn't leave until it is completely full, whether that takes 10 minutes or 30. Our flight was now in an hour and whether it was that fact or just that we looked so exhausted already, the nice gentleman decided to drive us to the terminal!

Now, the thunderstorm did give us somewhat of a reprieve as the plane's landing and subsequent take-off was delayed. While Pete was learning about the delay, the wonderful Avis employee (no, we never did learn his name) and I were grabbing suitcases as fast as we could and shuttling them inside. Apparently, porters don't work at that part of BWI! So, that nice man got not only the tip we had already given him, but also the tip we had planned to split between two porters.

We made it inside, got through security, ran to the gate and sighed with relief to find out that boarding was still 45 minutes off. Thus, Caitlin and I did the logical thing: we went to the gift shop to find that $3 bottle of water with which to quench our thirst.

Just as we were making our final decisions, the manager yelled that it was closing time. Yes, everything in that wing of BWI closes at 9 p.m. no matter how many hungry, thirsty or bored passengers are waiting (and willing) to pay $4.00 for a bag of stale Cheetos!

Despite the long lines of people waiting to board the plane, we eventually made it on the plane and only had one hassle with the flight attendants regarding Kelsey's car seat. Why is it European airlines take such issue with safety? Why is it safer for a 35 lb child to ride in a regular airline seat than in their super-charged safety seat?

Luckily, Kelsey was already strapped in and thus, the flight attendants decided not to argue, they simply said that most kids that age didn't use car seats (cause they prefer to be tossed around during turbulent times?)!

After a 5 hour flight, we eventually landed at Keflavik, which is about 45 minutes from downtown Reykjavik. Our sponsor and a driver from the Embassy met us just prior to customs and assisted us with going through customs and getting our luggage. After the 45 minute ride from Keflavik, we arrived at our new (temporary) home with the lava rocks, bathed for the first time in a while and went to sleep for 8 hours or so!

*Ah, yes, we actually ended up leaving the video camera in the rental car. Many, many thanks to Auntie Dr. Shannon for retrieving it from Avis and sending it to us in Reyk!