Iceland's Keflavik Airport
Descending into Iceland's Keflavik Airport is like landing on the moon. The plane cruises in from the north Atlantic over black lava fields pocked with plumes of geothermic steam and dusted with winter's first snowfall. The sun rises to highlight the pyramid silhouette of the Leifur Eiriksson terminal before the Toronto media pack is quickly loaded on a bus to Reykjavik.
The landscape and the architecture are amazing along the ocean side highway into town. New wood paneled houses painted pastel colours are set into rocky crevices next to half fallen shacks and stacked stone sculptures.
We take a walking tour of downtown Reykjavik. Half the information from our guide is historical while the other half ensures we're fully up to speed on the location of nearby bars and bottle stores. The enthusiastic booze tutorials illustrate how it's only been since 1989 that Icelanders have been allowed to binge on brewskies.
The locals can be excused for drowning their sorrows of the financial sort in a pint these days. The global economic crisis hit Iceland on September 29 when the government bought out 75 per cent of the Glitir bank to keep it afloat.
We eat at Icelandic Fish & Chips which is owner Erna Kaaber's organic take on the pub menu staple. She deep fries haddock and catfish battered in spelt and barley flour in Canola oil and deliciously bakes fries tossed in a generous mix of sea salt and parsley.
Back on the bus, we drive out to the President of Iceland's home, a compound of red roofed buildings overlooking Reykjavik's harbour. There is a not a single, visible security guard in the joint and the press gallery quizzes President Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson on energy policy and Icelandic elf and fairy folklore. Though the conversation has turned light, I can't bring myself to ask the question I prepared: what are Icelanders wearing for Fall 08?