England and Iceland - Day 9 and traveling

Our last day of the vacation.  We slept in a little and got another gorgeous breakfast from our hotel.  I realize I didn't show you their breakfast spread yesterday!  Oops. 
They had porridge, muesli, toast with several jams and butter, hard-boiled eggs, what we think were a couple "salads" (egg salad, tuna salad...), some veggies and cheese to pile on toast. 
It was delicious, and I loved mixing the porridge, muesli, raisins, and some more milk to make my own warm breakfast bowl.  And of course tea.
We had a tour picking us up at 10am to go to the Blue Lagoon, and then buses would take us directly from there to the airport.  So we packed up everything, piled onto a bus and were taken to the same bus depot area we went to on our first day in Iceland. 
We got onto large coach buses (after ensuring we got on a bus with our luggage- can you tell Mom and I were affected by losing it for several days?) and headed to the Blue Lagoon!
Lemme shatter the illusion now for you...  Sadly, with all of the geothermal stuff going on in Iceland, you'd think that this was a natural hot springs...and you'd be wrong.  Per wikipedia (the most reliable of sources) "The lagoon is a man-made lagoon which is fed by the water output of the nearby geothermal power plant Svartsengi and is renewed every two days. Superheated water is vented from the ground near a lava flow and used to run turbines that generate electricity. After going through the turbines, the steam and hot water passes through a heat exchanger to provide heat for a municipal water heating system. Then the water is fed into the lagoon for recreational and medicinal users to bathe in."
They still say the water is mineral-rich and good for your skin.  There was mud you could use as a mask while in there.  There were swim up bars, a cafe to get lunch at, but generally we just hung out in the warm water.  It felt nice to just chill in there after so much packed in for 8 days.  Also, as you can imagine, I didn't take any pictures while here because it was a lot of water and no way was I going to risk my camera!
We showered, got back on a bus that would take us to the airport (with a rainbow art piece outside!), and got there with enough time to grab some lunch before departing (and also see some interesting products they make with wool- bowties anyone?).
There was another issue with bags.  I'm just going to say I'm never going to fly through Toronto again.  Hmm...  this won't be a quick story, haha!  You can even stop reading here if you don't care about more luggage drama.  The first time around, I realized that even though I was told "your bags are checked through to London", that apparently didn't mean what I've learned it to mean in 20 years of flying.  I was supposed to find my bag in baggage claim in Toronto after going through customs, and re-drop it off.  I was confident I would get it this time around, and Mom and Dad could follow my lead since I now understood this airport!  We landed, went through customs, went into baggage claim and found our bags!  So far so good!  We left baggage claim, showed our approved customs forms (where they were collected by a guard), and exited the terminal.  Right at the exit, there was a sign for baggage drop, so we stood in line, and dropped off our bags, where they were checked in and given another sticker thing.  I freaked out at this point and asked if my bag should really have two on it, the guy rolled his eyes at me and told me that second one just told the driver where to take my bag next.  I calmed down.

We exited the terminal, got on a tram, and went to our departing terminal.  Essentially this is like entering a new airport- we are confronted with check-in desks for airlines, show ID again, go through security again...  So we check in to our AirCanada flights, select "0 bags to check-in", because duh, our bags are already en route! and head to the pre-screening for US Customs, since we won't have to do it in DC this way.

Everything is going smoothly, until the last question during customs "And do you have all of your bags in your possession?"  "Yes!  Well, except of course my checked bag."  Skkkrrrrr!  You'd think I'd said something crazy.  She then proceeded to make me feel like an idiot, "Your checked bag?  This is US Customs- what if we wanted to search your bag?  What do you mean it's checked?"  And then me being very confused that I needed to explain what checking your bags means, "Well, I flew in on a different flight...so...my bag goes from that plane, to this new plane..."  Then making me feel like more of an idiot, "You must mean you think your bag is being checked and brought to you right here in Customs all the way from Terminal 1.  Why would you think that if you flew into Terminal 3, that your bag would magically arrive in Terminal 1?"  At this point, Mom and Dad come up to me (we're on separate itineraries so we go through customs separately) and ask what's wrong, and the lady asks if they have all their bags.  They answer same as me, and again she's just utterly shocked that we would think our bags would travel between the terminals.  I'm slowly realizing that Toronto Airports "Terminals" function like completely different units and if we wanted our bags to fly out of one terminal, we had to bring them to said terminal.  She calls over a supervisor who tells us we have two choices - continue on our flight and go to Dulles later in the week to get our bags, or we can try to go back and find our bags and essentially miss our flight.  These don't sound like good options, and luckily Mom stays calm and asks if there's an option involving us AND our bags on this flight.  He talks to more people, pulls us back to the AirCanada desk, who somehow finds our bags within seconds, "links" them to our names again, and says everything is fine, we can now go back through the pre-screening.

We CANNOT be the first people to have done this wrong!  Why did the customs lady act all shocked that I had said I had a checked bag?!  I don't understand the Toronto Airport!  Apparently, now that our bags were linked to our names, they could be searched just fine and we didn't need to bring them through customs physically anymore.  Still so confused.

We get through Customs, and there are finally signs to drop off your bags before security again.  I don't know how the guy at the original bag-drop put new stickers on our bags if he had no itinerary for us at that terminal anymore.  I don't know how we were supposed to know that that bag-drop was the wrong bag-drop.  I don't know how we were supposed to know that the terminals operate independently from each other.  I just don't get any of it.  I also don't know how it ended up working out and our bags arrived at Reagan when we did.  <end rant>

So my advice is to never fly through Toronto, if you can help it!

I'm so sorry, that was a really long rant to end a wonderful vacation!  London was spectacular, Oxford was so full of history and I loved seeing the countryside with Blenheim Palace, and Iceland was so unlike anything I'd ever seen before.  Iceland was definitely my favorite part of the trip!  I'll have to spend some time there during the warm months!  Thanks for following along with all of the pictures and stories!  I promise some new food posts are in your future :-)

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