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Ic e l a n d M ag . c o m You r s ou r c e f or da i ly n e w s f r om Ic e l a n d, l o c a l t i p s a n d e x p e rt i s e


02 2014 T r av e l 路 N at u r e 路 n e w s 路 P e o p l e 路 C u lt u r e

Rising From the Ashes p.22

40 years after being buried under volcanic ash, houses in Vestmannaeyjar islands have been excavated for a new museum that opens in May


May Highlights P 14 A Region of Magnificent Contrasts P 30 A born-and-bred 101 Girl P 54

Yo ur



co py

Contents from the editor


30-40 18 Jón Kaldal jon.kaldal@iceland­

The Most Important Impact



n the coming summer, the Icelandic tourist industry will see its greatest moment, and its biggest challenge. For the last several years, annual tourist arrivals have risen steadily with a year-on-year growth close to 20 percent. In 2013, visitors from other countries numbered more than 800,000. There will be close to one million this year. That’s more than triple the number from 2000, and triple the whole population of Iceland. Iceland has a concentrated tourist season, peaking from mid-June through August, and up to 500,000 visitors are expected in that period alone. Justifiably, this is raising concerns about how Iceland’s most popular travel sites will cope with so much traffic, many of them being in isolated nature preservation areas. This is a delicate situation, which calls for a steady hand from the government. If managed properly, there is little danger of Iceland being overrun with visitors just yet. The country is big and the tour­­ ist industry is booming. The private sector is doing its share. New hotels and hostels are being built, and new attracti­ons and regions are being promoted. It’s important that the govern­ ment follow suit in strengthening the country’s roads and in­­ frastructure. Tourism is now a massive business for Iceland. Last year, it accounted for 26.8 percent of the country’s income from for­­ eign sources, making it the largest export product—for the first time outpacing the fishing industry. This is no small feat. Fisheries have for decades been the back­­bone of Iceland’s economy. The financial impact from tourism-related services is huge, but perhaps the greatest influence the foreign guests have had is on the mentality of the nation. With around 80 percent of tourists naming the landscape and nature as the main reason for their visit, more and more Icelanders are starting to understand that the far-off fjords and deserted wastelands of the central highlands have a serious economic value. So the tourism boom has brought preservationists their strong­­est weapon in the battle to protect Icelandic nature. Now the most avid advocates of building new hydroelectric plants, with accompanying dams and reservoirs, have to take on Ice­­ land’s most valuable export industry. The sides are now squaring off.


Contents 6-20 Lookout 6 Into the Depths of a Glacier 8 Dr Gunni’s Music Corner 10 Hug a new born lamb at Bjarteyjarsandur farm 12 This is Hell 14-16 Highlights Ahead 18-19 Sharing is caring 20 Hunting for the perfect shot 22 The Pompeii of the North Houses are being excavated from volcanic ash for a new museum that is opening in Vestmannaeyjar islands in May. 30-41 Shaped by Volcanos and Glaciers A special supplement on south-east Iceland. 42 Fasten your seatbelt and enjoy the ride A few tips about driving in Iceland. 46 Hvar er næsti McDonalds? / Where is the nearest McDonalds? 10 phrases in Icelandic you should not bother to learn. Published by Imag ehf. Editor Jón Kaldal, Advertising sales: Benedikt Freyr Jónsson Contributing writers and photographers: Sara McMahon, Vilhelm Gunnarsson, Dr. Gunni, Agnes Valdimarsdóttir, Valli, Valdís Óskarsdóttir, Will Perry, Gunnar V. Andrésson, Pjetur Sigurðsson and Stefán Karlsson Layout: Ivan burkni On the Cover: The Vestmannaeyjar island eruption, photo taken April 23 1973. See feature on page 22. Photo/Valdís Óskarsdóttir Printed by Ísafold. Distribution by Póstdreifing. Distributed free around Iceland and in the capital area. Talk to us:



Iceland Mag / vol. #02 2014

50 Iceland Magazine Explains Is the Icelandic horse a pony? And other burning questions. Iceland Magazine is printed on a Nordic ecolabelled printing paper that fulfils strict environmental requirements. Nordic Ecolabel is the official Ecolabel of the Nordic countries.

52 Keflavík International Airport The gateway to Iceland. 54 A born-and-bred-101-gal Margrét Erla Maack’s stomping ground is down town Reykjavík.


The viking:info Laugavegur 1 · Reykjavík Hafnarstræti 1 - 3 · Reykjavík Hafnarstræti 104 · Akureyri

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Into the Depths of the Glacier Plans are to dig a three hundred metre (984 feet) tunnel into Langjökull glacier, Iceland’s second largest ice cap. The idea is the brainchild of the various travel companies operating on Langjökull glacier. Ice-tunnels such as this have been constructed in a number of places around the world, but none into an ice cap the size of Lang­­­jökull. The construction means visitors will have a new and totally different view of the glaci­ er. Additionally visitors will be granted unique insights into the impact global warming has on the environment. The project is owned by the investment vehicle Icelandic Tourism Fund but preparations have been placed in the hands of Efla Engineer’s office in cooperation with Borgarbyggð community and land owners on the west coast of Iceland, glacio­ logists from the National University, the Icelandic Meteorological Office as well as numerous other government institutes. Part of the project was to design and build a specialized, one-of-a-kind drill capable of boring through the glacier´s ice and snow crust. The Icelandic Environment Agency is positive towards the project while members of the local Department of Health and Environment worry air pollution will increase significantly in connection with an increase in traffic. An estimated twenty thousand guests are expected to visit the glacier when the tunnel becomes a reality. -SM

An estimated twenty thous­ and guests are expected to visit the glac­ ier when the tunnel becomes a reality.

A natural ice cave in the western part of Lang­ jökull clacier. The planed tunnel will go much deeper into the ice. Photo/Vilhelm Gunnarsson



Iceland Mag / vol. #02 2014

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Lookout Dr. Gunni’s World of Icelandic Music

Without drama there is no joy FM Belfast are peddling joy and drama

A big year for imported acts The supply of foreign musicians visiting Ice­­ land has been extremely varied over the years. When Led Zeppelin came in 1970, they were the first foreign act to visit in three years. The mad upswing in the economy brought everybody from Met­­al­­lica to Bob Dylan and Eric Clapt­­­on doing mega shows on the island. After some meager years follow­ing the 2008 bank collapse, this year looks really prom­ising and perhaps indi­­­cates that the Ice­­­landic de­­­press­­ion is over.

FM Belfast are Lóa plus the two Árnis. Árni (center) and Árni Rúnar plus Örvar who was not around when the photo was taken. Photo/Magnús Leifsson

“Brighter Days,” the third album by electro pop band FM Belfast is out! The core of the band is the couple, Árni Rúnar Hlöð­­vers­son (music programmer) and Lóa Hlín Hjálmtýsdóttir (vocals). The original pur­­pose was to make a song (“Lotus”) to give to friends for Christmas 2005. After their friends Árni Vil­­ hjálms­­son and Örvar Smára­­­ son (also in Múm band) join­­ ed, the band got “more ser­­ ious” and has been making catchy electro pop songs and putt­­ing on crazy shows ever since. “The new album is noth­­ing like our first album (‘How To Make Friends,’ from 2008),” says Árni Vil­­hjálmsson. “Sure, we are still peddling joy with



Iceland Mag / vol. #02 2014

our music, but the under­­­curr­­­ ent is drama­tic. Without drama there is no joy.”In the past, FM Belfast has play­­ed all over Europe and this summ­­er looks like it will be anot­her busy one. The band is known for super fun con­­­­­­­certs­­—they like to call the FM Belfast con­­cert ex­­per­­­ience “burlesq­ ue” enter­­­­­tain­­ment. “Sometimes we think we should get more serious, but we soon find out we just like to go nuts on stage,” says Árni. “Often, when I find myself stripped down to my underwear at the end of a show, I think to myself: I have turn­­ed thirty, should I be doing this? Soon though, I

Often, when I find myself stripp­ed down to my under­wear at the end of a show, I think to myself: I have turned thirty, should I be doing this?

realize that this is actually a beautiful thing!” “Brighter Days” is being re­­leas­­ed by Record Records, but outside of Iceland, the album will be released on the band’s own label, World Champion Re­­ cords, and will be distri­­­but­­­ed internationally by Morr Music of Berlin.”

Brighter Days is FM Belfast’s 3rd album.

Dr. Gunni is a jack-of-all-trades in the Icelandic music world.

Probably the biggest show of 2014 will be Just­in Tim­­ber­­­­lake’s con­­ cert in August­­­­— 60,000 people have fought over the 16,000 tick­­ets that went on sale in March. Other visiting acts will include Neil Young & The Crazy Horse (Reykjavík, July 7), Portishead (All Tomorrow’s Parties festi­­ val in Reykjanesbær town, July 10-12),

Massive Attack (Summer Solstice festival in Reykja­­vík, June 20-22), and The Pixies (Reykja­­ vík, June 11).


Sheep farmers with a pet goat Bjarteyjarsandur farm is beautifully situated between rolling hills and the sea­­front in the scenic Hvalfjörður fjord on the west coast of Iceland. rnheiður Hjör­­­leifs­­­­­­­dóttir lives on the farm with her hus­­band, Guðmundur Sig­­ ur­jóns­­son, her parents-inlaw, and a third family of cousins. Her hus­­ band’s family has lived here since 1887, which makes him the fourth generation to run the farm. The families raise livestock on the farm, run a shop where they sell their pro­­­­­­­duce directly to consumers, offer accommodation, and allow visitors to participate in everyday tasks on the farm. Bjarteyjarsandur is more than just a farm, what other com­­mercial activities are you in­­volved in? “My husband and I are sheep farmers who are also in­­­volv­­ed in ç. We run a small restaurant where we serve home­made food and a little shop where visitors can buy org­ anic produce directly from the farm. We also offer guided tours around the area. For the past twenty years, my parents-inlaw have rented out cottages, which are beau­ti­­­­­­fully located on the hill above the farm. The cottages have an absolutely marvelous view over the Hvalfjörður fjord. We have a number of ani­­mals on the farm, including horses, Icelandic hens, free range pigs, rabbits, dogs, cats, and a pet goat.” I’ve heard the farm animals love visitors, is that true? “The goat likes to hang out in the restaurant and interact with our guests. So do the pigs, hand-reared lambs, and our hens. I think this only makes the experience more



Guðmundur and Arnheiður. His family has lived at the farm since 1887.

Ilmur, the pet goat, chilling out on the living room sofa.

mem­­orable. We also allow visi­­­­tors to parti­­ ci­­pate in every­­day tasks on the farm to a certain degree. Our young­­est guests thoroughly enjoy that.“

one can walk to the island, which is always an adventure.”

The goat likes to Do you have a favorite spot in the area? hang out “I really enjoy a walk up along Álftaskarðsá in the river to the top of Álftaskarðsþúfa. From rest­au­­­ there you can enjoy a breathtaking pano­­­ rant and ramic view over the fjord. The old Blá­­ interact skeggárbrú bridge is also a favorite. It’s the with our oldest stone bridge in the country. And of guests. So course Glymur water­­­fall in Botnsdalur do the valley. It’s the highest waterfall in Ice­­land, pigs, hand­ with a cascade of 196 meters (643 feet). -reared “Bjartey is a small cliffy is­land close to lambs. land. When there’s a perigean spring tide,

A new book explores the museum’s focus on the highly sensitive subject of penises.

In an age of various kinds of surgical and imaginary penis augmentation The Ice­­­ landic Phallological Museum in Reykjavík has appeared on the world stage as a tourde-force of global castration and local creativity.

In a new book University of Iceland professor Sigurjón Baldur Hafsteinsson portrays some of the aesthetic, political, moral, social and cultural significance of the unique Sigurjón Baldur hafsteinsson is associate professor and internationally famous Icelandic Phallological Museum. The book argues that the in museum studies at the University of iceland. museum both ridicules and undermines traditions in Western cultures, when it com­es to the nature of histories, scholarly fields and cultural institutions, simultaneosly offer­­ ing an alternative in knowledge production and cultural representation by focusing on 978-3-643-90448-5 and displaying the highly sensitive subject of penises. lit

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The Icelandic Phallological Museum is at Laugavegur 116, 105 Reykjavik, see more at The book is available at the museum and



Iceland Mag / vol. #02 2014



Phallological Museum

in an age of various kinds of surgical and imaginary penis augmentation the icelandic Phallological Museum has appeared on the world stage as a tour-de-force of global castration and local creativity. in this timely book Professor Sigurjón Baldur hafsteinsson portrays some of the aesthetic, political, moral, social and cultural significance of the unique and internationally famous icelandic Phallological Museum. The book argues that the museum both ridicules and undermines traditions in Western cultures, when it comes to the nature of histories, scholarly fields and cultural institutions, simultaneosly offering an alternative in knowledge production and cultural representation by focusing on and displaying the highly sensitive subject of penises.

It was Sara Mac­Mahon that talked to Arnheiður.


The Full Monty

What do you suggest for those who are traveling with children? “There are many family-friendly activities available on the farm. Children love to visit the animals and a scavenger hunt on the beach is always popular. We also organize orienteering for families. The swimming pool in Hlaðir is an ideal place to splash around at the end of the day. All within a short distance from Bjart­­­eyjar­­sandur farm.” Bjarteyjasandur farm is around one hour by car from Reykjavík.



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This is Hell Photo by Vilhelm Gunnarsson

The violent past of Lake Víti (meaning hell in Icelandic) dates back to 1724, when glowing magma blew a 300-meter-wide (1,000 ft.) hole in the earth’s crust. The enormous explosion marked the beginning of a five-year-long eruption called the Lake Mývatn fires. For more than 100 years after the eruption ended, a mud porridge boiled and bubbled in the bottom of the crater. Now we have this calm green lake. This is one of two famous Víti lakes in Iceland. (Not to be confused with Víti in the Askja area, further south in the central highlands.) This Víti is in the Krafla caldera area in the Mývatn region in the north and is easily accessible by an asphalt road leading to it from Route 1 (the Ring Road). jk

Lookout highlights ahead

Seal Watching Some of Iceland’s best seal watch­ing locations are at the Vatnsnes peninsula in north Ice­­land. Closely monitored by the nearby Icelandic Seal Center in the town of Hvammstangi to­­gether with local land owners, each area offers visitors a differ­ent perspective of the seals. It is not unusual to see large num­­bers of them hauled out onto the rocks and beaches, or playing close to the coast.

Volcano Museum Opens The Volcano Museum in the town of Stykkishólmur in west Iceland is open from May 1 to the end of September. This is a wonderful museum curated and owned by world-renowned volcanologist Haraldur Sigurðsson. Diverse aspects of volcanoes are exa­ min­­ed, from the science, geology and their environmental effects to how they appear in the arts and literature. Talks are given daily in English and Icelandic.

See more about what’s on in Iceland at

Live dance-concert performance Jorney is an unconventional piece where the interplay of dance, music and film. The team behind the piece is the splendid GusGus band and Reykjavík Dance Pro­­­duct­ ions. Created in May 2012 for the Iceland Dance Company and Reykjavík Arts Festival, Journey is back on stage in in Harpa concert hall in Reykjavík after traveling around Europe. Dates May 8, 9 and 10. Tickets at

Inside a Volcano Þríhnjúkagígur is a 4,000-year-old volcano just 30 minutes drive southeast of Reykjavík. After an eruption, the magma cham­ber of a volcano usually fills up and is sealed with hard cold lava. However, Þríhnjúkagígur’s high­ly unusual empty magma chamber makes it possible to explore the heart of the volcano from the inside. A temporary lift carries visitors through the narr­ow bottleneck of the crater into the 120-meter-deep (394 ft.) dome. Tours available from May 15 to September 15.

Photo by Rafael Pinho based on performance piece Piano Trans­­plants (1968-2005) by Anneu Lockwood. It will be a part of an exhibition that opens in the National Gallery of Iceland May 29 curated by pianist Tinna Þorsteinsdóttir.

Art throughout the city


eykjavik Arts Festi­­­val (Listhátíð Reykja­­­­víkur) opens May 22. The title of this year’s festival is “Not finis­­­hed”, reflecting the creative work of an artist never being completed. Nearly 500 artists will participate in or contribute to this year festival, featur­­ ing over sixty concerts, theatre productions, film screen­­­ ings, performances and exhibitions. The Festival is held every year in May and is one of Northern Europe’s oldest and most respected arts festi­­ vals. For two weeks every year it presents, to the wid­­est possible audience, exhibitions and perform­­anc­­­es of con­­ temporary and classical works in major cult­­ural venues and unconventional spaces throughout the city. The Reykjavík Pond in the center of the city and Reykjavik Harbor will be central points to this year’s program. The festival will open with a newly com­­­miss­­ ioned performance work by the Pond at 5.30 PM on



Iceland Mag / vol. #02 2014

Thursday May 22nd and the old harbor is to be trans­­­ formed into a spectacular stage for a new theatre work. Large-scale collaborations are prominent in the festival program. To name a few: River of Fundament, a film by visual artist Matthew Barney and composer Jonathan Bepler seven years in the making, will be screened at Laugarasbíó cinema. Der Klang der Offen­­ barung des Göttlichen, a visual performance for the stage by Ragnar Kjartansson set to music by Kjartan Sveinsson, recently premiered at the Berlin Volks­­ bühne, will be performed at the Reykjavik City Theatre and visual artist Ólöf Nordal, com­­poser Þurídur Jóns­­ dóttir and Gunnar Karlsson, ani­­mator, join forces in a multi-media, 3D installation entitled Lusus Nat­­­urae in Hafnarborg Centre of Culture and Fine Art. May 22 to June 5. Tickets via the festival’s website:

The Nature and People of the North Icelandic photographer Ragnar Axelsson has for the past three decades documented the way of life of hunters in Greenland, and farmers and fishermen in Iceland and the Faeroes. The exhibition at the Reykjavík Museum of Photo­­­ graphy comprises a selection of Ragnar’s best-known photo-series from the west Nordic countries. It also includes images from Siberia and a selection of Ragnar’s news photography, including photos from the Baltic States at the dawn of a new era, and of shipwrecks and natural disasters – and arrest­­­ ing pictures of the impact that man is having on the nature of the North. From May 29,

Some places have a certain something about them. People just want to be there. And if you are lucky you get to spend some time at one of those places. Atli Bollason shared an apartment at Ingólfsstræti 8a few years ago with two friends. He never knew who would be there or what would happen when he got home. Sometimes it was a café, sometimes a cinema and after the bars closed there would maybe be a line outside. People just showed up. Ingólfsstræti 8 Skál fyrir þér! Léttöl

Lookout highlights ahead


Lambing Season

here are almost half a million sheep in Iceland outnumbering the hu­­ man population (325.000) by a good margin. In May the flock grows even larger when the lamb­­ ing season starts. Multiple births are very common in Icelandic ewes. When set free a few weeks after the lambing most of ewes head to the mountain pastures with two

The Icelandic sheep breed was is brought here by the settlers, the Vikings, 1100–1200 years ago. Photo/Vilhelm Gunnarsson

lambs, some even three or four. The sheep graze on the rich and nourishing vege­­­ta­­tion in the mountains until autumn. Then farmers round-up their flocks, usually on foot or horseback with the assistance of sheepdogs. The only type of sheep in Iceland is the native north­­­ ern European short-tailed sheep brought there by the settl­ers, the Vikings, 1100–1200 years ago. It is a strong, hardy race, which has been bred, in a very harsh environment Icelandic sheep are short-tailed and belong to a breed formerly common in northwestern Europe, but now only to be found in very few areas of the world. The fleece of the sheep is dual-coated and comes in white as well as a variety of other colors, including a range of browns, grays, and blacks. The Reykjavík Petting Zoo in Laugardalur valley has a small flock of sheep. May is a great time to stop by to witness the newborn lambs taking their first tiny step into the outside world. See more about what’s on in Iceland at

A Birds Lover Paradise If bird watching is your thing you should stop by at Húsabakki Nature Center and Birdland Exhi­­ bition (Náttúrusetrið á Húsa­­bakka) in north Iceland. It lies on the edge of Iceland’s oldest nature reserve and is a bird lover’s paradise.   It is not a stuffed birds in cup­­­ boards museum. Visitors can for exam­­ple pick up many of the objects on display. The area is renown­­­ed in Iceland for its rich birdlife, featured in the exhibition, and its beautiful mountain sur­­ round­­ings. It is very childrenfriendly and offers a mixture of folk­­­lore and a scientific approach. Locat­­­ed in Svarfaðardalur valley close to Dalvík town in north Iceland.

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Lookout the head chef

Sharing is caring Guðlaugur P. Frímannsson is the head chef and one of three owners of Grillmarkaðurinn, one of Iceland‘s most popular restaurants. He was born in the city of Chiang Mai in northern Thailand but moved to Iceland when he was four years old in 1985. Guðlaugur’s mother had met and married an Icelander and had already been living in the country for a year when he joined her. The four-year-old boy had a difficult time adjusting to his new life in Iceland but eventually settled in. He now runs a successful business and dreams of opening another restaurant in his native Thailand. Photo bY Björn Árnason

“I had just learned my mother tongue, the Thai language, when I had to start all over again. I also found it difficult to adjust to the climate and culture. I arrived in April and it was still very cold and I experienced snow for the first time in my life. “I spent the first couple of years try­ing to learn the language. I was lucky enough to make friends fairly quickly—we’re a group of eigh­­ teen guys who have known each ot­­her since kindergarten—and they helped me a lot. I guess I was around nine years old by the time I had finally mastered Icelandic. But the language has always been a bit of a challenge, especially at school,” he recalls.

Dreamt about becoming a pilot One could say it was a stroke of fate that led Guðlaugur into the culinary business. His dream was to become a pilot, but after a short stint in the catering business, he changed his mind. Guðlaugur isn’t the only one in the family with a passion for cooking. His younger sister is study­­­ing to become a chef and interns at Grillmarkaðurinn. His moth­­er, who now resides in Canada, runs a num­­ber of fast food rest­­­au­­­ rants. Guðlaugur explains that food has always play­­ed a large role in his up­­bring­­ing, and that the family would often cook together.



Iceland Mag / vol. #02 2014

“My mother was a manager at a catering company called Sómi, and I had begun to work there parttime. After a while I was cooking meals for large parties on a regular basis and found that I enjoyed it quite a lot.” He adds, “I decided to do an introduction year at the Hotel and Culinary School in Kópavogur, and after that there was no turning back.” Guðlaugur interned at Sjávarkjall­­­ arinn restaurant, where he met and struck up a close friendship with chef Hrefna Rósa Jóhanssdóttir Sætr­­an and the restaurant’s owner Ágúst Reynisson. The trio have been thick as thieves ever since. In addition to working together for years, Hrefna and Guðlaugur are also long-time members of the Ice­­­ landic Culinary Team. What’s more, when Hrefna and Ágúst op­ en­­ed Fiskmarkaðurinn restaurant in 2007, they hired Guðlaugur as one of their head chefs. “The three of us have always had a tight relationship, and we work very well together. The idea of opening a restaurant together arose in 2007. I sat down and prepared a file containing all my ideas regard­­ ing the restaurant: its interior, the concept behind it, and the menu. I then presented it to Hrefna and Ágúst. They added to my ideas and the result is Grillmarkaðurinn,” he explains proudly. The restaurant’s interior reflects Iceland’s magnificent landscape.

Col­­umnar basalt, moss, and fish skin decorate the walls. And the ingredients—meat and produce— are predominantly Icelandic, much of it bought straight from local farmers.

Doesn’t get invited to dinner I’ve heard you are rather generous when it comes to sharing your recipes, is that true? “I don’t mind sharing recipes. Shar­­ing is caring,” he says and laughs. “One of the sauces served in Fisk­­­markaðurinn is an old family recipe from Thailand. It’s a spicy chili sauce that goes well with all kinds of seafood and barbequed meat. I guess it would be the equi­­­ valent of a European family’s secret gravy recipe.” Grillmarkaðurinn was an over­­­ night sensation and is still one of the most popular restaurants in Ice­­­­ land. Did you expect it to go so well when you first opened in 2012? “Of course we hoped it would do well, but to be honest, I don’t think any of us expected it to do as well as it did. On our second night we served two hundred guests—we haven’t gone below that number since. I guess it’s similar to being awarded a Michelin star; it’s ex­­ trem­­­ely hard to get, but even harder to keep. People come to Grillmark­­­ aðurinn expecting to get top-notch food and we have to deliver every

single time. We want our customers to leave the restaurant satisfied, not only with the food, but also the service.” What do you love most about your job? “How diverse it is … and I like the idea of cooking for all sorts of people. What I dislike about my job? Food being brought back to the kitchen, I can’t stand when that happens.” Lastly, I have to ask, do you ever get sick of food? “Yes,” he says laughing. “I don’t cook a lot at home—my girlfriend and I prefer to eat out. One of the down-sides to being a chef is that you hardly ever get invited to dinn­­ er because people fear you’ll criti­­­ cize their cooking. The truth is: I love a good home-cooked meal and I never, ever criticize other people’s cooking.”

Guðlaugur’s (not so) secret chili sauce: 1 red chili. Remove the seeds. 2 lime leaves 4 Tbsp fish sauce 5 Tbsp lime juice 3 Tbsp palm sugar 5 Tbsp water 3 garlic cloves Put all the ingredients into a blender and mix well. Enjoy.

How diverse it is … and I like the idea of cooking for all sorts of people. What I dislike about my job? Food being brought back to the kitchen, I can’t stand when that happens.”

Midnight sun. Julian’s most distinct memory from Iceland is watching the sunset over lake Mývatn. Photo/Julian Tryba

Hunting for the perfect shot Julian Tryba skipped his college graduation in order to spend four weeks in Iceland last summer. He snapped many gorgeous landscape photographs along the way, which he compiled and turned into a captivating video. Sara McMahon talked to Julian. Where are you from? I currently live in Boston, I’m originally from New Hampshire, and I went to college in Vermont. I actually graduated college last May and I skipped graduation in order to have more time to spend in Iceland. Right now I work as an engineer at GE Aviation in Boston. When and where was the video shot? The video was shot in May and June of 2013. It was shot all over Iceland; I drove around the island twice, once in each direction. Un­­fortunately, I was not able to go into regions like Land­manna­­ laugar as they were still covered in snow.  Was this your first time in Iceland? This was my first time visiting Iceland. I saw a film called “The Midnight Sun,” which really



Iceland Mag / vol. #02 2014

in­­spired me to go to Iceland. I had also read how Iceland was one of the best countries for a landscape photographer, and conveniently, it was only a 4.5 hour flight.

Julian Tryba

How long did you stay? I stayed for about 4 weeks. I spent the first 2.5 weeks living in a re­­­creational vehicle with my family and driving around the island. Then I dropp­­ed them off at the airport, got my rental car, and started driving around the island for a second time. I did most of my time-lapse

photography when I was alone, and unfortunately during these 10 days it rained for 6. During the rainy days I barely left the car. I slept in the car and I cooked my meals on a gas stove that I balanced very cautiously on the passenger seat. After days of being inside a car I can’t tell you how beautiful the sun is. All of a sudden I felt FOMAS (Fear of Missing a Shot), and I would scramble to have my camera rolling, espe­­ci­­­ ally during the Golden Hours. I skipp­ed meals, didn’t sleep for full days, all because I was so driv­­­­en to capture the beauty that was unfolding in front of me. Was there anything about Iceland or its people that surprised you? I had done a lot of research about Iceland before I went, how­­ev­ er my family and I did make a mis­­­­­take towards the end of our trip (this was early June). It was really late at night, we were all

hungry and wanted to find a place to spend the night. Detti­­­ foss waterfall (in the north east central highlands) was not too far away so we decided to drive to the parking lot and spend the night there so we could check out the waterfall first thing in the morning. The next morning we woke up and the entire parking lot was covered in snow and the access road had 6-foot-tall wind drifts that had formed overnight in the storm. The rescue vehicles broke down as they tried to dig us out so we ended up having to stay a second night. Fortunately the storm cleared by the next morn­­ing, and we were able to see the waterfall with a fresh coat of snow, and by the time we got back to the vehicle, the trucks had reached the parking lot and were digging us out. You can read a longer versi­on of this interview and see Julian’s beautiful video at Icelandmag. com.


Enjoy your stay in a beautiful environment in Southern Iceland / / 480-2500


The PompeiI of the North

It was 1.55 am on January 23rd 1973 when a huge volcanic eruption began without any sign of warning on the outskirts of Vestmannaeyjar town on Heimaey island, south of Iceland. It forced the entire population to evacuate their homes and set sail to mainland Iceland. A large number of buildings were buried under lava and ash, many were completely destroyed but others were later unearthed and saved. Houses are still being excavated but this time for a new museum that opens in May. Text by Sara McMahon Photo bY Will Perry/ReykjavĂ­k Museum of Photography

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Iceland Mag / vol. #02 2014

Covered in lava and ash. Soon after the Heimaey eruption began, houses closest to the rift disappeared under lava flows and tephra fall. Photo/Valdís Óskarsdóttir

During the 1973 eruption in Heimaey, Westman Islands, hundreds of homes were buried under massive amounts of lava and ash. In May of last year, the house at Gerðis­­­braut 10 emerged from the ash and pumice. The house belonged to Gerður Sigurðardóttir and her late husband Guðni Ólafsson, who had built it in 1971. After being submerged under ash for over forty years, the house bears silent witness to the disaster that struck the town in 1973: a towel still hangs on a hook by the bathroom sink, and the furniture is still in place, al­­ though damaged by the ash. Soon after the Heimaey eruption began, houses closest to the rift disappeared under lava flows and tephra fall. Some days later, the prevailing wind direction changed, moving to the west. This resulted in ash falls over the rest of the town that caused extensive damage to property. Around four hundred homes disappeared under lava and thick layers of ash. In 2005, the Vestmannaeyjar town council agreed to take part in a project that involved the excavation of ten houses that had been buried since 1973, and the con­ struction of a visitors’ center where people can view the houses and learn more about this extraordinary event. The project was named Pompeii of the North, and now four houses have already been unearthed.

The house where time stood still The house at Gerðisbraut 10 will be the center’s main attraction. The former owner was allowed inside her old home shortly after the house was excavated. Gerður described the experience as an emotional one in an interview with Fréttablaðið newspaper in October 2012. “One becomes emotional seeing one’s home aband­ on­ed after all this time. I missed not having my late hus­­band with me. But I’m happy that I allowed the excavation because I was right all this time; my house is still standing.” She also remembers the night of the eruption very vivi­ d­ly. “When I pulled back the curtains, I could see this extremely large fire pillar. I called my husband and we saw a long, gaping fissure only four hundred meters away from us. It was as though the earth had been zipp­ ed open.”

A modern excavation Kristín Jóhannsdóttir, director of marketing and culture in Vestmannaeyjar town, says the center’s construction will cost an estimated 890 million Icelandic krona (around 5.6 million euro). The project is funded by Vest­­­­mannaeyjar town and the Icelandic Tourist Board, among others.

Emerging from the ash. The house at Gerðisbraut 10 is the visitors’ centre’s main attraction. The house was unearthed in 2012. Photo/Eldheimar Museum

“Ever since the excavation began, we have put a lot of energy into promoting the project internationally. Pe­­­ ople have shown a keen interest in our volcanic hist­­ ory,” Kristín says.

In Brief The largest island is called Heimaey (13.4 km 2 , 5.2 mi2) and is the only one that is popu­lat­­ed (4.200 inhabitants). The name of the town is Vest­­­ mannaeyjar.

Left without knowing whether they would return Iceland sits astride the Mid-Atlantic Ridge and on top of one of the world’s most active volcanic hot spots. The Westman Islands archipelago, south of Iceland, con­­sists of fifteen islands, with Heimaey Island being the largest and the only one that is inhabited, with a population of roughly 4200. The eruption in Heimaey began shortly after mid­­ night on January 23, 1973, and lasted nearly six months. There was very little advance warning that such a catastrophe was about to unleash itself. The only sign that something was amiss were two tremors two days earlier that measured 3 on the Richter scale. The epicenter of these was thought to be under the Veiði­­­ vötn lakes, close to the small town of Laugarvatn, situ­­ ated on the south coast of Iceland. On the night of the eruption, a local named Hjálmar Guðnason and his friend, Ólafur Granz, went for an evening stroll. The two men took their usual route past

Eldfell volcano is literally on the outskirts of the town. The eruption started on January 23 1973 without any sign of warning. It put into motion a major emergency evacuation of the entire population to mainland Iceland. The eruption came to an end July 3rd. Vestmannaeyjar islands

Vestmannaeyjar islands (Westman Islands) is a archipelago of 15 islands, and about 30 skerries off the south coast of Iceland.

Num­b er of buildings were buried under lava and ash. Numerous were destroyed but many were also later dug out and saved. The Vestmannaeyjar archipelago lies in the south­ern Icelandic volcanic zone. The islands have been formed by eruptions over the past 10,000 to 12,000 years. The volcanic system con­­sists of 70–80 volcanoes both above and below sea level The youngest island is Surtsey. It which was formed in an eruption which began 130 metres (426 ft) below sea level. It reached the surface on November 14th in 1963 and lasted until June 5th in 1967. Surtsey is s the southernmost point of Iceland.

Iceland Mag / vol. #01 2014



Eldheimar centre. In 2005 Vestmannaeyjar town agreed to take part in the construction of a visitors’ centre where people can learn more about the 1973 volcanic eruption.

the harbour, up towards Kirkjubær farm and hiked up Helgafell mountain. When they reached the top of the mountain they saw how the earth below them had ripped open. Guðnason and Granz quickly notified the police about what they had seen, but by that time many had already awakened to the din and glow from the eruption. In most accounts, the erup­ tion began at 01:55 AM. The fissure the two men had seen rapidly grew to 1,600 meters in length, and soon lava began to erupt from it. Gradually, during the next few weeks, the earth rose with the eruptions to produce a small volcanic mountain, Eldfell, where once there was a flat meadow. Evacuation plans had been made: people quickly assembled by the har­ bour and waited to be brought to safety on the mainland. It was a stroke of good luck that, because of a storm the previous day, most of the town’s fishing fleet lay in the harbour that



Iceland Mag / vol. #02 2014

A major con­ cern was div­ erting the lava flow so it would not ruin the harbour. Those who left the island that night abandoned their homes with­out know­­ing whet­her they could ever return.

night. This meant that evacuating the island went swiftly, the first ship leaving the harbour at around 02:30 AM and the last one four hours later. Roughly 300 volunteers and rescue workers stayed on and tried to mini­mize the damage as best they could. A major concern was diverting the lava flow so it would not ruin the harbour. Those who left the island that night abandoned their homes without know­­ing whether they could ever return. On the 3rd of July, 1973, it was formally announced that the eruption was finally over. By the end of 1974, about half of the inhabitants had returned to their homes on the island, and by March 1974, that number had grown to 80 percent.

Inside the centre. The centre’s con­­­struct­ion will cost an esti­­­­mated 890 milli­­on Ice­­­landic krona (around 5.6 million euro).



Our Master Watchmaker never loses his concentration

With his legendary concentration and 45 years of experience our Master Watchmaker and renowned craftsman, Gilbert O. Gudjonsson, inspects every single timepiece before it leaves our workshop.

All the watches are designed and assembled by hand in Iceland. Only highest quality movements and materials are used to produce the watches and every single detail has been given the time needed for perfection.

Wake up before they ... Renovation in progress. Please arrive early for check-in to avoid long lines. Iceland is so popular right now that we have to double the capacity of the baggage handling system at the airport. Therefore, we advise everyone who has a flight from Keflavik International Airport to get an early start. Avoid long lines and have more time to enjoy our unique shops, restaurants and our tax- and duty-free prices. Check-in opens at 4:30 am. Scheduled morning buses from Reykjavik run from 4 am. Hotel pick-up at 3:30 am when pre-ordered.

Bring home good memories from Iceland! Keflavik International Airport is one of few airports worldwide that is both tax- and dutyfree, which can save you up to 50% off city prices.

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Shaped by Volcanos and Glaciers Nature’s diversity is nowhere as spectacular in Iceland as in the Skaftafell region. Formed over thousands of years by the devastating powers of volcanos and glaciers the landscape is a concoction of lush green valleys and glacial tongues edged by jagged mountain tops. Here we bring you 5 things you nee to know about the region. Text by Agnes Valdimarsdóttir Photos by Vilhelm Gunnarsson



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Hvannadalshnjúkur peak Hvannadalshnjúkur is a summit crater on the Öræfa­jök­ull volcano in Vatnajökull National Park. It’s the highest point in Ice­ land and stands at 2,110 meters (or nearly 7,000 ft). The peak can be climbed, but it’s recommended that you do it with an experi­­ enced guide, as crevasses in the mountain can be quite hidden and potentially dangerous.




Vatnajökull glacier Vatnajökull glacier is Iceland’s largest glac­­ ier and the largest ice cap in Europe by volume (3,100 km cubed). In 1950, an airplane operat­ ed by the Icelandic airline Loftleiðir crash-land­ ed on the glacier and nev­er flew again. Its abandoned fuselage can be seen in the Sigur Rós documentary Heima. The glacier was also used in the James Bond classic, A View to Kill—notably the last time Roger Moore played the secret agent. And last but not least, Vatnajökull’s latest claim to fame was in the second season of the hit HBO series, Game of Thrones.

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South East Iceland See pages 32-33 for 3 and 4.

Iceland Mag / vol. #02 2014




Lakagígar craters Lakagígar (Laki craters) is a 25 km row of 135 craters west of Vatnajökull glacier, formed during the biggest volcanic eruption ever recorded in Iceland’s history, in June of 1783. The eruption caused poisonous ash to spread over to Europe and North America, ruining crops and causing famine, making it one of the deadliest eruptions in history. The lava from Lakagígar swollowed multiple villages and farms, and still covers approximately 600 km2.

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Svartifoss waterfall Svartifoss waterfall (Black Falls) flows over a drop of about 20 meters between columns of black basalt. What’s interesting is that once you’ve visited Black Falls and seen the basalt columns, you’ll be able to see how this natural formation has provided inspiration to architecture in Reykjavik. Both Hallgrímskirkja church and the National Theatre in Reykjavik recall the majestic basalt columns that surround Svartifoss.


Hiking Hiking routes in Skaftafell are abundant. Whether you’re an experi­ enced hiker or just want to walk around and get lots of fresh air, you’re in the right place. Hiking maps are available available at the Visitor Center in Skaftafell, so everyone should be able to find something that suits their ability and wishes. You can even hike around Skaftafell glacier at the Vatnajökull ice cap without too much difficulty.

The Restaurant by the harbour Hafnarbraut 4 Höfn Hornafirði Open in summer from 12:00 – 22:00 Tel: 478-1200 / 846-1114 / 891-8080



Iceland Mag / vol. #02 2014

sausage-maker South East Iceland Höfn Highlights

Loves to cook freshly caught fish Tasty treats down by the harbor in Höfn

Overlooking the harbour. Pakkhúsið reastaurant has a lovely view.


Halldór Hall­­­­ dórs­­son is the owner and head chef of Pakk­­­hús­­ ið restaurant in the town of Höfn on the south­­ east coast of Ice­­land. The rest­­­ aurant opened for busi­ness in the beginning of June 2012 and is located in an old building over­­­ looking the town’s harbor. Originally the build­­ing was used as a warehouse (pakkhús­­=ware­­ house), then later it housed a maritime museum, before eventu­ally being turned into a restaurant. “During the day, we serve lighter courses, but we shift gear when evening approaches. The restaurant is open from May until the end of September each year. During the winter months, we host a variety of events, such as

concerts, private parties, and Christ­­­mas dinners,” explains Hall­­dór. The chef’s main focus is on cre­­ ating delicious dishes from local products, one of them being locally caught langoustine, renowned for its exquisite taste. “My favorite local product is fresh fish caught the same day. I love cooking different types of fish and experimenting with how they respond to different cooking methods.”

Freshly caught. Halldór loves to cook fresh fish.

Klaus the German sausage-maker


laus Kretzer and his wife moved from Reykja­­vík to Skaftafell on the south­­­east coast of Iceland to realize a joint dream: to live and work in the Icelandic countryside. Kaus, who was born and raised in Germany, moved to Iceland with his Icelandic wife in 1992 and worked as a carpenter and a park ranger before founding his own business. He now spends his days making flavorsome sausages from scratch. His products, which carry the brand name Skaftafell Delicatessen, were awarded the bronze medal in the category Air Dried Sausages at the Swedish Championships in Artisan Food in 2013.

Rumor has it that you don’t want to expand the busi­­ n­ess, because then you‘d have to buy meat outside of Skaftafellssýsla district. Is that true? “Yes, the idea was to create a local brand and product. I purchase my meat (I only use lamb) from my neighbors, the farmers in Öræfi district. Keeping it local gives me the opportunity to market my products as “handmade in Skaftafell from locally Klaus Kretzer produced meat.” I think expanding the business any further would harm the image of the brand, my production will therefore always be local to minimize the impact we have on the environment.” Klaus adds, “In my opinion it is also important that I know the farmers who produce the meat personally. They are very ambitious about what they are doing, and I can be sure that they treat their livestock well.” Where can your products be bought? “I make one sausage for barbequing or frying and another one to use as topping. The Skaftafell Deli­­cates­ sen products can be bought all year round in Skaftafell and Freysnes, east of Skaftafell. Some of the products are used in restaurants in Höfn in Hornafjörður. As of this summer, the products will be available at the Farmers Market in Kirkjubæjarklaustur town.” Do you enjoy life in the Icelandic countryside? “I love it! I never intended to live in Reykjavík when I moved to Iceland in 1992. It was the nature and the land­ scape that brought me to Iceland in the first place, and that’s where I want to be.”

Resting between the glaciers on a soft green blanket. Eyes feast on the cool cap, fire burning underneath.

Welcome to Icelandair Hotel Klaustur We offer modern accommodations for the comfort of every traveller and a restaurant to satisfy not only your taste buds, but also your eyes with its spectacular views. A great place to experience some of Iceland´s best attractions and enjoy nature´s bounty of outdoor activities – or just relax. We look forward to meeting you!

Icelandair Hotel Klaustur Klausturvegur 6 - 880 Kirkjubæjarklaustur For information and booking: www. or call (+354) 487 4900










South East Iceland Locals recommend

Langoustine sandwiches and panoramic views Árdís Erna Halldórsdóttir, the managing director of the Vatnajökull Information Center, recommends a stroll around Höfn’s harbor area and a nice meal of langoustine (small lobster, or scampi), at a restaurant in town.

For how long have you lived in Höfn? “I was born and raised in

Höfn but left to go to university as a teenager. I returned with my family seven years ago.” What should people not miss when visiting Höfn? “I’d begin with a

visit to the Vatnajökull National Park’s visitor center and the local crafts market, which are both located on the harbor. I also recommend a walk around the Ósland conservation area, which

was once an island but is now connected to the mainland. From Ósland you’ll have a fantastic pano­­ramic view of the surround­ ing area. A drive to Stokksnes, with a pit stop at the hidden

Viking village at Horn is a great experience too.” Do you have any special recom­­ mendations for families traveling with children? “The swimming

lovely restaurants to be found in the town. Kaffi Hornið is a good option for families with children, while Pakkhúsið restaurant is per­­fect for those who’d like to try our local produce. Lastly I’d

re­­commend Humarhöfnin to those who’d like to taste delicious langoustine.” Describe your ideal Sunday in Höfn: “I’d start the day off by packing a lovely little lunch and then hike up Hoffellsjökull, an ‘outlet glacier’ that flows from the Vatnajökull ice cap. Stop and have your lunch on Geitafell mountain, and then unwind in the naturally heated outdoor hot tubs located near Hoffell farm. Lastly, enjoy a langoustine sand­­ wich followed by an Icelandic ice cream speciality ‘bragðarefur’ in Hafnarbúðin, or langoustine pizza in Hótel Höfn.”

pool in Höfn is a fun place to visit when traveling with children. There’s a football field nearby where you can run around and play. A path for cyclists and pedestr­ians runs along the sea­­­ front—follow that and you are destined for an exciting day at

the beach. Finally, I’d suggest you visit the Huldusteinn Stone Museum.” What is your favorite restaurant in Höfn? “There are numerous

Árdís hiking with friends in Klukkugil ravine in the Suðursveit region. From left: Berglind Steinþórsdóttir, Ingólfur Reynisson and Árdís.

Locals recommend

The mountain road may cause vertigo Albert Eymundsson, the former headmaster and mayor of Höfn, has lived in the town for most of his life. His favorite spot is the memorial for drowned sailors located in Óslandshraun, south of the town. C ould you recommend a few “must-see” places for those visiting Höfn? “There are many stunning natural wonders to be found in the Austur-Skaftafellssýsla district. One is the Jökulsárlón glacial lagoon, an ever-changing natural phenomenon. The lagoon bears witn­­­ ess to the effects global warming has had on nature and our glaciers. Another natural wond­­er is the Lónsöræfi area in central Ice­­ land. It’s a world of its own—the area is extrem­­ely diverse, and even though it was only populated for a short time it has a re­­­ mark­a­­­ble history. Lónsöræfi is not easily



Iceland Mag / vol. #02 2014

Albert Eymundsson recommends a visit to the Lónsöræfi area in central Iceland. “It’s a world of its own.”

accessi­­­ble, and those traveling there must be well­­-equipped no matter how short, or long, they intend to stay.” What is your favorite route for a “Sunday-drive” from Höfn? “If you are not pressed for time, I

recommend a drive to Jöklasel mountain hotel, located on Hoffellsjökull, 840 meters (2756 feet) above sea level. At the hotel you can rent a snowmobile and go for a drive on the glacier. It’s a unique experience in itself to navigate the mountain road to Jöklasel, and many experience vertigo on the way.” What is your favorite local landmark? “On Óslandshraun, a hillock on Ósland, you’ll find a memorial for drowned sailors by sculptor Helgi Gíslason. I, and many other locals, visit the spot daily. The view from Óslandshraun is magnificent, with Öræfajökull glacier in the west and Vestrahorn mountain in the east. During nesting season the area is also bustling with birdlife.”


Hafnarbraut 42 • Höfn • Sími: +354 478 2600 • •

South East Iceland Vatnajökull Glacier Hornarfjörður town


Hólmur petting zoo and reindeer tours The petting zoo at Hólmur farm is a must for any family traveling with children. At the zoo you‘ll find sheep, horses, calves, goats, pigs, rabbits, Icelandic hens, doves, geese, ducks, and pheasants, among other farm animals. The best time to visit is in the spring when baby animals are being born. Hólmur farm also offers accommodation and guided reindeer tours during autumn, wint­er, and spring. The aim of these tours is to observe the wild animals in their natural habi­­­tat. The reindeer trips are organized by re­­quest. Please phone or email ahead.


Go snowmobiling on Vatnajökull ice cap Jöklasel mountain restaurant is located on Skála­­ fellsjökull and sits at an altitude of 840 meters (2756 feet) above sea level. The restaurant has a breathtaking panoramic view over the surrounding area and is well worth a visit. Getting to the restaurant is an adventure in itself—one must navigate a steep mountain road to reach the destination high on top of Skálafellsjökull, one of Vatnajökull’s outlet glaciers. Jöklasel also offers numerous excursions for adventurous travelers all year round, including snow­mobile excursions and super-jeep glacial tours. Tours must be booked in advance. Jöklasel restaurant is open from June until September 10th. Glacierjeeps, tel: 894-3133 / 478-1000

Birding in Cape Ingólfshöfði

See   One can also book guided birding tours with Björn Arnarsson, tel: 892-1869, and Brynjúlfur Brynjúlfsson, tel: 894-0262.



Iceland Mag / vol. #02 2014

Glistening ice­­­bergs and curi­­­ous seals Jökulsárlón ehf offers boat tours on the la­­­goon between the months of April and November. You can sail between the mas­­­sive floating icebergs and, if you are lucky, catch a glimpse of curious seals bobbing around in the water. Jökulsárlón glacial la­­­goon is a sight that will render you speech­­­­ less—every single time. The company has been operating boat tours on the lagoon for over 25 years. It offers two different tours: an hour-long tour on an amphibian boat and a slightly shorter tour on a small, inflatable Zodiac, where you get to experience the lagoon on an entirely different level.

Thorbergur Center Dedicated to the great author Þórbergur Þórðarson Þórbergssetrið is a cultural center, museum, and restaurant that celebrates one of Iceland‘s most beloved authors, Þórbergur Þórðarson, whose innovative and eccentric works are often said to be Iceland’s first modernist literature. Þórbergur was born in 1888 and raised on the farm Hali in the Austur-Skaftafell district. The exhibition takes the visitor on an interesting informational journey through the life and works of Þórbergur. The museum is open daily from 9 AM until 8 PM, all year round.


Photos/Vilhelm Gunnarsson

The company Öræfaferðir offers organized bird­ ing trips to Ingólfshöfði during the spring and summer months. The best time for bird watch­­ing in Iceland is in late May and June when migrating birds have arrived at their nest­­ing grounds. The most common indigenous birds in Iceland are seabirds, waterfowl, and waders. Around 380 species of birds have been recorded in Iceland to date. Only twenty percent of those, however, are regular breeders. Many birders come to Iceland during the summer to observe migrating birds—which they have seen at home with different coloration—in their summer plumage. The world’s largest great skua population is found in Skeiðarársandur and Breiðamerkur­ sand­ur in the Austur-Skaftafell district. The skua is an aggressive scavenger that will attack hu­­ mans to protect their nests and other birds to steal their prey. Ingólfshöfði is also a popular nesting ground for puffins, and house sparrows gener­­ally nest near Hof in Öræfi.

Welcome to Vatnajökull national park

Glacier Jeeps – Ice & Adventure Glacierjeeps Ice & Adventure offer adventure tours with specially equipped 4WD Superjeeps and skidoos, or glacier hiking tours on the great Vatnajökull Europe´s largest glacier.

TOURS ARE AVAILABLE ALL YEAR AROUND MAY – OCT. Daily 9:30 AM and at 14.00 PM Departure from F985 (GPS: N 64° 4159,3) Oct – May please call for depart time Departure from Vagnastaðir Hostel (GPS: N64° 1109,0 – 0, 15°41 Minimum: 2 persons Duration: 3 hours, one hour on skidoo snowmobile. Reservations needs to be made

Jöklajeppar - Glacier jeeps Glacier Jeeps - Ice & adventure Vagnsstaðir - 781 Suðursveit, Iceland

Telephone: 894-3133 / 478-1000 -

A few tips about driving in Iceland Fasten your seatbelt, step on the accelerator and enjoy the ride.


hen driving in Iceland one can easily get distracted by the ever-changing scenery and ethereal beauty of nature. But restrain yourself and con­­ centrate. The narrow gravel roads, tiny one-way bridges, and rogue sheep demand your full atten­tion. So, before you fasten your seatbelt, shift into gear, and step on the accelerator, it’s good to take note of some of the primary traffic rules that apply in Iceland. First of all, traffic in Iceland is always on the right (as in the States, but unlike in the UK). The general speed limit is 30 to 50 kilometers per hour in residential areas and 90 kilometers per hour on the highway. On good gravel roads, the maximum speed is 80 kilometers per hour. Accidents regularly happen when drivers lose control of their vehicle while driving too fast when tarmac (or asphalt) changes to gravel.

How to become an amazing driver Elsa Jóna Sveinsdóttir, a professional driving instructor, says there is good reason to warn drivers about the stocky, short-tailed Icelandic sheep that roam the open countryside

during summer grazing season. Those four-legged pedestrians can be quite unpredictable and drivers are advised to keep a watchful eye out for them. “Narrow bends, blind rises, loose gravel, deep potholes, and dodgy road margins can pose a risk when driving on gravel roads. It’s crucial to keep well to the right when navigating these roads. Should the front wheel drift to the edge of a grav­­ el road, ease your foot off the accelerator immediately and with a steady grip on the wheel, steer the vehicle back onto the road,” Elsa Jóna explains.

• • • •

• The general • speed limit is 30 to 50 • kilomet­ers per hour in resident­ial • areas and 90 kilomet­ ers per hour on the high­way.

Blind rises. When driving in the more remote parts of Iceland, one is sure to encounter many blind rises. It is important to slow down when nearing a blind rise, or a hilltop, and to keep well to the right side of the road. Never stop the vehicle on top of a hill, or below a blind rise. Single-lane bridges. These are common in Iceland. The rule of thumb is the first vehicle to arrive at the bridge has the right-of-way. Buckle up. All passengers are required by law to use safety belts. These are known to save lives. Lights on. Headlights must be turned on at all times, day and night, all year around. No drinking. Driving under the influence of alcohol is prohibited in Iceland. Stay cool. Slippery roads are the main cause of traffic accidents in Iceland. Should the vehicle start skidding on ice or snow, ease off the accelerator and slowly gear down. Leave a good space between your car and the car in front of you when driving in these conditions. Dangerous roadsides. Wet and steep roadsides can be risky−use caution. Getting stuck. If the vehicle gets stuck in snow, shift into first gear and slowly rock back and forth. Stay on the roads. All off-road driving is prohibited by law. Icelandic nature is extremely sensitive and off-road driving can leave a mark for decades to come. Stay informed. Never head off into the unknown– weather conditions in Iceland can change very quickly. Check the weather forecast before you set off and be well prepared. Keep warm clothing in the car for emergencies.

Muddy public pathways that connect the north and the south. The majority of people visit Iceland because of its unspoiled nature, where they can enjoy solitude and breathtaking scenery. For many it can be tempting to simply drive off into the highlands, where towering glaciers slowly grind their way down towards black volcanic sands. No matter how adventurous this might sound, it is not a smart thing to do. And this is why: Most mountain roads are closed for summer traffic until early July because of bad conditions. The narrow gravel roads turn into muddy quagmires when thawing



Iceland Mag / vol. #02 2014

Enjoy a


relaxing holiday

Laugar Spa

Situated in the heart of Reykjavik, Laugar Spa offers a wellness center for your whole family. Enjoy our luxury health spa and ensure your body and soul feel their best. Laugar’s outdoor and indoor thermal pools, beauty and massage clinic, unique fitness center combined with luxury spa will help you breeze into a wonderful and relaxing holiday. Laugar, together with the fitness center and the Spa, offer you the best total health and body experience Iceland has to offer.

Laugar Sundlaugarvegur 30a 105 Reykjavik Tel. +354 553 0000

Laugar Opening hours Mon - Fri 06:00 - 23:30 Sat 08:00 - 22:00 Sun 08:00 - 20:00

Driving in Iceland out after a hard winter. The terrain is difficult to travel across and only meant for vehicles equipped with four-wheel drive. Route 1, or the Ring Road (Hringvegurinn), is the national highway that runs around the island and covers a distance of 1,339 kilometers. The most frequented highland roads are Kjölur, Sprengisandur and Fjallabaksleið Nyrðri. The first two are old public pathways that connected the North and the South and were frequented by chieftains who had to attend the Parliament held annually at Þingvellir. A popular poem titled Á Sprengisandi tells the tale of farmers herding their sheep across the highlands. As darkness descends, they encount­er outlaws, elves, and otherworldly creatures along the way. Kjalarvegur hinn forni, or the Old Kjölur Road, is still used for hiking and horse-trekking. Ancient cairns still mark the trail today.

Location-based information screens Most mountain roads are closed for summer traffic until early July.

Keep an eye out for special information television screens placed at information booths, bus stations, airports, frequently visited gas stations and places of accommodation across the country. While the screens will all look the same, the information ap­pearing on them will be location-based so to keep it relev­ant for travelers. This is a project by the Icelandic Tourist Board to assist visitors during their travels in Iceland. Proper infor­mation to tourists is of extreme importance, especially in a country like Iceland, where weather and road conditions are ever changing.

4 things to keep in mind when crossing rivers: 1




When crossing glacial rivers, make sure to drive very slowly and never switch gears while in the water. Water flow in glacial rivers is usually less in the morning mak­­ ing it the safest time to cross. On warm summer days, the volume of water can in­ crease substantially. When in doubt about whether to cross or not, a good rule to follow is: Do not drive into rivers that you would not attempt to wade into. The easiest place to cross is often marked. Another warning: The deepest part of the river is usually where the water surface is calmest. The best way to cross a river is to follow the stream diagonally downwards, to go with the flow!

Photos/Vilhelm Gunnarsson

Route 1, or the Ring Road (Hring­vegur­inn), is the nati­onal high­way that runs around the is­land and cov­ers a distance of 1,339 kilo­­­met­­ers.

The best way to cross a riv­­ er is to foll­ ow the stream dia­ gon­ally down­­ wards, to go with the flow!



Iceland Mag / vol. #02 2014

In our souvenir shop you will find Icelandic design inspired by the Northern Lights Designs by: Dimmblá Stál í stál - Jens Volcap Olason paintings Gingó hönnun Svandís Kandís and more Free coffee & tea at our store

Maritime museum CCP

Hotel Marina

The Northern Light Center

Visit us and experience our multimedia exhibition It's only a ten-minute walk from the city center The old harbour Harpan Music hall Reykjavík Art museum Kolaportið fleemarket

Grandagarður 2 - 101 Reykjavík Open every day from 10:00 - 22:00

Language Lessons



phrases you should not bother to learn While visiting Iceland it’s useful to know some key phrases in Icelandic, like góðan dag/good day, takk fyrir/thank you and matseðilinn takk/the menu please. Then you have some you should not bother with. Here are ten.


Hvar er næsti McDonald’s? / Where is the nearest McDonald’s?  Nope, no Big Mac for you. There are no MacDonald’s restaurants in Iceland. The fast food chain used to run three outlets in Iceland for a while, but they closed their doors in 2009, the owner maintained it was due to the economic crisis. We believe it was because local burger joints beat off the com­petition with their tasty burgers (you don’t’ find Starbucks either in Iceland. The local cafes whip up much better coffee drinks).


Hvar er næsta lestarstöð? / Where’s the closest train station?  There are no trains in Iceland. Domestic travel is by car, plane, boat, bike or foot.


Hvernig verður veðrið í kvöld? / How will the weather be tonight? The weather in Iceland is notoriously un­ predictable. You better pack both shorts and a raincoat. And it is not unusual to experi­ ence the wind blowing from all directions within the same hour.


Er þetta besta verðið sem þú getur boðið? / Is that your best price? There is absolutely no culture of haggling in Iceland, neither in restaurants nor in stores. Prices are fixed and therefore the amount you pay is the number listed on the menu or price sticker.

Jökulgil canyon in the Landmannalaugar region in the central highlands where the weather can get quite extreme. Photo/Vilhelm Gunnarsson



Iceland Mag / vol. #02 2014

Language Lessons



Hvað er venjulega gefið í þjórfé? / What is the standard tipping rate? There is no tipping in Iceland. Prices on the menu are all inclusive, same goes for taxis and other services. The unions are strong and people in the service sector do not count on tipping as part of their salary.

Hvar byrjar röðin? / Where does the line start? Well this is maybe not a com­plet­ ely useless phrase, but  is a kind of sore point as Icelanders are notoriously ill disciplined when it comes to form an orderly queue. We are bad at shops and truly horrible outside bars and clubs during weekends. 



Hvar fæ ég ódýrt áfengi? / Where is the cheapest place to buy alcohol? Alcohol is never cheap in Iceland but after the depreciation of the króna, buying alcohol as a foreign visitor does not inflict as much damage to your wallet as it did. Note that alcohol is only availa­ ble for purchase in stores run by The State Alcohol and To­ bacco Company of Iceland, Vínbúðin, of which there are 48, as well as in licensed bars and restaurants.


Get ég fengið venjulegt vatn í sturtuna hjá mér? /  Can I have regular water in my shower?  Sorry. Almost all houses in Iceland have naturally heated geothermal water running through their pipes. And a strong sulphur smell usually comes with it (some describe the smell similar to rotting eggs, but that’s definitely laying it on thick).

Er heitt vatn í boði í allan dag? / Do you have hot water all day? Because of the abundant geo­­ thermal energy in almost all parts of the country, most places have a reliable source of hot water so you can spend all day in the shower, if that is something you enjoy, without raking up a huge energy bill. This brings us to next phrase.

Note that alcohol is only availa­ble for purchase in stores run by The State Alcohol and To­bacco Comp­ any of Iceland, Vínbúðin, of which there are 48, as well as in licensed bars and restaurants.

10. Get ég fengið alvöru hest frekar en smáhest? / Can I have a real horse instead of a pony? The Icelandic breed of horse was developed in Iceland. Although the animals are small, even pony-sized, they are in fact horses and not ponies. Due to risk of disease, Icelandic law prevents horses from being imported and those exported are not able to return mean­­ing  that only Icelandic breeds exist in the country.

Do you have some useless phrases in Icelandic to add to the collection? Please send us an email at

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Sæferðir - Smiðjustíg 3 - Stykkishólmur - Snæfellsnes


Iceland Magazine explains ask@iceland­

Iceland Magazin explains We are visiting Iceland this summer. Do we need to pack bug repellant? The only insects you have to worry about (not much though) are the black flies, also known as midges.  If you are planning to visit Lake Mý­­vatn (the name actually means Midge Lake!) in north Ice­­land, bring an insect-proof net to wear over your head. There is good reason for the lake’s name.  The black flies usually appear in mid-June. Regular mosquito repellent works against them. (There are, however, no mosqui­­ toes in Iceland.)

Iceland Mag explains Photos/Vilhelm Gunnarsson

Why are Icelandic horses not called ponies?



Why are Icelandic horses not called ponies?

Where does the Icelandic language stem from?

The Icelandic horse may be small in stature, but a pony it is not! So, please refrain from referring to it as one. Icelanders consider it a grave insult to hear this revered animal being called a pony. So beware! The Icelandic horse is hardy, surefooted and long-lived and through the ages it was fondly termed “the most useful servant”, seeing as it made life in this barren country just a tad bit easier. Laws prohibit horses to be im­­­ ported into Iceland, and exported animals are not allowed to return. This has resulted in a very pure and healthy breed of horse. What mak­­ es the Icelandic horse unique is that it can display two additional gaits to the typical walk, trot and gallop. The first being a four-beat ambling gait called tölt, and the second being a pace called skeið, or flying pace. The latter gate is fast and smooth with some horses being able to reach up to 48 kilometres per hour (30 miles per hour).

Icelandic is an Indo-Eur­­­opean language, belong­­­ing to the North Germ­anic branch of the Germ­­anic languages, and clos­­ely related to Norwegian and Faroese. Icelandic and Norwegian were very similar at first but that chang­­­ ed around the fourteenth century and from there on the difference between the two languages only increased. This was mostly due to developments in Norwegian while Icelandic resisted change – this resilience is one of the main char­­ act­eristics of the language. (source: and visinda­­­vef­­ Language purism has been the linguistic policy in Iceland since the late 18th century. Instead of adopting foreign words, new ones are coined or old words given a new, modern meaning. This task is done by the Icelandic Language Committee, Íslensk málnefnd, which consists of sixteen specialists from different organisations.

Iceland Mag / vol. #02 2014

What exactly is „skyr“? Skyr is a traditional, Icelandic dairy product and while resembling yogurt it is, correctly speaking, a cheese. Skyr-making dates all the way back to the 9th century. The product is made from skim milk which remains after the cream has been removed. The milk is then warm­ed with live cultures from previ­­ous batches of skyr and strain­­ed from the whey after it has thicke­­ned. Traditionally skyr was served with cream and brown sugar, but nowadays it is increasingly used as a key ingredient for cheese-cakes, crème brulée (called skyr brulée) and smoothies.


Photo/Vilhelm Gunnarsson

Is it difficult to travel around Iceland without having your own car? No, not really. You can buy a bus pass from Reykjavík Excursions (, which allows you to travel from one region or destination to another with ease. See more at Anoth­­er option is to use the publ­ ic transportation in Iceland. In addition to buses in and around the capital area, there are regul­­ arly scheduled bus rout­­­es around major parts of the country. See more at… schedules-and-maps. If hitchhiking is something you would like to try, it’s very safe in Iceland. Then there is, of course, Air Ice­­ land (, if you want to travel really fast between Ice­­ land’s regions. What are the most common names in Iceland? The most common nam­­es in Iceland are old, tra­­­ditional names such as Guðrún, Anna, and Kristín for women, and Jón, Sig­­­urður, and Guðmundur for men. The most fashionable baby nam­­ es last year had a more inter­­na­­ tional ring to them, namely Emilía for girls and Aron for boys.

What do you want to know about Iceland? Pick the brains of our experts and send us your questions. ask@iceland­







Visit The Gentle Giants up north in Húsavík – The Whale Watching Capital of Iceland

“Highlight of the summer”

“The most remarkable experience I have ever had” · “Family bonding & fun with Gentle Giants” · “Excellent service” · “Everything was perfect during the whole trip!” · “Memorable experience, forever engraved in my memory”


The Gateway to Iceland

Leifsstöð joins the prestigious Director General‘s Roll of Excellence Leifsstöð, Keflavík International Airport, has been inducted into the prestigious Director General‘s Roll of Excellence by the Airports Council International. The decision is based on the opinion of passengers who participated in the ACI’s Airport Service Quality Surveys.

Special Offers on Local Goods Passengers travelling through Keflavík International Airport until May 31st can enjoy various special offers on popular products and refreshments available at the airport. Among those are local handcrafted products, Icelandic design available in Epal design boutique, the album “In the Sil­­­ ence” with musician Ásgeir Trausti and clothing from 66 North, one of Ice­­­land’s leading out­­­door clothing brands. All the offers are listed in Keflavík Airport’s new brochure as well as online. ShopsRestaurants/

Keflavík International Airport. It has been chosen amongst the best airports in the world. Photo/GVA


wenty-one airports have been induct­­ ed into the Roll of Excellence since 2011. To qualify, international airports must have been ranked in the top five airports by size, or region, for five of the past six years on the ASQ Survey. Apart from Keflavík International Airport the international airports in Cairo, Sangster, Dubai, Hyderabad Rajiv Gandhi and Taiwan Taoyuan

Ten International Airlines Scheduled to Keflavík This Summer

were added to the prestigious list this year. According to the director general, Angela Gittens, it is crucial to ex­ceed passengers´ expectations for airports to remain competitive. “This outstanding performance is first and foremost thanks to our employees and service providers at Keflavik International Airport, not to mention our increased emphasis on high quality service,” says Björn Óli Hauksson, CEO of Isavia, the company that operates Leifsstöð.

The airport, locally referred to as “Keflavíkurvöllur”, was built by the US military during World War II. During wartime the airport only served military purposes but be­­­ came a refuelling stop for air­­planes crossing the Atlantic at the war’s end. When the US army withdrew its forces in 1947, the airport was handed over to the Icelandic government and renamed Keflavík Airport. It has since served as the country’s main hub.

Ten international airlines are scheduled to fly to Keflavík Inter­­­ national Airport this summer, 2014. Those airlines are: Lufthansa, Germanwings, Delta, Edelweiss Air, Transavia France, Austrian, NIKI, Air Berlin, Air Greenland and Travel Service which is curr­­ ently the biggest Czech airline company. This comes as a welcomed addi­­­ tion to the five airlines currently operating out of Keflavík Airport, namely Icelandair, the largest carrier operating out of Leifsstöð, WOW Air, SAS, Easy Jet and Norwegian.

The viking:info Laugavegur 1 · Reykjavík Hafnarstræti 1 - 3 · Reykjavík Hafnarstræti 104 · Akureyri

Akureyri Reykjavík TAX FREE



Iceland Mag / vol. #02 2014









Kla p p a rst .



stað Berg


Diverse menu, great value and a wide selection of cocktails, beers and wines.




Kitchen Bar Café



Vegamótastíg | 101 Reykjavík | tel. 511 3040 |

My neighborhood

A born-and-bred-101-gal Margreét Erla Maack’s stomping ground is down town Reykjavík (101 being the postal code for the neighborhood.)


Margrét Erla Maack. Everything is within five minutes walking distance in her neighborhood.

Name and occupation: Margrét Erla Maack, circus artist, belly danc­­­er, dance instructor, DJ, and comedian, among other things.

What is a must-see or do in your neighborhood? 1

Spouse: “Nah.” Children: “Not that I know of.”

“Snaps, the neighborhood bistro, serves good food. When the weather is nice I like to grab pizza from Eldsmiðjan and hang out in the garden in front of the Einar Jónsson Museum.”

Where do you live? “Óðinsgata, 101 Reykjavík.”


For how long have you lived in the neighborhood? “My whole life, apart from six months spent in postal code 105, nine months in Mývatnssveit, and three months in New York.”

“Hótel Holt is basically in my backyard and I love having secret meetings in the hotel bar. This is where most of my circus and comedy plots are laid. Also, they have the best happy hour in town.”


“Bravó and Harlem are my favorite bars, basically because that’s where me and my friends play music and host things we like. The owners trust us for crazy karaoke nights, bingo, and DJing. Those places are my Cheers.”

What‘s the best thing about your neighborhood? “My family lives close by. Everything is within five minutes walking distance (one minute on the Vespa). The dance studio where I teach is there and the places where I work. 4 “Sundhöllin swimming pool is a beauti­­ ful place to visit. And my old schools, And it’s full of life.”



Iceland Mag / vol. #02 2014

This is where most of my circus and comedy plots are laid. Also, they have the best happy hour in town.”

Austurbæjarskóli and Menntaskólinn í Reykjavík are my favorite buildings in down-town Reykjavík.” Does the area have a famous landmark? “People seem to love Hallgrímskirkja church. It is a dangerous place to visit, though. I’ve seen smart people get distracted and stop in the middle of traffic to take photos of it.”

When the weather is nice Margrét likes to grab pizza from Eldsmiðjan and hang out in the garden in front of the Einar Jónsson Photo/ Valli














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Iceland Magazine vol #02 2014 issue  

News from Iceland, what to do & see, local travel tips and more. Proudly made in Reykjavík city.

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