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is in the air

Swimming in the Atlantic Ocean Yes people really do that!

Baltasar Kormákur:

Iceland´s hottest answer to Hollywood “If you do things well and in a professional way they will arouse interest”

What´s cooking? Christmas the Icelandic way

Look out!

Gunnar Nelson is our new fighting champion

Cool gossip

What were the A-listers doing in Iceland last summer?



cYour free copy / take me with you

This magazine is really expensive but you get it for free. Special prize, only for you my friend!

Tax & D

Ă?SLENSKA/SIA.IS/FLE 62154 12/12

Experienc All of our shops and restaurants offer you

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ce Iceland Icelandic memories to take home with you.

One of few airports in the world that is both tax and duty free — meaning up to 20% off city prices.

WOW! This magazine is just brimming over with good stuff! I really wasn’t supposed to, as WOW air CEO got all the space but I just couldn’t resist. So here I am, abusing my position on the contents page. This magazine has been my sole project for many weeks and I have become kind of fond of it. I hereby present to you the first issue of WOW Magazine, titled “WOW is in the air” (next time it will be something completely different). Take a look at all this stuff and enjoy your trip to or from Iceland. Guðrún Vaka Helgadóttir, editor in chief

In this issue 8

“I have had the whole world as an arena” Max Dager, director of the Nordic House tells us about this remarkable cultural center and his surprising past.

10 Good to know This and that about things in general. 14 What’s going on? Iceland is happening and here are the highlights for the next couple of months. 16 Icelandic Christmas traditions Did you know Icelanders have 13 days of Christmas and 13 Santas? This article tells it all. 20 How to cook a traditional Icelandic Christmas meal? Tried and tested recipe for hangikjöt (smoked lamb) from Icelands leading culi nary magazine.

26 A feast for all the senses The Vatnajökull Region covers the area of South east Iceland and is truly the photographers paradise. 28 Capturing nature’s big show Olgeir Andresson has gathered attention world wide for his stunning photo graphs of the Northern Lights. 32 What’s that smell? Find out everything about the ancient midwinter festi val of Thorri and Thorri food. 36 The First Lady’s fashion The elegant and beautiful Dorrit Moussaieff dresses to impress at every occasion. 40 Cool gossip Read all about the Holly wood crowd that visited Iceland last summer.

4 ı WOW is in the air

48 The golden boy Goldsmith Kristján Eyjólfs son´s creations are literally fit for a queen. 50 Crazy for Kria Jóhanna Methúsalems dóttir´s jewelry designs reflect Icelandic nature and history. 53 The momentum of Icelandic literature After reading this, you’ll want to do some more reading. 56 A trip to remember We got designer Ingibjörg Hanna Bjarnadóttir to tell us about her favorite souvenir.

the first Icelander to compete in the esteemed Ultimate Fighting Championship, UFC.

72 The sea is our second home Two of our brave journalists recently took a dive in the Atlantic Ocean. Learn about their first hand experience with the freezing waters and why no one thinks they’re crazy. 76 Ready, set, go! If you wish to see Iceland in a different light, try taking part in the WOW Cyclothon. Race around Iceland in 72 hours or less and raise money for a good cause while enjoying the view. 78 What the person next to you is really doing! Find out why the person next to you is acting strangely and why you should act the same.

58 Good ideas from Iceland

80 Anything is possible for a smiling bulldozer 60 You don’t have to be Andrea Sóleyjar og Björg-­ a sell out vinsdóttir is truly a person of Sigtryggur Baldursson, a WOW. former member of The Sugarcubes, recently took Prentun: Oddi umhverfisvottuð prentsmiðja 82 All about Berlin over as manager of Iceland We bring you …. BERLIN. Music Export. He now uses Read about recommended his extensive social network restaurants, shops, sights, for the benefit of aspiring trips and more. Icelandic musicians. Plus: A firsthand experience Plus: We had a little talk with of a poor Icelandic student renowned band Hjaltalín in Berlin and a fraction of and recommend some good the Berlin Wall. music. 64 Dat app! We present the app that gets you around town. Find out how to hail a cab without speaking a word of Icelandic, with the iTaxi app. 66 The WOW Stars We are proud to present WOW Stars Annie Mist Þórisdóttir and Jón Margeir Sverrisson who both set world records in 2012. 68 There’s a new superhero in town Gunnar Nelson is a professional martial artist in a league of his own. He is

90 Where to next? Take a look at these WOW worthy destinations and plan your next trip. 94 Environmental emphasis in the air Find out how Airbus makes the world go round in a new and improved way. 96 Good to know More about this and that. 98 A flying star We subjected pop sensation Þórunn Antonía to “The traveling inquisition.” See her confessions.

Editor in chief: Guðrún Vaka Helgadóttir Design and layout: Ib Contributing editors: Erna Hreinsdóttir, Jón Kristinn Snæhólm, Dísa Bjarnadóttir, Kristín Ýr Gunnarsdóttir, Björn Teitsson, Benedikt Bóas Hinriksson, Hrund Þórsdóttir, Guðrún Baldvina Sævarsdóttir, Steingerður Steinarsdóttir, Halldóra Anna Hagalín Proofreading: Paul Michael Herman Translator: Júlíana Björnsdóttir In-house photographers: Rakel Ósk Sigurðardóttir, Kristinn Magnússon, Ernir Eyjólfsson, Myriam Marti Sales and marketing manager: Árni Þór Árnason Advertising reps.: Árni Þór Árnason, Magna Sveinsdóttir, Ingvar Örn Arnarson © Birtíngur Publishing Lyngás 17 210 Garðabær Iceland Tel: 00 354 515 5500

Printing Oddi environmentally certified printing company All rights reserved. Reprinting, direct quoting or recapitulation prohibited except with a written permit from publisher. See companys legal protection and rates at ERFISME HV R M


22 Imagine Peace How did Yoko Onos 50 year old idea become a reality in Reykjavík?

42 Jumping the fence Movie director and produc er, Baltasar Kormákur makes his movies on both sides of the Atlantic but says Ice land is the core of his cre ativity. Baltasar is the latest WOW Star.


6 A letter from the CEO Skúli Mogensen really hopes you’ll enjoy your flight.

WOW Magazine staff




is in the air

BE WARM BE WELL Icewear Þingholtsstræti 2-4 101 Reykjavík Tel.: +354 561 9619

Suðurhrauni 12c 210 Garðabær Tel.: +354 555 7400

Víkurprjón Austurvegi 21, 870 Vík Tel.: +354 487 1250

Dear guest, welcome aboard WOW air!


want to start with a huge thank you for the fantastic reception we‘ve received from all our guests since we made our maiden flight to Paris on the 31st of May 2012. This marked the beginning of a great journ­­­ey that continues to evolve as we acquired Ice­land Express on the 23rd of October to create the lead­­­ing low cost carrier in Iceland. As a result WOW air now offers much greater fre­ quency to London and Copenhagen as well as many new and exciting destinations and starting next summ­ er we will be flying to a total of 15 destinations across Europe. Our goal for 2013 is to bring over 400,000 guests to and from Iceland. To achieve this we will con­tinue to offer the lowest prices to and from Iceland along with our signature friendly and fun service! I am also very proud of our on time track record where WOW air and Iceland Express have had the best performance since June 2012. We expect this superb performance to continue as we have now secured four new Airbus A320 aircrafts, models 2005-2010 to furt­ her enhance our service and your safe and enjoyable journey. Very importantly these new aircrafts will signi­ ficanty reduce our fuel burn and carbon emissions. While WOW air is still a young company we have assembled a very enthusiastic and experienced team that I am very proud of and I hope you will experience firsthand on your flight today. Thank you once again for choosing WOW air. We really do appreciate it.  

Skúli Mogensen WOW air CEO and founder

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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. The JS Watch co. Watch factory and exclusive retail shop located at Laugavegur 62, in the trendy “101� area of Reykjavik provides customers with unique opportunity to meet the watchmakers who assemble and test their timepiece. The quantity of watches produced is limited, giving them an exclusive and truly personal feel.


“I have had the whole

world as an arena” It rises like small hill with a massive purple cliff on top; the Nordic House in Reykjavik is a beautifully designed landmark. More than that however, it is a welcoming cultural center, filled with life and interesting projects. The current director is Max Dager, a Swede with a remarkable past and a genuine love for Iceland. By Steingerður Steinarsdóttir Photos: Bragi Jósefsson

Standing alone in the middle of a marshland just off the center of Reykjavík the light from the windows of the Nordic House light up the deep darkness of the Icelandic winter months. Max Dager has just arrived at work and he begins by pointing out the singularity of his workplace. “This is the only international institution in Iceland in the sense that many governments stand behind it. It is important in a small country to maintain a certain independence and I be­ lieve that we achieve it by being international.” What is the main role of the Nordic House? “To inspire and connect. It has of course always meant to keep

Icelanders in touch with what is going on in other Nordic countries but in later years in greater measure to introduce art and culture from all parts of the world. Recently, we had an exhibition of Japanese art and next year a Yakutian Art Festival is planned. Now that we have become more diverse, it could be said that we are a link to the world through the Nordic countries.” Max Dager has a performing arts background and there are some very interesting projects that he worked on in the past. Before he took over the director­ ship of the Nordic House he was a circus director. “Yes, I was the man in the top hat that comes out at the beginn­

The Nordic House was designed by acclaimed Finnish architect Alvar Aalto.

8 ı WOW is in the air

ing of each circus show,” says Max with a grin, “and one of the founders of Circus Cirkör, a contemporary circus. Many have heard of Cirque du Soleil and we were a similar group. It was one of the fastest growing projects I have worked on. It started in a small cellar room in Stockholm by a small group of enthusiasts and grew to be a company with 400 employees. We were reach­ ing for the stars and claimed we would perform at the Stockholm Globe Arena within 3 years from founding, and we did. “The Globe Arena [also known as Ericsson Globe] is the largest venue in Sweden with a main hall that seats 15,000 people. Admittedly we performed in an annex of the main hall but

we were there within the time limit. We were also working towards performing in Las Vegas but unfortunately that did not come about. I learned a lot from my experience there and I’ve brought those lessons with me to Iceland.” You have also been a part of a puppet theatre. Could you tell us about that adventure? “I had been working with the Vietnamese Ministry of Culture. When Ho Chi Minh took over North Vietnam he wanted to preserve the very old pup­ petry tradition. In the rice fields men would attach puppets to bamboo sticks and stand chest high in water manipulating them. The spectators could not see

the puppet masters hidden from sight by the rice plants and this was a method of conveying news from the palace and court to the public. Ho Chi Minh creat­ ed a theater to preserve this cultural heritage and I worked with it, traveling all over the world with their performances. You could say that the whole world has been my arena. After working with this unique water puppet theater I was offered an honorary membership of the Union Internationale de la Marion­ettes.” What kindled your interest in taking over the directorship of the Nordic House in Reykjavík? “I already had a long relation­ ship with Iceland through my wife who is Icelandic and my appointment was odd in the sense that I was already living in Iceland. They prefer that the di­ rector comes from abroad, fresh on the scene, so to speak. Also I had always, like so many others, been amazed by the creativity of Icelanders. I also believe in the idea of cooperation between the Nordic countries. “When the referendum on Sweden joining the European Union came about I voted against it because I wanted a stronger union between the Nor­ dic countries and was leaning

more toward that. The majority of voters, however, wanted to join so we worked with that of course. “The Nordic countries are connected. The scales that are used to measure the happiness and welfare of nations have the Nordic nations always among the top ten. I wanted to show how much life and creativity there is in the North. I was also interested in enlivening the Nor­ dic House and do a little circus here. This is the best job for me.” Part of the functions of the Nordic House has always involved children. Is that true under your directorship as well? “Yes, we have a lot of internal projects focused on children and youth. We try and inspire fantasy and knowledge. There are better museums in Iceland, better theaters, better concert halls but no one has the same urban environment as we do. We had an Experimentarium or Science Fair involving water. All children of Iceland took part in this project and we would like to continue it if we get funding. We went out to the countryside letting children there take part in experiments and scientific research. The Nordic House is situated in a marshland and this is a bird conservation area.

“This is the only international institution in Iceland in the sense that many governments stand behind it. It is important in a small country to maintain a certain independence and I believe that we achieve it by being international.” The water runs from Öskjuhlid, the highest point in Reykjavik, down here and into the pond in the city center. We wanted to make the children aware of the constant cycle in nature. “We dug ditches and took an active part in maintaining the bird conservation habitat. This year the Arctic Tern came back and laid eggs in the marsh for the first time in years. She of course is a soldier who protects the other birds with her fierce attacks if someone approaches her nest. It was very lively this summer around the house with birds, children and interested spectators flocking in. During the Expermentarium the children took measurements and worked with scientific methods to get to know water and the life it entails better.” Although the Nordic House is continually bustling with activity it is, in the mind of many Iceland­ ers a haven of quiet reflection. The library is stacked with books and the meeting hall is an inti­ mate place to gather and listen to music or lectures. The restau­

rant, Dill is an excellent example of the new Nordic cuis­ine known world over for fresh ingredients and the innovative use of them and the view from the restau­ rant’s windows over the marsh­ lands create the sense that one is far removed from the hustle and bustle of the city. C ­ urrently an exhibition of Sámi art is hang­ ing on the walls and upcoming are concerts, children’s plays and other performances. This is an interesting place to visit and most of the events can be enjoyed free of charge. One should not overlook it while staying in Reykjavík.

Max Dager and Dill head chef Gunnar Karl.

Issue 1


This and that Book yourself!


ecently Icelanders have had to wake up to the reality that about a quarter of Icelandic children can’t read fluently in their own language. WOW air wanted to do something about this and when they were contacted by author Þorgrímur Þrá­ ins­son the ball literally start­­ed rolling. They got in touch with soccer play­­ers, Gylfi Sigurðsson and Kolbeinn Sigþórs­ son and asked them to assist. Erling Aðalsteins­ son, photographer was already on board as well as the advertizing agency, Brandenburg. Recently singer and songwriter Jón Jónsson was added to this group of talents. Together this awesome team wants to promote

literacy amongst young people. Illiteracy is not only an issue in Iceland since all over the world reading has decreased. The group therefore began with the idea of finding a way to increase the reading of all kinds of text in particular among the young. They photo­ graphed the Icelandic icons in all kinds of fun situations always holding books and presumably absorbed in reading them. These photos were turned into posters that are diverse and amusing. They are on display for viewing on the website: boka­­duthig. Among them is one picture of the soc­ cer players preparing for a national football match and one is so engrossed

in his reading that he is running late. The posters will be distributed in schools, swimming pools sports and recreational halls, and wherever young people gather. Youths are also encouraged to send in a picture of the­m­selves’ reading their favorite book. To bolster the fun even further, a prize will be giv­ en out to several people that rise to the challenge and send in a photo. Five individuals will get a signed book from Þor­ grímur Þráinsson and in January one participant will be selected randomly from the group and that lucky person will receive an airline ticket for two to a WOW air destination of their choosing.

Play it pink

Átakið er styrkt af

Lestur er í góðu lagi

life and travel in Iceland. Pink Iceland works for and with the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender) com­ munity and specializes in day tours, weddings, international and domestic events and festivals as well as orga­ nizing tailor-made luxury travel. See more about Pink events on page 14.

Íslenskir strákar lesa alltof lítið. Það er óásættanlegt. Bækur eru skemmtilegar, heillandi, fræðandi og það er til meira en nóg af þeim fyrir alla. Ekki dragast aftur úr í lestrinum. Takið ykkur á strákar – bókið ykkur!

Pink Iceland, this year’s recipient of the prestigious Innovation in Tourism Awards, was founded by lesbian couple Eva María & Birna in March 2011. In early 2012 they joined forces with their friend Hannes and the trio now owns and runs the company together with love. This is Iceland’s first and foremost gay owned and operated travel expert and your first stop for all matters relating to LGBT Photo: Leifur Wilberg Orrason.

“Pink Iceland, this year’s recip­ ient of the prestigious Innova­ tion in Tourism Awards, was founded by lesbian couple Eva María & Birna in March 2011.”

ATV ADVENTURES ICELAND BY THE BLUE LAGOON Free pick-up at the Blue Lagoon Pick-up at your hotel four times a day

Gaga loves Gnarr The Lennon Ono Grant for Peace was awarded to Lady Gaga (amongst others) at Harpa Concert Hall in Reykjavík on October 9th. Among the attendees was Reykjavík Mayor, Jón Gnarr, who dressed up as Obi Wan Kenobi to mark the day. He also gave a short but hearted speech that moved Gaga, who in her own speech thanked him and declared that he should be cloned. Lady Gaga´s grant will go to Elton­John´s AIDS foundation.

10 ı WOW is in the air Instagram: @atvadventures


Tangasund 1, 240 Grindavík

Iceland delivered


id you accidentally fall in love with Icelandic sweets? Or did you already know how delicious they are and this trip was really just an excuse to get more? Well your next trip can truly be about the wonders of Iceland or meeting your family, now that you know about This site has everything Ice­ landic, the candy, the music, the movies, the wool and even the brennivín. You can have it delivered to your front door and enjoy Iceland in the comfort of your home anywhere in the world. We hope you’ll still come back though.

Warm thoughts Every moment with your loved ones is invaluable. Don’t let it slip away. Enjoy it to the fullest. You only live once…

Uncommon knowledge


ome exaggerations are so persistent they become “common knowledge”, including the claim that the Inuit have over 100 different words for snow. This so-called fact can be traced to linguistic expert and anthropologist Franz Boas who in “The Handbook of North Amer­ ican Indians” (1911) talks about four different words. A well known article by Benjamin Whorf raised that number up to seven and from there it went onwards and upwards un­ til, in the 1970s the number was around 50. The New York Times then stated that there were 100 words in 1984. The claim for 100 words for snow is certainly not preposterous. The Inuit certainly have a lot of snow. Wisely, one could deduce that they had many words to differentiate between different kinds and forms of snow.

Their language is also very complicated so this claim is hard to refute. The fact is though, that the 100 words for snow theory is utter nonsense. Inuits actually have only two words for snow; “quanik” for snow in the air, and “aput” for snow on the ground. The Icelandic language has at least 40 words for snow. And why shouldn´t it? We’re al­­ways talking about the weather! The easi­ est and most common is “snjór” (snow) and “ís” (ice). From there it gets more complicat­ ed with words like: bylur, drífa, fönn, hagl, hríð, mugga, ís, kafald, krap, krapís, mjöll, púður, skafrenningur, slydda, slabb, föl etc. etc. WOW Challenge: Try saying all of these words over and over as fast as you can. For extra points: Do it while standing barefoot in a snowstorm.

What a debut!


e can certainly recommend the debut album of 20 years old singer-songwriter Ásgeir Trausti that is making waves these days. The album, titled Dýrð í dauðaþögn (roughly translated: Glory in total silence), is the best start for

a debut artist in Iceland ever and less than three months after the release of the album it has already reached platin­ um sales. With his splendid vocals and melodic tunes Ásgeir Trausti, who sings in Icelandic, also seems to be melting any language barr­ ier existing with a growing

interest in his music from abroad. The music can best be described as a fascinating mix of folk and electronica where Ásgeir Trausti’s high and beautiful voice and vocal harmony play a key part. We hope Ásgeir Trausti will keep on being glorious but never silent.

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This and that The local time The collaboration of a watchmaker, collector and designer has produced Iceland’s, JS Watch Company Reykjavik, one of the world’s smallest manufacturers of stylish and except­ional time­ pieces that promise to put the country on the map for some­ thing other than hot springs, Bjork and disruptive volcanoes. At JS Watch Company Reykjavik all the watches are design­ ed and assembled by hand in Iceland. Only highest quality movements and materials are used in production and every single detail has been given the time needed for perfection. The quantity of watches produced is limited, giving them an exclusive and truly personal feel. Among fans of the JS Watch Company are Viggo Mortensen, Quentin Tarantino, Yoko Ono and his holiness 14th Dalai Lama to name a few. In fact, the brand’s reputation for durability and accuracy is so high that the company is now the official supplier of watches for the Icelandic Coast Guard. The JS Watch company Watch factory and exclusive retail shop is located at Laugavegur 62, in Reykjavik’s trendy “101” area. It provides customers with the unique opportunity of meeting the watchmakers who assemble and test their time­ piece. Quality control is administrated by Master Watchmaker Gilbert O. Gudjonsson, one of Iceland’s best known watch­ maker who has more than 40 years of experience.

Uncommon knowledge


ome exaggerations are so persistent they become “common knowledge”, including the claim that chameleons will always adapt their colors to their environment to become invisible. This is a big misunderstanding. It is true that chameleons in certain areas have adapted their colors to their environments to be better concealed. But if you take a chameleon from the desert and put it in the rainforest it will not turn green in an instant. As far as we know most chameleons can change their color. They have a myriad of specialized cells called chromatophor­ es, which contain pigments in their cytoplasm, in three layers below their transparent outer skin. When a chameleon chang­ es its color it might be because of the temperature but it is most likely making some kind of a social signal, reacting to a stressful situation. A color change signals a certain physiolog­ ical condition and intentions to other chameleons. For exam­ ple chameleons tend to show darker colors when angered or when attempting to scare or intimidate others. Color also has a big part in the mating of chameleons. But no, if you put a purple backdrop behind a chameleon it will not suddenly turn purple.

March on

12 ı WOW is in the air

You are warmly welcome to DesignMarch, Reykjavík, 14.–17.03.2013. Held every year in March in Reykjavik, Iceland, DesignMarch is Iceland’s most important design event. For four days, Reykjavik plays host to hundreds of openings, exhibitions, workshops and events, spreading across the city from the harbour to the lava fields surrounding it. Starting with a day of international Design Talks, the festival showcases the best local creative scene, ranging from archi­ tecture to fashion, fonts, furniture and food design. For more information visit www.

Organic and raw

Party with the locals Why visit Iceland if you’re not plann­ ing on going “all in”? Reykjavík Rocks is without a doubt one of the most fun enterprises in Iceland. Their staff specializes in showing travelers a good time while taking in the Reykja­ vík night life, giving them a chance to party with the locals and getting a VIP service. Reykjavík Rocks provides an a-z service, all from arranging amazing trips into the Icelandic nature, plann­ ing helicopter trips around Iceland, guiding you into the most mainstream Icelandic nightclubs or simply taking you shopping and introducing you to Iceland´s unique fashion design. This is the surely the best way to get the most out of your stay in Iceland. For more information visit

Organic Lífstíll is a family owned company specializing in delicious raw deserts along with other organic goodies. Their products are certified organic and contain good proteins, complex carbohydrates, chlorella, spirulina and lots and lots of vitamins and nutrients. The recipes were developed and tested by the family who owns the company and we can certainly recommend their cakes. Look around when you visit the supermarket. You might be lucky enough to find these raw delights.

Perving it up The Food Pervert is a fun collabor­ation blog between two self pro­claimed Icelandic Food Perverts that have a deep passion for all things edible and its presenta­ tion which they try to reflect on their site. Their blog, written in English, focuses mainly on restaurant crit­iques in Iceland and recipes that they make themselves either from ground up or by tweaking other well known recipes. The Food Perverts do not use profess­ional camera equipment but instead rely on mobile photo­graphy and of course you can also follow them on instagram (@ thefoodperv) and facebook (search for “foodperv”). The blog can be found at

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going on?

Corelli, with the highlight being a premier of a violin concert from the 18th century, now attributed to “Anonymous” but possibly by Vivaldi.

Iceland is happening – so happening, actually that we wouldn´t even have room for every event if we used the whole magazine to cover it. Here are the highlights for the next couple of months. And don´t forget the numerous pubs that offer live music every weekend, the art galleries that always have a show going, the movie theaters (we use subtitles not Icelandic voice-overs) and the restaurants that offer great food day and night.

For something unique Looking for some good times?

The best package deal you’ll ever get

Try the “Reykjavík Appy Hour” app. This app informs you of every happy hour at Reykjavík’s bars. A little bird told us that the creators were enthusiastic barflies and visited each place regularly to see if an “Appy Hour” was really … Appening. The app is free for Android and iPhone users.

See the some of the best Iceland­ ic bands and artists at the Hátt í Höllinni (literally: Loud at the Palace) concert held on the 19th of December at Laugardagshöll. This is a true festival of music, featuring reggae band Hjálmar, newly debuted singer and song­ writer Ásgeir Trausti (his album is the best selling album of all time on / www.icelan­, Valdimar, Moses Hightower and Kiryama Family all of whom have had great success. If you are only going to one concert how about this one where you can see them all.

Eivør Pálsdóttir is from the Faroe Islands. When she began singing and performing here Icelanders fell in love with her; her songs, her style and her personal interpretations through music. Find out why - on the 6th of February at Salurinn, Kópavogur or on the 7th in Hof, Akureyri.

Low key but still spectacular Singer Paul Oscar and pianist, singer and songwriter Jón Ólafsson, really get the feel of their audience while they chit chat at the grand piano. These two have an impeccable taste for music and are now back, due to popular demand. Catch them on the 17th or 24th of January at Salurinn, Kópavogur.

If life was a musical

He´s probably sold out but... Mika is playing in Harpa Concert Hall on the 18th of December. Known for his amazing stage performance this artist is truly an act worth watching. See if there are any tickets left at www.midi. is and

Do the salsa Every Thursday night at 20:00 Thorvaldsen bar in downtown Reykjavík gets a little bit hotter when teachers and salsa enthu­ siasts from Salsa Iceland visit for an evening of steamy dancing. You don´t have to know anything about salsa, just go there and let them show you how it’s done. A dancing partner is also optional. They have seasoned dancers (taxis) in stock just waiting to move you around the floor. The best part … it’s free!

14 ı WOW is in the air

Are you more into classic? Why not enjoy the festive tunes of the Reykjavík Chamber Orchestra at Harpa on the 19th of December? Their Christmas concert will feature the lovely music of Bach, Marcello and

Have you ever wondered what that would be like? Well you could get a glimpse at this lively performance February 1st at Salurinn, Kópavogur or February 15th in Hof, Akureyri. Four talented performers take on a number of tunes by the old musical maestros, Gershwin, Sondheim, Andrew Lloyd Web­ ber, Cole Porter and Rodgers & Hammerstein to name a few.

Photo: Leifur Wilberg Orrason.

Pink December and Rainbow Reykjavík Festivals Pink Iceland organizes and op­ erates two LGBT festivals during the winter. “Pink December is a concept we’re trying out for the first time this year,” Eva María, one of the owners of Pink Ice­ land, explains. “We are organ­ izing a series of events, big and small, for every single day in December, giving people the freedom to come whenever suits them and plug into whatever is

If you love Sónar Reykjavík we have good news – WOW air is flying to Barce­lona in June, just in time for Sónar Barcelona.

going on that day. These include guided tours, museum and gallery visits, a dip in Reykjavik’s geothermal pools, shopping, live music, fantastic food, meeting locals, partying, visiting natural wonders and hunting for the Northern Lights. The other festival is Rainbow Reykjavík in early February. The program offers a great mixture of nature, activities, culture, cuisine, music and nightlife. The cherry on top of this year’s festi­ val will be the amazing Rainbow Reykjavik Concert planned for Friday, February 1st. It’s the night before the Eurovision finals in Iceland and Pink Iceland has already booked two of Iceland’s hottest Eurovision stars, Paul ­Oscar and Hera Björk to head­ line the concert. For more information visit

Still looking for the classics? Salurinn Concert Hall in Kópa­ vogur will be the host to a Men­ delssohn Festival from February 8 until February 10. During these concerts, musicians will play all of Mendelssohn’s work in their correct time order. Did you know Mendelssohn wrote his first piece when he was 11 years old?

How about something dark and heavy? Have you ever heard the songs of the Vikings? Well we kind of haven’t either, seeing as those days are long gone by. How­ ever we have heard the melodic ­Viking or Old Norse inspired tunes of metal band Skálmöld as have most everyone in Iceland. Their music truly transcends generations and genders. If you travel to North Iceland you could catch their show on February 2 in Hof, Akureyri or in Reykjavík on the 9th. Beware this will not be your average, sweaty and chaotic heavy metal concert. Guests will be seated in comfortable seats where they can truly enjoy the magic of Skálmöld. Good luck getting tickets. Try or menn­

Leaving Iceland? Come back in February for Sónar Reykjavik

Let’s laugh Let´s talk Iceland is a histori­ cal comedy show performed every night at 20:00 in English at Víkingakráin (The Viking’s Hall) in Hafnarstræti, Reykjavík. This show tells you all you need to know about the history of Iceland and Icelanders from its settlement until the present day. You will meet Vikings from the past, heroes of the nation and everyday people. Go on an unforgettable journey with them through the history of Iceland and discuss the strange people living there, namely the Icelanders. You will participate in historical events, reenacted by The Vikings. And if something’s not clear, just interrupt and ask them. For more information visit www., email to letstalk@lets­ or call 00354 777 5500.


nd if you already live here - Stay! Són­­ar is the Inter­­ nati­onal Festival of Advanced Music and New Media Art, created in 1994 and held in Barcelona for three days every June. The festival has regu­larly travelled beyond Spain’s front­ iers since 2002, with events in various places around the world, adapting the Sonar philosophy to unique venues and environments, highlighting the most interesting homegrown talent and the scene in the city

where it takes place. In previous years, it has travelled to London, Frankfurt, Seoul and Buenos Aires, among many other destinations around the world. Sónar Reykjavik is going to portray how a prestige brand can redefine itself in smaller locations and venues. The new concert house, Harpa, and the joy of music will be in stark contrast to the Icelandic winter and the arctic darkness outside. Sónar Reykjavik is also an experiment in how music can reach

those who truly seek it by those performing it and showing that it´s not always the largest stage and the biggest crowd that matters but it’s also about the unique relationships that form and the memories for all involved. Sónar Reykjavik takes place on four stages with the total capacity of 3500 guests. Beside the two main stages a part of the concert halls underground parking will be chang­ ed in to a nightclub were local and inter­­national DJ´s will perform during the festival. A scenic part of the concert house will also be changed into a stage. The line-up will include around 15 international acts, including DJ´s, and some 30 Icelandic bands and DJ´s. To drop but a few names: James Blake, Squarepusher, Mode­ selektor, GusGus, Retro Stefson and Alvo Noto & Ryuichi Sakamoto. For more information visit www.

Check out available tickets and other events online: – They have tickets to every major event in Iceland, including movie theaters. – Harpa Music and Conference Hall’s official site. – Hof Culture and Conference Hall in Akureyri - official site. – See what’s on in Reykjavík.

Explore the dancing Northern lights all around Iceland where the winter nights are magical with FOSSHOTEL

all around Iceland

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The 13 julelads

Icelandic Christmas


Every country has its own Christmas traditions and Iceland is no different, but of course it is different! Wanting to do better than everybody else Icelanders have 13 days of Christmas instead of the usual 12, or maybe 26 would be more accurate since it is 13 days before and after Christmas Eve, starting with the arrival of Stekkjastaur the first “Santa Claus”, or more accurately Yule Lad, on the eve of December 11th. By Guðrún Vaka Helgadóttir Photos: Eyjólfur Már Thoroddsen and Rakel Ósk Sigurðardóttir.

The 13 Icelandic Yule Lads are all sons of a troll couplee called Grýla and Leppa­­lúði who are known for their taste for naughty children. For many years these Yule Lads were not wel­­ come guests in the Icelandic household, they would steal food and candles, make noise and gener­ally be a nuisance for every­body. Over the years they have changed a lot and are rumored to have taken a liking to the red and white costume of their colleagues over­­­seas as well as their generosity. One by one the Yule Lads come to town and put little toys, cloth­es and other trinkets in the shoes of well behaved children but the naughty ones can ex­­pect a potato. The last Yule Lad arriv­­es on the eve of the 23rd of December and then the Yule Lads start lea­­v­­ing as they came, one by one, until the 6th of Jan­­uary, gener­­­ally called “The thirteenth”.

The fragrance of Christmas Some say every day before Christ­­mas has its own aroma. Mostly they mean cookies, apples, or­­ang­es, mandarins, cloves and cinna­­mon but there are ot­hers, for exam­ple the in­­fam­­ous smell of rotten rays tra­­diti­onally served on the 23rd of Decem­ber. Those who serve this rotten delicacy at their home often boil a full cauldron of Hangi­kjöt (smoked lamb) later that day to get rid of the smell of ray. Even if they don´t serve rays most people boil hangikjöt at some time or another during the holiday season, we have even heard of vege­­tarians boiling the meat just to get the right aroma for their home and that Christmas spirit that follows.

Entertainment Before Christmas there is no short­­age of Christ­ mas con­­­certs, bazaars, seasonal plays and other events designed to bring pe­­ople the spirit of Christmas and nourish the soul. The Holidays are a season of family gatherings in Iceland. Some families have rigorous traditions regard­ ing their get-togethers but others keep it more casual. On Christmas Eve day fa­m­­ilies stay home for the most part, tidy up the house, deco­­rate their tree and cook their lavish Christ­­­mas meals, most comm­only Hangi­­­­­kjöt, smoked rack of pork, ptar­­mi­g­­ans, whole goose or fresh lamb. After the meal comes the Christmas pudd­­­­­ing which usu­­­ally is made from rice and milk and contains one almond, gener­ally referred to as “The Al­­mond”. Whoever gets the almond wins one extra present. After the meal the family sits together to open pre­­­­sents. Christmas day is also reserved for the family and more often than not they come together for an afternoon fa­­mily party. These parti­­­es are not ex­­­­clusively held on Christ­­mas day but can also occur in the following days.

New Year´s Eve

The Christmas Exhibition at Arbaer Museum has been very popular in recent years, and become an established feature of the festive season in Reykjavík.

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As parties go there is probably no bigger party than New Year´s Eve in Iceland. Icelanders go all out in food, drinks and fireworks. Some keep their parties in the family but others in­­vite their friends for a night of partying and

watching fireworks. After dinner many to go to a New Year´s Eve bonfire (most start around 8:00-8:30 PM) where people meet, greet, sing and shoot up a few fireworks. Bonfires are held in every town in Iceland and in Reykjavík there are several bonfires. In most houses the TV will play a great roll all through the day albeit mostly in the back­ ground. Poli­­­­tic­ia­ns get to shine during the daytime on var­­ious talk shows and around dinn­er there are news chron­­­icles from the year. This all ends with the annual New Year´s Eve ridicule (Ára­­mótaskaup), an hour long come­­dy program ridiculing the year’s highlights. You can hear when the show ends (at about 11:30 PM) because at that time every­­­­­body rushes into their warm cloth­­es, run outside and start blasting fire­works as a fare­­­well gesture to the old year. This home­­­­­made show of explo­ s­ions goes on for almost an hour, reaching its highpoint at midnight. It is a spect­acle talked about through­­out the World and those who live it never forget it.

Fireworks are an essential part of the Icelandic New Year’s Eve. In estimation over 600 tons of fireworks are blown up at the end of the year. Perlan (The Pearl), and the area around it, is an ideal spot to witness this spectacle and the restaurant at the top of the dome is open on New Year’s Eve.

In November and December Holiday markets pop up like mushrooms offering ornaments, crafts, designs and even home­ made delicacys.

The Thirteenth

An Advent wreath is a part of the Icelandic Christmas tradition. Most make their own late in November and it is usually the most prided of ornaments in the home. One candle is lit on every Sunday until Christmas.

“On Christmas Eve day fa­milies ­­ stay home for the most part, tidy up the house, deco­­rate their tree and cook their lavish Christ­­­mas meals, most comm­only hangi­­­­­kjöt, smoked rack of pork, ptar­­mi­g­­ans, whole goose or fresh lamb.”

At Arbaer Museum visitors can try their hand at traditional crafts, sing Yuletide songs, taste traditional holiday dishes and take a ride in a horse-drawn carriage.

A dressed up Yule Lad entertains the people of Kópavogur at the lighting of the Christmas tree.

Having just dealt with the aftermath of Christ­­ mas and New Year´s Icelanders tend to be rather calm during the first days of January. On the 6th they say goodbye to Christmas as the last Yule Lad leaves town. Many use this day to take down the Christmas decorations and serve the last of the cookies and candy. Various sports clubs throw a Thirteenth party with bonfire and a firework show during the evening. It is common to see all kinds of elves, trolls and Yule Lads entertaining children and grownups at these parties but unlike the New Year´s bonfires there is usually an ad­­missions fee, the party being a great part of the teams fund raising.

“Some say every day before Christmas has its own aroma. Mostly they mean cookies, apples, or­­ang­es, mandarins, cloves and cinna­­mon but there are ot­hers, for exam­ple the in­­fam­­ous smell of rotten rays tra­­ diti­onally served on the 23rd of Decem­ber. Issue 1

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The Danish Pub

When in Iceland, go Danish! You know that Iceland used to be a Danish colony, right? Even though independ­ence from the Danish Crown was necessary, Icelanders still celebrate every­thing Danish, so don´t expect to meet a big Danish crowd at The Danish Pub, they are all Icelanders just act­ing like they’re Danish. Really! This bar has made a name for itself in the Reykjavik social scene and is known locally as Den Danske Kro (we all just want a reason to speak Danish in public). This popular downtown venue serves a remarkable selection of beers including the famous Danish white beers, the darker more malt brews and of course the traditional and almost obligatory Tuborg and Carlsberg. If you come during the Christmas season you can taste some of the renowned Christmas brews, very popular in demand. Just ask for Julebryg (“you-le-bree”).

Do as the Danes do The owners of the Danish Pub strive to create the true Danish atmos­phere known among the Danes (and Danish-prone Icelanders) as “hyggelich”. If you truly are Danish this can be your “home away from home”. And in this spirit, check out the “house” within the pub – an off-the­-wall design in its most literal sense! Get carefree or “ligeglad” (lee-glaath), shoot some darts, try the custom­ary Gammel Dansk bitters or catch some live football. Watch the world go by on the outside terrace and have a taste of the tra­ ditional smørre­brød (fantastic open sandwiches). You can pre-order these delicious snacks for larger groups.

Does this sound too tranquil? The Danish Pub is nothing if not a place to party. The atmosphere is easy going and you can choose from a variety of shots and even

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cocktails if you’re not in the beer-mood (Does that ever happen?). Reminder: If you thought you were in for a quiet night guess again, The Danish Pub features live music every night with special appear­ ances and unadvertised happenings on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Put your musical knowledge to the test at the Wednesday night pop-quiz; the prizes will surprise you.

Best local pub in Reykjavík Wherever you‘re from you’ll want to have a great time while visiting Reykjavík. The people of Reykjavík do anyway, so they flock to The Danish Pub for a beer “en øl” during the Happy Hour every day from 16-19. The place is crowded and you’re guaranteed to meet some fun, “lee glaath” people.

WOW Challenge: Imagine there’s a potato in your throat and receive every drink with the words: “Tag skaadoo haw”. They’ll all think you´re from Copenhagen. Honest! Den Danske Kro Ingólfsstræti 3 I 101 Reykjavík I Tel: +354 552 0070 I Opening hours: 14:00 – 01:00 Sun-Thurs 14:00 – 05:00 Fri-Sat


The disappearing café

Tíu dropar / Le Chateaux Des Dix Chuttes Tíu dropar (Ten Drops) is a café located in the cellar of Lauga­ veg­ur 27. This is one of the oldest cafés in Iceland and for the last 30 years to this very day they serve freshly baked pancakes and waffles á la the grandmothers of Iceland, with lots of whipped cream and Icelandic jam.

Ten Drops is also known for its homemade cakes, baked from scratch according to old recipes, and of course, their hot cocoa, known by many of their guests as ‘The Only Real Hot Cocoa on Earth’. If you’re not in the mood for old fashioned Icelandic goodies you can choose from an assortment of light dishes, tea, wines and beer. We recommend the French meat soup, a popular dish and another old favorite

Where did the café go? Don´t be surprised if you can´t find the café after 18:00. Something happens around that time that trans­­forms this little cellar into a French wine room known as Le Chateaux Des Dix Chuttes or the Castle of the Ten Drops. This is a lovely place to sit and enjoy good wines along with cheese, ham or other light dishes for as little as 500 ISK a plate, and don´t worry, the coffee, cocoa and pancakes are still there! Lovely French music sets the mood and the ambiance is perfect for a deep conversation. Guests wanting to break out in song can have their turn after 22:00 on the weekends, as long as they can find someone to play the antique piano given to the café’s owner, David Bensow, by a regular.

Choose your wine Guests can have their say on the wine list of Le Cha­ te­aux Des Dix Chuttes and David will make special orders to fulfill their wishes. In fact, he welcomes any suggestions making the wine list one of the more, well-endowed in Reykjavík. He´s especially interested in serving good Port to his clientele.

Intimate climate The little wine room and café seat only 40 guests and the mood is set in the early evening. It’s safe to say this is just the kind of place that was missing from the brimming Icelandic bar and café scene - a perfect setting for a small group of friends to reminisce over the good old days or for a first date. Be sure to taste David´s “wine of the week” or let his fair beer prices amaze you. Check out the ten drops twitt­er feed and find both café and wine room on Facebook. Tíu dropar / Le Chateaux Des Dix Chuttes Laugavegur 27 I 101 Reykjavík I Tel: 00 354 551 9380

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Let´s go to the …

Lebowski Bar The Reykjavik venue that rocks! From the entrepreneurs that brought you Café Oliver and Vega­ mot, comes Lebowski Bar. You can take a quick guess where the name and inspiration comes from and even if you didn´t like the infamous 1998 movie we are cert­ain you will love this bar. Just walking in to this retro American bar puts a smile on your face and the mood is very 1960’s. You can hang out at the old fashioned porch and imagine you are in a real action movie. They don´t make bars like these anymore … oh wait they do, this one! Four big screens adorn the walls, so it’s also a great place to hang out when there are big events and sporting high­lights to be seen. And there’s also an “outside” area deco­­rated in a zappy Miami-sunshine yellow that will cheer even the dullest of days.

get those hips swaying. If that´s not enough there’s a DJ on every night of the week so you won´t feel the pressure of select­ ing all the music by yourself. The menus are the biggest in Iceland … no literally! Their phy­­sical dimensions are huge! Doesn´t everyone say that size really does matter? Try their amazing burgers, there’s cheese, bacon, a béarn­aise sauce option and succulent beef tenderloin. If that’s not enough, choose from one of the 12 kinds of milkshakes to go with it.

Dine and jive

“Careful man, there’s a beverage here!” 

Lebowski Bar really captures the diner style with cosy booths and a fabulous jukebox containing over 1,600 songs guaranteed to

Jeffrey ‘the Dude’ Lebowski, the protagonist of the Coen brother’s comedy, is renowned for his penchant for ‘White Russians’ –

vodka based cocktails featuring coffee liqueurs and cream or milk. The Lebowski Bar has taken this now-iconic drink to a new level, offering an astound­ ing 18 varieties of White Russian, along with an extensive bar list.

you count the bars at actual bowling alleys that certainly don’t have the cool vibe of Le­bowski Bar. DJs and a bass player add to the music mix at weekends and there’s room to dance. Check it out dudes, you’re guaranteed a good time.

Bowling at the bar The real icing on the Lebowski cake, however, is the bar’s genu­­ ine bowling lane – it’s a classic. How many bars have a bowling lane? In Iceland, not many, unless

WOW Challenge: Dress up as a real rockabilly chick or dude before you go to the Le­bowski Bar. You’ll fit right in.

The Lebowski Bar Laugavegur 20a I +354 552 2300 I FIND US ON FACEBOOK and Twitter I Twitter: @LebowskiBar Instagram: #LebowskiBar I Open 11:00 – 01:00 Sun-Thurs and 11:00 – 04:00 Fri/Sat

Lebowski Bar is my favorite place to hang out at. I love grabbing a good beer, a burger & topping it with a delicious milkshake. Lebowski Bar plays oldies music which makes the vibe like none other in Reykjavik. They also have happy hour from 4-7pm and who doesn’t love that! Bottom line, Lebowski Bar is a great mainstream bar where you can meet fellow travelers and have a drink with locals. Practice the word ‘SKÁL’ (Cheers) ~ Inga,@TinyIceland (

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Saint Clair has become one of New Zealand’s leading winemaker, known for its exemplary whites and its fruitforward reds, which have won a constant stream of awards and trophies.



Let your taste buds dance Open at the end of 2011 and already a hot favorite on the Reykjavik restaurant scene, SushiSamba offers a deliciously unique take on Icelandic fish and other home-grown ingredients. Fusing Iceland’s freshest flavors with Japanese, Peruvian and Brazilian influences, the restaurant’s top sushi masters have created a fantastic range of colorful dishes that taste as exciting as they look.

Fresh fish fusion A great selection of tempting smaller courses includes tuna ceviche with coconut sorbet and lobster tempura. If you fancy some meat, there are delicious Icelandic lamb ribs and beef rib-eye usually on the menu, along with an amazing steak platter for two. The ‘Juicy-Sushi’ maki rolls range from the shrimp based Volcano roll to Spicy Lobster and the Foie Gras – a stunning concoction of blue-fin tuna, foie gras and salmon caviar, perfect posh nosh! For surf ‘n’ turf lovers there is an exciting dish of beef tenderloin with lobster tempura, avocado, smoked teriyaki and tempura flakes. The South American influence also extends to the desserts, which include the exotic Red Velvet Cupcake – a magical blend of vanilla ice cream, passion fruit, chilli and white chocolate. If you can’t decide what to go for, the Icelandic feast is a perfect solution – six courses form an incredible tasting experience, including the national aperitif ‘Brennivin’ and an Icelandic Skyr flan for dessert. In between, enjoy fishy delights such as grilled spotted cat fish with pea purée, bacon and mojito foam; or minke whale tataki with fig jam. Also included is a dish of lamb ribs, complete with chilli crumble, “Skyr” mint sauce and celeriac fries.

Drink in the atmosphere Attentive staff, fabulous chilli mojitos and a gorgeously eclectic interior are the icing on the cake at SushiSamba. Hand-carved Brazilian curios and some 50 pretty Japanese birdcages complement the contemporary lines and gentle feel of the place. One of Iceland’s hottest style gurus and the artistic brain behind many of the city’s top restaurants, Leifur Welding is the man responsible for the design, and some say it’s his best work yet.

Sushi Samba Þingholtsstræti 5, 101 Reykjavik I +354 568 6600 I I Kitchen open: 17:00-23:00 Sun-Thurs (Midnight on Fri/Sat)

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At Emiliana we use organic and biodynamic agriculture to reflect our passion for making the highest quality wines and our deepest respect for nature and the environment.

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The invisible landmark

Imagine Peace The Peace Tower was inaugurated on October 9, 2007. It is a symbol of Yoko Ono and John Lennon’s struggle in the name of peace, a struggle that began in the 1960s. The concept for the column of light came to Yoko Ono in 1967. “Imagine Peace” is engraved on the platform in 24 languages. By Kristín Ýr Gunnarsdóttir Photos: Bragi Þór Jósefsson and Reykjavíkurstofa


oko came up with the idea to build a house or a tower made out of light almost 50 years ago. The idea was first mentioned in her book Grapefruit, a book that lists her so-called event scores for which she is now famous. She tells a story from the time she and Lennon were getting to know each other, during which he became fascinated by her ‘concept work’. He asked if she could possibly build a tower of light in his garden,” Svanhildur Konráðsdóttir, the division head of the ­Department of Culture and Tourism, told the reporter. Yoko Ono’s relationship with Iceland began at an exhibition of her work held at the Kjarvalsstaðir Museum at the Reykjavík Art Festival, during which her friendship with Gunnar Kvaran, the previous Kjarvalsstaði Muse­ um’s head formed. “Gunnar was the one who suggest­ ed the idea that Yoko would produce a piece for Ice­land. It was in 2005, after Gunnar and I had gotten to know each other properly that he mentioned the idea to me and the wheels started turning. Then Yoko came to the country and met with Stefán Jón Hafsteinn, who at the time was the departmental head of the Board for Culture and Tourism. Strangely enough, the meeting was set the day before their mutual birthday on Febru­ ary 18,” says Svanhildur. What is the Imagine Peace Tower? A memorial piece by Yoko Ono constructed on the island of Viðey in the bay of Kollafjörður to honour the memory of her late husband, John Lennon. Start: October 9, annually on Lennon’s birthday. End: December 8, on the anniversary of Lennon’s death. He died in 1980. Not to be forgotten: The tower is lit up for a whole week during winter solstice and spring equinox, as well as on New Years Eve and specific holidays agreed upon between the artist and the city of Reykjavík.

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“I hope the Imagine Peace Tower will give light to the strong wishes of world peace from all corners of the planet and give encouragement, inspiration and a sense of solidarity in a world now filled with fear and confusion” – Yoko Ono Evening excursions are available to the island of Viðey, and dedicated to the Imagine Peace Tower and the couple’s long struggle for peace. Time between ­departure and return is roughly 90 to 120 minutes. Guided tours are available with a tour guide who relays information about history, nature and the arts on the island. Visitors are welcome to place a wish on Yoko Ono’s Wish Tree by the Church of Viðey (Viðeyjarkirkja) at the end of the excursion.

“Stefán Jón was a key figure in raising support for the project; the Orkuveitan energy company contributed the funds, and Yoko Ono paid the largest chunk out of her own pocket to fund the design aspect as well as the installation. Yoko and I have become good friends, and I have been in charge of the project since the very beginn­ing in cooperation with the Reykjavík Art Museum, the caretakers at the island of Viðey and Visit Reykjavík,” says Svanhildur. The event has developed and changed in the last six years, or since the first Peace Award ceremony. “Yoko is very creative and open to the most extraordinary things. It’s been a blast working with her and her team. We have become co-producers in a documentary directed and produced by Ari Alexander Ergis Magnússon, about the creation and development of the Peace Tower project.­ The documentary will be screened in various film festi­ vals and hopefully makes it to television around the world. The project has taken on unexpected façades and it’s become impossible for me to predict where it’ll ever end,” Svanhildur concluded. The Imagine Peace Tower consists of different beams that merge into an impressive column of light erupting from a “wishing fountain” four metres in diameter and two metres high. The surface of the fountain is covered in white glass, developed specifically in Japan with the latest chemical technology. The fountain is constructed on a platform that is seventeen metres in diameter. Yoko asked that the platform would be covered with three types of Icelandic rock, that is, rhyolite, dolerite and gray basalt. The surface is split into six “tunnels”. At the outer end of each tunnel is a searchlight from which the light makes its way to the wishing fountain inside where the light is reflected in mirrors receding to 45° and operat­ ing as prisms used to project the light into the air. The mirrors are produced out of a particular material that guarantees 99% refractivity. The design is a symbolic ­interpretation of Yoko Ono’s “Light House”, an event score she made in 1965.

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Enjoy Yourself in Smáralind

The Largest Shopping Centre in Iceland Smáralind offers surprisingly low prices on world renowned labels like Zara, Benetton, Debenhams, Hugo Boss, Oasis, Karen Millen, Levi‘s, Vero Moda, Topshop and Apple. Great selection of Icelandic design such as outdoor clothing from 66° North, Cintamani, ZO-ON Iceland as well as jewelry, crafts and more. Smáralind is also home to a multi-screen cinema and a good variety of cafés and restaurants.

the Winner of s IAAPA prestigiou Awards Brass Ring ily as Top Fam ent Entertainm Center 2012

Skemmtigarðurinn at Smáralind is the only indoor amusement park in Iceland. Not to be missed. Opening hours: Weekdays: 11-19 Thu: 11-21 Sat: 11-18 Sun: 13-18

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Photo: Ragnar Th. Sigur簸sson

Simmering Southeast

A feast for all the senses

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Photo: Árni Tryggvason.

Photo: Ragnar Th. Sigurðsson

Photo: Einar Rúnar Sigurðsson.

Photo: Einar Rúnar Sigurðsson.

In the Vatnajökull Region you find some of the most popular tourist destinations in Iceland such as Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon, Skafta­ fell, Vatnajökull (Europe´s largest glacier), Vatnajökull Nati­onal Park, and many more attractions. You also find dozens of companies that offer all sorts of activities year round, diverse accommodation and great restaurants with local food. Photographers’ paradise The Vatnajökull Region covers the area of Southeast Iceland. This area is one of the most beautiful and diverse of all in Iceland. It is situated close to and partly within Vatnajökull National Park making nature our next door neighbor. One can find creeping glaciers, glac­ier lagoons, Iceland’s highest mountain and deepest lake. For hiking you can go from the black coastline to colorful mountains and deep valleys. If lucky, one might see seals on the coast and herds of reindeers are a common sight during winter. There are strong contrasts in the Vatnajökull Region from the white glaciers to the black sands that stretch along the coastline and in the spectacular nature throughout the region making it a true paradise for photographers. The combination of diverse nature and of the varied sectors of tourism service has made the Vatnajökull Region one of Iceland’s most visited tourism areas in rural Iceland.

Taste the Nature There are several restaurants in the area and most of them offer local food made in the Vatna­ jökull Region by local people. Examples of local food are arctic charr, smoked macker­el, duck meat, beef, cured lamb, ice cream, vegetables and of course the lobster which Höfn is famous for as the lobster capital of Iceland. And be sure to ask for the local beer Vatnajökull, which is made with icebergs from Jökulsárlón and arctic thyme.

Check out attractions and tours such as: Boat rides at Jökulsárlón Glacier walks at Vatnajökull Snowmobile tours at Vatnajökull Jeep tours at Vatnajökull ATV tours at Hoffell Northern Lights tours Reindeer excursions Thorbergssetur Cultural Museum Geothermal baths at Hoffell Lobster meal at local restaurants Farm zoo at Hólmur Local food and handicraft For more information:

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Capturing the Northern Lights

Nature’s big show Olgeir Andresson has gathered attention worldwide for his photographs of the stunning nature of Iceland, especially the Northern Lights. Among his accomplishments is being named ‘Photograph­er of the Year’ in 2008 by Danish Zoom Maga­zine and having one of his photographs displayed on a big screen billboard in Times Square, New York City. By Dísa Bjarnadóttir


hen asked how long he’s been taking pict­­­ ures he ex­­plained it started when he was very young. “When I was a child I traveled around the country in the summertime with my grand­­par­ents. My grand­ mother was very interested in taking pictures. She taught me most of what I first learned about photo­ graphy. From the age of 14 I started getting requests from family members when­ ever there was a family

function be­­­cause I took the best pictures.” It wasn’t long until Olgeir began capturing nature’s beauty on film. “People in my town probably thought I was strange when I walked alone, with my camera to the beach to take pictures of waves and seaweed. It wasn’t common in those days to do those kinds of photos.” As for the Northern Lights he still remembers vividly when they first captured his attention: “I grew up in a small village and I was

“Benjamin Franklin theorized that the “myst­­ery of the Northern Lights” was caus­­ ed by a concentra­tion of electrical charges in the Polar Regions intensified by the snow and other moisture.” This photo, taken near Reykjanesviti, was displayed on a big screen billboard in Times Square.

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playing outside in the dark with my friends. We lay on our backs in the snow mak­­ing snow angels, so nat­­ urally we were looking up at the sky. That’s my first memory of the Northern Lights.” Around 1984 Olgeir started trying to capture the Nort­­hern Lights on film which wasn’t always easy. “It took time to learn and it was much more difficult before digital cam­ eras. Many of the first ones came out completely dark. The digital cameras have completely changed the potential to get good photos, espec­ially as the technology and the equipment keeps getting better. But what’s most im­­portant is having a good lens.” When asked about the best times and places to see the Northern Lights he says that because of the high intensity of solar activity ex­­pected in 2013 and 2014, these should be good years. The best time is around midnight at places such as Krýsuvík, Borgarnes, Þingvellir and Mosfellsheiði, places that are not far from Reykjavík but away from the bright city lights. Olgeir has been known to give seminars and even guided tours to visitors and travelers but his best work is usually when the rest of us have gone to bed and he’s outside in the dark with his camera.

Olgeir gave us permission to publish a small sample of his collection. For more stunning photos visit:

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Researchers have discov­ ered that auroral activity is cyclic, peaking roughly every 11 years. The next peak period is 2013. The Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights) and the Aurora Australis (South­ ern Lights) occur close to the north and south poles when highly charged electrons from the solar wind interact with ele­ ments from the earth’s atmosphere.



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Discover all the magical places not to be missed when in Iceland: Beautiful nature, multicolored mountains, fertile farmlands, stunning views, plummeting waterfalls, natural wonders and geological phenomena.

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Attacking the taste buds

What’s that smell?

Thorri food Thorri food is a traditional Icelandic food served during Thorri, the fourth month of winter according to the old, Icelandic calendar. Thorri, possi­bly a nickname for the old pagan god Thor, starts in the thirteenth week of winter, the 18th-24th of January, and always on a Friday. The first day of Thorri is called Husband´s Day and Thorri ends in the eighteenth week of winter on a Saturday called Thorri´s Slave. Originally, Thorri food was served in individual farms on the first day of Thorri as an ancient midwinter festival.

By: Guðrún Vaka Helgadóttir Photos. Kristinn Magnússon and Birtíngur photocollection.


oday many restaurants and grocery shops in Reykjavik and around the country offer Thorri food in the month of Thorri, most commonly smoked lamb and meat and fish cured and processed in the tradition­ al way and served sliced in a wooden tray. The beginning of this tradition can be traced back to midwinter reunions of student societies in the late 19th century and later to various regional societies in the beginning of the 20th century. These reunions often offered buffets of “Iceland­ ic food” or “Icelandic food the old style” which consisted of a few well known dishes from the Icelandic countryside that had become rare in the common Icelandic household, such as sing­ed sheep heads, stockfish, cured shark and whale blubber, favourites of some of the “old timers” and the more adventur­ ous. The term “Thorri food” did not emerge until the year 1958 when restaurant Naustid in Reykjavik began offering a special “Thorri menu” consisting of these traditional countryside dishes. The declared intention of this Thorri menu was to offer people who did not belong to a regional society a chance to

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taste the traditional dishes. Thorri food soon became popu­ lar in other restaurants around town and of course many people knew these dishes from their young­er days. Many of the region­ al societies then started using the terms “Thorri food” and “Thorri feast” when they advertised their reunions. Besides, Thorri comes at a time which is usually consi­ dered rather slow in the restau­ rant business. Around 1970 the term “Thorri tray” became a

The term “Thorri food” did not emerge until the year 1958 when restaurant Naustid in Reykjavik began offering a special “Thorri menu”

synonym when referring the all the Thorri food as a special dish. Many restaurants offer a selection of traditional pickled and non-pickled Thorri-trays. Thus Thorri food has evolved through the years to take into account the changes in peoples taste. For additional information on Icelandic holidays and traditions we recommend the book “High Times and Holidays in Iceland”, available in most Icelandic book stores. If you are a tourist travelling around Ice­­land, at any time of the year, you will probably be offered some of these smelly delicacies with the claim that this is traditional Icelandic food and what the people of Iceland are eating. That is, of course, a lie. Icelanders just love watching tourists gag and cough. Truth be told fewer and fewer Icelanders appreciate the Thorri food and those who do usually only eat it around the Thorri season.

What you could find in a Thorri tray: Pickled blood and liver pudding Briskets Rye pancakes Smoked lamb Stockfish Pickled loin parcel Cured shark (also known as rotten shark) Lace bread Flanks Pot bread Pickled whale blubber Mashed beets Rye bread Pickled seal flippers Pickled swim bladders Pickled ram´s testicles Singed sheep heads Singed sheep legs Sheep head jelly, pickled and non-pickled Pickled pig jelly


Also known as ‘Black Death’, Brennivín is not unlike the Scandinavian akvavit as it comes from the old folk tradition of steeping herbs in alcohol to create schnapps. This schnapps is considered to be Iceland’s signature liquor. Made from fermented potato mash and flavored with caraway seeds it has a strong taste and high alcohol content. This world famous drink is not as popular among Icelanders as you would think, given its status as the national beverage but it is traditional to have a little taste or two during the Thorri festivals. Some use it solely to mask the taste after taking a bite of the cured shark. A taste you say? After all you’ve now read about Thorri food, you still want to try it out? We have just the thing. You will need a safe environment and responsible caterers, not some laughing farmer who won’t even pat you on the back if the shark goes down the wrong way. Try Café Loki’s sample dish of these horrific delicacies. This cozy family owned café is almost directly across from Hallgrimskirkja Church so you can enjoy the view while putting your taste buds to the test.   Issue 1

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Cooking up a storm

How to cook

a traditional Icelandic Christmas meal Text: Guðrún Vaka Helgadóttir Recipes: Gestgjafinn culinary magazine / Chef Úlfar Finnbjörnsson Photo: Gunnar þór

For most Icelanders the smell of hangikjöt (hanged meat / smoked lamb) is a pleasant reminder of Christmas. Although Hangikjot is mostly associated with the Holidays it can also be found in an Icelandic midwinter festival known as Thorri celebrated after the middle of January (see page 34). Besides this, it is served thinly sliced with both regular bread and flatbread, all year round. Why not use the opportunity to take some of Iceland to your home and give your friends and relatives a chance to taste and smell this Icelandic delicacy? We’ll show you how.

Icelandic hangikjöt with all the trimmings 2-2 1/2 kg roll of smoked lamb or smoked thigh of lamb (hangikjöt or hangilæri) 1 l apple cider or apple juice 2 tbsp. apple syrup Put the smoked meat, cider and syrup in a large cauldron and fill it with water until the meat is submerged. You can also use just water (the cider does not change the taste of the meat but the broth will be absolutely delicious this way). Bring to a boil and let simmer on low heat for 40 min. Take the cauldron off the stove and let it stand for 20 min. Now the meat is ready to serve hot or cold with sugared or regular

potatoes, red cabbage, white sauce and green peas and, if possible, leaf bread (laufa­brauð). The best drinks to serve with hangikjöt are Christmas ale or a blend of malt ale and or­­ange soda (available in all Ice­­landic grocery stores) or, if neither is attainable, a good beer.


eftovers can be served cold and thinly sliced with bread or you can use the apple cider broth and make a delicious soup. Use 1 l of the broth and heat in a saucepan along with 1 chopped fennel and boil for 5 min. Add 1 chopped apple and 200 g of the smoked meat, diced, into the saucepan along with 2 tablespoons of chopped coriander. Serve with sliced baguette.

Uppstúfur (white sauce): 2 tbsp. butter 2 tbsp. flour 3 ½ dl milk ½ tsp. salt 1/3 tsp. pepper ¼ tsp. nutmeg 1 tsp. sugar (optional) Melt the butter in a saucepan. Add flour and mix well until the flour and butter resemble dough. Pour the milk in gradu­ ally, whisking constantly until all the milk has gone into the saucepan. Let simmer on low heat for 5 min. whisking regu­ larly. Add salt, pepper, nutmeg and sugar to taste. This sauce is always served hot, even if the hangikjöt is served cold.

Sugared potatoes: 2 dl sugar 2 tbsp. lemon juice 40 g butter 1 kg boiled potatoes, peeled Pour sugar and juice into a large skillet; blend well. Heat the skil­ let and stir until the sugar turns golden brown. Lower the heat, add butter and melt together. Strain all water from the pota­

toes and add them to the melted sugar. Mix thoroughly without breaking the potatoes and let simmer on low heat for 3-4 min.

Homemade red cabbage: 1 head of red cabbage, about 1 kg 1 apple 50-75 g butter 1 tsp. salt 3 cloves 4 peppercorns ½ tsp. ground pepper 1 tbsp. red wine vinegar 2 tbsp. raspberry jam 1 dl raspberry juice ½ l water Chop red cabbage and apple into small pieces. Melt the butter in a large saucepan and simmer the cabbage and apple for a few minutes. Add salt, spices, vinegar, jam, juice and water and let simmer under a lid for 45 min. or until the cabbage is soft, stirring occasionally. Put cloves and peppercorns into a closed gauze for easy removal. Add water if necessary. Red cabbage can also be bought ready-made in most ­supermarkets in Iceland. Then all you have to do is heat it up.

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ELEGANT Dorrit has a knack for elegance. SOPHISTICATED Dorrit´s style is pretty and sophisticated, mixed up with traditional Icelandic hand knitted items.

The First Lady‘s fashion Dorrit Moussaieff, Iceland´s first lady, is one of the country´s best dressed women and has been so for many years. She is always smart and charming, elegant and beautiful. By Íris Dögg Pétursdóttir

DAPPER Looking beautiful and dapper in her house in Britain.

BRRRR In black and white in the freezing cold.

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BEAUTIFUL IN BLACK Dorrit in her London home

BEAUTIFUL Red is a good colour on the first lady. GREEN AND DIVINE President Grimsson and Dorrit at a private party in Drottningholm 2006, the day before Carl Gustaf, King of Sweden’s, 60th birthday

SUMMERTIME The first lady was fresh as a summers breeze while meet­ ing with Hillary Clinton.

FANCY Attending the Pink Ribbon reception in 2008.

COZY Dorrit chose to stay warm while sight­ seeing with Frederik, Prince of Den­mark, and his wife Mary in 2008. ICELAND´S BEST DRESSED There is an obvious reason why Dorrit has been chosen Iceland´s best dressed for many years.

TRENDY Dorrit is always dressed to impress.

HAPPY Merry and yellow at home.

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Cool gossip By Benedikt Bóas and Björk Eiðsdóttir

Crowe‘s nests Known for his roles in Gladiator, Robin Hood and A Beautiful Mind, actor Russell Crowe is a big league Hollywood actor. Last summ­ er Russell stayed in Iceland for five weeks while filming his scenes for Darren Aronof­ sky‘s “Noah”. As the locations were often in the Icelandic Highlands, where there are no hotels, Crowe stayed in this luxurious 2006, 301 horse power Allegro Bay RV. Croweland! Here is where Russell Crowe lived while in Reykjavík last summer. Located in the popular Fossvogur, this 600 square meter house is the home of Steingrímur Wernersson, most often associated with his firm Milestone and one of the so-called outvasion Vikings of Iceland´s financial rise (and crisis).

FULLY LOADED: When the RV is fully extended it looks like this and rivals a small apartment. The home was built in 2007 after Werners­ son had the previous, smaller house leveled. Renowned interior architect Jóhanna Kristín Ólafsdóttir designed the inside of the house and according to reliable sources, there is a great cellar under the house serving as a recreational area. This particular house has also been in the news because in it is said to be a panic room, quite an uncommon feature in the Icelandic household.

Marriages on thin ice? What is Iceland´s role in the recent avalanche of Hollywood divorces?

nature played a big role as it forced him to face the truth. You can’t lie to yourself with this pristine nature before your eyes.

Hollywood actors and actresses have flocked to Iceland during the last few months but not all of them have had a happy return to the States.

STUNNING: Emma Watson is best known for her part as Hermione in the Harry Potter movies. She was in good spirits at Hotel Rangá.

A taste of Iceland for Emma Actress Emma Watson stayed in Iceland while working on “Noah”. While here she popped into Hotel Rangá and had a taste of the Icelandic lamb with a glass of Icelandic water. Clad in tight black jeans and a light sweater, Emma Watson went without make up to dinner at Hotel Rangá. She was accompanied by two women and looked happy and relaxed, while smil­ ing, joking and infecting others with her laughter. Icelanders now await the premier of “Noah”, expected on March 14, 2014.

COOL HOTEL: Hotel Rangá is in a league of its own. Here the big stars can come and relax for a while. It is also one of the top places to view the Northern Lights.

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Russell Crowe and Dani­ elle Spencer After nine years of marr­i­age Russell Crowe and Dani­ elle Spencer are gett­ing a divorce. The couple has two sons, Charles (8) and Tennyson (6), and to the world they have always looked like the ideal married couple, especially according to Hollywood standards. According to sources, Crowe did not act the devoted husband during his stay in Iceland, befriending a young wom­ an who now has a text message to prove it. Did Spencer find out and kick her man to the curb?

Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes It seems as if Iceland was the final puzzle in Katie Holmes great divorce plot. Tom Cruise stayed in Northern Iceland shooting scenes for his movie Obliv­ ion while Holm­­es planned her big surprise. She flew back to the States, moved out of their house and left Tom for good.

Javier Bardem A few years ago Javier Bardem visited Iceland and travelled the Icelandic Highlands along with his then girlfriend. During the trip they broke up. Accord­ ing to Javier the Icelandic

Ryan Phillippe and Reese Witherspoon Phillippe came to Iceland for his role in Flags of our Fathers and had a great time. Such fun was his stay that he forgot his vows. Witherspoon was heart­­ brok­­en, but at least the movie was good.

Is Ben Stiller next? Ben Stiller and his wife Christ­­ine Taylor have been married since 2000. Stiller stayed in Iceland most of last summer and now there are reports that his marriage is on the rocks. Sources claim to have seen him leaving a bar with an Icelandic girl but this has not been confirm­­ ed. We sincerely hope that the Icelandic divorce fairy does not go knocking on Stiller´s door.

Northern Lights photo contest

Be snappy and you could win flights to Iceland WOW air is running a cool little competition for all you photophiles, shutterbugs and happy snappers. Even perhaps for you sad snappers as well.


end us your favorite picture (or video) of the Northern Lights and you could win a return flight for two with WOW air from any of our European destinations. It’s that simple, takes no time at all and is free to enter! The rules are that you have to have taken the picture yourself and own the copyright. Only enter the competition if you consent to WOW air potentially using your photo for illustration and/or marketing purposes in print and/or online. As long as photos are of the Northern Lights or the Southern Lights, it does not matter whether they were taken in Iceland or not. Closing date for entries is the 1st of February 2013 and the winner will be notified by email. The top entries will appear on our website, with photographers’ names. All entries should be sent to with the subject line ‘I smell’ – or ­‘Photo competition’, it’s your choice. Good luck!

Get going while the going is good If you have a camera but no Northern Lights to capture you could always spring for a WOW air Northern Lights package. Just imagine buying one trip but getting two because of your epic photos. If you don´t win the contest at least you’ll have your own wonderful memories of the trip. Make your dreams of Northern Lights come true at

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Jumping the

fence Movie director and producer, Baltasar Kormákur: Iceland’s hottest answer to Hollywood By Jón Kristinn Snæhólm Photos: Bragi Þór Jósefsson


altasar Kormákur is Iceland´s most outstanding movie director today. His latest movie, The Deep, has acquired exceptional reviews and is now on its way to conquering the world. The Deep is Iceland´s contribution to the Academy Awards coming up next spring. Will Baltasar´s movie bring home an Oscar and win a lot of prestige for Icelandic filmmaking? Baltasar is prepared. “You never know! I am very ambitious and it would make me very happy. I already have my speech ready!” informs the filmmaker when asked about his shot at an Oscar. Baltasar was born in Iceland on February 27th 1966. It seems like the goddesses of the arts favor this day as he shares a birth­ day with many great artists such as Elizabeth Taylor, Josh Groban, Joan Bennet, Michael Fox and John Steinbeck. Kópavogur was his playground but he was born in Fossvogsdal­ ur, at the border of Reykjavik and Kópavogur, where a tiny creek separates the Kópavogur municipality and the capital.

Meet the latest WOW Star. For Baltasar, being a WOW Star might just be an honorary title but for the up and coming film makers of Iceland this sponsorship will prove beneficial. Baltasar believes in Icelandic film making and does his utmost to support it. Through Baltasar WOW air will sponsor the young film makers of Iceland on their way to great things and even greater movies.

Living by the sea Baltasar was five years old when he moved to the Kópavogur Bay area where the sea and its beaches dazzled the young boy with their amazing secrets. In those days Kópavogur was a small municipality where people from countryside villages settled bringing with them their long cherished traditions and culture often in sharp contrast to the fashionable capital milieu. Farms with horses and other livestock dotted the neighborhood, cured shark meat hung in sheds, and men went fishing from their own boats. Close to his house Baltasar was either fishing in the bay or befriending the horses nearby. Obvious to most, Baltasar does not have the typical Icelandic appearance or an ordi­ nary Icelandic surname. “My father is a Catalonian from Barcelona. On his first trip to Iceland he had recently graduated from the University of Fine Arts in Barcelona. He wanted to make enough money in the herring industry to buy art sup­ plies and paint through the winter. On one of his trips he decided to drop into the Mokka café, a center of culture, arts and small talk in Reykjavík. There he met my mother, Krist­ jana Guðnadóttir, a young innocent girl from the county of Grimsnes. It was love at first sight, and contrary to popular beliefs this Spanish lover did not flee before the birth of

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the child – in fact, they are still together. And they still live in the house where I grew up. My mother later became a fine artist herself graduating from the University of Fine Arts in Reykjavík and the University of Fine Arts in Tucson, Arizona,” says Baltasar.

Under the influence of art and nature Growing up in close proximity to the sea andwith artistic parents had a great influence on Balt­asar and he says both art and nature have marked his character deeply. “I was deeply affected by my father´s painting every night as I was growing up. He needed peace and quiet and since he didn’t have a separate studio he waited till everyone went to bed so he could use the living room. When the family was waking up in the morn­ ing he was placing his brushes into turpen­ tine and head­ing for bed. At night he could master his art. This touched me deeply,” Baltasar says, admitting to be a bit of a night raven himself. “I often work during the night but maybe things will be changing now that I am getting older. I have always been a night person and have written volumes after everyone

has gone to sleep. That’s the best time for me. I can be a bit groggy in the morning but where my movies are concerned, and during shoot­ings, one time is as good as another, whether it be at six o´clock in the morning or late in the evening – I am always on track. I work when I need to work so it’s to my ad­ vantage that I have never been very set in my ways.”


other Nature plays a huge part in Baltasar’s movies. His upbringing by the sea and life along the beach has always had a profound effect on him. “It‘s true, nature, especially the sea, has helped mold me. I not only lived by the sea that came right up to our garden, but I also discovered its endless possibilities such as fishing, exploring, and jumping between ice floes when the bay froze. I was a member of a yacht club nearby and the proud owner of a laser sailboat which I often sailed from the clubhouse, home to have one of my mother’s delicious omelettes. The sea was my life and I longed for its company. Can you imagine many kids dressing themselves in woolen clothes and swimming with the family dog in the cold sea? Swimming in the sea is “in” today but it certainly “Through my movies you can wasn’t then. Without the influence of the sea I would not have been able to see the huge effect nature and do The Deep. Through my movies you the harsh weather conditions can see the huge effect nature and we often experienced have had the harsh weather conditions we often on me.” experienced have had on me.”

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“Mundane activities such as ordi­ nary physical work can trigg­er a lot of good ideas. These relaxing moments can be very inspiring.”

Basic information: Date of birth: 27 February, 1966 Relationship status: Married Children: Five Favorite food: Dry fish Favorite beverage: Water What kind of car do you drive? I don´t have a car. I never stay in the same place for long so I use rental cars wherever I go. Dream project: Laxness’ Independent People Favorite project of your career: Filming White Night Wedding in Flatey was one of the best summers of my life. What are your most popular movies? Contraband has the greatest distribution of course, but 101 Reykjavík, The Sea, Jar City, White Night Wedding and now, The Deep, have all been very popular in Iceland and abroad considering that they are in Icelandic. Trash is trash Baltasar has been a very productive author, actor and director both in the theatre and movies. Now he works on either side of the Atlantic making both Hollywood and Icelan­ dic productions. Since 2005, Baltasar has directed and produced eight movies, five of which are in Icelandic. When asked his opinion about whether LA and Hollywood are the venues where things are happening in the film industry today, he answers: “Regarding my work yes and no … I live in Iceland but I do a lot of my work in LA. Most of film financing and distribution comes from Hollywood and it is the capital of film making. I don‘t want to live there permanently though. My best creations are inspired by Iceland and that’s where I do most of my work. Iceland is the core of my creativity. Of course I have to go abroad to shoot films but I have already invested in and started Icelandic production companies; Blue Eyes Vision will soon produce an Icelandic TV series, and True North, of which I own 30%,

Baltasars top five favorite movies: Come and See (Idi I smotri - 1985) by Elem Klimov. “This movie is always on the top of my list. I saw it at a film festival when I was about 20 years old and it had a great effect on me.” Carmen (1983) by Carlos Saura Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969) by George Roy Hill Witness (1985) by Peter Weir Down by Law (1986) by Jim Jarmusch

has been servicing the big movie companies that came to Iceland this year to shoot new movies, such as Ben Stiller´s, The secret life of Walter Mitty, Darren Aronofsky’s, Noah starring Russell Crowe, Oblivion with Tom Cruise and Thor 2. My earnings abroad have mostly been used to strengthen the Ice­­landic film industry, as well as to produce Icelandic movies, such as Fleigur [Rocket Man] by Dag­ ur Kári [director of Nói Albinói, Good Heart and Dark Horse]. Not long ago I bought the movie rights to film Laxness´s Independent People and I have numerous Icelandic proj­ ects in development.”


ately Baltasar has spent a lot of time in the States, amongst the Hollywood crowd. The names of big stars appear in connection with his movies, such as Mark Wahlberg and Kate Beckinsale in Contraband, Forest Whitaker and Julia Stiles in A Little Trip to Heaven and now Denzel Washington in Two Guns, currently in post production. Many Icelandic cultural idealists plainly claim Hollywood to be the outhouse of West­­ern culture. Why is Baltasar not working in Paris, Rome or Berlin where European culture is said to be blooming? “Well! There are all kinds of boogie stories and ideas concerning these matters floating around, and some of them concerning Hollywood are, I am sorry to say, true. But since you use the term outhouse then I say that European culture is in no need of an American outhouse since there are plenty of them in Europe. “Eurotrash” can be hideous like so many European TV stations prove, and many

­Sout­h­ern European TV stations simply pro­­ vide much worse material than the worst material ever presented in The States. Southern Europe goes further concerning “reality trash”. What people often tend to forget when they watch a European movie or TV series is that they are only watching the top 2% of the best material produced in Europe. “European film and TV productions have such scarce circulation that audiences in Europe are really watching the crème de la crème of the entire production, even some of that is simply so bad that it is absolutely not worth watching.” Icelandic audiences get to see so much more, percentage wise, of American movies and TV productions than the rest of Europe. Ever since World War II, Americans have been busy distributing their culture in this country thanks to the defence agreement and the economical circumstances between our two countries. That way we get both the best and the worst productions – in other words the whole spectrum. “The other big difference between high and low quality is that “junk” often sells better, it has more commercial value – more popular appeal. Hamburgers sell better than steaks; right? I hope this doesn’t make me sound like a snob. I am not a snob by nature.” Baltasar has chosen to work in The States and he has a mission concerning his work there. “Yes absolutely, and a very clear mission. I want to loosen up the severe limitations concerning Icelandic filmmaking. I dream

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what is relevant to them. If the material is too local and the inner universal message is not clear then a foreign audience will not relate to it. The movie could end up with negative responses, and therefore not be fit for the foreign market.” Does that mean that if a movie becomes too typically Icelandic, foreign audiences will not comprehend what is really happening on the screen?

of helping the industry reach a higher level where passion and dedication to excellence rule and drive Icelandic filmmakers to success in the field. I do not only want to make artistic movies that get outstanding reviews during some film festival and only 500 people watch. Neither do I want to produce trash just to generate easy money. I want to make good quality movies for everybody, like Jar city and The Deep, movies which make people flock to theaters around the world, movies which can also be presented at film festi­­­vals and get distributed as such.”

Local or global? Even though many of Baltasar’s movies are typically Icelandic, one seems to detect some international atmosphere about them. Sinking ships and the rescuing of people is not an exclusive Icelandic event, miracles happen all over the world as do crimes and all sorts of hide and seek games. “Many of my movies are actually very local, wrapped in the most typical Icelandic reality as can be. No one, at any rate very few people like to go to the movies to see an Icelandic film which appears to be a copy of an American one. But people need to see

Brainstorming with Baltasar: “I have discovered that merely sweeping the stables or washing the dishes can begin a journey that leads to something extraordinary. There are times when my mind just drifts off. I don’t have to try and think about anything special, things just come to me. Amazing notions pop right into my head. Mundane activities such as ordinary physical work can trigger a lot of good ideas. These relaxing moments can be very inspiring.

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Baltasar is currently working on the movie Two Guns, starring Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg. The plot follows a DEA Agent and an undercover Naval Intelligence Officer who have been tasked with investigating one another. They then find that they have been set up by the very organization they believed they had been stealing money from.

“I may get slaughtered for saying this, but if you do things well and in a professional way they will arouse interest on foreign grounds. If you tell a story well, it does not matter where it happens as long as it sparks someone’s interest. The movie Jar City, an all in one a thriller - a crimex and detective story, was considered typically Icelandic but both audiences and critics found it to be good just like it was presented. This is what I mean. How many detective movies from Israel or Finland have been presented in Icelandic movie theaters? On the other hand, my movies are presented in Israel and Fin­ land and in most other countries. This is much more difficult to achieve than people realize but I have achieved it and thereby attained an audience abroad. You asked me about my mission. I want to get rid of all limitations, put my work on the international market and in that way draw attention to Ice­­land and the Ice­ landic film industry. With all of this said I want to make it clear that it is still important that the Icelandic film industry cares about the Ice­ landic audience. Without them there wouldn’t be much of an Icelandic film industry.” What is the future of the Icelandic film industry? “It is very important to produce films in Iceland as well as welcome big movie pro­ ductions from abroad. Everyone should be able to make their movies, tell their stories. Icelandic filmmaking should be like The Na­ tional Theatre, capturing the present state of mind, preserving it, and giving us a window on to history. The Deep is a good example of this. There are groups of elementary stu­ dents going to the theatres wanting to see how things were here in the ‘80s.” So the film industry is an important tool to preserve our cultural inheritance? “Yes, very important. Some forces here are opposed to supporting culture ... By all means go to Luxembourg which accommo­ dates one airport and many banks. There is no culture to speak of. People may want to live in such a country but I don’t wish to be there with them. “Our culture is our most important heritage. What is a country without culture? This makes us who and what we are, it gives us our identi­ ty. If we stop to think about our great Sagas … someone had to slaughter a calf and skin it to be able to write our history on that skin. This is exactly what we are doing today. We are writing our history.” So you are skinning the calf? “Yes and some American buffalos too.”

Independent People Independent People (Sjálfstætt fólk) is an epic novel by Nobel laureate Halldór Laxness. Originally published in two volumes in 1934 and 1935, the novel deals with the struggle of poor Icelandic farmers in the early 1900’s, surviving in isolated crofts in an inhospitable landscape. The most important theme of the novel is independence, what it means and what is worth sacrificing to achieve it. The ancient Icelandic Sagas and Icelandic folklore are still alive in the stories and fables that the characters live with on a daily basis. The imaginations of the characters are inhabited by elves, ghosts and demons. Bjartur of Sommerhouses, the main character, is without a doubt one of the most single-minded figures of literary history. He takes a note from Don Quixote and Candide and is devoted to the seemingly simple concept of personal independence. This novel, the title literally meaning self-standing, or self-reliant people, is considered amongst the foremost examples of social realism in Icelandic fiction in the 1930’s. It is an indictment of materialism and capitalism itself. It was this novel, along with others that helped Laxness win the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1955. Every Icelander who’s read Independent People has their own view of it. Is Baltasar nervous about taking on this huge part of the Icelandic psyche? “This project is not at that stage yet and besid­ es, I think Icelanders have changed regarding this. I also think they will be thankful that this movie is being made. There is more acceptance to individual interpretations of novels today, than say, 10-20 years ago because people are more broadminded and seasoned these days. They’ll understand that some changes have to be made to film such a huge project. Of course some people who don’t see their interpretation of the novel might get angry.

The Eldborg jacket is designed to meet the needs of contemporary living. It’s a technical jacket that combines classical tailoring and high-tech Polartec® fabrics. Whether you are on top of the highlands or downtown central - Eldborg is a performer for the wilderness and a stylish fit for daily life in the city. The Eldborg Jacket is the winner of the 2012 Apex Award »

• Jónsson & Le’macks

Because sometimes a gentleman needs to do business in the morning and climb a mountain in the afternoon.


Keeping Iceland warm since 1926

The golden boy

Kristján Eyjólfsson is fit for a queen

The diamond brooch presented to Queen Elizabeth on her diamond jubilee last summer.

By Dísa Bjarnadóttir Photos: from private collection When Queen Elizabeth celebrated her 60 years on the throne with a diamond jubilee in the summer of 2012 she was pre­sent­ed with a special gift. A diamond brooch designed and made by the Icelandic goldsmith Kristján Eyjólfsson. The brooch was presented to Her Majesty the Queen by the Royal Horticultural Society. Eyjolfsson’s inspiration for the piece came from the flower Iris Unguicularis. For the first time in the history of the Society, dinner guests were also presented with limited edition pins, also designed and made by Kristján.


ristján has lived and worked in London since 2004, where he designs and makes fine jewelry col­lections and bespoke pieces under his label Kristjan Eyjolfsson Fine Jewelry. He says that his inspirations come from his love of dramatic and un­ usual forms found in nature, archi­ tecture, paintings and sculpture. These various inspirations can be seen in Kristján’s 2012 collect­ions named Regal, Cath­edral, Embrace and On the Rocks. While the Cathedral collect­ion is inspired by the stained glass windows of cathedrals, On the Rocks features rings inspired by ice cubes and icebergs.

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In his latest collection named Vikingur, Kristján pays tribute to his Icelandic Viking ancestors with the Recycled Sterling Silver collection. “Fine jewelry means the creation of pieces - designed and made by hand - of the high­ est quality and thereby made to last.” Besides his commitment to excellence in jewellery, Kristján states, “we are committed to environ­mental and social re­­­ sponsibility”. This special focus on ethics and sustainability means that when possible Kristján avoids harsh and harmful chemicals in his work and only uses materi­ als that are sustainable, et­hical and conflict-free. “The way we see it, our commitment to the

“Fine jewelry means the creation of pieces - designed and made by hand - of the highest quality and thereby made to last.”

environment extends beyond sourcing the right materials but also to what chemicals we use when making our lovely pieces. We do business with suppliers that are able to trace the stones and pearls we buy. This helps us ensure the stones and pearls we use are not acquired through methods that may be harmful to either people or the environment. We only use recycled precious metals as we believe them to be the most ethically and ecologi­ cally sustainable option for us.”

A royal wedding day The year before the Queen’s jubilee another royal event gath­ ered worldwide attention; the Royal Wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton. A funny coincidence is that Kristján and his wife Ivonne got married that

very same day in London. Even though Kristján and Ivonne’s wedding was quite a bit smaller with a head count of eighteen guests, like Will and Kate’s wed­ ding it did gather guests from all over the world. “We are from opposite sides of the globe, Iceland and Australia, and our special little group of friends and family came from Australia, Germany, Iceland, India and the United States,” says Krist­ ján. Coincidentally Kristján and Ivonne used the same materials for their rings as Kate and Prince William; diamonds and sapphires. Needless to say, the groom designed and made the ring he put on his wife’s finger on their special day.


For more information and lots more pictures we recommend a visit to

A ring from Kristjáns Cathedral collection.

Very nice Vegamót Compass ring from the Vikingur collection.

“We are from opposite sides of the globe, Iceland and Australia, and our special little group of friends and family came from ­Australia, Germany, Iceland, India and the United States,” says Kristján.

On The Rocks.

The all-in -one restaurant This elegant but casual two floor restaurant is located in the heart of Reykjavík on Vegamótastígur, close to Laugavegur. The restaurant has been popular for many years, perhaps because of its wonderful quality of being an all-in-one, restaurant, café, bar and nightclub. You‘ll never want to leave! Here the decor is rich on the Mediterranean side and yet ele­ gant with a jazzy ambiance. In the summertime tables are moved outside to the sheltered terrace, probably one of the hottest places in Iceland during those short summer months. This place is famous for their ‘fresh fish of the day’, served all day from lunch hours. It has very reasonable prices for quality, portions and presentation and guests can choose from a wide variety of decadent desserts – if they make it that far. Try their excellent selection of good beers. Every day there is a special offer on bottled beers worth a taste. Vegamót Vegamótastíg 4 I 101 Reykjavík Tel: 511 3040 I

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Crazy for Kria

Influenced by nature and history

By Dísa Bjarnadóttir Photos: Kria

Jewelry designer Jóhanna Methúsalemsdóttir was recently nom­inated for a cultural award in Iceland. Her work has appear­ed in maga­­zines such as Elle, Marie Claire and Vogue and television series such Gossip Girl. While Jóhanna has lived in New York for years, her designs are heavily influenced by Iceland’s nature and history. Her current collection is call­ed The Cod Collection and is “the study of the [cod] fish which has sustained Icelandic culture for centuries”. Jóhanna told us a little about where and how she be­­gan and where her inspirations came from. How did you get started doing the work you’re doing today? “I was an intern for Me & Ro Jew­elry a long time ago when they first began, and back then I took some classes at FIT. But for the most part, this has been an instinctive process of will. I have been making jewelry pretty much since I was little but Kria came to me around 2007 with the birth of my second daughter.” Photo: Elísabet Davíðs

mostly are my family and friends and the beautiful nature!” What are your current favorite Icelandic artists or designers? “In design, I feel that Aftur is do­ing very good things and I love what they stand for. I like Mundi and Reylabel, too. Also, I have always been a fan of the artists Gabriella Frið­­riks­­dóttir, Sigrún Hrólfsdóttir and the Love Corporation.”

What inspires your designs? “It all started on a beach in Ice­­ land when I discovered a skele­­ ton of a bird by the same name, the Kria. It is one of the furthest migrating animals in the world. I took it home and started playing with its individual bones, and as I did I began paying closer atten­t­ ion to repeated shapes in nature and figuring out how to wear them. That’s when I decided that I would continue to make jew­­ elry for a long time.” You’ve lived in the US for a long time, what do you miss most about Iceland? “I have been in New York for 25 years now and what I miss

Photo: Elísabet Davíðs

Check out more of Jóhanna’s designs on and

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Reykjavik Eyes

Framed by the best Multi award-winning, light weight, strong and flexible, Reykjavik Eyes glasses are one of the most comfortable and durable in the world and bring distinct benefits to its wearers. With an award from the world’s largest product design competition, the Red Dot Product Design Award, in 2009, Reykjavik Eyes has become unique in the eyewear market. This beautiful eyewear offers the maximum in com­­ fort and performance. A one-piece titanium design that eliminates the need for screws and hinges is one of the world’s lightest and most durable frames. A sensa­ tional innovation, it solves all the common problems with spectacle frames. Gunn­ar Gunnarsson, a dispensing optician and designer from Reykjavík, is the man behind this ultra durable eyewear. He was inspired to come up with this flexible, screwless solution thanks to working in his father’s optical shop in his youth, where he re­ paired frames and scurried around to find screws. “I took three and a half years designing, testing and re­­ fining the product prior to launch. The aim was to make frames that were lighter, stronger and more flexible

than normal ones, and less likely to break through the joints and screws. I’ve achiev­ ed that. I started out using steel, then moved on to the highest quality Japanese sheet titanium and I haven’t man­aged to break one yet in testing,” says Gunnar.

A new frame of mind True to his love for minimal­ ism Gunnar has designed frames that are light and comfortable and make you look good on any occasion. “In my opinion the frame is not the first thing you should notice when you see some­ one, a frame should make you look better and give

you more style,” he says. Regardless of his success with Reykjavik Eyes he still has his practice to keep that connection with his custom­ ers. He also states that his work as an optician helps him know what works and the problems of frames that are too heavy. “My eyewear is a specialist product and is in keeping with the move towards dedicated frame brands. It’s not necessary to have a designer name on the side. Also,” he adds “the frames are competitively priced, which is important in the marketplace”. For more information visit

Reykjavik Eyes

Kringlan 2nd floorI 103 Reykjavík I Tel: 568 9111 Open: mon. – wed.. 09:00-18:30, thurs. 09-21, fri. 09-19, sat. 10-18, sun. 13-17 Issue 1

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More reading

The momentum of Icelandic literature

By Björn Teitsson Photos: Ernir Eyjólfsson and others

Halldór Guðmundsson is something of an authority on Ice­ landic literature, having worked in the publishing industry since 1984 and applied his exper­tise extensively as a scholar and lecturer. His biography of Nobel laureate Halldór Laxness received the Icelandic Literary Prize in 2004 and became a best-seller. In 2011, when Iceland was selected to be the guest of honor at the Frankfurt Book Fair—the largest of its kind in the world—Halldór was chosen to direct the project, standing right in the center of the action as Iceland was cata­ pulted into the limelight of the international literary scene. We met up with Halldór Guðmundsson in Harpa, Reykjavík’s new concert hall and conference center, where he recently took office as managing director. Do you think it is easier now—in the wake of the 2011 Frankfurt Book Fair—for Icelandic authors to gain a wider audience in the international literary market? “Yes, I am sure that is the case. In fact, I know it is so. It is difficult in some sense to assess the project as a whole, since only a year has passed since the Book Fair itself. On the one hand, there was a decline in published material from Icelandic authors in 2012, for example in the German mark­ et. But that is because Ger­­man publishers capitalized on the me­ dia coverage Iceland got in 2011; many publishers postponed their 2010 scheduled releases in order to utilize the press surrounding the Book Fair. So there was an unusual amount of material from Icelandic authors being published internationally

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in 2011. The best way to mea­ sure the success of the project to date is to point out that there has been a huge increase in ap­ plications to translate Icelandic authors. That, in itself, is tangible evidence of a rise in international interest.” The last decade or so has seen thrillers and crime novels as the biggest Icelandic literary exports. Do you feel that there is too much emphasis on that specific genre? Or are authors simply answering the demand of the market? “Perhaps this can be partly ex­­ plained by demand. But if we look back through history, there was never a literary tradition in the genre of crime novels in Iceland. Very few authors took it upon themselves to experiment

with the form, and it never really gained any momentum. Crime novels and pulp fiction were very popular in Iceland, but they were mostly translated works. The early ‘90 however saw a certain shift in the international book market. Two novels, “Sophie’s World” by Jostein Gaarder and “Smilla’s Sense of Snow” by Peter Høeg, were published in Scandi­navia and both became massive international hits. These novels were, in a sense, thrillers and they brought about a new focus on the Nordic countries, taking over the throne from, arguably, South America. At the turn of the century, the Swedish crime novelist, Henning Mankell, sudd­ enly became the biggest-selling Nordic author, which only goes to show that the authors within the genre have witnessed a huge increase in interest. This may have led some authors, who were perhaps interested in the form, to turn their attention to honing their skills therein. The international attention on thrillers and crime novels has functioned as encour­ agement, that maybe this was the right time to “give it a go.” Just look at all the media coverage, advertisements and numbers of published work in the genre today. We see a lot of talented writers trying to master the form and many of them have become quite good at it. The opportuni­ ties are there. Take an author like Arnaldur Indriðason for example, he would have to publish conse­ cutive best-sellers in Iceland for 30 years in order to sell the same amount of books that he does in a year in Germany or France.” Can this development, this focus on crime novels, be seen as de­trimental to authors of other types of fiction? “As far as I can tell, that has not been the case. I have actually given this serious thought and I know that there are authors out there who are growing tired of the attention and publicity crime novelists receive. But this is in fact how the market has always been. There are always going to be some novels that turn up once in a while to become best-sell­ ers—novels that could be called “serious,” but generally speaking, popular forms of fiction are always

the ones that sell most. When I was younger the most popular author in Iceland was Alistair Ma­ cLean. The best-selling author in Germany was someone relatively unknown outside of Germany, Karl May—and he wrote stories about Indians! Popular fiction is al­ ways going to be in high demand, although we must realize that some of these authors are actual­ ly walking the tightrope between ‘popular’ and ‘serious’ fiction. For example, I have always consid­ ered Arnaldur Indriðason to be a serious novelist. I noticed dur­­ing the year of the “Fabulous Iceland” project at the Book Fair, that increased interest in his novels—and say, the novels of Yrsa Sigurðardóttir—tend to give other authors a boost and they help to bring a focus to Icelandic literature in general. It doesn’t matter whether you are trying to break into the German-, Spanishor Eng­lish-speaking market. Just that there is an author out there who has made a name for himself can lead readers in the direction of the next. In that sense, the crime novelists have really been pulling the load.”

This gem, situated in the heart of Reykjavík, offers a homey Mediterranean atmosphere along with great food from the freshest ingredients. The pizza oven at Caruso is legendary as well as the pizzas and everything from pasta to amazing steak and fish dishes are prepared with love and respect. Be sure to try the delicious homemade chocolate cake. Some say it’s the best in town.


But are Icelandic authors of ‘se­ rious’ fiction also doingwell? “Certainly. What I find most inter­ esting is the fact that different au­ thors are gaining an international audience in different places. We have Auður Ava Ólafsdóttir, who has done extremely well in the French-speaking market. Hall­ grímur Helgason has done well especially in Germany, Ólafur Jóhann Ólafsson has achieved success in the North American market. There is no rule of thumb as to where one is most likely to succeed. My feeling is that the most important factor for up-andcoming authors is simply to write as well as they possibly can - as simple as that sounds. Chances are that they will be noticed. At the moment, we have young authors who may very well be on their way and it would not sur­­prise me at all if some of them were to achieve international success. Eiríkur Örn Norðdahl is one of them, Kristín Eiríksdóttir is another. I think the success of the “Fabulous Iceland” project, as well as the general success of Icelandic authors in recent

Take an author like Arnaldur Indriðason for example, he would have to publish conse­cutive best-sellers in Iceland for 30 years in order to sell the same amount of books that he does in a year in Germany or France.”

Caruso Þingholtsstræti 1 I 101 Reykjavík I Reservations: 562 7335 or email I Fax: 561 7334 Open: Mondays - Thursdays: 11:30-22:30 Fridays: 11:30-23:30 Saturdays: 12:00-23:30 Sundays: 17:00-22:00

On weekends live music is played by our famous classic guitar player Símon H Ívarsson creating an unforgettable ambience.

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years will result in international publishers having their eyes on Iceland.” Do you think Icelandic authors are now writing with an interna­ tional audience in mind? “That might be: probably. And some of them haven’t really been trying to hide it. Not too long ago Hallgrímur Helgason even wrote a novel in Icelandic and English at the same time. Others would simply say that they write for themselves and nobody else. In general, I find that you always construct an image of yourself as a storyteller

and at the same time you con­ struct an image of your reader. But you cannot be contemplat­ ing at the same time: “Well I wond­er what someone in Italy is going to feel about that.” This year, Reykjavík was design­­ated as UNESCO City of Literature. Do you think the city owes this honor to the “Fabu­ lous Iceland” project? “Well, I would not take any credit for that designation. But I’m very pleased by it. This was approved by UNESCO in the fall of 2011, so it went hand in hand with Fabulous Iceland. Representa­

tives from the city came to Frankfurt to plead their case. What makes this especially pleasant is the fact that we have been running the Reykjavík International Literary Festival since 1987, and I know that was an important factor, and now, the city is increasing its support for the festival. But I also feel that the city has managed to make the project their own, especially in their emphasis on freedom of expression. They have taken

an active part in the ICORN (Inter­­national Cities of Refuge Network) project where perse­ cuted writers are offered a safe haven to live and work. This has in turn led to another prestigious honor, that of having PEN, the worldwide association of writers, choose Reykjavík as the venue for its annual world congress in 2013. To me, this is one of the symbols of the momentum Icelandic literature is enjoying at the moment.”

For further information about “Fabulous Iceland,” visit: www. The site offers extensive coverage on Icelandic literature, authors, biographies and updates on new translations, interviews and reports.

Auður Ava Ólafsdóttir.

We Recommend: Auður Ava Ólafsdóttir An art historian by trade, Auður did not enter the literary scene until the age of 40. Since publishing her first novel, “Raised Earth,” in 1998, she has been highly praised by critics for her artistic approach to her subjects, introspective style and humor. “The Greenhouse,” published in 2007, won the prestigious DV Culture Award and was also nominated for the Nordic Council’s Literature Prize. Sjón.

Kristín Ómarsdóttir With a catalogue that spans the spectrum of literature—including poetry, plays, short stories and novels—Kristín Ómarsdóttir has been at the forefront of the Icelandic literary landscape for over two decades. Highly decorated for her work, she received the DV Culture Award for her novel Elskan mín, ég dey (“I’ll Die, My Love”). Her 2004 novel “Here,” was published in the U.S. in 2011 and received critical acclaim in the New York Book Review.

Kristín Ómarsdóttir.

Stefán Máni.

Andri Snær Magnason.

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Sjón While still a teenager, Sjón was one of the founding members of Medúsa, an influential surrealist art group in Iceland. He has experimented with different genres—even writing lyrics to pop songs—and was nominated for an Academy Award for writing the lyrics to “I’ve Seen It All” for Lars Von Trier’s “Dancer in the Dark”. Sjón received the Nordic Council’s Literature Prize in 2005 for his novel “The Blue Fox”.

Andri Snær Magnason Starting his literary career as a poet, Andri Snær Magnason took Iceland by storm with his 1999 children’s book Sagan af bláa hnettinum (“The Story of the Blue Planet”), the first children’s book to receive the Icelandic Literary Prize. Andri is also author of “Dreamland: A Self-Help Manual for a Frightened Nation,” for which he received the Icelandic Literary Prize in 2006 in the genre of non-fiction. His highly acclaimed dystopian novel, “Lovestar,” was recently translated into English. Stefán Máni With something of an unusual background—having worked in various fields such as fishing, stonemasonry, construction and gard­en­ing—Stefán Máni has unexpectedly become one of the most popular authors in Iceland. His no-nonsense style has garnered well-deserved attention, as he explores the darkest and most cor­ rupt corners of the mind. His 2004 novel, Svartur á leik (“Black’s Game”) was produced as a motion picture in 2012.

A trip to remember Every country has it´s display of souvenirs and they want you to buy them. These things usually look good but when you get home you might find that they do not mix well with the rest of your décor. So, how to choose from the endless array of souvenirs and things to take home from your trip? What do people really treasure from their trips abroad and how can we learn from their experience? by Guðrún Vaka Helgadóttir Photos: Rakel Ósk Sigurðardóttir

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esigner Ingibjörg Hanna Bjarna­­dóttir is well travelled and enjoys visiting foreign countries. She has her own label, IHANNA, and designs beautiful things such as the very popular Krummi bird hanger. Growing up with parents with a travel bug certainly made it´s mark on her. “My parents took me and my siblings along on their trips and I guess we were lucky in that respect. This has inspired me to travel as a grown up and now besides travelling I am also so fortunate to attend design shows overseas where I present my label and designs.”

most of them home because they did not fit my luggage. The traditional Ningyō doll was one of the gifts I received and it is the trea­ sure I love most. I have many pretty things from my stay in Japan but I think this doll is the most beautiful and it has also been an inspiration for one of the designs made by my collaboration with my friend and fellow designer Halla Björk Kristjánsdóttir. The de­­sign is a three-dimensional display box called Frame It and is ideal for favorite things like these that can be difficult to display in the home but still need a place of honor or a niche. Now my Ningyō doll has it´s place in the frame that was designed for it.”

Frame It display box and other designs made by IHANNA can be found in design shops such as Epal and Kraum. What does Ingibjörg buy as souvenirs when she goes abroad? “My parents started collecting national cost­­ ume dolls on my behalf when I was young and I still buy those dolls when I visit foreign countries but only when they are of good quality. I also search for specially designed ar­ ticles for myself, such as jewelry or clothes.” Ingibjörg’s favorite souvenir comes from Japan where she stayed for five weeks as a part of the Lions International Youth Ex­ change Program. “Japanese love giving gifts and the tradition of gift giving is very strong. I stayed with four different families in Japan and received so many gifts that I had to mail

Good ideas from Iceland

Cool designers on fire

Tulipop is the creation of designer, Signý Kolbeinsdóttir. The company’s newest design is a lamp called Mr. Tree, meant for both children and adults. Mr. Tree comes from the magical and colorful world of Tuli­ pop. And he’s not alone; the world of Tulipop is filled with fun and interesting characters such as Gloomy, Monsieur Bubbi and Skully. More on

Wheel of Nutrition The Wheel of Nutrition is a dining plate that promotes healthy, nutritious eating habits. It’s an archetypical ceramic plate enhanced with explanatory graphics and distinctive colors. The plate is a Fair trade production, manufactured by Portuguese porcelain factory, Porcel. It’s made of fine porcelain with an emphasis on pure, quality materials. Porcel relies on the rich regional Portuguese heritage of porcelain craftsmanship and imports pure quality clay materials from Li­ moges, France. The plate is dishwasher and microwave safe. Designed by Rui Pereira & Hafsteinn Juliusson, it comes with a conve­ nient stand. More on Postulína Designer duo Guðbjörg Káradóttir and Ólöf Jakobína Ernudóttir at Postulína premiered these beautiful and bubbly flower vases during DesignMarch 2012. These 24 karat gold coated vases are called Marimo. Find Postulína on Facebook or visit

Farmers Market Farmers Market is an Icelandic design company, founded in 2005 by designer Bergthora Gudnadottir and musician Joel Palsson. The idea was to utilize one of the most organic materials available – unique Icelandic wool, with other raw, natural mate­ rials such as silk and leather, to create a line of multifunctional clothing and accessories. Authentically styled, sophisticated and wear­ able, the clothing is suited for a wide range of occasions including outdoor activities and city life. The style has been described as revitalized Icelandic traditional design, combining Nordic design elements with chic modernity in lightweight apparel. Farmers Market clothing and accessories are sold in selected shops in Europe, Japan and the US, including concept stores, fashion boutiques and an occasional ski resort.

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Notknot “The inspiration for Notknot originally came from scout knotting,” says designer Ragn­ heiður Ösp at Umemi. “I’ve been fascinated by knots, the process of knotting and their purpose, for some time now. After studying scout, nautical and decorative knots I began playing with the sizes and examined the outcome of changing their textures and pur­ pose. Depending on the material the hard and tightly tied knot could appear soft and cozy and its purpose of being strong and se­ cure can change to be comforting and warm, all the while holding its decorative value.” Find out more about Umemi’s creations on


Sizzling hot designs in the oldest house in Reykjavik In the year 1762 a man named Skúli Magnússon, then governor of Iceland, had a vision. He wanted to create jobs and industry for Icelanders, who at that time were under Danish rule. He built a house at Aðalstræti 10 which he intended to house a factory where yarn would be made from Icelandic sheep wool. By Dísa Bjarnadóttir Photos: Myriam Marti He’d be happy to know that today all these years later, the house he built still stands and is serving the function he intended it for. It is not a wool fact­ ory but Aðalstræti 10, the oldest house in Reykjavik, is now the home of a store which features the works of over 200 Icelandic artists, designers and craftsmen. The store is called Kraum. The name is a reference to the word “kraumandi” which in English trans­ lates to sizzling, a reference to the siz­ zling creativity and ideas of the artists’ minds. The collection of items for sale is as versa­tile as the number of people whose work is featured there. To name a few it features clothing (often made from Icelandic wool) books, jewelry, furniture, pancake pans, soaps and cosmetics. Amongst all the fascinating things one will find in Kraum are shoes

made from fish skin, which has been processed into leather in a factory in the north of Iceland. A stool made from sheep’s wool is quick to catch the eye as it resembles an Icelandic sheep. It’s called fuzzy, named after a small Latin troll, and was first designed by an Ice­ landic furniture maker some 40 years ago. It became fashionable then and has now made a comeback. It folds up quite easily for those who choose to invest in a sheep like creature as a memorabilia from their Iceland visit. Kraum has also started designs under its own name. The first Kraum designed item was a new twist on the traditional Icelandic pancake pan. It started last March when five Iceland­ ic designers were asked to create their version of a new handle for the traditional pan. Icelandic pancakes

have been a staple of Icelandic cuisine for centur­ies. For those interested in learning more about traditional Ice­ land­ic food Kraum also has for sale a cook­book filled with recipes of what Icelanders often refer to as “mom’s cooking” sprinkled with interesting old pictures taken in Icelandic kitchens through the years. This oldest house of the city, located on the old­­est street and filled with new exciting designs is definitely a place worth visiting.

Kraum Aðalstræti 10 I Tel: 517 7797 Open: Mondays – Fridays: 9:0019:00 Saturdays: 10:00-18:00 Sundays: 12:00-18:00


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Listen now…

Sigtryggur Baldursson recently took over as manager of IMX, Iceland Music Export. No stranger to the music business, Baldursson has been a professional musician since the late ‘80s. He was a member of the first internationally renowned band to come out of Iceland, The Sugarcubes, and has also recorded as a solo artist and as a percussionist for various artists and bands. Now enjoying an office job, Baldursson is putting to good use the social network he has acquired throughout his years in the music business – for the benefit of aspiring Icelandic musicians. By Björn Teitsson Photos: Kristinn Magnússon and Jónatan Grétarsson

You don’t have to be a sell-out


ur goal is to ex­­port Icelandic music and a lot of our work rev­olves around gat­hering and distributing in­­formation. This means that we need to distribute information to Icelandic artists about the jungle, that is the inter­­­national music industry, and also gat­­her information about Icelandic artists. We maintain two websites, one in Icelandic and the other in English. The Icelandic one is obviously aimed at Icelandic artists where we offer guidance in applications for music festivals, information about concert bookings abroad as well as keep artists informed about key information regarding their trade. The English site is a de facto information center about Icelandic music. Its purpose is to make it easier for people in the music industry gain access to Icelandic artists. We have gath­ ered information about every concert performance by Icelan­ dic bands abroad, divided the artists by genres; did basically everything we could to make it easier to make contacts.”

Behind the scenes at music festivals IMX does not focus solely on its role as an information center. It is also the owner of the com­ pany that operates the largest Icelandic music festival, Iceland Airwaves, and is also committed to spreading the reputation of smaller, local festivals through­ out the country.

60 ı WOW is in the air

“We own the company IA, which runs the Iceland Airwaves festi­­val. We are also working with other festivals around the country, trying to take advantage of some of the experience we have gathered here. By that, we want to elevate the concept of “music-oriented tourism.” Tómas Young, a member of our staff, is currently working on a report for the Icelandic Tourist Board, to determine the growth potential of music festivals outside of Reykjavik. Take for example, Eistna­­flug, a metal-music festival with a very clear focal point. Such a festival has enormous potential to grow further. At the moment it takes place in the mid­ dle of summ­­er, but why shouldn’t it also be in the middle of winter? Just imagine, “The darkest metal-festi­val in the world!” There are of course many more cases where it’s possible to ex­ pand on a good idea. One of the biggest success stories in these music festivals has been the anarchical ‘Aldrei fór ég suður’ [I never went south] festival, in the northwest corner of Iceland. The do it yourself mentality of that festival is inspiring, gaining much admiration from both ordinary Icelanders and people in the music industry. And we try to pro­­mote these festivals by importing key members of the music press, thereby creating exposure for Ice­­­landic artists – without even leaving the country. Iceland Airwaves is a diff­­erent story altogether. It has grown to something completely self-sufficient that we hardly need to pay any attention to.”

Being pro-active Baldursson has an unusual per­­ spective for a man in his position. He was a member of The Sugar­ cubes, a band that made it big in late ‘80s. He now devotes his efforts to emerging artists, mak­ ing it easier for them to achieve what he has already achieved. “Things have changed immensely. Of course, I still under­­­­stand the perspective of a work­­ing artist although I´m not running my own band. It is often easier to promote other people than yourself. I still play but these days mostly for back-up, as a percussionist. That´s all. It is interesting however, to see the direction we are taking with music oriented tourism. This means that Icelandic artists can achieve international recogni­ tion, even though they are based in Iceland. Since IMX started, back in 2007, the goal has always been to make it easier for the musicians. We are organizing lectures about touring and we travel to music festivals to build up our network of contacts. This network has become somewhat of a tightly woven quilt. Festivals like Iceland Airwaves give us the opportunity to bring in the right contacts, the press, the agents, record label executives, booking agents ... There is a steady in­crease in the number of Icelandic artists who are making international record deals. It is very pleasing to see these results but they can in no way be solely credited to our work at IMX. There is simply this common mentality that seems to be flourishing within the Icelandic music scene.

It’s constantly evolving and art­ ists have become much more pro-active in getting their names out there.”

No compromises are always “In” It is not uncommon to hear some­­one from an international record label, or a member of the music-press, say something like “Iceland is very happening at the moment.” Is this something Ice­ landic musicians are aiming at? “I think it is by no means a conscious effort. The reason why the music scene here is growing is basically because it tends to come naturally. There is no centralized authority behind the scenes telling people what to do. We at IMX are certainly not doing that. our role is simply to help the artists help themselves. It should function as the oil to the engine of this industry. That’s how it has functioned and that’s how I think it should function.

To learn more about Icelandic music, please visit the website of IMX (www.icelandmusic. is) where you can find weekly news updates, artists’ biographies, concert listings and information on Icelandic music festivals.

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“The thing is, this brand that Icelandic music has become is something that was created by music enthusiasts and music journalists abroad – not locally. There was no marketing bureau that found out that this or that would work. It has been created because most successful artists have done their music on their own terms. These are artists that have become known for doing it ‘their way’ without compromising their artistic integrity. Take Björk for example, she has never sold any of her compositions for adver­ tising purposes. She has denied copious sums of money, because she chooses to do things her own way.”

Too commercial? But all this publicity must lead to the assumption that the Icelandic music scene is being commercial­ ized. Could it be that too much commercialization can hurt the reputation of Icelandic artists? “Probably, and that is why we are working this way. We are not trying to commercialize anything. We are first and foremost trying to support up and coming artists. Of course there are always going to be people who think that there is too much marketing involved.

Look at Iceland Airwaves, the costs involved with the festival are huge, and there is a real effort in making it ever more artist friendly by improving payments to artists and catering. A lot of the cost is funneled into importing people of inter­national importance to the music scene. Of course the tourism industry reaps a lot of the benefits by receiving so many foreign guests. But what we are doing is trying to create an environment where musicians can network and make international deals giving them a chance to wid­ en their audience. Every recording artist should be happy with that. I mean, there are always some artists who are fine staying in the corner, happy in their own little world. And there is always going to be this de­ bate; where to draw the line in the clash between artistic integrity and marketing. This goes for every­­one who works in the creative fields. But you have to know the market, you can’t just stand by not know­ ing anything about your career or simply not having a say about it. This is our working environment and it is better to familiarize our­ selves. And you don’t have to be a sell-out to achieve success. I think the careers of Björk and Sigur­ rós have proven that you can do things your own way, with great success.”

Hjaltalín with a pleasant surprise The band with the funny sounding name, Hjaltalín, has become one of Iceland’s most celebrated bands. Their 2009 album, Terminal, was a huge success and was design­ ated as album of the year at the Icelandic Music Awards. Now they have released their third studio album, Enter 4, having kept the release a closely guarded secret from the music press, right until the day of release. We met up with Bassoon player Rebekka Björnsdóttir, who also produc­ed the music video to the first single of the album “Lucifer/He Felt Like a Woman.” Did you approach this record differently than you did with your previous ones? “Yeah, I think with our previous records we kind of just went for it. We got into the studio with the clear intention of cutting an album, and the recordings didn’t really take much time. For this one, we’ve been recording in various places - in a summerhouse in the country, in Sundlaugin studio, in the community center in the town of Garður ... We recorded a lot of material during the last two years and suddenly we realized that we had enough quality on there to go ahead and release an album.” Many of you live abroad, while others have careers that call for much travelling. Did it affect the process of the album that you are rarely all in Iceland at the same time? “It did affect the process of course, but not in a bad way, not at all. All of us are travelling a lot and some even have careers outside of music. I’m working in film. We have an economist and an airplane pilot. I think the distance from each other gives us a wider perspective and greater appreciation for what we are doing with Hjaltalín. The joy of jamming together when we get the chance is immense. I think this album is much, more straightforward, and I mean that in the best sense.” Can Hjaltalín fans expect to see you performing live in the near future? “Our official release concert for the new album is scheduled for the 21st of December and then we’ll have to wait and see. The joy of playing together is always present, but we do have to respect each other’s schedules. Hopefully a lot of people will get to see us.”

62 ı WOW is in the air


Recommend: Oyama Founded in 2012, the five-piece shoe­ gaze band, Oyama has received plenty of well-deserved attention. Draw­ing from ’80s trailblazers such as Dinosaur Jr. and My Bloody Valentine, their con­ certs are loud and fuzzy. Their shows during Iceland Airwaves this year were highly successful, and they have now signed with international booking agen­ cy, Projekta. Oyama is in the process of recording their debut album.

Sóley A long time collaborator and band member of Sindri Sigfússon’s band Seabear, Sóley was not initially at the center of attention. When German record label executive Thomas Morr asked her if she had any songs of her own, however, the wheels were set in motion. Sóley has emerged as some­ thing of a star on YouTube, some of her videos having been viewed as often as 9 million times. She is now spending her early winter as the opening act for the hit band, Of Monsters and Men.

Sykur Beginning their career in 2009 while still in high school, Sykur has emerged as one of the most exciting bands in Iceland. Their catchy electro-pop tunes have gotten extensive airplay on Icelandic radio and their concerts are becoming a cult phenomenon. Drawing influences from the world of fashion and pop art, they can be seen as electro-music’s answer to Bryan Ferry. Sykur recently signed a record deal with British-based label Wall of Sound.

Sísý Ey Founded in 2011, Sísý Ey is a family affair. Members are sisters Elín, Elísabet and Sigríður Eyþórsdóttir, all of them having previously performed and record­ ed as solo artists. Gathered together by their friend and now band mana­­g­er, Carmen Johannsdóttir, they have set their minds on singing live house music. The band was completed by the addition of Oculus, a producer and DJ. Sísý Ey’s live shows have received much praise, where few, if any, manage to escape without serious sweat.

Ásgeir Trausti The fairytale of Ásgeir Trausti’s rise to local stardom began last summer, with two hit-singles, “Leyndarmál” and “Sumargestur”. When his debut album, “Dýrð í dauðaþögn”, finally dropped in September, Ásgeir had already managed to break all existing pre-sale records—all this at the tender age of 20. Ásgeir plans to release his album in English in 2013.


ÁLAFOSSVEGUR 23 - MOSFELLSBÆR OPEN: MON. - FRI. 9.00 - 18.00 SAT. 9:00 - 16:00 LAUGAVEGUR 8 CITY CENTRE OPEN: 10:00 - 18:00


Dat app!

Get around town with this brand new taxi-app This is probably one of the more useful apps if you need a lift. The iTaxi application uses your location to find the nearest available taxi and then sends it to you. By Guðrún Vaka Helgadóttir Photos: Ernir Eyjólfsson


t can be difficult for a foreign­ er to pronounce some of the Icelandic street names (ok almost all of them) and sometimes people don´t even know where they are. Now, with a few clicks you can get a taxi to your location and you don´t have to wrap your tongue around street names such as Þorláks­ geisli, Bræðraborgarstígur, Muru­ r­­imi and Háaleitisbraut. You can even monitor your taxi´s progress. The iTaxi App was created by seasoned taxi driver Jón Norðfjörð Kristjánsson and his partners at P84 development and it serves every taxi driver willing to partake in the project. iTaxi is free of charge and availa­ ble for both Android and iPhone. We met up with Jón and made him walk a mile in the shoes of his apps users. He was more than willing as he is confident in his program and its benefits to both travelers and taxi drivers. Where did this idea come from? “One day I was driving a passeng­ er who lost his iPod. I watched as the lady took up her phone and used an app to find it again. And I thought to myself ‘There’s got to be a way to locate taxis in a similar manner’. I started look­ing around and found two apps that fit this description but I could never access them to find out how or if they really work­ed. I got in contact with one developer and tried getting their program for the Icelandic market but that never came through. After a while I decided to make the application on my own and I held onto this idea for maybe 1 ½ years. Then, by a series of coincidences I came in contact with a programmer who wanted to work with me and we started working on this project together. Going places! Jón Norðfjörð takes the role of one of his apps’ users.

64 ı WOW is in the air

“Today I have a new programm­ er and my whole day goes into checking the app for glitches, making contacts, doing inter­ views and telling my programm­ er of anything that needs to be changed. But I still drive my taxi on the weekends. How does this work? “Every taxi driver willing to take part has an iTaxi driver’s app in his phone and receives his calls, or “hails” through it. When a passenger calls a taxi and a taxi driver responds, their phones are connected which allows the passenger to follow his taxi’s progress on a map and the same goes for the driver. This mak­es everything work much faster. The app eliminates taxi drivers waiting outside a party for passengers who forget to check out the window every minute and as a passenger you know when your taxi is coming. It also shortens the waiting peri­od for the passenger as the nearest available cab, regardless of its sta­ tion, will always be sent to him. How did the drivers respond to this new technology? To be honest I expected them to be more open-minded but I hadn’t thought about the possi­ bilities this app had for eliminat­ ing taxi stations. That was never my intention. The app’s purpose is to help drivers get passengers and passengers to get their cabs sooner. It has no relation to any taxi station and every driver is welcome to use it. To the best of my knowledge all of the sta­ tions in Iceland have given their drivers the green light for using this app. And when you think of it all this comes down to giving the passenger the best service possible. The app also eliminates the strain on the telephone lines during weekend rush hours when everyone is trying to get a cab.

In the settings menu, type in your phone number. This only needs to be done the first time you use the app.



When you turn on the app it finds you on the map. Use the magnifying glass to find an available iTaxi. The app automatically finds you the nearest iTaxi



Press “Request” and the app takes Set an accurate location by you to the next step for GPS accuracy. running your finger on the Press the globe to get a screen (only necessary when satellite view hailing from inside a house). Press “Set Location”.

Does this app only work in did so, but with some restric­ tions on how these programs Reykjavík? No, it is designed to work any­ should work. To my knowledge iTaxi is now the only application where in the world. If the drivers are willing the program will that meets these requirements. work. Most hailing apps I have We will have to make one small adjustment before putting it on found seem to work only within certain geographical limitations the market there and that is to make sure the users’ phone but iTaxi is for everywhere. number can’t be seen by the For example, the New York driver. That will happen in our Taxi and Limousine Commission next update. Also this program closed the door on all hailing apps but after seeing the results has never and will never collect information on the users to sell of a poll among smart-phone us­ 9/26/07 9:41:10 PM ers, where 70% said they want­ it to a third party. I will always protect the users’ privacy. ed to use these kinds of apps, they had to open it again. They

Hail the taxi by pressing “Send Request”. You will receive a message from the driver that he has accepted your request. Now you are able to follow your taxi in real time on his way to your location. When he gets there you will receive a message “Your driver is here”.

Do you have other apps in the making? “I have a few ideas and my aim is always directed toward the users. I am not in this to fill my pockets. Many apps today seem designed to throw ads at their users. If any of my ideas become usable apps in the future I want them to be beneficial for everyone.” Jón told us some of his grand ideas for new apps and swore us to secrecy. If any of them become reality we can’t wait to try them out and tell our readers all about it.

For iPhone.

For Android.

Pedir Taxi con estè app. Commande un taxi avec cette appli-cation. Bestelle einen Taxi mit diesem App. Bestill en taxe med den App.

SAKE BARINN sushi & sticks



Be a best friend and take your friend out to try our “Best for two” at Sushibarinn for the price of “Best for one”

We offer you a 15% discount to try our delicious sushi and sticks

Just take a picture and show it or cut this out

Sushibarinn - Laugavegur 2 - 101 Reykjavík - 552 4444

Just take a picture and show it or cut this out Pedir Taxi con estè app.

SakebarinnCommande - Laugavegur 2 (2nd floor) - 101 Reykjavík - 777 3311 un taxi avec cette application. Bestelle einen Taxi mit diesem App. Bestill en taxe med den App.

Get burger and beer and receive a 15% discount Just taka a picture and show it or cut this out Bjarni Fel is a popular sportbar on the main street in downtown Reykjavík. We have 15 HD flat screen TV’s and the capacity of showing up to 10 different events simultaneously and over 1700 TV channels. We offer good food and friendly service in one of the oldest café in Reykjavík

Austurstræti 20 - 101 Reykjavík - 561 2240

Try our delicious food and receive 15% discount on all food Just take a picture and show it or cut this out Hressó is a popular bar/café/restaurant and is on the main street in downtown Reykjavik. Hressó offers a big menu with everthing from breakfast to desserts. Our Todays specials always include traditional Icelandic cuisine like lamb and fish. On weekends Hressó offers live music and after that you can experience the true natur of Reykjavík’s famous nightlife.

Austurstræti 20 - 101 Reykjavík - 561 2240

66 覺 WOW is in the air

Aim for the sky

The WOW Stars WOW air is proud to present WOW Stars Annie Mist Þórisdóttir and Jón Margeir Sverrisson. The people chosen are individuals who have done something WOW worthy and are good role models and inspirations to others. Both Annie Mist and Jón Margeir have set world records this year, she is the first woman to earn the world championship in CrossFit two years in a row and Jón Margeir set the world record at the Paralympics in 200 meter freestyle swim as well as winning the gold.

WOW air´s goal is to help its stars reach their goals by sponsoring their internation­ al travels. Skúli Mogensen, CEO of WOW air says: “Iceland has so many noteworthy people doing good things in art, sports and culture that it’s really unbelievable. Annie Mist and Jón Margeir have definitely earned the title of WOW Stars and we’re proud to sponsor them because they really are inspira­tional role models and have shown that it is possible to reach your goals and have your dreams come true.”

After winning the CrossFit world games in 2012 she became the first person to win the games two years in a row. Winning the com­ petition earned her the title “The fittest wom­ an on earth”. She let it slip out that after her win she went to The Cheesecake Fact­ory where she enjoyed more than one desert. We think she totally deserved that! You can’t expect a girl like that to be single. Annie met her boyfriend, Frederik Ægidius from Denmark while they were both com­ peting in CrossFit, although Frederik’s main sport is American football. Annie says it has been encouraging competing at the same time as Frederik. Annie is on the Rebok’s CrossFit team and tests clothes and materials for Rebok’s design team. With Rebok she designed her own shoes for the 2012 games, which had the colors of the Icelandic flag: red, white and blue.

Annie Mist Annie Mist started doing CrossFit two months prior to the CrossFit Games in 2009. Before CrossFit she practiced gymnastics, ballet, pole vaulting and Bootcamp. Her diet is healthy foods and minimally processed goods. She also aims to eat a lot of high qu­ality protein, some of which comes from Icelandic dairy products. “We have a lot of really clean dairy products here in Iceland.” When Annie Mist competed in her first CrossFit tournament in Iceland it was on the same day she’d had a math exam. She entered the competition after only two hours of sleep.

1:59:62 minutes. He beat his opponent by 17 hundredths of a second. His next goal is to compete both in the Olympics and Paralym­ pics in Rio 2016. He has already met the qualifications for the 1500 meter crawl swim. According to Jón the moment of victory was an unforgettable one, a memory he said he would forever treasure. Jón Margeir practices 9-10 times a week and admitted that he rewards himself with ice cream after every record. We’re guessing he had a few of those at the Paralympics. He also got a tattoo of the Paralympics logo after setting his World record. If getting inked is his next celebratory tradition he will probably have to visit the tattoo parlor a few more times – we at least, have high hopes for more records and more ice cream.

The latest star of WOW

Jón Margeir When Jón Margeir Sverrison won the gold at the Paralympics in London he also set the World- and Olympic records in 200 meter freestyle swim. His record time was

Check out our latest WOW Star. You probably already did. He is on the cover and his name is Baltasar Kormákur. Act­u­ ally, this is more of an honorary title for Baltasar, he doesn’t need the WOW Star sponsorship or free tickets to anywhere. The real WOW Stars here are the up and coming filmmakers of Iceland whom Balt­asar is a benefactor to through his product­ion companies in Iceland. The WOW Star sponsorship will be used to further help and support young film ­directors and Icelandic movie projects. Now, back to the movie.

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Ultimate Icelander

There’s a new superhero in town Gunnar Nelson - full name Gunnar Lúðvík Nelson - is Iceland’s very own superhero. This professional martial artist has proven himself to be in a league of his own in Ice­­land and one of the very best worldwide. He recently became the very first Icelander to compete in the esteemed Ultimate Fighting Championship or UFC. His very first fight was against DaMarques Johnson, a USA fighter with considerably more exper­ience than the 24 year old Nelson. Despite an obvious weight difference in DaMarques’ favor, Nelson accepted the chall­enge and using a technique known as rear naked choke (RNC), conquered the sea­soned fighter in the first round after only three minutes and 34 seconds. WOW Magazine contacted the young superhero who as a child dreamt of becoming Batman. by Hrund Þórsdóttir Photos: Rakel Ósk Sigurðardóttir Make-up: Þórdís Þorleifsdóttir


unnar Nelson is a rising star in the fighting leagu­ es of the world. Despite his young age he remains un­ de­feated and unfazed, having defeated one fighter after anot­ her. As an athlete, he’s grown tremendously in just a short time, having achieved the kind of success very few accomplish in a lifetime. “It’s hard for me to focus my attention on too many things at once. I prefer to put all my energy in one activity and do it the best I can. When I find some­­thing that appeals to me, all I want is to do it all day long, every single day. Since I start­ ed training Mixed Martial Arts (MMA), my enthusiasm for the sport has continued to grow and has become such a big part of my life. This is what I want to do and I am blessed to have found my calling so early in life,” Nelson explains. Before his involvement in Mix­ ed Martial Arts, Nelson was an accomplished athlete in Karate and a member of the Iceland­ ic national team. Although he receiv­ed a major sponsorship ­offer – the largest ever offered to an Icelandic martial artist from the Icelandic Sports Feder­ ation (ÍSÍ), he turned it down.

68 ı WOW is in the air

“The Icelandic Sports Federa­ tion made me a generous spons­ orship offer; it came shortly after I had realized how much I wanted to pursue Mixed Martial Arts, so I couldn’t in good conscience accept it. Sponsorships for Mixed Martial Arts athletes are not available in Iceland, as the sport is not recognized by the Federa­ tion. Anyway, I was yet to make a name for myself in MMA.”

No pride in violence “The picture people paint of fight­ers is generally an ugly one. However, some people admire the exterior façade of coolness, and look up to fighters who’re blatantly arrogant and disre­ spect their opponents; this is not the image I want to convey,” Nelson said when asked about the violent nature of the sport. Despite his sport, Gunnar Nel­ son is not a violent man. “I want people to see the good in me, and paint a picture that sincerely depicts goodness. I don´t want to mask my weakness­es with neg­ ative or cocky be­havior, partly because a young­er fighter might want to imitate me. I am very confident in myself and show it through my composure, rather than by being ostentatious and having fits of rage. I am not a

performer and while I do not want to injure my opponent, in the ring, I put my feelings aside and do what it takes. “I take no pride in violence. I used to get into fights when I was younger and a part of me thought it was pretty cool to be able to beat up anyone and be ‘the man’. But deep inside, I al­ ways felt bad about it. Today, I’d never use violence outside the ring,” Nelson said with resolve.

Crucial to have fun For a novice, it may seem diffi­ cult to enter the ring and accept the challenge. When asked if he is frightened before a match, Nelson replied, “You know your opponent’s goal is to beat you up, and at first it’s terrifying but when you get used to it your perspective changes. Some think rage can help you in the ring but it doesn’t - same goes for fear. You cannot be emotionally involved in the ring, because those feel­ ings will get in the way.” Apart from the aches and pains that come with the terri­ tory, Nelson has never been injured. When asked if he thinks the training rounds are too rough, he explained, “To me, it’s im­portant to train in an environ­

ment where I am comfortable. Sometimes I want to train hard but other days I want to play, an attitude many athletes lose with time. They think maximum result during training is necessary and can’t stand to lose to training partners. That to me is a mistake and it is generally a bad idea to stand on a pedestal. If you do that, you’ll miss out on so many things you could learn. During training sessions, I’ve been beaten up numerous times, by fighters I would easily take in­ side the ring. It’s okay to give up sometimes, because it means you’ll come back stronger. It’s important to be playful and I think that’s the key to success, not just for athletes but for every­one; also to be calm and composed. The better you feel, and the more at ease you are with everyone and everything, the easier it is to focus; also your brain functions quicker, and you

Date of birth: 28 July 1988 Height: 180 cm Weight: 80 kg Shoe size: 43 (European) Eye colour: Blue-gray Hair colour: Brown Motto in life: Balance

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have more ambition, energy and self-confidence,” Nelson said convincingly. “To possess real confidence means to be at ease with your­ self, and not because people admire you. I am very much at ease with myself; still I know there’s always room for improve­ ment. You have to have a goal to work towards, but it felt good when I finally discovered that there is more to it than that. I realized this recently and now I don’t do things just to achieve certain results but also because I enjoy doing them. Now that I have achieved this state of mind I’ve never wanted to train as much, I could spend all day at the gym.”

Rules are restrictive Gunnar has a remarkably mature approach to life, despite the fact he’s never received spiritual guid­­ance to help with the mental side of things.

Gunnar Nelson now has a contract with the UFC and is currently waiting for his next challenge. He has received a lot of attention after his debut in the UFC and numerous magazines have interviewed him, such as Japan´s biggest magazine in the martial arts field. Nelson´s next fight is yet undecided but it could be ­ in early 2013.

70 ı WOW is in the air

“To possess real confidence means to be at ease with your­ self, and not because people admire you. I am very much at ease with myself; still I know there’s always room for improve­ment. “I am very good at being by myself, and unlike those who dis­ tract themselves with tele­­vis­i­on, I like to reflect upon matters and reach my own conclusions. Hon­ est and sincere contemplation is all about chasing a feeling with­ in, considering matt­­­­ers through meditation and apply­­­­ing them systematically” he explain­­ed. “People keep asking me why I don’t set specific goals for my­­self, but if the truth be told, goals become restrictions. The best way for me to succeed is to focus on what I am doing,” Gunn­ar replied when asked about his goals. Gunnar Nelson is a man who sets his own bars and isn’t bother­ ed by public opinion. Still, he does have a role model within the MMA. “Fedor Emelianko is a family man who is generally serene and composed, even though he is the best fighter in the world. He never loses his composure, a quality I’ve always wanted to possess,” he says. Nelson is aware of all the atten­ tion he’s now receiving and his responsibility as a role model.

“When people watch you from afar, you can take positive ener­ gy from them and that’s what I do. It can be difficult for some people to be watched like this, but you shouldn’t be afraid of being who you are.” He feels people should have the freedom to make their own choices and considers it normal to make a mistake. “Rules are confining. It should suffice to instruct people to recog­nize right from wrong, but we’re such babies that we can’t live without rules. I am drawn to

the idea of leading a tribal life where the most experienced, guide the others. For us, it’s not the old people with the most life experience on their shoulders that steer the wheel, but young people driven by insecurity. People always want more and more, and to them modest living is not interesting. I think it’d be better if individuals like my grandfather were in charge - he has taught me so much. Sometimes I don‘t immediately understand what he‘s trying to say, but í come around in the end. Grandfathers are wise.”

Gunnar says with a smirk. “My grandparents have a farm up north and from time to time I´ve helped them out. When my grandfather taught me to strike a nail, he told me to not hit too hard and to focus on the object at hand. My impatient self on the other hand wanted to get the nail in the wall as quickly as possi­ble and as easily as my grandfather did, but the nail broke and I had to start over. It’s the same for my sport, once I learned to be relax­ ed when striking a blow, each blow became more powerful.”

Indifferent to the material world When Gunnar talks about mod­ est living, the obvious question is if material objects matter to him at all. “I am no monk but I’ve become increasingly indifferent to worldly goods. The never-ending rat race is a race for quantity not quality. We are living breath­ ing be­ings with feelings and the best ones have nothing to do with material objects other than our basic needs: to be out in nature, exercise, relax and laugh with friends… these are the things that give life mean­ ing. Many worry about money for no good reason. Worries are

born from wanting it all. I´m not that concerned about worldly goods, yet I’ve never wanted for anything. If I make healthy eating choices, make time for family and friends, am able to workout and have sex, I’m okay. That’s all I need. I have dreams but they’re not my goals. Above all, I want to spend time with my friends and my family, which includ­es seeing

my grandparents when I get the chance. I want to continue train­ ing MMA and eventually start a family of my own. We’ll see what the future brings. You never know what’s going to happen next, and I live in the moment. I don’t want to miss out on all the positive experiences happening this very momen.”

BANKASTRÆTI 7 533 3390

“I am drawn to the idea of leading a tribal life where the most experienced guide the others.”

AUSTURHRAUN 3 533 3805

SMÁRALIND 533 3013

KRINGLAN 533 3003

Photo: Guðmundur Vigfússon.

Jump right in

The sea is our second home by Jón Kristinn Snæhólm Photos: Heiða Helgadóttir,Rakel Ósk Sigurðardóttir and Kristinn Magnússon


one in their right mind walks calmly towards the free­zing Atlantic January waves with a big grin on his face howl­ ing words of excitement and bravado without being stark rav­ing mad or a member of the Icelandic Sea Swim and Bath Society. Yet this is not a new phenomenon because this sport has indulged various eccentrics through history claiming that the sea is the cure for bad health, diseases and hot temper. Some emphasize that this is or was, the true sport of the Vikings and thus essential to endeavor for those who claim to be their true

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descendants. In Iceland today this has become quite a craze. In fact sea swimming and bathing is one of the fastest growing sports in the country where up to 500 enthusiasts from the ages 15 to 85 do it on a regular basis. “The cold is not our enemy, the brain is. The brain tells us that going into the freezing water is hazardous and of course it is if you don´t know how to behave in these circumstances. And surely you have to know the signs of hypothermia. But if the brain gets used to this kind of environment it adopts the right countermeasures and you’re ok,” says Árni Þór Árnason, form­ er chairman of the Icelandic Sea

Swim and Bath Society and an applicant for his second swim crossing of the English Channel.

A unique experience Yours truly tried this unique experience on December 1st 2012 in order to share the feeling of swimming in the North Atlantic Ocean at freez­ ing temperatures with the respectable readers of WOW Magazine …and … WOOOOW! Shh*t! Don’t try this at home, folks. What a tremendous shock for the body. First it was like a huge sledge hammer made of ice hit me on the chest and my heart, the fist sized muscle supposed to pump blood through all my veins, shrank to a raisin protecting only the most vital organs; the brain, the lungs and itself. It was very hard to breath and every muscle in my body stiffened or cramped up to reserve body heat and energy. Most shocking of all was that my pride and joy and long time

best friend and companion shrank up to non existence leaving my manhood at ZERO. But I promise, after a little while he forgave me and came home to daddy. “My toes and fingers have numbed up,” I told Árni who had accompanied me. “At this point your body is regulating itself to the conditions it’s in,” he assured me while my body’s function in the water began to slow down so I could survive as long as possible. “The body is a wonderful machine, able to take tremen­ dous punishment both from heat and cold and the brain with proper training will save you in the worst conditions. It’s only a matter of training. Now I’m taking you out of the water. You have been in here with me for two minutes but bear in mind that after about a month’s training we could stay for an hour or more. This becomes an addiction.” In the sauna afterwards I had the feeling that billions of needles were prick­­ing gently at my entire body and sure enough I felt like a new man and full of energy. I’m defin­itely going to take this up in the near future and I‘ve already started looking for places in Florida and Spain where I can flaunt my favorite sport.


ing Whale Watch on The Blue La go cle The Gold en Cir ing Horsebac k Rid Car Rental Last-minute tio n Accommoda Geenla nd ... and more!

There are some major factors to be considered before jumping into the unknown world of the freezing sea: Nourishment, a good night´s sleep and no alcoholic beverages. It is of vital importance to eat something nourishing so you don’t encounter a dive in your blood sugar levels in the middle of your swim. A banana is enough before a short swim. A good night’s rest is also very important and by no means should you drink alcohol beforehand as it dilutes the blood and can therefore easily transfer coldness to the heart. Recommended: One minute in the sea for each degree of the sea’s temperature for beginners Breathing: It is important to breathe regularly. Otherwise a swimmer can encounter difficulties, such as adrenalin shock and stiffening of muscles. Support: For those experiencing sea swimming for the first time it is high­ ly recommended that they have the support of an experienced swimmer; someone who knows the body’s reactions in these new circumstances.

Tel.: +354 570 7770 visit our store locations

Downtown at Aðalstræti 2 Keflavik Airport Hótel Saga

For further information visit: and

Issue 1

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Taking the plunge

Jeez I´m freezing!


n the early days of the sport, the sadistic exercise of sea swimming was beyond my comprehension. After all, what right-minded man or woman willingly and regu­ larly goes into the North Atlantic Ocean for a swim? But as is to be expected, the day came for my very first swim in the cold seawater. It all started one morning when a girlfriend of mine left a mess­­ age saying, “Hi Erna, will you come with me for a dip in the sea?” My first response was a big fat NO! But alas, I gave in and on my way home from work I picked up my bathing suit. As I arrived utterly petrified in Nauthólsvík, Reykjavík’s popular beachfront known for its partially heat­ ed seawater cove, I was bent on solving the mystery as to why ­riddle why so many have abandon­ed their senses and turned to the sea.


ow I shivered to the core of my body while I chang­ ed into my bathing suit behind the raw concrete walls of the Nauthóls­vík locker room; and bent and bowed like a cave­ woman, I rac­­ed to the outdoor hot tub. In the hot tub we met our brave companions, two men with nerv­ es of steel, fixed on the targ­et. Together, they talked me into forsaking the deliciously warm water to run half-naked to the beach - the not heated side. Yes I refer to the “other side of the rocks” where the real sea swimm­ ing heroes and swim all the way to the buoy and back. For a little while, all we did was to stand on the beach, and watch experienced native swimm­­ers wade into the Atlantic Ocean. The first to take the plunge from our group of four were the two men, yelping like puppies. Then it was our turn. Hand in hand, we took one small step at a time - without a splash as recommend­ ed - and gradually made our way

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by Erna Hreinsdóttir Photos: Rakel Ósk Sigurðardóttir

into the cold in to the colt sea water, until Ocean, until only our heads were above the surface. At that moment, I seem to re­ call a yelp of my own but frankly I´m not quite sure because these first seconds I spent in total shock.


hen I got used to the freezing cold water, and once I caught my breath again, I swam for about 20 seconds, the maximum time for me as a novice sea swimmer. Twenty seconds may not seem much but I probably would have died had I spent another moment in the frigid water. The first steps back on dry land were rather difficult since I couldn’t feel my legs, but otherwise I felt myself to be remarkably graceful with my muscles popping and the cellulite mysteriously gone. Safe to say, I solved the mystery. The great appeal to sea swimm­ ing is this very feeling of wellbe­ ing. For some it may be from the rush of adrenaline experienced in the cold seawater, and for ­others, from the feeling of ecsta­ sy when it’s all over. For me, it was the relief to rest comfortably in the hot tub again, even though bathing in thermal water was strangely conflicting. I couldn’t tell if I was feeling cold or hot, and my skin felt like a pincushion. But when the sensa­ tion passed, I could feel my energy returning.


arely have I been as proud of myself as I was after this ordeal, and I felt as if I could climb on top of the world. I was determined to return another day to experience this extraordi­ nary high once more. Even though I have yet to return, I count sea swimming as an activi­ ty worth trying and I recommend it to everyone. A word to the wise, find out how to proceed when swimm­ing in the sea and make sure to check local conditions. Useful information is available on and

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Ready, set, go! One of the very best things about Iceland are the long, bright summer nights. Combine the bright long nights with the country’s beautiful nature and the possibilities for outdoor activities become endless. For many years, people from all over the world have been coming to Iceland in the summer months to play golf at midnight or try their luck at catching fish in the rivers. But it’s not just foreign visitors who enjoy the long summer nights and what they have to offer. By Dísa Bjarnadóttir Photos: courtesy of WOW air


ith its bountiful daylight and beautiful nature Iceland is a prime spot for bike riding, which is why a new tradition was started in 2012 by a group of energetic outdoorsy people inspired by the nature and daylight: the WOW cyclo­ thon. Surprisingly this is the first cyclothon held in Iceland, but it is determined to become an

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annual event. Twenty groups of four contestants set upon the task to cycle around the country in 72 hours or less. This first WOW cyclothon was both to promote healthy living and outdoor activities in the beauti­ful nature of Iceland and to raise money for a charity called Save the Children. Some twenty teams, each consisting of four people participated in the relay style cyclothon.

Contestants raised quite a bit of money by collecting pledges for their teams and all corporate sponsorship also went directly to Save the Children. The total amount raised by the cyclothon was ISK 3.8 million.

Around Iceland in 40 hours Amongst the 20 teams competing were a WOW air women’s-team and WOW air men’s-team, The Police-team, a team of middle

Big wheels keep on turning An unknown philosopher once said: “To test a man’s character, give him a bike.” If you want to test your own character you can participate in the second cyclothon to be held on the 19th of June 2013. Register at www. Registration has already begun and is open to everyone until May 15th 2013.

aged office workers and a gar­ age band. The winning team, Piltarnir (the young men) cycled around the country in 40 hours and 57 minutes, which was about seven hours quicker than the time they were aiming for. Skúli Mogensen, CEO of WOW air, one of the main organisers of the competition and a member of WOW air men’s team said: “The aim of WOW Cyclothon is to create an international competi­tion in class with the best in the world. Icelandic nature has a lot of charisma and appeal and we hope that

by hosting this compe­tition we can draw people’s attention to how great Iceland is for outdoor activi­ties. It is also good to spon­ sor a good cause and a promote healthy lifestyle at the same time.”

A cause that “wheely” makes you think

of Save the Children Iceland adds, “It is very important to raise aware­ness of the significance of phy­sical activities for the general health and well-being of children. It means a lot to our cause to get this kind of support so we can keep working on these projects for the children.”

The aim of the competition in which WOW air was the official sponsor, donating the winning prize, was to raise money for Save the Children, especially its project titled “Exercise and the physical health of childr­en”. Ágúst Þórðarson, the manager

“The aim of WOW Cyclothon is to cre­ ate an international competition in class with the best in the world.”

Uno is a cozy restaurant in the heart of downtown Reykjavik that has become a favorite among foodies, mainly for their flavorful antipasti, platters and Italian style tapas. The kitchen's emphasis is on local ingredients, served with an Italian twist. No shortcuts are allowed and everything is made from scratch.

træti Aða ls

Vel tus und

a at rg


s Ve

Tr yg gv a

ga ta

Ha fn

ar str





ur st



This charming old house on Ingolfstorg square, houses the restaurant on the main floor and downstairs a wine cellar, kitchen and bakery with a pasta machine that churns out linguine, tagliolini and rigatoni every morning. Recently renovated and under new ownership, Uno has attracted some of the best young chefs in town

and consequently the restaurant has acquired a following of loyal patrons. Prices are moderate and the warm and inviting lounge offers 50% of all drinks during the daily Happy hour between 17–19. Fridays and Saturdays the kitchen stays open until midnight, so sharing a platter of bruschettas and a bottle of wine is the perfect end to a good day in Reykjavik.

UNO at Ingólfstorg Tel. 561 1313 |

Fit while flying

Land in style

With the help of these In-flight exercises! We don´t want tired or worn out passengers coming out of the WOW airplanes so we got Ásthildur Björnsdóttir, a register­ed nurse and personal trainer, to whip you into shape. Rest assured that you are in excellent hands and start moving those ankles. By: Halldóra Anna Hagalín Photos: Kristinn Magnússon To combat poor circulation, swelling, sore joints and the “joys” of cramped flights you might try doing a short exercise routine; at the very least, you´ll entertain your fellow passengers! When you´re sitting upright and inactive for a long period of time, several things can happen: • • •

The central blood vessels in your legs can become compressed, making it harder for the blood to get back to your heart. Muscles can get tense, resulting in backaches and a feeling of excessive fatigue during, and even after your flight. The normal body mechanism for returning fluid to the heart can be inhibited and gravity can cause the fluid to collect in your feet, resulting in swollen feet after a long flight.

Wait! That doesn´t sound attractive at all! 1. Neck roll: With shoulders relaxed, drop ear to shoulder and gently roll neck forward and to the other side, holding each position about twenty seconds.

2. Arm stretch: Put both of your hands on the seatback directly in front of you and push symmetrically for 10 seconds and release. Repeat 5 times. This exercise can only be done if the seat in front of you is vacant! So wait until its occupant leaves for the bathroom … or a recommended stretch.

78 ı WOW is in the air

While in-flight, move your legs and feet for three to four minutes per hour while seated and move about the cabin occasionally. Sure, these exercises are light; we’re not training you to be a bodybuilder, still they can be effective at increasing the body´s blood circulation and massaging the muscles.

3. Triceps lift Make sure there is plenty of space around you to do this exercise! Place your hands on the bar of your seat. With hands gripping the arm rests and elbows pointing back lift yourself up and down using your muscles in the back of your arms (the triceps). Your feet are stuck to the floor. Try to do as many you can!

Attention: Each exercise should be done with minimal disturbance to the other passengers and none of the exercises should be performed if they cause pain and cannot be done with ease.

4. Forward flex for your back: With both feet on the floor and stomach held in, slowly bend forward and walk your hands down the front of your legs toward your ankles. Hold the stretch for 20 seconds and slowly sit back up. Repeat 5 times. Foot pumps: Start with both heels on the floor and point feet upward as high as you can. Hold for 10 seconds. Then put both feet flat on the floor. Next, lift your heels high as you can, keeping the balls of your feet on the floor and again hold for 10 seconds. Repeat this cycle 5 times every hour.

Airplane workout – Q&A Is it dangerous to exercise on the airplane? Because airplanes are moving and therefore not stable you should not perform the more extravagant exercises while the “fasten your seat-belts” sign is turned on. If the air currents are unfavourable you can always do the ankle circles and the neck roll. Aren’t people going to think I´m weird? Yeah maybe! Of course, if they’re sleeping they won’t notice. If not they may think you are a bit weird. But think of it this way: you’ll be the liveliest person leaving the aircraft. Well, you and the other weirdos, that is. Just bear in mind; Avoid disturbing passengers that might throw you out!

5. Knee lifts: Lift leg with knee bent while contracting your thigh muscles. Alternate. Repeat 20-30 times for each leg.

How often should I do the exercises? The upper body exercises are perfect for every other hour but the lower body exercises should be done for about 3-4 minutes every hour.

6. Heavy lift Place the ankle of your right leg on top of your left leg. Now push your left leg up and down without your left foot touching the floor. Repeat at least 10 times and then switch legs.

8. Ankle circles: Lift feet off the floor, draw a circle with the toes, simu­­ltaneously moving one foot cloc­­k­ wise and the other foot counter cloc­­kwise. Reverse cycles. Do each direct­­ion for 20 seconds. Re­­peat every hour of your flight.

WOW Challenge: Challenge your entire row to do the Triceps lift or Heavy lift until only one person is left standing … sitting (ok, we´re confused but you’ll figure it out).

Issue 1

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A person of WOW

Photo: Aldís Pálsdóttir,

Anything is possible for a smiling bulldozer There is an Icelandic saying for people that can do a lot of tasks at once. It loosely translates to “having a lot of irons in the fire”. Where it came from or what it exactly means I’m not sure, but it certainly came to my mind when I first heard of Andrea Sóleyjar og Björgvinsdóttir. She is a single mother of three girls, graduate student, flight attendant at WOW air, a project manager at WOW air marketing department and now a book author. (After reading that, all I could think, was “wow!”) Andrea has recently put the finishing touches on what she calls “her fourth child”, a book about child­ bearing, birthing stories, and fun things that happen to parents. The book is titled BókiN oKKar which translates to “Our Book” in English. By Dísa Bjarnadóttir

“The WOW atmosphere in the work­ place suits me really well.”

80 ı WOW is in the air

Where did the idea be­­hind the book come from? “It started when I was pregnant with my eldest daughter, Sóley, who is now seven years old. I thought there was a need for a book of this kind in Icelandic and since none existed I got the idea of writing one myself. I started col­­ lect­­ing material, writ­­ing down questions and ide­as and my pile slowly started getting bigger. I worked on the book on and off for the next few years, during which time I also had two more daughters, moved twice to other countries, work­ ed and went to school. At first I was going to

publish it myself but then I contacted Salka pub­ lishing house and they loved the concept so two months ago we signed a contract. Then the ball really started rolling and now I’m working full time on the book. It has already gained a lot of interest and from what I hear there was a need for a book like this. People within the health professions tell me there is excitement about it within their field and also amongst mothers- and fathers-to-be. How do you manage to balance motherhood, studies and work? It has gone remarkably well, believe it or not. I am very lucky to have my

“It started when I was pregnant with my eldest daught­ er, Sóley, who is now seven years old. parents who live in the country side, just outside of Selfoss. I’d be lost without them. The book is dedicated to them. I am not usually very organized but I have lots of energy and optimism and I be­ lieve I can do anything, as long as I picture myself as a smiling bulldozer. What do you like most about working for WOW air? Getting a job as a flight attendant at WOW air is one of the best things I’ve done in my life. The job is more difficult than

I thought it would be but also a lot more fun. The WOW atmosphere in the workplace suits me really well. To be optimistic and outgoing at work and put­ ting an effort to “WOW” all my tasks is amazing!


got an opportunity to work in the marketing department and I get to work on all kinds of fun and challenging projects for them. I think I’ve appl­ ied “The Secret” method to get everything I want because I’m exper­­iencing everything I’ve ever dream­ed of and more.

Issue 1

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All about Berlin

© VisitBerlin / Wolfgang Scholvien

A grand historical city Berlin is a tourist destination not to be missed. Even with a population of approximately 3.8 million people, it is remarkably tranquil for such a highly populated metropolitan city. Berlin is rich in history and divided in two parts, the east and west, and has been since 1961 when the Berlin Wall was constructed almost overnight. The barriers were finally broken when the wall was demolished in 1989. The two city parts are worlds apart despite their proximity, and written in their city’s extraordinary history are lingering memories of a wall that for decades kept families and friends apart.

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By Kristín Ýr Gunnarsdóttir

western sector when the Berlin Wall was built. The gate was repaired in the new millennium and is considered extraordinarily beautiful. Before the gate is a beautiful square where street artists often perform.

DDR Museum This highly entertaining museum is by the Cathedral. It gives a fun account of daily life in East Berlin and guests are welcome to interact with the artifacts. You can start an old Trabant (a car produced by an East German auto­­maker), dress up in an East German military uniform, read East German comics and it’s even possible to have an East German meal in a special diner connected to the museum.

© VisitBerlin / Susan Steudtemann

© VisitBerlin / Wolfgang Scholvien

The Berlin Wall

The Parliamentary Building

Berlin was split into sectors by the Allies in 1945 following Nazi Germany’s defeat in the Second World War. West Berlin became a part of West Germany and East Berlin fell into the hands of the Communist regime. Massive evacuation from the east to the west led the construction of the Berlin Wall in August 1961. The wall seperated families and friends all the way up to 1989 when it collapsed overnight. Most of the wall has been demo­­ lished. The most sacred remains can be found by a memorial of the wall at Bernauerstrasse 119.

Berlin’s parliamentary build­ ing, Reichstag has a long and impressive history. It was built in the 19th century but was severe­ ly damaged in the Second World War, and remained that way for almost 50 years. It was finally rebuilt in 1990 when Germany was reunified. A new cupola was built in the parliament building from which visitors can now enjoy a magnificent view.

© VisitBerlin / Wolfgang Scholvien

The Holocaust Memorial The Holocaust Memorial is a prominent sight in the Berlin city centre occupying approximately 20,000 square metres. It was built in commemoration of the five to six million Jews who died in the Holocaust. Above the ground is an assembly of 2711 slabs and below is the Holo­ caust museum, where letters writt­en by Jews about their ex­periences during the war are on display. Letters from mothers telling theirchildr­en to be brave and accept death, and letters wishing the hol­ocaust would end can be read.

© VisitBerlin

© VisitBerlin / Wolfgang Scholvien

White Trash - Fast Food

The Television Tower

The name does not do justice to this extraordinary restaurant and it’s an experience and a half to come here. All the staff looks like Amy Winehouse, covered in tattoos and body piercing, and wearing loads of knick-knacks. Although their appearance may be a bit off the deep end the food is right on and the service enter­ taining. White Trash is a great hangout for a night out with good friends.

The Television Tower in Berlin (Fernsehturm) is approximately 370 metres high and was built in East Berlin between 1965 to 1969. The tower was a symbol intended to show the West German population the great power of East Germany. The Visitor Platform (the panoram­ ic floor) rises two hundred metres above the city and the revolving restaurant offers an amazing panoramic view.

The Berliner Dom Cathedral The Berliner Dom Cathedral is the largest Protestant church in Germany, approximately 114 metres tall and 70 metres wide. Construction began in 1905, a sur­ prising fact to most visitors who think the church is much older. Adventurous explorers who enjoy the mystique of a narrow stair­ case, can climb beyond where the lifts go all the way to the church tower. Like most buildings in Berl­ in The Berliner Dom Cathedral was dam­aged severely in the second world war, and rebuilt in 1975.

Prenzlauer Berg Prenzlauer Berg is one of Berlin’s most colorful and inviting bor­ oughs. Located in East Berlin, the property value was once low in this run down sector, attracting Bohemians and artists. Today, Prenzlauer Berg - an art district with cafes, bars, small boutiques, restaurants and markets - is a laid-back area where the bars stay open until dawn.

© VisitBerlin / Wolfgang Scholvien

Mauerpark A worthwhile place to visit is the Sunday market held in the Mauer­ park, where street performers set the mood and just about every­­ thing can be bought. The ideal place to spend a perfect Sunday afternoon. © VisitBerlin / Wolfgang Scholvien

Brandenburg Gate

Fashionation The cool designer labels and sophisticated clothes are made for the selective consumer. The price tag is steep for single de­sign­er items but they’re worth it. This boutique is located on the second floor in the P&C Welstadthaus mall.

The Brandenburg Gate is Berlin’s best known symbol. It was com­­ missioned by King Frederick William II towards the end of the 18th century and was meant to be a symbol of peace. Like most buildings in the city centre, it was damaged in the Second World War, and became isolated be­­tween the eastern and

Cycling is a charming way to explore Berlin. Hotels generally offer a day by day bike rental for 10 to 12 Euros. It’s a real bargain and a great way to get to know the city. The cityscape is flat so it’s easy to get around. All you need to do is find a map, mark the route and the museums you might want to visit and enjoy the ride.

Issue 1

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All about Berlin

Night Out

Beautiful Berlin Graphic designer Nicole Nicolaus, born in Leipzig, Germany, spent the past 11 years working in Iceland, three, as the art director for the popular clothing line 66° North. Earlier this year Nicole moved back to Germany and she now works as a senior graphic designer for CYBEX in Berlin. Eight months since her relocation to Berlin – a city she loves for its heter­ogeneity – Nicole told us about some of her favourite places to visit. By Kristín Ýr Gunnarsdóttir

Ritter Butzke - Ritterstrasse 26 This fairytale land is always crowded and the music is great. Prince Charles - Moritzplatz The bar situated at the site of an old indoor swimming pool plays non-stop music KaterHolzig - Michaelkirchstr 23 You can enjoy good food 24/7 in this old factory with its graffiti décor.

We care about you so much that we want you to visit our website.

© Berlin Tourismus & Kongress GmbH Photographer: Günter Steffen

Clärchens Ballhaus - Auguststrasse 24 Sit and chat or dance the night away at this unique old ballroom with real history and genuine character.

Neue Odessa Bar - Torstrasse 89 The bar to meet the crème de la crème in the art community.


Insel der Jugend Ideal for renting a canoe or a boat at the “Kanuliebe”. The per­ fect place in Berlin to truly relax.

Photo: ©VisitBerlin / Günter Steffen



Papaya - Krossener Strasse 11 An authentic Thai restaurant, and a favourite of mine. It is absolutely delightful. Chén Chè - Rosenthaler Strasse 13 A Vietnamese Tea house where the decorations and the food say everything that needs to be said. The spring rolls are lovely, the atmosphere great and the waiters ever so friendly. Dolores - Rosa-Luxemburg Strasse 7 The authentic California burritos and quesadillas always do the trick, and I definitely recommend the homemade lemonade. Pric­ es are very reasonable. Yam Yam - Alte Schönhauser Str. 6 This small,cozy Korean restaurant is always packed. Once you’ve tried the food you’ll know why!

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little bookstore you’ll find books on design, architecture, the arts and much, much more.

Aarven - Rosa-Luxemburg-Strasse 2 This store carries a wide range of priceless designer gifts.

Broke und Schön - Krosseren Strasse 9 This is a favourite of mine. The clothing comes from neighbour­ ing France and it’s smart but cheap. The salesgirls are pretty and there is always something to be found. Cos - Neue Schönhauser Str. 20 The selection of timeless mod­ern clothing is made out of quality material and the colours are fabulous. proqm - Amstadtstrasse 48-50 Bound for Greatness is Berlin’s finest bookstore. In this neat

© VisitBerlin / Günter Steffen

Tiergarten An enchanting green zone in the heart of the city.

© Berlin Tourismus & Kongress GmbH. Photographer: Günter Steffen

Küchenliebe - Gärtnerstrasse 28 A fantastic boutique where you’ll find perfect housewarming presents, and a little something for yourself. Badeschiff - Eichenstrasse 4 Badeschiff takes you to a whole new level in a swimming pool that literally floats in the River Spree.

Your first destination should always be  In Iceland the weather can change fast. Check the weather at  Always leave your travel plan with someone who can react if needed or at  Gather information about the area you are travelling to.  Remember to bring the right equipment for the kind of travel you are planning.

We want you out of here – alive!

All about Berlin

A Kreuzberg metro. © visitBerlin / Günter Steffen

What’s not to love about Berlin? A poor student’s guide to the city By Guðrún Baldvina Sævarsdóttir


efore moving to Berlin I knew it only from trav­ elling through a few times, look­ ing at the sites as a tour­­ ist and loving it. I lov­­ed it so much that I de­­cided to spend the winter here on stud­ent loans, studying and soaking in the cult­ ure. At the moment I’m living in a coal heated apartment next to a scary park in the hip and lively Kreuzberg district. For those considering this type of accomm­odation, did you know that coal is incredibly heavy and usu­ ally stored in basements with huge red pictures of rats on their doors? Even “real Berliners” find this adventurous of me, prob­ ably because they know I’m about as street smart as Dora the Explorer and that my geothermal Ice­

86 ı WOW is in the air

landic upbringing didn’t teach me much about the real world of industr­ial energy. Turns out that, once you get past the fact that there is an actual fire burning uncomfortably close to your gas stove, it’s actually quite nice. And scary park­-people seem very linguistically intimidat­ ed by Icelandic, so there you go. The city’s rental market is so crazy that when I go back home, I will have moved 5 times in 6 months and lived in four different neighbour­ hoods. Each neighbour­ hood has its own charm and whenever I’ve mov­­ed, I’ve settled in so nicely that I never want to leave. I’ve gott­­en so emot­ionally attached to metro lines that I’ve travelled for an extra 20 minutes just to stay on

Guðrún Baldvina and her straight hair.

my line. They are in fact all part of the world’s most comprehensive public transport system, and they give you a really good sense of the diver­ sity of the people in this city. Grandfathers with their trimmed moustach­ es and neat suits don’t raise an eyebrow when a middle­-aged lesbian couple, dressed as diff­ erent versions of Dita

Von Teese with a neon pink poodle on a leash, sit down next to them on the train. Open minded and li­­ beral as they are in this city, they really love their rules, most of which are unspoken, silent agree­ ments. But as a stranger here, I make roughly 2-3 socially unacceptable mistakes aa week. I know this because Germans will inform me about what­­ever blunder I’ve just made, enquire about what my exact intentions were and provide a suggestion on how to do it next time.

This can range from board­ing a tram before all passeng­ers have stepped off or asking for an extra plastic bag from the fruit vendor at the market. This may sound uncomfortable and rude but you welcome their forwardness in comment­ ing on your behaviour once you’ve mistaken a “this way to pool” sign for “feel free to walk naked through this door” sign. I will always think fondly of the outspok­en German who stopped me in that doorway. When I need a break from studying

“When I need a break from study­ ing or toting coals to my apart­ ment the variety of options to en­ tertain are overwhelming. I think I can honestly say that the only real limits are my imagination.”


© visitBerlin / Wolfgang Scholvien.

or toting coals to my apartment the variety of options to entertain are overwhelming. I think I can honestly say that the only real limits are my imagination. I have yet to invent something that they don’t already offer in Berlin. From private lessons in playing an ancient instru­­ment or dancing in absolute dark­­ness during a lunch break, to wheel gym­ nastics (it’s the weirdest sport in the world) the choices are endless. It helps to subscribe to newsletters like www. and, just in case the Beetles reunite. But if you just step out­

side there’s something interesting happening within a 10 minute radius anyway. The highlight this week was the Turkish bath for women (hamam) on Mariannenstrae where you stroll naked through hot rooms with your friends, pretend you’re a goddess by leisurely pouring water from a fountain all over yourself and relax for three hours. Brilliant! These days I’ve been bolstering up my holiday cheer at the numerous Christmas markets trying to get you to drink a lot of glühwein and eat a lot of walnuts that are really incredibly festive. The best ones are up in Prenzlauer Berg at the Kulturbrauerei and Koll­ witzplatz where they’ve boycotted the 20th cen­ tury and just dive straight into proper old fashioned Christmas. This year I am planning on something a little different for Christ­ mas, namely a visit to the Tropical Island Dome. It’s an indoor tropical beach resort, just outside

the city, complete with a rainforest, a beach and an artificial sunset. You can even bring your sleeping bag and camp for the night. It is without a doubt, the weirdest attraction I’ve ever heard of and I am more than willing to be one of the suckers attracted. I’ve also come to real­ ize that I can buy virtually anything here, from odd Fair trade, bio-eco Afri­ can fruits to tickets to a Leonard Cohen concert – almost anything. Shortly after arriving I decided that my outgrown, hippie hair days were numbered and that an edgy perm would be the new me, but asking for a perm at a BIO hair salon is like

The Tropical Island Dome, just outside Berlin.

asking for heroin at a pharmacy. My enquiry was met with shock, slight offence and a small lecture on the damage those chemicals do to the environment and my hair, in that order. I was however informed that if I get my hair cut when the

The rat sign in the basement.

moon is at a certain po­ sition every month, after two years I’d have natural curls. There are no quick fixes in the world of the eco-friendly and environ­ mentally enlightened. At another hair salon I was referred to a specialist who did this sort of thing at a different place. My hair is still straight and boring.


omething mind-blowing happened at just about every corner and on that corner is

an accessible plaque explaining it all. And that’s just the streets, the museums are a world of their own where incredibly well made exhibitions shoulder the responsibility of remem­ bering and informing. My personal favorites are the Bundestag’s parliamen­ tary museum at Gendar­ menmarkt and the Wall Memorial on Bernauer Strasse …both incidental­ ly, incredibly remarkable and incredibly free! In the end, what makes it so special is this combination of old and new, history and culture, variety in all meanings of the word in all aspects of a society. What’s not to love?

Christmas Market at Charlottenburg Palace. © visitBerlin / Wolfgang Scholvien.

More Iceland for less money

Explore the unique volcanic and arctic nature of Iceland

Tel: +354 511 2600


All about Berlin

A small piece of a long story The Wall was built in 1961 in order to separate the western part of Berlin from the east­ ern part. The former capital of Germany was at this time situated in Soviet territory and their “puppet” government in East Germany wanted to do everything in its power to stop defection of East Germans to West Berlin. At the time they started building the wall, i.e. on August 13, 1961, more than 2.5 million people had already fled from Eastern Ger­ many to the western part of the country. By Jón Kristinn Snæhólm


he government of East Germany called The Wall “The De­ fense Wall against fascism” whereas Germans in the west called it “The Wall of Shame”. The creation, upbuilding, and development of The Wall was at all times in the hands of the East Germans. At first barb wire was put up be­tween houses then brick walls were built block by block. In 1975 a new brick wall was built in such a way that it was almost im­possible for people to climb over. In fact The Wall was built as if it were two walls, i.e. a wall facing West Ber­ lin, and another situated on the other side of the so called “dead zone”, a zone of 100-200 meters between the two walls. The

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dead zone was lit up by flood lights, armored soldiers were on guard everywhere with auto­ matic machine guns who shot everyone that tried to defect. It is estimated that ca. 136 people died in their attempt, 200 were wounded and there is no way of knowing how many people were imprisoned after trying to flee.

Making a stand About 350 thousand people left East Germany with the consent of German authorities from 1961 until the fall of The Wall on the 9th of November 1989. The Wall was the image of the Cold War and Berlin was the center of heated and sometimes violent confrontations between commu­ nists and their detractors. West­ ern political leaders were eager

Check point Charlie. © visitBerlin / Wolfgang Scholvien.

to give passionate speeches in front of The Wall daring the Soviets to honor independence, freedom and human rights. Two speeches in retrospect about the Berlin Wall and its signi­­ficance concerning the horri­­ble injustice perpetrated against the people in the East is first, the speech made by John F. Kennedy on June 26, 1963, in which he attacked the Soviets and its “puppets” in East Berlin for the building of The Wall, and their severe breach of human rights. And I quote, “In the world of freedom, the proudest boast is; Ich bin ein Berliner [I am from Berlin].” And next as US president Ronald Regan asked Michael Gorbachev to clarify and prove what he meant by “Glas­ nost” and “Perestroika” when he

said on June 12, 1987, “General Secretary Gorbachev, if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, if you seek liberalization, come here to this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.” Margaret Thatcher had these famous words to say in the House of Commons in a debate concerning foreign policy “We don´t need walls to keep our people in.” These speeches derive somewhat from a speech that Winston Churchill made on the 5th of March 1946 at the Uni­vers­ity of Fulton, Missouri, in which he described the power that the Soviets had over the occupied territories after World War II, and their treacherous promises concerning democracy “from Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic, an iron curtain descended across the con­ tinent.” Remains of the Berlin Wall at Potsdamer Platz. © visitBerlin / Wolfgang Scholvien.

Welcome to

June 1963. President John F. Kennedy inspects the Berlin Wall during his visit to West Berlin. Photograph by Robert Knudsen, White House, in the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston.

Another brick from the wall The small fraction shown here could tell The Wall´s impressive history. It may be a good description of the reality reign­­ ing between The East and The West. The side facing East Berlin was grey and gloomy and the dead zone clearly visi­­ble with all its machine guns, armored soldiers and land­­­mines threatening to keep peo­ ple from fleeing towards freedom – the other side facing West Berlin was colorful and bright where people had gone freely to The Wall and decorated it with graf­fi ti emphasizing messages about freedom and human rights. Did these messages work? Did they unite Germany? When it comes down to it, it was not just the politicians with their passionate speeches or the graffiti demonstrating opposition rather it was the people as a whole, and their longing to be united under one national flag that actually tore The Wall down. This little fraction of The Wall in Berlin never saw the bloody battlegrounds of the eastern part. It faced freedom as Germany does today.


Live entertainment most nights 10 min. drive from Reykjavík centrum You have´nt been to Iceland if you have´nt been to us Tel +354 565 6171 ∙ ∙ © Visit Berlin / Koch

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WOW destinations

Where to next? – The possibilities are endless

the Old Town Market Place (Rynek Starego Miasta), which dates back to the end of the 13th century. It is in the heart of the Old Town, and on UNESCO’s list of World Heri­ tage Sites along with all of Old Town.

Flip out in Barcelona Enjoy your sangria while sitting on Las Ramblas nibbling delicious tapas. Get one step closer to fulfilling your life long dream of becoming a flamenco dancer. Experience Gaudi’s architectur­al creations first and bask in the warm sun at Sitges while sipping a cold glass of Cava later. Barce­lona El Prat Airport is situated 12 km southwest of central Barce­lona and only 15 minutes away from the pleasure of this wonderful city and all it has to offer. Flights are available next June through August on Mondays and Fridays.

London calling

Quit Lyon around

Wandering through Warsaw The Polish capital, Warsaw was the center of art and culture for centuries and offers a great glimpse of history with its many muse­ ums and architecture. A cultural cornucopia, Warsaw has something for everybody; inter­ national cuisine, vibrant nightlife, favorable currency and gentle climate. We recommend

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This medieval city is a popular destination for art lovers and travelers seeking for ad­ venture in dining. Surrounded by the great wine regions, Lyon is the world’s culinary capital and a great first stop on your journey throughout Europe. Only one day’s drive from Paris, Marseille, Geneva, Torino and Barcelona, let Lyon get you started on a delightful and unforgettable tour. Here’s a tip - A cool trip to the Alps can be especially refreshing in the midst of the summer. WOW that you’ll go to Lyon! Just pick any Sunday next summer.

Sorry for the obvious headline but it had to be said, even just once! Now, switch on your imag­ination, stick out your pinky and sip on a nice cup of English tea. Then, in your best British accent, poke fun, at a respectful distance, at the Buckingham Palace guards who look so funny in their tall fluffy hats. Now put all of that aside, except for the accent, because if you are thinking of a city worth visiting, this is it! And while it’s hard to say something about this city that hasn’t already be said, written, sung about or portrayed in movies, we can still say that this city has everything; food, fashion, football, festivals and fun and all sorts of other things not beginning with an ‘f’. We recommend a photo montage at the Buckingham Palace, a boat ride down the Thames, shopping most everywhere and a visit to at least one of the city’s street markets such as the one on Camden or Portobello Road. One long weekend in London will never be enough and that´s why WOW air flies to London every week, all year round.

without losing its medieval charm or reason­ able pricing. With its gothic, renaissance, baroque and classic architecture, beautiful parks and rich history, the Old Town is the real attraction of the city. Make sure to taste the country’s popular drink Midus, made from vodka, spices and honey, stroll leisurely through the Zoo, lose it at one of the night clubs and get your tan going at … wait for it … one of the beautiful clear water beaches of Kaunas! Flights available every week in June, July and August.

hungry munch away in Tirggel and the out­ doorsy can take a hike, literally, in the Alps. Discover the secrets of Zürich while your banker takes care of all your gold and secret documents. Take a WOW plane to Zürich. Flights available every Saturday from June through August.

© / Ty Stange

The carefree Copenhagen When it’s time for one of those long and bright red hot dogs, a roller coaster ride and a carefree stroll down Strøget with a beer stop or two … Copenhagen is the place to go. For Icelanders, this city is like a Mecca that has to be visited at least once in a life­ time although many have lived there as well. Every district has its charms not to mention the Freetown Christiania – that gives laid back and carefree a whole new meaning. The Danes know how to cook so get ready to indulge, be it authentic Danish, oriental, Italian or Spanish dishes. They also have a great cycling culture; Denmark is, after all rather flat, making it easy for the whole family to enjoy the day out. Cycling is a great way to explore the city and with only a deposit, refunded on return you can use one of those scruffy looking bicycles provided by the city … And don´t miss the Little Mermaid, though you’d think she was a little more prominent the way they go on about her. Because Copenhagen is so etched into the Icelandic psyche WOW air offers flights every week all year round.

© Berlin Tourismus & Kongress GmbH

Beautiful Berlin Haven’t we told you enough about Berlin? Did you miss our Berlin coverage on pages 106-112? Well if you are still not convinced then you’ll just have to see for yourself! WOW flights to Berlin are availa­ble all year. Twice a week during the winter and three times weekly during the summ­er. And no excuses!

Alicante all the way Sunny sunny, warm warm! We love it, because, let’s face it, Iceland is not always warm and sunny and we need a little bit of heat sometimes, a heat that is not geo­ thermal. If you like relaxing, sunbathing, having fun and going to the beach, and who doesn’t? This is a place for you. If you worry that you’re going to get bored after a few days doing nothing, don´t. Ali­ cante has more to offer than just a ­favorable climate. Check out the view from Catillo de Santa Barbara or visit the 14th cent­ury church of Santa Maria. Stroll down Alicante Harbour or the El Palmeral Park and if that doesn’t fill you, feast your eyes on some modern sculptures in Collecia Capa or anything but modern artifacts at the arc­heological muse­ um. Alicante is also a golfers’ paradise. Pack your sunscreen.

Mercedes-Benz Museum. © Stuttgart-Marketing GmbH / Brigida González.

Stuttgart is outstanding

© Zürich Tourism

Zürich so good Kaunas go there? Take a look at Lithuania’s most populous city, approximately 360 thousand people. This sounds good already. Kaunas is a city in flux developing into a Western culture

The biggest city of Switzerland has more to offer than just watches and cheese. Check out their magnificent buildings, museums, the Opera house and the irresistible Old Town. Party people go Niederdorf, the

Germany is truly the place to go. If you’ve already been to Berlin and need a new city to add to your list, why not try Stuttgart? Situ­ated in the southwest of Germany this city has a lot of interesting features such as graveyards (yes really!), churches, castles, palaces, parks and lakes. A little known fact is that the area around Stuttgart is home to the biggest wine pro­ duction in Germany with over 400 hectares’ of vineyards. This has influenced the culinary culture of the city resulting in a variety of excellent restaurants. If you are not into fine wining and dining you might be interested to find that Stuttgart is known for its auto in­dustry and sports, football (soccer) especi­ ally. But, don´t take our word for it. Go and see for yourself. Pick a date from the 23rd of May until the end of August. Throughout the summer WOW air offers three flights a week.

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It’s almost enough to just sit down at a café to watch the bustling life of Parisians. There’s history on every corner, famous buildings and landmarks and perhaps you’ll get a glimpse of some famous people as well. We recommend visiting one district at a time and coming back again for more, more, more. Paris is just a few clicks away. Five flights a week (WOW!) starting next June and through August.

© Paris Tourist Office / Photographer: Jacques H3D

We’ll always have Paris A city for lovers, fashionistas, artists and art lovers, the culturally aware, culinary en­thusi­asts and all who want more beauty in their life. Paris will lift your spirit with its Bastille, Eiffel Tower, Seine, Triumphal Arch, Montmartre and its distinctive districts.

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“Paris is a heaven for all woman’s obssesions: hot men, great choco­lates, scrumptious pastries, sexy lingerie, cool clothes but, as any shoe-o-phile knows, this city is a hot­ bed of fabulous shoes.” Kirsten Lobe, Paris Hangover

© Amsterdam Tourism & Convention Board (ATCB)

Don´t miss out on Amsterdam Amsterdam holds the title ‘Short haul desti­ nation of the year for City Breaks’ awarded

at the World Travel Market event in London last November. It is also, according to Lonely Planet, the second hottest destination in the world to visit in 2013. This ranking is probably based on the ‘Amsterdam 2013’ theme year. In celebration of several incredi­ ble milestones, such as the opening of the renovated Rijksmuseum and the Van Gogh Museum and 400 years of the Canal Ring a host of special events have been planned throughout the year. The year 2013 prom­ ises to be a festive year for the Amsterdam Metropolitan Area. Find your desired event or activity in June, July or August on www.iamsterdam. com/2013 and book your WOW flight before everybody else catches on. Three flights a week so you won’t miss anything.

only true downtown skyline, has gained widespread historical acclaim as the coro­ nation site of German kings and emperors, as Goethe’s birthplace, and as the site of Germany’s first national assembly in 1848. Today, it is equally well known for its inter­ national trade shows and as one of Europe’s foremost business and finance centers. Hist­ ory and modernity - side by side! Visit one of their many museums, try out the famous apple wine, learn about the poet Goethe, enjoy the wooded parks and visit Frankfurt’s very own wine yard, Lohrberg, situated within the city. Don’t be a wiener – be a Frankfurter and check out WOW air flights to Frankfurt, avail­ able three times a week from June until the end of August.

© Düsseldorf Marketing & Tourismus GmbH / Photographer U. Otte

Just Düsseldorf it! This city is an economic center of Western Germany located along the River Rhine. Famous for its nightlife, carnival, events, shopp­ing and its fashion and trade fairs like the Boot Messe (one of the world’s best trade fairs for boats and water sports) and Igedo (world leader in fashion), Düsseldorf is in the fortunate position of being able to entertain and surprise its visitors with a wide variety of sights to see. Every year, more than 4 million people visit the Kirmes fun fair which runs for 9 days in the summer. The famous Old Town (Altstadt) is a won­ drous square kilometer that has more to offer than any other district in Düsseldorf. The waiters (köbesse) are diamonds in the rough, the next beer comes without being ordered and pork knuckles are a staple of people’s diet WOW yourself over there on one of the three flights a week, available from the end of May until the end of August.

Strut your stuff in Milan … or just relax and take in this capital of Lom­ bardy and its 1.3 million people. A magnetic point for designers, artists, photographers and models, Milan has an ancient city center with many interesting buildings and palaz­ zos. People from all over the world come to see this city of glamour. This has always been a rich and significant city. It has always been a center for famous artists and offers a beautiful assortment of churches, buildings and monuments. The most spectacular is the Cathedral which is the third largest church in the world. Another famous church is the Santa Maria della Grazie, a home to Leo­ nardo da Vinci’s “Last Supper”. Don´t forget, this is Italy and Italy is ‘bellisimo’. Let WOW air lift you up where you belong, pronto. Flights available on Tuesdays and Saturdays next June through August.

exclusive and extensive thermal spas, the Alpentherme. With six adventure and vitality worlds spread out the Alpentherme covers an area of 32,000 sqare meters and feat­ur­es a unique 360°panoramic view of the Alps. Bad Hofgastein is part of Ski Amade, a network of 28 ski areas and towns that combined, make up the largest ski area in Europe with 860 km of downhill slopes and 278 modern ski lifts. This town should really rather be known as Good Hofgastein! * A friendly little town, Kirchberg in Tirol attracts couples, groups, families and any dedicated skier looking for a good deal. Ski holidays in Kirchberg offer bargains to many of the ski and snowboarding related festivals held in the region each season. The world famous Hahnenkamm Race Week is just one of these. Kirchberg offers a number of lively pubs that you can party the night away in, as an alternative you can also take a trip into Kitzbühel to try out their après ski scene or try your hand in the casino. There are also plenty of options for snowboarders in the area with a local snowboard park as well as a second near the Kitzbühelerhorn. * Saalbach is one of Austria’s premier ski resorts, offering a wide range of runs, extensive off piste, and an excellent snow record. Skiing can be found on both sides of the valley. The runs on the north side of the valley (south-facing side) tend to be pre­ ferred by visitors due to their sunny weather. The pistes on the south side of the valley (north-facing side) are normally in the shade and have better snow coverage, particularly in late season, as well as more trees. Much of the off piste skiing is found on the north side, where thigh-deep, untouched powder can be found only meters from many of the pistes. There is a small snowpark in Hinter­ glemm, but experienced snowboarders and skiers prefer to head to the snow park in the adjacent valley in Leogang, which boasts superior kickers, as well as rails and jibs. We weren’t kidding about last call – WOW air is flying to Salzburg once a week in Jan­ uary and February. After that you´ll have tons of other destinations to fly to.

Last call to Salzburg

Take a tour of the old town in the “Apple Wine Express”, the city´s popular merry streetcar. Photographer: Holger Ullmann Copyright: Tourismus+Congress GmbH Frankfurt am Main

Feel up Frankfurt Frankfurt has always been characterized by its colorful variety of urban contrasts. The Main metropolis, home of Germany´s

Salzburg’s attractions are loved by millions of visitors from all over the World making it one of Europe’s busiest city all year round. This, however, is not the only reason to take flight to the city. Just some short distance away from the bustling city life you will find some of the best ski areas in Austria; Bad Hofgastein, Kirchberg and Saalbach-Hinter­ glemm. * In addition to the 250 km of pistes Bad Hofgastein is also an esteemed well­ ness resort offering one of Europe‘s most Photo: ©Saalbach Hinterglemm

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Airbus makes the world go round

Environmental emphasis in the air Europe´s answer to the US dominating the commercial airline industry is Airbus. A joint E ­ uropean consortium of the continent´s leading aviation firms such as UK´s Hawker Siddeley, France´s Breguet Nord and Germany´s Arbeitsgemeinschaft and other companies from Spain, Holland and Italy. Airbus Industries was formally formed on the 18th of December, 1970, and today it is a leading aircraft manufacturer playing a pioneering role in the inter­national air transport industry’s evolution. This trend will continue over the coming decades, as Airbus leverages innovation solutions to further improve the economic efficiency and environmental performance of commercial aviation. By Jón Kristinn Snæhólm

Technical data: Pilots: 2 Cabin crew: 4 Passengers: 168 Propulsion: 2 turbofan engines Speed: 904 km/h - 562 mph - 488 kts Service ceiling: 12,131 m – 39,800 ft Range: 5,700 km – 3,542 mi Empty weight: 37,230 kg – 82,078 lbs Max. takeoff weight: 77,000 kg – 196,756 lbs Max. landing weight: 64,500 kg – 142,198 lbs Wing span: 34.09 m – 111.8 ft Wing area: 122.6 m2 – 1,320 ft Height: 11.76 m - 38.6 ft

You are here If you are reading this while fly­ ing you are currently sitting in an Airbus A320, Airbus’ best-selling single-aisle product line, which can seat up to 180 passengers. The A320’s right-sized fuselage is seven inches wider than its competitors, enhancing comfort

for passengers, along with oppor­­­tunities for wider aisles and increased overhead storage bins. WOW air’s fleet consists of four new A320´s and its safety record is one of the greatest in the world, a record held up by extensive and professional maintenance on the ground.

Advance technology The A320’s advanced tech­n­­olo­gy includes the extensive use of weight-saving compos­ ites, an optimized wing that is 20 per cent more efficient than previous designs, a centralized fault display for easier trouble­ shooting and lower mainte­ nance costs, along with Airbus’ fly-by-wire flight controls. The advantages of the fly-bywire controls – which were pioneered on the A320 – are many. They provide total flight envelope and airframe structural

The advantages of the fly-by-wire controls – which were pioneered on the A320 – are many. They provide total flight envelope and airframe struct­ural protection for improved safety and ­reduced pilot workload, along with improved flight smoothness and stability,

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protection for improved safety and reduced pilot workl­oad, along with im­proved flight smoothness and stability, and fewer mechanical parts.

Navigating the future Advanced navigation techn­o­l­ ogy contributes to the A320’s operational flexibility. This includ­ es the Required Navigation Per­ formance (RNP) capability, which reduces approach distances for landing while reducing fuel consumption and CO2 emis­ sions; and the Global Position (GPS) landing system, allowing instrument-type approac­hes where ground stations are not available. Airbus has joined other leading companies in

the effort to reduce pollution and dependence on oil. The company in conjunction with lead­ing firms is trying to develop a bio fuel that could be used in the next decade and cover one third of the world commercial airplane needs. A plan to create a bio fuel that won´t affect food resources is the proposal. Thus Airbus will be the leading manufacturer of environmental friendly passenger aircrafts in the near future.


y flying WOW air you are not only saving money, you are kind of saving the planet too. And since WOW air is Iceland’s most punctual airline you are also saving time.

This and that Winter Lights in Reykjavík 7.-10. February

A warm welcome


n pages 72-74 you will come across an article about sea swimming in the Atlantic during winter. Just know that there are warmer ways to take a dive because there are more than 170 geothermal pools in Iceland. Iceland is known for its natural hot springs and spa culture, which is widely celebrated across the country. One of the nations’ favorite pastimes is chilling out in the various hot pots dotted across the island’s townships.


he Reykjavik Winter Lights Festival and it is pack­ed with exciting events. The Festival celebrates both winter and the growing light after a long period of darkness. It is an event to be enjoyed by all, locals and visitors alike, and features an amazing array of events including the­ atre, street performances, dance, visual arts and much more. All the major cultural and educational institu­ tions participate in the festival and sports clubs, galler­ ies, artists, shops, restaurants and many more join in the fun. Among events are Museum Night, Swimming Pool Night, International Children’s Day and Photo­ graphers Day. All events are free of charge. For more information visit

A sweet genius Asgeir Sandholt was Iceland’s candi­ date at the World Chocolate Masters competition in October 2011 and came in 5th, only 1 1/2 points from the winner. He is the heir and 4th generation of the renowned Sandholt family which has been baking bread at Laugavegur 36 for nearly 100 years. He has made a name for him­ self as a “konditori” (pastry chef) and chocolate master as well as a baker

where original sourdough breads with organic Scandinavian wheat are his main product. All chocolates and pralines are hand made by Ásgeir and for sale in the small Sandholt bakery where custom­ ers queue up on weekends for their freshly baked croissants and breads.

“He is the heir and 4th genera­ tion of the renowned Sandholt family which has been baking bread at Laugavegur 36 for nearly 100 years.”

A child´s first pair of shoes should be as and



as is your child

Icelandic beers excel on inter­nati­onal grounds


t World Beer Awards 2012 two Icelandic beers got a grand prize. Úlfur got named Europe’s best IPA (Indian Pale Ale) and Bríó was awarded the title Best Lager Pilsner in Europe. Bríó then went on to win the World’s best Lager Pilsner title. Both beers are brewed at Borg Brugghús and Bríó was developed in collaboration with renowned bar Ölstofa Kormáks og Skjaldar. Bríó had previously won its category of german pilsners at the World Beer cup. Here’s what the judges said about Bríó: “Good malt, sherbet nose. Lots of hops and lemon zest in good balance. Malty and fruity hops on the palate. Nice and clean. Big hoppy finish.” About Úlfur: “Beeswax and toffee on the nose. Very oily, coconut aroma. Sweet under currents to the palate, more toffee, creamy malt and bitter hops balance. Pleasant honeyed notes.”

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BabyK shoes are lovingly made to make little feet happy, to give your child lucky steps. These shoes are made from Icelandic fish, lamb, and reindeer skins. They are all made of natural produce, which means no pair is identical. One of a kind and beautiful.



The history of Iceland


Iceland still in top 10 according to Lonely Planet


his strange land inspires devotion. Ask any tourist during your trip to Iceland and you’ll quickly see that everyone develops an unconditional love for the little island nation, whether it’s for the mind-bending scenery, the platefuls of delicious lamb and fish dish­ es, or the sincere local hospitality. The currency crash – which effectively de­

valued the króna by 75% – also helped make a trip much more favorable to the wallet. As the global economy starts to heal, prices are climbing once more. The spoils of Iceland are no longer a secret, but they’re still yours for the taking – and in 2013 you’ll still be well ahead of the curve.

here are count­ less folk muse­ ums all over the country; every county and many of the major communities can boast one. They focus mainly on the history of Iceland, with the emphasis on lo­ cal artefacts dating from the late 19th century. You can get a very good feel for how people lived in those days by visiting any of these museums. Some include (or are actually housed in) old turf buildings, which were used as homes as late as the 20th century. You can see how people slept two by two in narrow little beds, how

they cooked their meals on a fire in the living room and what utensils they used. The items on display vary from cook­ ing utensils to spinning wheels and weaving equipment, harnesses and mousetraps, and just about everything else in between! Talking of turf buildings, Iceland also has quite a few turf churches, most dating from the late 19th century, which have been beautifully preserved and are well worth a visit. The north is the best place to see them, but they can also be found in other areas, including Reykjavík.

Funky, fresh and full of flavour!

RUB23 | Aðalstræti 2 | 101 Reykjavík Phone: +354 553 5323 | RUB23 | Kaupvangsstræti 6 | 600 Akureyri Phone: +354 462 2223 |

Issue 1

ı 97

The Traveling Inquisition

A flying star Þórunn Antonía Magnúsdóttir has been singing since she was a child. She released her first solo album in 2001 and since then she’s both lived and worked in London and Los Angeles. She has worked with bands like Junior Senior, Dhani Harrison’s band Thenewno2 and sang background vocals with Beck. Currently Þórunn is based in Iceland although she travels often to promote her most recent record Star Crossed for which she has been called “a genu­inely exciting pop discovery”. For this first ­issue of WOW she became a victim of “The Trav­eling Inquisition” and was asked a few questions about her favorite places. By Dísa Bjarnadóttir Photo: Karl Petersson What is your favorite city abroad and why? “I have to say Los Angeles. I have so many good memories from there since I first visited and I’ve been there often to visit friends and work on my music. There is something so charming about the palm trees, the old Hollywood glamour and the sunshine. Also the Mexican food there is so good. I know of few better things than eating fresh guacamole and drinking a Margarita in the sun. And it’s so beautiful to go to the Griffith Observatory where you watch the city from a huge balcony and learn about the solar system. I also love the nightlife in Loz Feliz and West Hollywood.

What is the strangest thing you’ve experienced overseas? “There is a lot to choose from ... I’ve gotten lost in Tokyo which was very challenging with all the street signs in Japanese. One time after a performance, a fan gave me a box full of whipped cream. I’m still trying to figure out what that means! But the strang­ est experience has to be in Spain. I was visiting a water park and got stuck at the top of a roller coaster. I was rescued by a man who escorted me down a rickety ladder which ended in a mud puddle where wild pigs roamed.”

What do you recommend to people visiting Iceland? “Definitely the natural thermal pools. There is also an abundance of good restaurants. Some of my favorites include Við Tjörnina, The Fish Market and Sushi Samba. For the people interested in having a look at the night life I recom­ mend my favorite bars and clubs such as Kaffibarinn, Prikið, Boston and Dolly.”

What do you miss most about Iceland when you’re traveling? “My friends and family and having dinner at my mother’s house – seeing the mountains when walking downtown and being close to the ocean.”

Have you planned your next trip abroad? “I am going to London to finish a music video to the song “Electrify my Heartbreak” from my latest CD Star crossed. The video will be directed by my good friend Þóra Hilmarsdóttir. I might perform once while I’m there but I’ll also try to relax a little and maybe do a little Christmas shopping.”

What countries or cities haven’t you visited yet, but would like to?

98 ı WOW is in the air

“I really want to visit Peru, Prague, Moscow, Thailand, Bora Bora, Mexico, the Faroe Islands ... my list is so long that it looks like I’ll have to do a world tour!”

Wow air issue 1 12