Issuu on Google+




has got it going on

Tr ex y pe


rie hi nc s! eI ce la


Wild North Guðmundur Felix:

Put your hands together for our latest WOW star “I can’t wait to give my daughters a proper hug” I c e l a n d a designer’s paradise


the volcano

Where did all these Icelanders come from?

All about Copenhagen Issue two 2013 Your 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 & Duty Free

Ă?SLENSKA/SIA.IS/FLE 63311 04/13

Experience Iceland All of our shops and restaurants offer you Icelandic memories to take home.

Nearby Landmannalaugar

One of few airports in the world that is both tax and duty free — meaning up to 50% off city prices.

Spring into May Springtime in Iceland is full of surprises. At the first sign of spring, Icelanders talk about each ray of sun that gets through the clouds, hardly daring to hope for bett­ er and warmer days. When it becomes obvious that the days are indeed getting longer we take a leap of faith and say that spring is finally here. But what happens then? All of a sudden hail, snowstorms and the bitter cold bite us again and we feel a little foolish. Didn’t we just go through all of this last spring … and the year before that, and the year before that? In some ways we can be just as fooled by these beautiful spring days as the flowers and the trees, sprouting hopeful buds only to get shot down with the bitter truth; we live in Iceland. The weather here is treacherous, it always has been and it probably always will be. But for some reason we would not live anywhere else. Because of the long and dark winter the short, bright summer seems all the more precious and the signs of the pending season fill us with hope. And on that hopeful note I would just like to remind you to put on your jacket and have a hat, scarf and gloves standing by. You are going to need them. Guðrún Vaka Helgadóttir, editor in chief

In this issue 6 A letter from WOW air The WOW team wishes you a pleasant flight. 8 Tidbits from Iceland We have some news for you. 14 What’s going on? The sun is up and so are we. 16 The future is now Take a peek into your future with the WOW horoscope. 18 How to become a part of the WOW cabin crew? Many people applied to become flight attendants for WOW air but few where chosen. Now, the selected go through vigorous training under the guidance of Ragna and Sunneva. 22 Dive in One of the very best things about our abundance of hot water is our outside swimming pools. Open all year round, they’re always clean, cozy and welcoming. 24 Let’s go sailing If you want to see Reykjavík from a different perspective (and have a taste for the luxurious life of movie stars) a yacht named Harpa is just the thing.


34 A land of beasts and beauty The Vatnajökull Region covers the area of southeast Iceland and offers spectacular nature and great local food. We’ll have the lobster, please.


36 Iceland is staying active Did you know that Iceland is the most active volcanic spot in the whole world? 40 Fit for a king Riding is a popular sport in Iceland and a growing number of families raise their own horses. The Icelandic horse is, however, even more popular abroad. 42 PloverPloverPlover The golden plover is the harbinger of spring.


44 The wild north Almost all of the wild fauna in Iceland has been transported here by men and interestingly enough have managed to outwit those that brought them here. 48 An Icelandic superstar Björk Guðmundsdóttir is without a doubt the most famous of us Icelanders. 52 Taste the trends We’ll tell you what dishes are trending in Icelandic restaurants right now. 64 WOW music Icelandic band Bloodgroup and composer Ólafur Arnalds have been making a name for themselves each in their own way.

26 The airplanes have arrived WOW air now celebrates the arrival of their new Airbus A320 aircrafts, and other exciting news. 28 Happy hour Recently Icelanders discovered the joys of Happy Hour. The party still goes on late into the night, but it starts earlier. 30 The Bells of the ball Preparations for this year’s WOW cyclothon are well underway and WOW magazine met with the fierce women’s team, The Bells, who are determined to rise to the challenge and leave their mark on the competition.

4 ı WOW has got it going on

66 Where did all these Icelanders come from? Agnar Helgason, a biological anthropologist at deCODE genetics is the right man to ask.

78 Making it in Iceland Industrial designer Pálmi Einarsson makes children toys among other things and calls Iceland a designer’s paradise.

70 Meet the WOW stars WOW air proudly supports a bevy of artists, athletes and projects. We plan to keep our readers posted on all their endeavors.

82 Inspiring the wanderlust Valgeir Bjarnason, regional manager of Central Europe for WOW air, is a natural born wanderer.

72 The future is in good hands Guðmundur Felix Grétarsson, our latest WOW star, is looking forward to many good things after undergoing a double arm transplant hopefully later this year. Read more about the inspiring story of this self-proclaimed “handyman” in our WOW star interview.

84 Experience Iceland You haven’t really been to Iceland until you try some of this. 88 Adventures in the abyss Have you ever been inside a volcano? Would you like to be? Find out how you can explore the deepest lava vault in the world from within.

WOW Magazine staff Editor in chief: Guðrún Vaka Helgadóttir Design and layout: Ib Contributing editors: Dísa Bjarnadóttir, Sólveig Jónsdóttir, Jón Kristinn Snæhólm, Steingerður Steinarsdóttir, Bergrún Íris Sævarsdóttir, Hjördís Erna Þorgeirsdóttir, Lilja Björk Haraldsdóttir, Ólafur Valur Ólafsson, Paul Michael Herman. Proofreading: Paul Michael Herman Translator: Júlíana Björnsdóttir In-house photographers: Rakel Ósk Sigurðardóttir, Kristinn Magnússon, Ernir Eyjólfsson

92 Mount Hekla Some say Mount Hekla is due for an eruption. Learn more about Iceland’s most famous and historically most active volcano.

© Birtíngur Publishing Lyngás 17 210 Garðabær Iceland

All about Copenhagen: 112 Inside scoop: Get intimate with Copenhagen

Tel: 00 354 515 5500

116 Bakken: The historical amusement park

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

118 Enjoy the ride: The Tivoli Gardens

Prentun: Oddi umhverfisvottuð 122 Well played Legoland


124 A tale of two mermaids

94 Paris all year round Paris is lovely in all seasons and in June, when WOW air takes up regular flights to Paris all year round it will not only be attainable but easy on the budget as well.

126 To party or relax: Copenhagen Distortion or Copenhagen Yoga Festival? 128 Are we boring you? Well, if we are here’s a little atonement in the form of Sudoku. 130 The Traveling Inquisition DJ, sound engineer and film-maker, Ársæll Þór, aka. intr0beatz, is the latest victim of The Traveling Inquisition. He loves Copenhagen, where he lived for four years, but he admitted that he fell head over heels for Barcelona in 2010.




120 Something beautiful: Louisiana Museum of Modern Art 141



Attention advertisers! Shouldn’t your firm be in our next issue? Contact our advertising representatives and we’ll make it happen.

96 Fit while flying Is the person next to you acting odd? Find out why and land in style with the help of these in-flight exercises. 98 How to kill a muffintop The female population of Iceland is in love with thick leggings and for good reason. 100 “Iceland 12 points” The Eurovision song contest holds a special place in the hearts of many Icelanders. We focus in on some of the contestants for 2013. 104 Coming home For the many Icelanders that have lived abroad for a long time, absence truly makes the heart grow fonder. 106 Adopt a ram If ever there was a king of the Icelandic outback it is the ever so cool Icelandic ram. Wouldn’t it be great to bring one home? 108 Move around Europe Get the full experience of every destination WOW air has to offer without losing out on your exercise.

Issue two


Our beloved guests,


he WOW team really wants to thank you for choosing WOW air. We started our operation in May 2012 and since then we have had amazing growth. We really couldn’t be happier with how things are going and that is perfectly illustrated by what we in the industry call our load factor. In the first quarter of 2013 we filled 85% of our seats, which was consid­ erably above target and allows us to look into new markets for further expansion on our route network.


e are really proud to welcome our two beautiful new Airbus A320 aircrafts, model 2010, in the striking new WOW livery, and two more are on their way before the end of spring. The new planes are quiet, economical and classy and have allowed us to give you more legroom for a more comfortable flight. Our planes, like us, always have smile on their face. You can read everything about our new planes on page 26. We hope this will continue our fantastic track record as the most punctual airline to and from Iceland. We seem to grab the award almost every month with our on-time figure in the second half of March a staggering 96%!


e have three promises we want to give our guests; lower price, new planes and biggest smile. We are also dedicated to continue doing good things and are proud to support our latest WOW star, Guð­­mundur Felix Grétarsson. Guðmundur lost both his arms in a terrible work accident in 1998 and is now preparing for the world’s first double arm transplant in Lyon, France. We would like to wish him the very best on his incredible journey. You can read about Guðmundur Felix, the latest WOW star, on page 72.

Thanks again for choosing WOW air and we hope you are enjoying your flight. We’d love to see you again soon. The WOW team

6 ı WOW has got it going on

Issue two


This and that

Make your stitch in history


he Njála tapestry is a new activity in Hvolsvöll­ ur where the goal is to sew Njal’s Saga in tap­ estry with refilsaumur (refilstitch), a special type of stitch that was used in the Viking age. The Njála tapestry will be around 60-80 m long and the yarn that is used is an Icelandic wool yarn, dyed with herbs. The plan is that the tapestry will take 10 years in making. The longest and maybe best known tapestry in the world is the Bayeux tapestry in Normandy, France, which is 70 m long. Kristín Ragna Gunnars­ dóttir, artist and literary scholar, designed the pictures printed on the tapestry for sewing.

The sewing of the Njála tapes­ try takes place at the Icelandic Saga Center, at Hvolsvöllur, and after it is finished, the Njála tapestry will be on display there. Anybody can visit the Saga Center and sew as much as they want or if they would rather they

8 ı WOW has got it going on

can come just to see how the sewing is progressing. Visitors, that want to take part, pay a small amount and get instruc­ tions on how to sew. They can also write their name and what part of the tapestry they sewed in a guestbook that will be on display. People that don’t want to sew, but want to be a part of this project, can buy a picture and get their name in the guestbook. One of the instructors will then sew the picture. The Njála tapestry is a new way to display Njal’s Saga and a possibility to introduce the saga to wider audience. The goal is to create an artwork that has great meaning for the communi­ ty as well as bring tourism to the Rangárþing eystra region. As Njal’s Saga is one of the best known Icelandic sagas there is an opportunity with this new activity to give tourists and scholars, from all over the world, a chance to experience Njal’s Saga in a totally different way in an environment renimiscent of the age of the saga.

Oh Suzie Q!


uzie Q is a vintage inspired clothing boutique located in Ingólfsstræti 8 in the heart of Reykjavík with current trends and street styles for both women and men. It‘s a hip mix of cool street wear with an edgy glitz from grandpa-look­

ing sweaters, classic shirts and khaki pants to grunge T-Shirts, the perfect little black dress and leather shorts. We are sure you will love this little fashion haven and their affordable prices. Check out their Facebook page,

Icelanders and the sea


ife in Iceland has al­­ways depended on the sea. The Vikings wouldn’t even have found this is­ land if they hadn’t been expert seafarers. Just off the city center near the shipyard the Víkin Maritime Museum nestles in a beautiful cove overlooking the old harbor. The museum portrays Icelandic fish­­eries at the turn of the 20th century and realistically reflects the lives of Icelandic fishermen and their families. This interest­ ing exhibition gives a unique insight into the character of the Icelandic nation and a glimpse of its history. A stroll from the city center along the seafront gives an opportunity to visit the Blue Houses where Icelandic

de­­signers established some interesting shops. The Víkin Mu­ seum is close by and from there you can find more handi­­craft and design shops set up in in former fishermen‘s workshops. An Icelandic poet once wrote that the sea was half of the Icelanders’ fatherland and the exhibits at Víkin as well as the lively harbor site will definitely reflect the truth of that state­ ment. Find out more about Víkin Maritime Museum on

dagur & steini

Explore Iceland on your own terms Your personal audio guide on your drive through the wonders of Iceland Learn about history, geography, legends and folklore and experience the freedom and comfort of taking your own guided tour. Book your daytour now at or by contacting our reservation teams at Avis tel. +354 591 4000 and Budget tel. +354 562 6060.


With so much to see and do, why not rent a car and hit the road in comfort and style with Budget?

Tel. +354 562 6060

This and that

Going up!

Get close to nature

Have you ever touched a whale? We can’t promise that you will but you can get pretty close to those awesome creatures during the various whale watching trips available around the country. The closest you’ll get is during a trip with the Gentle Giants Whale Watching in Húsavík, located in North East Iceland. Stefán Guðmundsson and his family own the company and can trace their family history in this area back 150 years. They will take you for the ride of a lifetime around Skjálfandi Bay on a friendly, old restored oak boat origi­nally made for fishing and whale-hunting. To get even closer, Gentle Giants Whale Watching also offer boat rides on nice RIB boats that increase your chances of a close encounter on the Big Whale Safari & Puffins tour. We especially recommend this tour, it’s an experience you will never forget. The Grimsey Island Adventure is also worth every penny – crossing the Arctic Circle.

Loft Hostel is a brand new option in accom­ modation on Reykja­ vík’s main shopping street, Laugavegur, and within 5 minutes walking distance from Hallgrímskirkja Church, the City Pond and Harpa Concert Hall. In addition to having the best of Iceland’s capital at its doorstep, Loft Hostel also boasts one of the finest views in town with a large top floor balcony café over­ looking the city center. The cozy lounge, café and bar are sure to be one of the more sought after hangouts

in town with top quality coffee, wines and beer from local breweries, as well as some sweet and savory treats. Regular movie nights, music events, football tournaments and other social events are on the schedule. Find out more on

For more information visit

Getting friendly


f you are visiting Iceland we have some great news for you. According to a new report on International tourism from the World Economic Forum (WEF) Iceland is the friendliest country in the world. Not bad! In the over 500 page report are grades based on the locals views on tour­ ists were, Iceland, New Zealand and Morocco took the top three spots while Bolivia, Venezuela and Russia ranked most unfriendly. The 2013,Trav­ el and Tourism Competitiveness Report looked at 140 countries based on their attractiveness and competitiveness regarding tour­ism

and traveling, taking into account policy rules and regula­ tions, environmental su­stainability, safety and security, health and hygiene and price competitive­ ness among other things. On the whole, Iceland ranks number 16 in the World and number 9 in Europe. Not bad at all! List of friendliest countries in the world: 1. Iceland 2. New Zealand 3. Morocco 4. Macedonia 5. Austria 6. Senegal 7. Portugal 8. Bosnia Herzegovina 9. Ireland 10. Burkina Faso

It’s not easy being green … … but the unique Hotel Hell­nar seems to be doing a great job at it. Located on Snaefellsnes Peninsula adjacent to Snaefellsjokull Glacier, this 34 room accom­ modation complex is the first hotel in Europe to be awarded with the presti­ gious EarthCheck Platinum Certification for its 10 year commitment to implement­ ing world-class sustainability initiatives. The award is a part of an EC3 Global program considered to be the world’s most credible benchmarking and certifica­ tion program for the travel and tourism sector. For Hotel Hellnar this is an outstanding achievement putting the hotel in the ranks of an elite class of organizations in the world. To receive this certification, Hellnar had to meet strict environmental sustainability

10 ı WOW has got it going on

criteria under the Earth­ Check Standard and has con­sistently met criteria including energy and water consumption, total waste production and community commitment. The hotel was also awarded the Icelandic Tourist Board’s Environment Award in 2000 and again in 2004.


taying at Hotel Hellnar, so close to the ma­ jestic Snaefellsjokull Glacier, is an experience on its own but if you are feeling adventurous there are a number of hiking trails nearby and tours that can be booked at the hotel. For more information visit

Stay fresh Even if you are not a health nut we recommend the latest healthy eatery in town. Lemon on Sudurlandsbraut 4 (next to the Hilton Hotel) opened just a few weeks ago and has already received great reviews. Lemon offers fresh & juicy food from the best ingredients available – gourmet sandwiches, insanely good juices and coffee to die for – in a comfortable lounge environment with cool music. They open at the crack of dawn (7 am) and will be ready to serve you your hearts desire to 20 pm all days of the week.

This and that

And the Oscar goes to …


ast summer Hollywood movie star and director Ben Stiller took his crew to Iceland to shoot scenes for the remake of The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. The original movie was made in 1947 based on a story by James Turber. In the movie Stiller plays a timid magazine photo manager who lives life vicariously through daydreams and embarks on a true-life adventure when a negative goes missing. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is set to premier next Christmas but recently the first stills from

the movie were released to the public. Judging from this particular photo, Icelandic nature plays a significant part in Stiller’s movie. We strongly advise against skateboarding in this type of terrain though.

Night Raven by Vík Prjónsdóttir


ecently design coop­ erative Vík Prjónsdóttir introduced their latest design. Vík Prjónsdótt­ ir is known for colorful woolen blankets and scarves woven from this valuable local mater­ial. The latest from Vík Prjóns­ dóttir is a blanket called Night Raven (Nátthrafninn). Ravens have lived among men since the beginning of time and their presence has been the source of numerous myths and legends. Few birds have had as great a role in our stories and culture. Ravens are said to be resourceful, wise and cheerful and people

have always respected them and their second sight. Their feathers are black but they reflect the sunlight in a purple and bluish-green hue.

More movies

role of a future New York. Next to seeing it in real life, catching the Icelandic nature on the big screen is surely a sight, albeit a slightly modified one with special effects and alien spaceships.

If you can’t wait to see Icelandic scenery caught on film we recommend heading to the theaters to feast your eyes on Oblivion, starring Tom Cruise. The movie, shot partly in Iceland last summer, was premiered in Europe mid-April and went straight to the top. In the movie, Tom Cruise plays Jack Harper, one of the few remaining drone repairmen assigned to Earth as part of a massive operation to extract resources after decades of war with a terrifying enemy known as the Scavs. His existence is brought crashing down when he rescues a stranger from a downed spacecraft. Her arrival triggers a chain of events that forces him to question everything he knows and puts the fate of humanity into his hands. Icelandic landscape plays the

12 ı WOW has got it going on

Downtown and fashion forward


om Cruise’s time in Iceland last summer garnered worldwide attention, not least because of his and Katie Holmes’s divorce, right around the actor’s 50th birthday.

owntown Reykjavík is an exciting place where things are always happening. Now four shops have banded together in an alliance for their area called Vitahverfið (The Lighthouse Village - Creative Quarter). The Lighthouse Village is home to fashion boutiques Kronkron, that focuses on upcoming as well as established designers and even has its own label called KRON by KRONKRON, Herrafataverzlun Kormáks og Skjaldar, a unique men’s clothing shop, Kiosk, voted the best place to stock up on local fashion design in 2011 and 2012 by Reykjavík Grapevine, and GK Reykjavík, a fashion store with a great emphasis on high quality service and a personal atmosphere. These shops have joined hands with Kex Hostel, housed in an old biscuit factory, furnished with salvaged materials and found objects from various places. With a café and bar, lounge area and a heated out­ door patio, Kex Hostel is a great place for concerts, markets and various happenings. In effect, it’s the place to gather in the Light­ house Village.

“We realized that we had these 4 shops basically on the same spot, all selling Icelandic design among other well-known fashion labels. So it became kind of obvious that this was an exciting place where we feel you can find the best of the best when it comes to fashion in Reykjavik. We joined hands with Kex Hostel that’s just down the street. This summer they are building an act­ ual lighthouse on the same spot that the old lighthouse used to be, that the name of the quarter comes from. On the horizon is a spring festival where we will turn the new lighthouse on,” says Lighthouse Village spokes­ woman Eygló Margrét Lárusdóttir. The Lighthouse Village includes a part of Laugavegur shopping street from Frakkastígur to Vitastígur and down to Kex Hostel at Skúlagata.

Issue two

覺 13


On any given night there is something going on in Iceland. At many bars there’s live music and in various galleries there are shows. Just walk around and you’re sure to find something you like. Here’s just a small fraction of the upcoming events.

May 16 – May 20

Local talent If you like crafts, and are interested in what Icelanders are making, be sure to visit the Contemporary ARTS AND CRAFTS FAIR held in Reykjavik’s City Hall at Tjar­ nargata 11 from May 16 to May 20. Over 50 participants working in textile, ceramics, glass, jewelry, horn and bone, wood, leather and fish skin, will bring their goods to the fair. This annual event is a great opportunity to see high quality Icelandic art and crafts and to buy something unique directly from the artists themselves.

April 27

Politically correct If you find yourself in Iceland on April 27, you might notice a lot of strange behavior occuring; peo­ ple dressing in their Sunday best and gathering at various schools, museums and sport halls of the country. This is the day Iceland­ ers will select their new govern­ ment, effective for the next four years. Even if you haven’t got a political bone in your body the night before the election could be fun as some of the political parties rent bars or empty shopp­ ing spaces in most of the towns and villages of Iceland and have a pep rally. In those gatherings you are likely to find free beer or at least some fun, albeit slightly political, Icelanders. You get full five points if you manage to persuade them not to vote for the party they are drinking with.

May 24 – May 26

Mess it up Fancy a glimpse of the Icelandic music scene? Reykjavik Music Mess is an intimate music festival held the week­­end of May 24to 26 at Volta and Kex Hostel. The lineup has been announced; Bloodgroup, DZ Death­­rays (AUS), Good Moon Deer, Mammút, Muck, Oyama, Sykur and Withered Hand (UK) to name a few. More info on

May 11

Intercultural Day On Saturday the 11th of May, the 5th Intercultural Day in Reykjavík will be celebrated. The program starts at 13:00 with a parade from Hallgrímskirkja to the City Hall. At City Hall there will be a market where you can try food from differ­ ent parts of the world and browse through the arts and crafts. At Tjarnarbíó there will be live enter­ tainment from 13:30-17:00.

14 ı WOW has got it going on

All the time

A bit of saga Many of Iceland‘s national treas­ures are on display in the Culture House‘s featured exhibition Medieval Manu­ scripts – Eddas and Sagas. It includes the principal med­ ieval manuscripts, such as Codex Regius of the Poetic Edda and the compendium Flateyjarbók, as well as law codices and Christian works, not to mention the Sagas of Icelanders. An important paper manuscript from later

Oyama will be playing at Reykjavik Music Mess.

centuries is also displayed. The old vellum manuscripts preserve the northern class­ ical heritage: unique sagas, poems and narratives which are often our sole written sources of information on the society, religion and world view of the people of Nort­h­ ern Europe from pagan times through the tumult of the Viking Expansion, the settle­ ment of the Atlantic islands and the period of Christian­ ization. The exhibition focuses on the period preceding the writing of the manuscripts, their origins and role, manuscript collect­ ing, editions, and on their re­ ception in Iceland and abroad. It also portrays the process of book making itself: preparing the vellum and ink, writing, illustrating etc. are ex­plained in a special exhibit area. The Culture House, at Hverfis­­ gata 15 in downtown Reykja­­ vík, offers guided tours of their featured exhibition in En­ glish on Mondays and Fridays at 3:00 pm. There is no extra charge for the tour. General entrance fee applies. Find out more on

June 5 - June 9

Keflavík Music festival You don’t have to go far from the airport if your destination is the Keflavík Music Festival. The festival is very young having only debuted last year but this year it’s coming back full force with big headliners such as rapper DMX and multiple venues around Keflavík. The eclectic line­up caters to all kinds of music lovers with the cream of the crop of Ice­­ land’s musicians along with some great ones from around the World. Find out more on

Do you know what’s going on? WOW magazine is always on the lookout for interesting things. If you are planning an event in Iceland email us about it at

Enjoy Yourself

in Smáralind The Largest Shopping Center in Iceland At Smáralind you get great prices on world renowned brands from Apple to Zara. Be sure to explore Icelandic outdoor clothing labels 66°North, Cintamani and ZO-ON Iceland while you are there. Smáralind is also home to a luxurious multi-screen cinema and a variety of good cafés and restaurants.

IAAPA Awards Brass Ring

Top Family t en Entertainm12 Center 2 0

Visit Skemmtigarðurinn, Iceland‘s one and only indoor amusement park.

Issue two Opening hours: Weekdays: 11am-7pm Thu: 11am-9pm Sat: 11am-6pm Sun: 1pm-6pm Find us on

ı 15

Your WOW horoscope The future is now

Aries 21 March - 19 April The Aries has swollen ankles from their flight and doesn’t feel particularly pretty. You should have done your inflight exercises! Be aware of queues in the next 48 hours and try not to meddle in other peoples affairs.

Taurus 20 April - 20 May Your day is likely to be full of computer related mishaps leading to much tension. Stay away from all webcams today. They really are watching you! You may find love in unexpected places in the next few weeks. Avoid it at all cost as something better might be lurking just around the corner. Your good humor will get you through all of this.

Gemini 21 May - 21 June Test yourself and know your limits and try to be less brash. Learn to control your flailing arms, and do try to fart less. The odds are that you’ll see something today that you physically and desperately desire. Go on, go after it. We DARE you!

Cancer 22 June - 22 July Having a box of tissues close by might become important over the coming minutes. Money is literally no object for you this week as you’ll spend all your money on an extravagant souvenir for your mom as soon as you leave the plane. A hairy back may trouble you this week, especially if it’s not your hairy back.

Leo 23 July - 22 August Leos should put a helmet on at their earliest convenience as they are likely to get kicked in the head by an elf … or a goblin. We don’t know which! Don’t be afraid to spread dirty lies about your friends. We promise they won’t find out … or maybe they will and that’s why you’ll get kicked in the head. Oh, these self fulfilling prophesies!

Virgo 23 August - 22 September Clutching your heart and complaining that your arm hurts is quite a mean thing to do on a flight when you don‘t really mean it! You must decide how to continue today, whether it’s by questioning everything that happens or, instead, letting it all wash over you like the water from a maiden’s bathwater, which may or may not be related to why you keep on asking questions. Beware of people offering free screensavers.

16 ı WOW has got it going on

Libra 23 September - 23 October Incitement is not a word you want to be hearing today, so avoid any particularly aggressive behavior. This week is going to be a series of ups and downs. Mostly downs, but also mostly ups. Horrible smells and green patches on your body may make your day turn sour next Tuesday.

Scorpio 24 October - 21 November Luckily, today is the best day you’re going to have over the coming months - so let loose. Incidentally, it may be in your “letting loose” that influences the coming months so be extra careful. Stay away from clowns with pickaxes and if one should cross your path, be extra nice to him. If you lose money today you can be assured you’ll never see it again.

Sagittarius 22 November - 21 December Most of your dreams will come true over the coming fortnight so be very careful what you think about before you go to sleep at night. The newspaper will become a source of great amusement this week from an article that tickles your fancy. Someone will mistake you for an aging rock star in the coming weeks, just smile and nod and be happy that you were noticed at all.

Capricorn 22 December - 19 January The Capricorn is feeling a bit stressed as she is overworked and has too many things on her plate. This trip isn’t even for pleasure! Don’t believe anything you read today. Today’s mishaps will come in the shape of a rabbit, whilst salvation will come in the shape of a large truck. In less than a year you will realize that the love you are currently experiencing is unlikely to ever be shared by your idol, who by the way will soon break a toe in a freak accident.

Aquarius 20 January - 18 February You will get an important phone call today but your phone will be turned off. Because you now know about the call you will get obsessed thinking about who called and why. But we can‘t tell you that, this is just a horoscope. If that person does call back it will probably be your Scorpio friend asking you to do something really awesome but also really stupid and in the end you will both be sorry.

Pisces 19 February - 20 March Although your faults are easy enough to see, you must really make an effort today to let people truly understand the depth of your problems. Moving house is very stressful. Not that we’re saying that’s what you’ll be doing or even planning to do. But it is stressful. You have to agree. The only conspiracy theory you need to worry about is the one that involves you. You knew about that conspiracy, right? Oh ... well never mind then.

Unfiltered brewery from the north!

Laugavegur 20b | 101 ReykjavĂ­k | Tel: 553 8101

18 覺 WOW has got it going on

How to become part of the WOW cabin crew? You might think that being a flight attendant only involves getting coffee and doing that pointy thing with your hands in the beginning of flights but that is far from the truth, at least where the cabin crew of WOW air is concerned. WOW magazine was on the spot when some of the aspiring WOW flight attendants went through a wet drill in the beginning of April. The wet drill is a part of a vigorous training program led by seasoned cabin managers Ragna and Sunneva who oversee the training of all cabin crew-members before they are let anywhere near the aircrafts. Photos: Eggert Jóhannesson


ast December WOW air ad­ vert­i­sed openings for flight attend­ants with a WOW fac­ tor. Over 800 applicants ap­ plied for the availa­ble jobs and of those only 200 were invited to take a test to determine if they could be­­come part of the WOW team. Follow­­ing that test 120 applicants were interviewed and 57 offered the much sought after positions. Ragna and Sunneva were part of that whole process and told us various factors that were a part of their decision making when hiring. “There is, of course, the question of education, language skills and previous job experience but it also comes down to having that WOW factor, part of which is good people skills and being a little high on life,” they explained. But why is the position of flight attendant such a popular one?

“It’s a great job! You get to travel, see the world and meet interesting people. Working as a flight attendant will always be a popular job,” they said with a knowing grin. The training of the soon-to-be cabin crew takes about 6 weeks and is both academic and practical. In addition to studying hard and tak­ing several tests the applicants go on training flights. “We evaluate our students through this whole six week process. They take 8-10 tests during this time and we soon find out if someone is not cut out for this occupation. “To become a part of the WOW cabin crew you need to have excep­ tional communicational skills, you need to really want to be of service to our guests and you need to be able to follow strict safety regula­ tions. We seek out happy and lively people that are quick to adapt to any

Issue two

ı 19

situation because sometimes being a flight attendant means you have to deal with unexpected scenarios and even serious incidents. “We try to make our cabin crew as ready as they can possibly be. Every­body who has come this far in the process brings their strengths and their unique personality to the table. There are some things you can’t teach but other skills can be honed and that’s why, in addition to traditional cabin crew studies, we have our own WOW training that has mostly to do with the way we provide our service. It is our job to make these aspiring flight attendants into WOW flight attendants.”

Getting wet When we visited the WOW trainees we were lucky enough to observe the wet drill. As evident from the photos the wet drill is designed to prepare the cabin crew for an emer­ gency landing on water. They use

20 ı WOW has got it going on

only equipment that can be found on the planes and rehearse the use of life boats and life jackets. Ragna and Sunneva told us that the wet drill was one of the highlights of the whole training process. “The students love gett­ing the chance to try all this out,” they said. Who hasn’t dreamt about actually pulling the strings on those life jack­ ets just for the fun of it?


pring and summer will see these fully trained members of the cabin crew making their way to the aircrafts of WOW air, provid­­ing excellent service with a smile to all their guests.

Cabin managers Ragna and Sunneva oversee the training of all cabin crew-members. Photo: Sigurjón Ragnar

“To become a part of the WOW cabin crew you need to have exceptional communicational skills, you need to really want to be of service to our guests and you need to be able to follow strict safety regulations.”




s fn


ta 0






1000 m








ug ar La

ur ig te sa


rí Ho














igu r





H tún









orr Sn



















erfi sga


r gu ta a stí ka órsg Þ

Nj rgþ









r sst



abr au









erfi sga





Vit a





stí gu r




ast Fra






tíg ns s Va t












óla Sk


a ag












Nó atú














Klap p


Splashing around

Dipping into the

geothermal loveliness


ne of the very best and most unique things about Iceland is the geothermal energy. While in many other countries pe­ople have to pay high prices to heat their homes we Icelanders, we crank up the heat all through the winter, without thinking about the cost. Our hot water is almost free! We also indulge in super long, hot showers (which in some countries is a luxury), and even go as far as heating our sidewalks to melt away the snow. But one of the very, very best things about our abundance of hot water is our outside swimming pools. They’re open all year round, no matter what the weather conditions are, and they’re al­­ ways clean, cozy and welcoming. Almost every town throughout Iceland has its own swimming pool, no matter how many or few people live there. Being able to swim in a public pool is almost considered a basic human right here. Seeing as they are so many, they of course vary in quality, but what you’re guaranteed to find at each pool is at least one lap pool, one shallow pool for the kids, one or two hot tubs and usually one sauna or steam room (some have both).

by Dísa Bjarnadóttir

get to know the other regulars, so slowly little social groups start to form, usually one that gathers in the hot tub for some gossip or talk of news and politics, as it’s called when it’s men talking. When the sun shines, people flock to the swimming pools for that golden opportunity to get an Icelandic suntan. Some take it very seriously and even pack a lunch before they get to a bench, put their towel on it and stay there all day. Many of us love to brag about getting a local suntan. The swimming pools are also a fantastic place for kids to splash

around; many of them have water slides of various shapes and sizes which can be hours’ worth of fun. And as some of us have discover­ ed, that for some reason there is no better cure for a hangover than a visit to the pool.


eople visit swimming pools for vari­ ous reasons. For many it’s their main form of exercise. The pools open very early, around 6 am so many like to swim a few laps before starting their day. Many swimming pools have regulars that come at the same time every day, and they

22 ı WOW has got it going on

he biggest swimming pool in the country is in Laugardalur valley which literally means “pool valley”. Back in the day before the roads were cem­­ented and all the houses were built, the geothermal hot water would puddle up in this valley and women washed their laundry there. Actually, the name Reykja­­vík (Smokey Bay) comes indirectly from those puddles of hot water. When the first settlers arrived in Iceland they saw the steam coming from those little hot springs and that’s where the name comes from.


augardalslaug swimming pool was built in 1968 and was recently renovated. It has a 50 meter long swim track, five hot tubs, including one with ocean water, a water slide that is 84 meters long and now has LED lights. It’s so much fun, that kids can’t get enough of it and when the grown­­ups try, they’re often tempted to make more than one trip. In the summer time there is a wipe-out style obstacle course in the shallow pool: Some floating pool toys are lined up, with the idea of running across as many as you can, while holding onto a rope that stretches from one end to the other great entertainment, both for the kids and the adults to watch and cheer them on. Laugardalur is in one of the few valleys in Reykjavík. Because it’s a valley it has excell­­ ent shelter from the wind and therefore that’s where our biggest outdoor sport arena is. Laugardalur is also home to the botanical gard­­ens of Reykjavík, and the open air farm

animal park, Iceland’s “mini-zoo” featuring only animals that live naturally in Iceland. For many Icelanders, especially those who only go to the pool on weekends, the trip isn’t complete without a hot dog after a good soak. Near most public swimming pools is a little hot dog stand. To do it like a true native: go ahead and treat yourself to a hot dog at the end of the visit. It’s well worth it.

Good to know Most swimming pools rent swim suits and towels. If you want to save money it’s better to bring your own, both suit and towel. The website offers information about all of the pools and their opening hours. Icelanders shower in the nude before and after entering the swimming pool. To find out how to get to the pool (or anywhere in the city) using the Icelandic bus system, visit

At your service- Anywhere- Anytime

Special sightseeing taxi tours We specialize in personalized sightseeing day trips to the natural wonders of Iceland – for small groups of 4-8 persons. All major credit cards accepted by the driver.

To book in advance: tel:+354 588 5522 or on E-mail:

Luxurious living

See Reykjavík

from the sea by Dísa Bjarnadóttir


riving my car to the very end of the pier behind Harpa Concert Hall, on a dark rainy night felt like the beg­­inning of an adventure. As I approached, I thanked God that two handsome gentlemen were there to give me a hand climbing up the ladder. I really didn’t know what I was in for.


hen I got onboard it was like walking into a world more lux­­ur­­­ious than I have ever experienc­­ed . This was the real deal! Movie star quality! The yacht had a spac­­ious living room, which on this particular night featured a table laid out with white wine and fing­­er food, and from there one could either walk up to greet the captain or walk down to visit one of the three suites, each more lux­­urious than the next.

Pick your tour The captain Einar, is a man of many talents. Besides having a captain’s license he has been in­volved in many aspects of

24 ı WOW has got it going on

Many Icelanders grow up so close to the sea that they say that they grew up on the sea. That’s because the sea provides a living for many Icelanders, especially in the smaller villages around the coast. Then there are the city slickers, such as myself, who hardly ever leave the city and just wander around the streets of Reykjavík. The closest we come to living on the sea is a stroll along the beach every once in a while. That’s why it was a really unique experience for me when I was offered a tour on the Harpa yacht. the Icelandic tourist industry for many years. He named the boat Harpa, inspired by the name of the concert hall, the first month of summ­­er according to the old Ice­ landic calendar, and the name of his granddaughter. By adding this lux­­­urious yacht into the growing fleet of tourism vessels in Iceland he is now offering some different and exciting options for the ex­­ plorers of the country. Some of the tours that Harpa Yacht offers are whale watching in Faxaflói Bay, sea fishing tours, and a tour called Reykjavík from the sea; giving you a chance to see this sea-side city from a new angle. The tour cruises around the islands Viðey, Engey, Akurey, Lundey and Þerney (some of these can be seen from the city) in Faxaflói. Additionally, a night

tour on the Harpa yacht is a gold­­ en opportunity to see the aston­ ish­ing beauty of the Northern Lights, while enjoying the salty air of the North Atlantic Ocean. Icelandic summer nights are just as magical as the sun never sets but rather lights up the sky in all different shades of pink, purple and orange. To witness the “al­ most sunset” is a unique exper­ ience and one worth staying up all night for.


arpa Yacht is also available for private rentals; whether it is a birthday, group visit, anni­­ versary or just a really classy cock­ tail party with a twist. I know that after my little peak into luxurious yacht sailing I’ll be trying to find ways to get myself onto the guest list for another yacht party.

For more information about the Harpa Yacht and opportunities to rent it or take tours visit

Reykjavik's Thermal Pools


e c r u o s A alth e h of

Th er m al sw im m in g po ol s

Hot t ubs and jacuzzi

*Admission January 2013. Price is subject to change


k. 55AD0ULiTsS k. 130DiRsEN

Sa un as , steambaths an d sh ow ers


For he al t h an d w el l-be in g

Se ve n lo ca t io ns

Op en ea rl y un t il la te

Thermal pools and ba baths s in Reykjavik are a so source of health health, relaxation a and d pureness pureness. All of the city´s swimming pools have several hot pots with temperatures ranging from 37˚ to 42˚C (98˚–111˚F). The pools are kept at an average temperature of 29˚ C (84˚ F). Tel: +354 411 5000 •

They’re finally here

High times for WOW air


ust before this issue of WOW magazine hit print, WOW air cele­­brated the arriv­al of their new Air­­bus A320, model 2010, aircrafts. They are just the first half of four new air­­crafts WOW air is planning on using next summer making their fleet the youngest and most fuel-efficient in Iceland. To cele­ brate this newest addition to the

26 ı WOW has got it going on

WOW fleet its newest member flew low over Reykjavík on arrival, flashing its happy smile.

Stretch your feet One of the most common com­ plaints among all airline passen­ gers is the limited space for their feet. Well hop onboard these new planes and stretch out. The new Airbus A320s are not only more environmentally friendly they are also more feet friendly

with more leg-room and a fuse­ lage that’s seven inches wider than in most aircrafts, enhancing comfort for passengers.

Saving all around The fuel-efficient and environ­ mentally friendly Airbus A320s go well with WOW air’s determi­ nation to offer the lowest prices on flights to and from Iceland while doing right by nature. “It’s a real pleasure to welcome these first two Airbus A320 air­ crafts to our fleet. We will always put our emphasis on offering the very best accommodation and service to our passengers as well as giving them the best prices available,” says CEO Skúli Mogensen.

Wait, we have more happy news …

WOW air applies for its flight operator license


arly in April WOW air appl­i­ ed for its own flight operator license at the Ice­­landic Civil Aviation Ad­­ministration, laying over 7,500 pages of manuals and other docu­­ments before Pétur Maack, head of the Aviation Ad­ ministration. This is big news in Iceland as no airline has applied for its own flight operations in ca. 20 years for overseas com­ mercial aviations. The application is part of WOW

air’s goal to strengthen its ope­ ration as the company plans to operate their own aircrafts and offer flights to North America. With their flight operations lic­ense secured, WOW air hopes to be flying to the USA in spring 2014. “Applying for our own flight op­ erations license is a huge step for WOW air. We have put all our efforts into making the manuals and other requested data for the Icelandic Civil Aviation. We

want people to know that we are a worthy alternative when it comes to traveling to and from Iceland,” says Björn Ingi Knúts­ son head of WOW air’s aviation department.


e at WOW magazine are look­­ing forward to WOW air’s reaching this milestone along with the most affordable flights to North America.

CEO Skúli Mogensen carries the heavy load of documents and manuals into Icelandic Civil Aviation Administration headquarters.

Issue two

ı 27

Party on

Happy hours in



nce upon a time drink­­ing in Ice­­landic bars cost a small fortune. There were no deals on beers, cocktails and drinks. In those days people “started” or “warm­­­ed up” at private parties, with beer and liquor purchased at a more reasonable price from the country’s official liquor stores. So, a typical Friday or Saturday evening would start at a house party and then, when the people had discussed world events, politics and personal gossip enough and wanted to see other faces, they would head downtown. In those days, foreign visitors were often puzzled to see how quiet the streets of Reykja­­ vík were until about midnight when all of a sudden every bar fill­­ed up with some slightly drunk Ice­­landers. In recent years there has been a change. We discovered happy hour! Now the party still goes on

28 ı WOW has got it going on

late into the night, but it starts earl­ ier. And it doesn’t have to start at a private party. For some of us, the early evening has become the best time to get a drink down­ town. At this time of day there is still a tolerable amount of people, even in the most popular places. The line to the bathroom (for the ladies) is much shorter and be­­cause the average person in town still has less alcohol running through their system, it’s likelier to strike up some interesting convers­­ ations. Some of the best bars in town change one hundred percent after midnight.

Before and after midnight Take my favorite bar for instance, in the early evening, during happy hour, it’s a very civilized place where people sit inside or out­ side, often gathered at a round table to discuss worldly events, politics, religion, literature and phil­osophy; all at a moderate lev­

by Dísa Bjarnadóttir

el. Take that same bar at around midnight on a Saturday night and it’s a crowded nuthouse! It’s so crowded that you’d think Björk was giving a free perfor­ mance and you’re standing at the very front of the stage. It’s almost impossible to walk through the place as it’s filled to its maximum capacity and if you try to walk through it with a glass full of

“For some of us, the early evening has become the best time to get a drink down­ town.” beer in your hands, well, let’s hope you’re not wearing anything white. And the bathrooms ... I don’t know why it is that guys are always so very, very fast in there compared to us ladies. Maybe it’s because they don’t have their lipstick in their purse. Maybe it’s

because when they look in the mirror, if they don’t like what they see there really isn’t much they can do about it. But for us of the fairer sex it can be a nightmare. However, sometimes when one stands for a very long time wait­­­ ing in line for the WC one can have interesting conversations and make new friends so it’s not all that bad.

Appy hour Now, back to my previous point… the early evening: now that’s a time to see a good side of the city! In the Apple App Store one can find an App called Reykjavík Appy Hour, a cool gadget that will tell you what bars are having happy hour at what time and what their specialty is for the best price. So head downtown, grab a rea­sonably affordable drink and strike up a conversation with a native. We’re a friendly bunch. Especially before midnight!

The Lobster House “One of 66 best Restaurants in Scandinavia” 2010 - 2011 nomination

Amtmannsstíg 1 sími: 561·3303 Reykjavik City Center ··


b a r i n n S T A R T E R S R e s t a u r a n t &

B a r

The Best of Reykjavík 2012: Dining and Grub. “Best newcomer restaurant: Forréttabarinn” Grapevine magazine Nýlendugötu 14 Reykjavík TEL: +354 517 1800


b a r i n n





f´s C hoic

y my



y to

4 Co u 6 Co rses + Por Des urs k be sert es + lly – F iv Des sert e sp C h ic ic e ken s– che w in g ese s– Bee pop l im e Lob tro cor C h ic yog ster ots n -t e ken hur – pe – es ryak Tan t–c pper car doo i o r ia got ri – c h nde s– eese man r m S p in u – g shr o ch nut ach o u m o tney ix ms – lasa Nut gne – Gr gar stea l ic – m ix eek k– yog ed l date hur Hor eave Ic e l s t s – s e– and mus – pe gre ic g tard sto en p Mus old dre sels eppe che s s in r– ese – ch g pars – nu il Ic e l i – d il n ip – ts – and l m béar ic c aple Lam Smo od – n a is b he syru ked e beef arts p– salm brea bell – ba on – y–c d con hor – da hor Car sera iz o Wha tes pac d is h – ap le – c io – ples – wa cra ora nbe nge sabi r – g in may c r r ie s – o


WOW cyclothon

The Bells of the ball The WOW cyclothon is an international event where teams cycle around Iceland competing both in bi­cycling and fund raising for Save the Children. Preparations for this year’s race are well underway and WOW magazine met with the fierce women team, The Bells, who are determined to rise to the challenge and leave their mark on the competition. By Steingerður Steinarsdóttir Photos: Kristinn Magnússon


ach team consists of six members, two drivers and four cyclists and so far The Bells are the only all women team from Iceland. They are colle­­­agu­es at Íslandsbanki bank, from dif­ ferent departments, and are all interested in sports, particularly cycling. “I took part last year and de­­ cided then that I would do this again,” says Ása Magnúsdóttir. “Ours was the only all women team last year as well so I am proud of repeating that again this year. There is another wo­­men’s team which has male drivers but

30 ı WOW has got it going on

their cyclists are women.” Do the teams represent certain firms or organizations? “No, not necessarily, anyone can put together a team and select the members from any group,” says Ása. “There is, how­­ever, such a great interest in sports within the bank that when I started looking for suita­­ ble team members I did not need to go far. Staff members have taken part in the campaign “Cycle to work,” which has been ongoing in Iceland since 2003. The campaign is designed to promote a healthier lifestyle and en­­vironmental awareness in

the workplace. Companies form teams and race against each ot­her by counting kilometers cy­ cled by team members during a few weeks in the spring. Íslands­ banki has won the competition a couple of times and some of the staff chooses to cycle an extra loop before coming to work be­­­ cause they live so close to the workplace.”

Training for Half Iron Man Ása is training for the Half Iron Man competition which will be held in Hafnarfjörður this summer. “Yes, I am cycling, swimming and running to prepare for that,” she says. “If I have fun while tak­ ing part this summer I will go for a full Iron Man course in 2014. One should never do anything boring just for the sake of it. I want to enjoy my exertions.” The rest of the team now fills the room. They all have a healthy glow about them and the enthusi­ asm for the task at hand. Kristrún Júlíusdóttir took part last year and

she is up and ready to go. “One cannot describe the feeling of cycling across a brid­ ge in the morning light,” she says, “and the Icelandic summer nights with their unique light both inspire and invigorate me.” The others are new to the WOW cyclothon but the way Ása and Kristrún described the ex­ perience was enough to kindle their interest. “We followed their process last year and it was so exciting that when I drove into the parking cellar of Harpa in order to greet them on arrival, I damaged my racer [racing bicycle] on top of the car,” says Nanna Jónsdóttir the third cyclist. “I was so fired up that I completely forgot it was there.” Margrét Pálsdóttir is the fourth cyclist and she has just returned from a cycling holiday in Mallor­ ca. “It was great,” she says. “Aft­ er cycling up 800 meter slopes Reykjavík does not seem hilly at all. The slopes of the city are just speed bumps.”

“Ours was the only all women team last year as well so I am proud of repeating that again this year. There is another wo­­ men’s team which has male drivers but their cyclists are women.”

“We followed their process last year and it was so excit­ ing that when I drove into the park­ ing cellar of Harpa in order to greet them on arrival, I damag­ ed my racer [racing bicycle] on top of the car,”

Ideas on the run

Her eyes glow while remember­ ing her trip but she admits that a cyclist holiday is by no means good for one’s tan as the sun will catch only patches of your body. Ása has taken a similar tour in Tenerife and nods in agree­ ment. Racing down moun­­tains seems an absolute joy according to these women. “It’s fine once one has learnt to let go and relax into the bends and curves of the road,” Margrét says.

The role of the drivers Ásthildur Kristjánsdóttir and Bergljót Sigurðardóttir are the drivers. What is their role in the team? “To oversee the whole project,” says Bergljót. “Make sure the cyclists get their rest and that the bicycles are always ready and in top condition. We have an RV and follow the cy­ clists the whole time and when it is time for an exchange we drive a few kilometers ahead, stop

and get everything ready for the passing of the baton.” “Their role is hugely important,” says Kristrún. “They have to find the right bicycle and more often than not it happens to be the far­ thest back. They estimate when it is best to pass the baton and who is ready to take over. They’re rath­ er like the assistants to the driver in Formula 1 car racing. They are the project managers and have to check everything.”

The Bells, where does the name come from? “We held a brainstorming meet­­ing and nothing happened,” says Ása. “We were all empty so I decided to go for a run and I nearly had to stop since so many ideas started to flow. I sent text messages to the girls while runn­ ing and The Bells was what we decided on. It can refer to the bell on a bicycle. It is also the other half of an Icelandic word meaning, chatterbox or a loud person.” All of them are into sports and they cycle, swim and run. This takes a lot of effort and prepa­ ration. Some might ask how

Issue two

ı 31

“The occasion was that I had just finished my master’s degree but I kept talking about the race and told the guests all about that while my studies were hardly mentioned.” they find the time, energy and longing to work so hard. “I think the key to keeping fit is finding something that you enjoy,” says Ása. “There are so many ways to exercise and cultivate the body that everyone should be able to find something they like. Dancing is a good exercise, so is hiking, climbing, skiing and so forth. But what keeps you going is the feeling afterward. During the cyclothon you turn into a cycling machine and while it’s your turn you just keep going but after the race there is such a rewarding sense of accomplishment and gratitude for the experience that it makes it all worthwhile.”

Determined to do their best Are you all determined to win? “No, we have not set that partic­ ular goal but we are determi­ned to do our utmost and have fun while doing it,” says Margrét. “However, winning the women’s race would not go amiss. And I want to point out that we are not ready to be drivers if the team is just out there to dabble,” says Ásthildur with a twinkle in her eye. “But all joking aside,” says Nanna, “we are not playing. It is really inspiring to set a goal like this one and being a part of a group working together with a common purpose. The team that

Ása and Kristrún were in, won the donation competition last year. They were really efficient and dedicated, and managed to raise the largest sum for Save the Children.” “Having a goal keeps you at it,” Kristrún adds. “I often ask my­ self: How shall I exercise today? What will give me the best re­ sults? But on the other hand one feels a bit empty when the goal has been reached and the mis­ sion accomplished. I felt like that last year but then I just set my sights on this year and the cycle began again. I was so hyped that when I returned to work I told sales representatives at a meeting in the bank all about my cyclothon. Luckily enough, one of them was really interested or at least looked like he was.” “I threw a party a few days after last year’s race,” Ása says. “The occasion was that I had just finished my master’s degree

but I kept talking about the race and told the guests all about that while my studies were hard­ ly mentioned. I saw that some of them were getting really bored with my stories. When I went to the store a few days later and had almost started giving the store clerk the party spiel I knew it was time to tone down.” So you really feel a sense of accomplishment after a race like that? “Yes, definitely, you’ve just stayed awake for two days and cycled constantly,” says Ása. “The experience is unforgetta­ ble. Magnificent!” On that note of excitement it is time to say goodbye. The Bells are certainly geared to go and if the spirit of the team is anything to go by they’re sure to leave their mark on WOW cyclothon 2013 in one way or another.

WOW cyclothon promotes healthy living and outdoor activities in the beautiful nature of Iceland and raises money for a charity called Save the Children. Last year contestants raised quite a bit by collecting pledges for their teams. All contributions including corporate sponsorship also went directly to Save the Children. The total amount raised by the WOW cyclothon was 3.8 million IKR.

There’s still time 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 still sign up for the WOW cyclothon to be held on the 19th of June 2013. Register at Registration has already begun and is open to everyone until May 15th 2013.

32 ı WOW has got it going on

Íslenskt mínútuverð í útlöndum með Vodafone Euro Traveller Vertu í góðum samskiptum erlendis. Skráðu þig með því að senda „Eurotraveller“ í SMS í 1414. Þú færð SMS þegar Euro Traveller þjónustan er orðin virk.

Þín ánægja er okkar markmið








H V Í TA H Ú S I Ð / S Í A



The Vatnajökull Region

beauty A land of beasts and

In the Vatnajökull Region of Southeast Iceland you find some of the most popular tourist destinations in Iceland such as Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon, Skaftafell, Vatna­­ jök­­ull (Europe´s­largest glacier), Vatnajökull National Park, and many more attractions. You will also find dozens of com­pa­­nies that offer all sorts of activities year round, di­verse accom­­m­o­­da­­tion and great restaurants with local food.

Diverse wildlife

Ragnar Th. Sigurðsson

The roaming herds of wild rein­ deer have made their home in the Vatnajökull Region. During the summ­­er they are mainly up in the mountains but can some­ times be seen near the Ring Road. In the winter they migra­te to the lowlands and are a comm­­­on sight to people hiking or driv­­ing through the region. Curious seals can also be spott­­ed eithe along the shore or in the Jökulsárlón Glacier La­ goon, especially during winter where they find sanctuary in the serenity among the ice­ bergs of the scenic lagoon. The area has rich birdlife, partic­­ularly in May when the first migrating birds from the European mainland stop in South­east Iceland to breed. In the autumn, large groups of birds gather there to fly back south.

Farm Zoo in Vatnajökull Region

34 ı WOW has got it going on

Ragnar Th. Sigurðsson

For those who prefer a more in­ timate touch with the animals a visit to the Farm Zoo at Hólmur is a good idea. A Local guide will take you through the zoo and introduce you to animals with names like “Lady Gaga” & “Albert Einstein”. You will also find different kinds of domestic animals which are believed to be some of the purest breeds in the world because they have been here since the settlement. At the Farm Zoo you can see sheep and lambs, horses, calv­es, goats, pigs and various kinds of birds and rabbits. Dur­­ ing the wintertime the majority of animals are kept indoors while in the summertime they’re outside more, roaming freely. Note: Springtime is the time of new birth for many animals in the zoo.

The unique Vatnajökull beer After seeing the beautiful nature and landscape of Vatna­jökull Region we highly recomm­end sitting down and relaxing in one of the local restau­­rants to enjoy the unique fresh­­ness of a Vatna­­jökull beer. Vatnajökull beer is brewed in limited edition us­­ing icebergs from the Glacier Lagoon and arctic thyme. In 874 Ingólfur Arnarson be­ came the first settler in Iceland. At a similar time the water used in the special Vatnajökull beer fell as snow onto the clean and unspoiled Vatnajökull Glacier. Now it returns from the glacier as icebergs in the regional glac­ier lagoons. On the black sand around the glacier, the small and humble herb, arctic thyme, grows during the short, bright summer. Vatnajökull beer allows you to experience the spirit of the Vatna­jökull Region in its purity. Find out more about the region of Vatnajökull at www.

Helga Davíðsdóttir

Ragnar Th. Sigur簸sson

Issue two

覺 35

Staying active

36 覺 WOW has got it going on

Iceland is the most active volcanic spot in the whole world. Smack under the middle of Vatnajökull Glacier there is a hot spot or a direct link to a mantle plume of molten lava. The active volcanic belt runs diagonally through the country from the tip of the Reykjanes Peninsula to the north shore and beyond. It is here that the greatest flow of lava in historical times has occurred. by Steingerður Steinarsdóttir


ypically for Iceland are long palagonite ridges where the earth breaks open and molten lava spouts up through a series of craters. This means that lava flows in greater quantities on this small island than in other volcanic areas. Indeed Iceland holds a world record of volume of lava spewed out in a single eruption in historic times. 8700 years ago a 20-30 km long rift opened up in the highlands sending continuous streams of lava over the lowlands and into the sea some 140 km away from the actual craters. The amount of lava that came up during the eruptions was about 30 km3. We’re kind of glad we weren’t here at the time. Icelanders weren’t so lucky in the year 1362 when Öræfajökull Volcano erupted causing devastation due to huge amounts of tephra being ejected and floods of water from the glacier above drowning a cluster of farms in an area called Litla-Hérað. For centuries the farms that remained in this area were isolated by large white rivers flowing from underneath the glacier. The people living there displayed courage and resourceful­ ness when crossing the rivers and the glaciers in order to keep contact with their neighbors and maintain their survival.

A member of the Icelandic rescue team checks in on a lone farmer in the south of Iceland during the eruption of Eyjafjallajökull Glacier. Photo: Kristinn Magnússon.

The bridge over the Markarfljót River was washed away by floods due to the fast melting of ice and snow during the volcanic eruption of Eyjafjallajökull Glacier. Photo: Róbert Reynisson.

The Blue Haze Hardship The most famous of Icelandic eruption is undoubtedly the Blue Haze Hardship. This eruption started in 1783 when great rivers of molten lava flowed from the high­ lands down into the plains below. Although hazardous this did not prove to be the worst consequence of the eruption. Poisonous gasses, called the Blue Haze, filled the air killing livestock and ruining grazing fields. 75% of all livestock in Iceland died and over 10,000 people which formed the fifth of the nation at that time. Like in the recent Eyjafjallajökull eruption Europe did not remain unaffected. The Blue Haze was carried by winds over the ocean ruining crops in many countries. The famine in France brought on by the Blue Haze is also believed to have been a contributing factor in the French Revolution of 1793.

A farmer in the south of Iceland during the ash fall of 2011. Photo: Rakel Ósk Sigurðardóttir.

Photo: Rakel Ósk Sigurðardóttir

Issue two

ı 37

Staying active

The eruption on Heimaey Most recent of these volcanic eruptions is the Heima­­ ey eruption in 1973. A rift opened just above the town completely without warning. The eruption caused a major crisis for the islanders and nearly led to a per­ manent desertion of the island. Volcanic ash filled the town and lava flowed over and destroyed around 400 homes. For a time the lava flow threatened to close off the harbor. Then the ingeniousness of man served well as an operation was mounted to cool the advanc­ ing lava flow by pumping sea water onto it. This saved the harbor and thus allowed the inhabitants to return when the eruption was over. In recent years most eruptions in Iceland have been small and of little consequence for the people of this island. Although the eruption of Eyjafjallajökull Glacier and the great ash fall proved to be a great nuisance, it didn’t cause any permanent damage or casualties. These latest eruptions serve to remind us that we live in a precarious situation and that anything can happen since the country is continually being shaped and molded by the forces of nature..

The eruption of Westman Islands nearly led to a permanent desertion of the island.

An old lava formation at Ódáðahraun. Photo: Sigtryggur Ari Jóhannsson.

During Easter of 2010 there was a spectacular eruption at Fimmvörðuháls, a popular hiking route near Þórsmörk. It was often referred to as a tourist eruption due to the relatively easy access people had to go and see this extravagant expression of nature. Photo: Sigtryggur Ari Jóhannsson.

“8700 years ago a 20-30 km long rift opened up in the highlands sending continuous streams of lava over the lowlands and into the sea some 140 km away from the actual craters.”

A well equipped vehicle drives through Frambruni lava field at Ódáðahraun. Photo: Sigtryggur Ari Jóhannsson

38 ı WOW has got it going on

Keeping Iceland warm since 1926

It’s not really summer. It’s just winter with less snow. In the middle of the ocean, south of Iceland, there’s an archipelago called the Westman Islands. It’s the windiest place in Iceland and it gets lots of rain. In the old harbor we opened the valves on the water mains, unleashing an artificial downpour. When the ice-cold water came lashing down – it really made us think of the Icelandic summer.

Fit for a king

The Icelandic horse is descended from horses that the first settlers brought with them over the ocean to this country in 874. 40 覺 WOW has got it going on

The Icelandic horse – of course

The Icelandic horse is descended from horses that the first settlers brought with them over the ocean to this country in 874. This horse is small but sure-footed, spirited and beautiful. Riding is a popular sport in Iceland and a growing number of families raise their own horses. This lovely horse is, however, even more popular abroad than in its homeland.


n a harsh country this breed has had to develop attributes necessary to survive and among them are the great versa­ tility in riding performance, lively tempera­ment, resource­ fulness and docility. Al­­though traditionally, the Icelandic horse was used extensively for transportation and work, each Icelander prized his riding horse above rubies. One even took his best horse to Copenhagen and gave it to the Danish king, who was at the time, his king. This poor farmer had received many offers for the horse from his more well to do peers but con­­sidered the horse too good for them. The only man worthy of such a gem was the king.

Not a working horse anymore

by Steingerður Steinarsdóttir Photo: Einar Guðmann

In the 1940’s and 50’s the role of the Icelandic horse changed mainly because it was no longer needed to work on the farm and it be­­­came a unique sport and family horse. In addition to the standard gaits; walk, trot and canter, the Icelandic horse has tolt, a “runn­­ing walk”. Some are also bred for a special “flying pace” or skeid, which is a very fast lateral gait used for racing short distances and some can reach almost 30 miles an hour at this pace. Iceland’s livestock is relatively disease free, mostly due to the isolation of the island but also through the diligence of the authorities that prohibit the import of raw meat and of live animals unless they are quarantined for a number of months. Even used riding gear cannot be brought to Iceland. Such stringent rules mean that riders have to say goodbye to their horses having taken them to compete in inter­­national equ­estrian competitions. These partings can be quite emotional since the Icelandic horse is quite affectionate and develops strong attachments to people.

Fearless little beast There are no real predators in Iceland but the country is wrought with environmental dangers, such as quicksand, rock slides, riv­­ers with changing currents, fissures, tus­­socks and rough lava fields. The ability to assess a situation rather than the instinct to flee has therefore become central to the sur­­vival of this breed of horse. They are not easily spooked and do not fear other living creatures. It is no wonder that this small but resilient creature is so popular. In Iceland there are about 80,000 hors­ es but in Europe their number is reaching the 400,000 mark, more than the entire population of Iceland. German, Danish, Swedish and Norwegian riders have discovered this lovely horse and Americans and Brits are following their lead. In the old days the Icelandic horse was allowed to roam free most of the year. Today these precious horses are kept in stables through the harsh winters and only allowed pastoral roving during the summer. The aver­age height of this horse is between 13 and 14 hands with an average weight of between 330-380 kg. All colors are found but the most common is chestnut. They have long, thick manes and tails and a double winter coat. It is easy to get to know them first hand as many riding centers and horse renting agencies offer day and half day tours. Long­er tours that even involve riding across the Icelandic highlands are a growing genre of tourism.

Issue two

ı 41

Looking up

PloverPloverPlover The title of this article may look like an embarrassing typo but it’s actu­ ally a translated quote from a famous Icelandic song by singer/song­ writer legend, Megas. The song “Lóa Lóa” from the album “Paradise Bird” is actually about a woman named after the golden plover but the album title says it all. Let’s be honest, I am no bird expert, nor am I even a bird enthusiast. But the plover is no ordinary bird. by Guðrún Baldvina Sævarsdóttir Photo: Einar Guðmann


ith the rising sun in this remote North At­lantic is­­­land, a certain sense of hope fills the Icelandic sub con­­­­sciousness, that old feel­ing that just maybe, despite the odds, spring is upon us again, and that it might actually bring anot­­­­her summer. It’s what we live for and after a winter of dark­­ness and cold you start to realize why. More enthusiastic sun­­-worshippers than Iceland­ ers are hard to come by as we go to incredible lengths to suck up all the sun we can get. A friend of mine, who moved to Cali­­fornia a few years ago, told me that after 3 years of liv­­ing in a completely stable and sunny climate, he still can’t shake that urgent feeling of gett­­­ing outside to bask in the sun, even though it’s there for him 360 days of the year. So what does the sun have to do with a relatively large migratory water bird?

The harbinger of spring In Iceland, the plover or “lóa” as we call it is considered the harbinger of spring. Sounds simple enough and it’s actually quite logical, or it would be if we didn’t have calendars. This migratory bird breeds in Ice­­land during the summer mont­hs but flies as far south as North Africa for winter. When first spotted in spring, it makes headlines in all the newspapers, it is the first story on televised news and it replaces the weather as the most exciting topic of dis­­cussion for at least a week. Granted the two are often inter­­twined, the plover and the weather, and together they can make for lengthy chats and interesting predictions into the future: “Looks like we’ll have a good spring, the plover is so early this year”.

42 ı WOW has got it going on

The plovers’ behavior can be read as a sign of changing weat­­ her. Apparently it goes silent before a storm and sings in two voices before sunshine. I may be smirking as I write this but I’m fairly certain that I’ll look up a long-term weather forecast the next time I notice the plover suddenly silent. That’s the thing about Icelandic folklore, you think your years of hardearned academic achievement has made you rise above it, but then you find yourself lowering your voice next to an elf rock in order not to disturb anybody. It’s embarrassing but true.

Singing “glory to the lord” I personally believe that the popularity of the plover might also be helped by the fact that its singing is so recognizable and sweet, sounding some­ thing like dirrindee. One of my favorite stories about this bird is a folk story that depicts pretty much exactly how inti­­mate our relationship is. According to Icelandic folklore, plovers were not created by God along with the rest of the world’s cre­­atures but rather were form­­ed out of clay by child­­ren accom­panying Jesus Christ. Jesus swept his hands over them, gave them life and as they flew away they sang “dirrin­ dee” which is plover-speak for “dýrðin drottins” (God’s glory) or, as my normally quite ra­­tional mother put it “dirrindee means glory to the lord”, and she wasn’t kidding. Quoting a poem by Jónas Hallgrímsson, one of Iceland’s most beloved poets, “spring’s tender messenger” is what we call the plover, though we all know he was writing about the sparrow. In order to explain this discrepancy, Icelanders have written theoretical articles on

how he must have just need­­ed a masculine gendered noun to fit the material of his poem instead of the feminine gendered lóa. It’s funny ‘cause it’s true.

The plover’s work ethics The plover graces our stamps, is protected by Icelandic laws and is the star of every other Icelandic folk song. It’s proba­ bly because of one particular song that I associate the plover with the Icelandic national work ethic. This song heralds that the plover has arrived and will eliminate the snow, which is all good and predictable but it manages to drive home that crumbling ethical dogma that you should always be working more and preferably suffering from exhaustion as a result. It goes something like this: “She [the plover] has told me of my sins, I sleep too much and do not work at all. She has told me to stay awake and work and embrace the spring, filled with hope.” In the middle of March, shortly before this was written, some­­ one spotted a plover which of course became headline news. The next day there were interviews and reports on how this one plover might just have been left behind here for winter after having missed the migratory bird train last fall. False alarm or not, my mind im­ mediately wandered a couple of months into the future and I could see myself sitting in the green moss, watching the sun­ set in the middle of the night in complete silence except for the dirrindee of the plover. I take it back, I am a bird enthusiast.

In Iceland, the plover or “lóa” as we call it is consid­ ered the harbinger of spring. Sounds simple enough and it’s actually quite logical, or it would be if we didn’t have calendars.

Issue two

Photo: Einar Gudmann

覺 43

The wild north

Few but interesting Icelandic fauna is not very diverse. The island’s isolation is probably the main reason. The Arctic fox is, however, indigenous to this country and greeted the first settlers when they landed. The rest of the wild fauna has been transported here by men and interestingly enough have managed to outwit those that brought them here. by Steingerður Steinarsdóttir

An Arctic Tern. Photo:

Birds large and small Bird life in Iceland is, however, rich and varied. All kinds of birds come here from Europe and America to nest in the summer. Many of them travel far and wide, some even from Africa and the South Pole. The Arctic Tern is the greatest traveller of all, with some individuals covering more than 80,000 km annually. A great number of ducks, geese, songbirds and sea birds can easily be spotted here to the delight of bird watchers from all over the world. Visitors in Iceland will almost certainly catch a glimpse of interesting birds without putting in any particular effort. The Icelandic raven is both common and unique and by now a city dweller all year round.

44 ı WOW has got it going on

Reindeer on the eastern highlands Reindeer or caribou were brought here in the nineteenth century in an effort to increase the diversity of the wildlife. They only success­ fully managed to settle in the east and it is necessary to keep their numbers down since the vegeta­ tion in the highlands will only feed a certain number. Hunting caribou in the autumn is a popular sport and a few thousand hunters apply every year for a permission to catch one of the approximately 1200 animals allotted.

Photo: Einar Gudmann

Icelandic field mouse Mice were stowaways on board Viking ships that first sailed to Iceland. They decided to stay even before their unaware transporters did. Mice have done well in Iceland and the Icelandic field mouse is larger and more resourceful than her cousin in Europe. The house mouse, however, has remained the same.

Photo: Eyjolfur Mar Thoroddsen

Minks and foxes

Rats, brown and black

Minks and foxes were imported in as farm ani­ mals but later escaped and now run wild. The foxes quickly blended with the Arctic fox that had been carried over here from Greenland on ice blocks long before man set foot on this island. Today the population of foxes and minks is growing much to the dismay of farmers and others that fear that this will cause havoc to bird life. The mink has on the other hand pro­ ven useful in keeping the black rat from becoming prevalent. Photo: Einar Gudmann

Photo: Einar Gudmann

The brown rat migrated to Iceland in the early nineteenth century but the black rat was first spotted when a ship ran ashore at the coast of Snæfellsnes in the mid-eighteenth century. Nowadays the brown rat is a firmly established inhabitant here but the black rat is firmly extermi­ n­ated whenever spotted amongst goods imported into the country, so there are not too many of them turning up. For a long time, history had it that the black rat had brought the Black Death to Iceland in 1424. On the other hand, recent archaeological excavations seem to prove that this was indeed, just a myth. People believed that Black Death had been carried from one individual to anoth­ er via rat fleas but this is only true of one derivation of the disease.

Issue two

ı 45

Bugs in abundance All around the country there are a number of molluscs to be found and all kinds of bug like creatures that live either in the sea or on the beach. Some of these are colorful and truly beautiful. Those interested in en足 tomology will get plenty of opportunities to study insects if they take the time to walk along any Icelandic beach.

Sea mammals Along our shores there are many seals although only two species are consider足 ed indigenous to Iceland. Many visit from Greenland and these are often seen among the other. The sea around the country is full of diversity and positively crawling with life. The many guests who go on tours looking for whales are rarely disappointed. The luckiest ones will catch a glimpse of a humpback or a blue whale, the biggest mammal in the world. A large number of small whales such as killer whales, harbor porpoises and minke whales are just offshore. It is safe to say that although the Iceland足 ic fauna is not as varied as many other countries, it is interesting and not to be underestimated. A humpback whale. Photo: Einar Gudmann.

46 脹 WOW has got it going on

Gentle Giants whale watchinG húsavík • iceland

this is it 2013 welcome




GG1 • Whale WatchinG

GG7  BiG whale safari



An Icelandic superstar!

Björk k r ö j B of course : Bi

ur photo co rting llec t io

ORIGINAL The musician’s eccentric style and glamorous appear­ ance puts Björk in a category of her own.

VIBRANT PERSONALITY Performing in New Zealand in 2008, Björk’s colorful and vibrant per­ sonality is on display as always. DEFENDING ICELAND’S NATURE Even though Björk is based in New York with her family, she takes great inter­ est in matters concerning Iceland; economic issues, nature and sustain­ able industries.

48 ı WOW has got it going on


SUGAR­ CUBES Björk took her first steps in the UK music industry with her band, The Sugar­ cubes.

by B

A MEMORABLE DRESS Björk caught everyone’s attention at the 73rd Aca­ demy Awards in 2001 wearing a swan dress. She even ­mimicked laying an egg on the red carpet.

ho /P

s to

ergrún Íris Sæ var sd

ót tir

Björk Guðmundsdóttir is without a doubt the most famous of us Icelanders. Björk is an original, in every sense of the word, and her colorful look, as well as her music, has put her on the map as one of the world’s most interesting artists.

ON STAGE Björk has performed in some of the world’s grandest venues, even performing at the Opening Ceremony of the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens.

BJÖRK AND MATTHEW With her partner, artist and film director Matthew Barney at the 2005 Venice Film Festival.

LOOKING GREAT Björk looks great in her forties. The singer/ songwriter was born in Reykjavík in 1965, and started singing at an early age.

ACROSS THE BOARD It has proved difficult to categorize Björk’s music. She has achieved recognition in electronic dance music, rock, class­ical, jazz and folk.

OUTSTANDING ARTIST Björk’s first album was recorded and released in 1977, when she was only eleven years old During her career she has had several number one hits in many countries, been nominated for thirteen Grammy awards, one Academy Award and two Golden Globe Awards.

Issue two

ı 49

H V Í TA H Ú S I Ð / S Í A

HERE’S THE DEAL You’re on a plane. You’re going somewhere. You’ll definitely experience a WOW moment on your trip. Share those moments with us and you could win free WOW tickets!

Anybody can win, even Santa Claus! The only thing you need to do is share your WOW Moment videos/photos with us and you might get a chance to experience a new WOW moment for free! Weekly, we will give tickets to our WOW moment sharers and some will even get more... WOW!

So stay tuned and be ready…the WOW moment game is just around the corner… Details on

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.

Have a taste

It’s often difficult to decide where to eat and what to order when you visit a new country. We want to help you decide by recommending some awesome dishes, courses and drinks. These are some of the ones we think have the WOW factor and are trending in Iceland right now.

Rub23 Sushipizza

“The name was a joke in the beginning and everybody had their opinion of it and thought it was lame.”

Rub23 was opened in 2008 in the town of Akureyri in northern Iceland. Rub23 is an Asian/American fused restaurant that specializes in fish courses, using Icelandic ingredients. We talked to one of the owners, Chef Kristján Þórir Kristjánsson, and asked him about their famous Sushipizza.


he idea of the dish? “My coowner, Einar Geirsson, and I were travelling in the USA when we came up with the idea of this dish. We wanted to make it Icelandic in some way so we decided it would have Icelandic char.” The name? “The name was a joke in the beginning and everybody had their opinion of it and thought it was lame. But we had already decided the name and were not going to change it.” Is it popular? “In 2008 when we opened Rub23 the Sushipizza was on the menu. It’s was very popular from day one and it’s been there ever since.” Any secret ingredients? “No not really. We of course make the dish from scratch starting with rice and Nori that we fry in tempura. Then we add spic­ed char tartar and top it with chili may­­onn­­ aise and our homemade unagi sauce and spring onions.”

52 ı WOW has got it going on

Vegamót Catch of the day Vegamót has been one of Reykjavik’s most popular restaurant/bar for decades, famous for its cocktails, food and comfortable atmosphere. We asked owner Óli Már Ólafsson and Chef Matthías Emanuel about their much talked about catch of the day.

“Every morning we get fresh fish sent to us. So we make different dishes every day depending on the kind.”


hat can you tell me about the dish that we tasted? “This morning we got fresh cod delivered so I decided to make fried cod with barley and beet and fennel slices, topped with capers butter.” How fresh is it? “Every morning we get fresh fish sent to us. So we make different dishes every day depending on the kind. Today we got fresh cod so I decided to make this dish.” Is it popular? “We always have two “Catch of the day” on our menu. One is fish and the other is chicken. Both are very popular and they have been on the menu for a long time.” Any other menu recommendations? “The sesame chicken is very good and the Louisiana chicken wings are probably our most popular dish. The mojitos are also always popular but the whiskey sour is my personal favorite.”

Issue two

ı 53

Have a taste

Grillmarkaðurinn Grillmarkaðsborgarinn (The Grillmarkaðurinn burger)

About 2 years ago owners and chefs Guðlaugur P. Frímannsson and Hrefna Rós Sætran opened Grillmarkaðurinn. From day one Grillmarkaðurinn has been on every one’s lips: A truly classy place with a “taste of Iceland” menu.


he idea of the burger? “We had some ideas when we start­ed making it. We wanted to make a juicy burger diffe­ rent from other burgers with a special taste and finer meat texture, more ground.” What makes it special? “The texture of the meat is different. The reason is we put 80% meat in and 20% fat along with 20 other ingredients, including spices and herbs. For looks we burn our logo on the hamburger bun.” Why is this dish so popular right now? “The Grillmarkaðurinn burger got voted the best hamburger awhile back in the Reykjavik Grapevine and after that it started to trend.” Any other menu recommendations? “I would have to say the mini burgers (Icelandic lobster burger, Puffin burger and Minke whale burger) and the Minke whale steak.”

“The texture of the meat is different. The reason is we put 80% meat in and 20% fat along with 20 other ingredi­ ents, including spices and herbs.

54 ı WOW has got it going on


MAR Restaurant

Bringing elegance to the waterfront It is the vibrant atmosphere of the Old Harbor that sets its mark on MAR, a new and exciting restaurant. The name MAR is derived from the Latin word for ocean and although MAR is not a typical seafood restaurant these fresh Icelandic ingredients surely set a strong mark on its menu. Inspired by South American and South European cuisine, MAR offers the best of both continents. These diverse influences mean that at MAR there are no rules and everything is possible. You can, for example enjoy a starter inspired by Peruvian cuisine, a main course by French and a dessert by Portuguese. Set your imagination free and take an extravagant world tour with your taste buds.

top design. If you are looking for some­­thing interesting to bring back from Iceland you are also in for a treat. Concept store Mýrin, where you’ll find interesting Ice­ landic and Nordic design, is in the same building. At Mýrin you can even find the Skarfastellið, the dinn­­er set put together for MAR by Guðný Hafsteins and inspired by the bird known to Icelanders as skarfur (sea raven). OPENING HOURS Winter: 11:30-23:00 Summer: 8:00-23:00   Breakfast: 8:00-11:30 Lunch: 11:30-14:00 Aperitivo: 14:00-18:00 Dinner: 18:00-22:00   MAR Restaurant Geirsgata 9 (Old Harbor) 101 Reykjavík Tel: +354 519 5050

“Happy hour” as aperitivo Being true to the origin, the team at MAR found it appropriate to offer the Italian aperitivo during the day. This is a sociable culinary tradition that no one should miss out on. It’s great as a pre-meal drink and taking in the vibrant atmosphere of the Old Harbor, sitt­­ing outside on a sunny day would be a perfect way to enjoy it. The drinks are on “happy hour” prices and the menu offers a select­ion of light courses.

materials is somewhat of an ode to the Old Harbor in Reykjavik. The black-treated wood panels on the walls are reminiscent of the old, Icelandic harbor houses and other materials come from or re­ flect on the harbor’s surroundings. We could say that it brings the best of both worlds; you’re downtown and on the waterfront. You can experience amazing food, the quirky surroundings and

Interestingly, the Italian piadina is also one of the most popular dishes according to MAR head chef Sveinn Þorri. He says that this dish was actually requested by the designer of the restaurant who studied in Italy. As a result they put together a nice selection of piadinas for MAR, all served with delicious sweet-potato fries that are hard to resist.

Old harbour Tel: +354 568 8989


Tel: +354 578 8989

New style harbor dining From the start, the idea for MAR was to bring elegance to the wa­ terfront while keeping the atmos­ phere laid back. This is what Jón Ingi the restaurant’s manager defines as new style harbor din­ ing. The concept comes from the young design team at HAF, Haf­ steinn and Karítas. The choice of

Issue two

ı 55


Very nice Vegamót

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 be­ cause 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 Medi­ terranean side and yet elegant 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

56 ı WOW has got it going on

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


The English Pub

Save water, drink beer! For years, Iceland has enjoyed a diverse selection of restaurants and often sophisticated bars. However, one tiny grumble occasionally surfaced from the country’s Anglophiles – simply that there was no proper “pub”. And so the English Pub was born. From modest beginnings it has built a hearty reputation, seeking out, with the advice and guidance of its dedicated cus­ tomers, the finest ale available to mankind. Today it offers its enthusiastic clientele the chance to sample 50 beers from around the world, as well as a stagger­ ing 15 Icelandic brands.

Whisky galore Not content to rest on its laurels, the English Pub has ventured north of its virtual border and also offers the finest selection of whiskies anywhere in the country. The choice of some 60 malts include many of Scotland’s finest, ensuring that numerous Ice­­landers and worldly travelers make the pilgrimage to the pub’s

humble door. Located at the very heart of downtown Reykjavik, the walls of the English Pub are adorned with hundreds of pho­ tographs – like an album of the city’s history just waiting to be explored over a quiet beer.

A sporting chance Live sporting coverage is amply catered for, with a choice of three big screens and TVs. In­­ side the pub there is room for up to 150 people, and an outdoor terrace can accommodate plenty more on those balmy Ice­­landic evenings! Whether it is foot­­ball (Premier and Champions League), rugby or golf, there are always special offers when live events are being broadcast.

Live music every night adds to the atmosphere and for anyone feeling lucky, there is the Wheel of Fortune. Regulars like nothing more than to spin the wheel and chance a “Sorry” or preferably win what used to be called a Yard of Ale. These days, it’s ine­vitably known as a meter of beer, but the winners don’t seem to mind! The English Pub Austurstræti 12 101 Reykjavik Tel: +354 578 0400 Mobile: +354 697 9003

Issue two

ı 57


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 every­ thing 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 Ice­­

58 ı WOW has got it going on

landers) 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” (leeglaath), 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 traditional 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 cocktails if you’re not in the beermood (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 spe­ cial appearances and unadver­ tised happenings on Wednes­ days, Fridays and Saturdays. Put your musical knowledge to the test at the Wednesday night popquiz; 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 Tel: +354 552 0070 Opening hours: 14:00 – 01:00 Sun-Thurs 14:00 – 05:00 Fri-Sat


Let´s go to the …

Lebowski Bar

The Reykjavik venue that rocks! From the entrepreneurs that brought you Café Oliver and Vega­mot, 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.

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

Bar has taken this now-iconic drink to a new level, offering an astounding 18 varieties of White Russian, along with an extensive bar list.

Bowling at the bar The real icing on the Le­bowski cake, however, is the bar’s gen­u­­ine bowling lane – it’s a classic. How many bars have a bowling lane? In Iceland, not many, unless 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. WOW Challenge: Dress up as a real rockabilly chick or dude before you go to the Le­bowski Bar. You’ll fit right in.

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

The Lebowski Bar Laugavegur 20a +354 552 2300

Jeffrey ‘the Dude’ Lebowski, the protagonist of the Coen brother’s comedy, is renowned for his penchant for ‘White Russ­ ians’ – vodka based cocktails featuring coffee liqueurs and cream or milk. The Lebowski

FIND US ON FACEBOOK and Twitter Twitter: @LebowskiBar Instagram: #LebowskiBar 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 (

Issue two

ı 59


The disappearing café

Tíu dropar / Le Chateaux Des Dix Chuttes Tíu dropar (Ten Drops) is a café located in the cellar of Lauga­veg­ur 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 recom­ mend 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. Some­ thing 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 dish­ es 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 Cha­te­aux 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

60 ı WOW has got it going on

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 sett­ ing 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 twitt­ er 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


The Steak House by the harbor

A warmhearted restaurant If you like steak this is it! Steikhúsið, which simply means “The Steak House”, is a trendy new restaurant in the middle of Reykjavik. The vibrant, beating heart of the premises is the Spanish Mibrasa coal oven where guests can watch the deft hands of the cook, artfully preparing the sizzling steaks. The beautiful coal oven, visible to guests above a bar table is used for grilling and baking. The distinct flavor from the coals gives the food a richer taste and enhances the tenderness of the meat, and speaking of tender­ ness, if the texture of supple, butter soft meat is to your liking, be sure to taste the “28 days” tendered meat specially cured by the chef. The excellent selections and innovative side dishes are all tanta­lizing and be sure not to miss the grilled Icelandic fish, a tasty delicacy worthy of your indulgence. Although the focus is primarily on steaks the vegetarian choice is excellent. A myriad of flavorful starters served with freshly baked bread will set the mood for your meal. The exciting list of side dishes gives everyone the opportunity to design their favorite meal or why not be daring and try something new? How about deep fried tempura vegetables or sweet potato French fries? If selecting becomes too much of a dilemma there is always the set menus. These vary with the seasons and offer the freshest and most popular dishes availa­ ble at any given time. The own­ ers take pride in catering to the whole family so as you would expect the children’s menu is excellent.

vík and therefore the interior, reminiscent of old harbor pubs, is fitting and apt. Also it reflects on the history of the house which was built to house a blacksmith’s smithy and metal works. But the main focus here is re­ ally on steaks so back to basics, this restaurant is situated firmly in the modern world. The drinks menu arrives on the table in the form of an iPad making it easy to browse, create a wide selecti­ on and change it when some­ thing new and exciting catches the sommelier’s attention. After a good meal in the warm atmoshere of The Steak House, a stroll along the harbor or through the lively neighborhood, of restaurants, cafés, artisan stor­es and workshops will give a fitt­ing ending to a fun and enjoy­ able evening. Steikhúsið Tryggvagata 4-6 I 101 Reykjavík Tel: 561 11 11 I

Rough and ready style interior The raw decoration and furni­ ture made partly out of recycled materials create an ambiance of old fashioned charm and history. The restaurant is situa­ted just above the old harbor by the whale watching center of Reykja­

Issue two

ı 61



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)

62 ı WOW has got it going on

14 destinations Now boarding!


We look forward to see you. We offer low prices, great atmosphere and a big smile on board our new planes — and by the way, we star in our commercials as well. We are WOW.


Copenhagen THE








Amsterdam Berlín



Zürich Stuttgart Lyon Milan





Ólafur Arnalds


he Icelandic born composer Ólafur Arnalds, who already at the age of 21 had earned the status of a “modern-classical” artist, has become well known for his melancholic, dreamy and atmospheric composi­ tions. His production style is recognizable through his unique way of mixing acoustic elements such as strings and piano with electronic beats and effects.


lafur, who is from Mosfellsbær, a small town near Reykjavík, started his musical training at a young age switch­ing back and forth between the piano and drums, finally focusing on the piano in addit­ion to composition and classical theory. In his teens he was a drummer for the metal

64 ı WOW has got it going on

bands Celestine and Fighting Shit until he got the opportunity to work on his own music. In 2007 he released his first album Eulogy for Evolution and in 2008 went with Sigur Rós on tour opening some of their shows in Europe. In 2009 Ólafur conducted a 7-day re­ cording project where he would compose, record and release a whole song each day for 7 days straight. That same year Ólafur did a musical composition for the dance piece Dyad 1909 by internationally acclaimed cho­ reographer Wayne McGregor who took his inspiration from Ernest Shackleton’s Nimrod expedition to the South Pole in 1909. His second album ...And They Have Escap­ ed the Weight of Darkness was released in 2010 and was followed by a well-received Asia Tour. The album tells the listener a story

with beautifully melancholic track nam­es like: You are the Earth, Swallow Us, and Slowly, the Light Becomes. Ólafur then repeated his 7-day recording project in late 2011 with Living Room Songs; this project how­­ever was released as an album later that year.


lafur recently released his fourth album For Now I Am Winter and is currently planning a tour around Europe giving some of his fans a chance to experience the new compositions live. Ólaf­ ur has shown much interest in letting others work his ideas further through the Internet by offering people to make their own video to one of his songs and throwing a remix contest of another song. Go to for more info on tour dates and releases.



he band Bloodgroup has been making a name for itself in Iceland as well as abroad these past years, touring and play­ing big festivals in Europe, Canada and the US. Through their catchy dance tunes, deep electronic grooves, and powerful stage performances, they have captured the attention of people from all over and proved that Bloodgroup is worthy of the spotlight! Founded in the east of Iceland, in 2006 by Janus and siblings Halli, Raggi and Sunna, the band started off with recording lo-fi pop­-songs in a rundown house in their hometown Egilsstaðir. Quickly finding their way and voice they re­ leased their debut album Sticky Situation in late 2007. The album was a hit and it didn’t take long before Bloodgroup had evolved into one of Iceland’s biggest pop bands, signing record and publishing contracts with German label AdP and Sugarcane Record­ ings from the US. In 2009 they followed their debut up with the critically acclaimed album Dry Land that was well received by critics and went all the way to winning the Kraumur Music Award. The band toured the Western World con­ stantly for two years before finally returning to the studio to record new material in 2012.


he result was the magnificent album Trac­ing Echoes, which was released in early 2013 and will very likely get the band some well-deserved fame. The new album carries the defining sound of Bloodgroup and it holds good consistency while being more diverse than their previous releases. There are some danceable pop tunes in classic Bloodgroup fashion as well as some deep and moving songs that show how the band is maturing. It is clear that this electronic pop quartet has come a long way since their debut release. The group produced the album themselves and even did a collaboration with up-and-coming Icelandic composer Ólafur Arnalds (who is working with Janus in another project called Kiosmos) on the song “Disquiet”. The band is now touring in Eu­ rope and 2013 sure seems to be their year with a big tour, record contracts and with more dedication than ever. Be sure to check them out if you get the chance!

Bloodgroup’s latest album Tracing Echoes was released in early 2013. The album cover features the daughter of one of the band’s members. Check out for tour dates and more info.

Photos: Sigríður Ella Frímannsdóttir

Issue two

ı 65

Where did we come from?

Icelanders are a curious case

The field of Genetics has advanced a great deal in recent years. Agnar Helgason, a biological anthropologist at deCODE genetics has done his research on the origin of Icelanders and he is the man to ask: Who were the real forefathers ... and foremothers? Text by Málfríður Garðarsdóttir Translation: Júlíana Björnsdóttir Photographer: Ernir Eyjólfsson

66 ı WOW has got it going on


tories are told of brave and rather unruly Vikings who escaped from the kingdom of Norway, leav­ ing the restraints of bondage and an overbearing king. They arrived to an island with a ruthless landscape and built a nation upon it. The her­i­ tage is a legacy of fearlessness which is imprinted into the national identity of the Icelandic nation. Unveiling our heritage, and in so doing our origin, helps to understand who we are and possibly what it portends for us in the future. For centuries, gene­ rations of Icelanders listened to and later told stories of the first settlers, stories written in scripts and old relics from the age that preceded Christianity in Iceland, confirming the settlement of a Nordic race. The relics found in the resting place of the first set­ tlers were thought to verify the settlers’ land of origin. Amongst the many relics found in age-old graves were jew­­ellery, utensils and weapons that resembled re­ lics found in the Nordic countries.

Misleading results However, Celtic features have also been identified. Thus, it was realized that the relics only gave researchers an idea as to which routes the first settlers travelled in their sea crossings and trade missions. In the 1960s and 70s, blood type researchers compli­ cated the matter further. The first research had been performed on the basis of the ABO-blood type system and the results indi­ cated that the blood running in the veins of purebred Icelanders is closer in resemblance to the Brits than their cousins in the neighboring Nordic countries. This led to heat­­ed debates over how high a perc­entage of set­ tlers in Iceland originated in the British Isles and how it affected the Icelandic genome. But with the advent of modern research techniques the original blood test results were found to be inaccurate, to say the least and misleading. One research projected that only 2 percent of settlers arrived from the Nordic countries, whereas later re­­ search showed the percentage to be a massive 86 percent. Since the first research was con­ ducted, genetic sciences have progressed rapidly. Agnar Helgason’s investiga­ tion into the origin of Icelandic settlers has resulted in answers that are both unambiguous and curious.

Nordic forefathers... British foremothers

But it is worth noting that 38 Helgason and his colleagues percent of the Icelandic female also looked into the origin of lines of descent were traced the Faroese people – for whom, Agnar and his colleagues at back to the Nordic countries and likewise, the majority of male deCODE genetics compared one fifth of the Icelandic male lines of descent can be traced DNA in mitochondrion to the lines of descent came from the back to the Nordic countries but Y-chromosome in order to shed British Isles. Therefore, it is clear the female lines of descent to new light on the nation’s true that among the settlers were the British Isles. In comparison, forefathers and foremothers. pure Nordic families, possibly research done on local DNA Mitochondrion that are passed arriving directly from the Nordic from residents in the Orkney directly through the female countries, as well as purebred and Shetland Islands revealed line of decent – from mother to families emigrating from the only about 35 percent of males daughter – contain a genetic British Isles. Helgason is very tracing back to the Nordic strain that reveals the foremoth­ right to assume that the Icelan­ countries and about the same ers from whom Icelanders are dic settl­ers truly were a mixed percentage of female lines. descended. group. The result of the Orkney and It’s fair to say that each individ­ Shetland research result indi­ ual carries in part the same DNA in old teeth cate the settlers were families genomic strain as one’s mother, An even more recent study by grandmother, great-grandmother because the ratio of men and women relatively similar. Assum­ Helgason and his colleagues, and all females dating back to ing these were families, the done in cooperation with the the first female settlers. The numbers may be relatively low National Museum of Iceland, specific strain of DNA mitochon­ because the journey to the far enabled the scientists to uti­­ drion came from a total of 467 west, that is, to the Faroe Islands lize the latest technology to Icelanders, and was matched and Iceland, with household separate the DNA from settlers’ against strains from 645 Nordic goods and farm animals on teeth. Old DNA was examined, natives and 1019 Scottish and board, was far less appealing for and compared to DNA from a Irish native residents. fa­milies already settled, so main­ segment of the population of Then, to discover the origin ly single men ventured to take different time periods. A total of the male settlers, a similar risky excursions to the unknown of 95 teeth from all corners of comparison was made on the far west. It is Iceland, found in the pagan a known fact graves of the early ages of set­ Thus, it is fair to assume that the that Icelan­ tlement were used as samples. majority of male settlers came dic settlers DNA preserves remarkably well brought in human remains throughout from Norway and the other Nor­ slaves with ages. In particular, the DNA dic countries, but most of the first them on the the found in the pulp cavity of teeth women to settle in Iceland and long journey is resistant to decay. Yet very from the few cells are found in it and very rear children came from the British Isles; little DNA, nonetheless, the DNA British Isles. even though that is there is remarkably well this was the preserved, better than DNA from case, it is possible that not all other body tissues. The hard Y-chromosome found in Icelan­ of our British foremothers were and dense enamel prevents dic men, and from 233 natives slaves. environmental factors known of the Nordic countries and 283 to speed up its decay in other from Scotland and Ireland. The hat we know is that bodily remains, from decaying results from the study showed some Nordic settl­ the DNA within the pulp cavity. that more than 80 percent of ers stayed only for The procedure was a delicate Icelandic male lines of descent a while in the British and a sensitive process. Scien­ could be traced back to the Nor­ Isles, nort­h­ern Scotland and in tists had to break down the DNA dic countries – a living proof of Ireland, while others remained. It and handle it with extreme pre­ the existence of the legendary is possible that some of the first caution. The atmosphere in the Viking-gene in Icelanders. How­ settlers in Iceland were the very laboratories at deCODE gene­ ever, only 38 percent of Icelan­ descendents of such families. tics was too polluted to analyze dic female lines of descent trace back to the Nordic countries, while nearly two-thirds trace The closer the relation, the more children back to Scotland and Ireland. One of the more recent researches done at deCODE genetics Thus, it is fair to assume that a is based on data from Íslendingabók, or the Book of Icelanders’ majority of male settlers came website. The website contains information about the number of from Norway and the other Nor­ births, the close relations of couples and results that are predict­ dic countries, with most of the able. The general rule – no matter the time or the community – is first women to settle in Iceland that the more closely related a person is to his or her spouse, the and rear children coming from more children the couple is likely to have. the British Isles.


A diversified group Agnar Helgason is not willing to make definitive assertions for the results, other than that it is clear various theories are afloat at this point. Who were these people that sailed all the way to Iceland in the 9th and 10th century?

Helgason hasn’t ruled out a sociological effect that may have an impact. It is possible to say that a couple that is more closely related is more likely to meet at an early age and therefore, start having children sooner than other couples. The rule of thumb is applicable whether we look to the present day or the past; inde­­pendent of whether an individual is based in a rural or urban community. Outside of the sociological fact­ors Helgason believes it is likely to find a biological explanation showing that the moth­ er’s immune system is less likely to reject a foetus if the father’s DNA closely resembles her own, thereby increasing the number of births.

Issue two

ı 67

it with DNA from modern-day people. Research facilities were set up in an old storage space at the National Museum of Iceland, where our forefathers DNA could be analyzed. The analysis of the archaic DNA sequence and the mitochondrion sup­ ported the previous findings from Helgason and his team’s research: A majority of female settlers were of British descent. It also revealed that the settlers had more genetic similarities with the modern day residents of the Nordic countries and Britain, than with the modern day Icelander.

Small numbers – Pros and cons Helgason makes a point to mention the pros and cons of small numbers. “You could say that the small number of people in the local Icelandic population has led to the significantly high­ er loss of genetic variation than found in neighboring countries. Our DNA research indicates that that is the case and you might say it’s unfortunate. However, Iceland’s small population,

both nowadays and in the past, is very fortunate for genetic research.” The general interest in gene­­ tics and genealogy in Iceland is not unique. The growing interest to investigate one’s origin and heritage is widespread. Many Americans are eager to discover where their ancestors came from, and particularly the African-American population as their history is poorly document­ ed. Genetic research helps to narrow down the country of ori­ gin, or region from where one’s ancestors derived. Icelanders are very fortunate to be in possession of an enor­ mous volume of information, due to the nation’s isolated placement. “It is much easier to see the completed picture of the na­ tion’s origin and history because each individual is a source of information for the whole group. The small number of the local population and the isolation throughout the centuries is what makes Icelanders such a fascinating topic for geneticists,” Helgason explains.

The small local population and the isolation throughout the centuries is what make Icelanders such a fascinating topic for geneticists.

Likely points of origins and sea routes

“The data points to the conclusion that Nordic settlements in the British Isles varied in terms of success and longevity. Settlements in the British Isles, Ireland and Scotland were rather unstable, local armies tried to drive the Nordic settlers away. Interesting reading material in relation to this assumption is the tale relating the story of King Olaf the White in The Book of Settlement, or Landnámabók, and the Eyrbyggja saga. His widow, Aud the Deep-Minded (Auðr or Auður “djúpauðga” Ketilsdóttir) escaped to the South Islands and from there to Iceland with her escort. It goes without saying that stories of a new untouched land in the north, was a tempting destination for families of settlers who’d been driven from their settlement.”

68 ı WOW has got it going on

Agnar Helgason Ph.D. Agnar Helgason studied anthropology at the University of Iceland. After completing his master’s degree, he moved on to Cambridge University where he completed a second master’s degree in bio­ logical anthropology. He then went on to complete a PhD in the same field at Oxford University. He has been employed as a researcher at deCODE genetics since 2000, as well as being a research reader at the University of Ice­ land. He teaches a course in biological anthropology and instructs high school students. Why genetics? “Within the genome is an incredibly complicated recipe for a living being. In addition to the intricacy, the history and relat­ionship of all species and individuals is written in the DNA sequence of their ge­ nomes. Every year brings scientists clos­er to and closer to reading and understanding the recipes written in the DNA, and to analyz­ ing all aspects of a person’s family tree. As a university student, I couldn’t think of anything as exciting as participating in human DNA research, and I am privileged to do exactly that at deCode genetics.” What’s happening next? “There is a number of exciting research works in the pipeline but it rarely pays off to discuss individual results until the research period is completed. Otherwise, one might find oneself making empty assumptions!”

Landnámabók (The Book of Settlements) The Book of Settlements is historical data containing information of the very origin of Icelanders. It contains familial lineage information of a total of 268 settlers – out of the 430 mentioned in Landnámabók – according to calculations done by Jón Steffensen, Professor in Anatomy. Most of those mentioned are male heads of the household. With the estimated 8000 to 16,000 individuals estimated to have settled in Iceland in the settlement age, the gap of missing information including women, slaves and other work­ ers with links to the British Isles is wide. Prof. Steffensen is of the opinion that Landnámabók underestimated the ratio of people of British descent. Landnámabók or The Book of Settlement was presumably written by men about and for men with large plots of land in their possession.

Economical and political expediencies presumably dictated the authors’ topics of choice, as well as the tendency to trace back family lines to Norway, rather than the British Isles. Is Landnámabók a work of pure fiction? Unlikely, if it were a work of fiction, it would be of little use to the authors in terms of them reaching their political goals. If we only take into account the genealogical information given in Landnámabók, it is fair to assume approximately 10 percent of settlers could trace their family lineage to the British Isles. Prof. Steffens­ en’s hypothesis indicates the correct ratio is probably closer to 30-40 percent. It is particularly interesting to see in Landnámabók, that female settlers are more likely to be of British descent than men.

Origin of settlers according to Landnámabók (The Book of Settlements) The origin of settlers – both men and women






202 (91.8%)

18 (8.2%)


Women Total

39 (81.2%)

9 (18.8%)


241 (89.9%)

27 (10.1%)


WOW air proudly supports a bevy of artists, athletes and projects. The people chosen are individuals who have done something WOW worthy, are good role models and an inspiration to others. WOW air’s goal is to help its stars reach their goals by sponsoring their international travels. Skúli Mogensen, CEO of WOW air says: “Iceland has so many noteworthy people doing good things in arts, sports and culture that it’s really unbelievable.” So far we’ve introduced five WOW stars to the world and we plan to keep our readers posted on all their endeavors.

Annie Mist

Jón Margeir

Annie Mist Annie Mist, a former gymnast, has done great things when it comes to CrossFit, in­ cluding winn­ing the Reebok CrossFit Games two years in a row, 2011 and 2012, winning her the title “The fittest woman on earth”. In our last issue Annie told us she was back to hard training, having battled some injuries after spraining her back pretty badly. At that time she was on her way to competing in CrossFit Open in March. “CrossFit Open is really the start of the season before the World Championship and it goes on for five weeks. I did well the first three weeks but then my old injuries cropp­­ ed up so I couldn’t finish the competition. This came as a big shock to me. I cried for 2-3 days but then I decided that I have to learn from this and move on. I am gradually getting better so I’m trying to hold back until

70 ı WOW has got it going on

I’m fully recovered and I can start train­­ing hard again. Right now I’m not allowed to use any weights or do exercises that put a strain on my back. But there is a lot of other stuff I can do,” Annie says with a smile. Her dreams of competing in the European Championship are most likely over but Annie still has high hopes for a full recovery before the World Championship in July. “For now I am focusing on my back, I plan to use it for many years to come so I want it to heal com­ pletely.”

Jón Margeir Last year was a great one for swimmer Jón Margeir Sverrisson and it will be a hard one to top. After all, winning the gold at the Paralympics in London and setting both World and Olympic records in the 200 meter freestyle swim is not something you can

easily do every year. Jón Margeir’s been keeping busy, competing in Malmö open in February where he won all his swims in addition to breaking one Icelandic record. In the middle of March he participated in the Reykjavík Master tournament also winning all his swims and setting national records in seven. At the end of the tournament he was awarded the title Reykjavík’s disabled swimmer of the year for 2012. Shortly before this issue went to print Jón Margeir competed in the Swimcup tourna­ ment in Einhoven Holland where he broke five Icelandic records and came in first in four of his eight swims. After the competition he trained with the national swimming team of Holland for a few days. In the coming months Jón Margeir is competing in a number of tournaments the biggest of which are the British Open in

Baltasar Kormákur

Ásgeir Trausti

Guðmundur Felix

Sheffield at the end of April and German Open in Berlin in the middle of May.

Baltasar Kormákur Through Baltasar, the up and coming film­ makers of Iceland benefit from his status as a WOW star. This great movie producer now has his second major Hollywood movie, 2 Guns, on the way. The teaser has already been released and the premier date pushed forward to the beginning of August. When this issue went to print Baltasar was travel­ ing to Berlin and Budapest for his HBO show “The Missionary.” Baltasar owns a production company in Iceland called BlueEyes Vision. It is soon to produce an Icelandic TV series among other projects. He also owns 30% in True North, a production company that has been servicing big movie companies that come to Iceland

to shoot new movies. This year the shooting of Baltasar’s new movie Everest will begin in Iceland and also in Nepal. Actor Christian Bale has been named as the lead but as of yet this has not been confirmed. Baltasar’s production companies in Iceland also have numerous projects in development.

Ásgeir Trausti In our last issue we told you all about Ásgeir Trausti, a singer songwriter that has become Iceland’s favorite during the past year. His first album, Dýrð í dauðaþögn (Glory in Total Silence) came out last fall and is still number one. It’s no wonder that Ásgeir Trausti dominated at the Icelandic Music Awards last February where his album was named “Album of the year” in the pop/rock category and Ásgeir himself received three other awards for his music. Ásgeir was also

nominated for the Nordic Music Awards. Re­ cently Ásgeir Trausti signed on with British label One Little Indian. His Icelandic album will soon be released around the world and later an English version of the album will hit the stores. Ásgeir has also signed on with booking agency William Morris Entertain­ ment which means a lot of traveling for this young musician in the near future.

Guðmundur Felix Our latest WOW star is Guðmundur Felix who lost his hands in an accident in 1998. He will soon be moving to France where he will undergo a double arm transplant, the first of its kind. The story of this 40 year old father of two is absolutely unique and you can read all about him on the next few pages.

Issue two

ı 71

The future is in

good hands

by Sólveig Jónsdóttir Photos: Ernir Eyjólfsson

Hugging his daughters, shaking people’s hands and scratching his nose. These are but a few of a million things Guðmundur Felix Grétarsson is looking forward to after under­go­ing a double arm transplant in France. The forty year old father of two lists himself as a “handy­­man” in the phonebook, appreciates gett­ing by with a little (or a lot of) help from his friends and family and had no problem knocking on the door of the former president to ask for a favor. This is Guðmundur Felix.

“When I’m finally on that waiting list I have to­be living in France. When the doctors say “go,” I need to be able to be at the hospital within an hour. I’ll probably move over there in the summer. Ideally, I would then be living there for the two year rehabilitation period. By the look of things today that is not going to work out in regards to money but I’ll figure something out. I’ll stay there as long as I can. My mother and my younger daughter are moving over there with me. My older daught­ er and my dad will probably be there most of the time as well. Plus my friends have lined up to visit so I’ll be far from lonely,” Guðmund­ ur Felix says with a smile. “This particular type of transplant has never been carried out before,” he explains. “A below elbow on both hands transplant has been done and most of these types of surgeries have been like that. Above the shoulder is a much more challeng­ ing operation. In my case two whole arms are being transplanted and the doctors need to connect nerves and such somewhere under the collarbone. We’ve really no idea what the

72 ı WOW has got it going on

results are going to be. I’ll be happy if I can move my elbows. If the fingers follow, that’s an added bonus. But if you just look at this,” he says holding up his prostate arm with a hook at the end which currently replaces his right­arm, “anything is better than this.”

Knocking on the ex-president’s door The doctors who will be performing the sur­ g­­ery carried out the very first hand transplant in September 1998, nine months after Guð­ mundur Felix’s accident. “I kept a close eye on it, followed the news and such, and right away I knew this was what I wanted. In 2000 a double arm transplant was performed in the USA. I got in touch with those surgeons but nothing came out of it.” By pure coincidence in May 2007 Guðmund­ ur Felix first met Jean Michel Dubernard, the doctor who will be performing the surgery on him. “I was lying on the couch, watching something on TV, when I switched the chann­­ el and caught the evening news where a French doctor, who had performed the first

face transplant had been giving a talk at the University of Iceland. I was really disappoint­ ed that I’d missed him so I started making loads of phone calls all over the place to try and get hold of him. I ended up phoning all the hotels in the city and finally got in touch with him. We met the day after, he exam­ined me and I basically asked him if he thought there was any chance of me getting arms again. He said he needed a lot more information about my condition, my medical records, x-rays and so on but he promised me that no matter what the answer would be, it would be given with proper reasoning. I needed my medical records translated into French and had very little resources or help on that front. I met up with the then Minister of Social Affairs but she said they couldn’t do anything. I went to seek assistance at the Ministry of Health but there was no help there either. So, I ended up knocking on the door of Vigdís Finnbogadótt­ ir, our former president, because I knew she once taught French. I asked her if there was any chance she could help me out with this

Issue two

覺 73

and she was incredibly helpful. Soon after, she spoke to the head of Alliance Francaise in Iceland. They then sent my medical records to a French pediatrician practicing in Iceland who ended up translating everything for free. I sent this to the doctors in France. Everything looked good but they wanted to do a closer examination and run some further tests on me. After going back and forth through the welfare system here I eventually gave up and decided to fund everything myself. My par­ ents gave me the flight tickets to France as a Christmas present; I maxed my credit card and ended up going over in January 2011 for a whole week. When I got home the doctors said they wanted me to come over again to do some further tests, and so I went back four months later. I somehow managed to fund that myself and then they told me I would get a final reply in July. That was delayed until September. At that point the bank was really giving me a hard time with all the debts I’d run up. So I ran the Reykjavik Marathon in Au­ gust and managed to raise sponsorship and pay back the 2 million ISR I owed the bank.”

everything is ok after the doctors run some final tests to confirm that my body is in fit state for the operation, they’ll put me on the list and I’m next up for the operation. They told me off a bit because my French is still a bit poor, so by moving over there in June and if I’m on the list by September I will have had a couple of months practicing my French.”

That cold morning “I remember that morning, coming into work and getting ready,” he says when starting to talk about the fateful morning of his accident on January 12th 1998. Guðmundur Felix, then a 25 year old electrician and a father of two, went to work on a broken distribution line on the outskirts of the city. It was a cold morning, windy and frosty.


ue to series of events and misunderstand­ings I climbed up into the wrong line. When working on these lines you climb up the pole, unhook your lifeline and hoist yourself up on the line itself. When I grabbed the line everything caught fire. The eleven thousand volt electric shock shot through both my hands. Fortu­ The big “OUI” nately I had unhooked my lifeline. Otherwise When the doctors in France met in Septem­ there would have been nothing left of me. I ber they told me that they were prepared ended up falling eight meters head first onto to do the operation. I then went on to do a the frozen ground below. My back broke in nationwide appeal which went far beyond my several places as well as my neck and the wildest dreams. Everyone helped me out for ribs came loose. I never lost con­­sciousness a big fundraising event. The media covered and remember my colleague trying to talk it, artists donated their work for an auction, to me and tend to me. I didn’t realize what had happened. I “When I’m finally on that waiting list I just remember having a really horrible stomach ache. I woke have to­be living in France. When the properly at the hospital doctors say “go,��� I need to be able to be up three months later. I’d been at the hospital within an hour. I’ll proba­ having nightmares when I was at the stage of regaining proper bly move over there in the summer.” consciousness and remem­ ber being very relieved when I realized that only my arms were missing. I had venue owners, caterers, waiters – everyone been dreaming that there was nothing left of helped me out. A fellowship of former stew­ me apart from my head. I felt as if I’d heard ardesses, Svölurnar, also held a fundraising event, Oddfellows, Kiwanis and literally thous­ someone say that I wasn’t going to make it, someone at the surgery room or somewhere. ands of people gave me a hand with it. By the I remember hearing the sound of a saw and end of the year we had collected 45 million ISR. Although things really started happening it somehow felt as though they were literally taking away every bit of me. I was struggling full on as soon as Guðmundur Felix got that “oui” from the doctors in France, there is still to let them know that I was alive. That fits the some more waiting to do. Is he a patient man description in my medical records because by nature? while they were trying to keep me asleep I “The waiting game can be very exhausting. was desperately trying to wake up, then they But I am quite a patient guy. I have to be. added more sedatives and so on. I got a You don‘t have a choice, being like this for 15 terrible edema after a few weeks and in my years. You learn being humble and patient. If semi-comatose memory it felt like I’d been

blown up like a balloon which then explod­ ed. All these feelings and nightmares are linked to real events. When I finally woke up I remember this very strong yellow light over me and the most extreme thirst I’d ever felt. To me the fluorescent lights above me looked like big tanks of orange juice and I still drink a liter or two of orange juice every day! That thirst was something out of this world and I’ve ended up having this magnificent obsession with orange juice afterwards,” he says and laughs.

How to survive There are worse things to get hooked on than orange juice and Guðmundur Felix also knows that all too well. “After the accident I started abusing alcohol and painkillers. While I was at the hospital I strangely enough felt sort of ok. Everyone took really good care of me, I was relieved to be awake and my family was with me a lot. It was hard of course as well and very hard when they started cutting back the medication so I started seeking out ways to sedate myself. After seven months at the hospital I went to a rehabilitation center for 14 months. I started smoking, drinking, us­ ing tobacco – the works. At the time, my way of dealing with things, was switching myself off. I did that for a few years but what also happened after the accident is that my liver took a lot of damage. Due to these reasons, by 2002 my liver had given up. I had lost a lot of weight and my complexion was almost bright yellow. I went to rehab in 2001 and in 2002 I had a liver transplant. The thing is that because of that I’m on immunosuppressive medication so my body won’t reject the new organ. What then had a definitive impact on the doctor’s final decision to decide to per­ form the arms transplant is that I am already on this medication and respond well to it. If not, they probably would not have consid­ ered me a candidate for the transplant. It’s strange how these things seem to work out.”


efore the accident, Guðmundur Felix was a young man with high hopes and dreams. Exciting things were about to happen at work and the future was bright. Suddenly, all of that was gone. “I was living with my girlfriend, the mother of my daughters, at the time. Our relation­ ship did not survive all of this. During the two years I was away, first at the hospital and then in rehabilitation, we simply grew apart. My younger daughter was only three months old at the time of the accident and my older daughter was four years old. With me

“ I live with my two daughters who are now 15 and 19 years old and they help me out a lot.”

74 ı WOW has got it going on

Guðmundur and his trainer Guðjón Helgi Guðjónsson have been working together for 3 years.

Issue two

ı 75

Strong legs: Guðmundur told us that he could lift up to 300 kg with his legs.

being in the state I was, I lost a considerable amount of time from their lives. My relation­ ship with my parents and close friends how­ ever grew even stronger. I rely on my friends to help me out with a lot of things. That’s the key to all of this, the key to getting through something like this. It’s all the good people in your life. I live with my two daughters who are now 15 and 19 years old and they help me out a lot. They are incredible really. The flat is always so clean and tidy, they cook, help me get dressed in the morning and my mother also helps out a lot. We’re a good team.”

it onto the table, uses his tongue to unlock it and puts his ear up against it. Telling his best friend on the other line he’s a bit busy at the moment and that he’ll call him back shortly, he finishes the phone call and hangs up using his nose. “My best friend: He calls many times

a day to check on me. Living in Iceland is a privilege when you’re in this condition. Even though the system is flawed and crippled in many ways the people here are incredible. They have good values and it’s with their help that things will work out for me.”

Hugging, scratching, greeting... So what is Guðmundur Felix looking forward to the most once he’s got hands again? “There are so many things. First of all, I can’t wait to give my daughters a proper hug. Then it’s all these things that probably sound like little things, but are big to me. Those every­ day things you need assistance with that you wish you didn’t have to. I read somewhere that the number of times a person touches his or her face during the day is astronomical. I look forward to scratching my nose. I look forward to shaking people’s hand instead of handing over the hook and not feeling a

“There are so many things. First of all, I can’t wait to give my daughters a prop­ er hug. Then it’s all these things that probably sound like little things, but are big to me. Those everyday things you need assistance with that you wish you didn’t have to.” thing. You become very isolated this way. It’s like you’re in your own little bubble. I’m lucky to have a car. It’s incredibly important for me to be able to meet people, go places and drive my girls to where they need to go. The car is my wheel chair. It’s the fundamental reason for me to be able to participate in something like an everyday routine and yet the welfare system doesn’t find me handi­ capped enough to fund it for me because I have legs and can technically walk to the bus stop. But I would of course have to ask the bus driver to go dig in my pockets to collect the bus fare.” The mobile phone hanging around Guð­ mundur Felix’s neck starts ringing. He swings

76 ı WOW has got it going on

At the chiropractor’s: “I hurt my neck and back pretty badly in the accident. My chiropractor, Magni, keeps me in check as I visit him once a week.”

Guided tours daily

Meet the music Don’t worry, it’s waterproof

Making it in Iceland

A designer’s


Pálmi Einarsson is an industrial designer and owner of Geislar (meaning rays), a recently opened shop at Bolholt 4 in Reykjavik. Looking into Geislar through a big picture window from the street, you see a selection of his creations decorating walls, shel­ves, windows and tables. And if you peek into the room be­ hind Pálmi’s desk you might catch the movement of one big piece of equipment cutting away through some material for a project Pálmi is presently working on. by Paul Michael Herman Photos: Ernir Eyjólfsson


have four products or services that I offer,” said Pálmi. “One is model toys for kids that I design and manufacture in house. Anot­her is gift products, such as wine boxes, lamps and candle holders that I al­­so design and manufacture in house. An­ ot­her is design consultancy and the last one is laser cutting. I invested in manufacturing equipment for my product lines since manu­­ fact­­uring options for them were not readily available in Iceland. My dream was to build a design business where I could, with minimal over­­head, manufacture products in house for myself and for other designers. I have set up my studio is in such a way that I can take a product from idea to finished item on the shelf in less than a day (usually couple of hours).”

Toys that last Over the holidays, toys took a prominent role in his production line. Pálmi explained, “If you go into one of the popular toy stores, bring home something for the kids, they’ll play with it for a while, then lose interest because there’s nothing special about it and it’s not chall­enging their creativity.” Pálmi only makes toys in the form of models. “Besides selling them, these toys give me quality time with my 5 and 7 year old boys. I watch them construct and paint them. Because they become pro­ ducts of their own imagination and handi­ work, they become more attached to them and appre­ciate them more, with a feeling that they “created” their own toys.” Pálmi’s boys also play a key role in his R&D (research and development) department. Their task is to find out what needs to be done to extend the life of the toy by playing rough with them. “Whenever they bring me a damaged one I redesign the parts based on their “testing” so that next time it won’t break so easily.” This is an expression of Pálmi’s quest to end the wanton waste of our limited

78 ı WOW has got it going on

natural resources and the additional cost of buying replacements. “I read somewhere that in the past 30 years we have used up 1/3 of the world’s natural resources. If we go on like this in the next 30 years we’ll have nothing left,” Pálmi intonat­ ed ominously, “and I don’t want to leave my children in a world like that.” It was because of this sentiment that he decided to become an independent entrepreneur.

Making me “When I was 6 years old I started creating stuff. I liked working with wood but I also did a lot of knitting gloves, socks and sweaters. There’s a huge knitting culture in Iceland,” Pálmi remarked. “When I was 8, I was sent to a farm during the summer and taught to re­spect nature and animals. Fortunately I was raised by people with super good ethics.” From 14 until he was 25 Pálmi did many diff­erent jobs; working in a slaughterhouse, a fish factory, a repair shop fixing cars. He pain­­ted furniture, did carpentry, learned farm­­­­ing, worked as a locksmith and waited tab­­les in hotels and restaurants. At 20 after being unemployed for 2 weeks he applied for a job as an accountant mainly because he had never experienced being a white collar worker. “When the owner asked me if I’d had any prior experience in accounting, I told him, ‘no, but I’d figure it out’ and he hired me.” One common characteristic of Icelanders is that they have few obstacles. Perhaps this has to do with being a small population living on a remote island with only themselves to rely on but it could also be that they inherited some of the bold adventurism of their Viking ancestors. “Three weeks of training under the man whose position I was taking and I was on my own. After one of the most boring years of my life (mostly playing Tetris because there was not enough work to do) I quit and began my formal education as an industrial designer.” “But my informal education began much earlier with all the different positions I’d held and the different ways of doing things I’d learned. People think industrial designers just squeeze ideas out of their head. But it’s not like that. Observing, listening, talking to people, understanding materials, learning the mec­hanics, finding out what’s already been made and knowing the legal regulations is all a part of the job. Working in these different fields helped me a lot in knowing what to consider before coming up with a new de­­ sign. Industrial designing is 90% research and 10% design,” he surmised. “After it’s prop­erly researched and defined, the design just falls on the table by itself.”

From salt shakers to … One neat little product Pálmi designed was a salt and pepper shaker and a matching toothpick holder. These were made from egg shaped stones found along certain coast­lin­es in Iceland, set on a wooden base. I was reminded through Pálmi’s discourse on the subject that items such as salt a pepper shak­ ers were often ignored. Not so with these! Catch Pálmi at a quiet moment and have him explain the subliminal meaning behind the materials used and the peculiar shape. Then

let him tell you about the amazing way the shakers were formed. For 18 years Pálmi worked in both Iceland and California, for Össur, an Icelandic based company that designs, manufactures and sells braces and prosthetics; five years as their vice president in R&D. “Össur’s slogan is, ‘life without limitations’ and making a huge difference in people’s lives is what inspired me to work with them,” said Pálmi. Today people can wear a knee brace he and his team designed that alleviates the terrible pain that would have often led them to painful, total knee replacement. When I asked Pálmi about his teachers he said, “I’ve had super skilled teachers and now when I need help there’s a big network of people I can call on. The most important thing

“Whenever they bring me a damaged one I redesign the parts based on their “testing” so that next time it won’t break so easily.”

in my work is cooperation. I am pretty good in some areas but other people I know are ama­zing in theirs. It’s really important to know your limits and who to ask for help. That’s what experience gives you. The other im­­port­­ ant thing is to be honest with yourself and ot­­hers so you can get help when you need it.

Issue two

ı 79

Mapping the future Then Pálmi told me about his vision for the future. “My vision is that Iceland will be a hot spot for design. We have a very good group of designers, educated both abroad and domestically. We just have to start realizing how much value they add to our society and to cat­er to them better. For a long time in Iceland the designer/artist value has been completely un-mapped. But in 2010, there was a report that broke down the national in­ come from the arts, crafts and design fields in Iceland. According to the report, the ann­ ual revenue in the creative sector is even higher to what we get from our fisheries and that it has grown exponentially over the last ten years. Of course, increased tourism will stimulate this growth, but bear in mind these numbers also represent, theater, movies, etc. I think we in Iceland will become well known for our de­­signs and I think there is a great opportunity for designers to design and manufacture small series of products. “At Geislar I am focusing on designing and manufacturing small series, say, 25pcs of lamps that are numbered. If you buy a lamp, your name is registered in the master record at our studio showing that you are the owner of this piece. To keep the prices

down I de­­sign my products to fit my in house manufact­­ur­­ing capabilities and methods so I don’t have to invest in expensive tooling etc.” Palmi went on to say, “One of the big things that have been holding Icelandic de­ signers back is raw materials. We manufact­ ure a lot of aluminum in Iceland, but it’s not ready for product production. The aluminum is shipped from here in big chunks and then turned into profiles, plates and other shapes abroad. This means that for us designers a small piece of aluminum is probably close to three times more expensive than in Europe. Since we do not have a natural selection of raw material in Iceland, I think we should look for other alternatives. One option is HEMP. Hemp is a fantastic material, and in my personal opinion the best material Mother Nature made for us. A lot of people don’t realize that hemp is a great fiber for clothing, paper, buildings, etc. There are a huge num­ ber of possibilities: It’s easy to form, totally recyclable, strong and cheap. I think it would be a great idea to start growing our own. My goal is to one day manu­­facture all our toys from locally grown hemp.”

A designer’s paradise Pálmi has a lot of great ideas and I thought it would be interesting to find out how being an Icelander and living in Iceland inspires him and impacts on his work. He said, “We have amazing inspiration all around us, nat­ure is one, culture another. For example we have a great history. Our ancestors were Vik­­ings, with all their culture and stories. We have stories of elves, trolls and spirits in our hist­ory books. It’s pretty easy for me to find inspir­a­tion just by walking through our na­­tional museum. Inspira­ tion is all around us. Iceland is a small country. You can go from one end to the other in few hours by car and see lots of great things.”

“My vision is that Iceland will be a hot spot for de­ sign. We have a very good group of designers, educat­ ed both abroad and domestically.”

80 ı WOW has got it going on

AwA r d -w i n n i n g P h o t o g r A P h e r s

l e in ava i l a b h englis ger m a n ic ice l a nd

P u bl i sh e d i n:

w w w.forlagid.i s – alvör u b ók ave rslun á net inu

A person of WOW

Inspiring the By Dísa Bjarnadóttir Photos: Rut Sigurðardóttir

wanderlust V

algeir Bjarnason is one of those people lucky enough to be able to make his passion his job. He is, as he describes it, “a natural born wanderer”, one who likes to see and explore foreign plac­es. During his college years he traveled around Asia for six months, start­ed in China, visited Mala­­ysia, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Laos and Bangladesh and ended in India. Valgeir also believes that the love of travel­ ing can be contagious and this is probably how he talked his girl­­­friend at the time into making the most of their joint maternity leave by tak­­ing a family trip around Australia with their six month old son.

82 ı WOW has got it going on

This is why Valgeir is a natural fit in his position as regional mana­ ger of Central Europe for WOW. He is based in Berlin and he says that the most exciting thing about his job is getting to meet people from various countr­­i­­es and getting to know the cultures and tradition of other nations. When asked what he recommends for pe­ople visiting Berlin, Valgeir affirms that there was more than enough to chose from: “For people visiting their first time I recommend the traditio­nal tourist places: The Branden­burg­ -gate, Reichstag, the Mem­or­i­al to the Murdered Jews of Europe, the Television Tower, Check­ point Charlie Museum and a stroll around the Mitte neighbor­

hood where cafés and bars oc­cupy every corner. Berlin has so much to see and do that you may have to come back a few times. Each neighborhood with its diverse shops and restaurants has its own charm. It is also a great place to visit with kids. There’s a zoo, Legoland and vari­ous fun playgrounds all over the city.”

Loving Berlin Valgeir praises the punctuality of Germans, “Everything is de­­­ cided well in advance and one can trust on public transport which means you automatically take better care of your time. One of my German friends invit­ ed me to the movies the other day, this doesn’t sound like a big deal but he asked me on a Tuesday and the show wasn’t until Friday the following week. The same goes for business meetings. They schedule two or three weeks in advance, in contrast to Iceland where you’d usually meet the next day”. A normal workday for Valgeir is a little long as he tries to keep up with the Icelandic office hours. On some nights he goes to Braz­ilian Jiu-Jitsu classes. “I am very new to this sport but basically the goal is to overpower your oppon­ent with a certain technique rather than physical strength. It’s a lot of fun and fits me perfectly as the risk of getting injured is low – after all I’m not twenty anymore – you fight on a mat­ tress not standing and throwing punches and you can put all your strength into the tricks and technique without really hurting your opponent. Also my club has a very good philosophy; “we train like a family and fight like brothers”. I think it says a lot about the spirit of the place,” explains Valgeir. “BJJ is also suit­ able for me because a big part of the training is technique. Due to a shoulder injury I can‘t always participate full force but I still get a good workout. It‘s probably the best self defence sport for the old and handicapped,“ he adds laughing. It’s a good thing Valgeir works for WOW air as his girlfriend and child live in Iceland. “I take trips to Iceland at least once a month, sometimes twice, but I am usu­ ally away for two to four weeks at a time. I consider it a privilege living in Berlin because it’s my favorite city but being away from my family is a little trying at times. Fortunately we have Skype and they also come out here to visit me. My girlfriend, my son and my friends and family,

are what I miss the most about Iceland,” Valgeir admits.

Good deal, Berlin Seeing as Berlin is Valgeir’s favorite city we asked him for some insider information on good deals there. He did not hesi­tate: “This whole city is a good deal! You can get from one end to the other by train for 2-4 Euros, and a month pass is only sixty Euros, which is the equivalent of a taxi from down­ town Reykjavik to the suburbs and back. Kebab places are all over, and a big kebab is 2.5 Euros; add a large beer for 1.5 Euros. For a great meal at a low price I recommend Aaina (on the corner of Burgmeister­ strasse and Tempelhofer Damm) the food is very tasty with big portions for a very good price. A glass of wine or a beer is also not very expensive when you visit clubs or bars (around 2.5 Euros) in addition to that, the stores have a great value on wines; 2 Euros a bottle. Visiting a flea-market on a Sunday is also a guaranteed good deal. The biggest one is by Mohren­ park in Prenzlauser Berg and there is another good one by Box­­hangerplatz in Friedrich­ schain. “A guaranteed good day is to grab a sandwich for break­ fast, take the train and wand­ er around the city, do some sight-seeing, and then find a restaurant outside of the tourist areas; a fine day that doesn’t damage the wallet.” “I’m a naturally active person. Besides practicing Brazilian Jiu­Jitsu, I run and do weight lifting. Berlin is a great city for travelers like me who don’t like missing out on their exercise. I recom­ mend bringing your running shoes and clothes and utilizing their exercise as a sightseeing tour. I do this all the time. I used to run about 3-5 km when I was in Iceland, but in Berlin I usually run 7-10 km because there is so much for me to see along the way.”

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. 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

ends On week played is c si u m live s classic u o m by our fa r Símon H e y guitar pla eating an cr Ívarsson able unforgett . ce n ie b am

Valgeir Bjarnason is one of those peo­ ple lucky enough to be able to make his passion his job. He is, as he describes it, “a natural born wanderer”, one who likes to see and ex­ plore foreign plac­es. Issue two

ı 83

Experience Iceland

Before you leave:

try this! By Dísa Bjarnadóttir Photos: Rut Sigurðardóttir

Soak Make sure you visit at least one public swimming pool! (See article on page 22)

Try all the candy! Þristur (thri-st-uhr), Tromp and filled liquorice strings (Fylltar reimar from Appolo) are the top three of the many that are locally made and delicious.

Drink as much tap water as you possibly can! It’s the best in the world!

Visit the beach Most Icelandic beaches are grayish black because of the volcanic soil.

Visit Harpa Concert Hall It’s the multicolored music house right downtown. Admission to the building is free and it’s as much fun to see it from the inside as it is to view its many colors from the outside.

84 ı WOW has got it going on

Try to see the Northern Lights. If it’s a clear night during fall, winter or spring you’ll have a good chance of seeing the Northern Lights, especially the further you get away from the lights of the city. Some say that the town of Seltjarnarnes (on the west side of Reykjavík) offers rather clear views at the very end of the peninsula.

Issue two

ı 85

Experience Iceland Visit Perlan At the top of Öskjuhlíð, our little patch of forest right in the city, Perlan, The Pearl, sits on top of what used to be hot water tanks. With wrap around decks from which you can see every angle of the city, The Pearl is a must see place, and at the very top there is a four star restaurant which actually rotates. The meals are delicious, and with the breathtaking view, you’ve got it all. There is no admission fee and you can stay out on the observation deck as long as you like. Just remember to wear warm and wind resistant clothing.

Get it at home If there is something you saw while you were here and would like to buy later, we just recently discovered, which sends Icelandic goodies and much more (CDs, DVDs and clothing) all over the world.

Go to a bar Strike up a conversation with a friendly local during happy hour (see also on page 28).

Check out the music. Some of our favorites include Ásgeir Trausti, Retro Stefsson, Of Monsters and Men and Moses Hightower. Most CD shops will let you listen for free before you buy and if you wish to buy digital, offers a great selection.

Buy a souvenir Kraum in Aðalstræti sells only items made and designed in Iceland by Icelanders and in all price ranges. If you see something that’s a bit too much for your budget, remember you can get a VAT form to fill out and then you get some of the money back!

Moses Hightower

Try our beer! We’re so proud of it, because it’s made from the best water in the world! Some good ones to try are Einstök, Kaldi and Bríó from Borg (an award winning brew). During special seasons like Thorri, Easter and Christmas you should try the specialty beers made in limited editions. They are usually sold out very fast.

Taste some dairy Skyr is an exclusively Icelandic dairy product, which originated here and you can almost only get here. It’s low fat, high-protein, calcium rich and an inexpensive item to buy and eat on the go. Our súrmjólk (similar to yogurt) and our yogurt are also very good, inexpensive and easy to eat (or drink) on the go.

Try a pulsa! Pulsa (p-uh-l-sah) is the Icelandic hot dog and sold in most gas stations as well as smaller shops, drive throughs and special hot dog stands. The toppings offered are mustard, ketchup, remoulade, raw onions and fried onions. The fried onions are a must! Most popular are one with everything or one with everything except raw onions. The best place in town to get it is the country’s “most popular restaurant” called Bæjarins Bestu, located on Hafnarstræti in Reykjavík Center. The “restaurant” even offers a great view of the Harpa Concert Hall.

86 ı WOW has got it going on

The original Icelandic liquorice & chocolate bar

Time to get down


in the abyss Tourists travelling to Iceland now have the opportunity to be one of the very first in the world to enter the magma chamber of an extinguished volcano, a mere half an hour from Reykjavík. Þríhnúkagígur volcano has a crater so extraordinary that it may become a UNESCO World Heritage site. The crater is the deepest lava vault in the world, and the only volcano on this grand scale that can be seen from within. It’s no surprise that the tourism industry sees it as one of Iceland’s major attractions. However, concerns have been raised over potential damage to the environment in and around the crater due the expected influx of tourists, and the fact that the crater is situated in the capital city’s water protection area. by Hrund Þórsdóttir Photos: Rakel Ósk Sigurðardóttir Translation: Júlíana Björnsdóttir

T Þórunn Bjarney Garðarsdóttir educated us about the crater and the history of the area. The crater Þríhnúkagígur is situated to the far left in the row of craters seen in the distance.

he crater Þríhnúkagígur, with its hard-to-pronounce name, is situated approximately four kilometers west of Blue Mountains (Bláfjöll) on the North American- and Eurasian Teutonic Plate. The mouth of the crater about four meters in size, and leads to a vast and massive cage, a cave con­­sidered to be one of the largest and greatest natural wonders of its kind on the earth. The magma chamber is the heart of a volcano, and normally when an eruption stops it fills up with rocks and stones that seal the crater. Then a dent is formed and the crater look is perfected. What makes Þríhnúkagígur so unique is that in the 4000 years since it last erupted, the crater remains unsealed. In light of its unique positioning, drilling a tunnel onto a platform in its center is one of the proposed ideas to improve access. An environmental impact assessment is in process and it remains to be seen ­whether the plans will in fact be executed. The representatives for Þríhnúki, who operated tours to the crater last summer, are certain that should the plan be real­ ized, it would be ready for use in 2015, at the earliest.

A little fall is the beginning of a beautiful journey. We met up with our tour guide, Þórunn Bjarney Garðarsdóttir, at the parking area in the Blue Mountain ski resort. The journey on foot to the crater was approx­ imately 45 minutes and took us across a somewhat impassable lava field to the base of the mountain. We walked with relative ease through the extraordinary landscape. Still somehow this journalist managed to fall flat on her bum, and on a paved road at that, just as we started our walk. The timeless Iceland­ic proverb, “fall er fararheill,” meaning, “a little fall is the beginning of a beautiful journey” were a source of encouragement.

The beaten path in the lava field due to visits from travellers to the crater has raised some concerns.

88 ı WOW has got it going on

In 1973, Árni B. Stefánsson was the first person to abseil into the chamber and he named it Þríhnúkar. The crater was explored extensively and mapped in 1991.

Issue two

覺 89

Time to get down took us into the abyss of this extraordinary crater. To descend in the slow moving lift with the earth opening up beneath us was an in­ explicable sensation, and we trembled as we felt moving deeper into the abyss. The crater is bottle- shaped and from a narrow opening widens extensively into 150,000 square me­ ter size cave. The distance from top to bot­ tom is spacious enough to fit Hallgrímskirkja, Iceland’s largest church with its imposing tower, twice, one on top of the other. 120 meters below, at the bottom of this massive cavity is a floor the size of a football field. Signs of life are few but around the summit by the crater’s opening was budding green moss and a little further down white spots appear to have been the beginning of a bacterial growth along the walls. No sunlight penetrates the far reaches of the crater, and all indications suggest the temperature has remained a stable four to five degrees Cel­ sius since the volcano became fully extinct some 2000 years ago. Big water drops that have sunk through the sedimentary strata fall into the chamber and then continue their journey through the rocky surface. One day, we may find ourselves drinking the water - even bathing in it – as the crater is located in Reykjavík’s water protection area.

Perception of distance lost! Once we finally climbed out of the lift, we were immediately asked to stay on the safe side of the so-called “drop zone.” A line is laid across the cave floor and the large rocks spread across it to cut off the area to where rocks might fall. Spokespersons for the orga­ nized tours last summer state with certainty that not once have they seen rocks and stones loosen from the precipice. However, this journalist wouldn’t want to be on the cave floor during an earthquake, as apparently happened the day after our visit to this en­ chanting underground world. Away from the cut-off line, visitors can roam around the area as they please. Climbing awkwardly across a floor of large and heavy rocks is a unusual experience. How easy it is to surrender to the wonderment of this hidden underworld, rich with splendid colors. Thirty meters on the one side - in the innermost parts of the cave - is The gray area in the wall is the fissure vent. It’s easy to spot.

From afar Þríhnúkar seems almost insigni­ ficant but beneath the surface is a grand and majestic crater. Our destination was the mag­ ma chamber deep below the surface. By the crater is the base camp that consists of two sheds and a few latrines. Travellers receive safety instructions and the necessary equip­ ment, a safety belt and helmet. Headlights are an optional addition to the spotlights already inside the crater. Without spotlights, it would be impossible to see all the colors and formations that create an unforgettable atmos­ phere in an environment where you can lose normal perception of time and space. The walk up to the relatively small crater is short. At the summit is a German lift – origi­ Ólafur Þór Júlíusson prepares the lift as safety nally designed for window washing– that precautions are carefully met.

90 ı WOW has got it going on

The lift is equipped with an undercarriage on the side as the crater hole is so narrow in places the lift could easily bump into the solid rock wall if those on-board did not push it away from it. Powerful spotlights are placed in the crater.

Nature was in a mood for grandiose displays on the day of our adventure, and on the way home, we came close to walking right under the rainbow.

Inside the volcano... in heels

der, we realized travellers from all over the world would swarm like bees to it if access Time flew; we‘d already spent an hour in the to the area was improved. In our opinion, the crater. The thought of being inside a volcano real charm of the visit would be lost without was truly overwhelming and during the whole taking the journey in the lift down to the floor time my senses were at high pitch. For a trip of the cave, but on the other hand, the price like this, warm clothing and good shoes are for a visit to the crater would be much cheaper. a must, and we made sure to dress appropri­ Like our tour guide Þórunn Bjarney pointed ately. Nonetheless, we were shivering towards out, a platform inside the crater would make the end as the initial warmth from the walk to it possible to explore the insides of a volcano the crater had worn off. Back in base camp, in light clothing and heels. However, the we were served a boiling hot but absolutely question remains just how desirable that delicious Icelandic meat soup that renewed would be... our energies for the walk back to the car park. It’s perfectly normal to have difference of opinion on how “Without spotlights, it would be impossible to utilize natural wonders to see all the colors and formations that such as this crater, and it’s create an unforgettable atmosphere in an important to analyze all sides of the issue. After visiting this environment where you can lose normal perception of time and space.” extraordinary natural won­ The range of colors inside the cave is unbelievable courtesy of the PH value in the rock. Shadowy images ignite the imagination and on this picture. We thought we saw the reflection of a dog on the wall.

a a pitch-black tunnel extending another 80 meters into the subterranean depths. The area is off-limit to tourists, and most certainly not a journey for the claustrophobic travellers as crawling through narrow space is required. All members of our group agreed that the strangest experience of all was the complete loss of our perceptions of distance. We simply couldn’t grasp the vastness all around us, let alone the incredible distance to the crater opening. The lift indeed took forever to travel down to the magma chamber with the next group of visitors.

The hole is narrow on top but widens the closer you get to the floor.

The meat soup that awaited us when we came out of the crater was simply exquisite after the day’s adventure.

Issue two

ı 91

Shaking things up

Mount Hekla Hekla is Iceland’s most famous and historically most active volcano. Situated in the south of Iceland with a height of 1,491 meters (4,892 ft) it is a rather young volcano, considered to be about 6000-7000 years old.

Tales, folklore and legends

by Jón Kristinn Snæhólm Photos: Sigtryggur Ari Jóhannsson


ver 20 eruptions have occurr­ed in and around the volcano since the settl­ement of Iceland in 874 and since the Middle Ages, Hekla has been one of the most active volcanoes in the world with recorded major eruptions in 1104, 1158, 1206, 1222, 1300, 1341, 1389, 1510, 1597, 1636, 1693, 1776, 1845, 1947, 1970, 1980, 1991, and 2000. The duration of eruptions in Hekla are extremely varied and difficult to predict. Some are very short (a

92 ı WOW has got it going on

rather like an overturned boat, with its keel being a series of craters, two of which are generally the most active ones. The Icelandic word Hekla means “a short hooded cloak” that may relate to the frequent cloud hover­ ing over the volcano’s summit.

week to ten days) whereas others can stretch into months and even years. But there is a general correlation; the longer Hekla goes dormant, the larger and more catastrophic its next eruption will be. Hekla can best be described as an intermediate volcanic form between a crater row and a strato volcano (built from mixed lava and tephra eruptions). Hekla is situated on a long volcanic ridge, 40 km (25 miles) long. The most active part of this ridge, a fissure about 5.5 km (3.5 miles) long named Heklugjá, is considered to be the volcano Hekla proper. The mountain looks

Hekla is often called the queen of Icelandic volcanoes but during the Middle Ages Euro­ peans referred to it as the “Gateway to Hell” (often considered to be spread deliberately through Europe by Cistercian monks). This belief persisted until the 1800s. Also old tales tell of the belief that the condemned travelled to Hekla’s crater on their way to the inferno, i.e. to Hell. There is still a folklore legend that Mount Hekla is a gathering place for witches on Easter. So watch out for broomstick travelers if you happen to be in the vicinity during the Easter weekend – as they may well appear! The Flatey Book Annual wrote of the 1341 eruption that people saw large and

small birds flying in the mountain’s fire which were taken to be souls and in the 16th cent­ ury Caspar Peucer (1525-1602), a German reformer, physician, and scholar of Sorbian origin, wrote that the Gates of Hell could be found in “the bottomless abyss of Hekla Fell.” Old tales told of visitors and hikers that went up the mountain but came back stark raving mad without hope of future rehabilitation. And rumor has it that Hekla is the homestead of Judas Iscariot himself!

Sport and recreation Hekla has not had a very glamorous past. Nearly every myth or legend about the vol­ cano is in some way connected to purgatory, evil and the demonic. These days, however, Hekla has become a major tourist attraction. It is surrounded by beautiful green meadows and is sometimes draped with snow. This majestic elegance has put to rest the horri­ fying stories of evil, trolls and witches. Today Hekla is a popular destination for hiking. After the most recent eruption, in 2000, the path goes near the summit with the walk taking 3-4 hours. In spring, skiing is possible on short routes around the rim of the crater (with the utmost care, of course). In summer there are easy mountaineering routes around the crater rim (also with caution) and it is possible to ride a snow cat to the top in winter.

This just in In March 2013 Queen Hekla created some disturbance, but this time only to remind us that she is still reigning and will certainly be wielding her power in the future!

Hekla in popular culture During eruptions and be­­ cause of its hist­ory Hekla has under­­standa­bly been a major attract­ion for spectators, geologists, biologists, the media, photographers, writers, poets and painters from all over the world and has contin­ued to be such since the time of its medieval infamy. William Blake (1757-1827) an English poet, painter and a printmaker showed Winter being banished to Hekla in - To Winter, one of the works from his Poetical Sketches. A poem by the monk Ben­ edeit from ca. 1120 about the voyages of Saint Brendan, often called the Voyager (c. 484-577), mentions Hekla as the prison of Judas. Also Hekla has been the inspi­ ration of numerous great and famous Icelandic poets and painters during many centuries. Travels in Iceland by Eggert Ólafsson (1726-1768),

an Icelandic explorer and writer, and Bjarni Pálsson (1719-1779) an Icelandic doc­ tor and biologist, describe their research trip around Iceland between 1752 and 1757 during which they visit­ ed a great number of Icelan­ dic natural sites, including the world famous Hekla. In 1750, they were documented to be the first people to have climbed the volcano. Mount Hekla was refer­ enced in the third chapter of Herman Melville’s Moby Dick (1851), in EE Ryan’s The Odd Saga of the American and a Curious Icelandic Flock (2011), and in the final chapters of Joan Aiken’s Is Underground (1995). The piece Hekla, Op 52 (1964) by the Icelandic composer Jón Leifs (18991968) has been called the “loudest classical music of all time.” The requirements for a performance of Hekla include four sets of rocks hit with hammers, steel plates, anvils, sirens, cannons, metal chains, a choir, a large orchestra and an organ. The piece represents Hekla performing at her best. In Boston, USA, Hekla

pastries can be found – large, upside-down cinna­ mon rolls with white sugar icing spooned over the top to look like the snow-capped volcano. A small Danish cruis­ er launched in 1890 was named Hekla, as well as a Danish steamer which saw combat in the first Schleswig War (1848-1851). Copenhagen, Denmark, houses Hekla, Copenhagen football club and they play at Hekla Park! One of the first passenger airplanes in Iceland during the 1940s, a Douglas DC4, was named Hekla, and the name Hekla is a very popular name for a baby girl in Iceland.

The way carrental should be Up Free Pick ik v in Reykja


City Car Rental

Reykjavik Office +354 771 4200 / Keflavik Office + 354 771 4202

Need Accomodation? Hotel Icelandia located at the beginning of the main shopping

street Laugavegur. Museums, art galleries, shops, restaurants, nightlife and many other attractions are within walking distance. For booking reservations, please call + 345 511 3030

Paris all year round

Paris when it drizzles and sizzles

“I love Paris in the Springtime,” wrote Cole Porter who went on to declare his love for all seasons and every moment of the year in this fair city. He was right. Paris is lovely in all seasons and in June when WOW air takes up regular flights to Paris all year round it will not only be attainable but easy on the budget as well. by Steingerður Steinarsdóttir


t is easy to love Paris in the spring when the trees in the city’s gardens bloom with a spurts of colors and scents. It’s a lovely time to take a boat tour on the Seine to see Paris from another perspec­ tive. While you survey the many magn­ificent bridges and monu­ ments you can glimpse the Eiffel Tower casting its long shadow on the still waters of the river. In spring one can also cycle through Paris using the city bike hire and photograph Notre Dame from behind. One begins by riding along the Rive Gauche (the Left Bank) past all the book­­ sell­­ers until a lovely perspective of the cathedral opens up; a peaceful and beautiful scene away from the throngs of people queuing to get in.

Music Everywhere As spring turns into summer the Parisians tend to flee the city

94 ı WOW has got it going on

making it the perfect time to enjoy the parks, music festivals and art galleries. The choices for visitors in summer are almost limitless. For those who enjoy lying around enjoying the sun, July and August are the best months in Paris. For a sure de­­light, a leisurely stroll on the two­­-and-a-half mile Promenade Plantée is highly recommended. It runs from the Bastille along a former railway viaduct, Viaduc des Arts, where now a myriad of craft boutiques, galleries and workshops give boundless oppor­tunities for exploration and

enjoyment. The tour can end in a lovely walk through the Bois de Vincennes with its floral park, zoo and boating available on the lake. In the summer, Paris caters to lovers of all sorts of music. On June 21, the whole city, pulses from dusk to dawn to the beat of Féte de la Musique, Paris‘ lively street music festival. There‘s a celebration at every bar, square and street corner where all types of music are enjoyed. The Paris Jazz Festival takes place every Saturday and Sunday in June and July, in the Park Floral, part of the Bois de Vincennes. Jazz fans flock to the city to feast their ears on improvisa­ tions and vibrant tones. It’s also a great opportunity for dancing in the street. And what would Paris be without food? The Choco-Story on boulevard Bonne Nouvelle is a new museum tracing the 4000-year history of cacao in words, images and flavors and yes, one does get to sample some locally made chocolate. The Parisian bakeries are an adventure for the taste buds and nothing compares to standing on a street corner savoring newly baked macrons from Laduré. On the roof of the Palais de Tokyo, a modern art museum on avenue du Président Wilson, is the culinary phenomenon, Art-Home; a lovely restaurant where scrumptious experimental food is prepared by a master chef before your eyes if you can tear your eyes from the stunning views of the city. Julia Child’s favorite restaurant, Chez Georges, is also worth a visit. It serves Lyonnais-style cuisine in

its casual but refined candlelit dining room.

The Bohemian Village of Montmartre The colors of spring are bright and lively but nothing compares to the kaleidoscopic vibrancy of autumn. It is a time for reflection and poetic, soulful gazing. Take an unforgettable walk through the Bohemian Montmartre and Latin Quarter. Montmartre was immortalized by generations of the artists who lived, loved and worked there; Renoir, Vincent Van Gogh, Picasso and Toulouse­ -Lautrec and many more. Enjoy the famous masterpieces now hanging in the Orsay Museum or if you prefer live entertainent stop in the Lapin Agile and the Moulin Rouge where Can-Can girls lift their legs in abandon, stretching the limits of social con­­ ventions for a cheering crowd. Be sure not to miss the Place du Tertre and Montmartre’s pièce de résistance, the Sacré Coeur basilica, with its spect­acular view of the city of Paris.

In the Latin Quarter, Ernest Hemingway spent 18 months with his first wife Hadley and wrote The Sun Also Rises. This time in his life also laid founda­ tion for the wonderful A Move­

able Feast. Take your time and meander through the Mouffetard market streets which reveal the influence of the Latin Quarter in his writing. Here other brilliant minds pondered and soaked in the atmosphere later immorta­ lized in the classic literary master­­pieces of James Joyce, George Orwell, Honoré de Balz­ ac, bad-boy poet Paul Verlaine, as well as Gertrude Stein and Ford Madox Ford. Autumn is a favorite time of year in Paris for many. There is a contagious surge of energy as people return to town and get back to business. New shows, movies and a wave of exciting museum exhibits fill the event guides. Then there’s that hint of winter approaching, and walks in the crisp air create a heady mix.

Paris in winter The French capital is most Par­­ isian during winter, when resi­ dents reclaim their glorious city. Hotels are at off-season rates, restaurant reservations are easy and lines outside the most popu­

lar sights are relatively short. In January and early February the famed sales are on, with savings up to 70 percent. And fear not, average temperatures range from 35-45 degrees Fahrenheit with misty rain. Some snow flurr­ ies may fall but warm layered clothing is all that’s needed plus popping into a café for a hot chocolate or mulled hot wine.

For a Valentine’s splurge, re­­serve ahead for an amorous candlelit dinner at Lapérouse, a private town house founded in 1766. It was a popular spot for Victor Hugo, Émile Zola and Georges Sand, as well as a favorite trysting place for gentle­­men entertaining their courtesans in private chambers still available today for discreet dining at an extra charge. However, one of the city’s best kept secrets is the annual International Agricultural Show, where farmers from all over France gather in central Paris to submit their finest pure-bred animals for the General Agri­ cultural competition and their culinary goods for the Agricul­ tural Products competition. An interesting selection of sections ensures that everyone has plenty to see or taste; eco-farm­ ing and sustainable living in one area, wine in another and in another gourmet food can be sampled. The fair is spread out over seven large pavilions, and

it has interactive displays and restaurants featuring cuisine from every region of France and its overseas territories. Winter is also a fitting time to make a pilgrimage to the cele­­brated cemetery Pére Lachais, dubbed “the empire of the dead,” where the likes of Chopin, Oscar Wilde, Maria Call­­ as and Jim Morrison are buried. The bleakness of winter offers the perfect opportunity to reflect on their life, love and death while peacefully promenad­­ing through the rich panoply of other French and international per­­sona­lities now at rest.

Winter in Paris is romantic, ­ specially around Valentine’s e Day, when the City of Light displays its splendor, offering restaurant promotions, decorat­ ed shop windows and spectac­ ular chocolates and patisseries. This time of the year will firmly convince you that Paris is in­ deed the City for Lovers.

Issue two

ı 95

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.

96 ı WOW has got it going on

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 two

ı 97

Dress like an Icelander

How to kill a


The female population of Iceland is in love with thick leggings and for good reason. We Ice­ landic girls love fancy dresses as much as women in other countri­es. However, wearing them outside can be a bit tricky with our treacherous weat­her, even during the summertime.

their figure without making them feel squished and uncomfortable they get more daring.” Her most popular design, the “Black Leather Spandex with Byker style twist”, now has a permanent waiting list.

A summer collection is on the way The summer collection for Muffin­ TopKiller leggings will be available in May and Theódóra looked to her fans while selecting fabrics for the new line. “They wanted patterns and colors and of course we’ll oblige,” she says. We girls are looking for­ward to a colorful summer for our legs. The MuffinTopKiller leggings are only availa­ ble online at


exy or sophisticated dresses soon be­­come not so sexy when the one wearing them has blue lips, goose bumps and­ shivers like a leaf.. This is why sleek looking leggings are the mode in Iceland; they are comfortable, give our legs the desired form, shield them from the bitter cold and allow us to wear a dress or a long sweater in any sea­son. Some leggings give us a bit more than others and that is probably the secret behind the success of the Icelandic MuffinTopKiller leggings. Icelandic designer Theodóra Elísa­ bet Smáradóttur says the MuffinTop­ Killer leggings are designed for wo­men who have had enough of legg­ings that don’t do anything for their waistline other than making the “muff­­intop” more pronounced with their thin elastic waistbands. This led Theodóra to design leggings that would enhance the natural waistline while flattening the stomach but without being too restrictive. For two years she searched for the right elastic material to finish her de­­sign and finally, late last fall, she found it. The MuffinTopKiller leggings were made available online a few days before Christmas, “just to test the market,” says Theodóra who was pleas­antly surprised when most of her products were sold out in a short time. Starting out with a winter collect­i­ on, Theodóra designed 16 different types of leggings. She says, “‘Simply Black Spandex’ is very popular for first time buyers, but once they real­ ize the product is really enhancing

98 ı WOW has got it going on


The Snæfellsnes Peninsula

A glorious encounter! A place practically haunted by its reputation as an ex­­ hil­arating source of energy, Snæfellsjök­ull glacier is situated on the Snæfellsnes peninsula. The word glacier, originating from French, signifying “moving mass of ice,” is an appropriate description. Glaciers, almost animated in their perpetual flow of ice and water, are the world’s biggest store­­houses of freshwater. Don’t be fooled by the “mass of ice” though. Underneath its tranquil appearance, Snæfellsjökull is in fact also a sweltering stratovol­ cano as the area’s entwined lava suggests. The union of these extreme opposites adds to the peculiar, almost eerie, flow of energy around Snæfellsnes long documented by both locals and visitors.

A writer’s nest Throughout the centuries, Snæfellsjökull has served as an ample source of inspiration for writers, artists and others. In Jules Verne’s A Journey to the Center of the Earth, Snæ­­ fells­­­jökull is the point of entry through to, the very core of the earth. This 1864, classic science fiction novel illustrates Snæfellsjök­­ull’s powerful impact that still resounds across time and space. Iceland’s only Nobel laureate, Halldór Laxness, demonstrated Snæfellsjökull’s cultural signi­ ficance in the history of Iceland in his 1968 novel Under the Glacier.

can move in precarious ways. Travel service, Snjófell, establis­ hed in 1990, offers enticing rides via snowmobiles and two snow cats that can accom­ modate 20 passengers each. Fully equipped with snowsuits, helmets and gloves, passengers embark on a two hour journey, enjoying scenery that is nothing short of spectacular. Reaching the top, a stunning panorama is reve­aled. Beautiful sites such as Hellissandur, Breiðafjörður Bay, Rif and the Westfjords can be viewed and facing south a unique perspective of Reykjavík, Keflavík and the entire gulf of Faxaflói spreads out before you, so be sure to bring your camera fully loaded for this spectacular event. The Snæfellsnes National Park surrounding Snæfellsjökull,

is also worthy of exploration. There’s a range of accommo­da­ tions available from a camping area with bathroom facilities at Arnarnes to the complete pack­­ age at Hótel Hellnar. In 2002, Hellnar was the first Ice­­landic ho­ tel to receive an eco­­-certification and it has since be­­come the first hotel in Europe to receive the Earth Check platinum certifica­ tion. Guests can enjoy traditional Iceland food and a selection of organic wines and beers and beautiful nature and scenery. Professionally guided glacier

tours, and horse riding tours can be booked at the reception at reasonable prices. Visiting Snæfellsjökull provides an intimate glimpse into a fasci­ nating world characterized by the contrasting elements of fire and ice, a generous amount of history, culture, the mystical and even the possibility of a late alien arrival. And so for an unforgettable experience don’t miss the opportunity to enjoy this surreal and stunning journey at the edge of the earth.

Tales from the lava Noted for its mystical elements, Snæfellsjökull was even thought to be the location for an anti­ cipat­ed UFO landing back in 1990’s. Others claim that the area is inhabited by elves, some­ times seen dancing on Laugar­ vatn. Many believe that the glacier emits a healing energy but it also has a darker history. Close by, on Laugarbrekka, you can locate the grave of Iceland’s one and only (literally) serial killer, Axlar-Björn.

A journey to remember

Snjófell Glacier Tours Arnarstapi, 355 Snæfellsbær Phone: +354 4356783 E-mail: Website:

Those who seek to explore Snæ­­­­fellsjökull can go by foot dur­­ing the summer with various bus companies offering hiking tours. Hiking on Snæfellsjökull requires strict caution as glac­i­­ers

Hótel Hellnar Hellnar, 356 Snæfellsbær Phone: +354 435 6820 E-mail Website:

Issue two

ı 99

Sing us a song

The Eurovision song contest holds a special place in the hearts of many Icelanders. This year’s contest will be held in Malmö, Sweden, and most participating countries have chosen their competing songs. We took a closer look at a few of them. by Bergrún Íris Sævarsdóttir Photos: Birtíngur photo collection

DENMARK Only Teardrops - Emmelie de Forest Music and lyrics: Lise Cabble, Julia Fabrin Jakobsen, Thomas Stengaard Emmelie’s bright voice and fairylike stage presence wowed the Danish nation and guaranteed her the win in the national Grand Prix final. Denmark has two Eurovision wins under its belt, first in 1963 and then in 2000 with the popular “Fly on the Wings of Love.” Did you know? Emmelie claims to be Queen Victoria’s great-great-granddaughter, with her grand­ father Count Maurice Arnold de Forest supposedly being the illegitimate child of King Edward VII.

SPAIN Contigo Hasta El Final – ESDM Music and lyrics: Raquel del Rosario, David Feito and Juan Suárez Spain brings to the competition an emotional song with a touch of rock. The band ESDM (El Sueño de Morfeo) is formed up by Raquel del Rosario, Juan Suarez and David Feito, who have been working together for over ten years. Spain has not won the Eurovision song contest since winning it two years in a row, in 1968 and 1969, but is thought to have a strong contender with ESDM this year. Did you know? Raquel del Rosario was married to Formula One racing driver Fernando Alonso and lived with him in Switzerland until their divorce in 2011.

100 ı WOW has got it going on

FRANCE L’Enfer Et Moi - Amandine Bourgeois Music: David Salkin Lyrics: Boris Bergman France’s song this year has been described as both powerful and polished, and the singer, Amandine, highly praised for her warm yet rough voice. France was very successful in the competition in its early years and has won five times. Did you know? Amandine won the French Pop Idol, La Nouvelle Star, in 2008.

GERMANY Glorious – Cascada Music and lyrics: Yann Peifer, Manuel Reuter, Andres Ballinas and Tony Corne­ lissen Cascada’s upbeat stage performances and easy to remember melodies have made the trio one of the most successful dance-pop acts in the world, selling over 30 million records worldwide. Cascada consists of Natalie Horlier, DJ Manian and Yanou who have been working together for almost ten years. Germany has won the Eurovision song contest twice, first in 1982 and then with Lena’s “Satellite” in 2010. Did you know? The British-German singer, Natalie Horlier, has a mezzo-soprano voice and a three octave vocal range.

UNITED KINGDOM Believe In Me – Bonnie Tyler Music and lyrics: Desmond Child, Lauren Christy and Christopher Braide The UK pulls out all the stops this year with Grammy winning superstar Bonnie Tyler singing a soft ballad in her distinctively husky voice. One of the songwriters, Desmond Child, has 70 top 40 singles and has sold over 300 million albums worldwide. The UK has won the Eurovision song contest five times, last in 1997 with “Love Shine a Light”. Did you know? Bonnie Tyler was born Gaynor Hopkins but adopted the stage name Sherene Davis in 1972. Three years later she became Bonnie Tyler but her friends and family still know her as Gaynor.

Issue two

ı 101

Sing us a song

102 覺 WOW has got it going on

ICELAND Ég á líf – Eyþór Ingi Gunnlaugsson Music and lyrics: Örlygur Smári and Pétur Örn Guðmundsson Eyþór was born in a small fishing town in northern Iceland. He won the College Song Contest in 2007 and a year later he won a television talent show. Since then, Eyþór has worked as a profess­ional singer, actor and sound technician. Iceland has never won the Eurovision song contest but we’re optimistic, as always, and the competition remains as one of televisions highlights of the year for the vast majority of Icelanders. Iceland takes a risk this year, with Eyþór per­form­ing the song “Ég á líf” in Icelandic, a complicated language spoken only by its 320,000 inhabitants. The last time an Icelandic entry was in its original language was in 1997 with Paul Oscars “Minn hinsti dans”, but at the time countr­ies were only permitted to perform in their own languages. This all changed in 1998 and since then, English has been the language of choice for most countries. There are however always the brave few and in 1998, Dana International from Israel won with the song Diva in Hebrew. Nine years later, Serbia won with the beautiful ballad Molitva sung in Serbian. Iceland hopes to be the third country since 1998 to win with its original language, but this last decade’s statistics aren’t exactly on our side. However, since the first Eurovision song contest in 1956, 27 songs performed in English have won the competition and 33 non-English songs have won, so you never know! English lyrics can be found on the official Eurovis­ion song contest web page, Did you know? Eyþór is a big fan of singers such as Jeff Buckley, David Bowie and Freddie Mercury. He is also a member of a Deep Purple Tribute Band. The songwriters were travelling together in Ireland when the song came to them, which might ex­plain the Irish mood.

FUN FACTS! This year, the Eurovision song contest will be held in Malmö, Sweden’s third largest city with a metro population of 664,000. The best way to get to Malmö is by flying with WOW air to Copenhagen. From there you can hop on a short train ride to Malmö, only 35 minutes across the famous Øresund Bridge. This is a very popular option due to low prices, flexible schedules and overall comfort. Sweden is one of Eurovision’s most successful countries, having won the contest five times, in 1974, 1984, 1991, 1999 and 2012. Each time the Eurovision song contest has been held in Sweden, a country that is geographically smaller than Sweden has won.

Coming home

A place where you belong

by Sólveig Jónsdóttir


had been living abroad for almost five years when I decided to move back home to Ice­­land. Things had turned a bit sour and al­­though I’ll be the first to admit that I had been wanting to go back for some time; hav­­ing been unemployed for three months, living on a couch in a mouse ridden flat with two pot smok­­ing lunatics, plus having recently split up from a boyfriend – all played a part in the final de­­cision. Someone once said to me that the whole “want­ ing-to-go-back-home” was a very Icelandic thing. In my case that might very well be true. Of all the places I’ve been to in the world nothing really com­ pares to here. And absence (or was it absinthe? Probably both) does make the heart grow fonder. Things that used to annoy the living daylights out of me about my dear homeland, I now found quite adorable. The fact that you can’t go to the super­ market or for a quick walk in town without bumping into a least seven people you know has its pros and cons. I did need to get the hang of it again after having been away for a good few years. This place had burned down, that guy died, my favorite café had gone bust and a few banks too; that sort of stuff. There were some “in-jokes,” I really didn’t get and a number of musicians, very super popular now, I knew nothing about. But there it was – the land of ice, fire and all things groovy – ready for me to explore all over again.

104 ı WOW has got it going on


was a bit of a mess when I arrived at Keflavik Air­ port with all my worldly belongings in two suitcas­ es. Having been in a rather sorry state after doing a fair bit of drowning my sorrows for a stretch, while not daring to sleep through fear of the mighty clan of mice that had settled in the flat I’d been crashing in, I was picked up from the airport by my best friend. She is very kind, very blonde and very pretty and at that time looked positively angelic to me. After a good old fashioned, highly dramatic sobbing session at the arrivals gate we chucked the bags into the boot of her car and drove off. We drove through Reykjavík and Hveragerði, past Selfoss and ended up in Seljavallalaug, one of the oldest swimming pools in Iceland and one of our favorite places in the world. It was the middle of October with nobody around. And as I let myself float grace­fully belly up in the pool and looked up in the air, I felt it. I was home. Everything was going to be alright.

“There were some “in-jokes,” I really didn’t get and a number of musicians, very super popular now, I knew nothing about. But there it was – the land of ice, fire and all things groovy – ready for me to explore all over again.”


Here come the rams!

Few things are more Icelandic than our beloved sheep. If ever there was a king of the Icelandic outback it is the ever so cool Icelandic ram. A mother and daughter design team have captured this coolness under the label Birch & Wool and created the perfect souvenir to bring back home from Iceland. by Sólveig Jónsdóttir


e share an interest in the Icelandic ma­terials inspired by nature and do our best to re-use materials and cre­­­­ate environmental-friendly pro­ducts,” ex­­ plains Jana María Guðmundsdóttir who set off produc­ing the rams along with her mother three years ago. “We were at our summ­er­­ house in Borgarfjörður which is surrounded by birch when we came up with the idea. We created a prototype from washing pins, cardboard and yarn rolled onto a paintbrush and had it sit pretty by putting hair gel on it. It was a very fun process and we are delighted with the final outcome.”

106 ı WOW has got it going on

The Birch & Wool rams are handmade from Icelandic wool from the tannery in Sauð­­ár­­ krók­­­­­­ur and the birch is from the family’s land in Borgar­­fjörð­­ur. The rams come in two sizes and three colors; black, white and grey. They are all handmade so none of them are identi­­ cal. The rams all have traditional Icelandic ram names; Ljómi (Luster), Flóki (Tangle) and Spakur (Wise) are the three smaller ones and Frosti (Frosty), Kjarkur (Courage/Spirit) and Kóngur (King) are the bigger rams. The Birch & Wool rams are available at Epal at the Inter­­­national Flight Terminal in Leifs­­­ stöð, Kefla­­­vík. If you are around in Reykjavik

you can find them at Kraum, Aðal­stræti 10 and ATMO on Laugavegur 81. If you decide to do the Golden Circle you will come across the rams at Geysir in Haukadalur. The lovely Birch & Wool ladies are also happy to ship the rams world­­­wide and will respond to any questions at

“We were at our summ­er­­ house in Borgarfjörður which is surrounded by birch when we came up with the idea.”

Located in the heart of Laugavegur. Carries the best of Icelandic design and creative brands from around the world!

Open every day of the week

H Ăś n n u n a r h Ăş s

Laugavegi 25 / Tel: 553-3003

WOW destinations

Where to next? Moving around Europe includes more than walking from one site to the next. Get the full experience of every city without losing out on your exercise.

On the run in Barcelona Barcelona, a perfect place to exercise, is waiting for you! From its mountains to its beautiful beaches, this Mediterranean city offers great outdoor exercise options in the comfortable tem­ perate climate. What is more, when you are running, bicycling or rollerblading around the Cata­ lan Capital you will be greeted by breathtaking views. Parc de la Ciutadella is located in the city center, and is easily accessible for light running, or walking. Whatever your preference, this park, home to the Museum of Zoology, the Museum of Geology, and the Barcelona Zoo, has beautiful gardens and groves, and the ideal place for a picnic or to relax after doing some exercise. For a little more challenge, visit Parc de Collserola located in the “Zona Alta” of Barcelona, ideal for more experienced runners and hikers. Surrounded by medieval ruins, Romanesque churches and country houses, the scenery is spectacular, and if you get hungry afterwards there are plenty of places to grab a snack or a cold drink. Kill two birds with one stone by running up Montjuic hill and then swim some laps in the Bernat Pi­ cornell Olympic swimming pool. The pool was opened in 1970 but remodeled and modern­ ized for the Olympic Games in Barcelona in 1992. The pool will also be one of the main venues for the 2013 World Swimming Championships in Barcelona. WOW air flights to Barcelona are available next June through August on Mondays and Fri­ days.

Warsaw varieties Warsaw for the athletic means over 40 swimming pools, dozens of sports centers, and places for skiers, skaters, and joggers... In addition, the city

108 ı WOW has got it going on

is surrounded by land fit for all kinds of sports. For a good variety of moderate exercises visit Powsin Culture Park. The park offers a wide range of activities including numerous areas ideal for team sports, a swimming pool, tennis courts, a mini golf green, a climbing wall, ping-pong tables, a ‘chess mushroom’ (grzybek szachowy), a sauna, a fitness club and a sports equipment rental shop which is open all year long. The area of the Culture Park (Park Kultury) includes two amphi­th­eaters – one small and one very large – which host numer­ ous festivals and artistic perfor­ mances in the summer season. There is also a playground for children, and grill lovers can or­ ganize picnics. Although located in the Warsaw suburbs, the park is easily accessible by public or private transportation. Also, roller skating and bicycling lovers can use the bike path from Ursynów through Kabacki Forest. WOW air will take you to ­Warsaw Chopin Airport on ­Fridays, Saturdays and Mon­ days this summer.

Canoeing through Lyon Famous for its status as culinary capital of the world, Lyon might make you forget about exer­ cising and keeping fit. To get the most out of your stay without ­relaxing too much, try seeing Lyon from a completely new ­angle while paddling through the city in a canoe. The CKLOM is devoted to canoeing in Lyon and also organizes night-time canoe trips. You can book a guided canoe trip or just rent a canoe by yourself and start paddling. For more information visit WOW that you’ll go to Lyon! Just pick any Sunday this summer.

Copenhagen – Bike city Copenhagen, and Denmark in general, is a cyclists paradise due to the flat terrain of the country. It kind of goes without saying that if you want to keep exercising while staying in Cop­ enhagen, hopping on a bike is the best way to do it. With a reputation as one of the most bicycle friendly cities in the world, Copenhagen offers an extensive and well-design­ ed system of cycle tracks. And there’s no need to bring your own bike as there are loads of bike rental shops around the city. Good for anyone’s budget you can borrow a completely free city bike for a 20 krona deposit, redeemable upon return at any of the special bike stands If you need help de­ciding on a route, try visiting, a bicycle route planner based on multiple preferences. For a quick but hard cardio workout plus some mandatory sightseeing, try running up Rundetaarn (the Round Tower), the oldest functioning observa­ tory in Europe. Because Icelanders love everything Danish, WOW air offers flights to Copenhagen almost daily all year round.

Anything you want in Vilnius Vilnius, Lithuania’s capital, has a population of over 535.000 and is located in the southeast of the country. The city is best known for its Old Town of beautiful archi­ tecture, declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994. The most popular sport in Lithuania is basketball and the country is ranked number 5 in FIBA’s list. For the fun of it, try finding an outdoor basketball court and ask to play with the locals.

Almost half of Vilnius is covered by green areas, so for a more in­ dividually suitable exercise, head to one of the city’s parks, public gardens or natural reserves. Vilnius is also host to numer­ ous lakes, where residents and visitors bathe and have barbe­ cues in the summer. A number of activities are available on the beaches of those lakes and in the parks. Swimming, running or just lounging … it’s up to you. WOW air flights to Vilnius are available every week in June, July and August..

Admire the view in Alicante 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 geothermal. If you like relax­ ing, sunbathing, having fun and going to the beach, and who doesn’t, this is a place for you. Sweating is kind of expected when the weather is this warm but if you want to break out some real sweat a trip up to the castle of Santa Barbara is just the thing. The castle stands on Mount Benacantil (166 m) and is a very popular tourist attraction in Alicante. From the bottom, a trip up the mountain takes about half an hour. The roads are steep with stairs in between, guaranteeing a pretty exhaust­ ing workout, but it will be more than worth it! The nature is sure to keep your eyes occupied on the way up and once you’re there the breathtaking view will make you forget all about being tired. Be sure to pack your water bottle and don’t worry, if you are too exhausted to climb down you can take an elevator. Pack your sunscreen and your good walking shoes, WOW air is taking you to Alicante right now and until the end of October.

Dusseldorf Lyon


Where to next?


Warsaw Kaunas

Issue two 109 Copenhagen

WOW destinations

Milan - Lake Como Zürich

London Stuttgart


Where to next?

Amsterdam Berlin

110 ı WOW has got it going on


Take a hike in Zürich The biggest city of Switzerland has more to offer than just watches and cheese. Enjoy Zürich’s hiking and natural paradise that boasts parks, public gardens, natural wonders such as the Uetliberg, Zürich’s local mountain, boat trips/ cruises on Lake Zürich, and hiking excursions to lakes and rivers, through forests, and over hill and dale. The modern cable car transports visitors conveniently up to the Hoch-Ybrig region. In the summer, it is a hiker’s paradise in an idyllic landscape. Uetliberg is not so much a mountain, but more a ridge of hills at around 900 m which form a very large area, perfect for hiking and biking, right on the doorstep of Zürich. A large network of trails in the area with convenient public transport to both the top and the bottom of the ridge provide hiking possibilities from an easy hour to 6 or more. Free maps of the area are available, showing hiking paths and contour lines. Pick up one of the red leaflets “Ausflugstipps” from Zürich HB, Uetliberg Kulm or Felsenegg cable car station. Take a WOW-plane to Zürich. Flights available every Satur­ day from June through August.

Run and see Berlin Nowhere can it be more fun to keep fit than in Berlin. Running is a very popular sport in the city, and numerous marked jogging trails offer visitors a fascinating way of getting to know Berlin while getting some valuable exercise. Trendy sports like disc golf, slacklining, parkour and Speedminton® present even experienced fitness fanatics with new challenges. For something new and unique try Mike’s Sightrunning. This novel trend offers an active al­ ternative to a classic sightseeing tour. Expert guides will take you on a tour of the sights of Berlin at a pace that suits you. This blend of entertainment, culture and exercise is an experience for all the senses. For more information visit Pack your running shoes. WOW-flights to Berlin are available three times a week, all year round. There are no excuses!

Relax in Stuttgart Leave the daily grind behind you... remember that Stuttgart is also a spa town boasting the second largest number of natural springs in Europe! Out­

side the city there is also ample opportunity to relax and enjoy the waters with a whole range of health resorts and spas to choose from. Why not give your­ self the treat you deserve and visit one of the many spa baths. If this sounds too tranquil just bear in mind that spas mean pools, so a good swim is also in the picture. There are many indoor and outdoor swimming pools in Stuttgart. For a few hours filled with activities for the whole family visit Fildorado, Mahlestraße 50 in Filderstadt. Now just pick a date from the 23rd of May until the end of August. Throughout the summer WOW air offers three flights a week.

Keep rolling in Paris A city for lovers, fashionistas, artists and art lovers, the cultur­ ally aware, culinary enthusiasts and all who want more beauty in their life. But when you’re tired of visiting the beautiful monu­ ments and museums and feel like burning off all the decadent pas­ tries, Paris still has a lot to offer. From brisk walks to wall climbing and even fly fishing, Paris has it all, but what this city is really known for is the in-line skating scene. If you want to get in on it a good place to start is where the giant Friday Night Fever through Paris is organized. Every Friday night in-line skaters meet at 10 pm at Place d’Italie to skate around the city for three hours. If you fancy skating in daylight take your pick of routes any day, but if it’s company you seek, take part in the Sunday event of the Rollers et Coquillages, a three hour skating tour that leaves the Nomades skate shop (where you can also rent the equipment) at Bastille in Paris’s 11th Arrondissement at 2:30 pm. For more information visit www. For both skating events, traffic on the streets of Paris is brought to a standstill to accommodate the skaters. Skating police officers are present to supervise the crowd and first aid workers are also present on skates in case of injury. Get your kneepads and helmet ready, you’re going to need them. Paris is just a few clicks away. WOW air is now flying to Paris all year round, five flights a week starting next June until the winter schedule takes over.

Pedaling through Amsterdam Like Copenhagen, Amsterdam is a bicycle city and cycling is a good way to get around. However you mustn’t miss the opportunity to visit the canals Amsterdam is so famous for. Although they do not offer any kind of exercise to speak of, boat rides for sightseeing are in abundance. We definitely recommend taking a guided cruise of the canals early in the trip and then to squeeze in a good workout during your sightseeing, to rent a pedal boat. Pedal boats can be rented every day during the summer months from 10:0018:00 at these four locations: Leidseplein, National Muse­ um, Westerkerk (Anne Frank House) and Angle Keizers­ gracht / Leidsestraat. A map is essential but don’t be too worried about getting lost, one of the good things about Hol­ land is that almost everybody speaks English. 2013 promises to be a festive year for the Amsterdam Met­ ropolitan Area making the city a really hot destination this summer. Find your desired event or activity in June, July or August on www.iamster­ and book your WOW-flight before everybody else catches on. Three flights a week, so you won’t miss anything.

Dance off in Düsseldorf This city is an economic center of Western Germany located along the River Rhine famous for its nightlife, carnival, events, shopp­ ing and its fashion and trade fairs. It would be easy to recom­ mend running or cycling in the city of Düsseldorf but after a thorough search it seems that the best way to exercise in Düs­ seldorf is on the dance floor. After all, this city is known for its trendy nightlife so shakin’ it vigorously to the beats is a guar­ anteed way to work up some sweat. Düsseldorf caters to most when it comes to a night on the town with a bustling club scene, live music and all kinds of night time events. Head to Alstadt, the absolute nightlife center of Düsseldorf, where the trendiest spots in town lie. The area is bordered by the Rhine on one side and by Konigsallee on the other. Between are numerous bars and dance clubs. The best clubs for dancing are Stahlwerk

and Tor 3 both open until six in the morning on weekends. Let yourself be WOW-ed over there, 3 flights a week available from the end of May until the end of August.

Many things in Milan Experienced travelers say that Milan is a bit too polluted for joggers but right outside the city there are beautiful parks, lakes and mountains where the out­ doorsy travelers can find plenty to suit their taste. Lake Como comes easily recommended, catering espe­ cially to the adventurous. Try windsurfing or kite surfing, hire a mountain bike and ride the trails or downhill sections, hop on­ board a kayak, go waterskiing or wake boarding, try your strength at rock climbing, paraglide with an expert or take horse riding lessons. You don’t have to be an expert, or even to have done it before to take part. On most sites, classes for beginners are available, even for kids. Guaran­ teed to make you ache in places you didn’t even know existed. Let WOW air, lift you up where you belong, pronto. Flights available on Tuesdays and Sat­ urdays, June through August.

London is off the wall For exercise fanatics London has an endless supply of alternatives to regular exercises. From flying trapeze sessions to hula hoop­ ing groups, pole dancing and British military fitness training, you are sure to find something you fancy. Rock climbing in London Bridge, Bermondsey or Stoke Newington is well worth a try. Get an instructor to show you the ropes if you are a first timer. After some practice you’ll find that rock climbing provides an intense, full-body workout from tips to toes and it’s also more cardio intensive than you might think. One of the biggest climbing facilities in the country is the Arch Climbing Wall center in Bermondsey. They also have a center in London Bridge. The Castle Climbing Center by Clissold Park in North London is also very well-equipped and housed in a Victorian tower that was once a water-pumping station. One-off sessions cost about 7-12 £. One long weekend in London will never be enough and that’s why WOW air flies to London several times a week all year round.

Issue two

ı 111

Inside scoop

Get intimate with


Svava Dís Reynisdóttir is a 27 year old anthropologist and flight attendant who has lived in Copenhagen on and off for a few years. Her boyfriend, Kjartan Óli Ólafsson, works as a chef at The Laundromat Café and has lived in Copenhagen for three years. We asked Svava to guide us through the city of Copenhagen as insiders, providing us with valuable information concerning dining, clubbing, family activities and other essentials such as transportation while visiting Copenhagen. by Hjördís Erna Þorgeirsdóttir Photos:

Transportation When visiting and exploring a foreign city, first thing’s first: transportation. According to Svava, people generally go about their business using public tran­sport­ ation, bicycles or simply on foot. Copen­hag­ en’s public transportation system is excel­l­ ent; the underground system is swift, easy and convenient. Svava suggests that it might even be more efficient than traditional taxis.

Dining in Copenhagen Svava describes how the selection of Restau­­rant Noma as the world’s best rest­­au­ rant for two years has influenced Copen­­ hag­­en’s food culture. There appears to be a

112 ı WOW has got it going on

strong emphasis on Nordic cuisine as well as using local ingredients. New restaurants seem to be opening up every day, most of them small and perhaps, even serving home-brewed beer. Additionally, according to Svava, up to 90% of the food served in the city’s cafeteria is organic. “People use bicycles, recycle trash and turn off their lights in order to save electricity and so on,” says Svava.


vava recommends restaurants Mad­­klubb­­en (The Food Club) and Madsvinet (The Food Pig) which update their menus frequently, focusing on local ingredients while echoing

Photo: Ty Stange

increasing eco-concerns. On Amagercentret you can find Restaurant Dalle Valle that serves quality food but is still easy on the budget. Then there is Kødbyen, the old meatpacking district that has become a gleaming venue for new restaurants, clubs and art cafes, many of them celebrating raw surroundings and design. If you visit Kødbyen, Svava also suggests Restaurant Pate Pate.

Shopping in Copenhagen Copenhagen is renowned for its remarka­ ble range of fashion and clothing stores. On Strøget, the largest shopping street, you can locate Svava’s favorite shop, Swedish

Photo: Tuala Hjarnø

Photo: Ty Stange

Issue two

覺 113

Photo: Ty Stange

label Monki, as well as internationally known brands such as H&M, Urban Outfitters and Topshop. For vintage shopping there is Episode and on the side streets of Strøget you will discover a variety of other second hand shops. On Nørrebrogade there is a vintage shop called Prag, a particular favorite of Svava’s. On Elmegade and Købmagergade you’ll discover more clandestine shops. For those in the mood (and position) to spend, strolling through Nytorv where you can find stores like Holly Golightly is an excellent idea. If you prefer indoor shopping there are also two large shopping malls, Fisketorven and Fields.

Sweet deals For a bargain you should keep your eyes open for “loppemarkeds”, usually welladvertised flea markets where you can buy vintage furniture, clothing, books and pretty much anything. In Tørvehallerne, a market place next to Nørreport station, you can buy products straight from the farm, local food, fresh fish and even some handmade chocolate.

Kids’ stuff Svava’s boyfriend Kjartan, a father of three, suggests visiting the Cinemateket, a movie theater that hosts film screenings for children on Sundays. Also on Sundays on Amager you can find a coffee shop called Ingolfskaffe where they offer jazz for children. Another child-friendly place is Laundromat Café, located on both Østerbro

114 ı WOW has got it going on

Photo: Kasper Thye

Photo: Sune Petersen

and Frederiksberg, where you can enjoy a family brunch with a specific play-area for the youngsters. During the weekends, Kjartan recommends a visit to the Museum for Kunst, an art museum where children can participate in a workshop, crafting their own jewelry and other stuff. Lastly, there is of course, Copenhagen Zoo and the amusement park, or Tivoli, a classic source of enjoyment for children. There are also plenty of playgrounds, parks and beaches in and around Copenhagen. A great way to spend the day with kids would be to pack some lunch, rent a bicycle and explore these areas. Kjartan recommends renting a Christiania tricycle with a roomy box at the front where you can carry your children safely. And of course, this is very entertaining for the whole family.

Partying in CPH If you’re looking for some au current electr­ onic clubbing there is Culturebox close to the downtown area and in Kødbyen you can check out KB18. In Kødbyen, an area increasingly saturated with nightlife, you can also visit more traditional bars such as Jolene. Svava also recommends the Union, an unmarked club on Nyhavn that requires guests to knock on the door in order to be let in. As you (hopefully) enter the club you are greeted with a 30’s prohibition, speakeasy atmosphere and you’re served by Copenhagen’s finest bartenders. And if you want to go all out with cocktails and such, Svava suggests cocktail pub, Bark­ing Dog on Nørrebro. The term ‘cocktail

Photo: Ty Stange

pub’ means that you can get some juicy cocktails and other quality beverages at a reasonable price while enjoying classic hip hop played exclusively, but not too loudly, on phonographs. Other classic bets are Café Blasen and rock bar, Drone. For live music you can go to Rust, Stengade and of course Christiania.

Local essence For those who desire an intimate insight into the local spirit of Copenhagen, Svava and Kjartan suggest visiting a bodegas, the traditional Danish pubs. There you can enjoy cheap beer and some second hand smoke that adds to the retro atmosphere with some of the bodegas dating back as far as the 18th century. Kjartan adds that it doesn’t hurt to know a handful of Danish words as some of the regulars might have a tendency to be wary of enthusiastic (or anti-enthusiastic) hipsters blatantly finding their way into the very core of a veteran guzzling territory, most likely though you’ll be greeted with a friendly smile and quality beer.

“If you’re looking for some au current electr­onic clubb­ ing there is Culturebox close to the downtown area and in Kødbyen you can check out KB18. In Kødbyen, an area increasingly saturated with nightlife.”


ExPERIENCE A gREAT DAY WITH US! Discover all the magical places not to be missed when in Iceland: Beautiful nature, multicoloured mountains, fertile farmlands, stunning views, plummeting waterfalls, natural wonders and geological phenomena.



Book now via your smartphone! You can easily buy your tour with us now!


Duration: Flexible. Included: return bus fare & admission to the blue Lagoon. Pick up at hotels & guesthouses 30 minutes before departure. Guaranteed departures.

Adults From Blue Lagoon to Keflavík Airport

09:30, 11:45, 12:45, 16:15 & 17:15

12:15 & 14:15

From Reykjavík to Blue Lagoon

From Blue Lagoon to Reykjavík

09:00, 10:00, 11:00, 12:00, 13:00, 14:00, 15.00, 16:00, 17:00 & 18:00

11:15, 12:15, 13:15, 14:15, 15:15, 16:15, 17:15, 18:15, 19:15 & 21:00

Kindly note that there will be changes in the timetable as well as in prices from 1 june 2013.




duration rip ap p •T


9 6

Duration: Flexible. Included: return bus fare & admission to the blue Lagoon. Pick up at hotels & guesthouses 30 minutes before departure. Guaranteed departures.

0–11 years FREE OF CHARgE

For our very flexible schedule kindly consult our brochures or visit

Fast, frequent & on schedule every day of the week.

Children - bus fare and admission

Free WiFi Hotspot on board all Reykjavik Excursions coaches.



12–13 years PRICE

1600 ISK

14–15 years PRICE

4000 ISK Valid through 31 May 2013

bsÍ bus terminal 101 reykjavík +354 580 5400 •



Bus fare to the Blue Lagoon and admission

and on our website

HOUR f ONE rom x. ro

irport TO YO ea U th

Relax at the Blue Lagoon

From Keflavík Airport to Blue Lagoon


Free WiFi Hotspot on board all our coaches.


in the Android Play Store & Apple App Store.

You can buy your ticket at our tour desk in the arrival hall at Keflavík Airport.


Having fun

The historical amusement park


orth of Copenhagen is a beautiful natural wooded area called Jægersborg Deer Park. It’s full of very tall old trees and trotting about among the trees are over two thousand free range roam­­ing deer. This is a perfect place to go for a picnic or a horse­­back ride. Right amongst the beauti­­­ ful green woods is the oldest amusement park in the world: Dyrehavsbakken (or just Bakken for short). Bakken re­­­presents the Danish ligeglad (easy going) spirit wonderfully. It’s folksy, cute and full of hist­­­ory. The park offers a great num­­­ber of restaurants, games and amusement rides with no ad­­miss­­ion fee!

A roller coaster classic

by Dísa Bjarnadóttir Photos:

Bakken has many rides of all kinds, more than any other

116 ı WOW has got it going on

amuse­­­­­­ment park in Scandinavia. It offers both fast ones that go up­­­side down and all around, and slow­­er ones for younger guests. There is an historical roller coast­­er at Bakken, operating since 1932. Back then it was the largest roller coaster in Europe. It goes by the name of Rutsce­­ banen (the Danish word for roller coaster) and it has been nam­­ed a “Coaster Classic” by the American Coaster Enthusi­­ asts. This historical ride has a track of 852 meters, with its highest point reaching 22 met­­ ers, providing a magnificent view, enjoyed briefly as the ride goes 70 kilometers per hour.

All sorts of entertainment The unofficial host of Bakken is Pjerrot the Clown who lives in a little house right on the prem­ ises. He comes out of his cottage

three times a day and onto his porch where he enter­­­tains both old and young with magic tricks, stories, songs, pupp­­et shows and fire eating. Pjerrot has entertained many generations of park goers as he’s lived at Bakken for over 200 years! There is much more in the form of entertainment with s­ev­­en different gaming halls that have carnival style games, slot machines and more. The shows include the Circus Revue and Bakkens Hvile; a cabaret show which opened in 1877 and is now the only one of its kind in the world. It features chorus girls of all kinds: tall, short, chubby and thin, performing in daring cost­­umes.

Fun dining Bakken has an abundance of restaurants ranging from casual dining with typical amusement park food (hamburgers and cotton candy) to fancier wine and dine restaurants for those who want to treat themselves to a fine meal. And naturally, since this is Denmark, one will be sure

to find various kinds of smørre­­ brød (the yummy Danish open fac­­ed sandwiches) and pølser (Danish hot dogs). Danish beers, such as Carlsberg and Tuborg, are also easily found in Bakken with its numerous bars and lounges where guests can have a cold one. One of the bars is an old London bus which has been convert­­ed into a British style pub. Since Bakken is so old and full of history, one could consider it an historic site. With the added benefits of fun carnival rides, good food and Danish beer sur­ round­ed by the beautiful woods and with free admission Bakk­­en is definitely a place worth visiting.

“North of Copenhag­en is a beautiful nat­ur­­al wooded area call­­ed Jægersborg Deer Park. It’s full of very tall old trees and trott­ing about among the trees are over two thous­­and free range roam­­ing deer.”

BE WARM BE WELL Suðurhrauni 12c - 210 Garðabær » Þingholtsstræti 2-4 - 101 Reykjavík » Austurvegi 21 - 870 Vík »

Enjoying the ride

Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen By Jón Kristinn Snæhólm Photos: Tivoli Gardens

Tivoli is the greatest attraction in Scandinavia and one of the world’s best known amusement parks. It was founded in 1843 by Georg Carstensen (1812-1857) and is the second oldest amusement park in the world after Dyre­havsbakken (The Deer Park Hill), also situated in Copenhagen. With 4.033 million visitors in 2012, Tivoli is amongst the four most visited amusement parks in Europe, only behind Disneyland Paris, Europa-Park Rust in Ger­many and the Efteling in the Netherlands. During one of his trips abroad, Walt Disney visited Tivoli and was so impressed with the Danish amusement park that he decided that Disneyland should be embraced with the same “happy and unbuttoned air of relaxed fun”. Main attractions From the very start Tivoli has included a variety of attractions: build­­ings in the exotic style of an imaginary Orient, a theater, band­­­stands, restaurants and cafés, flower gardens and mech­ a­­­n­­­ical amusement rides such as merry-go-rounds and scenic rail­­ways. After dark, colorful lamps illuminate the gardens. On certain occasions specially de­­­­signed fireworks can be seen reflected in the Tivoli’s pond.

118 ı WOW has got it going on

In 1874 the Chinese style Pant­omime Theater (Danish: Pantomimeteatret), also called “The Peacock Theater”, took the place of an older and much smaller theater. The audi­­­ence stands out in the open wher­eas the stage itself is situated inside the theater. The theater’s “curtain” is a mech­anical ­­ peacock’s tail with all its shining colors. From the very beginning the theater has been the home of Italian pantomimes who introduced

the art to Denmark. This tradition which is dependent on the Ita­lian Commedia del´Arte has been kept alive thus making the absence of spoken dialog an advantage as Tivoli is an inter­­­national tourist attraction. Be­­sides the original function, the theater leads a second life as a venue for ballet and modern dance. The Tivoli Concert Hall is a classical concert hall featuring concerts with some of the larg­­est names in international

class­ical music. It was built in 1956 and seats 1660 people. The Eurovision Song Contest in 1964 was broadcasted from the hall’s auditorium. In 1943 Nazi sympathizers burnt many of Tivoli’s buildings, including the concert hall, to the ground. New buildings were constructed in their place and the park was back in operation within a few weeks. The Tivoli Boys Guard is a musical ensemble of boys aged 8-16 dressed in uniforms

reminiscent of the Royale Danish Guard, complete with bearskins. It was founded in 1844 and gives concerts, makes parades, stands guard at the garden’s buildings and monuments on special occa­sions and represents Tivoli at various events. Tivoli Gardens is more than just an amusement park. It is equ­­ally popular as a place to go dining and people-watching. The frigate and restaurant St. George is anchored by the old Tivoli Lake where ducks and fish are permanent residents and the Chinese Tower, built in 1900, with its restaurant is beautifully located beside the lake. For a long time now Chinese food cult­ure has been very popular in Denmark as well as all around the world.

banen). It is one of the oldest wood­en roller coasters in the world still operating (opened in 1915). Another roller coaster The Demon (Dæmonen) is also a popular attraction in Tivoli (opened in 2004). The world’s tall­­est carousel, the Star Flyer (Himmelskibet), opened in Tivoli 2006. It is 80 meters high offer­­ ing panoramic views over the city. In May 2009, Tivoli opened the new ride, Vertigo, a looping plane ride where the rider pilots the plane and is thus able to control it. In addition there are plenty of other fascinating rid­­es and attractions for both children and adults. More than 30 amusements are set up in Tivoli from children’s carousels to breathtaking rides.


Flowers and glittering lights

The garden is best known for its wooden roller coaster (Rutsche­

Tivoli Garden is filled with all sorts of blooming flowers such

as tulips, roses, chrysanthemums in a splendid arrangement of colors decorating the entire gard­­en in a natural and fantastic display. The garden is lit up with more than 120,000 light bulbs all around the park area and gives the flower beds and the lake a magical glow in the evening. The magnificent fountain in front of the concert hall was completed in 1956 and

to mark the Danish summer sea­­son and closes its gates in September. In October there is a Halloween Fest and at Christ­­ mas, Tivoli is open for a month until Christmas Eve, offering lots of entertainment with gift shops filled with all kinds of goodies. It is also the workshop and home of Santa Claus and all his rein­­deers.

Location Tivoli is situated right in the cent­­er of Copenhagen and be­­­ side the Town Hall Square and the Central Station. There are two onsite hotels at the park: Nimb Hotel and Tivoli Hotel.

is surrounded by various flower arrangements. The present Tivoli entrance from 1874 is illumi­­­nated with some of the 120,000 bulbs that light up the garden area in the evening.

Summer and winter season Tivoli opens in April every spring

WOW magazine highly recommends a visit to Tivoli. Eat exotic food, enjoy magnificent sur­ roundings, have fun and most of all … BE HAPPY!

Rangárþing eystra - Samfélag í sókn

Issue two

ı 119

Look at this


- for all art and design lovers

by Lilja Björk Haraldsdóttir Photos: Louisiana Museum of Modern Art

A world of poetic wonder strikes the eye in the encounter with the American artist Tara Donovan’s sculptural works. Photo: Ty Stange


ouisiana Museum of Modern Art is one of Denmark’s most acclaimed museums. It is not only known for its international collections of works by modern artists, well curat­ ed exhibitions and lectures but also for its outstanding archi­­ tect­­ure. Situated in Northern Zea­­land, about 35 km north of Copenhagen, the museum, which was designed in 1958 by architects Jørgen Bø and

In 2013 Yoko Ono will be 80, and to mark the occasion Louisiana Museum of Modern Art is showing a major retrospective exhibition with a selection of the artist’s characteristic works. Photo: Marco Delogu © Courtesy of Yoko Ono

120 ı WOW has got it going on

The exhibition Pop Art Design presents around 180 works by international icons in art and design from the period 1955-1972 with artists such as Warhol, Rauschenberg, Oldenburg, Hamilton and Lichtenstein, and designers like Eames, Panton, Castiglioni, Nelson and Sottsass. Photo: Ty Stange

Photo: Jens Frederiksen

Wilhelm Wohlert, stands as a masterpiece of Danish modern­­ ist architecture where the inter­­action between nature and material delicately flow, cul­­min­ ating with a remarkable view across the Øresund. The museum, which offers 4-6 temporary exhibitions each year, can boast of a permanent comprehensive collection by modern artists such as Picas­so, Andy Warhol, Henry Moore, Rauschenberg, Louise Bourg­ oise and Yves Klein Throughout this summer you can catch a

glimpse of what’s happening in the international art scene with exhibitions about Pop Art from 27 February – 9 June, Everyday Material Art by Terry Donovan from 8 Febr­uary – 20 May and last but not least – starting from 7 June – 29 September, Louisiana will be presenting no other than Yoko Ono. Her exhi­­ bition “Half-a-wind-show” is a major retro­­spective exhibition that celebrates the diversity of the artist who will turn 80 this year. In addition to the museums architecture and exhibitions it also offers a children’s wing, an amazing 500 square meters on three floors where children can learn, observe and make their own art, a shop with a variety of high quality design products and a cozy café with Danish deli­­cacies, wine, gourmet coffee and an outstanding panoramic view over the Øresund.

Louisiana Museum of Modern Art Gl. Strandvej 13 - 3050 Humlebæ

Let’s go – LEGO


egoland in Billund, Denmark is a fantasy destination for any­­ one who has ever gott­­­­en lost in the wonderful world of LEGO’s. For a LEGO-lover this­place is like heaven. An amusement park based around your favorite toy! What could be better? The very first Legoland opened in 1968, was built by the son of the man who invented LEGO, to pro­­mote his toy business. The park became an instant suc­­cess

Well played Legoland

By Dísa Bjarnadóttir

and has over the years added many rides and roller coasters. Also, as LEGO’s popularity around the globe continues to grow, five other Legolands have opened around the world.

Legoland is divided into specific themed worlds: Miniland was built in 1968 and is the oldest section of the park. Miniland is the heart and soul of Legoland. Lego brick models feature landscapes, sights and buildings from all over Denmark as well as fam­­ous landmarks from other places around the world, such as Amalienborg Castle, The Statue of Liberty, Acropolis of Athens and The Kennedy Space Center, to name a few. The structures were made us­­ ing more than 25 million Lego bricks. Imagination Zone is where the Lego Studio is located: a 600 seat 4-D theater with spe­ cial effects and a giant screen.

122 ı WOW has got it going on

It shows four Lego themed movies daily. There is also an aquarium, featuring handson activities with more than 800 sea creatures. Numerous Lego figures and models can be seen in and around the aquarium.

Lego City is where you’ll find the Power Builder: an indoor robo-coaster where you can design your own ride, based on Bionicle. In Lego City you’ll also find the Flunck Fire Brig­ ade, a ride where two teams compete in putting out a fire.

LEGORADO Town is based on the Old Wild West. In this town you will find an old Indian camp led by Chief Long Ears. You will also find rides such as the LEGO Canoe, Legoldmine and Timber Ride, to name a few.

Knight’s Kingdom holds The Dragon Coaster inside a medieval castle. This ride feat­­ures Lego figures based on medieval themes, including a mighty dragon. The Viking’s River Splash is another ride with­­in the Kingdom. It features many wet surprises and a photo that gets taken at the end of the ride.

Pirate Land, as the name indi­ cates, is all about the adven­ turous men of the sea. Some rides to be found here are the Pirate Wave Breaker, Pirate Water Falls, Pirate Boats and Pirate Splash Battle, where everyone gets wet; a welcome stop if you’re visiting on a hot summer day! Adventure Land contains some of the most exciting rid­­es such as the roller coaster X-treme Racers. There is also a jet ski race called The Jungle Racers which has a jungle theme and spins the riders very fast. The Temple is a ride where guests ride around in an SUV and shoot at moving targets with laser guns.

Fun facts about LEGO: LEGO should always be written in capital letters. The name LEGO comes from the two Danish words “Leg Godt” which mean “play well”. The LEGO Company was founded in 1932 by a man named Ole Kirk Christiansen in Billund, Denmark. There are 2200 types of LEGO pieces. There are 55 LEGO colors. LEGO was named “Toy of the Century” by Fortune Magazine and by the British Association of Toy Retailers.

In 1999 the LEGO group made an agreement with Lucasfilm to launch a series of Star Wars sets based on the movies. The agreement was recently extended by ten years. If a column of 40 million LEGO bricks was to be built, it would reach the moon.

How to get to Billund from Copenhagen: Flying: Legoland is located about 3 km from Billund Airport and SAS offers daily flights to Billund from Copenhagen. For more information visit:

260 km from Copenhagen. For driving directions visit http://map. Public transport (bus or train): There are a few different ways to reach Legoland by public transport but all of them can be found at or www. These will probably include a combination of a bus and a train, and some light walking, but only five to ten minutes max. Smart Phone owners! There is a Legoland App available for both iPhones and Androids!

Driving: Legoland is located at Nordmarksvej 9, 7190 Billund, ca.

Duplo Land is, like the Duplos (the larger version of LEGOs), aimed at younger visitors (age 2-6). Duplo Land is themed like a city that children can play in with slides, stairs, a role-play area and some kiddie rides. The rides include a kiddie train that looks like it’s made from Duplos, Duplo planes and a Duplo driving school. Polar Land is the newest area of the park, opened in 2012. The aim of Polar Land is to bring the North and the South Pole together, with a new ride called Polar X-Plorer and Peng­uin Bay that will feature live penguins. Legoland certainly has a whole lot to offer. In addition to all the different themed sections listed above, there are numerous restaurants and there’s even a Legoland Hotel which offers themed rooms, such as a pirate room and a princess room. This place is sure to leave some good lasting memories for visitors of all ages.

All about Iceland

Issue two

ı 123

A Copenhagen icon

A tale of two


The Little Mermaid (Den lille havfrue) is a statue depicting a mermaid in the capital of Denmark. Based on the fairytale by the same name by Danish author and poet Hans Christian Andersen (1805-1875), the small and unimposing statue is a Copenhagen icon and has been a major tourist attraction since 1913. Unfortunately it has also become a popular target for defacement by vandals and political activists. By Jón Kristinn Snæhólm Photos:

History The Little Mermaid sits on a rock in the harbor of the Langelinie pro­­menade. It has a height of 1.25 meters (4.1 ft.) and weighs 175 kilograms (385 lb.). The sta­ t­­ue was commissioned in 1909 by Carl Jacobsen, son of the founder of Carlsberg (the fam­­­ous Danish beer). Fascinated by the ballet production of Cop­­en­­­­hag­­ en’s Royal Theater bas­­ed on the fairy tale, he asked the prima ballerina, Ellen Price, to model for the statue. The half Ice­­­landic / half Danish sculptor, Ed­­vard Eriksen (1876-1959), created the bronze statue which was un­­­veiled on August 23, 1913. The statue’s head was model­­ed after Price, but as the ballerina did not agree to model in the nude, the sculptor’s wife, Eline Eriksen, was used for the body. The Copenhagen City Council decided to move the statue to Shanghai to the Danish Pavilion during Expo 2010. This was the first time it had been moved from its perch since it was in­­­ stall­­­ed almost a century ago.

Vandalism The Little Mermaid has been dam­­aged and defaced many tim­­­es since the mid-1960s for var­­ious reasons, but each time she has been restored. In 2006, Copenhagen officials announ­­ ced that the statue should be moved farther out in the harbor as to avoid further vandalism and to prevent people from clim­­ bing onto it. In 1964 the statue’s head was sawn off by politically oriented artists of the Situationist move­­ment. The head was never recov­ered and a new head was produced and placed on the statue. In 1984 the right arm was sawn off but was returned after only two days. In 1988 the statue was decapitated again but the head was returned anonymously to a nearby TV station and reattac­­hed a few weeks later. In 1990 an attempt to once again remove the statue’s head left a cut in the neck. In 2003 the statue was knocked off its base with explosives and later found

124 ı WOW has got it going on

in the harbor’s waters. Holes were blasted in the mermaid’s wrist and knee. In 2004 she was draped in a burqa as a state­­ ment against Turkey joining the Europ­­ean Union and in 2007 she was again found draped in a Muslim dress and a headscarf. Paint has been poured on the statue several times, including one episode in 1963 and two in 2007. In 2006 a dildo was attach­­ed to the statue’s hand, a green paint wad dumped over it and the words “March 8” were written on it. It is suspected that this vandalism was connected with the International Women’s Day which is celebrated on March 8th each year.

Iconic Statues The Little Mermaid displayed in Copenhagen harbor has always been a copy of the original; the sculptor’s heirs keep the original

travel to China to be admired at an Expo. The only thing the two mermaids ever had in common was their Icelandic heritage and grotesque vandalism. The Icelandic mermaid (Haf­­­ meyj­­an) was created by Nína Sæm­­undsson (1892-1965), an Icelandic sculptress and painter. The statue was placed and un­­ veiled in Reykjavík in 1959, but was never appreciated by the Icelandic art critics nor by the so called “elite” amongst Icelandic artists and radical lefties. Half an hour after midnight on New Year’s Eve in 1960 the little Ice­­ landic Mermaid was blown to pieces and debris was scattered all over the icy pond. The case was never resolved but rumor has it that politically motivated artists amongst the Icelandic artist association movement were to blame – not unlike the incident in the Copenhagen harbor in 1964. The statue was never restored nor was her sister, another mer­­maid created by Nína Sæm­­­­undsson and situated in

in an undisclosed location. The statue falls into the category of iconic statues that cities have come to regard a mascots or embodiments of a spirit of a place such as the Manneken Pis in Brussels. The Little Mermaid’s birthday is celebrated every year on August 24th so this year there will be a very special cele­­ bration in Denmark. Her hundr­­ edth birthday!

A cousin in the north A little further north, in Iceland to be specific, another little mermaid once sat on its perch situated in Tjörnin (The Pond) in the very center of Reykjavík. She was not the inspiration of a ballet fan or fairy tale admirer nor was she an iconic statue or the much loved attraction for tourists, she will not have her hundredth birthday celebrated and she did not and will not

Nína Sæmundsson working on the Icelandic mermaid (Hafmeyjan).

California, put in her place. The sister statue was however mov­­ ed to Iceland in 2009 and now recides in the town of Akranes, not far from Reykjavík – and is mostly “just a cold and lonely, lovely work of art”.

The statue of the Little Mermaid was moved to Shanghai and shown at the Danish Pavilion during Expo 2010.

Issue two

覺 125


Party-cipate in Copenhagen’s

Distortion Festival

by Hjördís Erna Þorgeirsdóttir


escribed as “Scandinavia’s leading street and nightlife festival”, Distortion Festival began as a sort of small, semi-hipster cele­­bration back in 1998. Going big in 2008, Distortion is now attended by as many as 100,000 people per day. This year the festival will take place from 29 May to 2 June on the streets and in the clubs of various areas around Copenhagen. This urban festival, referred to as a “mobile party”, frequently chang­­es venues so attendants can get a valuable, albeit potentially blurred, insight into different neighborhoods of the city. Starting each day, a particular area is selected for an enormous block party with neat trucks lined up and transformed into performing stages for, mostly local, DJ’s. Cafés and restaurants in the area participate in the exhilaration and offer sweet deals for customers. As the evening progresses the party intensifies and makes its way into local nightclubs and bars. Apparently no VIP shenanigans are allowed in this “party tsunami” so, as the Beatles once eloquently stated, “Splendid time is guaranteed for all”. Constantly on the move, the festival seems to take on a life of its own, also making its dedicated way to intriguing locations such as buses, boats and even a bridge. Copenhagen Distortion is for those who seek, and are prepared, to go all-in and party with a vengeance. One girl’s ultimate verdict: “If you remember Distortion – you didn’t participate”.


The Copenhagen

by Lilja Björk Haraldsdóttir

Yoga Festival In late August, peace-loving yogis gather in the beautiful sur­­roundings of Amager Beach (roughly a 20-minute metro ride from the main train station) to celebrate the joy of yoga at the Copenhagen Yoga Festival. The festival which two years ago became a dream come true for founders, Stina Madelaire and Mai Brøndsted, both full time yoga teachers, seems to be growing both in spirit and size with thousands of visitors from everywhere, as it rolls into its third year. And the best part yet, is that in the true spirit of yoga you can enjoy it all for free.


he festival consists of two full days filled with exercise for the mind and

126 ı WOW has got it going on

the body, group meditation, good vibes and everyone together enjoy­­ing the benefits of yoga and a conscious way of living. There’ll be various yoga classes, inspiring lectures, guided med­­i­tations and delicious heart­­warming food from early morn­­ing till late evening out under the open sky. When the official schedule is over you can enjoy live music in good company around the bonfire and even dance into the night. As the festival’s main aim is to introduce people to the bene­ fits and joys of yoga they offer classes for every level. Whether you are a total newbie just checking things out, an inter­­ mediate student or an exper­­i­ enced yogi, an adult, a child or a teen, you’ll find something to

“There’ll be vari­ ous yoga classes, inspiring lectures, guided med­­i­tations and delicious heart­­ warming food from early morn­­ing till late evening out under the open sky.” indulge in, with classes varying from jivamukti yoga, ashtanga, kundalini and vinyasa-flow to the more creative acro-yoga, just to name a few. In addition there are stalls with yoga clothes and equipment, information about local yoga studios and delicious food and beverages. Is there a better way to say farewell to the sweet summer­ time and welcome the colorful aut­umn than saluting the sun while sharing the joys and

­ enefits of meditation along b with hundreds of other eager initi­ates and devoted yogis? Visit Copenhagen Yoga Festival this August for a truly inspiring, peaceful and family friendly festival experience. Namaste.

Copenhagen Yoga Festival Tiøren, Amager Strand, Copenhagen. 24.-25. August 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


Sudoku Really, really bored? Here are a few sudokus to make time fly. But how do I do it?

The object is to insert the numbers in the boxes to satisfy only one condition: each row, column and 3x3 box must contain the digits 1 through 9 exactly once. What could be simpler?

128 覺 WOW has got it going on

Issue two

覺 129

The Traveling Inquisition

Á rs æl l Þór I ngason u sua l ly goe s by A ddi or h i s DJ na me : i n t r0b eatz.

Traveling to the beats

Addi has been DJ-ing and skateboarding since he was a teenager and now both of these things are his job. Actually he’s a man of many trades: DJ, sound engineer, film-maker, skate­board­er and a member of the band Forgotten Lores. Addi has also performed with most other well known hip hop artists in Iceland such as XXX Rotweilerhundar, Blaz Roca, 7Berg, Moses High­­tower, Sole Kitchen and many more. He’s also the man behind, a website de­­dicated to the freshest and newest from the world of Icelandic skateboarding. By Dísa Bjarnadóttir Photo: Kristinn Magnússon

What is your favorite city abroad? It’s hard to choose between ­Cop­en­hagen and Barcelona. I lived in Copenhagen for about four years, so for me, when I go back there now, it’s just like making a trip to Akureyri. There is always something going on but still there is a chill atmo­ sphere in the city. It’s so easy to get around the city either on a bike or on skate-board. Also, in my opinion, they have the best kebab places in the world, especially in Amager, Nörrebro og Istedgade. I first visited Barcelona in 2010

130 ı WOW has got it going on

and I fell in love with city from day one. The weather is always nice, living there is inexpensive and it has been the heart and soul in skateboarding culture for a long time. Most professional skat­­­ers go there every year to film new stuff.

land in a bush, where I had to stay for two hours, until the tear gas had blown over. It was very scary at the time, but now that I lived through it, it’s a fun story to tell.

Most memorable experience abroad?

Arctic Adventures offers the best package deals: anything from ice­-climbing, scuba-diving or even sea surfing and a whole lot more. The party scene in Reykjavík is rather strong and always something is going on in most clubs of the city until 1 am on weeknights and 4 am or

I was accidentally placed where a riot erupted in Copenhagen because they were closing “Ung­­­ domshuset”. Also there was once a police raid in Christianshavn and I ran the wrong way and ended up in some kind of small semi-is­

What do you recommend to foreigners visiting Iceland?

later on weekends. I especially recommend Prikið, which is one of the best diners in the country, but at night also has the most fun, sweatiest parties!

Have you planned your next trip abroad?

I think I’ll be going to Copen­ hag­­en. I went there last year to film a few Icelandic kids who were competing in the Annu­­al Cop­­en­­hagen Pro Skate­­boarding Tourn­­ament and I will most likely do that again this summer.

Where would you like to go, but haven’t yet? I’m adopted from Indonesia so I really should go there as soon as I can and from there travel around Asia, tasting as many strange things as I possibly can.



WORN OUT FOR CENTURIES We of fer c lot h i n g & ot her mer c h a nd i s e t h at r em i nd s u s of g o o d old Ic el a nd

– Visit our stores: 101 Reyk jav í k , A k u rey r i a nd G eysi r, Hau k ada l. w w w.geysi –

Wow air issue 2 13