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e azin mag Issue four 2014

The Nature

Issue

RAX: Giving nature a shot

your free copy take me with you

#wowmoment Issue four

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Tax & Duty Free

The very best Iceland has to offer KEF Airport is one of the few airports in the world that is both tax and duty free so you can save up to 50% off city prices. Check out our hottest summer items at kefairport.is/summer


ÍSLENSKA/SIA.IS/FLE 69889 07/14


HOTEL GEYSIR elegaNt restauraNts, spa with hot spriNg jacuzzi, beautiful Nature & fuN activities

Geysir TOp 25 besT places TO phOTOgraph On The planeT earTh popphoto.com

Nice aNd cozy rooms iN chalet or oNe wiNg hotel right opposite of the hot spriNg geyser area gourmet a la carte restauraNt local luNch buffet every day hotel & spa outdoor activities all year rouNd amaziNg NortherN lights

Welcome,

hotel geysir 4

WOW Power to the people


W ELC OME TO G EYS IR the geysir ceNter is directly opposite of the geothermal area of the great geysir aNd strokkur e

I

geysir glima bistro Coffee house With freshly ground Coffee sWeet iCe Creams & Cakes traditional iCelandiC meat soup fish soup & vegetarian soup loCal food museum of hot springs, volCano and iCelandiC glima

The g e y s i r c e n T e r haukadalur w w w. ge ys ir ce n t e r. c o m / w w w. g e ys i rg lim a. c om / tel: + 3 54 4 8 0 6 8 0 0 / g eys ir@ g eys irc enter.i s w w w. fac e b o o k . c o m / h ot e lg eys ir / w w w. tw itter. c om /hotelg eys ir Issue four

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Insidethe Volcano Take part in a great adventure. Descend 120 metres into a volcano and explore an underground world.

For the first time in history, travelers have the opportunity to see what a volcano looks like on the inside. Descend into a 4.000 year old magma chamber and experience a new underground world. Book now at InsideTheVolcano.com or at your nearest Tourist Information Desk.

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• Several departures every day • Maximum 14 people in each tour • Duration: 5-6 hours (up to 45 minutes inside the volcano) • Minimum age: 12 years • Fitness level needed: Moderate. No knowledge of hiking or climbing is required. Price: ISK 37,000 per person More info at InsideTheVolcano.com

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THE IDEAL WAY TO

END YOUR DAY

GOOD THINGS COME TO THOSE WHO BOOK ONLINE WWW.BLUELAGOON.COM

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24,900 ISK.

28.900 ISK.

Öxney 101 Reykjavík Icelandic design and lifestyle store Öxney is situated in downtown Reykjavik in one of the city’s most treasured houses, right next to Laugavegur, Reykjavik’s biggest shopping street. Drop by for a friendly and inviting atmosphere, great service and of course a variety of Icelandic design. Öxney is a must-stop for your shopping pleasure.

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ÖXNEY I KLAPPARSTÍGUR 40 I 101 REYKJAVIK I TEL.: 571 4010 I FIND US ON FACEBOOK

WOW Power to the people


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Katla dress. Colorful Icelandic design. 26,900 ISK.


A letter from the editor

In this issue 14 A letter from the CEO 16 This and that … mostly this 20 What’s going on? Festivals, events, openings and all that 24 Move to the beat Dance transcends all language barriers so how­­­ever you say it you can be sure to enjoy the moving Reykja­­­vik Dance Festival in late August.

Iceland in any season

26 Party in the midnight sun The first Secret Solstice Music Festival was a great success.

A

30 An epic journey around Iceland WOW! What a race. Read all about WOW Cyclothon 2014.

s I write this every Icelander has the word summer on their lips and in their minds but let’s not forget the other magnificent seasons, colorful fall is just around the corner. This issue, by and large, is dedicated to Icelandic nature; the scenery, the utili­zation, the people who love it and the people who are trying to protect it. Having this scenery before our eyes all the time can make those of us who live in Iceland blind to its uniqueness and beauty. The Icelandic nature, however barren and harsh it can sometimes be, needs to be preserved and cherished instead of sold to the highest bidder. In any season, anywhere in Iceland there is something to see, something to enjoy. After a great sightseeing tour I went on in February, I have reached the conclusion that the middle of winter is just as good a time as any to explore this island, perhaps even better in some ways.

50 10 reasons to get married in Iceland Icelandic nature makes for some pretty amazing wedding photos. 56 Just like in the movies The scenic nature of Iceland can often be seen in movies and on television, and it’s easy to spot if you know what to look for.

On the cover

60 Giving nature a shot Ragnar Axelsson is perhaps one of Iceland’s most acclaimed photographers. For years his focus has been on the Arctic and our glaciers and he is becoming increasingly worried about their future.

Have a naturally WOW trip. Guðrún Vaka Helgadóttir, editor in chief magazine@wow.is

WOW magazine staff

wowair.com

ERFISME HV R M

KI

© WOW air Katrínartún 12 105 Reykjavík Iceland ntun: Oddi umhverfisvottuð prentsmiðja

U

Editor in chief: Guðrún Vaka Helgadóttir Assistant editor: Eygló Árnadóttir Design and layout: Ivan Burkni Contributing writers: Eygló Árnadóttir, Ólöf Hugrún Valdimarsdóttir, Paul Michael Herman, Cindy-Lou Dale, Mirna Gacesa, Katie Ware, Guðrún Baldvina Sævarsdóttir, Dísa Bjarnadóttir, Hjördís Erna Þorgeirsdóttir, Gunnlaugur Rögnvalds­son, Svava Jónsdóttir and Kamilla Guðmundsdóttir Proofreading: Paul Michael Herman

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776

Oddi environmentally certified printing company All rights reserved. Reprinting, direct quoting or recapitulation prohibited except with a written permit from publisher.

WOW Power to the people

Iceland’s no. 1 ally Ómar Ragnarsson has a passion for Iceland and its nature and is prepared to fight for it.

70 Beneath the surface There’s a whole ‘nother world beneath the surface of Iceland. 76 Three fun-packed days in the Westfjords Even Icelanders are in for a surprise when they visit the Westfjords. 80 Harnessing nature Icelanders are pretty proud of the fact that most of our energy is renewable but producing this environ mental electricity does not come cheap.

PRENTGRIPUR

Tel: 00 354 590 3020 E-mail: magazine@wow.is

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66

84 Energy in the air Seldom pleasant, and for the most part infuriating, the dynamic winds of Iceland might just become our latest source of renewable energy.

On the cover

60

The photo of Ragnar on the cover was shot by Árni Sæberg beneath Seljalandsfoss Falls. It actually wasn’t meant to be this wet but the wind blew the waterfall into the photo and all over Ragnar. 86 Divine desolation The highlands are a great source of inspiration and home to many stunning locations such as the Hveravellir geothermal area. 90 Do you believe in fairytales? “They’re for real,” says Ragnhildur Jónsdóttir, an avid believer in the elf world and owner of The Elf Garden in Hafnarfjordur. 92 WOW stars Meet the brilliant stars of WOW air. 94 Icelandic entrepreneurs The creative fluids are flowing at Reykjavik Distillery. 96 Like riding a bike María Ögn Guðmundsdóttir, WOW Cyclothon’s project manager, is long overdue for the Person of WOW title. 98 The inside WOW The WOW Cyclothon was all the rage at the WOW air headquarters as 17 staff members cycled around Iceland for a good cause. 100 A meal with a moo If you find yourself in north ern Iceland, the Cowshed Café is definitely worth a visit. 102 Fun aboard The WOW air cabin crew makes flying fun. 104 Natural wonders In the Realm of Vatnajokul you’ll find out why Iceland got its name. 108 A seasoned traveler 10 colorful reasons to visit Reykjavik in autumn and winter 110 Festive times in the capital Are you ready for Christmas and New Year’s in Reykjavik? 114 Sound over the wall Berlin’s music scene is both rich and colorful. 116 Where to go in Düsseldorf? If you’ve only got a day or two, here’s a list of the must-sees.

118 The mesmerizing city of Gdańsk It’s easy to get to the ‘Amber City’ from Warsaw. 120 The secret life of the Eiffel tower Formerly described as “useless and monstrous” this world famous iconic structure still fascinates us. 122 Copenhappy Apparently the Danes are the happiest people in northern Europe. 124 The back roads of Wales Flying to Gatwick? Well there’s more to see in the UK than just the happening London. Why not take a drive through the pictur esque countryside? 126 Your WOW horoscope Check out what the stars have in store for you. 128 Bored on board? Get a pen and solve these sudokus. 130 The Traveling Inquisition Funny girl Bylgja Babýlons was apprehended by the Traveling Inquisition while taking a bath.

P.S. Would you like your very own copy of WOW magazine? Take this one with you or contact us through magazine@wow.is and we’ll send you a printed copy. You can also check out WOW magazine online at wowair.com.

Attention advertisers! Shouldn’t your company be in our next issue? Contact our advertising representative and he’ll make it happen. He’s just that good! halli@wow.is


Keeping Iceland Warm Since 1926 www.66north.com

#66north Issue four

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A letter from the CEO

Dear Guests

T

he number of tourists coming to Iceland continues to set new records. We are fast approaching 1 million visitors a year. We at WOW air are of course thrilled to be part of this fast growing industry and like to think that we are doing our share as we continue to deliver on our promise to always offer the lowest prices to and from Iceland as well as being the most punctual airline in Iceland. At the same time we are also very much aware of the increasing need to manage this growth properly. Iceland is a truly unique place where locals as well as visitors have been able to explore our wilderness freely over glaciers, rivers and mountains. There is something very special about being in the middle of nowhere and feeling all the elements of nature. For one, it’s a sense of great respect, for the incredible forces of nature that make Iceland so unique and two, it’s the recognition of how small we are in the big scheme of things. It is critical that we remain humble and respectful towards nature, not just in Iceland but worldwide.

Now the only thing growing faster than the Icelandic tourism industry is WOW Cyclothon! We doubled the competition again this year with over 500 cyclists racing 1332 km around Iceland. It was truly spectacular to participate, to feel the energy and see the smiles on everyone’s faces as they crossed the finish line after roughly 2 days on the road. The best part of all was that together we raised over 15 million ISK for the University Hospital. I am very proud of our participation and already look forward to doing it again next year. All the best and thank you for flying WOW air, Skúli Mogensen

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This and that …

mostly this

Welcome to Paradise Bíó Paradís (lit. ‘Cinema Paradise’) is an independent cinema on Hverfis­gata 54 in the center of Reykjavik. The cinema screens the latest art house releases, special genre films, repertory cinema, documentaries, shorts, animation and experimental films, and especially emphasizes on Icelandic films of all types, old and new. This summer, Bíó Paradís will be screening a daily selection of new and classic Icelandic films with English subtitles for foreign visitors of Reykjavik. The cinema features a café/bar that provides delicious beverages (coffee, beer, wine, organic light drinks), candy and famously tasty popcorn. They offer a free Wi-Fi and a happy hour every day between 17:00 and 19:30 with 2 for 1 on all beer and wine. First and foremost it is a place where one can sit down in a good atmosphere, listen to vinyl records and enjoy good conversation.

RAX’s photos

Check out their website www.bioparadis.is or follow them on Facebook for a daily schedule and the latest updates.

Ragnar Axelsson (RAX) is one of the most prominent photographers in Iceland. His beautiful photos of man’s complex relationship with nature are haunting. If his interview and photos inside this issue won’t quench your thirst–don’t worry, there is plenty more where that came from! As a part of the Reykjavik Arts Festival, the Reykjavik Museum of Photography will feature Rax’s exhibition, Mirror of Life, until September 7th. On display are selections of RAX’s best known series from the past three decades. Among others, the photos show the life and battle of hunters in Greenland, and farmers and seamen in Iceland and the Faroe Islands. This amazing exhibition gives a real insight into Rax’s life work as a photographer and should not be missed. Don’t miss WOW magazine’s interview with RAX on pages 60-64. More at www.ljosmyndasafnreykjavikur.is.

Text and photos: Gerður Harðardóttir

Brand new Hildibrand Hotel Nestled among the majestic mountains on the east coast of Iceland lies the fishing village Neskaupstadur (population close to 2,000). Neskaup­­ stadur might be a bit far from the maddening crowd often found on Route 1 during the summer months, but since last May it is certainly worth the detour–if only to indulge in some wining and dining or spending a night or two at the recently opened Hildibrand Hotel. The Hildibrand Hotel is a brand new hotel located on Hafnarbraut 2 in Neskaupstadur, in a recently renovated building that for years used to be occupied by the local co-op. Hildibrand Hotel offers 15 fully equipped, spacious and extremely comfortable apartments and suites, each one overlooking the fjord just across the street. From your own private balcony, you might even see porpoises doing somersaults in the sunset or a pod of humpback whales leisurely paddling along. The apartments can accommodate up to 8 persons, making them ideal for large families or groups of people. Guests are welcome to use the fully equipped kitchen for making their own meals. The local gourmet shop, Mjolkurstodin (The Milk Station), is just next door and there you can buy the hotel’s own pro­­ duce made from fresh locally sourced ingredients. The hotel’s forte is definitely the food, served at Kaupfelagsbarinn, the hotel’s restaurant/bistro. Their very ambitious menu consists of dishes of novel combinations, where authentic local ingredients play a key part in each one. The sushi selection is to die for and you will definitely see versions you haven’t tried before. If you fancy trying your hand at sea angling, taking guided walks around the area, explore a cave, head off on a photo safari or a food excursion, or just about whatever else tickles your fancy, you only need to ask the staff at the hotel and they’ll be happy to make your wish come true. For more information visit www.hildibrand.is

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Svarfadur Valley is Iceland’s most beautiful place, according to its people, the Svarfdaelings. A few years ago, all sheep in the valley were quarantined and destroyed because of scrapie, a fatal and infectious disease. That’s when they founded the Herding Society, a venerable club of shepherds, car mechanics, carpenters, schoolteachers and plumbers. They are also poets and singers and festive men. And they continue to herd every year, despite the fact that there is not a single sheep left in the valley. The Svarfadur Valley Herding Society: Skál fyrir þér! Léttöl


Fit for a queen

This and that …

mostly this

Game of Thrones goes Icelandic

Photo: Hákon Davíð Björnsson

Iceland’s strongest man, Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson, recently appeared as the character Gregor Clegane in two episod­­ es of the popular TV series ‘Game of Thrones’. Hafþór has no acting back­­­ ground to speak of and originally thought he was being pranked when asked to play the character. He had a lot of fun filming for the show and certainly shines on screen. Gregor Clegane, better known as The Mountain, is a huge warrior that kills peo­­ ple with ease, so the muscular Hafþór fit the part perfectly. He has always been well built, becoming strong at an early age while working hard at his grand­­dad’s farm. Big strong guys who are nice and helpful to their granddads... that’s our favorite kind. In 2009 Hafþór decided with two days’ notice to enter a strong­­ man competition for the first time, and in his first day he set a new Icelandic record. For the last three years he has come in third or second in the competition for the World’s Strongest Man. Who knows what’s next— first place or Hollywood, baby !

many famous people are regulars here

Since Icelandic goldsmith Kristjan Eyjolfsson created a brooch for Her Majesty The Queen in 2012, his star has been steadily on the rise. His collections have been shown at the prestigious Goldsmiths’ Fair, the iconic Somerset House, and the gorgeous Chelsea Flower Show every year since that stunning debut. In 2013, he released a very special collection inspired by one of Iceland’s most stunning and popular attractions - Gullfoss (Golden Falls). Striking and graceful, this is a collection that captures the essence of this stunning natural wonder. 2014 has seen a shift in the Kristjan Eyjolfsson jewelry gear as some of his collections, including the popular Embrace and Vikingur, became available to purchase for the first time, in retail outlets. His pieces can now be purchased online from the funky Wolf and Badger boutique with outlets in upmarket Mayfair and Notting Hill in London and from August, his collections will also be available from respected independent retailer Johnny Rocket, in Greenwich. Of his decision to sell his pieces to a wider audience Kristjan says: “We wanted to venture into retail outlets that actively support emerging designers and who understand what our work is all about. Both these retailers have been very supportive and encouraging and it certainly helps that their shops are in such great parts of London!” So, just what is next for Kristjan? “Well, we are about to embark on our fourth annual collaboration with Chelsea Flower Show and are preparing for a starring role at the International Jewellery London show at the end of August. Having won the prestigious People’s Choice – thanks in large part to support from my Icelandic countrymen. I need to keep flying my flag high and proudly.”

Check out Eyjolfsson’s website at www.kristjaneyjolfsson.com.

Ban Thai the finest Thai restaurant in Iceland

www.banthai.is

The burger joint rocks Berlin 1/10 The Best Restaurants In Iceland

the best thai food 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013

Laugavegur 130, ofan við Hlemm 18

WOW Power to the people

Tel : 692-0564

The Icelandic burger joint ‘Hamborgarabúlla Tómasar’ has now hit Berlin after great success with its two branches in London opening in 2012. Famous faces are often seen at the London joint, most recently the famous football player David Beckham enjoyed a burger with his son Romeo and was of course very happy with the meal. Always keeping its original homey feel, the joint is on a roll, opening a branch in Berlin last May. On the opening day the generous joint gave away free burgers to happy Berliners until the meat ran out at 8 pm. Tommi’s Burger Joint has established itself on foreign ground as the great joint we in Iceland know it to be, with the meat coming in fresh everyday (no, everything isn’t frozen in Iceland). Andrew Cottrill, food critic, gives the joint a great review on the website, Berlin Loves You, and TripAdvisor gives the London joints almost a full star critique. There’s no burger like Tommi’s burger.


Go home witthh a story wor sharing!

Open everyday from 8am-10pm

Rafting

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Diving

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Hiking

Climbing

Super-Jeep Caving

Horse Riding Sightseeing Snowmobile Whale Watch ATV

Kayaking

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Boat Ride

Hot Spring

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Skiing

Mountain Hut Camping

Swimming

Multi Trips

www.adventures.is | info@adventures.is | +354-562-7000 | Downtown ReykjavĂ­k Sales Office at Laugavegur 11


This summer Cinema Paradise in Hverfisgata will screen six carefully selected Icelandic films with English subtitles.

Look at

that

What’s going on over here? Quite a lot actually, and if you know where to look you can live each night in Iceland like there’s a full blown festival going on.

Monty Python – LIVE! Well sort of … August 6th through August 31st Burid’s food market August 30–31 Burid, or The Icelandic Pantry, is a quirky cheese shop in Reykjavik, locat­­ed at the downtown harbour area. It offers the best in gloriously stinky cheeses from around the globe, together with a selection of jams, cur­­ ed meats, olives, chutneys and other nibbles and noshes that make life worth living. The shop has devel­oped a strong following among curd nerds for its selection of speciality foods from dairy farms and other small, local producers all over Iceland. On the last weekend of August, Burid throws a food market at the Harpa concert hall. This will be the fifth time that Burid brings toget­her all its fantastic producers and suppli­ers under one roof, where over 40 farmers, fishermen and artisan pro­­ducers will showcase their goods. With 32,000 people attending the last food market held last March, it is possibly the largest of its kind in Iceland, at least in the last 100 years! More info at blog.burid.is.

Cool Cuts Until August 31 This summer Cinema Paradise in Hverfisgata will screen six carefully selected Icelandic films with English subtitles. The program is as follows through every week until August 31st. Of Horses and Men Metalhead / Málmhaus Gnarr Heima – Sigur Rós 101 Reykjavik Volcano

For the first time in more than three decades, comedy legends Monty Python will perform live on stage together this year. At a combined age of just 358, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones and Michael Palin will once again perform some of their greatest hits, with modern, topical, Pythonesque twists. Their eagerly awaited reunion promises to be among the biggest live events of 2014. The show will be broadcasted from the O2 Arena in London to theaters around the world, even in Iceland, so a vacation to Reykjavik is no excuse for missing out on these legends. The Monty Python show will be screened at 8 pm every night from August 6th to August 31st in Cinema Paradise.

In addition to the Cool Cuts program there’s also the Eye on Films program with six carefully curated films from all over the world. Only in New York The Gambler Clip Man vs. Trash Before You Know it Supernova

Culture Night in Reykjavík August 23

FERRY

VIKINGSUSHI

FLATEY

THE BRIGDE TO THE

NATURE, BIRDS & EXPERIENCE YOU WILL NEVER FORGET!

CHARMING ISLAND

BALDUR

WESTFJORDS

ADVENTURE

ISLAND

VISIT THIS

www.seatours.is - Smiðjustígur 3 340 Stykkishólmur - Sími 433 2254

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WHERE THE TIME

STANDS STILL

In the 18 years that Reykjavik has celebrated Culture Night, it has become one of the biggest events in Iceland. Each year up to 100,000 people participate, which is quite impressive for a nation of 320,000. On this eventful night, you can see a broad spectrum of the flourishing art scene in Iceland with over 600 various events going on, all of which are free of charge. The events take place everywhere in the city; on the streets or in shops, in museums, cafés and galleries, even in people’s homes and backyards! The biggest concert of the day is in the evening, and the program ends with a spectacular display of fireworks. You can make your own Reykjavik Culture Night program from the detailed program that will be published online in the beginning of August at www. menningarnott.is. www.menningarnott.is.


www.n1.is

facebook.com/enneinn ÍSLENSKA/SIA.IS ENN 69215 05/14

Tank up at N1 on your way around Iceland

The points indicate where you’ll find N1 service stations around Iceland

Complimentary

Wi-Fi at selected N1 service stations

N1 is a network of service stations, located all around Iceland. There you can find anything you might need for the road, both fuel, food and entertainment. Our mission is to offer excellent services to anyone on the road. At selected N1 service stations, travelers enjoy complimentary Wi-Fi – perfect to share those travel memories in real time. At the largest service stations, you can either tank up yourself or rely on our swift service, shop for essentials, entertainment and snacks or just take a well-deserved break over a cup of coffee.

Let´s go!

Tank up your car at N1 and fuel your body and soul at the same time.

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The Reykjavik Pride has grown in popularity year by year, with between 80,000 and 100,000 people viewing the parade last year. Verslunarmannahelgin (The Shopkeeper’s Holiday’) August 1-4 Out and proud! August 5–10

In Iceland, the first Monday of each August is known as ‘the Shopkeeper’s Holiday’ and the weekend preceding it is called ‘the Shopkeeper’s Weekend’ (Verslunarmannahelgi). Traditionally Ice­­ land­­ers flock together at various loca­­­tions around the island to celebrate this long weekend. Here are a few festivals to choose from on this biggest travel week­­ end of the season:

Þjóðhátíð í Eyjum (Westman Island’s ‘National Holiday’) Held since 1920 in The Westman Islands off Iceland’s south coast, this is Iceland’s oldest and biggest festival. This three-day (four day if you show up on Thursday) festival is packed with activities, but is mainly known for its three highlights; the unbelievable Friday night bonfire, the spectacular Saturday night fireworks exhi­­bition and the Sunday evening huge sing-along. If you’re looking for the biggest party Iceland has to offer, this is it!

Síldarævintýri (Herring Festival) The pretty little town of Siglufjordur in northern Iceland was the country’s biggest herring fishing village in the early 20th century and until 1970. The theme of this festival is the town’s history, bringing the herring era back to life. Go there to get the feel of old Iceland!

Innipúkinn (The Inside Imp Music Festival) While the majority of Reykjavik’s citizens go out of town to attend a range of country­side festivals the inside imps take over the town and have their own fun. In the city center there’s an annual festival where all the cool and hip people who’ve stayed behind to uphold the Reykjavik culture scene gather. This indoor festival offers a great line-up of popular Icelandic musicians and special guests. The right festival for those who prefer soft beds and trendy restaurants over wet tents and warm beer.

Ein með öllu (‘One with Everything’ Festival) Ein med ollu, which translates to ‘One with Everything’, the most popular hot dog order in Iceland, is a family friendly festival held at the town of Akureyri. The festival aims to give everyone a good time, from the stroller-sitting toddler to the walkerpush­ing senior.

The Reykjavik Pride has grown in popularity year by year, with between 80,000 and 100,000 people viewing the parade last year. The fight for LGBT rights has been very successful in Iceland, so the Reykjavik Pride festival is colored by joy, triumph and happiness. The ever-so-popular Pride Parade is the highlight of the festival – this year on August 9th. The parade floats shine with pride and ambition and there’s music, dancing and a whole lot of joy. Kids, grandparents and everyone in between gather downtown with rainbow flags. Many relatives and friends of LGBT people participate in the parade, showing their support and recognition. However most of the cheering spectators don’t have a deep personal connection to the LGBT cause, they simply enjoy the colorful expression of love and solidarity. The parade is followed by an outdoor concert with well-known Icelandic performers, and later in the evening, an indoor dance with live music and DJ’s. No matter what your sexual orientation, if you plan on being in Reykja­­ vik in early August you should definitely check out the Pride program at www.reykjavikpride.com and join this huge glitter party. Proud screenings In celebration of Reykjavik Pride Cinema Paradise on Hverfisgata 54 will screen two very interesting documentaries: Intersexion (Tuesday, August 5th at 9 pm) and Stonewall Uprising (Sunday, August 10th at 6 pm). www.reykjavikpride.com

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Bears on Ice September 4–7

Mýrarboltinn (The Swamp Soccer Championship) The European Swamp Soccer Champion­ ship is held in the town of Isafjordur in the Westfjords. Play some dirty soccer (with vague and sometimes inconsistent rules) during the day and party hard into the night with an awesome mountain view as a backdrop. Neistaflug (Town Festival) Neistaflug is a family oriented festival held in the small town Neskaupstadur in east Iceland. There are concerts and dance shows, entertainment for kids, a campfire, a run in the nature, a fishing competition, a children’s singing competition and much more.

The Icelandic bear scene is small but very friendly. Bears on Ice is an annual event for bears and friends, held in Reykjavik in September. Activities include parties and sightseeing tours, check out the program at bearsonice.org. This year, those polar bears will celebrate their 10th anniversary event. For the occasion, the largest attended bear dance party, U.S. Bearracuda, will be teaming up with Bears on Ice. It’s still a pretty small event and emphasis on keeping it inclusive and friendly. Pink Iceland – LGBT travel and event expert offers great pre & post tours for the bears on their website www. pinkiceland.is.

www.pinkiceland.is.


Íslenskt mínútuverð í Evrópu Virkjaðu Vodafone EuroTraveller með því að senda sms-ið “Euro” í 1414. Vodafone

00 kr. kr. fyrir fyrir móttekin móttekin símtöl símtöl

Aðeins Aðeins 690 690 kr. kr. daggjald daggjald svo mínútuverðið svo mínútuverðið heima heima

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Move to the beat

Reykjavik Dance Festival Dance has no language barriers so if you’re on your way to Iceland at the end of August consider yourself welcome at the Reykjavik Dance Festival – the heartbeat of dancing and choreography in Iceland. Photos: Hulda Sif Ásmundsdóttir

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WOW Power to the people


For more information visit www.reykjavikdancefestival.is.

.. eat. b e th e to Mov

eykjavik Dance Festival takes place not once, but four times a year (August, November, February and June). This means that Icelanders and their guests can expect both bold and brave programs of both domestic and international artists all year round. We’re talking performances, workshops, dancing for the sake of dancing, as well as a host of other formats every three months. After 12 years, Reykjavík Dance Festival has become something more than a festival. It is a throbbing pulse beat, the ongoing rebirth of a community, and a scene for consuming dance,

dancing and choreography, as well as a space for creating, meeting, thinking, talking, and dancing. And yet, even with four events a year, August is still set to be something truly rare, exceptional and charming. Besides being a day-time program of radio broadcasted lectures by domestic artists, workshops, forums, and publication launches, RDF will present no less than 12 new works by Icelandic choreographers over four days. The focus for RDF in the last weekend of August is the Icelandic scene with all of its contradictions and complexity. The upcoming festi­­­val stages what the festival itself has given birth to over the last 12 years since it began. Everyone is invited to join, watch, dance, party and get involved. Issue four

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Party in the midnight sun

The Secret Solstice experience The longest day of the year in Iceland is June 21st. If you’re lucky and it’s clear, you can watch the sun slightly lower itself, painting the sky with mystical colors of orange and purple and then changing its mind and deciding to rise again in the middle of the night or early morning.

by Dísa Bjarnadóttir / Photos: Sigríður Ella Frímannsdóttir

T

his is one of the most unique and beautiful things about the Ice­­­ land­­ic summ­­er and one of the reasons why we endure the dark months of winter. It is also the time when everyone is outside: hik­­ing mountains, white river rafting, snow­­ mobiling on glaciers, swimming in the warm pools, jumping into the ocean, fishing, hunting, camping … this is why we stay on this exotic North Atlantic island and this is why foreign guests come to visit. Using all this daylight to throw an outdoor music festival—Why didn’t anyone think of it earlier? Right in­­side the city of Reykjavik, next to a swimming pool filled with show­­ ers, Jacuzzis and hot tubs? Even better! Oh, and in a valley so if the weather doesn’t behave at least it won’t be windy. And so it was that in the Laugardalur valley, smack down in the middle of Reykjavik City

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there was no impetuous wind to blow us around this weekend, just enthusiastic music lovers who came to witness the first Secret Solstice Music Festival; the first of many.

Deck the halls The valley had been decorated beauti­­­­fully. There was color every­­ where, swinging hammocks, paint­­ ings on buildings and decorat­­ed trees, not to mention the colorful people. Our initial thought when we walked through the gate was: “Ok this is going to be a good party.” Four stages and one “tent” (actually it was an ice-skating rink that had been transformed to look and feel like a party tent), music in four to five different locations from 12 am, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. New, young and exciting Icelandic bands (and some more established) as well as bands and artists from all over the world were on the roster. Looking at the schedule, each stage

having a more exciting artist than the next, you’d think: “I need to clone myself so I won’t miss any­­thing!” But the area was just the right size to be able to walk a bit and check out another band. Then, once one started wrapping up you’d hear some­­thing from another direction and want to check that out.

And the food …! Having grown up in the nineties I was expecting there to be only soda and pizza, but oh no! Two of the best burger places, Prikið and Hamborgarabúllan had food trucks there! Bæjarins bestu was there too, of course, because, well, the Icelandic hot dog … it’s just essenti­­ally essential when partying. What else? Meat soup! The classic Icelandic meat soup that natives have been eating in their mothers and grandmothers kitchens since they were little kids. When it’s a little chilly out and you need good

substance, you’ve got to have meat soup! As the weekend got on, more and more security guards were seen carrying meat soup containers backstage, so my theory is: The art­­ ists started liking it!

Massive events The biggest stage was called Val­­ höll (Valhalla from the Old Norse mythology). This was where the big bands performed: Massive Attack, Banks, SchoolBoy Q, Disclosure. Had I heard all these names before? No, I’m “old”. Instead, I was there to observe and hear new things. But I had heard of Massive Attack. They have been my favorite since I was seventeen and I felt giddy about seeing them live. Luckily I met some people who were big into the Icelandic music scene. “Come and see Fu­­fanu, these guys are great!” Fu-what-who? Oh, wow, what a fresh sound, and cool energy! My friend Gabby from New


York looked at me and said: “Iceland is incredible, there is so much young talent here.” Since I just saw punk rock legend Einar Örn from the SugarCubes drag a group of kids backstage I used his famous line to explain how the Icelandic music scene is all about making it happen: “It’s not about what you can do, it about what you DO do.” (Einar said these words in the cult film Rokk í Reykjavík, a documentary about punk rock in the 1980s). As the weekend went on we saw so many other acts and regretfully had to miss so many others. Högni Egilsson from Hjaltalín went on stage rather early on Friday. The crowd was tiny compared to what Högni is used to with his group. He was by himself, with his beautiful Nordic mysteriousness, blond long hair flowing, performing music that gave me goose bumps. I heard Trish, an Australian photographer, scream to someone: “His voice makes me want to die!” I couldn’t help but ask: “In a good way?” She answered: “In a very good way.” Is it weird that I know exactly what she meant? There is just something about Högni. Towards the end of

his performance a group of men dressed in black and white came on to the stage. Högni sat at the piano and they sang in their deep male voices a song he wrote. It was moving. I got goose bumps and my eyes welled up. Thank God for big sunglasses!

Too old to party Later on in the evening I decided to check out Hel. Hel was the party tent where the party went on until 5 am with one DJ after another. This was where the hardcore party people went; but I can’t really cover that scene, too old I guess. It was fun to check out though. On the way there I saw an act that made me pull up my little brochure to find out who on earth that was. A woman was playing the accordion and it sounded like an old folk’s band but with rhythm and drums and everybody dancing … Molotov Jukebox! I had never heard of them before but here was something else that was new and fun to share. Hel was cool, but not really my scene. Cool lights, DJs, people danc­ing, but my old bones were starting to creak. Plus the party

started again at noon the following day. Time to get some rest because the acts I wanted to see went from beginning end; a long day at an outdoor concert.

The sound of Saturday On Saturday I missed the perform­­ ance of Hjaltalín. What I did manage to see was Vök and what a sound! They were mesmerizing. I later learned that Vök beat popular band Kaleo in The Battle of the Bands (Músíktilraunir) in 2013. I saw Reykjavíkurdætur with their massively strong female energy rap about anal sex, and how hard it is to be a struggling artist, a word maker, a poet. As an aspiring artist I related so strongly that I put my hand on my chest and bounced to their beats. These girls have made language their tool and their costumes are really, really cool. I felt a deep desire to be in their posse. Speaking of female rap. Cell 7 is back! She ruled the world (Reykjavik) with her band Subterranean back in 1998 and everyone was listening to their CD! Seventeen years have passed but here she is again, tiny but with a huge stage presence.

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Cell7 is back.

Female rap group Reykjavikurdætur.

First she performed with Reykjavik Soundsystem and then went on to her own stuff with another female singer and her friend Maxi from Subterranean. I listened and nodded my head, trying to look cool; then I looked over and the whole group of Reykjavíkurdætur was standing there in their cool clothes dancing and singing along to Ragna’s music. Yeah, Reykjavik has a female rap scene and it’s awesome.

The headliner The crowd was starting to get excit­­ ed for Massive Attack. I couldn’t wait to see if they performed some of my favorites. But before them came Banks, a cool, young American girl with a cool sound that reminds me a little bit of Lorde. She didn’t allow any photographers close to the stage when she was performing and some of my friends were a little ticked off about that. I enjoyed her music, but my mind was on Massive, Massive… Massive Attack. When they finally came on they started with some of their lesser known stuff. It started slow but the crowd was getting tighter and build­­ ing momentum. They moved on to some of the better known songs and behind them lights started flashing and then words started

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WOW Power to the people

show­­ing up on a screen behind them, in Icelandic, pulled from the headlines of the magazines and newspapers. But not just any words. Words relating to Icelandic culture. Our celebrity culture, our financial collapse … they’re delivering a mess­­age to us and I’m still thinking: what were they telling us and who helped them write the words? When they performed my all-time favorite song ‘Unfinished Sympathy’ I closed my eyes and felt goose bumps all the way up to my skull. It was a cloudy day but I swear, as the song started playing the sun broke through the clouds. I know I’ll never forget this moment. Nothing could beat what I saw that night. I wanted to go home and listen to the song again and go to bed early. Lots of interesting things would happen on Sunday, starting early, like the previous two days.

Rapping up Sunday

People looked a little tired on Sun­­ day and I kicked myself for hav­­ing missed DJ Flugvél and Geimskip when my friend showed me pictures from her show. Next time! But I did see Sometime, an Icelandic band that I didn’t know existed. They sounded so cool and they looked even cooler. I made a note to follow

them on Twitter and Facebook. This was a family day. Kids under five could get in for free accom­p­ani­ed by their parents. I saw little babies wearing huge ear defenders, sitting on their dad’s shoulders, bouncing to the music. All the photo­­graphers gathered round to

something with words that I never could when I took poetry class. I looked at the stage when Úlfur Úlfur performed and thought: “Wow if I was twenty and single I know who I’d have a crush on”. Gísli Pálmi came on, the crowd was huge and tight and I watched

“The crowd was starting to get excit­­ed for Massive Attack. I couldn’t wait to see if they performed some of my favorites. But before them came Banks, a cool, young American girl with a cool sound that reminds me a little bit of Lorde.” take their pictures. “This is probably why we have so much young tal­­ ent here,” I thought. “People just immerse their kids in what’s going on and the kids grow up wanting to be a part of it.” Later that night I saw one of my favorite DJs, DJ Margeir, who’s been in this business longer than most, holding his son up to the stage to see the rapper SchoolBoy Q. I couldn’t resist taking their picture. What a cool dad! Sunday was the day for rap. A girl from Canada asked me: “Do they rap in Icelandic? That’s so cool!” They do, and they’re great at it. We’ve had poetry and the art of story­­telling for centuries; these are our poets now. They manage to do

from a safe distance. That guy looks and sounds intense even from a far. He yelled at the crowd “The sun is out, SchoolBoy Q is here, let me see those hands in the air!” And the crowd obeyed. The sun had broken through the clouds, shining on the rapper that traveled all the way from the west coast of the USA to play in Iceland. It shone on all the people who the following day would be gathering their tents and bags and heading back home. I can’t wait to attend Secret Sol­­stice again next year. This year it was fantastic but I have a feeling that next year it will be even better.


Enjoy a

in

relaxing holiday

Laugar Spa

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

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

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WOW Power to the people


An epic journey around Iceland How can you explain WOW Cyclothon to someone who wasn‘t there? I used to be one of those, and yet, as editor of WOW magazine I’ve been writing about the Cyclothon since the fall of 2012, usually by recounting the experiences of people who’d been there. Let me tell you that going the distance is quite different than hearing or reading about it. It just happened that this road trip became one of the most exciting 3 days of my life despite the lack of sleep. by Guðrún Vaka Helgadóttir Photos: Kristinn Magnússon

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WOW Power to the people


W

OW Cyclothon is not for the fain­­t­ hearted, it’s not for those who give up easy and it’s not for those who demand a 12 hour beauty sleep each night or else they’ll get grumpy. This great relay race is a competition of endurance and strategy and sometimes the differ­­ence between a winner and loser is who can get the most sleep while crumpled up in a moving vehicle that speeds up and then stops every 10-15 minutes.

Going solo For this year’s Cyclothon a solo category was added and five brave men signed up. Because their journey around Iceland would take longer than in the team categories they got an 9-10 hour head start. The Ring Road can be unforgiving and the first two soloists dropped out in Northern Iceland. Three continued, Sigurður and Þórður, who cycled side by side, and Eiríkur who cycled the whole ring all by himself. After following the soloists all the way through Borgarnes we hardly saw any of them again until the end of their journey when they took on Kambar, the last moun­­ tain ridge before Reykjavik. Emotions ran high, and after leading the solo race together the whole circle neither Sigurður nor Þórður felt like competing against each other for the first place. Exhausted and emotionally drain­­ed they stopped right in front of the finish line, stepped off their bikes and walked hand in hand those last few steps, sharing the first place and the honor of being the first to finish the WOW Cyclothon solo. We’re pretty sure that we just witnessed a friendship that was forged under the most unique circumstances. Sigurður and Þórður finished the Ring Road in 74 hours and 28 minutes, well within the allotted time frame for the solo competitors. Eiríkur seemed to gain amazing speed on the south shore and finished in 76 hours and 40 minutes. Even though he cycled the whole Ring Road by himself he was in high spirits and seemed to have plenty of energy left as he bunny-jumped over the finish line on his bike. We salute them all!

The A Teams When it was time to start the A category, teams of 4 cyclists and 2 drivers, the rain poured down outside the Harpa Concert Hall. The weather was even worse than during the solo start if that was possible. Knowing that the rain would cease as soon as we got out of the city we didn’t feel nearly as sorry for these cyclists (or ourselves) as we did the soloists earlier that day. WOW Cyclothon begins with a group start at the Harpa Concert Hall and then cyclists ride behind a police vehicle until they reach the outermost part of the city where the police give them the go ahead to start racing. The first changeover is allowed shortly before the cyclists have to venture into Hvalfjörður (Whale’s Fjord), after that changing cyclists is at every team’s discretion. This is a very strategic changeover that has to be chosen carefully as, according to the leading teams, being among the first out of Hvalfjördur is very important. Seventeen teams signed up for the A category and all finished, most of them within 10 hours from

Sigurður and Þórður walked hand in hand over the finish line, refusing to compete for first place.

Seventeen teams signed up for the A category and all finished, most of them within 10 hours from the first team‘s arrival to the finish line.

the first team‘s arrival to the finish line. Three teams, Örninn TREK, Workforce A and Team Hleðsla, led the race in the beginning but shortly before Egilsstaðir in east Iceland, Örninn and Workforce A managed to break away from Team Hleðsla. According to Ragnar Þór Ingólfsson, one of Örninn TREK’s drivers and team man­­agers, this meant a whole new race plan for both teams. “We managed to do a quicker pit stop than Workforce A in Egilsstaðir and be the first on the road to catch up to our cyclist for a changeover. This should have changed the race for us but the wind was too strong and their cyclist, Emil, too good. We decided to wait until Öxi knowing that their attack would be coming there.”

A real race to the finish line The two teams battled each other throughout east Iceland and the south coast but at the same time it was obvious that these guys respect each other. “Close to Selfoss the Workforce A team sped up indicating a changeover. We didn’t know which cyclist they’d put out so we had everybody ready. When we reached them we saw that they were getting Ingvar Ómarsson ready and we decided to answer with our guy, Hafsteinn Ægir Geirsson. He got ready and we stopped behind the Workforce vehicle but to our horror we watched as Hafsteinn’s chain fell off amid all the commotion only 10 seconds before the cyclists caught up to us. Here the incredible happened; Seeing Hafsteinn in trouble with his chain, Ingvar waved his teammate on and decided to delay his team’s changeover,” says Ragnar. This could have changed the last moments of the race completely but these guys are not just great athletes, they wanted to win on the right terms. After finishing the Kambar and reaching the Hellisheiði Moor both teams sent out all their cyclists in a strategic effort to shelter and help their number one cyclists, realizing that this would now become a battle all the way to the finish line. The side wind made everything that much more difficult until the teams reached Sandskeið but once they were there a more favorable wind followed the cyclists the rest of the way. Here began the most exciting final race that WOW Cyclothon has ever seen with all members of both teams putting all their energy into those last few kilometers. Hafsteinn was in the lead but just as he neared the finish line Ingvar managed to speed up and beat him to it. The results after a 1332 km race around Iceland … both teams finished in 39 hours and 12 minutes, a new WOW Cyclothon record, with barely a notice­able difference but Workforce A took first place.

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The B teams It’s a well-known fact that the B teams have more fun and 39 teams of 10 signed up for this year’s WOW Cyclothon. The B category could be seen as the amateur’s category but let’s be clear that those teams are every bit as competitive as the A teams. Four teams took the lead in the beginning, Team Lands­­bréf, Workforce B, Team Nýherji and Team Arion Banki and it was clear that those teams were in it to win. In teams of 10 where all can take turns cycling, sleeping and driving the support vehicle, the strategies are a little different. Most teams seemed to have split themselves up into two smaller units, 4-5 people resting while the rest took turns cycling or driving, and then changing units every few hours. Many of the teams had two support vehicles as all the gear and people didn’t fit into just one. This led to some of them using one as the designated sleeping vehicle where the resting half of the team parked the car and got a good rest for a couple of hours before meeting up with the other half and then splitting up again.

Workforce B’s luxurious but fateful break before Öxi.

In the beginning the race was on but a luxurious break for the Workforce B resting unit just before Öxi is said to have lost the team their chance of first place. We caught up to the Workforce B team at said break where they were grilling some delicious rib eye steaks next to their yellow Kawasaki bus. According to an unconfirmed rumor the resting unit didn’t factor in how much time it would take their big bus to thread the narrow and unforgiving Öxi mountain road in the heavy fog. Öxi is one of the few places in WOW Cyclothon where cyclists are able go faster than their support vehicles. When the yellow bus finally caught up, the Workforce B working unit had gotten too tired to keep up with Team Landsbréf who led the race after that, all the way to the finish line, completing

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WOW Power to the people

With this great support team Hjólakraft­ ur took the pledge competition by a storm, collecting a whopping 1,148,000 IKR, the only team to go bey­­ ond the one million mark. All in all, WOW Cyclo­­thon managed to raise 15,237,244 IKR.

their journey in 40 hours and 36 minutes. The most exciting final sprint in the category was probably between Team Nýherji and Team Arion Banki for the third place; both finished with the time 41:18 but Nýherji reached the finish line first and took the podium.

The young cyclists who could We can’t finish our run-through of the B teams without mentioning the heroes of Team Hjólakraftur. As it happens WOW Cyclothon is not just a race to the finish line and a good time, every team that enters the race also enters a challenge to raise money for a charity. The team who raises the most gets a special award. This year teams raised pledges to buy some much needed equipment for the Department of Orthopedic Surgery of The National University Hospital of Iceland. Team Hjólakraftur consisted of 6 teenagers, aged 13-18 and their four grownup leaders. In 2013 the team decided to compete in the 2014 Cyclothon, training hard to make that dream a reality. Their goal was not to win first place but rather to conquer themselves by finishing the whole Cyclothon within the allotted time frame, and hope­­fully winning the pledge competition. All eyes were on the young and inexperienced team and Hjóla­­kraftur had a lot of fans throughout the race. Members of other teams even asked their friends, families and co-workers to give their pledges to Hjólakraftur instead of their own teams, tipping the scales further in Hjólakraftur’s favor. With this great support team Hjólakraftur took the pledge competition by a storm, collecting a whopping 1,148,000 IKR, the only team to go bey­­ond the one million mark. All in all, WOW Cyclo­­thon managed to raise 15,237,244 IKR.

See you next year? It is customary to celebrate after such an event and so all who participated in the WOW Cyclothon were invited for a festive award ceremony with drinks and snacks. It was a great way to end the competition with a grand finale. Everywhere you looked you could see smiling faces, people still feeling the rush of endorphins that unavoidably follow those who accomplish this great feat. Standing in the middle of the crowd the most common phrase you could hear was inevitably: “next year …” as individuals and teams plotted their next journey.

Proud members of Hjólakraftur got to deliver a giant check to Páll Mattíasson CEO of The National University Hospital of Iceland and Yngvi Ólafsson chief physician at the Department of Orthopedic Surgery a few days after finishing their race.

Follow WOW Cyclothon on Facebook and Instagram and flip through our live feed from the competition for additional photos and insights. Visit wowcyclothon.com for more information about the race and how to sign up. The WOW Cyclothon Media Team would like to thank Askja for lending us a great Mercedes Benz GLA for our trip around Iceland, N1 for staying open during the night and serving, amongst other things, coffee, Myflug air for taking us a little bit higher at Lake Myvatn and of course all of those who watched the live feed on Instagram and Facebook throughout the race. Special thanks to all the sponsors of WOW Cyclothon: N1, Ölgerðin, Askja, Arctic Track, Kría Cycles and Eimskip.


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Tel: +354 411 5000 • www.spacity.is

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*Admission January 2014 . Price is subject bj t tto change h

Reykjavik's Thermal Pools


Promotion

The Lebowski Bar Laugavegur 20a +354 552 2300 info@lebowskibar.is www.lebowskibar.is

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 into 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 that 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. “Careful man, there’s a beverage here!”  Jeffrey ‘the Dude’ Lebowski, the protagonist of the Coen brot­­her’s comedy, is renowned for his penchant for ‘White Russ­ians’ – vodka based cocktails featuring coffee liqueurs and cream or milk. The Lebowski Bar has taken this now-iconic drink to a new level, offering an astounding 18 varieties of White Russian, along with an extensive bar list. 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 (www.tinyiceland.com)

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.

FIND IT ON FACEBOOK and Twitter Twitter: @LebowskiBar - Instagram: #LebowskiBar - Open 11:00 – 01:00 Sun-Thurs and 11:00 – 04:00 Fri/Sat 36

WOW Power to the people


Promotion

Lavabarinn Lækjargata 6a Inquiries and booking: Phone: +354 845 88 68 email: kolla@hresso.is

Lavabarinn

At the center of the scene Lavabarinn represents what Reykjavik is famous for … nightlife! Admit it, you’re not here to collect stamps. You’re here to travel, take photos and brag about it all while sitting at a fantastic lounge drinking delicious cocktails. That’s exactly what the Lavabarinn is all about and the architecture and design is beautiful.

After drinking magical cocktails that taste like paradise, why not move down to the lower floor and shake it to some high class music by hot DJ’s from all over the world.

Lavabarinn focuses on high quality cocktails, mixed by highly skilled bar­­­tenders. The age limit is 25 so leave the kids with the babysitter and dress up. This is no place for sneakers and hoodies. If you require VIP services, then this is your place. Lavabarinn has a secret room with a secret door that leads up to the top floor; very 007. The VIP service doesn’t stop there as you’ll have your own private drink elevator, private bathroom and security to hold off all your fans. After drinking magical cocktails that taste like paradise, why not move down to the lower floor and shake it to some high class music by hot DJ’s from all over the world. It doesn’t hurt that Lavabarinn also has a Funktion-One sound system, the most respected sound system in the world. Downstairs also has a large make-up room for everyone that chooses to freshen up while in there and seats to cool down after a great dance session. There’s even an excluded outdoor smoking area for those who are absolutely smokin’ and they can bring their drinks along for the break. You won’t be disappointed by either the cocktails or the music at Lava­­­barinn. You might want to get in early before the line starts and secure your spot. If it’s nightlife you seek, it’s nightlife you’ll find at Lavabarinn.

Open: Thursdays from 5pm-1am—Fridays and Saturdays from 5pm-4:30 am. Happy hour Thursdays-Saturdays from 5-10pm. That’s perfect. Issue four

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Promotion

The English Pub Austurstræti 12 101 Reykjavik Tel: +354 578 0400 Mobile: +354 697 9003 www.enskibarinn.is

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 cust­omers, 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 staggering 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 photographs – 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. In­­side 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 min

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WOW Power to the people

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


Promotion

Vegamót Vegamótastíg 4 101 Reykjavík Tel: +354 511 3040 vegamot@vegamot.is I www.vegamot.is

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.

Try their excellent selection of good beers. Every day there is a special offer on bottled beers worth a taste.

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

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Promotion

Hressingarskálinn Austurstræti 20 101 Reykjavik Tel: +354 561 2240 facebook.com/hressingarskalinn

Coffee house, restaurant & night club Hressingarskálinn is a warm place with plenty of seating and a great loca­­tion in down­town Reykjavik. It’s one of the few places that open at 9 AM to serve breakfast for hungry travelers or locals. Hressingarskálinn is a big part of Reykja­vík’s history; the house was built in 1802 and the restaurant was established in 1932. The house has hosted Hressingarskálinn since 1932.

The menu consists of great sel­­ect­­ions and offers every­thing from breakfast to a fantastic dinner.

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WOW Power to the people

Sitting down for a coffee has a magnetic effect on Iceland’s most talented art­­­ists and writers. Smokers can have a seat on a heated patio with service all day. Over the summer, this place really comes alive. The yard is completely sheltered from the wind, allowing you to enjoy food and beverages in the bright sunlight. Thursday to Sunday is usually packed with people from all over the world. It’s a great place to meet strangers for some interesting story sharing. Live bands play on Fridays and Sat­urdays, guaranteeing a crowd before all the popular DJ’s hit the floor with party tunes from 01:00-04:30 AM. The menu consists of great selections and offers everything from breakfast to a fantastic dinner. Hressingarskálinn offers Icelandic food for curious visitors. You can always try the traditional Icelandic meat soup. If not, there’s lamb or the fish stew – You won’t be disappointed. Hress­­­ingar­­­skálinn is stylish and old at the same time, a history well preserved. Check out Hress­­­ingar­ skálinn for great prices and awesome fun!


Promotion

Sakebarinn Laugavegur 2 101 Reykjavík Tel: +354 777 3311 www.facebook.com/Sakebarinn

The one and only choice for Sushi & Sticks …so you can check it off your bucket list

Located in a loft on Laugavegur, the main shopping street, in one of Iceland’s old­est buildings (1886) is a great new restaurant with a great view and an amazing at­mosphere called Sakebarinn. In its beautiful location, surrounded by windows that look down on Austurstræti, (an extension of Laugavegur leading to the Old Town) and up Skólavörðustígur (known for its cafés, local boutiques and art shops with native works), Sakebarinn lies in the very heart of downtown Reykjavík. In the winter you can see the Northern Lights from the balcony and in the summer, the amazing summer sunsets over the harbor.

Along with the local seafood, Sakebarinn also carries some more exotic things like octopus, just to keep it interesting, and a little some­­thing for everyone.

The owners of Sakebarinn have a keen interest for the arts and crafts and a wealth of creative assets to play with. Although Sake­­barinn has a strong foundation in pure Japanese cuisine the current style of the restaurant proves that the owners are not afraid to break some of the rules. To them sushi is meant to be an art form. Along with its handcrafted sushi, Sakebarinn also offers a sel­­ection of sticks and other meat cours­­es, featuring whale and horse and anything that’s fresh and interesting that day. Why live on an island in the middle of the Atlantic if you’re not going take advantage of the natural fauna? Along with the local seafood, Sakebarinn also carries some more exotic things like octopus, just to keep it interesting, and with a little some­­thing for everyone. There’s love on every plate – You will feel it with each taste. It’s no accident that the place is named Sakebarinn. It does feature the country’s largest sel­­ection of sake and a shot before a meal can truly enhance the feel of real Japanese dining. It comes in a surprising range of flavors too, everything from really girly fruit sake to the fire spewing alcohol content of some of the more butch types; potato sake, warm and cold sake and Japanese plum wine. And then of course are the bottles that didn’t make it on to the menu because no one could read the labels and therefore no one knows what they are. Mystery sake! Sakebarinn is a place born to showcase the talents the staff have collected over the years work­­ing at their first Sushi restau­­rant called Sushibarinn, which is located on the first floor in the same house. A year and a wild ride later, this sushi family has in­­corporated a bunch of new and talented people with some great new recipes and skills they didn’t know they had and didn’t even know existed. The walls are hand painted by them, the wine selected by them, the menu is designed by them and the place is loved by them. They also love to present food so their clients become part of their love for sushi. The look on your face is what they are aiming for, the look of enjoyment.

Sakebarinn Opening hours: Mon-Sun 5:00 PM – 00:00 Issue four

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Promotion

Tíu dropar Le Chateaux des Dix Gouttes Laugavegur 27 101 Reykjavík Tel: +354 551 9380

Tíu dropar / Le Chateaux des Dix Gouttes 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 recommend the French meat soup, a pop­­ular dish and another old favorite. Where did the café go? Don’t be surprised if you can’t find the café after 18:00. Some­­thing happens around that time that trans­­forms this little cellar into a French wine room known as Le Chateaux des Dix Gouttes or the Castle of the Ten Drops. This is a lovely place to sit and enjoy good win­­es along with cheese, ham or other light dishes for as little as 500 ISK a plate, and don’t worry, the coffee, co­coa and pancakes are still there! Lovely French music sets the mood and the ambiance is perfect for a deep conversation. Guests want­­­ing to break out in song can have their turn after 22:00 on the weekends, as long as they can find some­­one to play the antique piano given to the café’s owner, David Bensow, by a regular. Choose your wine Guests can have their say on the wine list of Le Cha­te­aux des Dix Gouttes and David will make special orders to fulfill their wish­es. In fact, he welcomes any sug­gestions making the wine list one of the more, well-endowed in Reykjavík. He’s especially interested in serving good Port to his clientele. Intimate climate The little wine room and café seat only 40 guests and the mood is set in the early evening. It’s safe to say this is just the kind of place that was missing from the brimm­­­ing Icelandic bar and café scene - a perfect sett­ing for a small group of friends to reminisce over the good old days or for a first date. Be sure to taste David’s “wine of the week” or let his fair beer prices amaze you. Check out the ten drops twitt­er feed and find both café and wine room on Facebook.

Don’t be surprised if you can’t find the café after 18:00. Some­­thing happens around that time that trans­­forms this little cellar into a French wine room known as Le Chateaux Des dix Gouttes or the Castle of the Ten Drops.

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Promotion

Kol Restaurant Skólavörðustígur 40 101 Reykjavík Tel: +354 517 7474 www. kolrestaurant.is

Cocktails and feel good food at Kol Restaurant Be prepared for a memorable night out at Kol Restaurant.

Kol Restaurant cent­­ers on the bar where the coun­try’s best cock­­tail bar­­tend­­ers serve craft cocktails from the best in­­gredients available and offer an ambi­­tious cocktail list to begin and com­­plete the dining exper­­ience.

Situated at Skólavörðustígur 40 in Reykjavík, Kol Restaurant’s design con­­­cept is a mixture of warm modern Icelandic feel with international touch­­es and the furniture of designer Tom Dixon playing the central role. The rest­­­aur­­ant is on two floors with an open kitchen and a mighty bar. Both floors are divided into spaces with cozy leather couches and a variety of diff­­­erent table settings. Kol Restaurant centers on the bar where the country’s best cocktail bar­­ tenders serve craft cocktails from the best ingredients available and offer an ambitious cocktail list to begin and complete the dining experience. The selection is feel good comfort food with a twist on classic cuisine. The menu offers a variety of finger food, salads, fish, steaks and desserts. The head chefs, Einar Hjaltason and Kári Þorsteinsson, have over 20 years of ex­­­perience at Reykjavik’s best restaurants as well as work experience in several known restaurants in London, for example Le Manoir Aux Quat’ Saisons, Dabbous, Noma, 28/50 and Texture. Don’t miss out on this brand new gem on the Reykjavik restaurant scene. This is a great place to begin a fun evening.

Kol Restaurant Open: Monday-Friday 11:30-23:00 Saturday-Sunday 17:30-23:00 Issue four

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Promotion

Den Danske Kro Ingólfsstræti 3 101 Reykjavík Tel: +354 552 0070 www.dendanske.is

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

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).

Do as the Danes do The owners of the Danish Pub strive to create the true Danish atmos­phere known among the Danes (and Danish-prone Ice­­landers) as “hyggeligt”. If you truly are Danish this can be your “home away from home”. And in this spirit, check out the “house” within the pub – an off-the­-wall design in its most literal sense! Get carefree or “ligeglad” (lee-glaath), shoot some darts, try the custom­ary Gammel Dansk bitt­ers or catch some live football. Watch the world go by on the outside terrace and have a taste of the 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 mood for a beer (Does that ever happen?). Reminder: If you thought you were in for a quiet night guess again, The Danish Pub features live music every night with special appearances and unad­­vertised happenings on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Put your musical knowledge to the test at the Wednesday night pop-quiz; the prizes will surprise you. Best local pub in Reykjavík Wherever you‘re from you’ll want to have a great time while vis­iting Reykjavík. The people of Reykja­vík do anyway, so they flock to The Danish Pub for a beer “en øl” dur­­ing the Happy Hour every day from 16-19. The place is crowded and you’re guaran­­teed to meet some fun, “lee glaath” people. WOW Challenge: Imagine there’s a potato in your throat and receive every drink with the words: “Tag skaadoo haw”. They’ll all think you’re from Copen­­­hag­­en. Honest!

Opening hours: Sun-Thurs 14:00 – 01:00 and Fri-Sat 14:00 – 05:00 44

WOW Power to the people


Amazing 6 course menu

A unique Icelandic Feast Starts with a shot of the Icelandic national spirit “Brennivín“ Arctic char with cucumber andcoriander Smoked puffin with yuzu mayo Minke whale with celeriac purée Reindeer burger with portobello mushroom Icelandic free range lamb fillet with cinnamon potato And to end on a high note .... “Skyr“ panna cotta with white chocolate and raspberry sorbet

6.990 kr.

Our kitchen is open 17.00–23.00 sun.–thu. 17.00–24.00 fri.–sat.

sushisamba Þingholtsstræti 5 • 101 Reykjavík Tel 568 6600 • sushisamba.is

Taste the best of Iceland ... ... with a spanish undertone

Icelandic Gourmet Fiest

Starts with a shot of the infamous Icelandic spirit Brennívín

Than 6 delicious Icelandic tapas: Smoked puffin with blueberry “brennivín” sauce Icelandic sea-trout with peppers-salsa Lobster tails baked in garlic Pan-fried line caught blue ling with lobster-sauce Grilled Icelandic lamb Samfaina Minke Whale with cranberry & malt-sauce To finish our famous Desert: White chocolate "Skyr" mousse with passion fruit coulis

6.690 kr.

RESTAURANT- BAR Vesturgötu 3B | 101 Reykjavík | Tel. 551 2344 | www.tapas.is


Promotion

Kaldi Bar Laugavegur 20b 101 Reykjavik Tel: +354 581 2200 www.facebook.com/KaldiBarCafe

A breath of fresh air

Cool as Kaldi Kaldi Bar is one of Iceland’s most unique bars. An oasis in central Reykjavík. It might not be spacious but it makes up for it with great relaxing atmos­­­phere in a rustic setting. Besides the congenial atmosphere, there’s a great outside seating area in a cozy backyard. Known for its wide collection of local micro brews both on draft and in bottl­es, Kaldi Bar is very popular among locals who check in at happy hour to get their fill of the unfiltered Kaldi brew.  Drop by and get to know everybody, they might even give you some good tips on how to become a local. 

Kaldi Bar is one of Iceland’s most unique bars. An oasis in central Reykjavík. It might not be spacious but it makes up for it with great relaxing atmos­­­phere in a rustic setting. 46

WOW Power to the people

Opening Hours Sunday-Thursday: 12:00 noon - 01:00 am Friday & Saturday: 12:00 noon - very late Price list Beer on draft 0.5 – 1,100 IKR Glass of vine – 1,200 IKR Happy hour 16:00-19:00 Beer on draft 0.5 – 650 IKR Glass of vine – 650 IKR


Welcome to Tapas house Tapas is so much more than just food. Tapas is a way of life.

Tapashúsið - Ægisgarður 2 - Sólfellshúsið - 101 Reykjavik +354 512 81 81 - info@tapashouse.is - www.tapashouse.is

Issue four

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Just a moment …

We love getting WOW moments from our guests. Please keep them coming! Have you ever gotten such an awesome photo that you think the world deserves to see it? We love it when you share, and those who share a WOW moment have a chance to win round-trip tickets with WOW air, which means another great chance for a WOW moment. Send in your WOW moment through moments.wow.is or moments.wowiceland.co.uk and you could be one of those happy snappers. Here are some WOW moments so you can check out the competition.

Sent

friend I “A little cante.” li A in e mad nsson ó J n jó by Guð

“A real W OW exp Kristina erience rP to me. F irst clim and din eaks in Skafta b fell, the ing with n outdo ing th Sent by e best v or cook Thed A iew I’ve ing ndre ever ha d.”

“We were in Berlin during the World Cup and WOW, what an experience.” Sent by Jóna Guðrún Kristinsdóttir “Our mo th trip to D er-daughter en filled wit mark was h momen WOW ts.” Sent by G Sverrisd uðný Hrefna óttir

“Just arrived in Paris where I fell in love with each and every street.” Sent by Ásrún Óskarsdóttir

#

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Let us tag along @ us to your travelgrams with @wowair and tag your awesome photos with #wowair or #wowmoment.

WOW Power to the people

“Getting h a great ome after EMINEM concert at Wem bley Statium in Sent by London.” Björn Jónsso n


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A Russian couple at Reynisfjara beach. Photo: Bragi Þór Jósefsson

10 reasons

to get married in Iceland by Eygló Árnadóttir / Photos courtesy of Bragi Þór Jósefsson and Pink Iceland

Iceland welcomes all! Since 2010 LGTB people have the same legal rights to get married as anyone else, whether it is with a priest or another officiant, in a church or under the open sky. When it comes to marriage in general, Icelanders are very relaxed. Many couples never get married and the most common bride and groom have lived together for years and already have children. So if you’re looking to get married with your five bastard kids attending, without anyone raising an eyebrow—Iceland is the place.

To get married abroad or to not get married abroad? That is the quest­ion. Take a quick look at the pros of getting married in a faraway place: It will be much different and more exciting than an ordinary wedding… You can tie your wedding in with your honeymoon… You can be more selective about who you invite (and of course you can always throw a celebration party for everyone on your return)... You can hire a wedding planner to have everything ticked off the list before you arrive, leaving you with more time to do the personal fun stuff… You can actually save money…

S

omething to think about, right? Then when you throw in the idea of getting marri­­ed in Iceland to the equation, consider this:

Amazing nature Want crazy landscape for your wedding background? Well how about some ancient lava, erupting geyser or a black beach? Nicknamed ‘The land of fire and ice,’ Ice­­land is full of natural peculiarities with endless opportunities of surreal and exotic backdrops for both the ceremony and the most unique wedding photos you’ll ever see.

Theme wedding Want something other than your ordinary wedding? How does a Viking wedding sound? ‘Ásatrú’ (belief in the old Norse

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gods) is an official religion in Iceland (along with only two other countries in the world) and can therefore offer a legitimate wedding. Or you can opt for a traditional old fashion Icelandic wedding—either in a tiny old romantic country church, a turfed house at a historical heritage museum or at some fantastic site in nature.

Seasonal wedding The Icelandic landscape looks quite different at different times of the year with its extreme seasonal changes, offering magnificent wedding backdrops at any time of the year. Winter darkness with snow and northern lights, amazing fall colors, long summer nights with up to 24 hours of daylight… You name it—we’ve got it! Well, at some point during the year.

Iceland is far faraway... Sure depending on where you live, but at least a three hour flight away (it’s sur­­ round­­ed by sea you see). Not a good rea­­son? Really? Think about some of those An Ásatrú Chieftain marries an American couple. Photo: Bragi Þór Jósefsson


Þetta reddast!

obnoxious aunts you will have to invite to your customary wedding... they won’t get on a plane to some weird frozen island. Actually, only the coolest people you know will beg for an invitation. You can have an intimate wedding with only the people you really want to be there (or even just the two of you). Which can actually work out cheaper than getting married at home, less people attending means less expense per head.

A wedding dress by Spaksmanns­ spjarir. Photo: Teitur

Icelandic design Make your girlfriends eat their hearts out by rocking a unique wedding dress by an Icelandic designer. Maybe even made from the raw natural materials many Icelandic designers love to use; such as wool, leather, fish skin and fur.

Great food Icelanders take cooking and eating seriously and do not compromise when it comes to the taste buds, so you can guar­ antee great food at your wedding. Most Icelandic chefs emphasize quality ingred­ ients; free roaming Icelandic lamb are

Suddenly have the urge to get hitched? Like right now? Icelanders are genius at creating something amazing in no time. ‘Þetta reddast!’ is a popular phrase that echoes daily throughout the country, and refers to things always working out in the end—kind of the Icelandic version of ‘hakuna matata!’ The Icelandic way of thinking is on our feet, which may relate to that unpredictable weather mentioned before… for a picnic we need to bring everything from a sun hat, to an umbrella, to a stormproof tent. So being open to the unexpected is in our genes. An Icelander always finds a quick solution to a sudden problem, and makes sure never to forget to enjoy the moment however different from the original plan. Just the person to help you plan your dream wedding in a matter of days. What is needed for a wedding in Iceland?

A couple from Singapore gets married in a Reykjavik park. Photo: Kristín María Stefánsdóttir

Getting married in Iceland is fairly easy. You need to be at least 18 years old and be in the country legally (you can prove this with an airline ticket or a passport stamp that shows date of arrival). The couple will need to show their passports and fill out one form, provide birth certificates and a CNI (certificate of no impediment) or a marriage license. Then there are a few hoops to jump through regarding the paperwork which needs to go through the National Registry and the Ministry for Foreign Affairs. Couples who choose to work with a company like Pink Iceland (read more about them on page 54) need not worry though, since the wedding planner will take care of all that boring paperwork and make sure your documents go to the right places while you are busy enjoying your honeymoon. Once a couple has obtained an Icelandic marriage certificate, it can be presented in the couple’s home country, where they will be able to get their marriage registered. Unfortunately it’s not that easy with same-sex couples, as their marriage will only be acknowledged in countries or states that recognize it.

world renown for their ‘wild’ taste and due to Iceland´s proximity to the ocean, fresh seafood is always available.

An American couple gets married in a snow blizzard on top of Mýrdalsjökull glacier. Photo: Bragi Þór Jósefsson

Party style! Icelandic parties end late. Very late. If you want to celebrate your wedding till the sun comes up—or until the summer sun finally sets days later—Icelanders will understand better than most. And will definitely join you if invited.

Unpredictable weather Some might not find this a very good reason to elope to Iceland… but those guys are probably already bent on a traditional wedding at their parent’s country home. If you, however, are slightly interested in a wedding ceremony on an icy island in the north Atlantic, then you must be the adventurous type who sees the beauty in getting married in a surprise hailstorm off in the middle of nowhere. Issue four

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Wedding in the wild

Photographer Bragi Þór Jósefsson

The most popular places

Bragi Þór Jósefsson is an Icelandic photographer, and if you want someone who specializes in taking wedding photos in wild nature he’s definitely the guy to contact. Bragi thinks it is so much more fun and pictur­esque to photograph in the great outdoors, and is very happy to give brides and grooms the unique wedding photos of their dreams.

A vast majority of foreign couples who get married in Iceland choose nature as the setting for their wedding. On top of a glacier or a volcano, behind a waterfall or next to a hot spring, on a black beach, in a lava field, inside a cave, up a mountain, at the Blue Lagoon… the possibilities for an awesome outdoor wedding are endless! Many people already know where they want to get married, and some plan a visit to Iceland before the wedding to choose the perfect location. Others get inspired by photos on Bragi’s website or ask the wedding planners at Pink Iceland for ideas. These three are probably the most popular sites for outdoor weddings and/or wedding photos, and for very good reasons:

Photographer Bragi Þór Jósefsson.

B

ragi started emphasizing on wedding shoots in the wild, after winning first prize in a photo­­graphy competition for PDN—an American professional photography maga­­ zine—for photos of an outdoor wedding in Iceland. That photo shoot start­ed it all.

So… what about that weather? But just like the fierce landscape, Ice­­landic weather can be harsh and totally un­­pre­­dicta­­ ble. How does it affect Bragi’s photo­­graphy? “My emphasis is on all of us having fun with the photo shoot, re­­gard­­less of the weather, and that we all work together on creating great photos. So even if the weather is bad, we have fun and work with it.” The rain can make the surroundings very mysterious, and a snow­­storm can make a wedding on top of a glacier even more striking. Bragi says he is usually very lucky with weather, but also that many of his best pictures were taken in bad weather: “The worst conditions I´ve ex­­perienced were at a wedding photo shoot at Thingvellir. The bride and groom were soaking wet from the rain, but laugh­­ing in every single photo!”

Putting effort in it Bragi always has a warm coat available for chilly brides who often wear sleeveless gowns, but he says that his clients usually know that they can expect anything when it com­­es to the weather: “My clients get married in Iceland because of the wild nature. They are willing to put a lot of eff­­ort into getting good photos, and being cold for a few minutes is just a part of it.” Bragi encourages everyone to study the distances. If the couple wants photos in an ice cave for example, they need to factor in the time to get to such a place. At Bragi’s website www.icelandweddingphoto.com you can see the diversity of Icelandic nature, and how it can be worked with to create truly amazing wedding photos.

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“My emphasis is on all of us having fun with the photo shoot, re­­ gard­­less of the weather, and that we all work together on creating great photos. So even if the weather is bad, we have fun and work with it.”

A couple from Singapore. Photo: Bragi Þór Jósefsson

Skógafoss and Seljalandsfoss These two scenic waterfalls on the south coast are about an hour and a half drive from Reykjavik. The nature in this area is so picturesque, with plenty of good hotels and party venues around. The waterfalls are the 5th and 6th highest in Iceland, dropping over 60 meters. It is possible to go behind Seljalandsfoss, and on sunny days a rainbow is normally visible at Skogafoss due to the the massive waterfall.


“My clients get married in Iceland because of the wild nature. They are willing to put a lot of eff­­ort into gett­ ing good photos, and being cold for a few minutes is just a part of it.”

An American couple. Photo: Bragi Þór Jósefsson

Búðir at Snæfellsnes The impressive Budir is close to Snaefellsjokull glacier and the scenery is magical. The charming wooden church sits on the edge of a lava field, with the ocean on one side and mountains on the other. Several great photographic locations can be found 10-15 minutes’ drive away from Budir—such as a tiny village with a picturesque harbor and a beach with cliffs that look like backdrop from the movie Lord of the Rings.

A Philippine couple at Búðir in Snæfellsnes. Photo: Bragi Þór Jósefsson

An American couple. Photo: Alísa Ugla Kalyanova

Þingvellir National Park Thingvellir is one of Iceland’s most important historical sites and is on the UNESCO world heri­­ tage list. The whole park is incredibly beautiful and located only about 30 minutes’ drive from Reykjavik. Thingvellir really has everything; including a beautiful waterfall, tectonic plates, impressive cliffs, a massive lake, a glacial river and even a beautiful church for those so inclined.

Seljalandsfoss waterfalls. Photo: Bragi Þór Jósefsson

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Have a tailor made wedding Pink Iceland

Pink Iceland combines travel, wedding and event, making it the country’s most prolific wedding planner. The Pink team happily helps everyone who wants to get married, regardless of sexual orientation. The wedding part of the business has been growing very fast in the past two years, and they now organize a few weddings every month.

A Canadian couple near Thorsjokull glacier. Photo: Kristín María Stefánsdóttir

An American couple at Reynisfjara beach. Photo: Nick Rose

P

ink Iceland can enter into any part of the wedding planning process at any given moment. Their service includes preparation, consultation, helping with paperwork, finding locations for indoor and outdoor weddings, arranging the ceremony, consulting on photo­­­graph­­ ers, booking party venues, catering and entertainment, transport, all bookings, planning the honeymoon and everything else that concerns getting married. It can be overwhelming navigating through the paperwork needed to get legally wed in a foreign country, not to mention finding the perfect location, booking the most romantic hotel and finding the perfect officiant or photographer; “We quickly learned that people don’t want any stress on their wedding day; they just want to show up and have the most special day of their lives and let somebody else worry about the details.”  

Bring the challenge on! Pink Iceland tailor makes each wedding based on the couple’s wishes: “We’ve worked with gay, straight and trans couples, who get married with priests, magistrates, celebrants or Nordic chieft­ ains, in a variety of settings.” Pink Iceland has been able to grant all wedding wishes

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An American/German couple at Geysir. Photo: Kristín María Stefánsdóttir

so far and these guys, who sure love a challenge, are anxiously waiting for couples who want to get married under­water, while skydiving, on horseback or in a volcanic crater. So come on brides and grooms— bring it on!

Oh that nice thunder god, Thor… Just like the photographer Bragi, Pink Iceland knows that most people who choose to get married in Icelandic nature are aware of how unpredictable the weather can be, but they quite happily take their chances (especially those who come in the winter). “For some reason though, the weather almost always behaves well during the ceremony,” The Pink team says, “I can’t tell you how many times an overcast sky has opened up over the ceremony, bathing the couple and wedding party in sunlight.” According to the Pink Iceland team, guests come to Iceland for the nature but return for the people: “This is true of most of the couples we’ve worked with who decide they want to get married in spectacular scenery. After a few days in Iceland most people then tell us that they not only fell in love with the country, but also to the Icelandic people they met along the way.“

“We’ve work­­ed with gay, straight and trans couples, who get marri­­ed with priests, magistrates, cele­­brants or Nordic chieft­ains, in a variety of settings.”

A Canadian couple at Thingvellir. Photo: Alísa Ugla Kalyanova

Love is love Pink Iceland welcomes all couples: “We’re here for anyone who wants to get married. Love is love, regardless of gender, sexual orientation and identity.” The bill providing a gender-neutral marriage definition was passed in 2010 by the Icelandic parliament with no resistance; the majority of Icelanders are pro-gay marriage. The first couple to turn their civil union into a marriage was Iceland’s prime minister at the time, Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir, and her partner, Jónína Leósdóttir.​ After the ‘one marriage law for all’ was passed, same sex couples started traveling to Iceland to get married. “When Pink Iceland was formed in 2011 we knew that we wanted to offer services for couples who wanted to get married here, but we didn’t realize our services would be in such high demand. We cherish every wedding we’ve helped organize but the ones that we remember most fondly are the couples who have waited almost a lifetime for the opportunity, most of whom never thought they would see the day when they could get married.”


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Setting the scene

Just like in the movies Iceland is amazing. It’s hard to find another place in the world with nature as beautiful or as versatile. Glaciers, mountains, volcanoes, rivers, valleys, hills, black beaches and 24 hour daylight during the summer … We’ve got it all here in Iceland in addition to plenty of hot water and electricity. Often these scenic landscapes can be seen in Hollywood movies and major television shows, it’s easy to spot if you know what to look for. By Dísa Bjarnadóttir

ost recently Iceland played a big part in Game of Thrones’ fourth season. If you are not caught up on season four then you might want to skip ahead, although we’ll try not to include any spoilers here. In the fourth season The Hound is still on a journey with Arya Stark, whom he is hoping will bring him a sum of money once he hands her over to the right people. Most of their journey is filmed in Þjórsárdalur, a valley in Iceland at a place called Gjáin, and it’s breath­­ takingly beautiful. Lord Galesh brings Sansa Stark to her niece in The Eyrie, a castle that’s

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only accessible through The Bloody Gate located in a narrow canyon. That canyon happens to be in Þingvellir National Park. The castle is not there, but the soldiers standing guard: Icelanders. Icelanders also got to play a part in a recent episode of season four where the Wildlings and the Thens attacked a small peaceful farm. The farm is Stöng in Þjórsárdalur Valley and casting director Elín Reynisdóttir rallied up as many bald men as she could find to play the Thens, vicious cannibals who have scars all around their bald heads. Mind you the battles that take place in “The North” in no way resemble the wars of Icelanders during the Viking era although they too were often quite brutal.


Iceland as a battlefield Speaking of battles in Iceland. We have been peaceful ever since we stopped cutt­­ ing each other’s heads off a few centuries ago (the Vikings were battle-fighters and if you want a good story about all that check out the book Njála, sold in English in most bookstores). During World War II we were occupied, first by the Brits and then by the Americans. It was actually pretty great for us. It brought money into the country, wo­­men went dancing with these wonder­­ fully civilized gentlemen and we finally had access to gum and cigarettes. Icelanders used to call it “blessað stríðið” (“that bless­­ ed war”). It wasn’t so blessed everywhere else in the world. In Iwo Jima a battle took place that has affected lives and generations since. Clint Eastwood wanted to re-enact the battle and searched high and low for the right place to film. Finally he found his place here in Iceland. Black beaches: just like Iwo Jima. Eastwood directed the battle, the first World War battle to ever happen on Icelandic grounds. No one was killed and the locals who got to meet and work with Eastwood all tell good stories; down to earth and good to his crew.

Clint Eastwood wanted to re-enact the battle and searched high and low for the right place to film. Finally he found his place here in Iceland. Black beaches: just like Iwo Jima. Eastwood directed the battle, the first World War battle to ever happen on Icelandic grounds.

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Reynisdrangar at Reynisfjara Beach. Photo: Olgeir Andrésson

Later it was Ben Stiller’s turn with The Secret Life of Walter Mitty and Crowe told him (according to Stiller on the Conan O’Brien Show) “You have to learn to dominate the nature.” Stiller said he didn’t get it at first but later realized that in Iceland you can’t wait for the weather to change.

And then came the flood Darren Arronofsky had been a fan of Icelandic nature since the 1990s. His film The Black Swan was nominated for quite a few awards (Natalie Portman won an Academy Award for best female lead). His next project Noah starring Russell Crowe was filmed in multiple of locations around Iceland. One of them is Reynisdrangar in Reynisfjara (Reynir’s beach) just outside Keflavík. According to witnesses, Russel Crowe had to repeatedly throw himself into the ocean and almost got hypothermia. Later it was Ben Stiller’s turn with The Secret Life of Walter Mitty and Crowe told him (according to Stiller on the Conan O’Brien Show) “You have to learn to dominate the nature.” Stiller said he didn’t get it at first but later realized that in Iceland you can’t wait for the weather to change. You have to roll with it and be ready to film under various conditions. Stiller’s film premiered and we all got goose bumps when we saw Stiller (or his body double) skateboard down a hill, with the beautiful Icelandic scenery in the background, to the tune of our international hit band Of Monsters and Men. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is actually one of the few movies shot here where Iceland gets to be Iceland. A little tip: If you are interested in watching Icelandic films or documentaries, check out icelandiccinemaonline.com. Another little tip: If you have a GPS you might be interested in this. IFL Geotrail is a new and exciting treasure hunt game in which a series of boxes (called caches) are hidden around Iceland at known filming sites, for both Icelandic and foreign films. To find the GPS coordinates for each of these caches visit www.kvikmyndir.is/geotrail.

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On the edge

Giving nature a shot Ragnar Axelsson is an acclaimed photographer with an avid passion and respect for the majestic displays of Icelandic nature. His photos have been published in magazines outside of Iceland such as Life, Time Magazine and National Geographic, just to mention a few. He’s published several photography books worldwide, held numerous exhibitions and won many awards for his astounding photos. By Ólöf Hugrún Valdimarsdóttir

R

agnar, or Rax as he calls himself professionally, started taking pictures at the early age of ten. He got his first photography job when he was sixteen, but not without a touch of luck. “I walked straight into the daily newspaper Morgunblaðið and asked for a job. They dismissed me and said there was no work there for me. On my way out I ran into the head of photography, so hard we both hit the ground. He asked me what business I had there and I told him I’d just been sent away. He decided to give me a chance and my first job was to shoot football matches. This got the ball rolling. That’s life, full of coincidences.”

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Like a kid waiting for Christmas His first camera was a silver Leica. “That’s a real machine, the Rolls Royce of cameras. I don’t have that many cameras, maybe six or seven. I’m not enthusiastic enough about gadgets. Of course you want to have good equipment but I don’t need to own it all. For work I use Canon, for my personal photography I use my Canon, Leicas and also bigger machines.” Rax prefers to shoot on film for his own projects and there’s a certain glint in his eyes when he describes why. “I like old school photography. I grew up with using film and working in dark rooms, I’d been working for a while when the digital age arrived. It’s like the difference between a vinyl record


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me I could decide right here and now, at the beginning of our journey, if I was going to be cold or warm. To him being cold was a state of mind. I’d been to Greenland many times before and I’d always been cold, because I was worrying I’d be cold. This time I didn’t feel a chill the whole time.” According to Rax this philosophy can be applied to all aspects of life. “If you have the right attitude, things will be fine.” Ragnar has a keen interest in Iceland’s neighbor, Greenland. “I’ve been shooting in Greenland for 25 years; it’s a marvelous country. I went there first when I was young and studying to be a pilot, assisting as an aco-pilot on emergency flights. We were picking up a patient who’d shot himself in the foot. The thing is, when we got there we couldn’t find the patient. We searched for him for three hours. He later turned up in town where we found him drinking to numb the pain,” Rax says in a light hearted manner. “My first visit to Greenland didn’t leave much of an impression, it wasn’t quite what I expected. But later, when I visited again, I went to Thule in the north and then later all around Greenland, and I got to know the people better.”

Dangerous development and a CD. Of course I appreciate the progress of technology but there’s a certain nostalgic kick using film. You don’t know right away what the photo is going to be like. It’s like being a kid waiting for Christmas. It’s magical.” Like so many other Icelandic children at the time, Ragnar spent his summers working in the countryside. He was on a farm called Kvísker, which is in Öræfasveit in south Iceland. “Being sent to the countryside was a very good way to grow up,” says Rax who took active part in jobs that had to be done on the farm. It was there his interest in flying started. “I could watch the birds fly for hours, I was fascinated. I even built myself wings and jumped off a roof in the hopes of flying. I also had an apron for a parachute but I just plummeted down. I was eight years old and nearly killed myself, but of course I told no one about it,” Rax says and laughs. Since then Ragnar has become a qualified pilot and it is definitely safe to say the adventurer awoke early in the photographer.

The fruit of Rax’s many years of work in Greenland is the book Last Days of the Arctic (Crymogea & Polarworld 2010). “The human factor in the changes of climate and nature in northern Greenland wasn’t really visible to most people before the publication of The Last Days of the Arctic. People tend to forget that the north is not only inhabited by polar bears, but also by actual human beings whose lives are greatly affected by the climate change. It’s not until we see photos of a person in those circumstances that our empathy awakens and we connect to the situation.” In the book, he explores the effects of global warming on Greenland and the glaciers there. “The first time I was in Thule in Greenland, 30 years ago, the ice was over half a meter thick but this year it was down to only a few centimeters. The melting can be very dangerous for those travelling in the area. This is difficult to spot on photographs unless you’ve been keeping track of the glaciers like I’ve been doing both in Greenland and in Iceland.” Iceland is a pearl The farm in Öræfasveit, where I spent time as a boy, is very close to the glaciers in the south. Öræfajökull glacier hovers over the farm, so Ragnar “Being in the air really calms me down, I enjoy looking over our beautiful has been closely linked to and very interested in the ice from a very young landscape.” Ragnar is very enthusiastic about Icelandic nature. “The country age. “The development here in Iceland is extremely dangerous when it comes absolutely is a pearl. We don’t realize how fortunate we are here in Iceland. to conserving the nature. What ‘the suits in charge’ don’t seem to realize is I sometimes get up at 3 or 4 am and drive out to Jökulsárlón that the people who visit our extraordinary country are not glacier lagoon and take photos. That’s one thing fantastic coming here to view electrical towers.” The photographer “I’ve never been about Iceland; it doesn’t take you very long to go and see feels strongly about these matters. afraid of the weathalmost everything. You can go and see a volcano, a glacier er. I don’t panic in Where’s the respect for nature? and everything in between in just one day.” difficult situations, Having travelled all around the country with the aim of gett­­ing although I’ve often great shots, it’s fitting to ask if Rax has any favorite spots in been in danger. It’s a For quite a few years there have been talks of a submarine Iceland. “I’m very fond of Landmannalaugar. I’ve gone there certain state of mind cable running from Iceland to mainland Europe, outsourcing every year for 25 years to watch and take pictur­­­es of the you need to acquire. Icelandic energy and selling electricity to countries such farmers herding sheep.” One of Rax’s photo­­graphy books, I learned this philos- as the United Kingdom. “The wilderness will be completely ruined should the submarine energy cable become reality,” Behind the Mountains, contains photos from Landmanna­­ ophy from a hunter Rax says. “The cost of electricity will multiply and the homes laug­­ar. “I always find Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon extremely in Greenland. We beautiful and also Múlagljúfur, a small canyon just by the were sleeping on the in Iceland will be charged way more than they are today, just as has happened in our neighboring countries. People farm I spent my summers as a child. Not many people visit ice in huts in -30° would know this if they bothered to do some research on that place but it’s extraordinary.” Celsius and he told the matter. In Norway, one of the richest countries in the me I could decide Being cold is a state of mind world, electricity is sold out of the country but bought back right here and now, at exorbitant prices during colder seasons. Is this the future at the beginning of There have been many close calls on Ragnar’s photo shoots our journey, if I was for Iceland? Young people need to be given the chance to throughout the years. “I’ve never been afraid of the weather. going to be cold or live in Iceland, and low energy cost is one of the important I don’t panic in difficult situations, although I’ve often been warm. To him being factors of living here. I find it highly unlikely that those in danger. It’s a certain state of mind you need to acquire. behind the electrical companies, should they become very cold was a state of I learned this philosophy from a hunter in Greenland. We profitable, would share the margins with the people of mind.” were sleeping on the ice in huts in -30° Celsius and he told Iceland. It hasn’t happened so far.”

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“I’m not saying there shouldn’t be pro­­gress, but the experts in charge have to value the gemstone our country is. There needs to be open discussion about preserving the nature and what can be done. We need to talk and respect each other’s opinion.”

Ragnar admits that it makes him truly sad how little the Icelandic nature is valued in the eyes of far too many. “I’m not saying there shouldn’t be pro­­ gress, but the experts in charge have to value the gemstone our country is. There needs to be open discussion about preserving the nature and what can be done. We need to talk and respect each other’s opinion.”

planet. “I wanted to do something that matters. These climate changes are happening very rapidly and I don’t have that much time to finish the project. It needs to be finished within two years.” He isn’t willing to go into full detail of the coming project, having to be mindful not to share too much so his idea won’t be snatched up by other thankful photographers.

Important project ahead

Icelandic elements create magic

Seeing as Rax works full-time he uses his spare time for personal projects, which are often expensive. He’s never had any financial sponsors or received grants, and because of that his work takes longer than he’d wish. This can be troublesome at times. “I was one of the first to take pictures of melting glaciers. Since then, I’ve received letters from photographers around the world who are working on similar projects, thanking me for the inspiration. This is really bittersweet because these people have funds backing them and access to a great deal of money, which is something Icelandic photographers do not.” One of Rax’s fields of interest lies in the people within the nat­ure and he’s starting a new project at the moment. “I’ve been documenting the melting of the glaciers and the effects that global warming has on the weather worldwide. I’ve gone to the North Pole, Antarctica and also shot here in Iceland. This is a very exciting project and I also want to continue photographing the people and places effected by the weather changes.”

When Rax is giving his lectures on global warming, Greenland and Iceland, people around the world often comment on the great talent that comes from Iceland. “I’m not too keen on blowing my own whistle so I don’t really let on when I’m going abroad for lectures or presentations,” Rax says. “When I give my talks on reserving the nature, I rarely discuss myself but I really enjoy talking about our talented young artists. They are shooting stars! Especially in the music industry. Other people find it quite extraordinary that such a small country can give birth to so many great artists. It is something that has to do with our elements here in Iceland, the freedom, the environment. There must be something in the air that makes the magic happen and releases the creativity and the drive within the Icelandic population. It’s absolutely unique”

How much can the earth take? Ragnar has a keen interest in the Milankovitch theory which indicates the collective effects of the Earth’s movements upon the climate, ranging at least million years back in time. “Ice core from the glaciers in Antarctica and Greenland has been researched and shows how the planet’s climate has changed. In the past the carbon dioxide and methane curve has follow­­ ed the heat curve. For the first time ever the heat curve is in the lead, strengthening the Milankovitch theory. Mankind is polluting way too much and there’s been a huge growth in the planet’s population. We don’t know how much the earth can take.” Rax describes the upcoming photography book like a box of choco­­lates. It will include photographs from around the world, and also reflections from respectable people on the matter of global warming and its effects on our

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If this is not worth preserving, what is?


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Fighting for nature

Iceland’s no. 1 ally

by Svava Jónsdóttir / Photos: Ómar Ragnarsson and Friðþjófur Helgason

Ómar Ragnarsson (born 1940) is one of Iceland’s best known television and entertainment personalities. In recent years his passion has turned toward conserving his land and keeping Iceland’s environment intact and pristine making him this country’s no. 1 environmental ally.

ith glaciers and vol­­cano­ es living side by a side in harmonious blend of contrasting beauty; Iceland with its long bright summer days and long dark winter ones, is land of extremes. It is also a country where a dandelion smiles against the sun in the spring, where the golden plover sings dur­­ing those bright summ­­er nights and with the story of its people found on ancient calf skins. The story is old, and the story is remarkable. The nature of Ice­­land is also re­­markable – so undamaged and desolate that it could serve as a natural back­­drop to advent­ures happening in other worlds. It is this untouched nature that Ómar Ragnars­­son wants to protect.

A man of many talents “Many will be surprised when I say that the most influential book I’ve read is neither the Bible nor Profiles in Courage by John F. Kennedy but a phonebook from 1948. The reason is that I’d just learned how to read and in that phonebook was a map of Ice­­land and the world. For some reason the image took hold in me,” says Ómar who as a young boy spent three summers at a YMCA summer camp where he experienced great adventures. He recalls the small river that flowed nearby and the black lava that spread out like the wings of a giant bird. Ómar also experienced exciting escapades dur­­ing his five summers in the countryside where he stayed with a relative who was a great nature lover. There Ómar listened to the songs of birds, the noise of a fly, watched the clouds dance in the sky and met interesting people like Margrét Sigurðardóttir. She’d had a difficult life and Ómar later wrote a book about her called “Manga with a Black Cheek”. This

is a good indicator of Ómar’s perso­nal­­ity as he has always been interested in Ice­­­land and Icelanders and eager to share his findings with the nation. Ómar began acting on stage when he was just 12 and started a career as a stand up comedian at the age of 18. He is the author of a great number of songs and lyrics that he as well as other Icelandic pop artists have performed. In addition Ómar studied law, and has been a professional aviator and pilot since 1967.

Showing Iceland to Icelanders Ómar was a TV reporter and program producer for RUV Channel 1 from 1969-1988, for TV Channel 2 from 1988-1995 and then again for RUV from 1995. His news and pro­­grams were usually related to Icelandic nature or culture and Ómar’s specialty was showing Icelanders great pictures and foot­­ age from various areas in Iceland, some of which had never been filmed before. Often he showed people how sensitive the Icelandic nature was. “I spent about 10 years showing pictures of areas where there was soil erosion. In 1998 and 1999 I went to Norway and the US to view national parks, power plants, dams and reservoirs; it was then I realized how valuable the Icelandic nature is. This trip transformed my vision,” says Ómar. Hydropower stations have been built in Iceland over the decades. One of them is the Kárahnjúkar Hydropower Station which was built only a few years ago. It is a hydro­­­­­electric power plant in east Iceland de­­signed to produce 4,600 GWh annually for Alcoa’s Aluminum Smelter in Reyðarfjörður. The project was criticized for its irreversible environ­­mental impact within the second largest unspoiled wilderness in Europe as it Issue four

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Ómar drew attention to the destruction of the eastern highlands in various ways, including buying a small boat, which he called The Ark, and sailing it through the muddy water of the Hálslón reservoir where there had previously been a green, beautiful valley with colorful rock formations.

Five unique Icelandic natural phenomenon in the same picture: Lava, shield volcano, tuya (Mt. Herðubreið), row of craters and a big volcano (Snæfell) in the back.

Ice and Fire. Efri-Hveradalur (Upper Hveradalur Valley) in Kverkfjöll mountains at the northern edge of Vatnajökull.

Hekla and the moon at dusk. Hekla, often regarded as the entrance of hell has been Iceland’s most famous and notorious volcano for centuries.

involved damming the Jökulsá in Dal River and the Jökulsá Fljótsdalur River with five dams, creating three reservoirs. Ómar was against this huge project from the word go. He drew attention to it in various ways, among others by buying a small boat, which he called The Ark, and sailing it around Hálslón, a reservoir which was filling with muddy water in an area that had previously been a green, beautiful valley with colorful rock formations. Ómar filmed this area to show the public the damage that was being done in the region. “This was one of the saddest events in my life apart from personal setbacks like losing someone close,” admits Ómar. “Many activists can’t bear to visit this area. I, on the other hand, go there a few times every summer and in total I’ve been there over 100 times as I’m making a docu­­ mentary about this project. I still need funding to be able to finish it but the Icelandic nation and the world will never know what was done to this area until they’ll see the film. The 25

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kilometer long valley, which is now submerged in mud, was the deepest valley in the highlands and full of natural phenomena,” says Ómar.  

Protesting in the highlands and at home

Ómar has fought against the highlands being spoiled. “I came to fight against the big pow­er plants that were planned to be built in the highlands, along with transmission lines and roads. The Icelandic highlands are of a unique natural value and one of the largest in the world.” Ómar adds that the mountains of Kverkfjöll, which are in the highlands, are among his favorite. “It’s a special place where you can bathe in a hot spring that’s formed under a glacier.” In 2010 the Ministry of the Environment decreed that the 16th of September each year should become “The Day of Icelandic Nature”. That day is Ómar’s birthday, the date chosen to honor him for his contribution to conservation and to public education about

Part of the Jökulgil canyon area and the small glacier Kaldaklofsjökull near Landmannalaugar in the southern highlands.

the importance of Icelandic nature. Some would think that this meant Ómar would now be respected for his position on issues re­­garding the preservation of nature in Ice­­land, but is it so? Earlier this year, Ómar and other nature lovers protested the construction of a new road in the town of Garðabær in the capital area. The road was, and still is, supposed to be built in a relatively young lava, demo­­lish­­ing it and some historic places along with it. “This part of the road could have been built without ruining part of the lava. It was the end of a rather unique lava flow. This is like being prepared to remove the flag carriers and the front liners in a brass band,” explains Ómar who was arrested along with his fellow protestors who sat on the lava and would not move despite police orders to do so. Two police officers carried Ómar off and brought him to the police station. It goes without say­­ing that footage of one of Iceland’s best known television and entertainment persona­­­lities getting handled is such a fashion attracted a lot of attention. He might not have been able to save the young lava field in Garðabær but Ómar isn’t done fighting for nature. For that we thank him.


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Beneath the surface

Adventurous underground Everyone in Iceland, and many others around the world, know about the country’s volcanoes and glaciers, hot springs and geysers. But they may not know about another world that exists beneath the surface. That is Iceland‘s 300 kilometers of lava tube caves spread throughout the land. by Paul Michael Hermann Photos: Extreme Iceland

I

2°C. Plus 2 is actually not so cold when there‘s no breeze and you‘re moving, so a sweater and a light jacket should be enough to keep warm. The cave we were in was formed about 2000 years ago, ca. 800 years before Iceland’s first settlers. There may have been times when travelers crossing the lava fields, particularly during harsh winter weather, needed a safe place to spend the night. Björn says, “Based on scientifically dated evidence we‘ve found, there‘s reason to believe our Viking ancestors occasionally used some of these caves for refuge“.

have been living in Iceland for 16 years and only just discovered that this hidden world exists, and as little as 30 minutes from the doorstep of my home in Reykjavík. I was taken there by the founding father of the Icelandic Speleological Society (established in 1989), geologist and tour guide operator; Björn Hróarsson. Björn was brought up in the Icelandic countryside, loves nature and has a passion for caving. “I entered my first lava tube cave when I was 17 years old. At that time, in 1979, there were only 20 known caves. Today there are 520“. The additional 500 were discover­ed by Björn and the members of the Speleo­logical Society.

The unlucky visitors The caves might have been real lifesavers for people needing a shelter from the weather, but such was not always the case for other warm blooded creatures. In the cave we explored, there was the skeleton of a sheep with all the bones exactly where you would expect them to be once the flesh decomposed. Björn gives his assessment: “During the eruption 1200 years ago, this sheep might have gotten scared and rushed into the cave, far enough from the big booms and the heat to calm its fears but too far to find its way back. In other caves we‘ve found other remains of sheep and fox.”

On the inside According to Björn, there are several different types of caves on earth: Volcanic, glacial, crevice, erosion and solution–and naturally they are formed in different ways. After a volcanic eruption, lava flows and as the surface area of the flow cools, it hardens and forms a roof while the hot lava below continues to flow and eventually leaves a space. In case you‘re wonder­ing what it‘s like down there… Well first of all, it‘s dark so you‘ll need a flashlight. Second, there were a lot of rocks in certain areas along the flooring of the cave that Björn took me to, so I needed to step carefully. The cave was damp and cool, according to Björn the temperature all year round is about plus

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Interior decorating Björn Hróarsson outside Leidarendi Cave.

Along the route we traveled, there are roped off areas. The reason for this is that Björn and his


Leyningja Cave.

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Iðrafossar Falls.

“Based on scientifically dated evidence we‘ve found, there‘s reason to believe our Viking ancestors occasionally used some of these caves for refuge“. Lofthellir Cave

fellow speleological members want everyone, now and in the future, to enjoy the ‘roses’ and other delicate configurations we saw along the way. “These ‘flowers’ formed as a result of lava dripping on a particular spot,” he says. “For the next best thing to the flower itself, photographers can always bring pictures of these little wonders back to their friends and family”. Besides the floral arrangements, there are rock color combinations and wall art. With the help of an experienced lava caver, you can understand how they might have formed. The cave I visited with Björn was close to my home and if you take the proper protection, it is possible to spend the night in it. “There are a lot of cracks in the roof and the moisture from the surface drips into the cave. I’ve stayed the night but made sure that whatever I was in or under was waterproof,” Björn explains. You may wonder: Why stay all night? But isn’t that like asking: Why go to the moon? True, not everybody wants to go to the moon, but some of us crazy ones, or shall I say, more adventurous ones, are willing.

Our home is the world Our body is made up of all the elements found in nature, and as a microcosm of the physical universe we are related to all things. Hence communing with nature, even underground–or for that matter on the moon–should in a way enable us to find yet one more way to complete ourselves and make us feel more whole. Perhaps this is one reason why people like to travel so much.

Arches inside Leidarendi Cave.

A lava rose at Jörundur Cave.

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Stalagmites inside Leiðarendi Cave.

If you’d like to try caving with experienced cavers, Björn and his team at www.extremeiceland.is are ready to go overboard— underground that is–to give you a wonderful experience.


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The charismatic Helga Hausner guided us through the streets and history of Ísafjörður. Photo: Maik Brötzmann

A quirky surprise at home

Three fun-packed days in the Westfjords

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f you’re one of those people that see a sheep lying down when you look at Iceland on a map (yes, many people do), the Westfjords is the head of the sheep. According to folklore the odd shape is the result of a troll trying to dig its way from Hrútafjörður to Breiðafjörður, creating the “sheep’s” slender neck. Truth of the matter is that trolls have wreaked havoc all over the Westfjords, tossing each other out into the fjords eventually forming little islands or rocks just offshore, peeing all over someone’s excellent farmland, creating swamps that never dry up; stealing sheep,

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cattle and roaming the moors. Perhaps that’s why the Westfjords have such a long and rich history of witchcraft and magic and every other stone has a story of its own.

A vacation to the oldest part of Iceland The Westfjords are actually the oldest part of Iceland, having formed 10-16 million years ago and oddly enough, you can sort of tell by just looking at the mountains that just seem different from the rest of this island. Whatever your beliefs, be it trolls or geology, the area is truly unique, with its narrow fjords, steep mountains, remote islands, awe-inspiring landscapes and let’s not forget the (at times) terrifying road system. When it came to choosing a holiday destination for a whopping three day get­ a­­way, I decided it was about time I got to know this mysterious part of my country. I’m not the only Icelander who’s a stranger to this area. The Westfjords are not part of Route 1, the highway that circles Iceland and connects some of the country’s most popular tourist destinations, and as a result, they always seem a little out of the way; you need to be heading there with an

by Guðrún Baldvina Sævarsdóttir / Photos: Þór Steinarsson

As a nature enthusiast born and raised in Iceland’s only city, Reykjavík, I have made it my business to travel all over my little island. Although I have family in tiny little villages in the North and East, and spent all my summers as a child on various farms in the South, I‘ve seen very little of Iceland’s most remote quarter: The Westfjords.


agenda, which is exactly what I did. Since my car is, in all due respect, an antique, I chose to fly to Ísafjörður, the region’s capital, but don’t be fooled by the title, it’s a town of just 2,500 people. On clear days the flight is scenic and beautiful and ends in an unforgettable way when the airplane heads into the narrow fjord and all you can see are mountains on either side of the plane before making a turn and landing on a runway heading back out of the fjord.

Familiar and friendly I’ve seen my fair share of Icelandic towns and villages so I figured I knew exactly what awaited me, but I was in for quite a surprise. Ísafjörður felt like a huge tiny little village. I immediately spotted the usual suspects of larger Icelandic towns: the town square, the bookstore, the fast food places, the pubs, cafés and museums but at the same time the houses were old and beautifully kept; the people called out greetings to each other across the street and everywhere I went I was met with friendly dispositions mixed with amicable curiosity and a couple of people I ran onto, shared stories about local people and places. When I accidentally walked straight into someone’s kitchen, thinking it was a church, the person sitting at their kitchen table drinking coffee and reading the paper, simply just showed me in and we had a nice chat. When I tried to pay for my tea with a credit card the bartender insisted it wasn’t worth charging me for it. When my travel companion pulled the door handle of a closed corner shop at midnight, the staff there cleaning up opened a large window to let him in so the poor bloke could buy a sandwich. And the list goes on. As an Icelander, everything felt familiar, but at the same time, everything felt slightly odd. Knowing absolutely nobody in Ísafjörður, we stayed at Hótel Horn (Corner Hotel), a relatively new hotel situated on a street corner in the middle of the town centre. It was a wonderful mixture of luxur­­ious minimalistic design and a homey atmos­­ phere with no room service, limit­­ed recep­­ tion hours and a friendly and relax­­ed staff. It suited us perfectly as a very com­­fortable place to sleep, shower and reboot between excursions and the location was perfect.

Culture walks and safaris Day one and we decided to sign up for the “Ísafjörður walk”, a guided tour around the town with Helga Hausner, a German woman who has lived there for years. She showed up dressed like a woman from the 19th century and proceeded to walk the group through the town and its history in two hours. The tour was very informative as I knew nothing about its history, and fun since Helga is a charismatic lady who clearly loves what she does. Her foreign accent added a quirky note to the historical

“My sheer enjoy­­­­ ment was tickled by the ridiculous num­­ber of whales we saw up close and the absolutely great atmos­­ phere on our boat.”

atmosphere. There’s another thing I notic­­ ed about Ísafjörður, it’s the wonderful multicultural vibe of the town, much more so than in your average Icelandic country­­ side hamlet. During our three day stay we met people from Poland, Germany, Thai­­ land, USA and Canada, living and working in the town and they all seemed to speak incredibly good Icelandic. Later that day, we decided to step out of our comfort zone and booked the “Rib Boat Safari Tour”, a four hour whale watching trip in Ísafjarðardjúp with a stop at Vigur Island. You should know that I’m not a big boatperson nor am I a big fan of things that make my adrenaline pump. I was, therefore, a little apprehensive about this tour since I’ve seen these rib boats in action. They go really fast, jump up really high and are, by default, boats. I showed up at the dock wearing almost all of my clothes since it is my experience that staying warm on a boat is next to impossible and it’s best to just accept defeat and avoid freezing. I surveyed the boat’s captain with suspicion since he looked a little too urban and not much like an old veteran of the sea capable of being responsible for my life for the next four hours. Again I was in for a surprise on all accounts. The captain, despite his terribly young age of 34, was in fact a veteran of these waters and had been fishing there since he was a kid. The suit they gave me kept me WARM for the duration of our trip and although the boat did go really fast and jump up really high a few times, I was never scared and it felt incredibly smooth and comfortable. My sheer enjoy­­­­ment was tickled by the ridiculous num­­ber of whales we saw up close and the absolutely great atmosphere on our boat. The two German women sitting in front of us with their massive and immensely expensive cameras, screeched with joy at every whale

sighting (one rarely hears Germans screech) and the elderly British couple behind us laughed themselves silly with excitement (one rarely sees Brits get excited). Us Icelanders tried to play it cool at first but we were all in after a few minutes. When the boat pulled up at Vigur (an island in the middle of one of Iceland’s largest fjords) we could see some­­one coming down to the pier to greet us along with his two loyal dogs. It turned out the dogs were lambs and the next hour or so was spent eating a wonderful two course meal in the traditional sitting room, cuddling the little ducklings and lambs around the house and chatting with the locals. The locals are the hospitable people who live in the house (singular) in Vigur. All in all, the rib boat safari changed my outlook on boats for life and I can’t recommend this trip enough. I wish I could go everywhere on a rib boat.

Chasing waterfalls and museums Day two and we decided to rent a car and drive to Dynjandi waterfall, an hour and a half from Ísafjörður. On the way we stopped at Þingeyri, a neighboring town of 247 inhabitants. We had a nice meal at Simbahöllin (served by really nice French people this time) and by sheer coincidence dropped in on the Old Smithy Museum. Old

An old windmill at Vigur island.

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tools, workshops and smithies are really not my cup of tea but this was something so genuine and different that I shook my guide’s hand vigorously in the end and told him it was the most fun I had had in a museum in a long time. I know nothing about machines or steelwork or concrete but the gentlemen taking the tour with me, who seemed to be mechanics or specialists of some sort, had just as much fun as I did. They just asked a lot more technical questi­­ ons and I nodded vigorously in agreement, trying to look as pro as they did. On we went and just before we got to Dynjandi we stopped at the Jón Sigurðsson Museum in Hrafnseyri. The museum hosts a new and very accessible exhibition of this Icelandic hero and icon of our inde­­pendence and is a must see for all, not just diehard history buffs. The turf house next to it has a wonderful café where you can sit outside and drink in the amazing view over Arnarfjörður and my always favorite attraction, chatty staff that will give you the insider’s scoop on this remote corner of the world. After carrying the shame of never having seen Dynjandi my entire life, I was relieved to know that I would soon be able to lay down this cross. It is a truly breathtaking waterfall and despite all the glamorous pictures and super­­latives that have come my way through the years, Dynjandi still managed to impress me with its majestic silhouette and powerful presence. I was wise enough to bring my raincoat and cap so I could enjoy standing directly in front of it and getting oozed by its waters. I walked away feeling energized and graceful which is something of a miracle since my raincoat and hiking boots make me look more like a tent than a person.

Hesteyri.

Dynjandi Falls.

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Located in a museum-like environment the Tjöruhúsið Restaurant in Ísafjörður is renowned for their fresh seafood buffets offered every day during the summer.

We drove a little further and as we drove all those end­­less fjords back I got a really good feeling for the area and made an effort to memor­­ ize all the place names. It took forever to finally get back since we were constantly stopp­­ing to take pictures of breathtaking views, a deserted ship on dry land and at one point we witness­­ed the action packed thriller of a falcon trying to catch an arctic tern right in front of our car.

Hesteyri After a quick and informative visit to the Ísafjörður’s Maritime Museum (don’t miss the quirky accordian exhibit upstairs!), day three was devoted entirely to Hesteyri, a tiny village in the nature reserve of Horn­strandir. It’s not accessible by car and my new-found love of boats was fine with that. We took the four

“It is a truly breathtaking waterfall and despite all the glamorous pictures and super­­latives that have come my way through the years, Dynj­ andi still managed to impress me with its majestic silhouette and powerful presence.”

Ísafjörður.

hour “Visit to Hesteyri” tour, complete with boat ride, guided tour of the village and a lovely light meal at the Doctor’s House. This all sounds very mundane and typical but it was everything but; Hesteyri, just like the rest of the vast area of Hornstrandir is not occupied during the winter months. During the winter the villages turn into ghost towns and in the summer, the house owners return to their beautiful, old wooden houses without cellphone reception, electricity or the geo­­thermal water that we Icelanders view as a basic human right, to enjoy the quiet and untouched wilderness. It was really quite magical. Flying back to the city that evening I was blown away by the short distance from these truly remote spots in the West to my buzzing city life I could have kept myself happily busy for weeks in the Westfjords and I’m still a little bummed out about all the things I didn’t have time to do (horseback riding on the white beaches of Þingeyri, kayaking in Ísafjörður, golfing, sea angling etc.). I highly recommend a longer journey, but if you only have three days like me, make sure you get the most out of your stay and talk to the locals. They’ll point you in the right direction, get you in an appropriate vehicle and wish you well. And be sure to give the trolls a special nod on your way back.

All of the tours mentioned in this article can be booked at www.westtours.is. For further information about the Westfjords visit www.westfjords.is.


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Burfellsstod Hydropower Plant.

Harnessing nature

The green energy of Iceland Iceland’s unique geology allows us to produce renewable energy relatively cheaply from a variety of sources. Iceland is considered a global leader in the field of clean energy and the government has big plans for the future. The national power company of Iceland has set up visiting centers in three of their power stations that are worth checking out. by Kamilla Guðmundsdóttir Photos: Landsvirkjun

The outlaw’s lifeline In 1760 the Icelandic outlaw Fjalla-Eyvindur utilized geothermal water to survive in the Ice­­­ landic wilderness with his wife Halla. This natural resource, found in abundance in Iceland, is believed to be one of the main factors contri­­ buting to his years of survival. Throughout

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Iceland’s history you can find accounts of indi­­­ vidu­­als using geothermal energy to their benefit. These trailblazers marked the humble beginning of Iceland’s love affair with renewable energy that has in the past decades made a huge impact on the nation’s quality of life and made Iceland a global leader in the field.

Situated on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, our island lies on one of the most geothermally active areas in the world and when we finally realized the potential in harnessing it, one might say, there was no turning back. One of the biggest milestones in our energy history was when drilling for hot water began in Laugardalur valley


the domestic market as well as power intensive industries. Thirteen hydropower plants are in operation today as well as two geothermal power plants across the country, within five operational areas. In order to educate and provide a closer look at energy generation from renewable energy resources, Landsvirkjun has set up visiting centers in three of their stations. You can take a guided tour there and see the process for yourself. At the Búrfell Power Station, by the Þjórsá River, they offer an interactive exhibition. North of Búrfell Power Station you can also find two wind turbines built for research purposes and the first of their kind in Iceland.

Írafoss Hydropower Plant Inside the Fljótsdalsstod Power Plant.

at “The Washing Springs” in Reykjavík. These boreholes were the first to provide hot water to local schools, hospitals, swimming pools and 60 houses in the east end of Reykjavík. Many towns followed and today over 90% of buildings in Iceland are heated using geothermal water.

See for yourself Landsvirkjun – National Power Company of Iceland was founded in 1965 by the Icelandic government in an effort to utilize the country’s natural energy resources and to encourage foreign investment in Iceland. Hydroelectric power plants were constructed by, and are now operated by, Landsvirkjun to provide electricity to Issue four

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Laxá River Hydropower Plant.

Icelanders are proud of the fact that our en­­ergy comes almost entirely from renewable resources, be it hydropower or geothermal, and is therefore environmentally friendly for the most part.

Krafla is a geothermal power station where 2 steam turbines generate 60 MW of electricity.

Krafla is one of the most well-known geothermal areas in the world. At the Krafla Power Station you have the opportunity to familiarize yourself with the geology, history and utilization of geothermal energy in Iceland. At Kárahnjúkar Dam, the highest dam of its kind in Europe, guided tours of the development and nature of the area are offered on Wednesdays and Saturdays between 14:00-17:00. Kárahnjúkar Dam provides water to the Fljótsdalur Hydro­­power Plant, Iceland’s largest power station.

Environmental impact In 2005 Icelandic activism broke new grounds as a protest camp was set up near the construction site at Kárahnjúkar Dam. People from many nationalities camped out in order to raise aware­­ness and stop the construction of the dam that would submerge a portion of Iceland’s eastern highlands, one of the largest unspoiled wild­­ernesses in Europe. Icelanders are proud of the fact that our en­­ergy comes almost entirely from renewable resources, be it hydropower or geothermal, and is therefore environmentally friendly for the most part. However they don’t all agree on weather this energy should be sold cheap to polluting power intense industries, such as aluminum factories, that actually return insignificant benefits to the society. The protesters could not stop the constructions at Kárahnjúkar but their effort opened the eyes of many and in recent years more and more Icelanders are recognizing our nature as a precious gem that we should protect.

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What’s the difference? Hydropower Hydroelectricity is the term referring to elec­t­ricity generated by hydropower; the product­­ion of electrical power through the use of the gravitational force of falling or flowing water. It is the most widely used form of renewable energy in the world. Hydroelectricity has many benefits when it comes to renewable energy and the biggest are a relatively low cost and the fact that the amount produced by the plant can be changed up or down very quickly to adapt to changing energy demands. Unfortunately there are some downsides. Hydropower plants require building dams that interrupt the flow of rivers and can harm ecosystems in addition to submerging portions of the land.

Geothermal Geothermal power stations are similar to other steam turbine thermal power stations – heat from a fuel source (in geothermal’s case, the earth’s core) is used to heat water or another working fluid. The working fluid is then used to turn a turbine of a generator, thereby producing electricity. The fluid is then cooled and returned to the heat source. The benefits of geothermal power plants are that they are generally con­­sidered environ­ mentally friendly and do not cause significant amounts of pollution. The downsides are that initial cost is usually very high and the power plants are very loca­­ tion-specific.  As for en­­vironmental impact, geothermal power plants can in extreme cases cause small earthquakes.


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Might as well try and catch the wind

Energy in the air Seldom pleasant, and for the most part infuriating, the dynamic winds in Iceland are one of the many powerful elements that characterize a very unpredictable climate. The Icelandic language has over 156 words to describe the numerous types of winds the country’s inhabitants encounter. The moody winds are often personified among the nation as they gently whisper, aggressively scream or even (albeit extremely rarely) merrily sing in the ears of irritated listeners. by Hjördís Erna Þorgeirsdóttir Photos: Landsvirkjun

I

t would appear feasible to make use of these mighty winds and apply them to the production of sustainable energy but due to the abundance of geothermal energy and hydropower in Iceland it hasn’t been a particularly urgent subject so far. One other major reason lies in the cost involved. Historically it’s been way more expensive to produce energy via wind than by other sources. Also, there are various factors and concerns that need to be addressed in regards to producing wind power such as the stability of wind, visual and noise pollution and impact on wildlife, especially birds. It should be noted though that smallscale energy producing windmills have been built and used by individuals in Iceland for many decades but these wind­­mills have been for private use (usu­­ ally on farms). The largest private built windmill was located in Leirársveit close to Akranes and suffered the fate of being blown over by the agitated and whimsical winds of Iceland.

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However, with the rising costs of geo­­thermal and hydropower, harvesting the unruly winds of Iceland is now becoming a more and more intriguing, as well as sensible, option. Last year the National Power Company of Iceland, Landsvirkjun, commenced its project of generating wind power, starting with two large wind turbines, the largest ones ever to be used in Iceland. One of the features to be studied in this research and development project is the integration of hydro- and wind power and the results are thus far very promising. Additionally Icelandic energy company Biokraft just built two new large-scale windmills in Þykkvabær so the future of wind power generation in Iceland is currently looking very bright.

Last year the National Power Company of Iceland, Landsvirkjun, commen­ced its project of generating wind power, starting with two large wind turbines, the largest ones ever to be used in Iceland.


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The high road

Divine desolation The highlands in Iceland are a great source of inspiration for those fortunate enough to witness and explore them. Some of the most stunning locations in Iceland, such as Hveravellir, Landmannalaugar and Askja, are found within the extreme contrasts that define the highlands. by Hjördís Erna Þorgeirsdóttir Photos: Thinkstockphotos.com

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Mysterious trail

How to get there By car: During the summer the Kjölur route (F35) to Hveravellir is passable by jeep and most cars with four wheel drive. Travelers are strongly advised against taking the route if they have the smallest type of car. The distance from Gullfoss waterfall to Hveravellir is ca. 90 kilometers.

By bus: The SBA-Norðurleið bus company has a scheduled bus service over the Kjölur route during the summer, departing from both Akureyri in north Iceland and Reykjavik. You can jump off in Hveravellir and catch the bus back the following day (or a few days later).

By foot: Kjölur and the highlands are a popular hiking area but they should not be underestimated. There are no shops in the highlands and the weather can be unpredictable. Be sure to pack sensibly, have a few days’ worth of extra food and warm clothing, let someone know where you’re going and check in regularly.

Between the Langjökull and Hofsjökull glaciers, lies the Kjölur plateau, with an altitude of 600-700 meters. Across Kjölur lies the rocky Kjalvegur gravel road, a very important route that connects (and is the shortest way between) the south- and north-west regions of Iceland. Kjalvegur is believed to have been used by the in­­habitants of Iceland since the early days of settlement and is mentioned in the Sagas. In 1780, two brothers and their entour­age of three perished on the route at a hill now known as Beinahóll (Bone Hill), their bodies weren’t found until 65 years later. Following this incident and other circumstances, Kjalvegur was not as frequented by travelers in the following century. Today, a memorial serves as a reminder of this tragic event and Beinahóll is still rumored to be haunted. The Kjölur area is however not all gloom and doom. It is a popular area for horse riding ventures and those who use the road, whether by car, horse or on foot are strongly advised to visit the unique Hveravellir, a particularly welcoming destination for weary wanderers.

A refuge for outlaws The special attributes of Hveravellir have certainly attracted people from all walks of life throughout the centuries. One of the most famous visitors, or in fact inhabitants, were legendary outlaws Fjalla-Eyvindur (Eyvindur of the mountains) and his wife Halla. For over twenty years they managed to survive in these desolate highlands. Without amazing skills and ingenuity no one could manage under such adverse conditions. When they stole sheep they simply used the hot springs to boil their meat. Eyvindur enjoyed great popularity and respect for his resourcefulness and many people were eager to secretly assist him when needed. The story of this 18th century pair is well known among the Icelandic nation and it has been a source of inspiration for a number of artistic works. Traces of their existence are still believed to be visible in Hveravellir and one of the hot springs is even named Eyvindarhver (Eyvindur’s Hot Spring).

Beyond glorious

One of the most famous visitors, or in fact inhabitants, were legendary outlaws Fjalla­ -Eyvindur (Eyvindur of the mountains) and his wife Halla. For over twenty years they managed to survive in these desolate highlands.

Visit www.safetravel.is for a comprehensive guide to being safe in the highlands and download their app for added safety.

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Hveravellir is one of the most extensive geothermal areas in Iceland as well as one of the last great wilderness areas in Europe. Often and appropriately referred to as an oasis in the desert, Hveravellir is a popular destination the whole year round with each season presenting an unforgettable setting for precious experiences. The hot springs in Hveravellir offer a spa-like experience in a lunar-like landscape. In the summertime you can unwind in the natural and soothing hot spring under the midnight sun and during the wintertime you have the opportunity to enjoy the spectacle of the northern lights while soaking.  Hveravellir’s wildlife is sparse, characterized by the occasional herd of sheep and wandering fox. It’s very important to treat this delicate area with great respect and for those who want to spend a night there, there are two mountain huts with kitchen facilities available as well as a camping area. “Getting away from it all” is an understated description of this other worldly terrain. The quiet serenity of Hveravellir makes it a wonderful location for intimate moments of deep reflection.


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Sigtún

Austurvegur Sigtún

21°00’02.13” W

Gps 63°56’14.97” N

Tryggvagata Tryggvagata

Website www.kaffikrus.is Address Austurvegur 7, Selfoss E-mail kaffikrus@kaffikrus.is Website www.kaffikrus.is Tel. (+354) 482 1266 E-mail kaffikrus@kaffikrus.is Gps 63°56’14.97” N Tel. (+354) 482 1266

1

INFORMATION Address INFORMATION Austurvegur 7, Selfoss

Reykjavík Reykjavík 55 1 55

KAFFI KRÚS HAS A 60 COURSE GRAND MENU. KAFFI KRÚS HAS A 60 OnCOURSE the menu we MENU. have for GRAND

1 1 South coast

Austurvegur 1 1 South coast

CROSSROAD TO Geysir, Gullfoss, CROSSROAD TO Þórsmörk, Landmannalaugar, Geysir, Gullfoss, Þórsmörk, Eyjafjallajökull, Hekla, Katla, Landmannalaugar, Vestmannaeyjar, Vík, Katla, Eyjafjallajökull, Hekla, Jökulsárlón, and all Vestmannaeyjar, Vík,south coast. Jökulsárlón, and all south coast.

example; pasta, salads, On the menu we have for real hamburgers, sandexample; pasta, salads, wiches, chicken, fish and real hamburgers, sandof course our pizzas from wiches, chicken, fish and our wooden fire oven. of course our pizzas from our wooden fire oven.

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Do you believe in fairytales?

Elves and trolls are for real in Iceland “They’re for real!” says Ragnhildur Jónsdóttir who has seen beings of other dimensions since she was a toddler

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agnhildur Jónsdóttir is an avid believer in the elf world, where elves, trolls and hidden people reside. She runs The Elf Garden in Hellisgerði in Hafnarfjörður with her husband and introduces people to a world unbeknownst to many. We met Ragnhildur in her historic garden where grass, trees, lava and the elf world come together in a place that exudes good energy.

Q: What is the elf world like? “Actually, there are many kinds of beings. I often speak of the world of elves, but within it there are many dimensions and different entities. The so called hidden people there are very similar to us but they are not as materialistic as humans. There is no greed in them, just kindness and compassion. Then there are flower elves and tree elves, or fairies as they are also called, tiny creatures that take care of the plants they live in and can’t survive without each other. Some humans talk to trees and hug them and some talk to plants. We transmit positive energy with nice words. There are also green elves with big ears, and they live in the woods. Another example is the elf Fróði who lives here in this garden along with other elves. He looks like a small troll, a little rough looking but very cute.” Q: Are there trolls in Iceland? “Yes, for sure and in various sizes, much taller than humans, from 3 to 30 meters tall. Then there are mountain beings with long hands, similar to the Snowman in the Himalaya’s. These can be

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seen in the oldest mountains and they become very old and are very knowledgeable creatures.” Q: Why are these beings you have mentioned invisible and living inside mountains, cliffs or rocks? “They are simply living in another dimension. We humans live in a body, but as souls we can survive without it. These beings don’t have a physical body and they have their own intelligence. The elves that have had the most connection to humans here in Iceland are about waist high and they have been farmers and fishermen. They live like us, they have sheep and horses in different sizes, smaller. They also have animals I have not seen anywhere else.”

home and my mother shut the door behind us. I started crying, and said: “Pulda is outside, Pulda is outside!” So mom opened the door and I started talking again with Pulda. My mom figured out that I was not old enough to make this up and I still know Pulda. We are both grownups now and we work together, even if we are in different dimensions. She is part of the hidden people.” Q: Do you think many children have this ability? “Yes, a lot of children do. Some would say that they have imaginary friends, depending on which psychologists you speak to, but in my opinion, very young kids don’t have the knowledge to make up stories about an invisible friend.”

Q: Have people asked you if you are sane, in regards to your belief in elves? “Not many ask this directly, but I have seen interesting comments on the web. I have asked myself why I see things others don’t. That question remains open. So many people have approached me saying they have seen something similar and then tell incredible stories of elves. It would be easy to explain all I have seen with a simple statement of me being nuts, if you like. But for thousands of years, similar stories have been around. People believe and experience different things.” Q: When did you start seeing beings of other dimensions? “I have always been like this. The oldest story is from my mom. When I was two years old, and had just started putting sentences together, I came

A drawing of the medicinal woman who lives in a tree in The Elf Garden.


Ragnhildur says that a medicinal elf woman and a tree being live in this tree. Her house is inside the tree and the dimension within is actually much bigger than the tree.

Q: What can humans learn from the elf world? “The reason why beings in the elf world want to connect to humans is that they say we need to work together. Humans, elves, hidden people, angels, plants, animals and nature itself all need to come together if we plan to live on Planet Earth in the future. We can still turn things around. It’s sad that we use our gifts to destroy everything around us. We need to grow up and change for the better.

A light elf in the Gálgahraun lava field in Garðabær. Ragnhildur fought hard to protect this lava field from being demolished last year and managed to protect an elf church from being destroyed.

We are capable of that and other much more positive things. “We are, after all, beings of nature, but we’ve forgotten that fact. We can’t live without nature. Where do we plan to go if we destroy the water, the air and the soil? I for one don’t want to live in a space station somewhere outside Planet Earth. If everyone would sit down in nature and listen, we would realize what is most important. We can still do what is needed to save the earth.”

“They are simply living in another dimension. We humans live in a body, but as souls we can survive without it. These beings don’t have a physical body and they have their own intelligence.

All you need in one place • Skólavör›ustígur 19 tel.: (+354) 552 1890 SWEATERS AND SOUVENIERS, NO KNITTING MATERIAL:

• Radisson Blu, Hótel SAGA tel.: (+354) 562 4788 • Laugavegur 53b tel.: (+354) 562 1890 Issue four 91 www.handknit.is


Shining bright

maga

wow magazine – winteraction

zine

Meet the WOW stars er

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to the pe

Issue one 2014

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WOW star: Vilborg Arna

GoinG where few women have Gone before Lighten up:

Reykjavik Winter Lights Festival

Power to the PeoPle Issue one 2014

#southpoleselfie

winteractive

cool adventures in iceland

your free copy take me with you

Vilborg Arna Vilborg Arna is the newest addition to our group of WOW stars. She became recognized in Iceland when she decided to do a solo ski walk to the South Pole which she succeeded around Christmas in 2012. After reaching the South Pole she knew she couldn’t stop and she’s now working on finishing the Adventurer’s Grand Slam. The Grand Slam includes the Seven Summits Challenge and reaching both the South and North Pole. Vilborg’s goal was to finish the Seven Summits in one year but the tragic events at Mt. Everest have put a halt to that plan. This summer Vilborg has spent her time cycling, running, mountain climbing and guiding other mountain climbers as well as getting ready for her next grand expedition which is planned next fall.

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it’s been a good year Margrét Edda Gnarr, IFBB World Champion Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson, third strongest man in the world Benedikt Erlingsson Ásgeir Trausti The Icelandic football team … and many more

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Winter is coming:

CheCk out the WOW winter Cities

WOW Power to the people

Issue sIx 2013

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Margrét Edda Gnarr Twenty five years old Margrét Edda Gnarr has a black belt in taekwondo, is daughter of former Reykjavik mayor, Jón Gnarr and oh yes, became the IFBB Women’s World Champion last year, resulting in her pro status at the IFBB Pro League. Margrét is now in the best shape of her life, ready to take the world of professional bikini fitness by storm. Her first big challenge this year was the Arnold Classic in Columbus, Ohio. She says her goal was to introduce herself to the world of professional bikini fitness and she did a little more than that by coming in 9th place at the finals; a pretty good result for a first time contestant. It pretty much means that she is considered as one of the top 10 IFBB pros out there. This spring Margrét started her own online personal training service along with her fiancé, Björn Þorleifsson who’s a taekwondo trainer. It’s called Midgard Fitness and Margrét and Björn offer their online training services all over the world. “This summer I’ve been focusing on building up for the fall and I’m determined to be my absolute best at the upcoming EVL’S Prague Pro and Nordic Pro in October,” says Margrét.


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 are 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, it’s really unbelievable.”

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Ásgeir Trausti: He‘s just getting started

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lifts you up where you belong

What‘s the deal With skyr? Ásgeir Trausti:

He‘s just

getting stARted

“I didn’t even plan on releasing a record” Run touRist, Run! A cool way to travel and get your blood pumping this summer

From ale to beer

lIfTS you up where you belong

The history of modern beer making in Iceland

LookIng good!

Icelandic designers are cool and creative

Issue one 2013

Issue one 2013 Your free copy / take me with you

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

Ásgeir Trausti Ásgeir Trausti became the most popular singer/songwriter in Iceland in just under a year; his first album selling 30,000 copies and named “Album of the Year” at the Icelandic Music Awards last year. This year has been a great start for Ásgeir, beginning with a performance at the Eurosonic Festival where he received the EBBA awards (European Boarder Breakers Awards). His album, In the Silence, has been released in Europe and like the rest of us here, the critics are loving it. The album has reached the Top 40 lists in most European countries and even reached the Top 10 in Australia where Ásgeir recently headlined two concerts. This summer he’s been booked at various festival all over the world and there seems to be no stopping this talented young artist.

guðmundur Felix: Put your hands together for our latest WOW star

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Guðmundur Felix

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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

Inside

the volcano

Where did all TheSe Icelanders come from?

WOW haS gOT iT gOing On

All About CopenhAgen

issue two 2013

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!

Guðmundur Felix, despite losing both his arms at the shoulder in 1998, leads a full life as a father of two grown girls while running a business. His persistence got the attention of French doctors who have agreed to make him the world’s first double arm transplant recipient. So, June last year, Guðmundur moved to Lyon where he’s been residing during the preparations for the transplant. Since the move to Lyon, Guðmundur Felix has been constantly waiting to get on the transplant list and the wait is trying at times but still he manages to enjoy Lyon. “Lyon is great. I love going to restaurants and coffee houses. My favorites are Brasserie le Pearl and Le Republique and it’s also nice to walk around Croix Rousse; there’s a lot of good cafés there and a great view over the city. During the day I like to pop into one of the ‘boat pubs’ along the Rhone. If the weather is nice it can get crowded on the banks of Rhone as groups of friends and families go there for a picnic,” Guðmundur tells us. Due to summer vacations it’s unlikely that there will be new developments in Guðmundur’s case until this fall but he’s tackling that fact with his trademark patience and smile. “I’ll just keep working on my French. Thanks to WOW air my time here has been good. My friends and relatives have been able to come visit me and my mother, who’s been here with me, helping me out, has also been able to fly home for a break,” says Guðmundur set on enjoying his summer in Lyon. Issue four

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Icelandic entrepreneurs

The creative fluids are flowing Reykjavik Distillery is a company which makes Icelandic beverages using local ingredients. The products are inspired by Icelandic culture and traditions. Reykjavik Distillery’s research and development started in autumn 2008 and the company was established one year later with the first product, blueberry liquor. The founders, Snorri Jónsson and Judith Orlishausen, are partners–both in business and life–with a great innovative drive. By Ólöf Hugrún Valdimarsdóttir Photos: Þormar Vignir Gunnarsson

hen Reykjavik Distillery entered the Icelandic market there was definitely space for its ambitious quality products,” says Snorri, who has done quite a lot of research on the Icelandic culture of spirits. “The settlers brought with them the knowledge of making a sort of beer called ‘Munngát’. This was the daily drink of the time. In those days the weather was better, it was warmer and they could harvest their own grain which was malted and used to make beer. Then around 1400 the climate got colder in Iceland, followed by great eruptions and natural disasters and the hard times they brought. Harvesting of grain became impossible. Icelanders still continued to drink, but it became sort of a luxury to consume beer at that time because the grain for the beer had to be imported.”

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A berry good time! It was then that Icelanders started experimenting with berry wine. Due to the low sugar content, it would always be very weak in strength similar to cider drinks. If you visit Iceland in August, you will find the island covered with wild blueberries and crowberries. In the old times those berries were an important source of vitamin C, so it’s safe to say that picking wild berries is embedded in Icelandic culture since settlement. “It was therefore a natural decision for us to start the development of our Icelandic berry liqueurs,” Snorri says. The main ingredients in the products are purely Icelandic and come from all around the country. “From the beginning we enjoyed direct


contact with farmers and pickers for a fresh harvest each autumn. This direct contact we find very valuable for maintaining the best quality, keeping in touch with the culture and staying true to our concept.” Using only Icelandic ingredients can be tricky at times, according to Snorri. “We have been fortunate enough to predict the volume of berries we’d need so we’ve had enough every year since we started. It was a close call last year, because there was a bad harvest in all of south Iceland. In the north there was a good harvest at the start, but then came an early winter so there was a window of just two weeks where berries could be picked. We got what we needed but it is also important to have stock in case of bad harvest. You never know with the weather.”

Inspiration from the farmers Prohibition regarding alcohol started in Ice­­land in the early 1900s. This prompted the birth of the golden age of homemade spirits. People would definitely find a way to make their alcohol. Every farmer knew somebody who knew somebody who was distilling or could arrange to get alcohol. You could also get something called ‘doctors’ spirit’ for medical use from the pharmacy. This was the foundation of making liqueur; people would mix this with wild berries. “Our juniper schnapps may sound like something non-Icelandic, but there are stories about it from farmers collecting their sheep from the mountains in autumn. They would carry their spirits with them and pick juniper berries to put into the schnapps, making an infused juniper concoction,” Snorri says. “Our inspiration is partly from this time, when Icelanders were using their creativity to develop something from nature. When the state started producing alcohol under the law of the monopoly there was less of this.”

New products on the horizon Snorri and Judith both work full time at the distillery and have four part-time employees. “I’m an engineer,” Snorri explains, “and worked in Germany for a German/Danish company called Danfoss compressors. I was assigned for development of new machinery for coolers and fridges. I finally left Danfoss in 2013. It was a big but a pleasant step to take, I have to say.” The couple have their set roles within the company. “I take care of production and domestic marketing. Judith studied gemstone design and worked as a researcher in executive search. She works on design, purchasing and foreign markets. We have requests regarding export under development in Germany and there is a big interest in the US as well.” Asked about how much the distillery produces each year, Snorri says it changes but on an average about 35 thousand units a year. The couple are driven by their desire for new products and development. This is

“The settlers brought with them the knowledge of making a sort of beer called ‘Munngát’. This was the daily drink of the time. In those days the weather was better, it was warmer and they could harvest their own grain which was malted and used to make beer.”

“We have been fortunate enough to predict the volume of berri­es we’d need so we’ve had enough every year since we started. It was a close call last year, because there was a bad harvest in all of south Iceland.”

visible in the fact that Reykjavik Distillery now produces eight different alcoholic products, of which four have been awarded with the prestigious Red Dot Design Award. There are four liquors, three types of schnapps, and the Katla vodka which received two international awards in 2013, Grand Gold from Monde selection in Brussels and silver medal from the International spirit competition in London. And according to Snorri, there are more products coming. “Developments have been going on for quite a long time and now there are more mainstream products coming up, but with an Icelandic touch. This year we will introduce our gin, which will be similar to our great juniper schnapps but with more diversity in spices.” Exciting times ahead!

Katla vodka which received two international awards in 2013, Grand Gold from Monde selection in Brussels and silver medal from the International spirit competition in London.

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A Person of WOW

Just like riding a bike Photos: Sigurjón Ragnarsson og Kristinn Magnússon

María Ögn Guðmundsdóttir is long overdue for the title of Person of WOW. She’s been a member of the WOW staff since shortly before our inaugural flight, she oversaw this year’s WOW Cyclothon and she happens to be the most competitive person at the office having competed in sports from a young age. Her motto is “be open to every challenge and become the YES man!”

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oday María is a project manager in the marketing department, project manager for WOW Cyclothon and assistant to WOW air’s CEO. This year’s WOW Cyclothon was María’s first as project manager and it’s safe to say that it was a huge success. “When a new project manager was

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needed for the WOW Cyclothon project I jumped at the chance and embraced the project to the best of my ability. I’m a competitive cyclist so I knew exactly what I wanted to do and I put all my past experience from cycling and event planning to good use,” says María adding that the best thing about this project is being able to work on WOW

Cyclothon’s goals which are getting people to step outside of the box, exercise outdoors, experience the unique nature of Iceland in a completely new way and raise money for a good cause. “My goal was to steer this project in a way that kept all participants safe on the roads and so they could come home afterwards thinking: ‘Wow, what an experience.’”

1. María is a competitive cyclist and com­­ peted in WOW Cyclothon in 2012 and 2013. Here she is racing at a criterium race in Hafnarfjorður. Photo: Kristinn R. Kristinsson 2. Maria with her boyfriend Hafsteinn who’s also an award winning cyclist. 3. At the WOW Cyclothon award ceremony. 4. María all but camped out at the finish line during this year’s WOW Cyclothon to be able to receive every cyclist who finished the race. 5. Getting the big check ready for pre­­ sentation at the University Hospital of Iceland. All in all WOW Cyclothon 2014 managed to raise over 15 million ISK in pledges. 6. Welcoming the last cyclist, Eiríkur Ingi Jóhannsson from the solo category, at the finish line.


But what about next year’s race? “I’ve already started planning for WOW Cyclothon 2015. This year’s race was great but we can do even better. Next year we’re expecting even more participants so there’s a lot we have to prepare so that the race can be accident free and that all participants will feel good afterwards. I like a challenge and I like coming out on top, and throughout my work on this year’s cyclothon there was never a challenge that I didn’t take on with joy, knowing that the end result would reflect this attitude in every respect.”

A great reward As we already said María has been competing in sports since she was a young girl but we’re curious to know how she got into cycling. “After I gave birth to my daughter Katla in September 2007 I decided to reward myself with a brand new bicycle. I bought a great mountain bike in the spring of 2008 and decided to compete in the Blue Lagoon Chall­­enge, a 60 km mountain bike com­­petition, that summer. You could say I went in at the deep end but once I crossed that finish line I’d become absolutely fascinated with this sport. To begin with I mostly competed in triathlons but gradually the cycling took over and in the fall of 2009 I bought my first racer,” explains María who only a year later was voted Female Cyclist of the Year and offered a spot in Iceland’s National Team competing at the Small Nation’s Games in Lichtenstein in 2011. “Preparing for those games I began to train in earnest and at the games I competed in both road racing and mountain biking. Since then I’ve also competed for the Icelandic team at the Small Nation’s Games in Luxemborg and at another tournament in Denmark,” says María. Her titles have accumulated through the years but to name just a few off the tip of the iceberg, María was voted Female Triathlete of the Year in 2009 and Female Cyclist of the Year in 2010, 2012 and 2013. She is probably well on her way to a fourth Female Cyclist of the Year title as she has won all but one of her races this season.

Practice makes perfect So how do you train for competitive cycling? “It depends on the season, it can be anywhere from 6-20 hours a week. During the darkest months of winter, November to January, I emphasize on building strength,

both with weights and on the bike. From January to March I focus on endurance practices that last up to 4 hours but later in the spring I take shorter practices where I emphasize on speed. The racing season starts in May and lasts until the end of August and during that time I practice according to what race is next and try to get appropriate rest. This season I’m participating in 22 tournaments in 19 weeks. After finishing a racing season I try to have even more fun with it all; I go on mountain biking trips or try something completely different like dancing or Taekwondo, Boot Camp or running up Mt. Esja.” Does this woman ever relax? “I used to take relaxing walks right outside the city with my two Siberian huskies. Now that one of them has passed away and the other is gett­­ ing really old I’m trying to relax in other ways like watching a movie but it’s kind of hard for me ... Isn’t gett­­ing a good night’s sleep enough relaxation?” María is all in when it comes to cycling and even offers workshops for people who want to learn how to ride a bike. Wait a minute – doesn’t everybody already know how? “Most people learn how to ride a bike when they’re 4 years old but riding a bike and riding a bike can be two different things. I offer both road biking and mountain biking workshops where I teach technique: how to use their bodies to be safer while they cycle in various circumstances, how to use the gears, how to ride in wind, how to exploit draft, how to go up and down hills etc. I also go over all these unwritten rules that cyclists have to know: how to signal and how to behave in traffic, on the streets, on cycling paths and when cycling in a group,” explains María adding that cycling is a great outdoors sport that’s easy on the body, while offer­­ ing diversity, speed and adren­aline.

Iceland is big enough for everyone “The popularity of cycling in Iceland has skyrocketed in the past few years. People are becoming aware of the fact that this is a great form of transportation as well as exercise, a fun and exciting sport and a lifestyle. Cycling is in an upwards trend on all these fronts as Icelanders are waking up to this “new” way of commuting. There’s no question that Iceland has room for more cyclists among its commuters. We can all coexist here, there’s plenty of space for every­­ body,” says María.

Osushi is a unique rest­ aurant in Iceland. The met­­hod of dining involves snatching small plates from a conveyor belt. Pricing is distinguished by the color and pattern of the plate – most range between 230 - 440 ISK. Everything off the con­vey­­ or belt is tasty and if you don’t really fancy sushi, you can instead choose for ex­­ample teriyaki chicken, noodle salad, tempura and desserts. The vibe in Osushi is friendly and relaxed. The restaurant is located almost next door to Althingi (the parliament) which is in the heart of the city.

osushi.is

Pósthússtræti 13 / Borgartúni 29 / Reykjavíkurvegur 60 HF. Tel: 561 0562 / www.osushi.is Issue four

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Working hard

… and having fun It’s important to keep the WOW spirit within WOW air. At WOW headquarters, people are hard at work all day but every once in a while they let loose.

The highlight here at the office for the past months was of course WOW Cyclothon. WOW air’s headquarters had two teams of 10 competing, and of course everyone left at the office kept up with their progress as well as regularly check­­ ing how many pledges had come in. Supportive videos were being made, bets were being placed and in the eye of the storm were our 20 brave cyclists and drivers battling the lack of sleep, winds and hills around Iceland. Photos: Kristinn Magnússon and from WOW air’s photo collection

You wouldn’t have missed the Team WOW HQ Girls who wore their unmistakable purple jackets for the journey. They might have finished among the last in their category but they were in it for the good times anyway and they did come in 5th in the pledges competition. Well done WOW girls!

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It’s a circus sometimes To wind down after all the excitement of WOW Cyclothon the entire WOW staff was invited to a family night out at Sirkus Ísland’s brand new circus tent. Cotton candy and popcorn in hand both staff and offspring had a blast. We definitely recommend Sirkus Ísland’s shows. Check them out at www.sirkusislands.is.

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Hot pick!

We offers six different tours from Reykjavík Free Pick up at hotels and guest-houses

Adventure Tour with Lunch We ride along comfortable riding paths in Heiðmörk and Rauðhólar accompanied by specially trained guides. Lobster soup is served in our beautiful café. The tour is about 3 ½-4 hours, the time spent on horseback being around 1-½ hour. Max 8 people on each tour Tour from around 09:00 – 13:00 at the hotel. Tour from around 13:45 - 18:00 at the hotel. Price 11.900 isk

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Northern Iceland

A meal with a moo by Kamilla Guðmundsdóttir / Photos: Curtesy of the Cowshed Café

The area around Lake Myvatn is a unique place where volcanic eruptions have played a crucial role in sculpting the landscape. The area offers a wide range of interesting places that thousands of tourists come to see and experience every year. If you are planning on travelling to the north on your visit to Iceland, we recommend adding a trip to Vogafjós – The Cowshed Café on your itinerary.

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ust off highway one, right by Lake Myvatn you can find a family run restaurant and guesthouse called Vogafjós – The Cowshed Cafe. The farm itself has been owned by the same family for over 120 years and even though they still have cows, hens and sheep their main focus today is greeting travelers. Finding your way there is not difficult. Pointing you in the right direction from Route 1 is a cow shaped hand-drawn sign sitting on a wrapped hay bale. While many might think that a cowshed is not the optimal place to enjoy a nice meal, Vogafjós manages to bring together a beautiful restaurant and an actual working cowshed. The menu offers homemade food

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Nearby places of interest include the Dimmu­ borgir lava fields, ­Myvatn Nature Baths, Krafla volcanic area and only twenty minutes’ walk from the restaurant is the Vogagja fissure, an old geothermal bathing place inside a cave.

such as smoked trout and lamb, cheeses and “Geysir” bread, baked in geo­­thermal heat from the ground. With their “straight from the farm” policy you are guaranteed to get a fresh, high quality meal.

From the cow to the kitchen Twice a day the cows are milked and if you are up for a real farm experience you can have a taste of fresh, warm milk straight from the cow. Those not willing to taste can still enjoy observing how a modern day cowshed operates and watch as the see-through pipe that runs through the cowshed turns white as it transports the milk straight to the kitchen. Aside from the renowned menu and the beautiful lakeside

view that you can enjoy in the company of cows, one of the best parts of Vogafjós is the location. Nearby places of interest include the Dimmuborgir lava fields, Myvatn Nature Baths, Krafla volcanic area and only twenty minutes’ walk from the restaurant is the Vogagja fissure, an old geothermal bathing place inside a cave. The Cowshed Café is a winning com­­ bina­­tion that appeals to guests of all ages. Even if you don’t like farms at all, you will probably like a visit to Vogafjós—so keep a look out for that cute cow shaped sign.

Need more information? Visit www.vogafjos.net or call +354 464 4303


WELCOME

2014

THIS IS IT

WHALE WATCHING • HÚSAVÍK • ICELAND Akureyri

Reykjavík

Húsavík

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

GG1 • WHALE WATCHING

GG2 • BIG WHALE SAFARI

Ranked #1 attraction in Húsavík* “This is what I call whale watching! wowwww”

*According to TripAdvisor July 17th 2014

“A lifetime ambition realised” · “A little piece of heaven” · “Highlight of the summer” · “The most remarkable experience I have ever had” · “Family bonding & fun with Gentle Giants” · “Exceeded my expectations” · “Everything was perfect during the whole trip!” · “Memorable experience, forever engraved in my memory” · “Best whale safari ever!”

150 YEARS OF FAMILY HISTORY IN THE BAY HÚSAVÍK

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We wish you a WOW flight

Fun aboard The magnificent WOW cabin crew makes the air a better place to be. Notice the WOW atmosphere aboard and give the cabin crew a big smile. You‘re guaranteed to get one back.

GO Germany! We were all pretty excited about the World Cup finals, even though some of us were airborne at the time. These WOW air guests and crew didn’t let small stuff like lack of TVs spoil their fun. They had their own World Cup party on the way from Stuttgart to Keflavik during the final match. Through the whole flight the crew regularly updated everyone on the score and once the results were in, the whole cabin, crew and guests went absolutely crazy. Feeling this was a very good reason to celebrate the WOW crew brought out the bubbly and poured everyone a glass.

They had their own World Cup party on the way from Stuttgart to Keflavik during the final match.

This picture shows you that the male members of the WOW crew are nothing but absolute gentlemen.

Relaxing flights Getting on a plane and turning off the mobile phone is one way to relax and get away from it all. While waiting for next flight‘s guests the crew takes a short break, relaxing in their own way. This picture shows you that the male members of the WOW crew are nothing but absolute gentlemen.

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All our rooms are large and comfortable. We offer everything from single rooms all the way up to rooms for families of six. The larger rooms have two seperate sleeping areas, perfect for families with children or to people looking to save money.

Great Value: Large and comfortable rooms Free pick up service at the aiport Breakfast is included Free shuttle service to airport

All rooms have private bathrooms Satellite TV Comfortable seating area Billiard room Free access to WI-FI Free parking Check-in available 24-7

Call us when your plane lands and we will pick you up at the airport. Tel. +354 426 5000. Gistihús Keflavíkur · Keflavíkurflugvelli · Valhallarbraut 761 · 235 Reykjanesbæ Sími 426 5000 · gistihus@internet.is · bbkeflavik.com

Good Price!

We only offer brand new cars from Toyota, regular family cars, 4x4 cars RAV 4 and Land Cruiser 150, that provide our customers with reliability and comfort as well as ensuring that their travels in Iceland will be as pleasurableas possible.

Great Value: All insurance included (SCDW, GP, TP) 10% Discount on rentals in July and Agust 25% Discount in May June and September FREE Airport Pickup/Dropoff NO prepayment on bookings Unlimited milage and discounts on Fuel Quality personal 24 hour service Discounts on hotels, sightseeing trips and more

Call us when your plane lands and we will pick you up at the airport. Tel. +354 552 1700. MyCar Rental Iceland · Keflavíkurflugvelli · Valhallarbraut 761 · 235 Reykjanesbæ Sími 552 1700 · booking@mycar.is · www.mycar.is

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The Realm of Vatnajokull

Natural Wonders In the realm of Vatnajokull you’ll find the real reason why Iceland got its name. The area is dominated by Vatnajokull glacier which is the largest glacier in the world outside the Arctic region. You’ll also find some of Iceland’s most popular tourist attractions there such as the spectacular Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon, Skaftafell which is the jewel in Vatnajokull National Park and Hvannadalshnukur, the highest peak in Iceland and a popular hike. Photos: Helga Davids, Páll Jökull and www.visitvatnajokull.is

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he Vatnajokull region is filled with contrasts in the nature with its black beaches, white glaciers, green birch forest and blue Atlantic Ocean. Serenity, energy and forces of nature combine to make a there a never-to-be-for­­­ gotten experience.

Wildlife Thousands of migrating birds such as puffins and Arctic terns pass through the region, especially in the spring and summer. Herds of reindeers are also a common sight all around the realm. If you’re lucky, you might spot a seal at Jokulsarlon or an Arctic fox running through the land. You will also find dozens of companies that offer all sorts of activities year round, diverse accommodation and great restaurants with local food.

Fireworks and forces of Nature The realm of Vatnajokull is in south­­east Iceland and covers over 200 km of the Ring Road from Lomagnupur in the west to Hval­­nes in the east. This covers the accessible southern side of Vatnajokull National Park and photo­­graphy enthusiasts should find the scenery around Vatnajokull particularly delightful as it provides countless magnificent views of the glaciers and mountains, especially during the long summer days. The annual fireworks show

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at Jokulsarlon in the Vatnajokull region is a not-to-be-missed, amazing and wonderful event. Gazing at the illuminated icebergs from the magnificent fireworks display in the most spectacular natural surroundings is an extraordi­­nary experience. The show taking place in late August, now for the 15th time, is held in collaboration between the Hornafjordur Search and Rescue Team, Jokulsarlon boat trips and the Realm of Vatnajokull – Tourism Cluster, with all the entry fee used to support the rescue team.

Höfn - nature and cuisine! There is one town in the area, Hofn, a lively fishing town with a population of 1800. Höfn is additionally known for being the one and only lobster capital of Iceland where you can find lovely restaurants offering this precious product as well as various other local specialties year round. Hofn is also a great base for exploring the magnificent lands of Vatnajokull National Park and be sure to drop by at the park’s visitor center in the beautiful historical building, Gamlabúð, by the harbor.

Activity, accommodation and restaurants Much of the activity in the realm of Vatnajökull revolves around the glacier and the nature around it. You can choose between glacier walks and ice climbing, a thrilling

snowmobile ride on Vatnajokull or a comfortable tour of Europe’s largest glacier in a super jeep. The area also offers bird-watching tours on Ingólfshöfði Cape, ATV tours and geothermal baths at Hoffell, reindeer excursions and a visit to the Thorbergssetur cultural museum, the local handicraft store, the petting zoo at Hólmur and much more. There are various possibilities in accommodations to suit different needs where you’ll be sure to find a warm welcome by knowledgeable hosts. There are several restaurants in the area and most of them offer local food. Be sure to ask for the local beer Vatnajokull, which is made from icebergs in Jokulsarlon and Arctic thyme.

Accessible year round The realm of Vatnajökull is well accessible the whole year round due to good weather conditions and frequent transportation. Eagle Air has a daily flight from Reykja­­ vík to the Hofn airport during the summertime and five days a week during other seasons. Buses between Reykjavík and Hofn are scheduled daily during the summer and three days a week in the other seasons. There are also three car rental companies in Hofn.

For more information check out www.visitvatnajokull.is.


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Promotion

Fákasel Horse Park Ingólfshvoll 816 Ölfus +354 483 5050 www.fakasel.is fakasel@fakasel.is

Fákasel

Iceland’s only horse park Experience Iceland’s only horse park where you can mingle with locals, dine on fresh Icelandic food and, most importantly, get to know the country’s unique breed of horse. Fákasel Horse Park is Iceland’s leading tourist attraction for all things related to the Icelandic horse, and one of the country’s best equine competition facilities. A fun, entertaining and educational place for the whole family to visit all year round.

The name of the show refers to Norse mythology, according to which the Icelandic horse descends from the greatest horse of all time, Sleipnir the eight-legged horse of Óðinn.

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From the greatest horse of all time… The 45 minute show, The Legends of Sleipnir, employs large-scale multimedia and special effects to weave together Iceland’s history and old Norse mythology in an exhibition riding which demonstrates the Icelandic horse’s beauty and suniqueness. The result is a magical theatrical experience that emphasizes the Ice­­­landic horse’s special features and pays tribute to its historical relationship with hu­­ mans throughout Iceland’s history. The name of the show refers to Norse mythology, according to which the Icelandic horse descends from the greatest horse of all time, Sleipnir the eight-legged horse of Óðinn. The stage itself is the biggest in Iceland (1600 m2) and lit up with first-class theater lighting. A 40 meter long screen serves as a backdrop for the per­­formance, and an original soundtrack was composed by one of Iceland’s leading musi­­cians and producer, Barði Jóhannsson. This is truly a one-of-a-kind experience, and locat­­ed just 30 min­utes from Reykjavík.

Icelandic gourmet menu The restaurant at Fákasel Horse Park offers an original Icelandic gourmet menu with great variety of delicious food. The interior has recently undergone a custom remodeling to create a unique, warm and cozy atmosphere and the staff adds that special Ice­­landic touch which will make you feel right at home. The chef has cre­­­ated an impressive menu featuring the freshest locally grown ingredients. The result is a menu with a wide selection of de­­­licious food where everyone will find something to their liking. A group menu is available with three course meals, and the newly renovated facilities ensure quality and prompt ser­ v­ice even while accommodating large groups. The café offers a wide sele­­­c­­­tion of pastries and coffee beverages. The restaurant and café are open daily from 10 am to 10 pm, all year round.


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Reykjavik is a special little city that’s getting more and more popular all year round, with the autumn and winter months just as attractive as spring and summer in this northernmost capital of the world.

A seasoned traveler

10 colorful reasons to visit Reykjavik in autumn and winter Text and photos: Gunnlaugur Rögnvaldsson

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n summer there are 24 hours of daylight, which is great! But in the winter there are the northern lights and more and more pe­­ople are visiting the city and its sur­­­round­­ing areas with its amazing nature, its museums, cafes and restaurants during the wint­­er months. Here are 10 good reasons to visit Reykja­­vik. Of course there are many more, like the Christmas season and the spectacular New Year’s celebration but we’ll talk about that on the following pages. 1

Northern lights

There is a massive interest in the northern lights in Iceland, and foreign guests simply love them. The best chance of seeing them is out in the country where there is less light but when they are really strong the aurora borealis are visible over Reykjavik as well. Many choose to go on special tours out of the city seeking the best con­­­­ditions to see them in the starlit sky.

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2

Imagine Peace Tower

Made in memory of the late John Lennon, his wife, Yoko Ono, got the idea to set up a peace light to remind people that peace on earth matters most in life. The Imagine Peace Tower is made entirely of light and lit every year on Lennon’s birthday. The base of the tower is located on Viðey Island, but the light can be seen from many locations in the grand capital area. Ever since it was built, Yoko arrives in Reykjavík for the formal lighting ceremony on October 9th. The light stays on until


December 8th, the day Lennon died. It is also lit on other special occasions during the winter months. A boat ride to Viðey Island only takes a few minutes and then it’s a short walk to see the light up close.

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Romance

The city never fails to impress: In Reykjavik, framed naturally by Mt. Esja and the ocean, it’s easy to find romantic spots. And then there are quaint side streets to venture into and everything you’d like is within easy reach. Although rather petite, Reykjavik is a lovely city with a big heart.

In summer there are 24 hours of daylight, which is great! But in the winter there are the northern lights and more and more pe­­ople are visiting the city and its sur­­­round­­ing areas with its amazing nature, its museums, cafes and restaurants during the wint­­er months. 6

3

Horse riding in the snow

You may have experienced riding a horse on a splendid summer day but have you ever tried horseback riding in the winter? Riding through the freshly fallen snow is a stunning experience. And don’t worry about the horses. The Icelandic horse is specially equipped during the coldest months with a warm winter coat.

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Magical sunlight

Swimming pools

There is nothing like going by yourself, or with friends or family, to a geothermal swimming pool during a dark autumn or winter night. The pools have long opening hours and are in various locales around the city. You can go swimming or if you’d like, just relaxing in the luxury of a hot tub. At most pools there are hot tubs at different temperatures, try the hottest one if you dare! 8

Autumn in Iceland offers magical sunrises and sunsets, and so does the winter. The light is fantastic and the contrast between light and shadow gives enthusiastic photographers a great chance to shoot great photographs even in December. On this dramatic photo, you can see the residence of the president of Iceland and in the background the mountain Keilir, not too far away from the international airport.

Art and sculptures

There are numerous art museums in Reykjavík and outdoor gardens with statues and sculptures that have their own special appeal braving the snow. Many are downtown and this statue is close to the local pond, which stretches over a wide area and is popular for walks and skating in the winter.

Autumn colors

Running, cycling or walking by the pond or through Reykjavik’s public parks in the colorful autumn is always a rejuvenating experience. The cycling/walking paths seem endless as Reykjavik is becoming more and more cyclist friendly. For a fullblown autumn excursion we recommend a visit to Heiðmörk municipal reserve a few kilometers outside the city. 9

Cozy restaurants

The cuisine in Reykjavik’s restaurants is well known. Fresh food is being prepared by superb chefs all over the city. Many of the restaurants in the downtown area are located in old, carefully maintained or restored houses and so are some of the cozy cafés. Icelandic fish and lamb are popular on the menu but you can also find a lot of variety including vegetarian dishes and international cuisine. 10

Nature walks

Reykjavik has many spots where you can get intimate with nature, walking beneath trees, by the ocean or beside the Ellidaá River flowing through the eastern part of the city. When it snows in Reykjavik, Öskjuhlíð Hill, home to Perlan (The Pearl), and the woods around it becomes a winter wonderland and is a great place to explore. Nauthólsvik, Reykjavik’s geothermal beach is close by and that looks quite beautiful under a white snowy blanket. Many people go swimming there even during the winter. Issue four

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Christmas in Reykjavik

Festive times in the capital Wait a minute, isn’t this a summer issue? Yes it is but we would like to remind our guests in time that a mix of good food and festive events make Reykjavik a good venue to visit during Christmas. Text and photos: Gunnlaugur Rögnvaldsson

T In December, all over the city, well known Icelandic singers perform festive songs at a variety of concerts, Christmas buff­ ets and other gatherings.

ravelers from all over the world are taking note of the Icelandic Christmas tra­­ditions, and CNN Travel has even voted Reykjavík as the place to be at Christmastime. Icelanders love this time of year. While the main Christmas cele­­bra­­ tions tra­­ditionally lasts for just three days, a lot more is going on in the capital during the month of Dec­­ember.

many years ago locals just dug in and enjoyed the festivities without too much worry about keeping restaurants or cafés open for guests during the main Christmas days. The local tourist authorities have been working hard on this issue, yet it is well advisable to plan ahead if your trip includes the 24th to 26th of December. For example, book a restaurant in advance and be prepared for the city to be extra quiet. Many guests actually like the fact that not everything is open all the time, and they can experience some quiet time instead of the hustle and bustle of a giant city in full force.

Advent – celebrating the wait

Traditions and must-tries

Leading up to Christmas, various concerts and events are held around town as well as small Christmas markets and pop-up stores. A Christ­­mas market is held on Ingólfstorg in the center of Reykjavík and close by, the harbor is dressed up with lights. Another market is held in downtown Hafnarfjörður and there’s also a small Christmas village in the Laugardalur valley. In and around the city various small events are taking place on the weekends, such as in Viðey Island, in Heiðmörk municipal conservation area just outside the city, at the Nordic House and at the Árbær Open Air Museum. We would definitely recommend a visit to the Árbær Open Air Museum before Christmas. This museum offers us all a glimpse at the Icelandic Christmas celebrations of yore with some of the old Yule lads on the prowl in the area. The biggest difference between the Icelandic Christmas tradition and that of other countries is that there are 13 Yule lads, each one a sort of Santa in the reckoning according to old folk tales. Yet, the modern Santa Clause, with his white beard and red suit, can also be seen on the streets. Icelanders like the folk tales of the 13 Yule lads who one by one start coming to town 13 days before Christmas. These boys are not all well behaved and they have strange names like Skyr Gobbler, Sausage Swiper, Door Slammer and Window Peeper, to name a few. Kids put a shoe in their window at home hoping for gifts from the Yule lads during the night. If the child­r­en have behaved well they’ll wake up to find a little gift in their shoe but if they’ve been naughty, all they’ll find is an old potato.

Locals pack their bellies with various well prepared food during the advent. Smoked and cured meat, smoked and cured salmon, specially brewed seasonal ales, Christmas cakes, gingerbread cookies, mulled

Kindergarteners walking around the Christmas tree at Austurvöllur square: Every year Reykjavik city receives a Christmas tree from the city of Oslo as a special Christmas gift and token of friendship. The tree is lit in early December.

A quieter Christmas With an increasing number of foreign visitors during Christmas, Icelanders have been making a greater effort to accommodate them. Not too

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Enjoy a walk down the Laugavegur shopping street on the last day before Christmas. Choirs sing and friends and family happily meet on the street.


wine, buffets of cured herring and, on the 23rd, a special feast of fermented skate (a waft of ammonia permeates the air around those who enjoy it on this day). Smoked pork, lamb or game of various sorts is usually what’s on the menu on the eve of December 24th, a night where most families, meet for a special Christmas dinner, exchanging gifts and unwrapping them that same evening rather than the morning after. A taste of the season goodies is definitely something you’ll want to try. We recommend booking a table at a one of the many Christmas buffets (Jólahlaðborð) offered by most well established restaurants around the country as early as October and until Christmas. They all leave the fermented skate off the menu, so you’ll have to stay until the 23rd, that is, if you think you’re ready for it. On the 23rd of December, the final day before Christmas (Christmas begins on the 24th according to Icelandic tradition), the major shopping streets in the center of Reykjavik, Laugavegur and Skólavörðustígur, are filled with people meeting friends and family for drinks and food and doing some last minute shopping for the big fest of compassion, gifts and food the following day. It is a day and night not to be missed if you want to have a more complete experience of the joyous Christmas holiday atmosphere in Iceland. Most stores are kept open until 11 pm so there’s plenty of time to shop. If you can hook up with an Icelandic family during Christmas you’re in for a real treat. Now you’ll get an exclusive look into traditions that have been handed down through the generations, some common but others deeply personal and unique as many families have created their own special way of celebrating. Getting to spend Christmas with an Icelandic family is a privilege not offered to many, as most Icelanders take the act of celebrating Christmas, especially the Christmas Eve dinner and the holy Christmas day, very seriously; it is only once a year, after all. But wait! There’s another feast on the horizon, New Year’s Eve, the free-spirited party edition of Christmas Eve. More about that special night on the next page.

WHALE WATCHING AND OTHER SEA ADVENTURES FROM REYKJAVIK

All aboard for adventure!

PUFFIN EXPRES

S

DINNER CRUISE

SEA AN

GLING

WHALE WATCHING

Whale Watching Andrea: 09:00, 13:00, 17:00 Whale Watching Express: 10:00, 14:00

APR

The modern Santa Claus look has taken over, but the Icelanders still like the old Icelandic folk tales of the 13 Yule lads.

09:00 13:00

MAY

09:00 10:00 13:00 14:00 17:00*

JUN

09:00 10:00 13:00 14:00 17:00

JUL

09:00 10:00 13:00 14:00 17:00

AUG

09:00 10:00 13:00 14:00 17:00

SEP

OCT- MAR

13:00

13:00

09:00

17:00*

*From 15th May-15th September Price: Adults: 8.500 ISK / 53€ Children (7-15) 4.250 ISK / 26.5€ Children (0-6) FREE

PUFFIN EXPRESS*

MAY

10:30 12:30 14:30

JUN

10:30 12:30 14:30

JUL

10:30 12:30 14:30

AUG

10:30* 12:30* 14:30*

PRICE: Adults 5.000 ISK / 33 € Children (7-15) 2.500 ISK / 15.5 € Children (0-6) FREE *Daily until 20th August

It is a local custom to go to Christmas buffets in November and December and try every kind of Christmas food imaginable so you can get an early taste of the festive season.

SEA ANGLING

MAY JUN JUL AUG

17:00 17:00 17:00 17:00 PRICE: Adults 11.500 ISK / 72 € Children (7-15) 5.750 ISK / 36 € Children (0-6) FREE

DINNER CRUISE JUN-JUL-AUG EVERY FRIDAY AT 20:00

PRICE: Adults 15.900 ISK / 102 € Children (4-12) 11.925 ISK / 77 €

Book online www.specialtours.is / info@specialtours.is Call us +354 560 8800, or visit our ticket sale at the oldfour harbour Issue 111


Midnight on New Year’s Eve is magical in Reykjavík, and Hallgrímskirkja church and the center of the city is lit up with fireworks.

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t’s no coincidence that people are flocking to Iceland to celebrate the New Year. Things can get pretty wild here during the last hour of the old year and besides seeing the magical fireworks all around you, there are fun times to be had on virtually every corner where visitors can easily join in with the locals. With one word, you could be suddenly invited to a party in some stranger’s house. The atmosphere is joyous and open.

What a blast!

New Year’s Eve in Iceland

The fireworks competition Now, you’ve probably heard stories of fireworks shows in Iceland. The truth is that there are none and at

Text and photos: Gunnlaugur Rögnvaldsson

There is nothing quite like a New Year’s Eve in Iceland, the midnight fireworks in Reykjavik and the celebrations that go on until morning.

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the same time there are thousands. Almost every family buys their own fireworks and lights them up in the hours around midnight but there is no organized fireworks show going on at that time. Quite honestly, in some areas of the city there seems to be a kind of rivalry between house owners, people wanting to blow each other away with big fireworks. Not literally mind you! But people take pride in what they shoot up in the air, and with about 200,000 people in the city, there are a lot of fireworks displayed. This makes for a breathtaking sight at midnight. If you don’t already have an invitation to a New Year’s party the

Bonfires are a part of the New Year’s Eve process and this one on the Seltjarnarnes peninsula features music and singing.


Icelandic Cuisine

Happy New Year on the beach! A couple walks hand in hand in their wet suits, ready to take on a new year.

On New Year’s Day a lot of people go sea swimming in a scheduled event to celebrate the New Year even if it’s freezing cold outside.

joyo­­us atmosphere is best caught by Hallgrímskirkja at midnight or, for a better view over the city, at the Pearl (Perlan), a walking distance from the downtown area. Earlier in the night, usually between 8-9 pm, bonfires are lit all around the city and in most towns around the country. One of the most popular is at Ægissíða, a 20-30 minute walk from central Reykjavik, a bonfire that is made all the more magnifi­­ cent by its proximity to the ocean. Unde­­­cided? Check out the local tour operators for guided tours for the evening’s events.

Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. The big hotels are always a safe bet for getting some food, but advance bookings in downtown restaurants are advised. Some shops are also open, if you prefer quick snacks. After midnight most bars and night clubs open their doors and the down­­town area becomes positively buzzing. For Icelanders the 31st of De­­ cember is family and friends day. A big meal with the closest family is the order of the day for many, just like at Christmas, and after desert and a walk to the local bonfire, most of the population watches a comical review of the year on TV, where actors make fun of politicians and other public figures and try to see the funny side of various things that have happened during the year. This is one of the biggest television events of the year and is often discussed for days after. Even though most Icelanders spend this evening with their family and friends at home there are still a lot of people, mostly the younger generation who choose the lively nightlife in Reykjavik’s center to start the New Year. If you do plan to go you can be sure you won’t be alone. This is one of the biggest parties of the year.

Restaurant

Lækjarbrekka is a classic Icelandic Restaurant situated in heart of old Reykjavík, Lækjarbrekka specialises in Icelandic cuisine with a la carte menu and first rate service.

Christmas Eve’s wilder, older cousin Just like during the main days of Christmas it’s wise to research which restaurants are open on New

Locals of all ages visit bonfires on New Year’s Eve. Protective glasses are a good idea for all, especially those who are going to handle fireworks.

Scan QR Code for more information.

Bankastræti 2 -101 Reykjavík Tel. (+354) 551 4430 E-mail: info@laekjarbrekka.is www.laekjarbrekka.is Issue four

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Berlin’s music scene

Sound over the Wall There are a few places in the world where various cultural and musical influences brought by immigrants made such a rich and colorful scene, as is the case in Berlin. It is interesting to learn how this city’s past has shaped the modern scene, breaking all prejudices and walls between Berliners and newcomers as well. Let’s have a glimpse over the wall! By Mirna Gacesa Photos: Thinkstock.com

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istory of modern-day Berlin has its roots in the Cold War era, when the city was partitioned by a wall that created two different cultural and social entities. Only citizens of West Berlin discovered and enjoyed Western musicians. Among them were David Bowie, Iggy Pop and Nick Cave, who enjoyed the amazing night-life in West Berlin. At the same time, their neighbors on the east side lived in fear and poverty, struggling with issues such as high unemployment, separation from families, espionage and other forms of repression. Today, all of Berlin has become the globe’s techno music capital and Mecca for all those who like to spend days and nights in clubs rocking to the rhythm of electronic music. Many of the world’s famous DJs are Berliners. Weekend warriors and techno tourists from all over Europe flock to this city on the banks of Spree River each weekend to party until the wee hours of Monday morning. The first parties were organized illegally in abandoned cellars and

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Useful information: Berghain, Am Wriezener Bahnhof, 10243 Berlin, Germany, www.berghain.de Watergate, Falckensteinstraße 49, 10997 Berlin, Germany, www.water-gate.de Golden Gate, Schicklerstraße 4, 10179 Berlin, Germany, www.goldengate-berlin.de Ritter Butzke, Ritterstraße 26, 10969 Berlin, Germany, www.ritterbutzke.de SO36, Oranienstr. 190, 10999 Berlin, Germany, www.so36.de A-trane, Postadresse Pestalozzistr. 105, Charlottenburg - 10625 Berlin, www.a-trane.de B-flat, Rosenthaler Str. 13, 10119 Berlin-Mitte, www.b-flat-berlin.de Madam Claude, Lübbener Str. 19 – 10997 Berlin, www.madameclaude.de

empty industrial buildings during the 1990s. Now, there is nothing like Berlin’s club scene anywhere else in the world. No other city offers so many clubs, enthusiastic event organizers and labels. Famous clubs like Berghain, Watergate, Golden Gate and Ritter Butzke have their precedent in the legendary Tresor Club – a shining pearl of 80s disco parties. Berlin was also a warm nest for many young and prospective punk and new wave bands during the 70s and 80s. Throughout the history, one of the most popular parts of the city, Kreuzberg, was a shelter to the Berlin punk movement, as well as other alternative subcultures in West Germany. Oranienstraβe is home to the European brother of famous NYC club CBGB and also the legendary SO36 club, which remain proud of its punk past and represent an overlook of the Berlin music scene. Popular bands from West Berlin like the PVC in the 70s and the Vorkriegsjugend, Die Ärzte in the 80s formed the

so-called ‘Deutschpunk’ style. Today you will find only the remains of the glorious past. On the classical side, the German capital is a rare metropolitan city that has as much as eight orchestras, including the world famous Berlin Philharmonic, and a fantastic choice of three major opera houses: Komische Oper, Konzerthaus and Deutsche Oper. Outstanding events can also be seen in Schloss Charlottenburg, where you can enjoy a dinner and a concert. Jazz fans crowd into the famous clubs: A-trane, B-flat and Madam Claude. Whatever you prefer, Berlin offers a wealth of music. So pack your bags and get ready for a musical holiday!

How to get there? WOW air offers cheap flights to Berlin three times a week, all year round.


PROBABLY THE

WORLD’S SMALLEST WATCH MANUFACTURER

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. www.jswatch.com

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Düsseldorf

Oh the places you’ll go… in Düsseldorf If you’ve only got a day or two in Düsseldorf, there are some must-dos to get your fill of this multi-faceted city.

1 Old Town (Altstadt): If there were an arrow that said, ‘Start Here,’ it would be in the heart of Altstadt. Nestled between the shopping boulevard, Königsalle, and the Rhine River, Old Town is the perfect starting point from which to explore the ambiance of the city. Shuffle in some peaceful churches, have a beer at one of the traditional brewery-pubs and stroll down the cobblestone streets. There is also no shortage of places for a delicious lunch on Bolkerstrasse, an area filled with traditional Rhenish as well as international restaurants. As you wander, make sure to visit the Burgplatz square where you can gaze at the old palace tower and Düsseldorf’s ‘landmark,’ the statue of Elector Jan Wellem in front of the gorgeous city hall. 2 Königsallee: Long before Rodeo Drive and Fifth Avenue, there was Königsallee. Keeping up with the times, this shopping district in the heart of Old Town has everything from Louis Vuitton to Prada, Gucci, Tiffany’s and the rest of their ilk. Even if you cannot afford to drop the kind of cash it takes to shop here, it is still worth a walk through. Located next to a chestnut-tree-lined canal, it’s also a place for just taking a beautiful stroll.

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If you start in Old Town, visit Königs­ allee and wander down the Rhine River Promen­ade, you’ll end up at Media Harbour, an­other must see, especially for architect­ ural buffs.

3 Rhine River Promenade: To get from Königsallee and Old Town to another area of interest, go by way of the Rhine River Promenade. Cars were banned from the street years ago, and especially on weekends, it is filled with pedestrians, bikers, and those simply taking a stroll. Along the street, you’ll find the Kunst im Tunnel, a super interesting art gallery, as well as the Rhine Tower, the top of which offers stunning views of the city. 4 Media Harbour: If you start in Old Town, visit Königsallee and wander down the Rhine River Promenade, you’ll end up at Media Harbour, another must see, especially for architectural buffs. Media Harbour used to be Düsseldorf’s biggest industrial section, but it is now a veritable playground for modern architects. The postmodern buildings, like three twisted houses, contrast whimsically with historic quays and wrought iron railings. Here, you’ll find fashion, media companies and design studios as well as some very hip bars and restaurants.


5 Kunstakademie: This well-known art academy is an integral part of Düsseldorfian culture. It has produced tons of local artists who have filled the city with no shortage of world-class exhibits. For modern art, visit Kunsthalle, and for the fine arts, check out Museum Kunstpalast. If you’re a fan of particular centuries, walk into K20 that focuses on art of the twentieth century and K21, a premier museum for art produced after 1980. 6 Little Japan: If you have the time, travel to the other side of the Rhine River where Düsseldorf pays great respect to its many Japanese citizens with a gorgeous Japanese garden and the EKO House, the Japanese cultural center. You can also visit the only Buddhist temple in the whole of Europe and follow that up with a traditional Japanese tea at a tearoom. 7 The Theater: Düsseldorf really is a cultural Mecca, and the citizens have a passion for the theater. Wherever you are in the city, check out the local theater, which is bound to have some sort of interesting production. From vaudeville to opera to cabaret, there’s something for whatever mood you’re in. To name a few: Deutsche Oper am Rhine for the classics, Schauspielhaus for traditional German cultural experiences, Köm(m)odchen for cabaret, and the Capitol Theater for musicals like Grease or The Rocky Horror Show.

Do you know how to do cartweels? WOW air offers up to three flights a week to Düsseldorf until September.

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Polish paradise

The mesmerizing city of Gdańsk Great people, great events, brave soldiers, dreamers and visionaries – this is the foundation of modern Gdańsk, one of the most beautiful cities in Poland.

G Take a long walk through the Long Market, where in old times executions took place; everything looks like it’s been standing there for centuries. 118

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dańsk is a port city, included with Gdynia and Sopot in the Tricity with the oldest site of the city dating back 1,000 years. Since then, the town has come a long way, through histories of raids, changed states and authorities, lost battles and won wars. Every part of Gdańsk abounds with old stories but at the same time with the energy of the modern world proudly entertaining visitors from all over the globe. The most important events of the city’s modern history will definitely include the German assault ship Schleswig-Holstein, September 1 1939, beginning World War II. The hostilities almost completely de­­ stroy­­­ed the city with the greatest destruction taking place in the historic downtown sector. In 1945, on the basis of arrangements made at the Potsdam Conference, Gdańsk which had been a semi-autonomous state between 1920 and 1939 was back within the Polish boundaries. Its turbulent history, however, did not end then. People from Gdańsk are hardy and brave and the city has been a colossal source of political and social change for Poland. The 70s and 80s were a time of political chang­­­­­es in Poland and it was in Gdańsk, on 31 August 1980, where the August Agreement was signed laying the foundations for the creation of Polish democracy. Take a long walk through the Long Market, where


in old times executions took place; everything looks like it’s been stand­ ing there for centuries. But it’s not like you might imagine; today it’s the sight of busy locals, relaxed visitors enjoying themselves sitting outside restaurants along this street with its amber shops, antique sellers, its decorated guildhall and beautiful houses. And don’t miss an opportunity to snap a photo in front of the bronze Neptune’s Fountain, a master­piece from 1617 by architect Abraham van den Blocke. Long Market is connect­­ ed with Long Street and most of Gdańsk’s attractions are there. These streets are often called Royal Way because they used to be a path of processions for visiting kings. The Uphagen House, Main Town Hall, Artur’s Court, Golden House and the magnificent Green Gate, a palace inspired by the Antwerp City Hall for the Polish king are all must-sees. At the Green Gate, visitors are in a perfect position to see the massive wooden crane on the Motlawa River. It looks as powerful as it sure was back in its time in medieval Europe when it was used to place masts on ships and to load and unload cargo using huge man-powered wheels.

Everyone who has an artistic soul and loves magical places should take a walk down Mariacka Street. The street is full of terraces and, depending on your nerves, perhaps fearful, low-level gargoyles. The street looks amazing and a great credit to the city’s planners and architects considering almost everything there is reconstructed. Another few hundred steps, will take you to the top of St Mary’s Church for a great view of the city. St Mary’s Church is the oldest and largest brick church in the world and it’s gorgeous. The best time to visit it is at midday when you can witness its working astronomical clock with its three distinct tiers with a rotating parade of apostles, representation of death and the three kings that appear daily at noon. Beneath it is a finely detailed zodiac face, which sits on top of the saints calendar.

The amber city Planning a trip to Gdańsk you just have to remember two things. First: Amber. It is easy to remember; especially be­­ cause it’s sold everywhere in the city. But be aware of imitations; be sure to visit trusted shops to avoid taking a plastic souvenir back home. Amber is often called Baltic gold. It has more than

How to get there WOW air offers cheap flights to Warsaw, Poland, every week until the end of September. Traveling from Warsaw to Gdansk ´ can be an enjoyable journey. We recommend the express coach PolskiBus or the Inter City train. PolskiBus services depart 15 times a day from Warsaw to Gdańsk; the traveling time is 5 hours and 45 minutes, but with free access to Wi-Fi, comfortable seats and a breathtaking view of the Polish countryside time really flies. Tickets can be purchased through www.polskibus.com. If you prefer train, you can go by the high speed Intercity trains from Warszawa Centralna to Gdańsk Główny. Tickets can be bought online through www.intercity.pl/en/.

150 shades and it is believed to have a good effect on the health of those who carry it. The amount of jewelry made with amber is staggering and in this amber kingdom, Baltic gold is really not very expensive. Second is St. Dominic’s Fair: One of the biggest trade and cultural open air events and well worth a trip to Gdańsk. In 2014 this festive fair will be from July 26 - to August 17. With music from all over the world, street parades, chamber and organ music concerts, outdoor on stage performances, stalls with craft articles and jewelry, collectors and hobbyists; you have to experience it at least once. The fair was established in 1260 by the decree of Pope Alexander and despite the many upheavals during its volatile history it has mostly continued from that time. If you’re wondering what part of the world to explore next, look no further. Gdańsk and everything else Poland has to offer, is it. Written by the editorial board of Iceland News Polska – a Reykjavík-based media company that daily delivers Icelandic news in Polish, keeping the Polish diaspora in Iceland up-to-date. See www.icelandnews.is.

How to get there? WOW air offers weekly flights to Warsaw until the end of September.


Isn’t it iconic?

The secret life of the Eiffel Tower By Katie Ware Photos: Thinkstock.com

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Ah, Paris… the city of lights, cafes and that famous tower. It’s no myst­ ery that the Eiffel Tower is one of the biggest tourist draws in the city, with its scrolling iron matrix and its sparkling lights. Who wouldn’t feel a dash of romantic whimsy at the sight of it?

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The majesty of the structure isn’t all it has to offer. Few tourists, and even not all the locals, know the true history and secret life of the massive structure. Many know that the latticed tower was constructed by Gustave Eiffel for the 1889 World’s Fair. At that time, it was a stunning achievement in architecture and the tallest building in the world. But did you know that it was only supposed to stand for twenty years?

An icon is made The erection of this “useless and monstrous” structure whipped up great controversy, especially among celebrated writers, artists, architects and other wealthy Parisians who demanded that “this eyesore be torn down”. It was only supposed to serve a 20 year stint as a symbol of the architectural revolution before being torn down, yet escaped the wrecking ball for two main reasons. Firstly, it proved to be a very useful

communications tower, and secondly, the massive edifice began to slowly earn public favor. It was becoming an icon of the city.

Still standing tall In order for this behemoth of iron and gears to still be standing for us today, there is a secret village of people working at the structure’s core that keep it up and running smoothly. Huge basements beneath the tower’s legs hold humongous hydraulic motors that power the visitors’ elevators, built in 1899. Massive colorful gears twirl huge spools of cable round and round. A counterbalance of 3,700 liters of water from the Seine acts as needed to hoist tourists up and down to the landing. Workers oil and inspect the many clanking and moving parts daily, but the wear and tear takes its toll on the secret massive motors. Casts of every single original gear, screw, and wheel in one of the aged hydraulic motors have been created so that catastrophe can be prevented. In addition to the metal inner

The Eiffel Tower – La tour Eiffel Built: 1889

workings, miles of waterlines run through the tower, shooting up from subterranean pumps. The lines are exposed to the elements and must be carefully maintained so that water is available throughout the edifice even on the coldest of days.

Don´t drop it!

Material: iron Hight: 320 m (1,050 ft) Weight: 7,300 tons Building time: ca. 2 years Building cost (in 1889): £260,000 Estimated building cost today: $350,000,000* Scrap value: $3,500,000* Estimated number of guests since opening: 250,000,000 Number of visitors pr. year: 7,000,000 Estimated profit pr. year: $29,000,000 Number of light bulbs: 20,000 Annual electric cost: $400,000 Cost of paint (every 7 years): $5,300,000 *According to American TV show ‘Pricing the Priceless’ in 2011.

It takes a skilled and dedicated staff to keep the Iron Giant picture perfect. Their careful care of the structure is a testament to their patience; it can take up to an hour to replace a single light bulb. The workers are careful to not be seen by tourists and to keep from dropping their belongings. Anything that could fall, even something as small as a penny, could be deadly to people down below. So, systems of nylon rigging and careful maneuvers keep both the workers and visitors safe. Next time you look at the Parisian symbol, you may want to keep in mind the delicacy and dedication of the custom pumps, heaters, light bulbs, cogs, gears and cables that purr deep in the construction’s innards, in places where no tourist ever sees.

How to get there? WOW air offers cheap flights to Paris at least three times a week all year round.

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Copenhappy

The delightful Denmark Apparently, the happiest people in the world live in northern Europe. According to a 156-country study, done by the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network, Denmark, Norway, and Switzerland are the happiness leaders of 2013, with Denmark as a continual front-runner.

By Katie Ware Photos: Thinkstock.com

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n 2012, Denmark was also rank­­ed as the ‘happiest’, based on factors such as healthy life ex­pectancy, freedom to make life choices, and social support. The 2013 report was even more detailed than the previous year’s in an effort to encourage legislators and policy-makers to take their citi­ zens’ well-being into account when making important decisions.

The Danish responsibility Now, for the important question: How can Denmark, a country that gets less than seven hours of sunlight during the winter, get labeled the happiest? According to a government study of ‘Danish responsibility’, Danes are happy because they feel responsible for one another and enjoy contributing to society. In Den­­mark, ordinary citizens give their time and effort to making the soci­ety work. Almost half of all Danes volunteer their time to various organ­­izations, and there are plenty to choose from. In 2006, Denmark had 101,000 of such organizations, an impressive number for the relatively small population. The government, feeling that sense

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One of the most famous Danish say­­ings translates to: “There is no bad weather, only bad clothes,” a phrase that Icelanders have also made their own. Danes themselves attribute their happiness to this kind of attitude; based on realistic expecta­tions.

of responsibility, is dedicated to its citizens, as well. Due to well orga­­ nized funding, there is low in­­come inequality and there is plenty of sup­­ port for social security.

Clean and green In addition to their societal contri­­bu­­ tions, Danes also take pride in being part of their own democratic system of government. During the 2011 elections, almost 90% of the country voted; consequently, Denmark is not just the world happiness leader, but also the leader in democracy of the over 30 countries evaluated by the University of Zurich and the Social Science Research Center Berlin. The Danes’ pride for their country extends into their care of it, as well. A country that promotes cleanliness and green energy, Denmark is full of cyclists. Though this may seem like a trivial thing, think about it; the citizens get more exposure to sunlight, fewer traffic jams and accompanying stress, lower fuel usage and cost, and plenty of endorphin-releasing exercise.

There is a huge urban emphasis on sustainability and the ‘green’ lifestyle. Twenty percent of their electricity production is from wind power. Their greatest renewable resource is bio­­ mass (70%). The government has even put out the ultimatum that they are trying for 100% of their energy supply to come from renewables by 2050.

If you’re happy and you know it … One of the most famous Danish say­­ ings translates to: “There is no bad weather, only bad clothes,” a phrase that Icelanders have also made their own. Danes themselves attribute their happiness to this kind of attitude; based on realistic expectations. Per­haps when it is the reality to live in a country that has beautiful urban design, stunning historical archi­ tecture, gastronomic delicacies, low crime, and a social welfare back up system, realistic expectations will make you the happiest of all. So go ahead, clap your hands for the Danes.

How to get there? WOW air offers cheap flights to Copenhagen every day of the week, all year round.


Reykjavik - London - Copenhagen - Paris - Barcelona - Berlin Alicante - Amsterdam - Dusseldorf - Lyon - Milano Stuttgart - Salzburg - Vilnius - Warsaw

www.wowair.com

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Shotgun

The back roads of Wales Home to Tom Jones, Anthony Hopkins, Catherine Zeta Jones, the world’s oldest language and more castles per square mile than any other place on Earth, Wales is an old and fastidious land of charmed, dreamy landscapes - farmhouses, and snug villages tucked away amongst deep woodlands in the most inaccessible lush places. Text and photos by Cindy-Lou Dale

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espokes Car Hire handed me the keys to a Lotus Evora at Gatwick Airport; with the SatNav aimed at Wales I gently engaged ‘drive’. With a startled cry and brief wheelspin, I took off with a deep throaty roar. As the road unfurled before me I put my foot down deeper, winding past a succession of villages and hamlets,

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and heading toward the Snowdonia National Park with its mystical mountains.

Reminiscing on the road Driving through England in a British sports car got me thinking of my late father, who had never dreamed of being anything other than a mechanic. I wondered what he would think if he saw the Evora’s engine. I recalled a conversation

we’d had some years ago when I took a new car around his house for him to see. “People have to take their cars to big garages these days because the cars are full of computers. No ordinary mechanic has all the right wires and things for these clever contraptions. What can you do if you look at the engine and see that it is full of electric wiring and computer chips? Where’s the carburettor? Where’s


the distributor? Where’s the starter motor?” I recalled his reproachful look, as if I had somehow mislaid these various parts. I thought about this and closed my eyes in con­­tentment, and then quickly re­­ mem­bered that I was driving, and opened them again.

A good night’s sleep After crossing the geographical Welsh border I began chasing lengthening shadows through anci­­ent parishes into the Llangollen valley, set in a green bowl of lustrous mountains. It takes some finding but the character of the West Arms Hotel (www.thewestarms.co.uk), a centuries old Inn, in Llanarmon Dyffryn Ceiriog (translation: the church of St Garmon in the valley of the river Ceiriog), is worth the effort.  It opened in 1670 as an inn and historically served beer to shepherds who used to drive sheep through the area to market - sometimes they’d be fortunate enough to find a room available. Added to the log fire warmed reception, I was welcomed to my

overnight stay in a way that only the Welsh can. There is something to be said about a family run business as this one, with fifteen spotlessly clean chintzy en suites; they’ve managed to turn this inn into a destination. Early the following morning, trail­ ing through narrow country lanes, ground misted valleys and up through the Cadair Idris mountains via the Pony Path, I pressed on to the market town of Dolgellau. Immense landscaped gardens and a riot of roses greeted me at the award-winning Penmaenuchaf Hall Hotel (www.penhall.co.uk), a 14-bedroom privately owned luxury mansion house, once the summer home to a wealthy industrialist. It stands in glorious seclusion on the brow of a steep hill, overlooking the Mawddach Estuary and the mountains of Snowdonia National Park. The hotel gives the impression of being a family home as attention to detail is reflected throughout; from sumptuous bedrooms to the formal terrace – self-indulgence all the way. It is singular and just

slightly quirky, but a stay here is a complete contrast to the impersonal and bland offerings of major hotel chains; and the food, served in a glass encased dining room is simply exquisite.

A big smile for Cheshire On my return leg to London I set off to Cheshire, an area of quiet prosperity folded against the Welsh border and just below

Peckforton (www.peckfortoncastle. co.uk) is a beautifully restored 48 room castle, that promised a truly exhilarating hour-long falconry experience with Jakk Tenant, one of the estate’s falconers, who flew handsome birds of prey off my arm. Peckforton’s award-winning silver service restaurant, ‘1851’, is a little temple of great food. Luminous, compelling and abso­­ lutely gorgeous are just some of the

“As the road unfurled before me I put my foot down deeper, winding past a succession of villages and hamlets.” Liver­­pool. It’s a small county best known for the fabled grinning cat, noblemen’s mistresses, excessive wealth, famous authors, rock stars and cheese. I spent the night at the medi­eval Peckforton Castle in Tarporley – its views alone brought to mind a child’s picture book. Formerly home to Lord Tollemache (and film location for Robin Hood)

superlatives I could heap on this little corner of the United Kingdom. But don’t take my word for it, visit the region yourself. Wake up in a bewitching landscape of cascading streams, craggy mountains, wild moorlands and forested hills to the sounds of a deafening dawn chorus of birdsong. Like me, you won’t want to leave.

Exclusive Lotus vehicles are available from www.bespokes.co.uk with rates starting at £195 per day. Avoid the motorway stress and get a direct train to London; from there a quick 90-minute train journey to Crewe, where you can collect your Lotus for a weekend hire.

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Libra 23 September - 23 October The Libra is always trying to get everything right, adding a little more on each scale in hopes of getting everything nice and even… but always ending up so loaded with stuff that they need to hold a yard sale. Your life is out of balance, try yoga.

Scorpio Aries 21 March - 19 April What to be when I grow up? Do I like poetry? Should I have another kid? What to order for lunch? Your head is filled with questions and anxieties. You lean to the stars for answers and comfort. Too bad, the stars want you to be independent and figure things out for yourself.

Taurus 20 April - 20 May Why are you denying yourself so many pleasures? The Taurus is the most sensual sign and loves good food, long massages, expensive shoes, hot sex and fresh flowers. Embrace it. Indulge yourself. Enjoy life; it’s short if you hadn’t heard.

Gemini 21 May - 21 June

24 October - 21 November Scorpios don’t trust anyone and no one should ever trust them. The Scorpio crawls about unseen, digging into other people’s private thoughts and dreams. You would make an excellent stalker.

Sagittarius 22 November - 21 December You keep complaining about stuff. Notice how it doesn´t change anything? You really need to take charge of things and work on your issues. At least call your parents to whine and stop bugging the rest of us.

Capricorn 22 December - 19 January This month you will discover amazing mysteries about your personality and really find out the meaning of life and everything. Also, stay away from Mexican food.

The next few weeks will be very much like the past few ones. Your life is a bit boring. Sorry.

Aquarius Cancer 22 June - 22 July Stop denying that sweet and tender part of your­ self. That little child you once were is still inside you. Stop trying to hold it down. Let it shine once a while. An excellent excuse for opening a bag of Skittles

Leo 23 July - 22 August Humility frightens Leos; you will grab attention in any way you can. You like to kiss mirrors and interrupt other people’s conversation. Leos need physical affection all the time. Unfortunately it´s hard to find because so many think they are irritating punks.

Virgo 23 August - 22 September Virgos need everything pure and squeaky clean. Nothing and nobody is good enough for the Virgo. We could say it’s because of this sign’s pickiness and high demands… but really the Virgo is just pretty close to being perfect.

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20 January - 18 February Each step you take these days will have important consequences for your future love life, so step carefully. Make sure to use appropriate pickup lines for your zodiac sign, for example: “Can I borrow a quarter? I want to call my mom and tell her I just met the person I’m going to marry.” But by all means don’t ‘pull an Aries’ and say something like: “I’m on fire. Can I run through your sprinkler?”

Pisces 19 February - 20 March Pisces are often lost and confused (think of caged goldfish), and very easily lose their train of thought. Trains go fast. Yogis also fast. Ever been to India? What I wouldn´t give for tandoori chicken right now… Disclaimer: This horoscope is total and utter nonsence. Any accuracies, real or imagined by readers, are purely incidental.


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

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The old The old harbour harbour Harpan Harpan Music hall Music hall Reykjavík Reykjavík Art museum Art museum Kolaportið Kolaportið fleemarket fleemarket

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Grandagarður Grandagarður 2 2 -- 101 101 Reykjavík Reykjavík Open every day from 09:00 Open every day from 09:00 -- 21:00 21:00 Issue four

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WOW 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?

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The Traveling Inquisition

Bath-time stories with Bylgja by Dísa Bjarnadottir / Photo: Kristinn Magnússon

Bylgja Babýlons is a woman of many talents: she is an actress who does a mini-web series on Bravo TV with her friend Anna Hafþórsdóttir. The shows are called Tinna and Tóta and depict two workout fanatics with heavy make-up and a fake tan giving life advice to their audience. We apprehended Bylgja the other day and had her answer a few questions.

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ylgja says the idea for the series was born when she and Anna entered a sketch comedy contest to win a trip to Denmark as well as lots of alcohol. “We didn’t win, but Tinna and Tóta were cre­­ated.” Bylgja also does some work on her own; including performing at an experimental stand-up comedy and hosting her own mini show on Facebook called “Bathing with Bylgja” where she chats about daily life. There is something she wants to add about herself: “I’m the proudest cat owner in the world. My cat’s name is Áskell and he’s simply fantastic!”

130 Power to to the the people people / vol. #04 2014 130 wow WOW Power

Q: Do you have a fun travel story to share with us? “I was once robbed in Cuba. I ran after the guy shouting moviequotes like “stop the thief!” I then met a police officer with dark skin and shining blue eyes; I was so stunned by his beauty that I barely managed to tell him a word of my sad story. He then gave me a lift to the police station in his old Skoda, and I gave my report again to two police officers who didn’t speak a word of English; a thorough report where I used Spanish

“I was once robbed in Cuba. I ran after the guy shouting movie­quotes like “stop the thief!”

adjectives and verbs that I learned in Spanish 103. I still recommend going there and just petting the stray dogs and eating the food from the food vendors on the streets. It’s the best!” Q: Is there something you recommend for visitors in Iceland? “The penis museum; anytime, all day long. I also recommend not wearing hiking boots on Lauga­­­ veg­­ur,” says Bylgja and also mentions Jólahúsið (The Christmas House) close to Akureyri in northern Iceland. “It’s the happiest place in the world. It’s where Christmas lives.” Q: If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go? “Australia. I want to hold a koala, pet a kangaroo and then eat it. I would also like to visit the Easter Islands to see all those heads. Actually I think I would like to go into space.” Bylgja adds that she’s also pretty obsessed with Spain. “There’s the food and the langu­age, but mostly it’s the weather. In Spain no one has to wear woolen underwear. Ever!”


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WOW magazine issue 4 2014