Al la jo bo ie ut de Pa vi ri e s
is in the air
The art issue Kristján Guðmundsson Ragnar Kjartansson The Icelandic Love Corporation Lilja Birgisdóttir Pétur Arason
The inside scoop on Icelandic art galleries, museums, artwork, openings, artists, events …
celebrates their 1 year anniversary What’s happening in
Iceland this summer? Issue three 2013 Your free copy / take me with you
Tax & Duty Free
Experience Iceland All of our shops and restaurants offer you Icelandic memories to take home.
2 ı WOW is in the air
One of few airports in the world that is both tax and duty free â€” meaning up to 50% off city prices. Issue three
The Icelandic summer has arrived The art issue
... or has it? One can never be sure, even if it’s June. But enough about the weather, this issue is so full of good stuff I had to cut my space short to fit it all in and can´t afford to waste my precious lines on such things. You know, I always wanted to be an artist, and a poet too. My problem was probably that I never had the guts. In this issue you will see a lot of people who “have the guts”, the guts to follow their dreams, the guts to make things happen. In “The Art Issue” we salute these people and commend them for thinking outside the box. It truly enriches our existence and makes the world a more beautiful and more fun place to live in. Feast your eyes, Guðrún Vaka Helgadóttir, editor in chief
WOW Magazine staff
In this issue A letter from the CEO
Celebrating one year of WOW
This and that
Recycle a bicycle
What’s going on
Keeping the balls in the air
Exciting times ahead
Have a taste
Sky-high this summer!
Wining, dining and having fun
Competing for the Palme d’Or
On the walls of WOW
Cover interviews Ragnar Kjartansson: The wonderful hassle of making it happen
Art in Venice
Proofreading: Paul Michael Herman
Translator: Snjólaug Lúðvíksdóttir
Laugavegur shopping street
The ultimate souvenir
In-house photographers: Rakel Ósk Sigurðardóttir, Ernir Eyjólfsson, Heiða Helgadóttir, Rafael Pinho, Kristinn Magnússon, Karl Petersson, Bragi Þór Jósefsson, Eyþór Árnason
New uniforms: They’re pretty fly!
Siglufjörður: A town’s renovation
Good company equals good fun
© Birtíngur Publishing Lyngás 17 210 Garðabær Iceland
Tel: 00 354 515 5500
Meet the WOW stars
Pure Icelandic festivals
Bright nights in Iceland
Oddi environmentally certified printing company All rights reserved. Reprinting, direct quoting or recapitulation prohibited except with a written permit from publisher. See companys legal protection and rates at www.birtingur.is.
Person of WOW
Where to next?
Prentun: Oddi umhverfisvottuð prentsmiðja
The Icelandic Love Corporation: Whatever the question, love is the answer
Pétur Arason: An obsession with art
4 ı WOW is in the air
Shouldn’t your firm be in our next issue? Contact our advertising representatives and we’ll make it happen.
Kristján Guðmundsson: Along those lines
ERFISME HV R M
Lilja Birgisdóttir: A ship called Fantasea
Contributing editors: Sólveig Jónsdóttir, Guðrún Baldvina Sævarsdóttir, Dísa Bjarnadóttir, Jón Kristinn Snæhólm, Bergrún Íris Sævarsdóttir, Steingerður Steinarsdóttir, Lilja Björk Haraldsdóttir, Christa LestéLasserre, Ólafur Valur Ólafsson, Gerður Harðardóttir,
Design and layout: Ib/Arnardalur sf.
Editor in chief: Guðrún Vaka Helgadóttir email@example.com
All about Paris 126 130 134 136 138 140
One Two Three Paris! A part of Paris The vineyard in the city A monumental monument A sign of victory The French Revolution
144 Sudokus 146
The traveling inquisition
Explore Iceland on your own terms My Way – perfect day tours for the independent traveller. My Way is your own audio day tour consisting of a suitable car for you and your friends together with an audio guide programmed into the GPS system. Sold in cooperation with Avis and Budget car rentals.
With so much to see and do, why not rent a car and hit the road in comfort and style with Budget?
To book your own day tour • Visit the My Way website mywayiniceland.is • Contact Budget, tel. 562 6060. • Ask the hotel or next information centre to book it for you.
Tel. +354 562 6060 www.budget.is
elcome on board WOW air. We are now cele brating our one year anniversary. Our maiden flight was to Paris on May 31st 2012. It has been an amazing journey and I am tremendously proud of our entire team for taking WOW air this far in such a short time. We are now operating four Airbus 320 aircrafts, flying to 14 destinations across Europe. I am also very grateful for the fantastic response we have received from so many of our guests giving us the strength and inspiration to continue to expand and build WOW air into the leading low cost airline offering flights to and from Iceland. A big part of our success has been our great on time performance! WOW air has repeatedly been the most punctual airline flying to and from Iceland this year. The WOW journey is just beginning and I am confident the best is yet to come! One of our objectives is to give back to our community both directly and indirectly by sponsoring various local events and individuals that we think are WOW! Therefore I am especially happy with the current issue since it gives tribute to some of our best artists in Iceland and a good overview of the galleries, museums and places of interest for anybody wanting to learn more about the local art scene. I am constantly amazed with the incredible talent and creativity that is so visible in Iceland. We see this in all forms of art; in music, literature, fashion, food, theater, photogra phy etc, etc. Maybe this creativity and free spirit comes from the very first Viking settlers in Iceland who traveled across the Atlantic in pursuit of new adventures, freedom and fortune. I believe the same holds true in business. In order to build a great business you have to be creative, show initiative, dare to be original and constantly strive for perfection. I like to think that all of us at WOW air are artists in constant pursuit of perfection to make WOW air a truly great company. The bottom line is and always will be to serve all of you the best we can and to bring you safely and on time to your desti nation of choice. We do this with a broad smile on our face, hopefully bringing a smile to your face as well. Thank you for choosing WOW air. We look forward to seeing you again.
Skúli Mogensen WOW air CEO and founder
6 ı WOW is in the air
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
Celebrating one year of WOW
What a difference a year makes! A year flies by and one can hardly keep up! WOW air now celebrates its first birthday since its inaugural flight on the 31st of May 2012. Here are the highlights from one year of WOW.
8 覺 WOW is in the air
Blessings: Jóna Lovísa Jónsdóttir, priest and fitness champion, gave her blessing and helped launch the WOW air web page, November 23, 2011.
On April 9, 2013, WOW air welcomed their new Airbus A320 aircrafts built in 2010. One of the aircrafts was flown low over Reykjavík in celebration of their arrival.
WOW air’s inaugural flight was to Paris, May 31, 2012.
Celebrating one year of WOW
WOW air formally applied for an air operator certificate at the Icelandic Civil Aviation Administration on April 10, 2013.
10 覺 WOW is in the air
This and that
The Eggs of Merry Bay
ou’ll find this outdoor artwork in Merry Bay (Gleðivík) just outside of east coast town Djúpivogur. It’s not exactly what you expect to find in your average fishing vill age, a huge outdoor artwork by a world famous conceptual artist but here it is none the less in the
form of 34 granite eggs, each representing a bird that nests in the area. This visually impressive art serves pretty cool educational purposes and must be a world record in best solution of what to do with 34 concrete pillars left over from a former fish meal fact ory’s unloading equipment. This one is sure to draw a WOW!
Djúpivogur joins Cittaslow! Cittaslow is an international movement that aims to improve people’s quality of life by decreasing and resisting the constantly increasing fast-paced global speed we are faced with. Cittaslow is super good news for you as a visitor because they’re not just about slow and quiet living through sustaina bility and conservation, they’re also really into hospitability and good quality tourism.
Downtown and fashion forward
owntown Reykjavík is an exciting place where things are always happening. Now four shops have banded together in an alliance for their area called Vitahverfið (The Lighthouse Village - Creative Quarter). The Lighthouse Village is home to fashion boutiques Kronkron, that focuses on upcoming as well as established designers and even has its own label called KRON by KRONKRON, Herrafataverzlun Kormáks og Skjaldar, a unique men’s clothing shop, Kiosk, voted the best place to stock up on local fashion design in 2011 and 2012 by Reykjavík Grapevine, and GK Reykjavík, a fashion store with a great emphasis on high quality service and a personal atmosphere. These shops have joined hands with Kex Hostel, housed in an old biscuit factory, furnished with salvaged materials and found objects from various places. With a café and bar, lounge area and a heated out door patio, Kex Hostel is a great place for concerts, markets and various happenings. In effect, it’s the place to gather in the Light house Village.
12 ı WOW is in the air
“We realized that we had these 4 shops basically on the same spot, all selling Icelandic design among other well-known fashion labels. So it became kind of obvious that this was an exciting place where we feel you can find the best of the best when it comes to fashion in Reykjavik. We joined hands with Kex Hostel that’s just down the street. This summer they are building an actual lighthouse on the same spot that the old lighthouse used to be, that the name of the quarter comes from. On the horizon is a spring festival where we will turn the new lighthouse on,” says Lighthouse Village spokes woman Eygló Margrét Lárusdóttir. The Lighthouse Village includes a part of Laugavegur shopping street from Frakkastígur to Vitastígur and down to Kex Hostel at Skúlagata.
Don´t let travel sickness ruin your vacation – remember Scopoderm Látið ekki ferðaveiki eyðileggja fríið – munið eftir Scopoderm
Fæst í öllum apótekum. Available at all pharmacies
Scopoderm 1 mg/72 klst. forðaplástur. Innihaldslýsing: Skópólamín (hýóscín) 1 mg/72 klst. Ábendingar: Ferðaveiki. Skammtar og lyfjagjöf: Fullorðnir og börn eldri en 10 ára: 1 forðaplástur á 3. sólarhringa fresti. Settur á þurra og hárlausa húð aftan við eyrað 5-6 klst. áður en verkun á að hefjast (t.d. kvöldið fyrir ferðalag). Eftir að forðaplásturinn hefur verið fjarlægður frásogast skópólamín áfram frá mettuðu húðlagi. Ef þörf er á áframhaldandi verkun að 72 klukkustundum liðnum, verða að líða a.m.k. 12 klukkustundir áður en nýr forðaplástur er settur aftan við hitt eyrað. Hendur á að þvo í hvert sinn sem Scopoderm er snertur og álímingarstað á að þvo eftir að forðaplásturinn hefur verið tekinn af. Forðast skal snertingu við augu því það getur haft í för með sér væga skammvinna þokusýn og ljósopsvíkkun. Notaða forðaplástra á að brjóta saman (ytra byrðið snúi út) og fleygja þeim þar sem börn nái ekki til. Börn: Ekki hefur verið sýnt fram á öryggi og verkun hjá börnum yngri en 10 ára. Lyfjagjöf: Opnið pokann efst og takið út húðlitaða plásturinn með sexhyrndu, gegnsæju verndarfilmunni. Fjarlægið sexhyrndu filmuna. Haldið eingöngu í jaðar plástursins og skal forðast að snerta silfurlituðu límhliðina eins og mögulegt er. Þrýstið plástrinum (silfurlitaða límhliðin niður) þétt á hreint, þurrt og hárlaust svæði aftan við annað eyrað. Þegar plásturinn hefur verið settur á má ekki snerta hann þar sem þrýstingur gæti valdið því að skópólamín berist undan jaðrinum. Eftir að plásturinn hefur annaðhvort verið settur á eða fjarlægður á að þvo hendur vandlega og jafnframt álímingarstaðinn eftir að plásturinn hefur verið fjarlægður. Frábendingar: Þrönghornsgláka. Ofnæmi fyrir virka efninu eða einhverju hjálparefnanna. Varnaðarorð og varúðarreglur: Rétt er að gæta varúðar hjá sjúklingum með stækkaðan blöðruhálskirtil, þrengsli við neðra magaop, þarmateppu eða skerta lifrar- eða nýrnastarfsemi, sem eru aldraðir, eru eða hafa verið flogaveikir, hafa verið með verki vegna hækkaðs augnþrýstings, þokusýn eða regnbogasjón sem bendir til gláku má aðeins meðhöndla með Scopoderm eftir skoðun hjá augnlækni. Í mjög sjaldgæfum tilfellum hefur verið lýst ringlun og/eða ofsjónum. Í slíkum tilfellum skal plásturinn fjarlægður samstundis og samband haft við lækni. Mögulegar aukaverkanir geta verið viðvarandi í 24 klst. eða lengur eftir að plásturinn hefur verið fjarlægður. Þar sem eitt af lögum plástursins inniheldur ál á að fjarlægja plásturinn fyrir skann. Ekki má nota Scopoderm á meðgöngu nema samkvæmt læknisráði. Eykur verkun áfengis og svefnlyfja. Dregur úr áhrifum adrenvirkra lyfja. Áhrif á hæfni til aksturs og notkunar véla: Merkt rauðum aðvörunarþríhyrningi. Vegna aukaverkana getur Scopoderm haft lítil eða væg áhrif á hæfni til aksturs eða notkunar véla. Lesið allan fylgiseðilinn vandlega áður en byrjað er að nota lyfið. Sjá notkunarleiðbiningar í fylgiseðli. Geymið þar sem börn hvorki ná til né sjá. Markaðsleyfis hafi: Novartis Consumer Health S.A. Umboð á Íslandi: Artasan ehf., Suðurhrauni 12a, 210 Garðabæ. Scopoderm 1 mg/72 hrs.transdermal patch Qualitative and quantitative composition: Skopolamine (hýoscine) 1 mg/72 hrs. Therapeutic indications: Motion sickness. Posology and administration: Adults and children over 10 years: 1 transdermal patch every 3 days. Apply to dry and hairless skin behind the ear 5-6 hrs before the effect is required (e.g. the evening before the journey). After the transdermal patch has been removed, skopolamine will continue to be absorbed through the saturated layer of skin. Should protection be required after 72 hrs, at least 12 hrs must elapse before a new transdermal patch is applied behind the other ear. The hands should be washed each time Scopoderm is handled and the site of application should be washed after the transdermal patch has been removed. Avoid contact with the eyes because that can result in mild, transient blurred vision and mydriasis. The used transdermal patches should be folded together (the outer side facing outwards) and discarded where children cannot reach. Paediatric population: Safety and efficacy in children under the age of 10 years has not been established. Administration: Open the sachet at the top and take out the skin-coloured patch with its hexagonal, transparent protective foil. Remove the hexagonal foil. Hold the patch only by its edge and avoid touching the silver-coloured adhesive side, if possible. Press the patch (silvery adhesive side down) tightly on to a clean, dry and hairless area behind the other ear. Once the patch has been placed on the skin, it may not be touched, since the pressure could cause the scopolamine to seep out under the edge. Once the patch has been either applied or removed, the hands should be washed thoroughly and also the site of application, after the patch has been removed. Contraindications: Narrow-angle glaucoma. Hypersensitivity to the active substance or any of the excipients. Special warnings and precautions for use: Caution should be exercised in patients with an enlarged prostate, pyloric stenosis, intestinal obstruction or impaired hepatic or renal function, who are elderly, are or have been epileptic patients, have experienced pain due to increased intraocular pressure, blurred vision or glaucomatous halo, may only be treated with Scopoderm after examination by an ophthalmologist. In rare instances, confusional states and/or hallucinations have been described. In such cases, the patch should be removed immediately and a doctor should be contacted. Possible adverse reactions may persist for up to 24 hours or longer after the patch has been removed. As one of the layers of the patch contain aluminium, the patch should be removed before a scan. Scopoderm must not be used during pregnancy unless upon a doctor´s advice. It increases the effects of alcohol and hypnotics. It reduces the effects of adrenergic drugs. Effects on the ability to drive and use machines: Labelled with a red warning triangle. Due to its adverse reactions, Scopoderm may have negligible or mild effects on the ability to drive or use machines. Read all of the package leaflet carefully before using the product. See the instructions for use in the package leaflet. Keep out of the reach and sight of children. The Marketing Authorisation Holder is: Novartis Consumer Health S.A. Representative in Iceland: Artasan ehf., Suðurhraun 12a, 210 Garðabæ. Issue three
This and that
Check out the
WOW moment game! When you go abroad, you’ll definitely exper ience a WOW moment on your trip. If you share those moments with WOW air, you could win free WOW tickets. It’s simple and fun! But what is a WOW moment? That can be anything. The sky is the limit! Share your WOW moment videos or photos on WOW’s website and you might get a chance to experience new WOW moments for free, because twice a month, WOW air will give tickets to their WOW moment sharers. So be prepared to catch a WOW moment on your journey. Remember, it could be just around the corner!
Historic hot springs meet modern amenities
ou know that fjord in between mount Esja and mount Akrafjall? That’s Hvalfjörður (Whale Fjord), one of Iceland’s natural pearls. As children we grew up hating it because it took forever (45 min.) to drive around but since the underground tunnel that boy cotts the fjord was opened, we’ve learned to appreciate what we’re missing. On the northern side of the fjord is Hotel Glymur, an enchanting hotel resort near the Glym ur waterfall, Iceland’s highest waterfall with its cascade of nearly 200m. The hotel offers beautifully renovated rooms as well as a luxurious retreat in the form of their themed villas. Should you want to relax in luxury, try Ho tel Glymur’s specially designed hotel rooms, complete with Italian leather furniture and a magnificent view overlooking either the fjord or the mountains.
n Laugarvatn, at the heart of the fam ed Golden Circle and only a 15 minute drive from Geysir, steam rises from the bubbling earth, grand moun tains surge in the distance, and the peaceful Laugarvatn Fontana geothermal spa beckons. Today, this charming town and lake are home to modern mineral baths, but the history of the region with the powerful hot springs runs deep. The springs at Laugarvatn have been used by Icelanders since the year 1000 when the pagan parliament Alþingi used the cool est spring, Vígðalaug, for a mass baptism upon adopting Christianity.
All about Iceland www.allabouticeland.is
One of the springs has now been used since 2011 by Laugar vatn Fontana for gorgeous contemporary mineral baths. In an elegant, well-appointed spa, visitors can soak in the hot water, comprised of four interconnected mineral baths that vary in depth, size and temperature. In three wet-steam rooms, built directly over the bubbling earth, guests smell and hear the bubbling water underneath and inhale steam as it rises straight from the core of the earth just as Iceland ers have done through the ages. And just like in olden times, Fontana Baths offer traditional Icelandic rye bread baked in the hot sandy shore and trout caught and smoked at a nearby farm. Guests can also take part in the making of the bread if they wish (book in advance for a small fee). Through tasteful, cutting-edge architecture, the Fontana Baths are able to preserve the sanctity of the natural landscape and pay homage to the historical importance of the site. The turf roof, clean stark lines, and floorto-ceiling windows highlight the spectacular views, bringing na ture inside and luxury outdoors. The plush towels, organic, aro matic Sóley skin products, and heated floors make spending time at this ancient lake feel like a modern-day indulgence. For more information visit www.fontana.is.
14 ı WOW is in the air
CHEERS FOR THE DUTY FREE ALLOWANCES This is how we do it at the Duty Free Arrival Store in Iceland Save more than €70.- off city prices! When you purchase 1 L of a super premium vodka, 1 L of our most popular apératif, and 6 L of our most popular beer. Save more than €60.- off city prices! When you purchase 1 L of our most popular liqueurs and 9 L of Iceland‘s most awarded beer.
13-1216 – HVÍTA HÚSIÐ / SÍA
Prices may vary due to exchange rates. www.dutyfree.is
Save more than €47.- off city prices! When you purchase 3 L of popular Italian wines and 6 L of Icelandic beer.
This and that
Björk wins a Webby!
The video to Björk’s song “Mutual Core” recently won the “People’s Voice” award in the Online Music category of the Webby awards. The video was voted the winner in an open online vote for last year’s best music video. Directed by American director Andrew Thomas Huang and produced by Icelandic film company Saga film, the video is a stunning interplay of graphic design and reality as Björk is buried in sand surrounded by rocks and spewing volcanoes. Our always coolest brethren Björk wins again.
Library of water
oni Horn’s Library of Water is one of those hidden gems you really need to witness in person. It’s not really hidden, it’s just not in downtown Reykjavík. So rent a car or take a bus and get yourself to Stykkishólmur where you’ll experience firsthand this spectacular project. In the beautiful building that used to house the town’s library, situated on top of a hill and over looking the town, the fjord and the nearby islands, the manifold project invites reflection and illumi nation. The water in the 24 glass columns in
the open space is taken frozen from Icelandic glaciers but now captures the light in its liquid form and plays with Icelandic and English words that relate to weather embedded in the floor.
n a separate room visitors can listen to a collect ion of locals giving a personal weather report and view Roni Horn’s series of books made in Iceland. It’s a brilliant combination of climate and culture wrapped into an experience we highly recommend.
ATV ADVENTURES ICELAND BY THE BLUE LAGOON
Pearls of Icelandic song
Free pick-up at the Blue Lagoon Pick-up at your hotel four times a day
T www.facebook.com/atvtours Instagram: @atvadventures
www.lavatours.is 16 ı WOW is in the air
Tangasund 1, 240 Grindavík
he Classical Concert Company Reykjavík (CCCR) brings you this brilliant series, specifically designed for tourists in Iceland. Their program consists of Icelandic songs and folk music that are somehow linked to our nationality, complete with an introduction in English to give tourists a little background information about the songs. Each concert usually includes 3-4 talented young artists and you’ll have a great reason to visit the beautiful Harpa Concert Hall by the harbor. For more information and tickets go to www.cccr.is.
Descend 120 meters into the dormant Thrihnukagigur volcano.
I have never been anywhere underground that matches the grandeur and impact of this place. - Sunday Times
Standing inside a volcano is a strangely emotional experience. - The Guardian
One of twenty places in the world you must see before you die. - CNN
Inside the Volcano Journey towards the Center of the Earth
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. • • • • •
Tour departures: 8:00 / 10:00 / 12:00 / 14:00 Maximum 14 people in each tour Duration: 5-6 hours (up to 1 hour 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
Book now at InsideTheVolcano.com or at your nearest Tourist Information Desk.
Extensive safety procedures are followed at all stages of the tour and visitors are accompanied by specially trained guides at all times. All equipment and processes have been tested extensively and approved by the administration of Occupational Safety and Health in Iceland.
Recycle a bicycle The WOW cyclothon is an international event where teams cycle around Iceland competing in a fundraiser for Save the Children. Last May, as part of the project, Save the Children Iceland and WOW air collected old bikes for children and teenagers. Anyone could contribute by dropping of their old bicycle at the nearest drop-off center until June 3rd. by Bergrún Íris Sævarsdóttir Photos: Sigríður Guðlaugsdóttir
If you wish to contribute or volunteer, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sigríður Guðlaugsdóttir, project manager with Save the Children Iceland.
“Many people have bikes that are just collecting dust somewhere in storage while others cannot afford to buy one for their children. We, along with WOW air, wanted to do our part so all children can own bikes and in the process encourage exercise and healthy living,” says Sigríður Guðlaugsdóttir, project manager with Save the Children Iceland. “We’ve already received several bikes that are being fixed, but some of them need a complete overhaul so we welcome handy volunteers. WOW air is a proud benefactor of Save the Children Iceland. The WOW cyclothon pro motes healthy living and outdoor activities in the beautiful nature of Iceland and last year contestants raised quite a bit by collecting pledges for their teams. All contributions including corporate sponsorships went directly to Save the Children. The total amount raised by the WOW cyclothon was 3.8 million IKR, or around 24,000 Euros. The WOW cyclothon is a 1332 km cycling tournament in the form of a relay race and a unique experience with the sun barely going down during this beautiful summer month. This year’s WOW cyclothon will be held on the 19th of June.
If you wish to contribute or volunteer, contact email@example.com.
Skoppa, Skrítla and Skúli with very happy bike riders.
18 ı WOW is in the air
Keeping Iceland warm since 1926
It’s not really summer. It’s just winter with less snow. In the middle of the ocean, south of Iceland, there’s an archipelago called the Westman Islands. It’s the windiest place in Iceland and it gets lots of rain. In the old harbor we opened the valves on the water mains, unleashing an artificial downpour. When the ice-cold water came lashing down – it really made us think of the Icelandic summer. #66north
Join the circus
A circus village by the Nordic House The Nordic House in Iceland and Cirkus Xanti from Norway are proud to present a Volcano Circus Festival which will be held in Reykjavík 4-14 July. The festival will be erupting with fiery and explosive shows thrilling everyone who attends. This blazing circus spectacle will take place in an encamp ment on the grounds of the Nordic House in Vatnsmýrin (in the heart of Reykjavík) and at Reykjavík City Theater. “I feel that the artists at the circus are looking at life through their own
20 ı WOW is in the air
special glasses,” says Ilmur DöggGísladóttir, PR and project manager at the Nordic House. “The circus tent is a romantic place and a certain aura of ro mance surrounds the circus. The performing artists enjoy turning the world upside down and
shedding new light on everyday events. They have a unique and unusual perspective that opens up an original way to look at reality. “The theme of many of the shows is the breaking of old habits and conventions. One can
also say the circus exposes and challenges our fear of danger showing us that risk is excit ing and can pay off. Risk and possibilities is for instance one of the subjects of the show Wear it like a crown that Cirkus Cirkör stages in Reykjavík City Theater.
There we meet six individuals that are battling with themselves and their faults. This performance sends us the m essage that we must not fear our shortcomings but should instead wear them proudly as a crown.” The circus village consists of four performance tents, one re freshment pavilion and one cir cus artist’s tent. These have all received names drawn from the warm and ardent nature of Ice land. The names Eyjafjallajökull, Askja, Hekla, Katla, Grímsvötn and Café VOLCANO all serve as a reminder that this country is a hot spot of a precarious nature that can initiate its own surprise party at any time. These colorful tents will most certainly add spice to life in the center of Reykjavík for the duration of the festival.
It is also always possible to run into some of the more than a hundred circus artists that will be performing. The créme de la créme of all circus artists in Eu rope will be gathered at the feast offering a unique opportunity to be initiated into the magic world of the circus. Open mouthed spectators will be sure to sigh and cry out as the profession als perform the artistry. This is the first time a festival like this has been held in Iceland. No entrance fee is required for exploring the Circus Village. It is an adventure in itself to walk through the encampment since exciting is always brewing. This feast for the whole family offers entertainment, informa tion and the opportunity for interaction between performers and spectators. Aside from
the shows, there‘ll be courses, lectures, concerts and other unexpected happenings. It was only a question of time when the Nordic House would set in motion a circus adventure since the director of these past seven
years is himself a former leader of Cirkus Cirkör Yes, the circus is coming to town and the word is that it will be one of the best and most spectacular events of the year. So, don‘t miss it!
Shows of great interest
Among the shows to take special notice of is the Cirkus Cirkör, product ion Wear it Like a Crown. The music was composed by Rebekka Kari jord and is staged in cooperation with Reykjavík City Theater. Cirkus Xanti will put on the shows Bastard (for the youngest audience) and Pluto Crazy. Pioneers of circus arts in Iceland, Sirkus Íslands (Circus Iceland), will perform the shows Home is where the Heart is (Heima er best), Child ren’s Circus and the cabaret Skin-sensitive (Skinnsemi). Lee Nelson, the leader of Circus Iceland (Sirkus Íslands) will also perform The Wally Show, which many know of, but this time Nelson is aided by a well known circus artists from New Zealand.
Step into a volcano
The four performance tents have been given the names of four famous Icelandic Volcanoes. These are: Eyjafjallajökull (22 meters wide), Katla (16 meters wide), Hekla (12 meters wide) and Askja (6 meters wide). It is apt that the tents should remind us of these smoldering mountains that lay dormant, only to awaken with immense flames bursting forth reflecting the nerve and passion resonating through the circus acts in all their volcanic power. Circus groups from all over the world will come to the festival. Out of the 150 groups that applied for a slot only 15 were chosen, but on the whole well over 100 circus artists will perform during the festivities. Performances will be continuous from 11 a.m. till 11 p.m. There’s no entrance fee to get into the village and guests can experience circus life first hand throughout the day. Workshops for folks of all ages will be ongoing and the circus café will be open from beginning to end. Information about the Circus Festival and scheduled shows can be found on the web page www.nordice.is and on Facebook: facebook/ volcanosirkuslistahatid. Tickets to the various shows are available at www.midi.is.
Let’s laugh Let´s talk Iceland is a historical comedy show performed every night at 20:00 in English at Víkingakráin (The Viking’s Hall) in Hafnarstræti, Reykjavík. This show tells you all you need to know about the history of Iceland and Ice landers from its settlement until the present day. You will meet Vikings from the past, heroes of the nation and everyday people. Go on an unforgettable journ ey with them through the history of Iceland and discuss the strange peo ple living there, namely the Icelanders. You will participate in historical events, reenacted by The Vikings. And if something’s not clear, just interrupt and ask them. For more information visit www. letstalk.is, email to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 00354 777 5500.
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August 8 – 11 Reykjavík Gay Pride Celebrate human rights for all at Reykjavík’s most colorful event. Icelanders love this event so much that what used to be a simple parade down Laugavegur on a Saturday afternoon has become a four day festival that highlights our diversity as humans in the form of caba rets, drag shows, concerts and of course the most colorful parade ever. The past few years have seen our mayor Jón Gnarr celebrate his transvestite side on a float in this greatest parade of the year.
All the time: The Culture House exhibitions
All summer long: How to become Icelandic in 60 minutes
The Culture House at Hverfisgata 15 is a great stop for the curious tourist as it hosts a number of interesting exhibits that give a proper insight into the Icelandic nationality through its culture. A good place to start is the Medieval Manuscripts exhibition since nothing defines the Icelandic cultural history as much as the Icelandic sagas and our rather brutal history of handling (and mishandling) the manuscripts that preserved them. The Millennium exhi bition provides a good variety of works from the National Gallery collection, and the Jón Sigurðsson exhibition will give you a personal look at Iceland’s national hero and independence pioneer. A must see in order to properly celebrate Independence Day on June 17th!
Laugh and learn as you let comedian Bjarni Haukur teach you how to walk, talk and be have like your average Icelander. It’s a oneman show in English, designed to boost up the tiny headcount of Icelanders. As you can tell from this magazine we have way too much going on in this country for a nation of this size so go get your tickets and make your first step towards becoming Icelandic in Kaldalón Hall at Harpa.
June 5 – 9 Keflavík Music Festival Their second year running the Keflavik Music Festival has a pretty juicy line-up with internati onal names as different as Röyksopp (Norwegian electronic phenomena), Tinie Tempah (British rapper) and Icelandic names like neo-classical musician Ólafur Arnalds to Iceland‘s answer to dance music: Bloodgroup. They also have a special program for teenagers ages 14-18. Keflavík isn’t just a place on your suitcase tag, it’s a vibrant, musical WOW-town!
June 19 Dionne Warwick That’s right, pop legend Dionne Warwick herself will be perform ing in Harpa Concert Hall in June and no self-respecting 60s, 70s, 80s or 90s fan can afford to miss this event. Get your tickets at www.midi.is and bob your head to classics like “I’ll Never Fall In Love Again” and get misty-eyed over “That’s What Friends Are For”. Go on, we won’t judge you.
June 7 The Museum of Design and Applied Art (Hönnunarsafnið) opens the exhibition “Chance encoun ters – Towards modernity in Icelandic design.” This is juicy stuff since you’ll get an overview of Icelandic design from 1930-1980 with lots of furniture, textile and ceramics. Mark your calendar, you have from June 7 to October 13 to catch a glimpse of this goodness.
July 14 – 21 LungA Art Festival in Seyðisfjörður Read more on pages 110-112.
Chair (1972), Þorkell G. Guðmundsson
August 24 Culture Night!
ne of Reykjavík’s biggest yearly events is this 24 hour celebration of culture in August. When you get the Culture Night brochure (or download the app) you’ll be faced with one of those lovely problems of what to skip and what to choose. We of course recommend dropping in on Reykjavík’s many museums and concert venues for a combination of art and music and visit one of the downtown residents’ who open their homes for a traditional Ice landic waffle and a friendly chat. Don’t miss the amazing fireworks show near Harpa in the evening! We love it and we’re certain you will too!
July 5 National Gallery Art museum meets natural museum in Sara Riel’s exhibition “Momento Mori” from July 5 until August 25th in the National Gallery. A curious mixture of graphic art and museology, Sara Riel’s exhibition is sure to surprise and delight.
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GENTLE GIANTS WHALE WATCHING HÚSAVÍK • ICELAND
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“Highlight of the summer” “The most remarkable experience I have ever had” “Everything was perfect during the whole trip!” “Once in a Lifetime Experience!”
150 YEARS OF FAMILY HISTORY IN THE BAY
*According to TripAdvisor May 23rd 2013
Celebrating one year of WOW
Keeping the balls in the air It has been a joy to watch WOW air grow over the last year. We had a little talk with Inga Birna Ragnarsdóttir, Chief Commercial Officer, who says great things are ahead for the company.
nga has vast experience in her field and her job essential ly involves getting Icelanders out of Iceland and tourists in. “We want everyone to have the opportunity to travel; that’s why offering the lowest prices with a smile is so important,” says Inga. “My job is to keep the good work of my department flowing, and spreading the WOW mess age abroad. We focus mainly on Google marketing and search engine optimization and we work closely with Nordic eMarketing, a firm specializing in marketing online. I also consider myself as kind of a trainer and master of ceremonies here. It’s my job to keep all the balls in the air while
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making sure everyone has a good time. That’s what working for the most fun company in the world is all about,” Inga informs us enthusiastically.
Even more WOW Outside work Inga says she spends time with her family, her two girls and her friends. “I love going to the gym, laughing with friends and reloading my batt eries at the golf course. I also love my work; it is so much fun to see the projects we’re working at become a reality and getting positive results with the help of my brilliant co-workers. The first year of WOW air was tumultu ous, but once we took over the
operations of Iceland Express, business changed significantly and we finished last year using the combined strategies of both companies, learning from Iceland Express’ successes and mis takes. So far 2013 has been very successful and the company has grown tremendously; WOW air is now bigger than both compani es combined at the time of the take-over. It is amazing to think how much we have expanded in the last year as rapid expansion is one of the most difficult things any new company goes through. I am very proud of the way we have managed this.” Looking over 2013 and beyond Inga says great things are planned for the
company. “Our flight schedule is bigger than ever. We will be operating on four Airbus aircrafts this summer, delivering our guests to 14 destinations across Europe. We have almost doubled the number of seats available to our most popular destinations and are now offering flights to Paris all year round,” says Inga and adds, “We have a great three year plan and we are very ambi tious. Getting our own air oper ator certificate will open a lot of doors, such as flying to Asia and North-America. We are planning on offering flights to the USA as early as the summer of 2014 and at the same time increasing our European flights giving our fellow Europeans on the mainland a chance to fly to the USA via Iceland. We might even have to open more European offices.” On the whole WOW air has seen great success in just one year and Inga says it’s all thanks to the amazing staff, “they are truly what makes WOW air WOW!”
BE WARM BE WELL
Þingholtsstræti 2-4 - 101 Reykjavík » Fákafen 9 - 108 Reykjavík » Austurvegi 21 - 870 Vík » www.icewear.is
Celebrating one year of WOW
Excitingtimes ahead Having had a seat on the WOW air’s board of directors from the launch of the company, Björn Ingi Knútsson took the position of Chief Operating Officer last February.
mong his many duti es are: the opera tion of the WOW air fleet, collabora tion with partners overseas, communication to suppliers, matters of personnel and collaboration with internal divisions. It came as a surprise to learn that on top of all that, Björn Ingi has a home in eastern Iceland where he is an eider duck farmer. “Staying outside during the eider duck’s nesting season is a
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heavenly experience, since the eider duck is such a delightful bird that has grown accustomed to people. My family also has a cottage in Kjós, near Reykjavík where we spend a lot of quality time during both summer and winter,” says Björn Ingi.
Busy times These last few months have been very busy for Björn Ingi be cause of WOW air’s application for air operator certificate. “We
applied for our own air operator certificate so we could expand the company and advance on new markets. The application pro cess is very complex and among other things we had to make air operation manuals, training manuals for pilots and cabin crew, as well as maintenance manuals. We also had to prepare job de scriptions, maintenance descrip tions for the aircrafts and organi zation charts. Combining all this, WOW air submitted about 7,500 pages of data when we officially applied and at that time we still had to turn in additional data for maintenance management.” Besides this Björn Ingi and his co-workers had to go through oral exams at the Icelandic Civil Aviation Administration and it so happened, that Björn Ingi was on his way to one of those exams when we met with him. We now know that he passed with flying colors.
“I will grin with joy” WOW air has been successful in its first year. Why do you need you own air operator certificate? “We believe it will strengthen the company and decrease our operational costs in the long run. We also believe that the air operator certificate will enhance our credibility and improve our impact on the aviation environ ment in Iceland,” Björn Ingi explains. WOW air plans to have the air operator certificate by 15 September 2013. What is the first thing you will do when you get the certificate? “Well, first I will grin with joy. Then we will all celebrate this big milestone for WOW air,” says Björn Ingi and admits that he is very excited for upcoming flights to USA. “This extensive market will offer a lot of opportunities for WOW air,” Björn Ingi concludes.
smaralind.is Open: Weekdays 11-19 Thursdays 11-21 Saturdays 11-18 Sundays 13-18 Follow us on
Icelimo Luxury Travel
The trip of a lifetime Icelimo Luxury Travel specializes in tailor-made travel solutions and as the name suggests, their trips are luxurious. They offer nearly whatever you fancy with a range of luxury vehicles such as SUV‘s, helicopters and yachts. They also offer day tour programs in their spacious luxury super jeeps, their most popular tour being the 2 in 1 Golden Circle with Volcanoes and Glaciers trip. by Guðrún Baldvina Sævarsdóttir
“We originally created our day tours to offer our VIP services to a broader market of people for a reasonable price and at the same time keep our specially trained VIP guides up to date on every little nuance in the travel industry,“ says Icelimo director/ owner Ómar Djermoun. “We‘ve only been doing our day tours for 3 years but with great success for the company, our employees
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and of course, our customers“. Their customer feedback says it all with bold claims such as “The best day of our lives“. And once you see what this trip is about you can really believe the enthusiastic feedback. “The idea for this 2 in 1 Golden Circle trip was to pack as much of the southwest corner of Ice land into one day as possible, without that feeling of rushing
from one place to the next.“ And they‘ve really nailed it, managing to cover a whopping 10 stops in 10-12 hours whilst never rushing you, even adding extra stops at the locals’ secret locations along the way. ”Nobody likes to sit in a car for ages and then rush through tourist stops in a big herd,“ which is why they stop where you want and they linger on if you want, and should
all aboard be in favor they can customize the trip as you go along. “We manage to time our trip in a way that minimizes the flow of tourists at the main sights. That way we can provide the mystique of experiencing the Icelandic landscape in near solitude.“ They have an obvious passion for their job and Ómar lights up as he tells me that their ambition is to see that expression of awe on their customers faces: ”It‘s that exhaling “WOW” we aim for and we do everything in our power to get it“. To book a daytrip contact email@example.com. For a custom-made trip contact firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information visit www. luxurytravel.is or phone +354 5544000
Have a taste
It’s often difficult to decide where to eat and what to try when you visit a new country. To help you decide, we‘ve recommended some of the awesome dishes now trending in Iceland that have the WOW factor.. by Ólafur Valur Ólafsson Photos: Ernir Eyjólfsson
The Steak House 28 day tendered rib eye
Mid summer 2012, husband and wife Tómas Kristjánsson and Sigrún Guðmundsdóttir opened The Steak House along with co-owner and Chef Eyjólfur Ingólfsson and co-owner and Chef de Partie Níels Hafsteinsson. Located in a house called Hamarshúsið, this popular restaurant is across the street from Reykjavík’s harbor. We decided to go check what all the fuss was all about. The menu: “The daily menu includes a variety of steaks. Beef loin, T-bone, rib eye and porterhouse along with our Icelandic lamb are just small part of what we have to offer. And while we’re a steakhouse we also have dishes like minke whale, Icelandic lobster and Icelandic auk for the more adventurous palates.” What did we taste: “Our most popular steak is the rib eye. It‘s the fat that makes it so tender and juicy but what makes it one of our signature dishes is that we leave it to hang for 28 days before we season it in our special Steakhouse rub. Letting it hang like this allows the meat to break down so it’s extra tender and soft. Any other recommendations? “The daily special and the lamb are always popular. People often order lamb without any sauce because the meat is already so tasty. And then there‘s the often shared 800 gr. Porterhouse. But if you do order it for yourself be prepared with a big appetite. Only one or two customers have ever finished it!
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Have a taste
Sushisamba Crazy Caramel
Nearby Reykjvík’s main shopping street is a true food treasure trove with an exellent reputation called Sushisamba. For over a year owners and chefs Eyþór Már, Gunnsteinn Helgi, Bento and Nuno have served Japanese and South American food to an eager clientele. We heard through the grapevine about their customers‘ enthusiasm so we paid them a visit. The menu: “The menu is a mix of Japanese and South American food, hence the name Sushisamba. Our mission is to make exotic and exciting dishes from fresh Icelandic ingredients blended into the Japanese and South American food culture. We recommend that people share their dishes to make it more fun says Chef Eyþór Már. What did we taste: “The dish you tasted is called Crazy Caramel and it’s the most popu lar desert on the menu by far.. Like the name indicates the base is caramel. Caramel fudge, dulche de leche, caramel sauce, salty caramel ice cream and topped with hazelnut praline, a definite romance for the sweet tooth.” Any other recommendations? “For the perfect night at Sushisamba I would recommend the vanilla salted Cod, the langoustine-cigar with chorizo, the Surf’n turf sushi maki roll, duck breast with mashed potatoes and ponzu and then finally to top it off, the Crazy Caramel. This combo is my personal favorite and I am sure you‘ll like it.”
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What’s cooking? Marinated lamb cutlets serves 4 1.2 kg lamb cutlets
How to barbeque Icelandic lamb cutlets
ummer is upon us and what do we do? We head for the grill of course. Some dedicated barbeque enthusiasts have actually been searing their meat outside all winter, mostly to be able to tell the story of their February exploits. But now it’s really summer, and the smell of almost burning lamb wafts through the air in every residential area making our mouths’ water. If you want to join the party, here’s how.
Recipe by Úlfar Finnbjörnsson / Gestgjafinn Culinary Magazine Photo: Karl Petersson
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Marinade: 2 tbsp. fresh rosemary Grated zest of 1 lemon Juice of 1 lemon 2-4 cloves of garlic, chopped 4 tbsp. chopped parsley salt and pepper to taste 1 dl oil Mix everything together in a bowl, cover the cutlets with the marinade and let it sit on the counter for 1 hour. Strain excess oil off the cutlets and sear on a medium hot barbeque for 3-5 minutes on each side. Serve with cold garlic sauce, grilled vegetables and baked potatoes.
ug ar La
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The dream job
Sky-high this summer! Making a living as an actor can be tricky when you live in a small country like Iceland. Many actors get temporary or parttime jobs in order to pay their bills. Actors and friends, Ingi Hrafn Hilmarsson and Tryggvi Rafnsson, got their summer job with WOW air in an unconventional way. by Bergrún Íris Sævarsdóttir Photos: Birtingur photo collection
e were preparing our applica tion for a summer job with WOW air when we got a sur prising phone call” says Ingi Hrafn. “The good people at WOW air were planning their Christmas party and needed two actors to pose as clumsy waitors.” The party was held in Viðey, a small island in Kollafjörður. “Before we knew it, we were on the ferry heading there and we knew that the gig was either going to guarantee us the summer job or ruin our chances com pletely.” The party guests had no clue that the two actors weren’t in fact waitors and their hillarious mishaps put a fun twist to the even ing. “We’re not sure what landed us the job. Perhaps it was Tryggvi taking his shirt off and giving everyone shots, or the pull-up competi tion between me and WOW air’s CEO, Skúli Mogensen. Either way, we can’t wait to get to work.” The actors are certain that working for the airline will improve their acting skills. “All life experiences mold you as an actor and when you work as cabin crew you meet and interact with all kinds of people and different characters. The job isn’t all that different from acting. You put on your uniform and get in the role, with the whole airplane as your stage.“
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Actors on board: Actor friends Ingi Hrafn and Tryggvi landed their dream summer job as cabin crew with WOW air.
Tapas Barinn A tasty ray of sunshine in downtown Reykjavík Imagine yourself in the hot sun of Andalucia, stepping into the cool interior of a typical bodega or wine bar. The whitewashed walls, simple wooden tables and a smiling patron with his friendly staff greet you. You might not realize that you are, in fact, in downtown Reykjavík. Tapas Barinn is a place bursting with delicious smells and flavors of traditional tapas. Along the walls are racks of fine wines and right in front of you the tasty dishes are being served to the diverse and very loyal clientele.
Temptations for the taste buds Tapas are small portions of food, hot and cold and because people are not focused upon eating an entire meal the serving of tapas encourages conversation to flow more easily. Like the Spanish, Icelanders go to bars to meet friends, chat, argue, joke and flirt. Tapas Barinn is the ideal venue for this social activity, with their great food and service in a relaxed atmosphere. You are sure to be in for a happy evening.
The seduction of seafood When you enter Tapas Barinn you will immed iately be seduced by the aromas of garlic, olive oil, shellfish, succulent meats and cheese. The well balanced menu contains over 50 dishes to suit all tastes. Any of these dishes can be or dered individually or as part of a main course. If making a choice is too difficult just let the master chef pick his favorites for you. At Tapas Barinn you will get a stylish fusion of first-class service, fresh fish and seafood and Icelandic lamb. This combination has made Tapas Barinn one of Iceland’s most popular restaurants. But don’t take our word for it, check it out for yourself and be convinced. Tapas Barinn Vesturgata 3b, 101 Reykjavík Tel: 551 2344 www.tapas.is
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Bringing elegance to the waterfront It is the vibrant atmosphere of the Old Harbor that sets its mark on MAR, a new and exciting restaurant. The name MAR is derived from the Latin word for ocean and although MAR is not a typical seafood restaurant these fresh Icelandic ingredients surely set a strong mark on its menu. Inspired by South American and South European cuisine, MAR offers the best of both continents. These diverse influences mean that at MAR there are no rules and everything is possible. You can, for example enjoy a starter inspired by Peruvian cuisine, a main course by French and a dessert by Portuguese. Set your imagination free and take an extravagant world tour with your taste buds.
“Happy hour” as aperitivo Being true to the origin, the team at MAR found it appropriate to offer the Italian aperitivo during the day. This is a sociable culinary tradition that no one should miss out on. It’s great as a pre-meal drink and taking in the vibrant atmosphere of the Old Harbor, sitting outside on a sunny day would be a perfect way to enjoy it. The drinks are on “happy hour” prices and the menu offers a selection of light courses.
for a treat. Concept store Mýrin, where you’ll find interesting Ice landic and Nordic design, is in the same building. At Mýrin you can even find the Skarfastellið, the dinner set put together for MAR by Guðný Hafsteins and inspired by the bird known to Icelanders as skarfur (sea raven). OPENING HOURS Winter: 11:30-23:00 Summer: 8:00-23:00 Breakfast: 8:00-11:30 Lunch: 11:30-14:00 Aperitivo: 14:00-18:00 Dinner: 18:00-22:00 MAR Restaurant Geirsgata 9 (Old Harbor) 101 Reykjavík Tel: +354 519 5050 email@example.com www.marrestaurant.is
to the Old Harbor in Reykjavik. The black-treated wood panels on the walls are reminiscent of the old, Icelandic harbor houses and other materials come from or re flect on the harbor’s surroundings. We could say that it brings the best of both worlds; you’re downtown and on the waterfront. You can experience amazing food, the quirky surroundings and top design. If you are looking for something interesting to bring back from Iceland you are also in
Interestingly, the Italian piadina is also one of the most popular dishes according to MAR head chef Sveinn Þorri. He says that this dish was actually requested by the designer of the restaurant who studied in Italy. As a result they put together a nice selection of piadinas for MAR, all served with delicious sweet-potato fries that are hard to resist.
Old harbour Tel: +354 568 8989
Tel: +354 578 8989
New style harbor dining From the start, the idea for MAR was to bring elegance to the wa terfront while keeping the atmos phere laid back. This is what Jón Ingi the restaurant’s manager defines as new style harbor din ing. The concept comes from the young design team at HAF, Haf steinn and Karítas. The choice of materials is somewhat of an ode
Restaurant at the top of the world Grillið at Radisson Blu Saga Hotel, located at Hagatorg in Reykjavík, has been the place where special occasions have been celebrated for half a century. A wide eyed child experiencing fine dining for the first time felt transported to the top of the world while seated at Grillið. Though undergoing some changes and renovations through the years this traditional but trendy restaurant still evokes the same feeling of refinement and style. by Steingerður Steinarsdóttir Photo: Karl Petersson
Grillið is a relatively small restaurant, on the top floor of Hotel Saga with a spectacular panoramic view of Reykjavík’s city center and the Reykjanes Peninsula. It was recently re novated by Iceland’s finest interior decorators who made use of its intimate atmosphere and managed to make it sso that all the guests enjoy the same unlimited field of vision. Just imagine dinner in such a dining room on a dark winter night with
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the Northern Lights dancing in the sky and the stars twinkling down at your table or during the summer months looking at your partner in the rosy glow of the midnight sun. Most Icelanders have good memories associated with Grillið. Anniversaries, birthdays, university degrees, weddings … all these and more are cele brated with a gourmet dinner in these delightful surroundings. This is first and foremost a clas
sical restaurant based on tradi tional professional standards. The guest is the main focus in the effort to make not only the food as tasty as possible but the whole experience an unforget table one. The main course is often driven on trolleys from the kitchen to the table to be cut and served according to each and everyone’s liking. At night Grillið is a celebration for all the senses, watching, listening and chatting, smelling and tasting
and all the while satisfying one‘s hunger in a virtual adventure at the top of the world.
A glorious feast Grillið has always taken pride in offering the finest wines with gems such as Château Mouton Rothschild and La Grande Dame among other quality wines on the wine list. The cuisine is modern and light with special emphasis on Icelandic ingre
dients and dishes. During the summer months, Head Chef Sigurður Helgason, who by the way will compete in Bocuse d’Or in 2014, gathers herbs, plants, wild mushrooms and other natural treasures from the clean, unpolluted soil of Iceland. He offers them fresh as well as marinating, drying, making jams and otherwise preserving these ingredients for winter, ensur ing that throughout the winter months a unique taste of Iceland is available at Grillið. Through the years many celebrities have dined at Grillið enjoying the entire experience. Among them are Queen Marga ret of Denmark, Leonard Cohen, Alec Guinnes, Charlton Heston, Lindon B. Johnson, Louis Arm strong, Ella Fitzgerald and the crew of Apollo 13, i.e. James A Lovell Jr, John L Swigert Jr. and Fred W Haise Jr.
dine after the funeral of one of their fellow patients. They wine and dine from the best selection but after the meal confess to the waiter that they are out on a day-pass from a mental institu tion, have no means of paying the bill and then ask the waiter to call the police. Of course only Grillið wouldsuffice to stage such a glorious feast.
delightful scene in the movie, Angels of the Uni verse, adapted from the novel by Einar Már Guðmunds son, takes place at Grillið. Four friends, all patients at the same mental hospital, go to Grillið to
Very nice Vegamót
The all-in -one restaurant This elegant but casual two floor restaurant is located in the heart of Reykjavík on Vegamótastígur, close to Laugavegur. The restaurant has been popular for many years, perhaps be cause of its wonderful quality of being an all-in-one, restaurant, café, bar and nightclub. You‘ll never want to leave! Here the decor is rich on the Medi terranean side and yet elegant with a jazzy ambiance. In the summertime tables are moved outside to the sheltered terrace, probably one of the hottest places in Iceland during those short summer months. This place is famous for their ‘fresh fish
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of the day’, served all day from lunch hours. It has very reasonable prices for quality, portions and presentation and guests can choose from a wide variety of decadent desserts – if they make it that far. Try their excellent selection of good beers. Every day there is a special offer on bottled beers worth a taste. Vegamót Vegamótastíg 4 I 101 Reykjavík Tel: 511 3040 firstname.lastname@example.org I www.vegamot.is
The English Pub
Save water, drink beer! For years, Iceland has enjoyed a diverse selection of restaurants and often sophisticated bars. However, one tiny grumble occasionally surfaced from the country’s Anglophiles – simply that there was no proper “pub”. And so the English Pub was born. From modest beginnings it has built a hearty reputation, seeking out, with the advice and guidance of its dedicated cus tomers, the finest ale available to mankind. Today it offers its enthusiastic clientele the chance to sample 50 beers from around the world, as well as a 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 whis kies 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 pilgrim age 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 mind!
The English Pub Austurstræti 12 101 Reykjavik Tel: +354 578 0400 Mobile: +354 697 9003 www.enskibarinn.is
The Danish Pub
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 unad vertised happenings on Wednes days, Fridays and Saturdays. Put your musical knowledge to the test at the Wednesday night popquiz; the prizes will surprise you.
When in Iceland, go Danish! You know that Iceland used to be a Danish colony, right? Even though independence from the Danish Crown was necessary, Icelanders still celebrate every thing Danish, so don´t expect to meet a big Danish crowd at The Danish Pub, they are all Icelanders just acting like they’re Danish. Really! This bar has made a name for it self in the Reykjavik social scene and is known locally as Den Dan ske Kro (we all just want a reason to speak Danish in public). This popular downtown venue serves
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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-lebree”).
this spirit, check out the “house” within the pub – an off-the-wall design in its most literal sense! Get carefree or “ligeglad” (leeglaath), shoot some darts, try the customary Gammel Dansk bitters or catch some live football. Watch the world go by on the outside terrace and have a taste of the traditional smørrebrød (fantas tic open sandwiches). You can pre-order these delicious snacks for larger groups.
Do as the Danes do
Does this sound too tranquil?
The owners of the Danish Pub strive to create the true Danish atmosphere known among the Danes (and Danish-prone Ice landers) as “hyggeligt”. If you truly are Danish this can be your “home away from home”. And in
The Danish Pub is nothing if not a place to party. The atmos phere 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?).
Best local pub in Reykjavík Wherever you‘re from you’ll want to have a great time while visiting Reykjavík. The people of Reykja vík 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 re ceive every drink with the words: “Tag skaadoo haw”. They’ll all think you´re from Copenhagen. Honest! Den Danske Kro Ingólfsstræti 3 I 101 Reykjavík Tel: +354 552 0070 www.dendanske.is Opening hours: 14:00 – 01:00 Sun-Thurs 14:00 – 05:00 Fri-Sat
Let´s go to the …
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 sport ing 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 your self. 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 Russ ians’ – 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.
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 cer tainly 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.
The Lebowski Bar Laugavegur 20a +354 552 2300 email@example.com www.lebowskibar.is FIND IT ON FACEBOOK and Twitter Twitter: @LebowskiBar Instagram: #LebowskiBar Open 11:00 – 01:00 Sun-Thurs and 11:00 – 04:00 Fri/Sat
Lebowski Bar is my favorite place to hang out at. I love grabbing a good beer, a burger & topping it with a delicious milkshake. Lebowski Bar plays oldies music which makes the vibe like none other in Reykjavik. They also have happy hour from 4-7pm and who doesn’t love that! Bottom line, Lebowski Bar is a great mainstream bar where you can meet fellow travelers and have a drink with locals. Practice the word ‘SKÁL’ (Cheers) ~ Inga,@TinyIceland (www.tinyiceland.com)
Choose your wine
The disappearing café
Tíu dropar / Le Chateaux Des Dix Chuttes Tíu dropar (Ten Drops) is a café located in the cellar of Laugavegur 27. This is one of the oldest cafés in Iceland and for the last 30 years to this very day they serve freshly baked pancakes and waffles á la the grandmothers of Iceland, with lots of whipped cream and Icelandic jam.
Ten Drops is also known for its homemade cakes, baked from scratch according to old recipes, and of course, their hot cocoa, known by many of their guests as ‘The Only Real Hot Cocoa on Earth’. If you’re not in the mood for old fashioned Icelandic goodies you can choose from an assortment of light dishes, tea,
wines and beer. We recommend the French meat soup, a popular dish and another old favorite.
into a French wine room known as Le Chateaux Des Dix Chuttes or the Castle of the Ten Drops. This is a lovely place to sit and enjoy good wines along with cheese, ham or other light dishes for as little as 500 ISK a plate, and don´t worry, the coffee, cocoa and pancakes are still there! Lovely French music sets the mood and the ambiance is perfect for a deep conversation. Guests wanting to break out in song can have their turn after 22:00 on the weekends, as long as they can find someone to play the antique piano given to the café’s owner, David Bensow, by a regular.
Guests can have their say on the wine list of Le Chateaux Des Dix Chuttes and David will make special orders to fulfill their wishes. In fact, he welcomes any suggestions making the wine list one of the more, well-endowed in Reykjavík. He´s especially interested in serving good Port to his clientele.
Intimate climate The little wine room and café seat only 40 guests and the mood is set in the early evening. It’s safe to say this is just the kind of place that was missing from the brimming Icelandic bar and café scene - a perfect setting for a small group of friends to reminisce over the good old days or for a first date. Be sure to taste David´s “wine of the week” or let his fair beer prices amaze you. Check out the ten drops twitter feed and find both café and wine room on Facebook. Tíu dropar / Le Chateaux Des Dix Chuttes Laugavegur 27 I 101 Reykjavík I Tel: 00 354 551 9380
Where did the café go? Don´t be surprised if you can´t find the café after 18:00. Some thing happens around that time that transforms this little cellar
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The Steak House by the harbor
A warmhearted restaurant If you like steak this is it! Steikhúsið, which simply means “The Steak House”, is a trendy new restaurant in the middle of Reykjavik. The vibrant, beating heart of the premises is the Spanish Mibrasa coal oven where guests can watch the deft hands of the cook, artfully preparing the sizzling steaks. The beautiful coal oven, visible to guests above a bar table is used for grilling and baking. The distinct flavor from the coals gives the food a richer taste and enhances the tenderness of the meat, and speaking of tender ness, if the texture of supple, butter soft meat is to your liking, be sure to taste the “28 days” tendered meat specially cured by the chef. The excellent selections and innovative side dishes are all tantalizing and be sure not to miss the grilled Icelandic fish, a tasty delicacy worthy of your indulgence. Although the focus is primarily on steaks the vegetar ian choice is excellent. A myriad of flavorful starters served with freshly baked bread will set the mood for your meal. The exciting list of side dishes gives every one the opportunity to design their favorite meal or why not be daring and try something new? How about deep fried tempura vegetables or sweet potato French fries? If selecting becomes too much of a dilemma there is always the set menus. These vary with the seasons and offer the fresh est and most popular dishes available at any given time. The owners take pride in catering to the whole family so as you would expect the children’s menu is excellent.
Steikhúsið Tryggvagata 4-6 I 101 Reykjavík Tel: 561 11 11 I www.steik.is apt. Also it reflects on the history of the house which was built to house a blacksmith’s smithy and metal works. But the main focus here is really on steaks so back to basics, this restaurant is situ ated firmly in the modern world.
The drinks menu arrives on the table in the form of an iPad making it easy to browse, create a wide selection and change it when something new and exciting catches the sommelier’s attention. After a good meal in the
warm atmosphere of The Steak House, a stroll along the harbor or through the lively neighborhood, of restaurants, cafés, artisan stores and workshops will give a fitting ending to a fun and enjoy able evening.
Rough and ready style interior The raw decoration and furniture made partly out of recycled ma terials create an ambiance of old fashioned charm and history. The restaurant is situated just above the old harbor by the whale watching center of Reykjavík and therefore the interior, reminiscent of old harbor pubs, is fitting and
Let your taste buds dance Open at the end of 2011 and already a hot favorite on the Reykjavik restaurant scene, SushiSamba offers a deliciously unique take on Icelandic fish and other home-grown ingredients. Fusing Iceland’s freshest flavors with Japanese, Peruvian and Brazilian influences, the restaurant’s top sushi masters have created a fantastic range of colorful dishes that taste as exciting as they look.
Fresh fish fusion A great selection of tempting smaller courses includes tuna ceviche with coconut sorbet and lobster tempura. If you fancy some meat, there are delicious Icelandic lamb ribs and beef rib-eye usually on the menu, along with an amazing steak platter for two. The ‘Juicy-Sushi’ maki rolls range from the shrimp based Volcano roll to Spicy Lobster and the Foie Gras – a stunning concoction of blue-fin tuna, foie gras and salmon caviar, perfect posh nosh! For surf ‘n’ turf lovers there is an exciting dish of beef tenderloin with lobster tempura, avocado, smoked teriyaki and tempura flakes. The South American influence also extends to the desserts, which include the exotic Red Velvet Cupcake – a magical blend of vanilla ice cream, passion fruit, chilli and white chocolate. If you can’t decide what to go for, the Icelandic feast is a perfect solution – six courses form an incredible tasting experience, including the national aperitif ‘Brennivin’ and an Icelandic Skyr flan for dessert. In between, enjoy fishy delights such as grilled spotted cat fish with pea purée, bacon and mojito foam; or minke whale tataki with fig jam. Also included is a dish of lamb ribs, complete with chilli crumble, “Skyr” mint sauce and celeriac fries.
Drink in the atmosphere Attentive staff, fabulous chilli mojitos and a gorgeously eclectic interior are the icing on the cake at SushiSamba. Hand-carved Brazilian curios and some 50 pretty Japanese birdcages complement the contemporary lines and gentle feel of the place. One of Iceland’s hottest style gurus and the artistic brain behind many of the city’s top restaurants, Leifur Welding is the man responsible for the design, and some say it’s his best work yet.
Sushi Samba Þingholtsstræti 5, 101 Reykjavik I +354 568 6600 I www.sushisamba.is firstname.lastname@example.org I Kitchen open: 17:00-23:00 Sun-Thurs (Midnight on Fri/Sat) Promotion
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Hot bar, cool beer Kaldibar, situated in a more than 100 year old house in downtown Reykjavik, opened in December 2012. The bar sells the Kaldi, an Icelandic beer brewed in the small village of Árskógsströnd in north Iceland. In the first days after the bar opened the beer was so popular that the bar could hardly keep up with the demand. One unusal feature about Kaldi is that it is not pasteurized which gives it a shorter storage life than a normal beer. There’s also no added sugar and it is even recommended by personal train ers whose clients should avoid drinks that are too rich. The beer both comes as pale and dark lager. It also comes in both forms unfiltered. When the beer is un filtered, the yeast is not remov
ed, making it a bit turbid and very tasty. Kaldibar sells Viking beer, Stout and a pale ale called Einstök (Unique), but it is the only place in Reykjavík where the Kaldi beer is the main brand. The music is kept at a moderate decibel so you can sit together over a cold one and have a nice chat. There is also an open piano at the bar where people can show off their talent. If you want
to win a beer, you‘ve got to be good! Bar manager Aldis Oladott ir says that an outdoor facility is being prepared where people can have a sip and even a bit to eat during the summer. Kaldibar has happy hour between 4 and 7 pm everyday with 2 for 1 on beers and wine. The bar is open until 1 am on weekdays and until 3 am on weekends. Most of the regulars are over 30 but the
bar has a very broad group of customers in the 20 to 70 range. The interior in the bar, designed by a renowned Icelandic interior designer Hanna Stína, has a very cozy atmosphere with soft colors and a mix of second-hand and new furniture. This is a place where beer en thusiasts gather for a taste of a great brew and ambiance.
Sakebarinn Sushi & Sticks
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 old est buildings (1886) is a great new restaurant with a great view and an amazing at mosphere 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. The owners of Sakebarinn have a keen interest for the arts and crafts and a wealth of creative as sets to play with. Although Sake barinn 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 interest
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ing 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 fea ture 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. Mys tery 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 Laugavegur 2, 101 Reykjavík (entrance to the second floor from Skólavörðustígur) Opening hours: Mon-Sun 5:00 PM – 00:00 Tel: +354 777 3311 www.facebook.com/Sakebarinn
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. 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
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 tradition al 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 Hress ingarskálinn for great prices and awesome fun!
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 01:0004:30 AM.
“The menu consists of great selections and offers every thing from breakfast to a fantastic dinner.”
Lead us in temptation – and thou shalt have a good time For ten years Bar 11 has been the home of Rock n’ Roll in Iceland and those hungry for a good time have been heading there. They‘ve not been disappointed. With live music and a broad spectrum of Icelandic bands playing live the place is crammed full every weekend. Great DJ’s and a reason ably priced selection of beverages served until the early hours of the morning are sure to guarantee a good night to remember. At Bar 11 there‘s nothing off limits musically. However, they only play good music and their happy hour from 6 pm to 10 pm is not to be missed. Bar 11 gets a lot of people from all over the world, especially over the summer time, and all come to have fun. That‘s what it‘s all about; having a good time. And those who are about to rock out, we salute you. Bar 11 Hverfisgata 18 101 Reykjavík Opening hours: Wed-Thu 6 pm - 1 am Fri-Sat 6 pm - 4:30 am
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Stykkishólmur Sea Tours
Sushi, as fresh as it gets! When travelling around the Snæfellsnes Peninsula in the west of Iceland, be sure to drop by the small town Stykkishólmur. Known for its many renovated houses and beautiful surroundings the town is like an openair museum of history and culture, making it one of the most popular destinations in Iceland in the recent years. Due to its focus on preservation and ecological awareness the town received European Destination of Excellence award in 2011 as well as the Earth Check certification for sustainable communities. Located in Breiðafjörður, it’s about a two-hour drive from the capital and well worth the effort. Breiðafjörður is known to be the largest archipelago in Iceland, made up of more than 2,750 islands in all shapes and sizes. A birdwatcher’s paradise, it is the nesting home of the puffin, kitti wake, black guillemot, cormorant and the white tailed eagle, to
name a few. A good way to catch a glimpse of these remarkable creatures is to hop on a boat and take a tour around the islands. Seatours offers a variety of boat tours on the Breiðafjörður Bay; founded in 1986 and with over 25 years of experience, the compa ny has become one of Iceland’s main recreational tour operators. The Viking Sushi Adventure with
the vessel Særún is a trip out of the ordinary. In roughly two hours you are taken on a journey around the islands with amazing bird watching opportunities, inspiring stories of historic events and a sushi experience you’ll never forget. On the Viking Sushi Adventure you get the opportuni ty to taste fresh scallops straight from the sea, complete with wasabi, soy sauce and ginger! For the more adventurous you can have a go at the sea urchin roe, shake hands with a crab and study the (non) behavior of a star fish. This trip is a fun adventure for friends and family or you can make it a romantic trip for two. If you wish to round off a won derful day in Snæfellsnes with an exciting boat trip, Seatours offers an evening trip which in addition to the activities mentioned serves a light dinner on the way back to port. What a perfect way to end your day! With weekly trips during the wintertime and 3-4 trips daily during the summer no
one should miss this adventure. In addition, Seatours also operates the car ferry Baldur that crosses the Breiðafjörður Bay daily from Stykkishólmur to Brjánslækur with a stopover on Flatey Island. Flatey is a small and charming is land where it seems like time has stood still. The island is known for its beautifully restored houses from the early 20th century and a rich birdlife. Crossing the bay to the West Fjords with a stop-over in Flatey is a lovely experience. You can even send your car on its way to the mainland while you explore the island taking the next ferry onwards. As a family friendly company Seatours offers a discount for children and teens on all their tours. Their ticket office is located down by the Stykkishólmur harbor where you also find a souvenir shop and a cozy café.
Visit www.seatours.is for more information.
Cannes he do it?
Competing for the
Guðmundur Arnar Guðmundsson is a very busy man these days. We met up with him shortly before he flew to Cannes Film Festival, where his short film, Hvalfjörður (Whale Valley) was set to premier. This makes Guðmundur one of only the three Icelanders to achieve this. He also teaches film students, both at the Icelandic Film School and at the Icelandic Art Academy, where he himself graduated in 2005. by Dísa Bjarnadóttir Photos: Heiða Helgadóttir
uðmundur’s grad uation project was a short animated film called Þröngsýn (Hidebound) which helped him get his foot in the door of Iceland’s small film industry. But Guðmundur Arnar wanted to try something new, so he moved to Denmark, where he studied screenwriting. Now he goes back and forth while living in Denmark, which he says is a wonderful place for a young film maker, as the Danes put a lot of money and effort into nurturing young talent which really shows in the work they produce. Since he’s lived in Copenhag en for quite awhile we had to ask what’s essential to do when
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visiting? The answer comes easy: “Take a bike ride around the city. You do not know Copenhagen until you’ve experienced it on a bicycle.” He also recommends stopping in a café on Enghave plads in his favorite neighbor hood Vesterbro. “It’s calm and quiet, but still has a very happening artistic vibe to it.”
are a camping ground close to Ásbyrgi. Actually that whole part of the country is really beautiful. Ásbyrgi, Mývatn, Dimmuborgir … Still,” he admits, “Reykjavík nightlife is also fun, especially in the summer. Summertime in Iceland is what makes us forgive the harsh winters.”
Any tips for visitors to Iceland?
Whale Valley tells the story of two brothers who live in a small town in Iceland. The younger brother discovers the older one attempting to end his life but is asked by his brother to keep it a secret. Guðmundur says the idea for the whole film stems
“Get out of the city. See the na ture. The nature is the best thing about Iceland. Hljóðaklettar is probably my favorite place, and also Seyðisfjörður. Hljóðaklettar
from an idea for simply one scene; the scene where the older brother comforts the younger one and asks him not to tell the parents. “That’s how it started. I shared the idea with the people I work with and we went to the location and shot the scene. Then we started asking for money to make the film. That’s where my producer Anton Máni was a tremendous help. I’m not good at telling people about my credits or about how great I am, in order to convince them that they should assist me in projects. But Anton is great at it. That’s why he’s a good guy to have on my team.” Guðmundur goes on to explain how essential it is to have a good crew when making a low budget film like Whale Valley. “It’s essential when you’re ask ing people to work long unpaid hours that everyone believes one hundred percent in the project that we’re doing.” He explains how it quickly became an ambition for this film to make it into the Cannes Film Festival, even though only two short films from Iceland have previously been accepted. Throughout the making of Hvalfjörður everyone in the crew was certain that this would be a
Right before this issue went to print Whale Valley received a Special Mention at the Cannes Short Film Competition. We would of course like to congratulate Guðmundur and his colleagues on a job well done. film fit for a premier at Cannes. “That was the aim from the very beginning. Everyone in the crew was very certain we could do it. It wasn’t until afterwards that we realized we were competing against 3500 other films and thought that we had perhaps
been a bit optimistic,” Guðmund ur says smiling, knowing now that perhaps it pays to be overly optimistic sometimes. Guðmundur has been to Cannes once before, when he worked on the film Eldfjall. “It’s a great place to meet people in
the industry. It’s like the harvest festival for film makers, so it’s a whole lot of fun. A lot of it is also about having fun and enjoying a glass of Champagne on the beach.”
DINNER C VIK
Whale Watching Express
Northern Lights by Boat
Special Tours & Life of Whales | +354 560 8800 | www.specialtours.is | www.lifeofwhales.is
Char fishing in Greenland Greenland is the wildest place on earth for char fishing. The land is large, empty, rough and pure with thousands of rivers and lakes full of arctic char. Because of the enormous territory and relatively few inhabitants, many of these fishing areas are hardly fished at all and some rivers have not even seen an angler – ever. This is the reason Greenland is a paradise for fly fishermen.
The arctic char you find in Greenland has a super sleek body, beautiful white edged fins and fabulous colors ranging from serene silver to dazzling orange. With an unprecedented fighting spirit, the char is the strongest trout species there is, as wild as the wind. They fight like crazy, punch their weight for every pound of their strong bodies and never give up. If the fishing is not enough, then certainly the nature in which you catch them is. The stunning scenery of Greenland, is so big, so eternal, so awesome and so empty.
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Fishing is on a voluntary catch and release basis and mostly light tackle fishing. The size of the fish is around 1-7+ lbs of which you can catch by the dozen a day. The local guides are excellent and know the area extremely well. The river mouths are often very productive when the char runs up the rivers. The lakes that are connected to the ocean by clear rivers provide the best fishing, but the fjords are also extremely productive in the early part of the season. Char start to gather in the fjords near the river mouths in early July and begin to move into the rivers by mid-month.
In the summer of 2012 Angling Club Lax-a erected the first ever permanent proper hunting- and fishing camp on the southwest coast of Greenland, a total of twelve sleeping cabins (twin beds) built around a dining lodge with plenty of room for bigger groups. The dining lodge is equipped with a kitchen, a gas BBQ and a charcoal BBQ. Meals are prepared by the camp chef – most of the menu originates in the area (caribou meat, arctic char and fresh fish from the sea). Greenland is hard and unfor giving, the wildest place on earth; a country for the true adventurer. Angling Club Lax-a is a 25 year old company that specializes in fishing and hunt ing tours all around the world, its main operation and offices are in Iceland. The Lax-a team tailors each tour specially for the client, arranging everything such as transfers, comfortable accom modation and other outdoor activities. For more information on fish ing for arctic char in Green land contact email@example.com and visit their homepage: www.lax-a.net
The Angling Club Lax-a is Iceland´s largest sporting outfitter and offers fishing in about 40 salmon, trout and char rivers in Iceland. Whether you are in the search for “the big one”, fishing fun with family and friends or famous Icelandic nature, Lax-a will send you on the trip of a lifetime. Anglers choose their preference whether they are looking for a full service fishing, staying in a comfortable lodge where they are taken care of by staff or if they are looking for a stay in a self catering lodge. Lax-a will costumize each trip as preferred by the angler. Issue three
On the walls of
Those who visit WOW air headquarters quickly notice a very captivating piece of art in the reception. Fewer know that the WOW air headquarters actually holds quite an impressive collection of interesting artwork. Thanks to CEO Skúli Mogensen’s art enthusiasm the staff at WOW air gets to enjoy this great art by some of Iceland’s most prestigious artists. From a young age, Skúli has been interested in art and he even had his goals set on being an architect and an artist although he says he later “got distracted from that path.” Because this is WOW magazine’s “Art issue” Skúli decided to give us a tour of the WOW art collection. Photos: Eyþór Árnason
Bílar í ám / Cars in Rivers by Ólafur Elíasson (2009, 2/2, c-print) By orchestrating the photographs sent to him by jeep-driving adventurers in a mag nificent composition, Ólafur Elíasson pays homage to a cultural activity born out of a direct struggle with nature, since motorized exploration of the Icelandic highlands is only a recent experience. Ólafur received over 100 photographs depicting cars and buses battling the rivers of Iceland, sometimes getting into trouble while taking a chance. He then selected the 35 pictures that make up the final artwork. This work captures the peculiar relationship between Icelanders and the Icelandic nature, their ideas of risk and freedom, and tells of possibilities and audacity. This gem can be found in Skúli’s office and is one of only two in the world. The other collection resides at the National Gallery of Iceland.
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Frímerki / Stamp by Birgir Andrésson ([no year] silkscreen on aluminum) When you reach the third floor of WOW air headquarters four stamps by Birgir Andrésson will immediately catch your eye. Birgir’s works often depicted tokens once characteristic of Iceland that were (or were about to be) forgotten. The old, Icelandic stamps, magnified in Birgir’s works, become somewhat unrecognizable and almost blurry when seen up close, thus underlining the fleetingness of said characteristics.
Þjófar á þingi
by Helgi Hósearson
Hlíð / Slope by Georg Guðni (oil on canvas, 1988) A unique painting by Georg Guðni adorns a wall in a small meet ing room on the third floor. It looks quite simple at first, like it’s painted on a round and sturdy piece of wood but upon closer inspection one realizes that Georg Guðni has painted layer after layer on a canvas resulting in mesmerizing depth. One of the brilliant things about this work is the framework behind the canvas made by Daníel Magnússon. Only two round paintings by Georg Guðni are known to exist.
Although not originally created as artworks Helgi Hósearson’s signs have become somewhat of a collector’s item in recent years, especially after his passing. Helgi was famous for is protests, which he usually demonstrated alone on a street corner near his home. His best known demand was to have his name erased from the national register and he will always be remembered for bespattering the house of the National Parliament (Althingi) with green skyr in one of his protests.
Í álögum / Enchanted by Ragnar Axelsson (RAXI)
Earthly Paradise by Birgir Andrésson (2006, wallpainting)
Filling up the stairway hall at WOW air this cold but mesmerizing photograph by RAXI is sure to turn some heads. From a series of photographs that all depict the World’s rapidly melting gla ciers, this photo gets you up close and personal with roughly 1 cm of glacier. When looking this closely into the melting ice you can see face-like features that fell as snow, roughly 1000 years ago and are now being released from the glaciers enchant ments. The cycle of water continues.
Perhaps Birgir’s most known works are his wall paintings, made accord ing to instructions left by the artist. The painting at the third floor is from his “Icelandic Colors” series, for which, with his characteristic deadpan humor, he claims various colors as uniquely Icelandic. Creating a fictional Pantone color set, Birgir displayed them as large-scale wall paintings fea turing a block of color with its number and title, resembling an amplified version of a color swatch, playfully commenting on popular representations of Iceland.
Veggspjöld / Posters, reprints from 2012 by Guðmundur Oddur Magnússon (Goddur) These posters, digitally re-mastered from the originals, are a part of much larger series by Goddur. All of the posters in the series were originally created to advertise various cultural events spanning a period of 16 years. The posters adorning the walls of WOW air’s second floor offices are the results of Goddur’s collaboration with fellow artist Bjarni H. Þórarinsson to represent his “Sjónthing”, a series of cultural events Bjarni threw instead of conventional exhibitions. Bjarni’s complex artistic researches and creations were the foundation of Goddur’s posters for these events. Two more posters from Goddur’s collection hang in a meeting room on the third floor.
On the walls of
Black Swan by The Icelandic Love Corporation (2009) Greeting workers on the third floor is an im pressive black swan by The Icelandic Love Corporation. Created from feathers made from nylon stockings and wire this work is the result of a lot of thought and repetitious labor. A black swan is a metaphor for events that are high-im pact, rare and unexpected. Afterwards it seems that perhaps, they could have been predicted. It is a question of reading into the signs around us, such as when the house cat licks itself and kicks its hind leg into the air; then you can expect a visitor.
Popop by JPK Ransu (acrylic on canvas, 2005-2007)
Arctic dreamscapes by Harpa Einarsdóttir
Small but lively this fun piece by JPK Ransu is close to the small meeting room near the front desk.
The first thing you notice when you visit the WOW air headquarters is this captivating picture by artist and clothing designer Harpa Einarsdóttir, aka. Zizka. With global warming as her muse, this eye-catching piece is a tribute to the polar bear whose habitats are rapidly melting away.
/ Zizka (mixed media, 2012)
From a young age, Skúli has been interested in art and he even had his goals set on being an architect and an artist although he says he later “got distracted from that path.”
Coming up …
Untitled by Lilja Birgisdóttir (mixed media, 2012)
Stemming from Lilja Birgisdóttir’s creative cover work for Sigur Rós’ album ‘Valtari’ and made under the influence of their music, these dream like works of art will soon adorn the walls of WOW air headquarters. The pictures are from an exhibition Lilja did with her sister Ingibjörg Birgisdóttir in October 2012 called Varúð (Caution), where they played on the fusion of visual art and music. These works are, in a sense, a tangible expression of music.
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Where art is a thing, not a way What is art? And why would you want an answer to that question, for surely there is no right one: A transmission of feelings, perhaps, or as both a celebrated and controversial artist once put it, “Art is a lie that enables us to realize the truth”. On the following pages you will get to know Icelandic art through many of this nation‘s most creative thinkers and doers; people of different ages and styles who either pretend, love, progress, obsess or live in a magical world of subjective reality. This is Icelandic art. Enjoy it, love it, live it. by Sólveig Jónsdóttir Photos: Rafael Pinho and from private collections Stylist: Erna Hreinsdóttir Set assistant: Halldór Örn Rúnarsson Special thanks: Norðurpóllinn theatre
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The wonderful hassle of making it happen Almost straight after performing at MoMa PS1 where he got American indie group The National to play the same song for six hours straight, artist Ragnar Kjartansson will be participating in the international exhibition at the Venice Biennale. This is his second time in Venice as he represented Iceland in 2009. Ragnar, a debonair, successful artist and singer keeps his cool and embraces the truth in pretending. he most obvious question to start with, without falling into the great abyss that is potty humor, is asking an artist who in his younger days took the pseudonym RassiPrump (Farty Bum) if Icelandic art has become more playful in the recent years? “I’m not sure. I think there’s a very thin line between playfulness and a very deep, almost Ingmar Bergman-esque seriousness, which I personally find most exciting. My two favorite quotes are by Halldór Laxness who said nothing was beautiful without being serious and on the other hand Montesquieu who said seriousness was the shield of stupidity. It’s an ambiguous thought. I think there has always been a space for humor within the arts on this island. The main difference in the scene now from what it used to be is that perhaps now it’s a bit friendlier. At the modernist parties my grandfather [sculptor Ragnar Kjartansson Sr.] threw, the artists couldn’t get enough of telling each other how much they sucked. Now people tend to try and back each other up and be a bit more encouraging. We are all children of SÚM (the local version of Fluxus in the 70’s). What I think sets the Icelandic art scene apart is that mostly it’s not commercially motivated. It’s still just an added bonus if you actually sell a piece. It is very much art for art’s sake up here.”
Six hours of Sorrow Graduated from the Iceland Academy of the Arts and a well known musician, Ragnar has merged his passions by creating art where he combines music and performance. “The boundaries between art forms have always been vague or perhaps non-existing. Theater for example combines all forms of art. Performance might be considered a newish form even though it’s based on theater, ritual and sculpture. Many of my performances involve transforming time and the act of performing into something painterly or sculptural.” With his recent performance, “A Lot of Sorrow” at MoMa PS1 together with The Na tional, Ragnar managed to do just that. “It created the perfect chance for me to create a pop culture “found material” work. I’ve always wanted to turn a music gig into something sculptural and there, both the band and the audience created something that made time stand still. The band played the song, “Sorrow” - the audience applauded; the band started the song again and then it went on like that for six hours. The crowd consisted of around 2000 people, many of whom spent the entire six hours there. It was all pretty beautiful. “Sorrow” is one of my absolute favorite songs. I wanted to make it into a sculpture – and it sort of worked.”
Satan is Real, 2007. Single-channel video, color, sound, loop. Photo curtesy of Ragnar Kjartansson and i8 Gallery, Reykjavík.
The great pretender For artists to identify themselves and what they represent can be a lifelong struggle. A revelation for Ragnar Kjartansson was when he realized he felt very comfortable with pretending. “I really like the truth in pretending and performing. I enjoy painting a lot because I feel like I’m pretending to paint. I’ve always felt a bit like that, my take on the whole thing is that I’m truly pretending to be an artist. I think the essence of our very culture is that we are constantly pre tending. It’s what makes us human. And then people speak like it’s a bad thing. If everyone were authentic and honest the whole time there would be no art. Art remains in the friction between truth and lies.”
S.S. Hangover In 2009 Ragnar represented Iceland at the Venice Biennale, the youngest of Icelandic artists to take part in this major exhibition. He now sets sails for Venice again, literally this time, in his ship S.S. Hangover. “I once saw a photo of a movie still in a cocktail recipe book where a ship called S.S. Hangover wrecks a party … so I bought an old boat. It was rebuilt in Skipavík, Stykkishólmur and then re-baptized in champagne as the S.S. Hangover. My friend Kjartan Sveinsson composed a piece of music for the work. The S.S. Hangover will be sailing in the Arsenale in Venice, four hours a day with a brass band
“If everyone were authentic and honest the whole time there would be no art. Art remains in the fric tion between truth and lies.” playing this insanely melancholic music. Getting the ideas for these things comes in a sudden flash. Following it through and making it happen is the main hassle, but it’s a wonderful hassle. It’s bizarre then seeing it actually happen but I never experience some mad euphoria after it. It’s something I’ve been working on, a process I‘ve gone through and then I have the results. Like when the perfor mance with The National was about to take place I thought I was going to freak out completely. But I was just like: “Mhmm.” I guess a part of it is that you’re trying to keep your cool as well. Freaking out because of your own work would be pretty pathetic, wouldn’t it?”
The End - Venice, 2009. Performance lasting six months in which Kjartansson painted his model all day, creating one painting after the other. Commissioned for the Icelandic Pavilion at the Venice Biennale.
Along those lines He is one of the most influential contemporary conceptual artists in Iceland giving his first exhibition back in 1968. A member of the somewhat legendary SÚM-group in the late 60’s, Kristján Guðmundsson still works with lines and the space between them which has defined his work, creating tension between what is and what is not. ristján has been around longer than many artists and it’s no surprise that the question: “So, did you go to art school?” is a rather dull and tiresome one in his ears. “I never went to art school. I became involved in arts because of my brother and my friends who were art ists. At that time I was learning aviation, finished the theory part for an airline transport pilot license but had a few flight lessons left that I never got to finishing.”
Making beautiful things In 1965 the SÚM-group formed, which consisted of a number of young artists. The somewhat controversial work of the SÚM-mem bers altered the art scene in Iceland and created new dimensions of the national terminology conventionally used to define art and artwork. Unusual material for their work, such as glass bottles, duct tape and laundry created the common conception that the group un der no circumstances wanted people to buy, keep or decorate their homes with their work. Given that, is it safe to say that they were not very sale orientated back in those days? “Of course we were sales orientated - Absolutely! All of the work was carefully thought through from a sellable perspective, regardless of whether it would sell or not,” he remarks somewhat jokingly. “But no, they weren’t very sellable. We thought nothing about the commercial aspect of it - Ignored it. First and foremost we were having fun and making beautiful things. The sale aspect was a nonissue. We were under various influences at the time; Fluxus and Arte Povera for example. The group was internally more similar when we were around the age of 25 but soon we devel oped in our own direction taking different paths. That is usually the way it goes in visual arts, and probably all forms of art,” says Kristján. Kristján’s main focus throughout the years has been on drawings, ink and pencil. I’ve made drawings with thick plates of graphite on top of or under huge rolls of paper. I get the graphite and lead from Nuremberg, Faber Castel and others. I’ve also made work from reg ular lead used in lead pencils, where I use the thin sticks of it to form lines. I’ve worked a lot with straight lines and the space between them. For example, I refer to my latest drawings as Olympic draw
ings. They are all the same: Four lines of graphite put straight onto the wall. Each piece of work comes with an item used for competing in the Olympics, for example a javelin or a shot put. I’m taking these drawings into a new direction in the sense that they are gendered. One drawing is called: Olympic drawing - Javelin Throw, women. Then there is a women’s javelin by the drawing. The next one is the same; four lines, has a shot put beside it called: Olympic drawing - Shot Put, men and then there is also men’s javelin throw and wom en’s shot put. There are two drawings of each type in the Olympic ones – one male and one female – so one way of defining them is by gender. You might say that this is my contribution to the fight for equal rights; making sure the sex ratio is equal.”
There’s enough going on “I don’t really think about it or follow it,” Kristján replies to the quest ion of how the current Icelandic art scene strikes him. “I only catch glimpses of it here and there. There’s enough going on, that’s for sure. You can hardly open a newspaper without there being at least ten fashion designers in it, this one and that one and all of them are making it big time. It’s intriguing,” he concludes.
“First and foremost we were having fun and making beautiful things. The sale aspect was a nonissue.”
Clear View on top of Red View, 2007, plexi. Photo: Curtesy of Kristján Guðmundsson and i8 Gallery, Reykjavík.
Olympic drawing - Javelin Throw, women, 2012, graphite and javelin.
Olympic drawing - Shot Put, men, 2012, graphite and shot put.
Photo: Kristinn Harðarson.
Photo: Kristinn Harðarson.
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A ship called Fantasea A musical composition performed by fifteen vessels from the Icelandic fleet, tooted inn this year’s Reykjavík Arts Festival. The captain of said vessel orchestra is an artist enchanted by the ocean with its raging power and serenity. Lilja Birgisdóttir embraces the energy of working with others, revels in the magic in all things familiar and firmly believes that people should experience art on their own terms. ach ship’s horn has a single tone, a unique tone that no other ship has. I used the ships in the harbor as instruments and the captains were my band members. The process of the vessel orchestra’s performance was one of the most fun collaboration I’ve ever been a part of. There was something extra cool about walking up there and being able to control these huge ships and have their captain’s follow my instructions. And then the performance itself was so much bigger than me. People could come down to the harbor and watch the performance and hear it walking in the streets nearby, even peo ple living in the neighborhood area could hear it if they opened their window. I found that very charming.”
A girl by the sea Lilja owns up to being a bit of a scatterbrain which might be one of the reasons for her affinity of the sea. “The sea has this ability to calm my mind and allow me to get the bigger picture. I feel best when I’m near it and when I’m not I get a bit claustrophobic. What also appeals to me are the customs and culture around the sea with the harbor often being the heart of the villages and towns.” In a country where the capital would in most places be defined as a village or a town, Lilja appreciates the small size of the community. “In my experience the fact that in Iceland there is not a lot of money in arts results in people helping each other out. There is a sense of harmony.” This strong sense of belonging to a community plays a part in identifying Lilja as an artist. After graduating from Iceland Academy of the Arts in 2010 she worked with several artists. “Working with other people allows you to push yourself even further. I get a lot of energy from working with others so collaborating suits me well. It’s good when you can get someone’s honest opinion and be able to toss ideas back and forth without anyone’s ego getting bruised or risking putting someone in a huff. The focus should be on the project, not the person.” A significant partner in creation is Lilja’s sister, Inga. Lilja and Inga are the younger sisters of Sigur Rós’s singer, Jón Þór Birgisson. Among their collaborations are the covers for the band’s album Valtari as well as their brother’s solo album Go. Surrounded by musicians it’s no wonder music serves as a huge source of inspira tion and plays a significant part in Lilja’s approach to art. “Music and art are so closely linked and depend on each other. Music being something you can hear and feel and art representing its tangible aspect. Making the cover for Valtari was a complete dream project. It was the final collaboration of the four Sigur Rós members and the music was so big, mystic but still familiar. When designing the cover we thought it had an element of something very heavy which still was able to float. Enter the idea of a heavy ship floating above the surface in the middle of an endless sea.”
Art without instructions After discussing how best to describe her work we settled on the term: magical realism. “I work with reality and everyday things but combine them with fantasy. Painting photographs is one of my major passions. The photograph has has been viewed as a representation of the truth but today photographs can be manipulated so there’s rarely much truth in it anymore. Painting photographs I’ve taken adds a very soft, almost dreamy feel, giving them a bit of warmth and rosy cheeks. It creates a certain distance because it takes a real person into a slightly imaginary world. “I think it’s very important when you make art that it is able to stand on its own and that people are able to interpret it or experience it in their own way. A leaflet with instructions on how to understand the work in front of you is not something I want. Your approach to the piece itself varies depending on your own personal experience and back ground. Icelanders are very much of a literature nation. Maybe visual arts have suffered from a bit of an inferiority complex in that sense. “Regarding Icelandic art, to me its main characteristic is joy. What I find very beautiful and inspiring about it is that it’s created for art’s sake. Artists are true to their own work and follow their instinct. The society as a whole may need to view art from a bit more profession al aspect and respect the fact that artists need to be paid for their
“Music and art are so closely linked and de pend on each other. Music being something you can hear and feel and art representing it‘s tangible aspect.” work, just like everybody else. It’s a common misunderstanding that arts do not pay off when the valuables they create boost the econo my and it is counted in billions. “Although being full of joy, art also deserves to be taken seriously. It’s not about a handful of hippies gluing things together in their flat. Arts have contributed a lot to the positive image of Iceland and that is beyond price.”
The Vessel Orchestra, 2013, hand colored photograph.
Stereoscope, 2010, hand colored photographs in stereoscope.
Untitled, 2008, hand colored photograph. From an exhibition called “… and kings fall from their thrones” focusing on the volatility of domination.
Whatever the question, love is the answer Few would be surprised that the founding force and main source of inspiration for the Icelandic Love Corporation is in fact - love. Sigrún Hrólfsdóttir, Jóní Jónsdóttir and Eirún Sigurðardóttir have been working together in visual art performance for almost two decades. They will be a part of the Venice Biennale this year where they display the tangible form of feelings with tights.
he group formed after having studied toge ther in what now is the Iceland Academy of the Arts. Having also worked separately as artists, the members of the Icelandic Love Corporation explain how they developed from performance into making sculptures and installa tions and acclaim the benefits of working together as a team. “We’ve worked a lot with tights from the very be ginning and that material has again taken more space in our recent work. First of all tights represent the feminine side and were worn as such as a part of our early perfor mances, but tights have a talent of almost being singular ly able to create an artistic expression on their own. Now our work with tights is more linked to feelings in various colors and density. Some feelings, and therefore tights, are brightly colored and almost fluorescent while others are black or white. The tights are of different density as well, both see-through and very thick. Like feelings, the tights can be sensitive and they can be wrinkled and cast aside or they can unravel. In the same way they can be firm, almost tense,” explains Sigrún with Eirún adding that the group identifies a lot of similarities between tights in all their forms and all the different manifestations of our feelings. With the product presenting a lovely, common and versatile fabric it is also a declaration of a synthetic man-made thing with a living human being that has ma neuvered its engineering skills yet again into simulating nature.
“Like feelings, the tights can be sensitive and they can be wrinkled and cast aside or they can unravel. In the same way they can be firm, almost tense.” 70 ı WOW is in the air
Moments in time The members of the Icelandic Love Corporation view tights as their paint and the society as a whole as their canvas. At the Venice Biennale the group will stretch out tights in different shapes and colors in their exhibition area. “It will look similar to a 3D Jackson Pollock painting”, they explain. If the feeling is right they also plan on performing an unannounced event during the Biennale and em phasize that such performances are all based around the emotions being in place with the final product being the experience for those taking part and/or observing. Is that maybe what performance is all about? “When starting out we performed in public places like shopping malls or airports or just out in the street, basically executing the performance when and where people weren’t prepared and beyond the confines of a theater or gallery. In a sense, performances can make art more accessible to people if they are struck by one when they least expect it. On the other hand, for the same reason, some people might be less receptive to this form of artistic expression. It’s neither a peculiar form of art nor is it a newly discovered one. The 20th century revealed just how comprehensive performances have been throughout the art history even though this particular art form is trickier to preserve than a photograph, a painting or a script to a theater piece. It’s a moment in time. Many of the most influential postmodernist artists would absolutely have qualified as performance artists but what remains after their day is the more tangible artwork they produced. Life itself is an event,” says Sigrún. Given that, one might think that Icelandic art has developed into becoming somewhat playful in the past years. “Icelandic art has always had a lot of humor in it even though that might not be what you notice at first. But if you dig deep enough you’ll find that leading Icelandic artists like, Jóhannes Kjarval for example, was one hell of a comedian. If you want to get your message through and influence society you should either become a politician or an artist.”
limits some of their potential for making a living from their work. Art galleries are very few so the focus of artists, who want to be true to themselves, can’t be all about trying to get into those galleries. Therefore, artists create art on their own terms regardless of what may go down well with the galleries. “All of us studied abroad but decided to move back home to Iceland and carry on our work here. But it’s great to get an opportunity to show your work in other places in the world and see what other people are doing as well. We have been working together for a long time and it feels like the Icelandic Love Corporation is now a force of its own that we should follow wherever it decides to take us. Our cooperation is built on a very
“If you want to get your message through and influence society you should either be come a politician or an artist.” clear foundation and that is where our work stems from. The concept of love was the founding force and main source of inspiration when we first started working together. We believed then as we do now that love conquers all and continue to work with the concept of love but now deal with more expressions of this particular feeling than we did before. And while we’ve embarked upon projects portraying the somewhat darker shades of love, we stay true to our original state ment that love is the most powerful force in the world. And if there’s anything in the world that is worth something, it’s love.”
A force of its own The professional art scene and market for art in Iceland is very small which the girls say both works in the artists’ favor as well as
Starry Night (2004, 300 x 150 cm), made entirely out of liquorice pieces.
Faces, 2010, portrets
Wild Woman Woodoo Granny Doily Crochet, 2007, cover art for Björk.
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The Third Dimension shown at Venice Biennale 2013. The elasticity of the stockings stretching and turning throughout the space will evoke a broad spectrum of emotions and notions of control and lack of control.
Reykjavík‘s latest landmark Guided tours daily at Harpa Concert Hall and Conference Centre Harpa tour isk 1.500 Every day at 11 am and 3.30 pm. Backstage tour isk 2.500 (15 pers. max) Take a look behind the scenes. Groups only. Tasting tour isk 2.700 Tour with a treat. Refreshments await you at the end.
Mies van der Rohe 2013 Harpa is the winner of the 2013 European Union Prize for Contemporary Architecture — Mies van der Rohe Award. More information at www.harpa.is
Singing tour isk 4.500 Enjoy the acoustics — and your guide’s voice.
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An obsession with art After curating exhibitions here and abroad Pétur Arason now devotes his time to his new exhibition space on Bergstaðarstræti in Reykjavík. Starting from a very early age, Pétur identifies art collecting as an enthusiasm turning into an obsession. To him good art is interesting and captivating and he kindly asks God to help those who create art from a commercial aspect. t my exhibition space I show art from my collection which now consists of between 1500 and 1600 items. I‘ve been a collector for 45 years, starting from when I was very young. My father was a collector but he died at a very young age. When I was around the age of 16 he took me out with him to meet artists and then I got to choose the artwork. That‘s how it started. There has to be an enormous amount of enthusiasm for you to keep at it and many start very young. One of the most famous art curators in the world, Hans-Ulrich Obrist, started to knock on the doors of artists and have a chat when he was only 13 years old. Enthusiasm develops into an obsession but you have to have it in you to begin with. In order to become a good art curator you have to put on a lot of effort and study what has already been done. But many people are involved in this without possessing the sufficient know how. To be a good curator you are constantly learning, educating yourself. Only taking a look at the last century you find that visual arts has changed significantly and you need to know what all the artists involved did; their bit in history.“
The role of curators Pétur says that he soon realized that his devotion to visual arts was to curate exhibitions. “I‘ve curated more than 150 exhibitions to date. I‘ve gotten to know a lot of artists, purchased their work and held exhibitions with their work.” The purpose of a museum is often defined along the lines of it being a cultural heritage institution. The role of curators in contemporary art can also be linked to that same purpose. “Good museums have that potential but very few museums have been able to devote themselves to that role in the last few years. Lack of money is to blame but also lack of qualified people. Today’s curator will try to maintain a certain development. Hopefully he sees what is good, buys it and thereby supports the artists. That is the purpose of galleries, which however often goes into too much of a commercial direction. If you are an artist with an overwhelm ing commercial approach, creating your work depending on what you think will go down well with the galleries then God help you. There will never be any real reward from a work created to please a certain market or crowd. Still, there are a lot of people who take that approach.”
“Some people just have it” “The population of this country is a little over 300,000. We can only have a handful of good artists and that’s not enough for me. I don’t think of Icelandic visual art as such. I have close friends who in my opinion are many of the best artists in the country. Of course I know what’s happening here and attend exhibitions and such, but art is an
international phenomenon. If a good artist pops up you know it in a flash. But they are few and far between. We are a small nation. We are few and not in a position to bring new movements into the visual arts. Some movements incorporate hundreds of artists, with maybe two or three of them being any good. Like the thing with the New Leipzig School of painting. A while ago every gallery had to have a Leipzig painting but now it’s a bit yesterday’s news,” Pétur adds. So what makes a good artist, what is good art? “What is art? I think it’s a phenomenon that’s interesting and captivating. I think that is the most honest answer to the question. It’s cliché to be true to your self and so and so. But what it all boils down to is that some people just have it, others don’t. I think you probably need to be fairly intelli gent as well. But then again, what is being intelligent?”
Being patient The act of buying and selling art has usually had a good few dollar symbols associated to it, at least to the outsider’s eye. Whether that’s the case or not depends on how many dollars you actually have. “Collectors who are well off, or even super rich, often hire people to handle their purchases. Then there are others who don’t have a lot of money. My approach to visual arts is that I very much enjoy spend ing time with artists. I’ve been involved in this for decades now and made many good friends and sometimes, due to the artist’s good will
“Buying art by a young artist is al ways a bit of a gamble. You never know what can happen. He can re tire in a year and what have you?” and as a favor to me, I have been able to afford art that I otherwise would not have been able to purchase. You don’t want to buy some thing that will be worthless in ten years. It’s said that 85% of sellable art resells for a considerably lower price. There are a good few one hit wonders, an artist who makes it big time but in a year nobody wants to have anything to do with him anymore. Being a curator is a lot about being patient. You can take the Wall Street approach where you only really aspire to make the most money out of things but that is not a direction I am keen on taking. Buying art by a young artist is always a bit of a gamble. You never know what can happen. He can retire in a year and what have you? We live in an age that is all about speed. If an artist is not visible and producing new work in hot gal leries, then he is often forgotten. But the truly great ones are never forgotten. There’s just not too many of them to go around.”
Art in Venice
Foundation The Venice Biennale (Italian: Biennale di Venezia) is a major contemporary exhibition that takes place once every two years in Venice, Italy. The formal biennale is based at the Giardini Park that houses 30 permanent national pavilions. The number of countries represented is still growing with Icelandic artists showing their work since 1984. Iceland’s featured artist for The Venice Biennale 2013 is Katrín Sigurðardóttir.
atrín was born in Reykjavík in 1967 and has lived and worked between Iceland and the United States for 25 years. Since her first solo exhibition in San Francisco in 1992, her works have been shown extensively in Europe and the Americas, and are included in numerous public and private collections. She has had notable solo exhi bitions at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (2010); MoMA PS1, New York (2006); FRAC Bourgogne, Dijon, France (2006); Sala Siqueiros, Mexico City (2005); Fondazione Sandretto, Turin, Italy (2004); and The Reykjavík Museum of Art (2000, 2004).
Crossing boundaries In her work, Katrin Sigurdardottir examines distance and memory and their embodiments in architecture, urbanism, cartography and
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traditional landscape representations. The places created are fre quently based on real places, points of departure, arrival or passage, places as minute in their spatial and temporal distance as the models she make of them. While alluding to real locations, her works question the verity of these places, as well as our account of them. Katrín’s work crosses the boundary between perceptual and em bodied space. She takes on the uneasy confrontation, when the viewer has to negotiate a new relationship with the miniature, see it as not representing other than itself, a disproportionate constructed object in the full-scale world. “Sigurdardottir’s work reminds us that the production of space is a complex phenomenon, in which perceptual and representational aspects cannot be separated from function or use. A Henri Lefevbre wrote [...] there is a triadic relation between conceived, perceived and lived space. Sigurdardottir works with a representational space that is conceptually used and perceptually lived.” - Giuliana Bruno
Foundation Katrin Sigurdardottir’s piece for The Venice Biennale is a large-scale sculptural intervention titled Foundation for the Lavanderia—The Old Laundry at Palazzo Zenobio. She has created a floating platform covered by an ornate, baroque-inspired design, measuring approx imately 90 square meters. The outline of the architectural structure takes its form from the footprint of a typical 18th century pavilion. It intersects both interior and exterior spaces of this auxiliary building in the garden of the palace, with two sets of stairs for access by visi tors. The project is born from a career-long exploration of distance and memory and their embodiments in architecture, urbanism, carto graphy, and landscape. Sigurdardóttir’s work often includes highly
Photos: ORCH_orsenigochemollo, Courtesy of the artist and the Icelandic Art Center
detailed renditions of places, both real and fictional, that incorporate an element of surprise. The piece will travel to the Reykjavík Art Mu seum and then to the Sculpture Center in Long Island City, New York and Katrin will adapt the sculpture to the new architecture of each location, yet it will maintain its original footprint as well as the cut-out memory of the walls of the previous sites. Upon entering the work, visitors will first climb the stairs leading from the garden to the platform, and then bend down to pass through the truncated doors of the building. The work extends beyond the confin es of the Lavanderia’s walls on three sides and allows the public to navigate diverse interior and exterior spaces. Visitors can also climb stairs to the roof of the building and look down on the sculpture’s large footprint and intricate patterns. The size of this architectural piece dwarfs the building, and thus takes on a familiar theme in Katrin’s oeuvre, the playful manipulation of scale. Notably, Iceland lacks its own pavilion in the Giardini, and therefore the floating, disembodied structure of Katrin’s sculpture takes on a special signi ficance. The outline of the form becomes a metaphor for the outline of the national space. By superimposing an elevated, highly decorative surface onto the Lavanderia, Katrin brings the two buildings, the pavilion and the laundry, together. The pavilion, symbolizing the opulence and leisure of the owner, is contrasted by the laundry’s associations with labor. The surface of the platform replicates artisanal tile construction and is handmade by the artist and her team. Katrin chose to use art materials instead of traditional flooring materials to emphasize the understanding of the surface as a sculpture that the viewer walks upon and wears down with every step. “This work is about drawing. It’s about labor, and it’s about spatial immersion. I wanted to create a work that could be entered from different points, navigated in multiple ways, and viewed from several levels, so that the visitor is both in the work and at the same time able to observe themselves in the work. This work is both new and familiar, familiar in that it will key into a twofold perception—to ex perience and concurrently observe oneself experiencing—a kind of
“This work is about drawing. It’s about labor, and it’s about spatial immersion. I wanted to create a work that could be entered from different points, navigat ed in multiple ways, and viewed from several levels.” existential trickery that I have played with in previous works. It is new in that it’s my first full-scale architectural interpretation,” says Katrin. The platform is the view “Sigurdardóttir has in recent years achieved substantial acclaim in the domestic and international art scene where her ever-more-elabo rate projects have been well received. She holds a unique position among Icelandic artists, particularly in terms of her diverse sculptur es and installations that are based on a strong conceptual founda tion,” says Dorothée Kirch, Director of The Icelandic Art Center. Eva Heisler, American poet and art critic, writes in the exhibition catalogue, “The raised floor, extending throughout the space and projecting outside the building, appears to slice through the Lavan deria. From the roof, guests look down on the tiled platform as it extends from the building on three sides… rather like seepage of the interior. Sigurdardóttir’s viewing platform is so intricate that it is the view. Traversing the decorative surface enhances awareness of the body’s relationship to space as one struggles to make sense of the building’s altered scale and the distraction of pattern at one’s feet.”
About the Pavilion of Iceland The Icelandic Art Center oversees the Pavilion of Iceland at la Biennale di Venezia in collaboration with the Reykjavík Art Museum, which will house Katrin’s exhibition in Iceland after the project in Venice ends. The choice of the representative of Iceland at the 55th International Art Exhibition – la Biennale di Venezia was in the hands of a panel of experts, which consisted of Dorothée Kirch, Director of The Icelandic Art Center, Ólöf Kristín Sigurdardóttir, Director of Hafnarborg, The Hafnarfjordur Center of Culture and Fine Art, and Hildur Bjarnadóttir, artist. Visiting members in the committee were Ragnar Kjartansson, artist, and Ólafur Gíslason, art historian.
The Reykjavík art scene
Icelandic art history begins in the late 19th century which might explain or partly account for the incredible amount of good art coming from our talented artists in the 20th and especially 21st century. We have a lot of lost time to make up for. That’s the most striking characteristic of the Reykjavík contemporary art scene, for a city of this size it’s both huge and very happening. Here is your essential map of 101 Reykjavík’s museums and galleries. Most of them offer information in English in the form of written material or guided tours and their staff often speak a variety of languages, so don’t be shy and have a look. You won’t regret it. The next few pages provide an inside look into some vital stops on your way. You’re in for a pleasant surprise.
By Guðrún Baldvina Sævarsdóttir Photos: Heiða Helgadóttir, Eyþór Árnason and Hallur Karlsson
Vit as t.
od da ga ta
sæ mu nd ar ga ta
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1. Kling&Bang Hverfisgata 42
13. Kogga Keramik Gallerí Vesturgata 5
2. i8 Tryggvagata 16
14. Factory Gallerí Bergstaðastræti 10
3. Safn / Collection Pétur Arason‘s and Ragna Róbertsdóttir‘s exhibition space Bergstaðastræti 52
15. Gallerí Studio Umbra Lindargata 14
4. Reykjavik Art Museum / Hafnarhus Tryggvagata 17 5. National Gallery of Iceland Fríkirkjuvegur 7 6. Hverfisgallerí Hverfisgata 4
7. Gallery Bakarí Bergstaðarstræti 14 8. Spark design space Klapparstígur 33 9. Þoka (inside Hrím) Laugavegur 25 10. Studio Stafn Ingólfsstræti 6 11. Gallerí Grandi Fiskiðjan Reykás, Grandagarði 33 12. Gallerí Ófeigur Skólavörðustígur 5
16. Gallerí Tukt (inside Hitt Húsið) Pósthússtræti 3-5 17. Kunstschlager Rauðarárstíg 1 18. The Lost Horse Gallery Vitastígur 9a 19. Gallerí Fold Rauðarárstígur 12-14 20. Artíma Gallerí (inside the Living Art Museum) Skúlagata 28
24. Ásgrímur Jónsson Collection Bergstaðastræti 74 25. ASÍ Art Museum Freyjugata 41 26. The Einar Jónsson Museum Corner of Eiríksgata-Njarðargata 27. Reykjavík Museum of Photography Grófarhús, Tryggvagata 15
30. Sigurjón Ólafsson Museum Laugarnestangi 70 31. Kjarvalsstaðir Flókagata 24 32. Ásmundarsafn Sigtún
28. The Nordic House Sturlugata 5 29. The University of Iceland Art Collection Sæmundargata 2 and other buildings of the University
21. Tveir hrafnar Baldursgata 12
22. The Living Art Museum (Nýlistasafnið) Skúlagata 28 23. The Culture House (Þjóðmenningarhúsið) Hverfisgata 15
The Reykjavík art scene
Listasafn he National Gallery of Iceland is located in a beautiful building formerly a freezing plant but redesigned for the museum in 1987. Their two current exhibitions are a perfect combination for tourists who would like a peak into the Icelandic nationality. “Treasures” spans three separate exhibitions in three spaces that combined provide a unique overview of Icelandic art history. As the name implies, the exhibitions are made up of treasures from the museum’s collection, from the very first Icelandic painting that the museum acquired, to works by this year’s Icelandic representative at the Venice Biennale, Katrín Sigurðardóttir. “Subjective Maps – Disappearances” is a project by the Little Con stellation network and the National Gallery’s contribution to the Reykja vík Art Festival. The exhibition is a collaboration of nearly 40 artists from 15 small European nations and regions which attempts to capture the great variety of these European outposts – and succeeds. If the single huge portrait by Bertha Wegmann in the hallway comes as a shock, you should know that the National Gallery has a substantial collection of foreign classics and is in constant enlarge ment. Recent years have also seen ambitious exhibitions such as the Louise Bourgeois “Femme” exhibition in 2011, a selection of re nowned photographs by Cindy Sherman in 2010 and Shirin Neshat’s video works in 2008. If you’re picking up on a theme here it might not be a coincidence “As a National Gallery we need to balance
what we exhibit, international and domestic art, exhibitions for children et cetera,” says museum director Halldór Björn Runólfsson. “We also try to highlight the often forgotten part women play in the art world,” and no wonder, “There is tangible power in Icelandic women artists, and in many ways they are incredibly daring and fearless,” says Halldór. We couldn’t agree more. Don‘t miss the digital image library stations, where you can sit for hours getting to know Icelandic art history through high quality digital photographs, or the museum’s extensive library located in Laufásvegur 12. The museum also has a reputation of publishing books of high quality, the latest achievement being Icelandic Art Today. “We’re also working on a “highlights” edition in English of the recently published Icelandic Art History” which is good news for tourists who might be reluctant to pack the five volume original edition in their suitcases. Check out the museum store for more books, interesting design and posters. Guided tours in English are available on Fridays at 12:10 and remember that discount tickets will get you into Listasafn Ísland’s main building, the Ásmundur Jónsson collection in Laufásvegur and the Culture House exhibitions in Hverfisgata. A separate ticket is required for the Sigurjón Ólafsson Museum in Laugarnes but it is well worth the scenic walk along the Sæbraut coastline. The National Gallery is a treasure in itself and you cannot leave Reykjavík without a visit.
“There is tangible power in Icelandic women artists, and in many ways they are incredibly daring and fearless,” says Halldór. We couldn’t agree more.
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Fríkirkjuvegur 7 Open Tue-Sun 11-17 www.listasafn.is
Hafnarhús, Tryggvagata 17 Open 10-17/Thu 10-20 www.artmuseum.is
Erró, Bertolt Brecht, 2008.
istasafn Reykjavíkur (Reykjavík Art Museum) is Iceland’s largest museum, both in square meters and number of works in its possession. With a collection of over 17,000 works, the museum is housed in three separate buildings, not to mention Reykjavík’s numerous outdoor sculptures. The three buildings are dedicated to three of the biggest Icelandic names in the collection, the painter Jóhannes Kjarval, the sculptor Ásmundur Sveinsson and postmodern superstar Erró. Hafnarhús hosts the Erró collection as well as the more contem porary side of the museum. It is an impressive building which doubles as a venue for many exciting events throughout the year. Kjarvalsstaðir is just a few minutes’ walk from Hlemmur bus stop and is home to over 5000 of the beloved painter’s works as well as more traditional exhibitions. Ásmundarsafn is situated in the artists’ home in Laugardalur Park and has almost 2400 of the sculptor’s works, including an impressive sculptor’s garden. It’s an indescrib able place so you’ll just have to go there to see for yourself. This summer Ásmundarsafn hosts an exhibition of the sculptor’s works linking his creative process to various literary pieces he was inspired by. Fans of the Icelandic sagas and Icelandic folklore should not let this exhibition pass them by. “What makes the Icelandic contem porary art scene so special is this bubbling creativity these few but
powerful artists possess. The amount of exciting contemporary art of high quality is really very surprising in a city this size” says museum director Hafþór Yngvason. When asked about the outdoor sculptures situated all over the city he adds “People might not realize just what kind of remarkable art we’re surrounded by, such as Richard Serra’s sculpture “Milestones” or Yoko Ono’s “Peace column”, both situated in Viðey island”. This summer you’ll find plenty of contemporary Icelandic art in Haf narhús as well as a good overview of Icelandic art history from 19001950 in Kjarvalsstaðir. “Even though Listasafn Reykjavíkur is a venue for both domestic and international art, we try to offer a selection of Icelandic art exhibitions during the summer months” says Hafþór. Don’t miss the retrospective exhibition of Magnús Pálsson’s perfor mance works titled “The Sound of a Bugle in a Shoebox” or Huginn Þór Arason and Andrea Maack’s “Interval” exhibition which includes the scent of a museum in the distant future. You’ll also find everything you need to know about art in Iceland in the form of impressive books available in English in these museums’ gift shops as well as posters and models of key works from the collect ion. Guided tours in foreign languages are also available on request. Keep in mind that a ticket to Hafnarhús will also get you into Kjarvals staðir and Ásmundarsafn for a broader art experience.
“People might not realize just what kind of remarkable art we’re surrounded by, such as Richard Serra’s sculpture “Milestones” or Yoko Ono’s “Peace column”, both situated in Viðey island”.
Tryggvagata16 Open Tue-Fri 11-17/Sat 13-17 www.i8.is
Finnbogi Pétursson, Earth, 2009, water, 7,8 hz sinus wave, electronics. Photo: Curtesy of the artist and i8 Gallery, Reykjavík.
epresenting a total of 22 artists internationally, i8 is one of Reykjavík’s best known galleries. Located in Tryggva gata near the Reykjavik Art Museum it makes a visual impact on visitors. If the gallery, with its high ceilings and big windows feels more spacious than it actually is, it’s thanks to the clever design of the architects KurtogPi. i8 is a primary market commercial gallery, but don‘t worry, they welcome all visitors, so drop by and have a look. Their emphasis has been said to be on conceptual art “but our only goal from the beginning has been to work with good artists and to create beautiful and meaning ful exhibitions,” says Börkur Arnarson, i8’s owner/director. “We really only deal with works that we like ourselves, so in fact, the character of the gallery is defined by the artists we represent.” During our conversation an enchanting video by Ragnar Kjartans son runs in the background and I realize that I have no idea how one would go about buying video art (the work is sold on a hard drive in
a limited number of certified editions) or for that matter, the acoustic waves of a glacier captured in a wall mural by Finnbogi Pétursson (it will be re-made on a wall of your choosing). Conceptual contempor ary art can be fascinating stuff. Börkur describes the art that the gallery exhibits as “challenging” and “exciting” but adds that contemporary art doesn’t just exist in galleries and museums. Take for example Sigurður Guðmundsson’s A piece by the Sea (Fjöruverk), a public work on nearby Sæbraut or for those ready for a short road trip, Roni Horn’s Library of Water (Vatnasafn) in Stykkishólmur, a scenic two hour drive away. If you do visit the gallery, Bigir Andrésson’s visual linguistics, Ragna Róbertsdóttir’s lava gravel wall works, Margrét Blöndal’s found object installations, and Egill Sæbjörnsson’s playful video pieces, are sure to impress. On June 6th, i8 will open an exhibition of new works by one of Iceland’s most renowned artists, Ólafur Elíasson. The show runs until August 17th. Art lovers should not let this pass them by.
Their emphasis has been said to be on conceptual art “but our only goal from the beginning has been to work with good artists and to create beautiful and meaningful exhibitions,” says Börkur Arnarson, i8’s owner/director.
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Kling hen I met three of the ten Kling & Bang founders on a Friday afternoon they were finishing up, their lunches on one hand and final touches on the Clive Murphy exhibition on the other. Daníel Björnsson, Sirra Sigrún Sigurðardóttir and Erling T.V. Klingenberg have been around the Kling & Bang project from the beginning. They celebrat ed Kling & Bang’s ten year birthday that week and they had good reason to celebrate, the average lifetime of projects of this nature being about 2-4 years. The artist run space focusing on cutting edge contemporary art was founded in 2003 by ten artists who wanted to fill the vacancy of a venue for artists to show their work in a flexible and open space. “You can drill in our floors, paint our walls and make a real mess and we’ll help you do it,” says Sirra Sigrún on their attitude towards their exhibitions. “When we started out, some galleries were still charging artists for using their space”. Museums by nature tend to exhibit established artists more so than up and coming ones, so where do contemporary artists go to produce that desirable dialogue between artist and audience? The flexibility of their space and their focus on the artist and their work is an important characteristic of Kling & Bang. When I ask them if the works they exhibit include a price tag for potential buyers they look like they’ve never had anyone ask them that before. “We’re not a commercial gallery but if people are interested in buying some thing, then that’s great.” It’s a very endearing response coming from
people who volunteer all of their work associated with the gallery as well as being working artists themselves. They’re clearly not doing it for the money. “We donate our time and mental support during the process of creating an exhibition.” That’s quite the donation since the majority of their exhibitions are site specific, i.e. created for that particular space and event. Kling & Bang gallery exhibits works by both Icelandic and inter national artists whom they invite to their space because in the words of Daníel Björnsson: “applications are too formal and require all kinds of maintenance.” After over 100 exhibitions in 10 years they have a reputation for be ing the place to be if you want to keep up with the buzzing contem porary art scene in Reykjavík. They’re fresh and always interesting but don’t let the down to earth attitude fool you. They’ve become quite renowned exhibiting as a collaborative project all over the world, including Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall and currently in Malmö Konsthall in Sweden (not to mention their exhibition box at Hlemmur bus terminal which opened last year and brings contemporary art to the bus travelling public). And if you drop by and want to know more or even buy a piece for your collection? “Talk to us.” Says Daníel, “There’s always someone hanging around and this place is meant to produce dialogue.” Clive Murphy’s “Neo Proto Demo” exhibition will run until June 23rd and on July 6th the “London utd.” exhibition will open, a collaboration including artists Gavin Turk and Turner Prize nominee Mark Titchner.
“You can drill in our floors, paint our walls and make a real mess and we’ll help you do it,” says Sirra Sigrún on their attitude towards their exhibitions.
Hverfisgata 42 Open Thur-Sun 14-18 www.klingogbang.is Issue three
Hverfisgallerí rand new and exciting, Hverfisgallerí only opened their doors last February but already have a reputation of quality and an exciting line-up of artists including textile prodigy Hildur Bjarnadóttir and the estates of re nowned artists Georg Guðni and Magnús Kjartansson. Except for Belgian visual artist Jeanine Cohen, all of Hverfisgallerí’s represented artists are Icelandic. The gallery focuses on paintings and sculptures but the mediums these artists work in span an im pressive range. From this ensemble you’ll find paintings, sculptures, textiles, murals, performances and pretty much anything you can think of in terms of visual art. Oddly enough they comprise a compre hensive group, as you shall find when you walk through an exhibition of their works. It wouldn’t have occurred to me that Hildur Bjarna dóttir’s textile sculptures would work so well with Sigryggur Bjarni Baldursson’s paintings of running water. But seeing is believing. “We place the running exhibition in the front room, giving them ample space with room to breathe. In the remainder of our space we place selected works that comprise our represented artists plus the odd commission sale of 20th century classics,” says gallery director
Marteinn Tausen. Commission sales are handpicked and Hverfisgallerí is picky (hence the reputation of quality) so bring your highest expectations to this gallery. They also keep an extensive catalogue so if you’re looking for something special they are sure to be of assistance. “We work closely with our artists, so for those interest ed in seeing more, we try to arrange visits to artists’ studios when possible” says Marteinn. Hverfisgallerí just opened an exhibition of works by Magnús Kjart ansson from 1980 – 1983, a curious era in the artist’s portfolio. “Fans of Magnús Kjartansson are probably in for a surprise since most of these works have never left the artist’s studio before.” The exhibition is open until the end of June, followed by an exhibition of Jeanine Cohen’s works in July. And Marteinn agrees with the word on the street “The number of exciting contemporary artists that are producing good quality art in such a small country is really unique.” If you’re strolling down busy Hverfisgata, drop in on Hverfisgallerí for a mixture of brilliant art in a relaxed setting.
“We work closely with our artists, so for those interested in seeing more, we try to arrange visits to artists’ studios when possible” says Marteinn.
Hverfisgata 4 11-17 Tue-Fri/13-16 Sat www.hverfisgalleri.is
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Bergstaðastræti 14 Open Mon-Fri 12-18/Sat 12-16 www.facebook.com/gallerybakari
ou guessed it, “Bakarí” is Icelandic for bakery. In case you’re wondering why an art gallery would have such a name, it derives from the fact that it‘s in the same location once used by one of Iceland’s oldest running companies, Björnsbakarí. They’ve kept the 75 year old tiles on the floors and you can still see the engraved flour decorating them. The floors are enchanting and the atmosphere is welcoming and relaxed with lounge chairs and books that invite you to stay awhile. Gallery Bakarí opened in December 2012 and has been most welcomed to the flora of art galleries in Reykjavík. Gallery director Sveinn Þórhallsson says that while their focal point is contemporary art, they have a selection of Icelandic classics in commission sales. These include abstract works by Eyborg Guðmundsdóttir, Kristján Davíðsson and Þorvaldur Skúlason. The works they commission are handpicked for their quality, not for their name and although abstract and naïve art are popular in the selection, Gallery Bakarí can most
likely provide you with whatever you’re looking for, as long as what you want is good quality Icelandic art. The back half of the gallery is dedicated to exhibitions, the front half exhibits works on commission sales. “We try not to linger too long with each exhibition, giving them about three weeks standing. Of course the works from these exhibitions will remain available in the gallery” says Sveinn. They work exclusively with commercial exhibitions and should you become smitten with what you see and want to know more, a visit to the artist’s studio or a commissioned work can usually be arranged. Ásrún Kristjánsdóttir’s current exhibition “Upptaktur” (Upbeat) will run until end of May and will be replaced by Þorvaldur Jónsson’s fourth private exhibition on June 1st. Drop by Gallery Bakarí and get a whiff of mid 20th century classics amidst established contemporary art in a cozy environment right in the city center.
Part of Ásrún Kristjánsdóttir’s exhibition “Upbeat”.
“We try not to linger too long with each exhibition, giving them about three weeks standing. Of course the works from these exhibitions will remain availab le in the gallery” says Sveinn. Issue three
Spark design ituated on Klapparstígur there is no good reason not to drop by Spark design space to check out some of Iceland’s freshest design. The three year old gallery is run by Sigríður Sigurjónsdóttir, former product design professor at the Icelandic Academy of Arts. “I noticed that students had a hard time getting their products or works through a certain hurdle in the production stage. I wanted to provide a much needed venue for Icelandic design as well as a push for designers to get their products through to the finishing stages. In the beginning my students helped me out a lot, doing volunteer work on the week ends to keep us up and running.” The atmosphere is a great mixture of sincerity and passion and the design is enchanting and beautiful. Originally an exhibition gallery, they’ve evolved into a sizeable boutique as products move from exhibition phase to shelves. Half of the first floor is still devoted to
exhibitions and they always come as a wonderful surprise. The cur rent exhibition, Róshildur Jónsdóttir’s “Something Fishy”, looks like beautiful craftsmanship but is actually carefully cleaned fish bones employing innovative biological technology in the process. Stepping down into the lower floor you’ll find hidden treasures in the form of posters by graphic designer Goddur, Brynjar Sigurðar son’s unique wooden sticks as well as books and videos to inform and enlighten. If you’re looking to buy unique presents, collect beau tiful design or just see something different, check out the visually pleasing ingenuity on offer here. Odds are, you’ll love it. In June graphic designer Sigríður Rún will open an exhibit in Spark design space titled “the Anatomy of script” where she creates ana tomical evolving creatures out of personal handwriting producing beautiful art in the process. We’re excited, aren’t you?.
The current exhibition, Róshildur Jónsdóttir’s “Something Fishy”, looks like beautiful craftsmanship but is actually carefully cleaned fish bones employing innovative biological technology in the process.
Part of Sigríður Rún’s exhibitions “The anatomy of script”.
Klapparstígur 33 Open Mon-Fri 10-18/Sat 12-16 www.sparkdesignspace.com 86 ı WOW is in the air
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The main shopping street
L a u g a v e g u r Running straight through central Reykjavík, Laugavegur is THE shopping street of choice for trendy locals. The name of the street literally translates into “Wash Road”, for up to around 1930, Laugavegur was the route women of Reykjavik travelled when they took their laundry to wash in the hot springs a few kilometers away. Laugavegur boasts myriads of fashion shops and trendy boutiques which line both sides of the street making it the ideal place for visitors looking for the crème de la crème of Icelandic fashion. Laugavegur also offers shops with fantastic selections of international and well-known labels. Icelandic fashion is really taking off these days and definitely worth checking out. If visiting Iceland and doing a bit of shopp ing in central Reykjavík has been on your travel bucket list for a while, a visit to Laugavegur is not to be missed.
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The main shopping street
by GUÐMUNDUR JÖRUNDSSON JÖR by GUÐMUNDUR JÖRUNDSSON is an Icelandic fashion label, launched in October 2012. JÖR has in less than a year established itself as one of Iceland’s leading fashion brands. Although the designer was already known for another local menswear brand, this brand grew fast. Its first collection received critical acclaim and blew fresh winds into the Icelandic fashion scene. The label’s second collection AW 2013 was revealed at this year’s Reykjavík Fashion Festival and included women’s wear as well as menswear. The collection received rave reviews and was described in all the media as “the hit” of the Reykjavik Fashion Festival. In April 2013 JÖR launched their flagship store in Reykjavik, located in one of Laugavegur’s most celebrated houses. The shop was designed by the Icelandic artist Axel Hallkell Jóhannesson, better known as Langi Seli. The JÖR flagship store is an absolute “must visit” when in Reykjavík and shopping for Icelandic design. JÖR by GUÐMUNDUR JÖRUNDSSON Laugavegur 89 101 Reykjavík www.jorstore.com www.facebook.com/JORbyGJ Open 7 days a week
The main shopping street
The locally designed and produced label J E T KORINE is available in the store G L O R I A, accompanied by brands such as Humanoid, Base Range and THVM Jeans. G L O R I A stays true to its vision where the emphasis is firmly on sustainability, modern simplicity and elegant daily wear. The store has a beautiful selection of clothes and accessories, with a dash of ethnic influences that suit women of all ages. GLORIA Laugavegur 37 / Tel: 571-7790 Opening hours: Mon-Thu:10-18 Fri: 10-18:30 Sat: 10-17 Sun: 12-17 (Jun/Jul/Aug) Follow on Facebook: Jet Korine www.jetkorine.com
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The main shopping street
38 þrep 38 þrep is a beautiful boutique in the heart of Reykjavík. The feeling you get as you walk into this woman´s world is a combination of poetry and femininity, where Italian design is the main focus. In the boutique one can find incredibly well crafted shoes made of quality leather, bags, jewelry, underwear and oils as well as luxurious clothing. The atmosphere is relaxed and refined and you get excellent service from the staff that is both passionate and knowledgeable about their products. 38 Þrep Laugavegur 49 Tel: 5615813 Opening hours: Mon-Fri: 11-18 Sat: 11-16
The main shopping street
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The main shopping street
Aftur... The End Aftur is an Icelandic label that makes clothing from recycled textiles and always works fair and local. Every Aftur piece is unique and handcrafted with care and attention to detail. Aftur enjoys working with creative people and has worked with many artists such as Björk, Jónsi, GusGus, Emilíana Torrini, and most recently with the band Sigur Rós for their ongoing tour. Aftur recently branched out and moved the boutique to a beautiful first floor location at Laugavegur 39. The boutique carries clothing labels such as Raquel Allegra, VPL, Salvor, Aftur, Pleasure Principle and Upstate, jewelry from K/ller collection and A Peace Treaty, perfumes from Infiore and D.S. & Durga, and scented candles from Voluspa among other handpicked, high quality items. The boutique offers a visual experience and the atmosphere is both welcoming and friendly.
Aftur... The End Laugavegur 39 www.aftur.is Follow on Facebook: Aftur Opening hours: Mon-Thu:10-18 Fri: 10-18:30 Sat: 10-17 Sun: 12-17 (Jun/Jul/Aug)
The heart of
Fans of street art should head to the Heart Garden (Hjartagarðurinn) this summer as it just might be their last chance. Scheduled for demolition, this park, that’s not really a park but more of an enclosed haven close to Laugavegur, is where graffiti artists, skaters, families with children, tourists and musicians hang out. It has been used as a venue during numerous occasions, such as Reykjavík Culture Night and boasts impressive artworks made by aspiring graffiti artists with a vision for their beloved space.
he Heart Garden is a place for peo ple but the project involving this space began about four years ago when myself and some of my friends started decorating the walls of the burnt down and abandoned buildings surround ing it. With the permission of the owners of course,” says graffiti artist Örn Tönsberg, also known as 7berg. Last summer Örn and his colleagues took the space over with a grant from the City of Reykjavík and started overseeing its maintenance. “The place was really dilapidated, but with the money we got we could do something fun with it. We cleaned the space up a bit, built ramps for skaters, invited musicians to perform and
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made a play area for children. I think this is the only place downtown where children can actually play. People love this space and I can’t count how many go through the Heart Garden every day.” The Heart Garden’s extensive wall art is under constant revision. Old and faded pictures get painted over with new ones. “It is an unspoken rule that as long as you think you can do better, you can paint over anything,” says Örn and adds that this is not organized in any way.
o one is maintaining the Heart Park right now as the surrounding buildings are scheduled for demolition later this summer
and new buildings will rise that will eliminate this space leaving only a small walkway between them. “The Heart Garden has now become a part of Reykjavík’s culture. In my opinion a space like this is essential for this neighborhood; a haven for locals and tourists alike. It will be a shame to see it go,” says Örn.
f you venture out of Reykjavík and head towards Akranes you probably can’t help but notice an impressive wall art next to a gravel mine that reads “Flatus lifir” (Flatus lives). This work was made about three years ago by a group of graffiti artists called RWS who got a grant from Young Peoples Europe (EUF) to make four large graffiti works around the country. But the story behind Flatus lifir is much older than this par ticular picture. The words have been on that very same wall for close to three decades although not always so artfully portrayed.
It’s a modern day mystery for Icelanders as no one seems to know what ‘Flatus lifir’ means or who is responsible for first putting the words on the wall. No matter how often the wall has been painted Flatus has always returned. Icelanders have often mistaken the word for ‘Flatlús’ (crab louse) to the amusement of some and the horror of others. Someone then added the letters needed for it to say crab louse and the crude graffiti stood like that for a little while. It was then painted over but the words soon reappeared on the wall and someone even added to them: ‘Flatus lifir enn’ (Flatus still lives). Many stories are circulating about the origin of those words.
ome think it was written by a group of college friends returning from a camping trip, others say it’s the name of a gang from Akureyri and still others that it’s the work of a man from Akranes. And then there is the most probable story … the words play hom age to an Icelandic 80s band called Flatus, flatus being Latin for intestinal gas.
“No matter how often the wall has been painted Flatus has always returned.”
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The ultimate souvenir Never mind the chocolate, silver spoon or key ring. If you really want a souvenir that will last, a tattoo is the way to go. In Iceland the place to go for a tattoo is Reykjavík Ink. Linda Mjöll Þorsteinsdóttir, owner of Reykjavík Ink and Ólafía Kristjáns dóttir, a promising apprentice at the tattoo studio, tell us about the tattoo culture and what Reykjavík Ink is all about. We opened Reykjavík Ink in 2008 after having hosted the Ice landic Tattoo Convention 2006 and 2007,“ says Linda Mjöll. “My husband Össur and I thought the Icelandic tattoo culture needed more diversity and we wanted to open a tattoo studio where guest artists from all over the world would come and give us a taste of what is new and exciting.“ Now the Icelandic Tattoo Convention is an annual affair hosted by Reykjavík Ink. This June 6-8, the convention will be held for the 8th time at Bar 11, the most popular rock bar in Iceland. “Tattoos are an art form. There are many different styles and they follow certain trends. Popularity of the different styles changes over time but the old classics will never get old,” says Linda. “The keys to a good tattoo are a good artist with an
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understanding of what will look good on your skin and a good drawing. There is a lot a tattoo artist has to think about and the designing process is just as im portant as the tattooing part. Our artists here at Reykjavík Ink are incredibly talented, respected artists in the tattooing commu nity. That is the standard we set for our shop and we take pride in giving you the very best.“ Both Linda and Ólafía are heavily tattooed. “These are different times,“ says Linda. “Not just criminals and sailors have them these days, everyone gets tat tooed today; your dentist, your nanny … everyone.“ People’s reactions to heavily tattooed women like Linda and Ólafía vary from admiration to dismay, “but that‘s just fine,“ Ólafía says. “Beauty is in the eye of the be holder. We‘re all different, but it‘s funny when the security guard
singles you out and follows you at the supermarket,“ she adds with a laugh. Reykjavík Ink is open from noon until 10pm or longer if needed, “we do everything from big back pieces to the small little tattoos. It‘s usually by appointment but if we are able to, we also take walk-ins,“ says Linda. “We try to do everything to meet the customers‘ needs.“ Reykjavík Ink’s web page is currently under construction but check out their Facebook page to see pictures of tattoos from all the artists that visit the studio. Reykjavík Ink Frakkastígur 7 email@example.com Tel: 551 7707 www.facebook.com/ reykjavikink
“Tattoos are an art form. There are many different styles and they follow certain trends. Popularity of the different styles changes over time but the old classics will never get old,” says Linda.
WOW air‘s fleet has grown considerably and with the summer schedule upon us that can only mean the WOW air’s cabin crew is growing too. All of those employees need a whole lot of uniforms and although WOW air is already known for its stylish look and cool uniforms, the amount of new clothing needed, presented an opportunity to do even better. Meet clothing designer Gunnar Hilmarsson.
hen I was asked if I was will ing to design the first WOW air uniform I readily replied yes,” says Gunnar. The first uniform was a huge success and the cabin crew has raised quite a lot of eyebrows in the world’s airports wearing the stylish and eye catching trappings. “When I designed it I was inspired by that fifties feeling of classy, simple and sexy fashion. The assignment was to capture those femi nine lines of the fifties that could still work in 2012. It had to be classy enough to create an atmosphere, yet fit for working in the skies.” And Gunnar knows what he‘s talking about. He‘s worked all over the world for labels such as Top Shop, Nokia, Day Birger et Mikkelsen and All Saints, as well as founding Icelandic top design label Andersen & Lauth. Today he designs for the fresh and popular label Freebird. The request for a new uniform was simple enough and included only two things: the uniform should be in WOW air’s color and it should be classy. “I again found inspiration in the fifties when women were fearless when it came to showing off their curves. It was the decade where women took power to a greater extent and thankfully, still yield it. The stewardesses are strong, feminine and full of confidence. The stewards are as elegant as gentlemen of the fifties were. I can’t wait to pass this group in an airport. If only I could just get them to move in slow motion with a wind and smoke machine on standby, just to capture the mood perfectly, you know? Maybe it’s too much to ask, but I’ll be sure to bring it up with the people at WOW air. I’m sure it can be arranged!” As you can see the mission was accomplis hed as the cabin crew now glides with pre viously unknown elegance through airports and cabin couches.
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Something fishy in Siglufjörður
While leafing through an in-flight magazine during a domestic flight earlier this year, yours truly came across an illustrated article about the reconstruction of Siglufjörður. by Einar Kárason Photos: Kristinn Magnússon
he small fishing town on the north coast of Iceland was apparently undergoing a serious make over; historic old houses that had been left empty and in a total state of rusty disre pair were now being restored and painted in bright colors. And the driving force behind the town’s facelift was no other than the entrepreneur Róbert Guðfinns son, former managing director of Þormóður Rammi and chairman of the board at SH/Icelandic Group. Seeing Robert’s name in the print ed media again was exciting. His rise to the top – a young common man from the north becoming an influential figure of Icelandic capitalism – had gotten a lot of attention ‘back in the day’. Then Robert disappeared for a while, but now he has resurfaced– com ing up for air in his hometown of Siglufjörður. I found the town’s renovations very interesting and was instantly reminded of a trip I took a few years ago to Martha’s Vineyard, the widely acclaimed summer colony on the East Coast of the United States. A popular summer colony for the rich and famous, the island is mostly known for hosting film stars, tycoons and the Kennedys. Crossing over on the ferry, you expect the island to be adorned with the usual mansions born of American enthusiasm, a shrine to bad taste completed with pink palaces, diamond Jacuzzis and Neverlands. But what actually greets you is quite the opposite. The island is made up of a few villages, built around fishing ports, with modestly sized wooden houses. The scenery reminds you of a traditional Icelandic coastal town – except that the Icelandic towns are facing depopula tion, closures, dilapidation and rapidly dropping property prices while their western counterparts are so in vogue that only the
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very affluent can afford to par take. Shouldn’t there be a happy medium between the two?
Fresh and colorful I wanted to investigate and so, with my better half, I drove up north to take a look at the renov ations and interview Róbert Guðfinnsson. It’s been well over thirty years since I first came to Siglufjörður. Back then, the old decaying and rotting herring stations and wooden piers were still standing – making it the per fect refuge for me, a young city boy with a thirst for melancholic poetry about the end of the world. I went back a few times after that and while my spirits may have livened, Siglufjörður seemed stuck in a dreary rut; and rightfully so if you consider its shrinking population. In it‘s heyday, Siglufjörður bustled with 4000 inhabitants but since the sudden disappearance of the herring back in 1969 it‘s dropped down to about 1400 people. This time around, driving into town was a completely different experience. Colorful, freshly painted houses saluted us from the hills as soon as we turned the corner, clearly heralding that some seriously cheerful changes had been made. And as I later
institutions have sprung up all over the place: The Icelandic Poetry Center is now situated in one little pretty house, filled with poetry collections and an interesting schedule that include readings and events dedicated to this lovely art form that Icelanders have been engag ed in for the longest time. A noteworthy Folk Music Center has also been established with such a bountiful reservoir that you could spend the whole day listening and browsing through it. And then there is The Herring Era Museum, an almost super natural phenomenon. It’s one of the most interesting museums of this sort I have ever visited. In one of its houses, the whole harbor – and everything that comes along with it – has been set up in its entirety: the tools, the working facilities, even the office with its papers and red tape – it’s all there! In one hut, a seasonal worker’s living quarters have been reproduced, their clothing and baggage and lifestyles have been so well represented that you almost feel like the herring girls have simply gone out for a little while, most likely down to the harbor to attend to the barrels.
Coming back Down by the marina a row of nice restaurants have opened up; “Hafnarkráin”, “Hannes boy” and “Rauðka” – it’s by that last one that a zestful man comes up to me, cheerful and talkative, the sort of man that apparently has a lot more to say than time to say it in. Standing before me was the one and only Róbert Guðfinnsson. We exchange a few words and I learn that Rob ert sold all of his Icelandic assets and moved to Arizona in the middle of the Icelandic boom in 2005. He mentioned his child
“ ... in 2010 we had the largest fishing season in the history of single compa nies in Mexico, 3100 tons of bluefin tuna in pens – which is the equivalent of 30 thousand tons of cod.” found out, they had indeed been made with the help Robert got from his relative, Jon Steinar Ragnarsson, a theater set design er called to “color analyze” the town.
Poetry, folk music and herring
My appointment with Robert wasn’t until the following day so I had time to take a good look around town. New cultural
“herring lords” for everything. “Coming back to Iceland now, after the recession in the fall of 2008, feels like I’m 10 years-old again in Siglufjörður; the atmos phere in Iceland is the same as it was here after the crash of the herring adventure,” says Robert. We take our leave and agree to a rendezvous at the same place the following morning.
hood and what it was like to live in Siglufjörður after the herring disappeared and how he left the community during a period of decline and confusion. A 10 year-old boy at the time, Robert remembers a once wealthy and vibrant town suddenly plunging into despair, anger and numb ness – with many abandoning it. Those who stayed cursed those who left, blaming the fallen
A new hotel on the horizon As I arrive the next morning, Robert pulls up on his Japanese SUV and invites me on a drive around town to show me what’s really going on in the fjord. First, we drive through a small valley then take the mountain pass in Siglufjarðarskarð, arriving at the ski area. The valley is in a poor state due to gravel mines but a golf course can be discerned in the midst of it. Rauðka ehf, Robert’s company, is involved in running the ski area (the only privately operated ski area in the country) and also is currently working on turning the golf course into a first class course. Having these facilities is import ant, especially considering Ro bert’s plans to open a new hotel on the marina, in the center of town. The hotel will stand on the harbor, its architecture matching the surroundings. “I realized a long time ago, that a community like this cannot survive on the fishing industry alone,” says Robert as we stand on the soonto-be hotel premises and he shows me smart phone pictures
of what the accommodations will look like. People will be able to sail right up to the hotel and dock by their hotel room door. But – as I later find out – this is only a small part of the great plans that Robert has for his town.
“I have never wanted to owe money” We sit down in the attic of the restaurant Rauðka, sipping on our cups of coffee and I’m curi ous to know more about him. I ask him whether he’s born and bred in Siglufjörður and he tells me that while his true roots are here, he’s actually born in the south of Iceland. When looking further into it, his family tree is quite a tangled one. Robert was adopted by his father Guðfinnur, of whom he talks very fondly, but his biological father is an American who stayed in Iceland for a while and left before Rob ert was born in 1957. His mother then met Guðfinnur. Until the age of two, Robert was raised by his aunt Erla and her husband Steingrímur, whom he called “dad”. They were all common people but Robert got every thing he wanted. “I learned to play the game at an early age.” It wasn’t until later, when he was
forty, that Robert met his Ameri can father. So Robert grew up in Siglu fjörður, surrounded by piers, boats and open spaces and something tells me that he might have been quite unruly as a child – an energetic kid if you will. “I still get teased and tormented about that,” he says, “but an old classmate of mine once said about me: ‘Ever since you were a kid, you’ve never cared about what people think of you!’ Being a fisherman or working in the fishing industry was a traditional pathway for many of his peers but a crazy idea had consumed Robert: photography. He prepared for the craft at The Technical Coll ege of Siglufjörður and then got admitted into a photography academy in Gothenburg. He was supposed to start his studies in the beginning of ‘78, at 21 years of age, but in the coming fall he signed up for the School of Navi gation in the Westman Islands. I asked him why he didn’t go to Gothenburg and his reply was: “I couldn’t wait 6 months!” He finished The Navigation School in 2 years and went back home to work as a helmsman. “I didn’t like it. I preferred being a deckhand because a helmsman
just steers, he doesn’t control anything – that’s the captain. So, in ‘81, when I was 24 years old, I turned my back on the sea and studied Business Admini stration at the Technical College of Reykjavik. My dad, Guðfinnur, was absolutely speechless and shocked that I was giving up the helmsman position where the pay was actually good. But along with my studies I had worked at sea every Christmas, Easter and summer – as a diver
“… they stopped speaking to my mother!” After his studies he pondered on where to go next and the conclusion was: back home to Siglufjörður. From there, his career started rolling. Robert started working as a production manager in a small fish factory and then became production manager at Þormóður Rammi where he was later made man aging director at the age of 28. It was the largest company in town, the govern ment owned 70% of it and the rest was owned by the town. “A lot of things needed to change in the company’s operations, cut downs were nec essary and difficult decisions had to be made. The height of the drama was when a few women in town stopped talking to my mother!” Without him saying so out loud, I sense that this was a difficult and weary time for Robert, at least it ended with him withdraw ing from the Icelandic economy for a while and selling his share in Þormóður Rammi for 115 million Icelandic krona – which in the booming business world
“… an old classmate of mine once said about me: ‘Ever since you were a kid, you’ve never cared about what people think of you!” for example, diving down to boats’ propellers – and I earned a laborer’s annual income during these periods. I have never been short of money and I’ve never wanted to owe money to anyone. The collapse of the economy can be blamed on upbringing and on the educational system; a banker that offers you a loan is just like a car salesman, in the end you alone decide whether you buy the car – or take the loan.”
Something fishy in Siglufjörður of 2005 was not an interesting sum. He moved to Arizona in the US – but his business days were not over. “I pulled out of the Icelandic business scene in 2005 be cause everybody seemed to be making a profit then. That’s a condition that doesn’t make sense. We had bought a share in a small company out there; a shrimp and sardine compa ny. Like typical Icelanders, we thought we could do it all but circumstances over there were different. Grandi and Þormóður Rammi sold their shares and Vilhelm Már Guðmundsson another young man from Siglufjörður and I took over. I have colleagues and friends in Mexico that I think very highly of and I’ve learned a lot from the Mexicans. We expanded the business and started, amongst other things, a tuna farm in Mexi co and a salmon farm in Chile. In the fall of 2008, all of our pens were full but we had to wait until December because that is the best slaughter season for tuna. However, in September the global economic crisis occurred and everything came crashing to a halt; Japanese banks stopped funding the buyers and prices collapsed. Nearly everybody went bankrupt. Fortunately, we managed to get private funding through our network and kept the fish alive. In the following year, a very limited amount of fishing was done so the prices went up again. So we rented our main competitor’s infrastructure, Hannes boy and Rauðka are eat ing establishments in beautifully renewed old houses in Siglufjördur situated down by the marina and overlooking the fjord. A visit is reccommended to enjoy the breathtaking landscape while savoring the region’s tasty cuisine. Both Hannes boy and Rauðka are uniquely designed and attention has been paid to every detail, creating a wonderful countryside atmosphere. In Hannes boy the chairs are made from old barrels and in the middle of the restaurant stands an old cobblestone fireplace for customers to cozy up by on cold winter nights. The restaurant Hannes boy, which is only open in the evenings, strives to offer high quality ingredients and great service for a memorable dining experience. The coffeehouse Rauðka serves traditional refreshments such as crêpes, salads, open and regular sandwiches and on the menu you’ll also find the “meal and soup of the day”. Their cakes and cookies, often homemade, are a delight – and in light of the town’s history, ordering the herring is of course highly appropriate.
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helicopters and large boats, and in 2010 we had the largest fishing season in the history of single companies in Mexico: 3100 tons of bluefin tuna in pens which is the equivalent of 30 thousand tons of cod. It went straight to sushi restaurants in Japan. It was a gamble. We took the chance based on our ex perience and knowledge of the international fishing industry and we were very lucky.”
Producing a new drug It’s with the money from this adventure that Robert was able to venture into the reconstruct ion of Siglufjörður. A little bird had told me however that the renovations: the hotel, the golf course, the restaurants by the marina and so on, were not really the main attractions and not likely to make a profit any time soon. I had heard that there was something else, something bigger in the pipeline and all the rest was just décor around it. “A news report in ‘97 was made on TV about us Northern ers throwing shrimp shells in the ocean and polluting the area. An old acquaintance of mine then contacted me and informed me that a chemical called chitin can be obtained from the shrimp shells. We funded a company called Primex around the idea and I started researching the subject which then resulted in us
building a factory in Siglufjörður. When I quit Þormóður Rammi and left Iceland in 2005, I be came interested in developing this idea further and along with the Icelandic Venture Capital we bought Primex’s research and development department which has since then been managed by three doctors in Reykjavik. 600 million kronas have gone into research and we have 500 more in liquid assets to start the drug’s production process. We have almost completed the research for it and a factory working under the trademark ‘Genis’ will be manufacturing the drug here in Siglufjörður, by the marina. It’s a ‘pilot factory’ that will be up and running soon and if everything goes according to plan a mass production will shortly follow.” But what does Robert mean when he refers to the reconstruct ions as a décor? “It’s all about the image, we are making a drug that’s connected to the ocean – and it’s produced here, by the marina – with the small boats outside.”
The owner’s gesture … Now that Siglufjördur is dressed to the nines, with its houses and streets looking lovelier than ever, people will have to take good care of it. At the annual “Herring Adventure Festival” held in the beginning of August, both towns
folk and visitors fill the streets in a festive mood. Sadly, however, people throw garbage and emp ty cans on the grounds without reservation. An ugly blemish on the newly refashioned town, in Robert’s opinion, and he decid ed to do something about it. He teamed up with his friend and together they walked through the crowded streets – plastic bags in hand – picking up cans and bottles; not only cleaning the streets up but also sending an obvious message to the peo ple: “think twice before littering!” The next day Robert found out that his gesture had gotten a great deal of attention. Amongst others, two ladies whispered to each other: “Isn’t that the owner himself, picking up empty cans?” To which the other responded: “Well yes, that’s how you get rich.”
Our Master Watchmaker never loses his concentration With his legendary concentration and 45 years of experience our Master Watchmaker and renowned craftsman, Gilbert O. Gudjonsson, inspects every single timepiece before it leaves our workshop. All the watches are designed and assembled by hand in Iceland. Only highest quality movements and materials are used to produce the watches and every single detail has been given the time needed for perfection. The JS Watch co. Watch factory and exclusive retail shop located at Laugavegur 62, in the trendy â€œ101â€? area of Reykjavik provides customers with unique opportunity to meet the watchmakers who assemble and test their timepiece. The quantity of watches produced is limited, giving them an exclusive and truly personal feel.
equals good fun
Stöðvarfjörður, a charming small village in the east of Iceland, with about 200 inhabi tants, sits on a beautiful fjord that goes by the same name. Although the main employ ment for people used to be fishing, just as in most of other small villages in Iceland, a big part of the population now work with textile. With the decrease of the fishing industry and not enough job opportunities the people of Stöðvarfjörður have found new and creative ways to spend their time. By Lilja Björk Haraldsdóttir
n Stöðvarfjörður you will find the biggest stone museum in Iceland, “Steinasafn Petru” (Petra’s stone collection) a fascinating collection of Ice landic stones that are kept in Petra’s own house and backyard. A small gallery called Gallerí Snærós, a craft shop/ café/Bed and Breakfast by the name Kaffi Steinn, the old and beautiful church Kirkjubær that now has been converted into a guesthouse and the fish factory, a new cultural center for the residents of Stöðvarfjörður.
Polar Festival, 12 -14 July Polar Festival is a brand new festi val that will be held in Stöðvar fjörður in July. The four founders of the festival; Marteinn Sindri Jónsson, Katrín Helena Jónsdótt ir, Viktor Pétur Hannesson and Gígja Sara Björnsdóttir all have a connection to Stöðvarfjörður and have spent a lot of time in this small town. Marteinn and his sister Katrín went there every summer as kids and they were the ones that introduced Viktor to the town. When the work on transforming the old fish factory
“The Festival program will run from early morning till late evening with various work shops, exhibitions, performances, arts and crafts as well as concerts. It is a family friend ly festival where you can find activities that suit every age.” into a culture house started Viktor and his girlfriend Gígja went there to help. They fell in love with the place and decided to buy a house there. Gígja says that it is an old and charming house with a couple of holes here and there but at least they own it and the land surrounding it and that the view over the town, ocean and surrounding mountains is utterly amazing.
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Thoughts about Polar Festival started when Marteinn had the idea of organizing a concert in the old church. They then spoke to people around town and decided to organize a festival instead in collaboration with the “Maður er manns gaman” an annual village fare. Maður er manns gaman (roughly translat es to ‘Good company equals good fun’) is a sustainable village fair where the people of Stöðvarfjörður come together to have fun, show their skills and crafts and entertain each other. This year the many artists and creative thinkers attending Polar Festival will accompany them. The Festival program will run from early morning till late evening with various workshops,
exhibitions, performances, arts and crafts as well as concerts. It is a family friendly festival where you can find activities that suit every age. The venues are made up of everything from the old converted church to peo ple’s gardens with accommoda tion possibilities at the camping ground or in various guesthous es around town. A true DIY project, the festival’s aim is to become a lively and fun tradition in Stöðvarfjörður where locals as well as travelers can come and enjoy the town in a new way. Check out www.facebook. com/polarstodvarfjordur for more info.
You’ll fall in
love In the Vatnajokull Region 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. There you will also find some of Iceland´s most popular tourist attractions such as the spectacular Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon, Skaftafell, a preservation area and a jewel in Vatnajokull National Park and Hvannadalshnjúkur, the highest peak in Iceland and popular hiking destination.
he Vatnajökull Region is filled with contrasts with its black beaches and white glaciers. Serenity, energy and forces of nature combine to make a visit to the Vatna jökull region a never-to-be-forgotten experience and a photographer’s dream. There is rich wildlife in the Vatnajökull Region with thousands of migrating birds passing through and herds of reindeer a common sight. If you´re lucky you might spot a seal at Jökulsárlón or an arctic fox running across the terrain. You will also find dozens of companies that offer all sorts of activities year round, diverse accommodation and great restau rants with local food. The Vatnajökull Region in the South east of Iceland covers over 200km of the Ring Road from Lómagnúpur in the west to Hvalnes in the east. It also covers the southern and most accessible side to Vatnajökull. There is one town in the area, Höfn with a population of 1600.
icebergs found in the Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon and arctic thyme. A lobster meal will also be a good choice since Höfn is the lobster capi tal of Iceland.
Activity, accommodation and restaurants Much of the activity in the Vatnajökull Region revolves around the glacier and the surrounding nature. You can choose between adventures such as boat rides at Jökulsárlón, glacier walks, ice cave tours and ice climbing at Vatnajökull, snowmobile tours and jeep tours at Vatnajökull, ATV tours and geothermal baths at Hoffell, Northern Lights tours, reindeer excur sions, a visit to the Thorbergssetur Cultural Museum, the local handicraft store or the Farm Zoo at Hólmur; the list goes on. There are various possibilities in accommodations to suit your needs. Whether you want to sleep in your tent, in a hotel or anything in be tween, you’ll find a warm welcome by knowledgeable hosts. There are several restaurants in the area and most of them offer local food made in the Vatnajökull Region by local people. Be sure to ask for the local beer Vatnajökull, which is made from
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Accessible the whole year The Vatnajökull Region is well ac cessible the whole year due to good weather conditions and frequent transportation. Daily flights are available from Reykjavík to the Höfn during the summer and five days a week in other seasons. Buses between Reykjavík and Höfn are scheduled daily in the summer and three days a week during the other seasons. There are also three car rental companies in Höfn. For more information visit: www.visitvatnajokull.is
Cheers Be sure to ask for the unique local beer Vatnajokull, which is brewed in limited edition from icebergs found in the Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon and arctic thyme.
WOW air proudly supports a bevy of artists, athletes and projects. The people chosen are individuals who have done something WOW worthy, are good role models and an inspiration to others. WOW air’s goal is to help its stars reach their goals by sponsoring their international travels. Skúli Mogensen, CEO of WOW air says: “Iceland has so many noteworthy people doing good things in arts, sports and culture that it’s really unbelievable.” So far we’ve introduced five WOW stars to the world and we plan to keep our readers posted on all their endeavors.
Annie Mist What’s the WOW? Annie won the Reebok CrossFit Games two years in a row, 2011 and 2012, winning her the title “The fittest woman on earth”.
Jón Margeir What’s the WOW? Jón Margeir won the gold at the Paralympics in London last year and set both World and Olympic records in the 200 meter freestyle swim. He also holds numerous Icelandic records and has been very successful in various international swimming competitions this year.
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Baltasar Kormákur What’s the WOW? Baltasar has been well known for his acting and directing in Iceland for many years and recently he has been directing movies in Hollywood. He has produced two major Hollywood movies; the second one, 2 Guns, will premier in the beginning of August. He was also shortlisted for an Academy Award last February for his Icelandic movie The Deep.
What’s the WOW?
Ásgeir Trausti What’s the WOW? Ásgeir Trausti became the most popular singer / songwriter in Iceland in just under a year, his first album selling over 20,000 copies. He dom inated at the Icelandic Music Awards where his album was named “Album of the year” and he was also nomi nated for the Nordic Music Awards. Ásgeir signed on with British label One Little Indian and will soon release both Icelandic and English versions of his album worldwide.
Guðmundur Felix leads a full life as a father of two grown girls and runs a business despite the loss of both his arms at the shoulder in 1998. His persistence got the attention of French doctors who have agreed to make him the first double arm transplant recipient. He also ran in the Reykjavík Marathon to collect pledges for his many trips to France. He will soon be moving to France to get ready for the big day.
Over the past decade it has become increasingly popular for small towns out in the country to throw their very own town festivals. Even if it’s mostly just locals and former townsfolk having a party, these little festivals welcome everyone and can be an absolute joy for “outsiders”. Then there are the bigger festivals, be it music festivals, art festivals or the many bank weekend holiday festivals happening simultaneously all over Iceland on the first weekend of August. You are going to have to miss out on most of them but with proper planning and the right information you just might get to the ones you really want. by Lilja Björk Haraldsdóttir
4 – 7 July Rauðasandur Festival is a small newly established music festival held in the beautiful Westfjords of Iceland. Started in 2011 by a couple of friends who wanted to throw a big party in the countryside, it is now being held for the third time. Its main aim is to create a relaxed, creative and family friendly atmosphere with a lot of the local residents helping out to make the festival the best it can be.
es. There is yoga on the beach, walks to historical places, sand castle competitions, boat rides and various performances by all kinds of artists. This year’s artists include: Prins Póló, a solo musician who writes melodic pop and electro songs about love and food, Borko, Ylja, Snorri Helgason, Samaris; a young electro trio who have been making their name in the past months, Amaba Dama; a new Icelandic reggae band and the Cana dian Ryan McGrath. The concerts are held in the old barn at Melanes farm where you also find a camping ground and a beautiful amber sand beach where a lot of the activities take place. You can even go for a swim in the sea. The beach heats up by the sum mer sun and the water can be up to and between 15-18°C which makes it a popular
Photo: Friðrik Örn Hjaltested.
place to visit. Situated on the west coast of Iceland you can get there by car, bus or plane and it would make for a great road trip for a group of friends or the family. For more information check out www.raudasandurfestival.is
LungA Art Festival 14 – 21 July Running into its 14th year the LungA Art Festival has become an annual celebra tion of music, art, creativity and fashion in Seyðisfjörður, a small artistic haven in the east of Iceland. This is a youth festival aimed at the next generation of artists and general experimental,
Photo: Friðrik Örn Hjaltested.
The musical focus is on up and coming pop, country, blues and folk musicians mainly from Iceland. The atmosphere is family friendly with a lot of activities in addition to the many musical performanc
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Photo: Friðrik Örn Hjaltested.
alternative and art loving people. LungA goes on for a whole week offering a number of different workshops and ending with a big outdoor concert on the Saturday when many of Iceland’s biggest bands play. The workshops range from theatre, dance and music to fashion design, photography, architecture, visual
Extreme Chill Festival 12 – 14 July
Photo: Alisa Kalyanova
arts and last year there was even a magic workshop. The mentors are both Icelandic and foreign artists with a lot of knowledge in their field. In addition to the workshops there are lectures, perfor mances, smaller concerts, film showings and other happenings arranged through out the week. The Big Finale is then on the Saturday where participants of the many workshops present their work in different venues around town. The festival, which has grown tremendously in the past years, has become one of the best-known festivals in Iceland receiving several cultural awards. LungA Art. For more information visit www.lunga.is or check out their Facebook page www. facebook.com/lunga.festival.
Extreme Chill Festival – Under the Glacier is a festival bringing together Iceland’s most promising electronic artists as well as a few of the old masters of the genre. Being held under the glacier Snæfellsjökull, more accurately in Hellissandur village on the Snæfellsnes peninsula, the surround ing location gives it a mystical vibe. The Snæfellsnes glacier has been long known to possess extraordinary powers. The idea of the festival started in 2009 when two of the founders, Pan and Óskar Thorarensen held a release concert for their project Stereo Hypnosis at the loca tion. One year later Extreme Chill Festival – Undir Jökli was a reality. This year is the festival’s fourth year running and it offers over twenty Icelandic musicians and four foreign artists perform ing during the Friday night and the whole of Saturday. The festival has been growing and evolving in the past years and tickets have usually been sold out long before, no wonder as this is the biggest electronic festival ever to be held in Iceland. In 2012, British newspaper Guardian chose it as one of fifteen notable European festivals and it is receiving funding from Kraumur music fund for the second time. This year artists include Mixmaster Morris (UK), Mimetic (Swiss), Fishimself (Greece)
and Le Sherifs (Egypt) along with the most prominent Icelandic electronic musicians such as Stereo Hypnosis, Futuregrapher, Úlfur, Samaris, Rúnar Magnússon, Tonik, Mikael Lind, Skurken and many more. For more information go to www.extremechillfestival.com and get your tickets at www.midi.is.
Other festivals that might interest you
Photo: Alisa Kalyanova
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IsNord Music Festival
Irish Days in Akranes
13 – 16 June
4 – 7 July
IsNord is a music festival which focuses on Icelandic and Nordic music. The festival takes place at several loca tions in Borgarfjördur on the west coast of Iceland.
Akranes celebrates its Irish roots with a colorful festival. See more on www.irskir dagar.is
Danish Days in Stykkishólmur 17 – 19 August Did you know that not so long ago the upper class of Iceland had the custom of speaking Danish on Sundays?
Saint John’s Festival in Eyrarbakki 22 June Back in the day, Eyrarbakki was a contender for the capital of Iceland.
Car Days in Akureyri 13 -17 June Check out the car and motorcycle enthusiasts of Iceland. Races, shows, burn outs and more.
Siglufjörður Folk Music Festival 3 – 7 July
28 – 30 June Höfn in Hornafjörður is dubbed the lobster capital of Iceland. Al though our foreign visitors would probably call it langoustine, this wonderful gift of the sea is well worth a taste.
A very ambitious music festival with diverse musicians. Something for everyone.
Gásir Medieval Festival
4 – 7 July Every year the people of Westman Islands celebrate the anniversary of the day the eruption of West man Islands ended. This year’s festival is sure to be on the grand er scale as they now celebrate the 40 year anniversary.
18 – 23 June The annual music festival and summer courses Við Djúpið are held in Ísafjörður on the West Fjords of Iceland around the summer solstice, offering a series of concerts and master classes. The master classes are held in close cooperation with the Iceland Academy of the Arts, and are accredited by its Department of Music. See more on www.viddju pid.is.
up with the presence of the friend liest metalheads, rockers and overall party animals you will ever meet. More on www.eistnaflug.is.
19 – 21 July About 11 kilometers north of Akur eyri you will find Gásir the main trading post in northern Iceland during the Middle Ages. Archaeo logical digging in the area during the last six years has shown that it remained active up to the 16th century. Go there for a little glimpse of Old Iceland.
End of Eruption Festival
Við Djúpið (By the Deep)
The Big Fish Day 9 – 11 August Dalvík invites any seafood lover to come for a taste. On Friday night the people of Dalvík open their doors, literally, to every one, offering delicious fish soup from their kitchens.
Act Alone Solo Performance Festival 8 -11 August Act Alone is a theater festival dedi cated to the art of acting alone; monodrama, held in Suðureyri on the Westfjords of Iceland. See more on www.actalone.net.
JEA 26 -29 June Egilsstaðir Jazz Festival is Ice land’s oldest jazz festival. See more on www.jea.is.
Eistnaflug Festival 10 – 13 July During Eistnaflug the quaint, remote town of Neskaupstaður by the eastern coast of Iceland, lights
Bæðslan Music Festival 25 – 28 July Bræðslan Music Festival has been held annually since 2005 in Borgarfjörður Eystri on the east coast of Iceland. The festival draws its name from the concert venue, an old rendering in Borgar fjörður called “Bræðsla” (fusion) in Icelandic. The off venue schedule usually starts on Wednesday or Thursday before the actual festi val weekend, where many up and coming Icelandic artists perform. Buy tickets on www.midi.is.
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Bright nights in Iceland
Put your rain
Iceland’s biggest travel weekend of the Icelandic summer is Verslunarmannahelgin, held on the August bank holiday weekend, August 2-5 this year. This popular weekend, sometimes directly translated as “The Shopkeepers Weekend” or “The Shopping Mans’ Weekend”, occurs late July or early August, at the time of year when the days are still long and the summer is still holding in to its heat. If you’re planning a visit to Iceland during this time of year, there are plenty of festivals all over, but choose wisely! Whether you like crazy party ing or more family friendly activities, Verslunarmannahelgin has something for everyone.
It’s all about the herring – Siglufjörður The family festival Síldarævintýrið, or “The herring adventure”, plays on Siglufjörður’s fishing history. The festival gets its name from the great herring seasons and booming fishing industry during the twentieth century. With the herring disappearing almost over night in 1968, fishing towns like Siglufjörður suffered a severe blow and ships lay in harbor for years gathering dust. Today, the small town of Siglufjörður honors its glory days with a weeklong festival each year, giving visitors a look into the past with locals dressing up as fishing workers. And be sure to drop into the Herring Museum, open all summer; always a good place to visit.
Icelanders are suckers for fireworks and use every opportunity to put on a big fireworks show.
Locals dressed in last century’s fashion, pickle the herring in front of a big audience.
Family fun Akureyri Iceland’s capital of the north, Akureyri, is a great place for fun, offering everything from skiing to fine dining, shopping and diverse cultural life. During this eventful weekend, Akureyri plays host to the family festival Ein með öllu, or “One with all”, a phrase often used when ordering a hot dog with every thing on it.
During the weekend, Akureyri can be quite crowded. Camping areas fill quickly with people coming from afar to join the festivities.
Fun for all ages – Neskaupsstaður Festival guests come from all over Iceland to en joy the weekend’s events which include markets, live music and fishing. Guests can also enter a popular gourmet cooking competition with their best herring dish.
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The lively band Hvanndalsbræður performing at an outdoor concert
Neistaflug, or “Flying sparks”, is held in Nes kaupsstaður, a small town in the east of Ice land. If you want a fun packed schedule for the whole family, this could be the festival for you. Activities include a parade, concerts, neighborhood barbecues, “Kid Idol” and the list goes on.
“The August bank holiday week end always precedes the first Monday of August. This year it will land on 2-5 August.” Punkrocker and newly elected congressman Óttarr Prop pé tests his vocal chords on stage at Þjóðhátíð. Iceland’s congress is obviously a source of great talent.
Bright nights in Iceland
Fire hose soccer might sound like a great idea but we do question its safety. Safety aside, this inventive sport sure looks like a lot of fun. This fun filled festival gives supposedly grown up people a chance to embrace their inner child and get covered in dirt without people looking at them funny.
A camping area can be a great place to spend your nights during the Shopkeepers Holiday, that is if you like to eat sitting on the ground, not sleeping, and waking up with spiders in your hair. At least you’ll be making memories!
Less nature please – Reykjavík For those who aren’t too keen on travelling, there are plenty of concerts and events in Reykjavík. Innipúkinn music festival answers the needs of those who like a good party but prefer not to sit, eat or sleep on the ground.
The red torches represent the island’s volcanic eruption in 1973. If you get the chance, sit down with a local who remembers that fateful night and get him to tell you about being rushed to a boat and sailing away from the fiery island.
The big one – Vestmannaeyjar By far the most popular festival during this big weekend is Þjóðhátíð which basically translates as National Holiday. Locals held their first Þjóðhátíð in 1874, at the same time as mainlanders celebrated the 1,000 year anniversary of the settlement. Due to bad weather conditions, the people of the West man Islands couldn’t sail to the mainland to join in on the celebrations so they decided to throw their own festival and have ever since. Þjóðhátíð has been growing in pop ularity and every year this small village of 4,200 inhabitants is overflowing with around 11,000 – 13,000 people visiting the island to join the party.
Former congressman Árni Johnsen, an island native, strums his guitar and leads the crowd in less than pitch perfect singing, but it’s all good fun and it’s part of the festival.
Groups of friends often dress up in colorful costumes and a special judging committee walks around Herjólfsdalur Valley in search of the very best costume.
The Icelandic weather is as unpredictable as you can imagine so come prepared. An umbrella might do it but a good raincoat and boots are better.
Getting down and dirty – Ísafjörður If you love sports and mud on your face, the Westfjords could be your dream destination during this crazy weekend. Mýrarbolti, or Swamp soccer, is one sloppy activity you‘ll never forget.
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Þjóðhátíð has something for everyone and locals consider it great family fun during the day. However, if you are not a fan of the drunk and disorderly, you might want to stay inside after midnight.
The big white tents in Herjólfsdalur Valley belong to the locals who fill their tents with old furniture and plenty of food and drink. Don’t be afraid to invite yourself in for some delicious smoked puffin and home baked goods.
Be in your element
GEOTHERMAL STEAM ROOMS THERMAL BATHS SAUNA
Many Golden Circle tours include a visit to Laugarvatn Fontana. Ask at your tour desk to make sure yours does.
Open daily www.fontana.is
ENNEMM / SÍA
Visit the Laugarvatn Fontana geothermal baths. Nowhere else can you enjoy a steam bath on top of a hot spring and afterwards relax in the open air thermal baths. Our café serves locally grown delicacies.
Make way for the positive day
by Lilja Björk Haraldsdóttir
new scene has started to form on this small island in the middle of the North Atlantic; a bustling one that stems from another island where the clim ate is considerably warmer and the people generally more relaxed – and yes I am talking about Jamaica. The reggae scene in Reykjavík has been on the rise these past couple of years with bands like Hjálmar, Ojba Rasta and Amaba Dama but there is a lot more going on. Hjálmar were the ones to clear the path. They formed in 2004 and are usually referred to as the first Icelandic reggae band. An instant success, they packed almost every venue in Reykjavík, receiving awards and nominations and even recording their fourth album, IV, in Jamaica. They later released a documentary about their trip called Higher You and I. Ojba Rasta is a big-band consist ing of 11 band members. They start ed up in 2009 playing reggae music
mixed with dub influences and were well received from the start. The band released its debut album, also called Ojba Rasta last year. The songs achieved success on Iceland’s Channel 2 radio station, reaching all the way to the top of the chart with the song Baldursbrá (Daffodil). Amaba Dama is the most recent addition to the scene, composed of some members of Ojba Rasta and fronted by Gnúsi Yones. Their aim is to bring people joy and happiness eliminating all bad vibrations. They plan to release an album later this year but no need to be impatient, front man Gnúsi is known for taking the Jamaican term “soon come” to the next level. Helgi Júlíus Óskarsson, a cardiolo gist also has a heart for reggae and released a successful reggae album earlier this year. In accordance to the rising reggae movement in Reykjavik a handful of DJ’s have grouped together to create RVK Soundsystem, a DJ collective with the aim to promote reggae music in Iceland and support the ever-growing underground reggae scene. The five DJ´s, DJ Elvar, Gnúsi Yones, DJ Kári, Kalli Youze og Arnljótur from
“If you are a reggae lover and want to experience a chilled out, peace loving atmosphere while in Reykjavik be sure not to miss RVK Soundsystem nights.”
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the band Ojba Rasta have orga nized regular reggae nights every other Saturday at the bar Hemmi og Valdi in downtown Reykjavik and every second month in Faktory since 2010. The group has also orga nized a number of other events like an outdoor reggae concert in the Heart Park, a reggae film festival in Bio Paradis as well as playing in a number of venues and festivals in Iceland. The RVK Soundsys tem nights were well received by dance thirsty reggae lovers and people who were missing variety in Reykjavik nightlife. A number of guest DJ´s have made an appear ance with RVK Soundsystem; Tarrvi Laamann (Bashment KingzSound), Helgi Svavar Helgason (Hjálmar), L-JahGun (Finland) and Alex Tea (US) to name a few. If you are a reggae lover and want to experience a chilled out, peace loving atmosphere while in Reykjavik be sure not to miss RVK Soundsystem nights. Expect a bus tling atmosphere, lots of dancing, sweat and big smiles!
Check out: www.soundsys tem.is and www.facebook. com/rvksoundsystem
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Person of WOW
A bottle, a beer and a
bicycle Eymar Plédel Jónsson is easy to spot as he walks into the café where we’ve decided to meet. He has that WOW energy that one expects to be filling the WOW office just up the street. He’s office casual, a buttoned shirt, blazer and sneakers and looks as if he ran here in the wind. When asked how he got the job at WOW air he said that it was a combination of previous experiences, starting with working as a flight attendant in 2004 for a different airline. by Dísa Bjarnadóttir Photos: Heiða Helgadóttir
ymar’s current job is cli ent relations. “Working for an airline is great for people like me, people that like a chal lenging work environment and always want to be on the move. The best thing about working for WOW air is the dynamics that surround the company. Skúli [Mogensen] makes it no secret that he has high ambitions for WOW air and spreads his enthusi asm to all of us. WOW air’s aim to be fun and fresh and have the biggest smile makes it a very fun place to work.”
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A wine-nerd Although Eymar loves his job he has a lot of other interests. One of them is good wine. His moth er is French and he was brought up to appreciate good wines. “Good wine has always been ap preciated in my home, and from the time I was a small child I was taught to appreciate it. When I was four or five my favorite drink was Champagne. I just really loved the taste of it.” As he puts it himself, he’s a “wine-nerd”. For a few years he worked in Iceland’s biggest (and only) wine store, Vínbúðin. That’s where
he met some other wine nerds who are still his good friends and love to share a bottle of good wine. Eymar recommends that when searching for good wines in Vínbúðin you should look for a person wearing an apron, as those people are the ones who have gotten some education in the world of wines and would be ready to recommend a good bottle. “Even if you don’t have a lot of money, don’t buy the cheapest bottle you see in the store. Just an extra 200 or 300 IKR can really make a big differ ence.” Another subject of interest for Eymar is beer. “My friend open ed MicroBar on Austurstræti and through him I started to learn and appreciate different kinds of beer and different ways of making them. There is a lot of growth in Iceland when it comes to beer making and breweries and it’s fun to be a part of it.” By being a part of it Eymar is referring to classes he teaches about pairing beer or wine with food. “I definitely recommend that foreign visitors go to one of the bigger stores like Kringlan, Heiðrún or Skútuvogur [more info on vinbudin.is] to buy a few different kinds. Try something new, even venture outside of the lagers. Just remember, before you go, to check the opening hours.”
Traveling tips Although Eymar likes to spend some of his free time enjoying good wine and beer he says that he is also very much of a homebody and one of his favor ite things is spending time with his two daughters. He has a baby daughter and a five year old with whom he’s very close. “She’s a daddy’s girl and I love doing stuff with her. Taking her to the pool is great. We usually go to the Salalaug in Kópavogur, because it’s close to where she lives, but our other favorite is the one in Mosfellsbær.” Traveling is another thing Eymar loves doing and for obvious reasons Paris is one of his favorite places to visit. “I have so many good memories from there as a kid, like visiting my grandparents. They had a big garden with pear and apple trees; it was heaven for a kid. My grandfather would make hot chocolate and serve it in bowls
“When I was four or five my favorite drink was Cham pagne. I just really loved the taste of it.” with freshly baked croissants for dunking,” Eymar says and adds that the family also had an apartment in Paris that they had go give up not too long ago. One of his regrets is not spending a whole year there when he still had the chance. But even though he didn’t live there for a whole year he did visit often enough to gather some good tips to share with us: “It’s essential to go to the markets to get some fresh ingredients for a homemade brunch: ham, bread, fruit, chees es and a bottle of rosé. Then just open up the windows in the apartment and soak up the life of the city. It’s a great city with so much to see and do. All the gardens, like the Luxemburg gardens or the Louvre garden, are great places to sit down and have a picnic with a good bottle of wine. Paris has a metro sys tem that’s so easy to navigate, but it’s also a great city to take walks and even let yourself get a little lost. It’s a very safe place and there is something beautiful to see on every corner. One of my favorite places is the Jewish neighborhood, a great place to walk around and taste some fantastic pitas.” Eymar says that he plans to go to Paris with his family in the
This gem, situated in the heart of Reykjavík, offers a homey Mediterranean atmosphere along with great food from the freshest ingredients. The pizza oven at Caruso is legendary as well as the pizzas and everything from pasta to amazing steak and fish dishes are prepared with love and respect. Be sure to try the delicious homemade chocolate cake. Some say it’s the best in town. Caruso Þingholtsstræti 1 I 101 Reykjavík I Reservations: 562 7335 or email email@example.com I Fax: 561 7334 Open: Mondays - Thursdays: 11:30-22:30 Fridays: 11:30-23:30 Saturdays: 12:00-23:30 Sundays: 17:00-22:00
fall. That is if he survives the adventure he has planned for this summer; bicycling around Iceland with his workmates. “It was the last day to register for the WOW cyclothon and we were talking about it in the of fice. Before I knew it I had been assigned on a team and signed up. I still have to get permission from my girlfriend, and start training!” By the time this interview makes it onboard the WOW air crafts, we bet that Eymar will be well on his way in the training, getting ready to be WOW-ed in a totally new way by his native country of Iceland, whilst looking forward to rewarding himself with either a cold beer, a glass of fine wine … or both.
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Where to next? Bored kids? Reluctant teenagers? Irritated parents? Choose the right destination for the entire family. By: Guðrún Baldvina Sævarsdóttir
Bring the kids to Barcelona If your children are a little dry, why not dip them into some water and see what happens? Barcelona offers an incredible variety of water-themed amuse ments in the form of beaches, swimming pools and water parks. Check out scary attrac tions like the “Black hole” in Aqualeon or the “Anaconda” in Aquabrava Water Park. If soak ing or screaming in water isn’t enough you can always go and see it in the form of the Magic Fountains situated between Plaza Espanya and the Palau Na cional. It’s a magical music and lights fountain show which has been running since the World Exhibition in 1929. And it’s free! Don’t know how fast a cheetah runs or if frogs are mammals or reptiles? No worries! Just bring your kids to Barcelona Zoo and let them answer their own questions (frogs are amphibians actually). Bubbleparc Barcelona, situated at the harbor offers intriguing and innovative physical activities for young and old. Jump on wa ter in an air filled bubble or do reverse bungee and trampoline
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jumping in the Bungydome. The Planetarium, the Aquarium and the Tibidabo Amusement Park are all classic family attractions that are sure to entertain. There are plenty of family orientated plays, musicals and shows on offer and the children might also love the street enter tainers including clowns and jug glers that line the Las Ramblas, Barcelona’s large pedestrian boulevard. WOW air flights to Barcelona are available until the end of September on Mondays and Fridays.
Warsaw varieties It’s the Polish capital and al though its’ major tourist attract ions can lean on the dark side (WWIImemorials) or on the heavy cultural side (all you can muster of composer Friedrich Chopin), Warsaw offers a tempting variety of attractions for kids, teenagers and adults. The recently opened science center, Centrum Nauki Kopernik, is a brilliant way for a family to spend the day. The center has six permanent exhi bitions, all designed to teach us about science in new and excit ing ways. It sports impressive technology, interactive informa
tion and hands-on exhibitions where you yourself become a subject of scientific scrutiny. Let your know-it-all attitude go and enjoy learning how light actually works and marveling at the won ders of the robotic theater. The Warsaw parks are a world of their own where you can rent a boat to sail on the lake in Skaryszewski Park (don’t let the name scare you) or enjoy the slides in Park Wodny Moczydlo’s swimming pool. Bajlandia, the indoor play area has a ball-pool, walls to climb and the kind of general mayhem that kids love and parents hate, which is also why it has a parent-café where you can sit out the storm. If all else fails, you can always bring your kids to Smyk, a massive department store with numerous floors dedicated to toys and only toys.
ing and dining. But fear not, Lyon also boasts a strange and unique museum sure to enthuse people of all ages. Musée Miniature & Cinema (The miniature and cinema museum) has two brilliant exhibitions that you won’t find elsewhere. There’s the collection of over 100 exquisitely crafted minia ture scenes that are sure to spark your imagination. And if that doesn’t do the trick, stroll into the film exhibition that focuses on special effects in film, uncovering the magic of cinema. WOW that you’ll go to Lyon! Just pick any Sunday this summer.
WOW air will take you to Warsaw Chopin Airport on Mondays and Wednesdays all through the summer and once a week from the fall.
Strange Lyon Famous for its status as culi nary capital of the world, Lyon might bore your youngsters unless they are really into win
Copenhagen – Tivoli and Bakken! With friends like Hamlet, film maker Lars von Trier and Metalli ca’s drummer Lars Ulrich what could go wrong? Copenhagen is
a children’s paradise actually. It’s where children’s entertainment originates, be it Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tales or the birth of amusement parks, this city aims to please children of all ages. “Bakken”, the world’s oldest open amusement park is situated right outside of Co penhagen in Klampenborg and it’s a whole lot of fun. Despite being 530 years old, their rides are new and exciting. Tivoli, the downtown amusement park in Copenhagen is the world’s second oldest running amuse ment park and has a sense of refined entertainment where as much time is devoted to planting beautiful flowers as carving out vintage wooden ornaments on top of all the great rides and fun. Because Icelanders love every thing Danish, WOW air offers flights to Copenhagen almost daily all year round.
Adventures in Alicante Sunny sunny, warm warm! We love it, because, let’s face it, Iceland is not always warm and sunny and we need a little bit of heat sometimes; a heat that is not geothermal. If you like relaxing, sunbathing, having fun and going to the beach, and who doesn’t, Alicante is the place for you. It’s also one of those dream locations for the entire family. The beaches, the theme parks, the play areas and the ice cream are sure to keep you and your children busy for weeks but just in case you need a change of scenery there are exciting alternatives. Visit one of Europe’s largest medieval fortresses, the Santa Barbara Castle where you’ll find cann ons, moats and dungeons that create a true fairytale setting. And to get grounded again, check out the Canelobre Caves where you’ll see stalactites and stalagmites and get a crash course in geology. Pack your sunscreen and load up your dragon, WOW air is taking you to Alicante right now and until the end of October.
Get wet in Vilnius Vilnius, Lithuania’s capital has a population of over 535,000 and is located in the southeast part of the country. Vichy Vandens Park is a relatively new water park that features some nice additions to your usual setting. You’ll pump all the adrenalin you’ve got here with scary water slides and drops with equally scary names (“Yell of the Maori” and “Tanga Snake”). But Vichy Vandens offers a tranquil setting as well, complete with saunas, Jacuzzis, a massage area and a canoe river where you can let yourself float effortlessly through the entire park and relax on one of their artificial beaches. For children too young for adrenaline packed drops and way too young for massages and spa treatments, there’s always Game Island where you’re sure to find ample enter tainment to suit their age.
The biggest city of Switzerland has more to offer than just watches and cheese. They have chocolate and science! Kinder city is an interactive children’s museum with a science exhi bition, children’s cinema and a chocolate factory where the kids can make their own pralines. There’s also the Technorama Science Center, one of the world’s biggest science attract ions with over 500 interactive science exhibitions. And then there’s the Urania observatory that offers stargazing for visitors and exhibitions and films when the weather is an obstacle.
WOW air flights to Vilnius are available every week in June, July and August.
Take a WOW-plane to Zürich. Flights available every Satur day until the end of August.
Take a bite of Zürich
Odds are that your kids will come back from Berlin beg ging for a pet bear. The Berlin bear is one of the world’s best known city symbols and nobody seems to have a solid explanation as to why or what the connection is. Never mind, Berliners love their bears and they put them on everything. After about 15 minutes you’ll have a strange urge to actually see a full sized breathing, furry bear in which case you can al ways stroll down to Köllnischer Park to take a look at Schnute and her daughter Maxi, Berl in’s official city bears. In case you’re wondering, Köllnischer Park is right in the city center.
If you think that’s odd… check this out: Just outside Berlin is one of the oddest tourist attractions in the world, the Tropical Island Resort. It’s a full blown tropical island inside a huge dome. Full blown in cludes a tropical forest, beach, waves and a sunset. You can even bring your camping gear and camp on the beach over night. The dome is a former airship hanger and the world’s largest free-standing building. This is an innovative recycling of a roof that should make for a family friendly day trip… heck, why not camp there for a week? On the top floor of shopping center Alexia on Alexan derplatz you’ll find a hidden miniature version of Berlin. For miniature lovers and for those of us who can’t afford a helicopter ride over this amaz ing city, the Miniatur Welten is a great visit and should give you an insider’s feeling of the buzzing metropolis. WOW-flights to Berlin are available all year; twice a week during the winter and three times weekly during the summer. There are no excuses!
Roll on in Stuttgart Stuttgart is where the first car was born and they haven’t for gotten it. Stuttgartians are very proud of their car history and the Mercedes Benz museum is one of those places that blow you away with top design and tech nology. You really don’t need to be a car enthusiast to enjoy it and odds are you’ll become one anyway, afterwards. There’s also a huge vintage car festival in spring called Retro Classics that you shouldn’t miss and speaking of festivals, Stuttgart hosts one of the world’s largest animated film festivals called Trickfilm festival Stuttgart, with a special program for children included. For a few hours filled with water activities for the whole family visit Fildorado in Filderstadt where you’ll get plenty of slides, waves and Jacuzzis to suit everyone’s taste. Now just pick a date before the end of August. Throughout the summer WOW air offers three flights a week.
Quirky culture in Paris It’s a city for lovers, fashionistas, artists and art lovers, the cultur ally aware, culinary enthusiasts and all who want more joy in their life. But when your kids get tired of visiting the beautiful monuments and museums and you’re all feeling a little worn out from the decadence of it all, Dis neyworld Paris won’t disappoint, with its fairytale parks, lands and villages. After humming the “It’s a small world after all” tune with an impressive choir of dolls,
stroll off to visit the pirates of the Caribbean, the Buzz Lightyear lazerblast and get blown away at Space Mountain. Disney offers plenty of activities for adults as well, where you can go golfing at Disney’s 27-hole golf course or tree climbing on the Treetop Adventure Trail. For something a little more old-fashioned, check out one of Europe’s oldest wax museums, the Musee Grevin which boasts around 300 wax figures from Leonardo da Vinci to Marilyn Monroe. The Kids Dis covery Tour will go through the process of bringing these odd figures to life. It’s both memora ble and different and speaking of different, the Paris Sewer Muse um is about as unique as family outings get. Take a tour through Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables in this underground city and get a glimpse into the sewers’ history.
city, seize the opportunity and scare the hell out of your kids in the Amsterdam Dungeon where they’ll be introduced to the city’s darker side (including the Spanish Inquisition and the plague) and a fair attempt will be made to thrill their pants off with a brilliant roller coaster ride. 2013 promises to be a festive year for the Amsterdam Metro politan Area making the city a really hot destination this sum mer. Find your desired event or activity in June, July or August on www.iamsterdam.com/2013 and book your WOW-flight be fore everybody else catches on. Three flights a week, so you won’t miss anything.
Many things in Milan
Paris is just a few clicks away. WOW air is now flying to Paris all year round, six flights a week starting this June until the winter schedule takes over.
Scary Amsterdam Beautiful Amsterdam with its cob bled streets and narrow canals is sure to entertain the entire family. We recommend taking a guided cruise of Amsterdam’s famous canals early in your trip as well as renting a pedal boat later for a more personalized experi ence. Pedal boats can be rented every day during the summer months from 10:00-18:00 at these four locations: Leidseplein, National Museum, Westerkerk (Anne Frank House) and Angle Keizersgracht / Leidsestraat. A map is essential but don’t be too worried about getting lost, one of the good things about Holland is that almost everybody speaks English. If you need a break from the beauty and leisure of this watery
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Located along the River Rhine, this city is the economic center of Western Germany. Düssel dorf is famous for its nightlife, carnival, events, shopping and its fashion and trade fairs. For the smaller mem bers of the family, Legoland in the nearby Duisburg is an excellent destination offering the classic Lego Miniland, rides and a Lego construction site including all the Lego you can handle. For those of us with a wilder streak why not take a stroll around Wild Park Grafenberg where you’ll be able to feed wild animals like fallow deer and watch the wild boars, foxes and mouflon hanging about – on their own wild terms of course since Grafenberg is a wild park. On the economic side, entrance to the park is free! For a fun but relaxing family day, go to the Dusselstrand indoor water park which offers the classic watery entertainment of slides, pools, sunbathing and sauna. Let yourself be WOW-ed over there, 3 flights a week availa ble from until the end of August.
If your kids aren’t into Gucci and Prada and da Vinci’s “Last Supper” (we’re not saying your kids have no taste for culture), you can always take a break from this peak of high culture and visit Gardaland Theme Park and Sealife Aquarium. Aside from the brilliant aquarium and the more easy going rides and entertainment that the park has to offer, the numerous roller coaster attractions in this park are ambitious to say the least and adrenalin lovers will never be the same. But if you want good fun with a little fewer safety warning labels but still some adrenalin, head out to Lake Como which caters especially to the adventurous. Try windsurfing or kite surfing, hire a mountain bike and ride the trails or downhill sections, hop on board a kayak, go water skiing or wake boarding, test your strength at rock climbing, paraglide with an expert or take horse riding lessons. You don’t have to be an expert, or even to have done it before to take part since most of these sites offer classes for beginners and kids. Let WOW air, lift you up where you belong, pronto. Flights available on Tuesdays and Saturdays, June through August.
London is off the wall It’s London, so finding some thing to do is the least of your worries. After getting a proper look at the city from the London Eye (it’s a giant Ferris wheel) the long list of top notch museums is a good starting point for the whole family, especially since most of them have a special program for kids. For the eco nomic minded a visit to the Bank
of England museum is a great start where you can wrap your hands around a gold bar (you’ll have to leave it at the museum though) and make an attempt to lift it. Ironically entrance to the museum is free and includes a guide! For history buffs a visit to the HMS Belfast, the world’s largest preserved WWII warship is an adventure in the form of hands-on activities and work shops. There are also plenty of classics like the National History Museum and the Science Mu seum but the Victoria & Albert Museum of Childhood is sure to be a hit for the whole family with its abundance of dolls’ houses, toys, activities and workshops. If you get information overload in the museums, why not do some thing quirky like taking a flying trapeze lesson in Regent Park or play crazy golf with dinosaurs at Jurassic Encounter Adventure Golf (we’re not making this up). Whatever your fancy, one long weekend in London will never be enough and that’s why WOW air flies to London several times a week all year round.
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A long weekend
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by Christa Lesté-Lasserre
We recommend staying in a hotel in the 8th arrondissement near the Arc de Triomphe, where you’ll find a wide selection of accommodation to choose from. Be sure to ask the hotel about leaving your bags at reception before check-in, or after check-out so you don’t have to haul your stuff around the city on the day of your flight.
Photo: Amanda Duckworth
With mint green La Durée bag in hand, head down the street to your first French monument: the majestic Arc de Triomphe. Don’t kill yourself trying to cross the crazy Place de l’Etoile roundabout to get to it; there are underground passages that can get you there safely. Atop the 50-meter-high building built by Napoleon 1st, you can take in a vast view of your fabulous weekend destination. It’s breath taking, but your best photos will be taken at the foot of the Arc’s magnificent architecture and sculpting.
First things first, a true French breakfast: Croissants, chauss ons aux abricots, or pain perdu with real whipped cream and a rich hot chocolate like only the French can do. No better desti nation for this than La Durée’s charming tea room at its flagship shop on the Champs-Elysées. Be sure to ask for a box of their world famous macaroons in a wide variety of colors and flavors to take with you. www.laduree.fr
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The Sacré-Coeur Basilica. Photo: Amanda Duckworth
10:00 a.m. Straight below the Arc de Triomphe is Paris’s underground Métro train system where you can take Line 2 for a 17 minute ride to Anvers in north central Paris. The Anvers station takes you to the Montmartre district where you’ll find the Sacré-Coeur Basilica atop the city’s highest hill. Not up to the 234-step climb? The funicular is a fun and easy way up and only costs a Métro ticket. But before you go, check out the world’s fashion capital’s unique fabric district. It’s a good place to pick up a meter of your favorite design for an exquisite “tablecloth” for tomorrow eve ning’s picnic. www.sacre-coeur-montmartre.com
12:00 p.m. The winding walk back down through Montmartre’s quaint cobblestone streets is a delight in itself. Check your map and head over to Amélie Poulain’s famous Café de Deux Moulins on the Rue Lepic (15 Rue Lepic 75018 Paris, (33) (0)1 42 54 90 50. No reservations on week ends). Unfortunately, Amélie won’t be there to serve your lunch, but you can pretend she’s writing the menu on the glass behind you. (If you haven’t seen the 2001 French blockbuster film Amélie yet, it’s an absolute
pre-Paris must for a true taste of modern-day Parisian culture.) To be sure of a seat, plan to arrive no later than 12:15.
Photo: Amanda Duckworth
1:30 p.m. A 5-minute after-lunch stroll will lead you across the Boulevard de Clichy to Rue Blanche where you can pick up the Line 74 bus (change to line 67 at the Provence-Drouot stop) for a halfhour touristic ride through the 18th, 9th, 2nd, and 1st districts of Paris. Your stop is Palais du Louv re for a visit to the world’s most famous art museum, The Louvre. You can see quite a few historical masterpieces before you’re escorted out at 6:00, but if you go on a Friday or Wednesday you can stay late and see much more. (Plan well, though: the
Louvre is closed on Tuesdays.) On the other hand, if just Mona Lisa and Venus de Milo do it for you, then you might have time to run over to see the Phantom (if there really is one) before the Opera Garnier closes at 5:00 (last entrance at 4:30). www.louvre.fr www.operadeparis.fr/en/L_Opera/ Palais_Garnier
French writers and musicians like Guy de Maupassant and Frédéric Chopin and is surrounded by luxurious homes and apart ment buildings. It was a favorite inspiration for Claude Monet’s impressionist paintings. One loop around the park will tally up a one-kilometer run. Be sure to add in the short distance to and from your hotel where you can shower up and have breakfast.
6:00 p.m. Can’t do Paris without some grand shopping! The elegantly decorated Galéries Lafayette and Printemps are the main “grands magasins” located on the Boulevard Haussman. Be sure to pick out a pair of souv enir wine glasses for your trip to the Eiffel Tower tomorrow. Stores are open till 8, but even after closing you can contin ue to window shop in their renowned vitrines.
Photo: Nicolas Lesté-Lasserre
8:00 p.m. Walk over to the Opera for drinks and classic-but-modern French cuisine in the Opera’s brand new and exquisite, red-carpeted, glass-walled restaurant. You can also go to an opera or ballet, but shows are on summer break from mid-July to early Septem ber. Don’t forget to Facebook all your great photos to your friends back home on the restaurant’s free wifi. www.opera-restaurant.fr
10:30 p.m. Evening is Paris’s greatest event. It’s when the City of Lights really does shine. Your nighttime stroll should lead you down from the Opéra to Rue de la Paix, Place Vendôme, and Place de la Concorde with the Eiffel Tower sparkling and beaming in the background. From there head straight up the bustling Champs Elysées towards the Arc de Triomphe for an early night in, or, if you like, take a romantic detour to the left from the Concorde to see the Tuileries and the Louvre in their nighttime splendor.
Day TWO 8:00 a.m. Start your day off with a delightful jog through Parc Monceau in the 8th district. The 8 hectare park features marble statues of
Photo: Nicolas Lesté-Lasserre
10:00 a.m. No visit to Paris can be complete without a cultural experience in gastronomy. Discover the Mon torgueil and Les Halles districts’ traditional open-air markets and food shops accompanied by your own private, English-speaking chef. You’ll learn about selecting fresh greens, herbs, vegetables, fruits, meats, fish, and of course cheeses and wines, and you’ll get it all in a historical context. Be sure to choose a special bottle to go with your new wine glasses this evening! When you’re fin ished shopping, head back to the chef’s Montorgueil kitchen to whip up a spectacular French lunch with your market goodies.
When you leave Pompidou, walk down the Rue Beaubourg (which becomes Rue du Renard), past the prestigious Hotel de Ville, to the splendid Seine River. Crossing the Pont d’Arcole will lead you straight to Notre-Dame Cathedral. Inside you’ll find stunning sculptures and stained glass mosaics. After your visit be sure to explore the banks of this charming island of La Cité which will lead you to a grassy point just past the famed Pont Neuf (a French cinema favorite).
Now that you’ve gotten a good look at it, go on up. If you’re still feeling fit after that morning jog and that evening wine and cheese, take the 1665 stairs all the way to the top. Otherwise, go for the elevator. You can stop at an intermediate floor or go right to the top, where you can catch a magnificent sunset scene over Paris. If you feel like you’re swaying up there, don’t blame the wine. Even though the metal structure weighs more than 10,000 metric tons, the wind can actually make the top a bit tipsy. So enjoy the view—and the ride.
5:30 p.m. Nothing says Paris tourism like cruise on a bateau mouche (“fly boat”), which you can pick up at the Pont d’Alma (quick trip on the RER underground train). These 70-minute guided tours give you a glimpse of all the city’s major highlights from the distinctive view of the Seine. Sound like cheesy tourism? Give it a try. Even the locals love doing it.
Continue your cultural experi ence with a short walk over to the celebrated Beaubourg-Pom pidou Center Europe’s largest collection of modern art with its five floors of modern art by world-renowned artists. Its bold and colorful exterior architecture alone, circa 1977, is a celebrated masterpiece with a design that revolutionized modern archi tecture.
The ultimate Parisian moment has come. It’s the Eiffel Tower, up front and personal. But before you go up, take some time to enjoy its beauty from the ground. Choose a pleasant grassy spot on the 780-meter-long Champs de Mars, preferably closer to the peaceful Ecole Militaire end where you’ll find fewer tourists and more picnickers like your selves. Unwrap those wine glass es you’ve been protecting all day and enjoy some wine and cheese with Gustav Eiffel’s 324-me ter-high, 1889 World’s Fair mas terpiece as your backdrop.
Yes, it’s late, but eating late is très Parisien. It’s also très Gaulois—which is appropriate since tonight’s table is set in the 2500s-year-old tradition of the more barbarian and boisterous culture of the Gauls, who lived in Paris when it was still called Lutetia. You might not find Astérix and Obélix at the Nos Ancestres les Gaulois restau rant on the island of Saint Louis, but you’re sure to find their same rustic meals (they’ll give you a basket full of vegetables, a leg of lamb that they grill over a nearby fire, loads of cheese, and wine from a wooden barrel) and that same exuberant am biance. By the end of the night you’ll be singing “Aux Champs Elysées” right along with their musicians. (Okay, it’s not Gaul, but it’s catchy, and they sing it.)
A long weekend Paris’s buildings. When cemeteri es had to be emptied in the 18th century to make room for the living, the bones were piled into these underground caverns—in a cryptically artistic way.
12:00 a.m. Can’t do a weekend in Paris without discovering its exciting nightlife. When you leave the Gauls head across the river to 21st century nightclubbing back in the Montorgueil district. Take a taxi from Ile Saint Louis, or en joy the 45-minute walk through Paris’s lively midnight scene. At the very hip Social Club, drop your bags and souvenirs at the coat check, and dance to live music and award-winning DJ mixes—ranging from electronic, trance, and rock to jazz, pop, and hip-hop—on a neon-lit floor surrounded by black walls and black couches. Check the dress code online to be sure you get past the door guards. www.parissocialclub.com
Day THREE 9:00 a.m. Okay, so it was a late night last night. Time for a little grasse mat inée (“fat morning”), where you sleep in an extra hour. But after a quick breakfast in the hotel, it’s time to discover the city by Vélib, Paris’s chic champagne-golden rental bikes (which are unbe lievably low-cost). You’ll find Vélib stations just about everywhere you turn, so take the first one you find with fully pumped tires and head down the prestigious Avenue Georges V to the Pont d’Alma’s golden torch—now a pilgrimage site for Lady Di fans— cross the bridge near the Eiffel Tower and head over to see the 24-karat gold dome of the Inva lides where Napoleon I is buried. Keep going along the tree-lined streets down to the Musée Rodin where you can think with The Thinker, Rodin’s most famous statue. The museum itself is impressive, but after last night’s partying what you might better enjoy are the museum’s private, shady gardens, which feature Rodin’s outdoor creations. www.velib.paris.fr www.musee-rodin.fr
Photo: Nicolas Lesté-Lasserre
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The Abbey Bookshop. Photo: Christa Lesté-Lasserre
12:00 p.m. Dine today like a true Parisian, people-watching on one of the many French café terraces in the city’s Latin Quarter near the Bou levard Saint Michel. (You can take the bus, Métro, or Vélib, all about 20 minutes from Rodin.) After wards stroll over to the Abbey Bookshop on a narrow cobble stone street of the Latin Quarter where you’ll find an endless array of new and used books in English and a delightfully friendly and knowledgeable shopkeeper full of interesting suggestions. Pick out a good read about Paris—Adam Gopnik’s Paris to the Moon, Elizabeth Bard’s Lunch in Paris, or Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables—or share the French passion for comic books with one or two Asterix classics (and you’ll appreciate last night’s dinner even more!). www.abbeybookshop.wordpress.com
Once you’ve left these ghoulish caves, enjoy a leisurely walk up Avenue Denfert-Rochereau. (If the maze of streets confuse you, just ask the centerpiece lion: his bottom will lead you down the right path.) When the avenue runs into the Avenue de l’Obser vatoire, look to your right for an impressive view of the Observa tory of Paris and its magnificent white dome. The speed of light was discovered here in the 17th century, and it continues to be the world’s oldest working observa tory. Unfortunately, that means it’s not open for visits, except on rare occasions, but you can still get a great view from its iron gates. www.obspm.fr
Observatory of Paris. Photo: Nicolas Lesté-Lasserre
Photo: Nicolas Lesté-Lasserre
2:00 p.m. Take the Line 38 bus straight down Boulevard Saint Michel to Place Denfert-Rochereau and its magnificent centerpiece lion statue, where you’ll find the entrance to the not-to-be-missed Catacombs visit. These man -made caverns resulted from stone harvesting when the city was being built: they took what was underneath the ground and piled it on top of it to make
Follow the Avenue de l’Observ atoire in a straight line on to the famed Luxembourg Gardens, ever a source of great inspiration for France’s most renowned writers and philoso phers. No better place, then, to settle in on one of the park’s green metal chairs around the fountain of the Senate building and sink into your new book. Soak up the sun (don’t forget the sunglasses) as you read stories and anecdotes about the remarkable place you’re sitting in at this very moment. www.museeduluxembourg.fr
6:00 p.m. Time for some ice cream! At the northern entrance of the Luxem bourg Gardens you’ll find an ice cream stand offering 30 flavors, just what you need after all that basking in the sun.
Photo: Nicolas Lesté-Lasserre
6:30 p.m. If you’re not flying home tonight, take the Métro over to the Bastille where a monument now marks the site of the infamous Bastille prison which was broken open and burned at the start of the French Revolution in 1776. The Bastille area hosts a great assortment of bars and restau rants, many with live bands, for a perfect Parisian ending to your vacation.
Back at home, your Parisian wine glasses set on your Parisian tablecloth, next to the framed photo of you on top of the Eiffel Tower, will always bring back the best memories of your unforgettable three-day week end in Paris.
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A part of Paris We are all starving for a little vacation. Everyone wants to escape into the hustle and bustle of a fabulous metropolis or wiggle their sun lotioned toes on a sandy beach while reading a book in peace and quiet. Passions may vary but the initial thought is the same - and the great thing about holidays these days is that you can enjoy yourself without emptying every piggy bank in the house! by Sigríður Björk Bragadóttir Photos: Sigríður Björk Bragadóttir
ne way to do this is to rent an apart ment in your favor ite city, which in my case is Paris. Hotel and apartment rates are often quite similar but the apartment allows you greater freedom. In my opinion Paris is not an ex pensive city, but it certainly can be if you’re chasing after high fashion clothes, fancy gourmet boutiques and Michelin starred restaurants. Underneath all that fluff, however, beats the genuine and tremendously enjoyable heart of Paris. The appeal of the city springs from the diversity of its people. The average Parisian doesn’t have a money-sprouting tree in the backyard and yet that does not for one second stop him or her from enjoying life. Maisbien sûr que non! Buying groceries like the locals is a great way to get a sense of the city. Walk around the Galerie Lafayette Gourmet, Le Grand Marché or go to a market and drop one delicious item of food after the other into your basket: heavenly cheeses, walnut bread, sausages, pâtés, fine oils, olives, vegetables and fruits that are all bursting with freshness. Then go to a bakery and treat yourself to a succulent chocolate cake or some other mouthwatering pastry. Experiencing the French gastronomy like the French do without spending more money than you would at home – now that’s what I call living.
Go out for lunch, stay in for dinner Keeping costs down is fairly easy. Going to a restaurant for lunch and then preparing a small feast at home in the evening will not only save you money but also give you an interesting insight into French culture. If you want to enjoy the after dark ambi ence, an evening stroll around the neighborhood or a cup of coffee or glass of wine at a café will just as easily do the trick. Ordering food in the evening is generally twice as expensive as doing so at lunchtime and the food you get is practically the same, the lunch meals might be slightly lighter but they are equally yummy. The places that come recommended in traveling books and on traveling sites are usually frequented by the French in the afternoon and that’s when the Parisian culture reaches its peak. A lot of restaurants offer lunch discounts to its regulars and the locals take advantage of that; places fill up quickly, mostly with employers of nearby com panies and pensioners, and with the French fondness for long lunches the atmosphere is full of vim and vigor à la française. In the evening, the same places will often be overcrowded by tourists who have read up on the most popular places to eat. On those nights, the French quickly take their leave and the quality tends to drop.
The fun is where the French are!
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Sitting at a fun café or bar during the “blue hour” and observing the flow of people is almost a requirement if you want a genu ine taste of the Parisian “joie de vivre”. The French often swing by the local café or bar on their way from work to catch up with friends or family members – and
that’s a jolly atmosphere not to be missed. It can be tricky to find the right place; the best on es are usually low key and hidd en inside residential areas. Bars on the large avenues and by the main tourist attractions are often overpriced and contrived. The French have a zest for life like no other and are always on the lookout for a cozy saloon to quench their thirst and converse in. The fun is where the French are, so follow them!
Finding an apartment “Click’appart” is a company that rents out apartments in Paris and it’s owned by a recently married couple. They spent their honey moon in Iceland and are hence, very Icelander-friendly. They have great apartments, both small and big, all over town and generally in apartment buildings occupied mostly by Parisians. Their website is: www.clickappart.com Paris is a city that must be visited at least once in your life. I highly recommend renting an apartment as it is a unique way to appreciate this marvelous city.
Fried wild mushrooms and a nice omelet with salad and bread. Italian bresaola (dried, salted beef) with rocket, Parma ham and olive oil, nicely laid out on plates. Boiled artichokes (whole) served with good vinaigrette. A ready-made, grilled chick en “poulet fermier” (free range chicken) or “poulet Bresse” with salad and bread. Fresh oysters and Cham paign with butter and rye bread. You can buy oysters and have them opened for you, ready to take home. They can be purchased in Huitrerie Regis, 3 Rue Monfaucon in the 6th district but also in the bigger gourmet stores like La fayette and Le Grand Marché. The Huitrerie’s website is: www.huitrerieregis.com Filled, fresh ravioli from an Italian gourmet shop served with butter that’s melted with Salvia. All kinds of dry-cured hams and sausages, served with pickled vegetables and a baguette.
Photo: Karl Petersson
Simple gourmet dinners - A ham and wild mushroom omelet. Fried “saucisson de Lyon” (or other sausage) with readymade French potato salad from a gourmet shop. Boiled asparagus with readymade Hollandaise sauce.
Try tasting at least two differ ent cheeses a day. The em ployees in the cheese stores are usually very friendly and willing to help. You can also buy books with guidelines on how to choose & enjoy French cheeses or go to a cheese tasting where a cheese platter with instructions is laid out for you. They are available in the store Marie-Anne Cantin, 12 Rue du Champs de Mars, 7th district. Tel: 0145504394.
The hottest bistros A fortune can be spent in Paris ian restaurants but delicious food can also be consumed and enjoyed at reasonable prices. I personally prefer modest but busy places that focus on well-prepared food and a laidback atmosphere. No Michelin stars for me, thank you. Here is a list of excellent restaurants where you need not fear the bill:
La Régalade Saint-Honoré 123 Rue saint-Honore, 75001 Paris
Aux Bons Crus 7 Rue des petits Champs, 75001 Paris A lovely, very small and traditional French restaurant. They make great salads that are delicious and filling.
Le Mesturet 77 Rue de Richelieu, 75002 Paris Great for lunch. www.lemesturet.com
La Pre Verre 8 Rue Thenard, 75005 Paris Great for lunch, reserve a table. www.lepreverre.com
L´Ebauchoir 43 Rue de Citeux, 70012 Paris One of the first bistros to open in this popular neighborhood. www.lebauchoir.com
Chez Gladines 5 Rue des Cinq Diamants, 70013 Paris Very good and affordable food from the Basque region. They don’t take reservations so wait your turn in the queue.
Un Zebre a Montmartre 38 Rue Lepic, 70018 Paris The area around the Abbesses train station is extremely popular. Tourists flock to it to see the church and the gathering of artists. The area’s restaurants are all quite similar but there are a few hidden pearls, like this one, in between.
JanTchi (Korean restaurant) 6 Rue Thérese, 75001 Paris The streets around Rue SaintAnne, 1st district, have a vibrant nightlife with a lot of young people hunting for cheap places to eat. This is one of them.
Exki A restaurant chain with takeaway service that sells affordable organic meals. A great way to create a mini feast at home. This place is very chic amongst youngsters; there are 3 locations around town: 82 Boulevard du Montparnasse, 75002 Paris 118 Avenue France, 75013 Paris9 Boulevard des Italiens, 75002 Paris
Personal space Want an alfresco meal in a beautiful Parisian park?
Of course you do.
The hippest markets Rue Montorguail, right next to Les Halles. A very fun market with gourmet shops open all day.
Enfants Rouges, 39 Rue de Bretagne. This is the very first and oldest market in Paris, built 1614. Traditional French, covered food market with lots of restaurants; open every day except Mondays and Fridays. Monge-market is open on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays. On Sundays there are dancing sessions in the square. Buci-market is on Rue de Buci in the 6th district, Metro Mabillon, the setting of the novel and film “Perfume”. A lively street with a lot of nice Cafés. Enjoy a great cheese tasting and a glass of wine at La Fromagerie 31, 64 Rue de Seine. Tel: 0143265031 Alibert-market in Rue Alibert, 10th district is open on Sunday mornings until early afternoon. In this vibrant and very hip area you’ll find a big food market with African influences and a small flea market. It’s visited by the French a lot and you might even see them throwing together little picnics on the hood of their cars. On your way out of the metro keep an eye out for Blé Sucré, Square Trousseau, 7 Rue Antoine Vollon – a marvelous bakery (not the only one in Paris, to be sure). It’s modestly decorated with Danish “out of this world” pastries that will all be gone when the market closes – so grab’em quick!
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Champ de Mars, 7th district. When you’re sitting on a blanket and nibbling on nice snacks with the Eiffel Tower there before you – you can’t really complain, can you? Parc Monceau, 8th – 17th district. Filled with flowers and green grass, a great place for children – bring a blanket. The park by the Rodin Museum, 7th district. Enjoy a good snack by the museum. It doesn’t get any more romantic than that. Places des Vosges, 4th district. A beautiful garden surrounded by the spectacular buildings this part of the city is known for. Parc des Buttes Chaumont, 19th district. A very popular place, high up in the hills of Paris with a superb view over the city. Square du Vert Galant, 1st district. A cozy park overlooking the Seine. Jardin des Tuileries, 1st district. A huge flowery park with various smaller parks in it. Place Dauphine, 1st district. A small and charming park by The Île de la Cité. Canal St.Martin, 10th district. Many will go to Paris a number of times without ever seeing this beautiful canal that runs through the city. The benches and pavements on the bank are a very popular place to hang out and have a snack. While digesting – why not take a boat ride on the river? A picnic along the Seine is without a doubt the most romantic thing one can do. Experiencing it at least once in your lifetime is an absolute obligation.
Paris tips & trivia A gourmet’s first destination when going to Paris should be the G. Detou by Les Halles, 58 Rue Tiquetonne, 2nd district. Here, you can buy various kinds of high quality chocolate in small and big packages; canned sardines in virgin olive oil, pea nuts in 1 kilo bags and all sorts of highly desirable candy – Fancy gourmet food without the fancy price tags. The most popular fast-food meal in Paris is probably baguette with cheese and ham. It never fails to satisfy.
You should immediately stock up on: Good pepper with a grinder, good salt, quality olive oil and some nice jam. They take their bread very seriously in Paris. The French con sume 10 billion baguettes every year. Remember to choose restaurants and bakeries the French people are queuing in front of. If it’s worth their wait – it’s good. There are very cheap and fun restaurants around Rue Saint Anne in the 1st district. It’s mostly Asian places and in the evening the area gets very lively with all the young folks going out for inexpensive food. The neighborhoods in Paris are as different as they are many. Belleville (11th district) is very invogue these days: Rue Oberkampf has a vibrant evening and nightlife, often with live music. Strolling down the street and dropping into its cafés and bars is the perfect recipe for a good Parisian night out. Use the metro and buy tickets from the slot machines (carnet) – It’s cheaper and it has English instructions. Useful websites: www.girlsguidetoparis.com www.parisardaman.com
Get the Paris mood going and watch … Paris je t’aime (2006). Directors: Olivier Assayas and Frédéric Auburtin. A wonderful film consisting of 20 short films, one dedicated to each arrondissement of Paris. French Kiss (1995). Kevin Kline and Meg Ryan in an amusing romantic comedy. Something’s Gotta Give (2003). Jack Nicolsson and Diane Keaton in a comedy without parallel about love and human existence. The film’s soundtrack is also great and can be bought on CD. The Pink Panther (2006). Steven Martin at his best The movie rivals the original with Peter Sellers.
Books that happen in Paris My life in France – Julia Child: An interesting read about a remarkable woman. Almost French – Sarah Turnbull: A lot of novels have been written about women’s love affairs in Paris. This one is Australian and has gotten great reviews. A Movable Feast – Ernest Hemingway: A classic and wonderful read. A Year in the Merde – Stephen Clarke: Hilarious novel about a man’s relationship with the Parisians. Perfume – Patrick Suskind: A classic novel set at the Buci market.
A sip of Paris
in the city
The first thing that comes to mind when French wines are menti oned is probably the famous vineyards of Bordeaux, Burgundy or Alsace. A vineyard in Paris is not likely to appear on that list but it is there nonetheless, in the heart of Montmartre in northern Paris. Photos: photos.com
he Clos-Montmarte is only 1600 m2 and is siutated in a steep slope where Rue des Saules meets Rue Saint-Vincent. The vineyard is funded by the city of Paris which also oversees the cultivation, the harvest and its festival which dates back 80 years. The festival is called La Fête des Vendanges de Mont martre and is one of the most popular in the city with more than 600,000 people attending
the five day festivities. Only Paris Plage (when artificial beaches are created along The Seine) and Nuits Blanches, attract more people. It was the Romans that started the viticulture of Mont martre and Benedictine monks who later took over the activity. An abbey was even created but then destroyed in the French Revolution. The vineyards survi ved it but their existence was under constant threat; almost ruined by the phylloxera (pest of commercial vineyards worldwide)
at the end of the 19th century and then becoming victims of building contractors. It was Poulbout, one of the country’s most famous art ists after World War I, that came to the rescue when he peti tioned the president of France to preserve the vineyards and their age-old traditions. It was then decided, in 1933, that the land should forever be preserved. The wine from Clos-Montmar tre is not available at any restau rants or liquor stores as it is all auctioned for charity. La Fête
des Vendanges de Montmartre is on the 9 – 13 of October in the 18th district of Paris, surrounded by the artists that have forever characterized the neighborhood and protected the vineyards. Details about the festival and its events are available on the website: www.fetedesvendang esdemontmartre.com/en/. The schedule features a special chocolate night, a cheese night, a parade, a tasting class and many, many other events.
“The festival is called La Fête des Vendanges de Montmar tre and is one of the most popular in the city with more than 600,000 people attending the five day festivities.”
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The Eiffel Tower
monument The Eiffel Tower (French: La Tour Eiffel) was built for the International Exhibition of Paris in 1889 commemorating the centenary of the French Revolution. The Prince of Wales, later King Edward VII of England, opened the tower. The monument is an iron framework located on the Champ de Mars in Paris, and named after the French engineer Gustave Eiffel, whose company built and designed it. by Jón Kristinn Snæhólm Photos: photos.com
rected in 1889 as the entrance arch to the World’s Fair, the Eiffel Tower has become both a global cultural icon of France and one of the most recognizable structures in the world. The history of the Eiffel Tower is interesting for many reasons, one of them being the fact that it was never meant to be a permanent part of Paris. Planned for demolition in 1909, it was saved at the last moment to be used as a telecommunication tower. Furthermore, the Eiffel Tower’s history is quite remarka ble because of its aesthetic value, and for the mathematical precision and accuracy it poss esses, even though it was built in an era of limited technology. The tower was the world’s tallest structure until 1930 when the Chrysler building in New York was completed.
A waste of money? The Eiffel Tower is the tallest structure in Paris, standing 320 meters (1,050 ft) and weighing 7,300 tons. It was built in little over two years by 132 workers and 50 engineers. The tower was much criticized by Parisians and artists when it was being built due to arguments concern ing its feasibility and the colossal waste of money, and also due to objections on artistic grounds. The cost of the tower in 1889 was around £260,000. The American TV show Pricing the Priceless speculates that in 2011 the tower would have cost about $480,000,000 to build, that the land under the tower is worth $350,000,000, and that the scrap value of the tower is worth $3,500,000. But the tower has proved to be the most-visited paid monu ment in the world with about 7 million people ascending it every year, thus fully paying for it. In estimation the Eiffel Tower makes a profit of about $29,000,000 per year, though it
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is unlikely that the Eiffel Tower is managed so as to maximize profit. It costs $5,300,000 to repaint the tower, which is done once every seven years. The electric bill is $400,000 per year for 7.5 million kilowatt-hours. More than 250,000,000 guests have visited the tower since its construction. As for the artistic grounds – the Eiffel Tower has become the most prominent symbol of both Paris and France, often in establishing the location of films set in the city. The Eiffel Tower has three levels for visitors. The two trans parent elevators will take you to
all three levels. Sporty visitors can take the stairs but only to the first two levels. The walk from the ground to the first level is over 300 steps, as is the walk from the first to the second level. On the first level the tower hous es a restaurant, Le 58 tour Eiffel. On the next level visitors can en joy a number of souvenir shops and a restaurant, the Le Jules Verne. On top there’s a weather station, a radio station and a TV repeater. This is the third and highest level offering extensive view of Paris - accessible by lift. Stairs also exist but are usually closed to the public.
The tower played an important role in capturing the infamous spy Mata Hari during World War I, thus endearing it in the hearts of the French people.
The Eiffel Tower in history
A Beechcraft Bonanza was flown through the arcades of the tower in 1984.
Thomas Edison visited the tower in 1889 and signed the guestbook in which he admired the “brave builder”, Gustave Eiffel, for his gigantic and original specimen.
In a commitment ceremony in 2007, an American woman famously “married” the Eiffel Tower. Her relationship with the tower has been the subject of extensive global publicity.
In 1926, a pilot was killed by flying his airplane beneath the span of the tower and getting tangled in an aerial of the wireless station. When the Germans entered Paris during World War II, the cables for the lift in the tower were cut by the French Resistance, thus forcing Hitler and his Nazis to climb the stairs if they wanted to get to the top! It is said that Hitler conquered Paris but he never conquered the Eiffel Tower!
An Austrian tailor died after jumping 60 meters from the first deck of the tower with his homemade parachute in 1912.
Did you know? The tower has the nickname La dam de fer which means the Iron Lady. The base pillars of the Eiffel Tower are oriented with the four points of the compass. Temperature (in winter and summer) alters the height of the Eiffel Tower up to 15 centimeters (6 inches). There are 20,000 light bulbs on the Eiffel Tower. Around 50 tons of paint are added to the Eiffel Tower every 7 years to protect it from corrosion.
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A sign of victory
The Arc de Triomphe (English: The Arch of Triumph or the Triumphal Arch) is one of the most famous monuments in Paris. It stands in the center of the Place Charles de Gaulle, a large circular square from which no less than 12 streets originate, and at the western end of the Champs-Élyséss, on the right bank of the River Seine. Each of these 12 streets bears the name of a French military leader. The arch honors those who fought and died for France in the French Revolutionary and the Napoleonic Wars with the names of all French victories and generals inscribed on its inner and outer surface. Beneath its vault lies the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier honoring the many that died during World War I. by Jón Kristinn Snæhólm Photos: photos.com
History The Arc de Triomphe was com missioned by Napoleon Bona parte (1769 – 1821), the first Emperor of France (1804 – 1814, 1815 – 1815) in 1806 at the peak of his fortunes after his victory in the Battle of Austerlitz, also known as the Battle of the Three Emperors. The battle was one of Napoleon’s greatest victo ries where the French Empire effectively crushed the Third Coalition (Britain, Austria and Russia) thus becoming the domi nant power in Europe. In spite of Napoleon’s great enthusiasm to exploit his greatness in the field of military achievements by commissioning the arch, he never got to enjoy its full splen dor because he was forced to abdicate and was exiled in 1813 before the arch was completed. In 1821 he died at the age of 51. The arch was not completed until 1836 during the reign of Louis-Philippe (1773 – 1850), King of France (1830 – 1848). Following its construction the Arc de Triomphe became the
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rallying point of French troops parading after successful military campaigns and for the annual Bastille Day Military Parade. Fa mous victory marches under or around the arch have included Germans in 1871, the French in 1919, the Germans again in 1940 and the French and Allies in 1944 and 1945. In 1840, brought back to France from exile in Saint Helena, Napoleon’s remains passed through the arch’s vault on their way to the Emperor’s final resting place. Also prior to his burial, the body of Victor Hugo (1802 – 1885), the famous French author and poet (Les Miserables, The Hunchback of Notre-Dame) was exposed under the arch during one night in 1885.
The design The design of the arch, by archi tect Jean Chalgrin (1739 – 1811), is based on the Arch of Titus, a
1st century honorific arch located in Rome making the Arc de Tri omphe, the Neoclassical version of ancient Roman architecture. The arch’s iconographic program shows heroic nude French youths pitted against bearded German ic warriors in armor. It set the tone for public monuments, with triumphant patriotic messages. The arch is decorated with many reliefs, most of them commemo rating Napoleon’s famous victo ries, amongst them the Battle of Abuokir, Egypt (1799), his victory over the Turkish (1807 – 1809) and the great Battle of Austerlitz
45 m (148 ft) wide and 22 m (72 ft) deep. The vault is 29.19 meters (95.8 ft) high and 14.62 m (48.0 ft) wide and the smaller vault is 18.68 m (61.3 ft) high 8.44 m (27.7 ft) wide. The Arc de Triomphe is so colossal that in 1919 after the Paris parade, marking the end of hostilities in World War I, the French aviator Charles Godefroy (1888 – 1958) flew his Nieuport biplane successfully through it, with the event captured on newsreel. The Arc de Triomphe in Paris is the second tallest arch in the world.
The Unknown Soldier Beneath the arch is the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier (French: La Tombe du Soldat inconnu) from World War I. Interred there on Armistice Day 1920, it has the first eternal flame lit in Western and Eastern Europe since the Vestal Virgin’s fire was extin guished in the fourth century. It burns in memory of the dead
“The inside of the monument lists the nam es of 660 people, among which 558 are French generals of the First French Empire; the names of those who died in battle are underlined.” (1805). The best known relief is the Departure of the Volunteers of 1792, also known as the Le Marseillaise. At the top of the arch, above the richly sculptured decoration of soldiers, there are 30 shields each of them bearing the names of major Revolutionary and Napoleonic military victories. The inside of the monument lists the names of 660 people, among which 558 are French generals of the First French Empire; the names of those who died in battle are underlined. Also inscribed, on the shorter sides of the four supporting columns, are the names of the major victorious battles of the Napoleonic Wars. The great arcades are decorated with allegorical figures representing characters in Roman mythology. Major academic sculptors of France are represented in the sculpture of the Arc de Triomphe. Like the Emperor himself, Jean Chalgrin did not live to see the completion of his masterpiece. He died in 1811. The monument stands 50 meters (164 ft) in height,
soldiers who were never identi fied (now in both world wars). According to the media it has only been extinguished once by a drunken football fan from South America after France de feated Brazil in FIFA World Cup Final in Paris 1998! A ceremo ny is held by the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier every year on November 11th on the annivers ary of the armistice signed between France and Germany in 1918. The block on top of the tomb carries the inscription: ICI REPOSE UN SOLDAT FRANCAIS MORT POUR LA PATRIE 1914 – 1918 (Here lies a French soldier who died for the fatherland).
Enjoy the view A lift will take visitors almost to the top of the arch – to the attic, where there is a small museum, which carries models of the arch and tells its story from the time of its construction. 46 steps re main to climb in order to reach the top, the terrasse, from where visitors can enjoy a panoramic view of Paris.
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The French Revolution
people Power to the
The French Revolution, 1789-1799, was a period of radical social and political turmoil in France that had a lasting impact on French history and more broadly throughout Europe. The absolute monarchy that had ruled France for centuries collapsed within three years. by Jón Kristinn Snæhólm
rench society under went an epic trans formation, as out-ofdate, aristocratic, and religious privileges evaporated under a sustained assault from radical left-wing political groups, masses on the streets, and peasants in the countryside. Old ideas about tradition and order regarding monarchs, aristocracy, and the Catholic Church were abruptly replaced with new principles of liberty, equality, and fraternity.
increasingly angered by the incompetency of King Louis XVI and the continued indifference and corruption of the aristocra cy. This resentment, joined with growing Enlightenment ideals, increased radical opinions, and the French Revolution began in 1789 with the convocation of the Estates-General, which was organized into three estates; the clergy, the nobility, and the common people of France, in May of 1789. The economy was not healthy at the time; poor harvests, rising
The Execution of Louis XVI in what is now the Place de la Concorde, facing the empty pedestal where the statue of his grandfather, Louis XV, once stood.
Amidst economic crisis, the common people of France were
Storming of the Bastille, 14 July 1789.
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food prices, and an inadequate transport system made food even more expensive. The se quence of events leading to the Revolution involved the national government’s virtual bankruptcy due to its poor tax system and the mounting debts caused by numerous large wars includ
ing French participation in the American Revolution (1775-1783). Many other factors involved resentments and ambitions given focus by the Enlighten ment ideals. These included resentment of royal absolut ism; resentment by peasants, laborers and the bourgeoisie
toward the traditional seignio rial privileges possessed by the nobility; resentment of the Catholic Church’s influence over public policy and institutions; aspirations for freedom of reli gion; resentment of aristocratic bishops by the poorer clergy of the countryside; ambitions for social, political and economic equality, and especially as the
Revolution progressed, antimon archism. Also hatred towards Queen Marie Antoinette who was falsely accused of being a spendthrift and an Austrian spy, and anger towards the King for firing finance minister Jacques Necker, in 1781, among others, who were popularly looked upon as representatives of the French people. King Louis XVI
How an Icelandic volcano helped spark the French Revolution 230 years ago an Icelandic volcano erupted with catastrophic consequences for weather, agriculture, and transport across the Northern Hemisphere – and is said to have helped trigger the French Revolution. The Laki volcanic fissure (Icelandic: Lakagígar) in the southern part of Iceland erupted over an eight-month period from June 1783 to February 1784, spewing lava and poisonous gases that devastated the island’s agriculture and killing much of the live stock. It is estimated that that a quarter of Iceland’s population died through the ensuing famine. But there were more wide-ranging impacts. The Laki eruption had its consequences, as the haze of dust and sulphur particles thrown up by the volcano were carried out over much of the Northern Hemisphere, thus many countries in Europe – amongst them France. In France a sequence of extremes included draughts, accom panied by harvest failures, bad summers and winters and violent hailstorms that destroyed crops. These events caused poverty amongst country workers and contributed significantly to a build up of poverty and famine in the country, contributing to the French Revolution in 1789. An oil painting by Antoine-François Callet depicting Louis XVI.
The French Revolution brought him back to power in 1784, but then it was too late. The first year of the Revolution saw members of the Third Estate proclaim ing the Tennis Court Oath in June, the assault on the Bastille, which was the symbol of royal power, in July, the pas sage of the Declaration of the Rights
between 16,000 and 40,000 people are said to have been killed, amongst them some 3000 by the guillotine in Paris and 14,000 by the same method in other parts of the country while the whole country was in revolt. The guillotine had become the symbol of a string of executions. After the fall
Napoléon Bonaparte in the coup d’état of 18 Brumaire, which marked the end of the revolution. Artist: François Bouchot
of Man and the Citizen in August, and a marathon march on Versailles by Parisians, joined by some 7,000 women, which forced the royal court back to Paris in October. The next few years were dominated by struggles between various liberal assemblies and a right-wing of supporters of the monarchy determined on thwarting major reforms.
The French Revolutionary Wars A republic was proclaimed in Septem ber 1792 and King Louis XVI was executed by the guillotine the next year; the Queen of France, Marie Antoinette, was also executed by the guillotine nine months later. External threats shaped the course of the Revolution. The royal houses across Europe were horrified by the Revolu tion and led a counter crusade and the French Revolutionary Wars began in 1792. At first French forces faced defeat on many fronts but ultimately featured spectacular French victories that enabled the conquest of the Italian Peninsula, the Low Countries (Netherlands), and most territories west of the Rhine – achievements that had escaped French govern ments for centuries.
The French Revolution Ends: Napoleon’s Rise Internally, popular opinions radicaliz ed the Revolution considerably, ending in the rise of Maximilien Robespierre, the Jacobins and virtual dictatorship by the Committee of Pub lic Safety during the Reign of Terror from 1793 until 1794 during which
of the Jacobins and the execution of Robespierre, the five-member Directory, appointed by parliament, assumed control of the French state in 1795 and held power until 1799, when it was replaced by the Consul ate under Napoleon Bonaparte (17691821) in 1799, a young, successful and very ambitious general in the French army. The Directory’s four years in power were riddled by financial crises, general discontent, inefficiency, and above all, political corruption. By the late 1790’s the directors relied almost entirely on the military to maintain their authority and had yielded much of their power to the generals in the field. In 1799, as frustration with their leadership reached a fever pitch, Bonaparte staged a coup d’état, abolishing the Directory and appoint ing himself France’s “First Consul”. The event marked the end of the French Revolution and the beginn ing of the Napoleonic era, in which France would come to dominate much of continental Europe. This effectively led to Bonaparte’s dictator ship and eventually, in 1804, to his proclamation as the first Emperor of France. Napoleon Bonaparte ruled over much of the European continent until he was defeated at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815 and the Bourbon dy nasty was restored under Louis XVIII. Although the King attempted to bring back the France that had existed in 1789, the Revolution had created a powerful political culture which strongly believed that “the people” were the source of sovereignty.
No vestige of the Bastille prison remains but the Place de la Bastille, where it stood, straddles 3 arrondissements of Paris, the 4th, 11th and 12th. The July Column in the center of the square commemorates the events of the July Revolution (1830) and the square is often home to concerts and similar events.
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The Traveling Inquisition
She’s got the movies Monika Ewa Orlowska is excited about her future. She’s spent two years in the Icelandic Film School studying acting and is graduating this spring. She has dedicat ed herself fully to her schoolwork, especially her most recent project which is a film she wrote along with the director and starred in. She says it’s like a social satire, a world where everyone is either round, square or triangle. She can also be seen in the movie XL, where she plays AnaStacia, a femme fatale bartender and body-guard, who had a difficult childhood “although that story isn’t shown in the movie.” By Dísa Bjarnadóttir Photo: Ernir Eyjólfsson
onika was born in Poland but moved to Iceland when she was three years old and considers herself more Icelandic than Polish. She does treasure her Polish roots and likes introduc ing her friends to some customs and cuisines such as the beetroot soup, which she claims is the best hangover remedy in the world. When asked for the recipe she says it really does take a long time to prepare. As for her plans after school: “I plan on going to Norway this fall, to work in a ski cabin. I’ve always wanted to spend winters in Norway in the snow. It’s so beautiful, and I love Scandinavia, the way of living, so easygoing. After that I might go on to study some more, but for the time being I just want to enjoy being in another country.” Monika has been to plenty of foreign countries, but her most memorable experience while traveling happened in Luxemburg and Amsterdam. “I was going to spend a year in Luxemburg as an au-pair and my boyfriend was going with me. We kept having problems with booking the ticket online but it finally went through and we managed to book a ticket. It wasn’t until we got to the airport that we realized that accidentally he’d booked us a flight to Amsterdam. We sat down in the plane in shock and just said to each other ‘OK ... I guess we’re flying to Amsterdam.” Once we got there the one train that would have taken us directly across from Amsterdam to Luxemburg wasn’t working so it was five trains!!! and we
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had four suitcases, always running with only ten minutes to spare, from one train to the next. In hindsight it was a nice experience though, travelling through Belgium and the Netherlands.”
Favorite place abroad? “Gdańsk, in Poland, the place where I was born … for per sonal reasons, because I used to have family there until my grandmother died six years ago. I spent all my summers there as a kid and now I hav en’t gone for six years. I have really good memories. The weather was always hot and sunny and the beach is the most beautiful beach I’ve ever been to. I have to add that I love the airport in Copen hagen (Kastrup). I’ve spent a lot of time there waiting for connecting flights and it’s never boring. It has got to be one of the best airports, so many shops, and restaurants, spending hours there is easy.”
What do you recommend to people visiting Iceland? “See the nature. We Iceland ers kind of take it for granted, like the Egyptians probably do with the pyramids. Every once in awhile we have to stop and realize how beautiful it is though. Even if you don’t go far, Þingvellir is gorgeous and peaceful. And our downtown, for party-animals, downtown is crazy on the weekends, and if you’re not a party animal, just sitting at Café Paris (located in Austurstræti) on a nice summer’s day, soaking up the sun and watching the people, is simply classic.”
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