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co ol Wh n a th ois t do in e b es k o an su f I d D pe ce ee r la r nd ho ? of

is in the air The Icelandic horse Just don’t call it a pony! The Icelandic Horse World Championships 2013 are coming up

Meet the youngest member of the Icelandic team Less is more Check out the small towns of Europe

Be safe

Travel smart and don’t get lost

Our personal account of the ATP music festival

Issue four 2013

Feel the heat:

All about Alicante

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

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

Nearby Landmannalaugar

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


Straight from the horse’s mouth There are so many horse related analogies that we could have written this whole magazine using them but we tried to rein it in. Horses are magnificent beings and even though the Icelandic horse is small he has a grand spirit that influenced us greatly while we worked on this issue. It’s actually quite amazing how the psyche of Icelanders is represented in the country’s indigenous animals. The Icelandic horse, sheep and the arctic fox (the one true aborigine of Iceland) are all tough, resilient, resourceful and independent (sometimes almost to a fault). That’s kind of how most Icelanders see themselves (an intrinsic part of their national pride). This issue is dedicated to the Icelandic horse which means there will be a lot of horsing around but nay, that doesn’t mean we haven’t got other interesting things to share with you; you’ll see. Now put your seat back, relax and enjoy your trip because you surely picked the right horse for the journey. Giddy ‘up, Guðrún Vaka Helgadóttir, editor in chief

In this issue 6 A letter from the CEO 8 Tidbits Ice cream, Ryan Gosling and other sweets.

40 WOW moments Send in your WOW moment and you could win two tickets with WOW air to Iceland from any of our destinations.

10 What’s going on? Music, art and festival fun! 14 SlutWalk Tramp(ing) against rape! 18

38 Safe travel Sheep on the road? Extremely narrow bridges? Be careful and take caution.

Berry picking Our favorite fall pastime, bringing home those mouthwatering treats we so love –that is, if we make it home before we’ve eaten them all!

20 The Volcano Circus A round of applause to… the Volcano Circus Village! 22 Laufás A grand house of turf and grass 24 The WOW Cyclothon 2013 24 teams cycled 1332 km around the country in a relay race for charity. According to the con tenders, it was the best of times! 28 The winners This year’s WOW Cyclothon winners: Team IP and their secret strategy.

46 Relax! How about some yoga and a nice massage in the great outdoors? 50 Testing the tides And have a taste from the sea while you’re in it. A cruise around Breiðafjörður includes fresh sushi straight from the bottom of the sea. 54 Wining, dining and having fun 68 Axlar-Björn If you don’t count the Vikings, Axlar-Björn is Iceland’s only serial killer. Read up on this murdering rampage. 70 Sverrir’s Sundry Collection It’s the little things that count!


30 Reykjavik Pride Hands down the most colorful event of the year. 34 Tussocks Are on the rise! 72 The Museum of Design and Applied Art Treasures from your grandmother’s living room meet modern day design at this wonderful museum. 74 ATP Iceland Despite a rather bad fall from the stage, Nick Cave proved that the show really does go on, at least at the All Tomorrow’s Parties festival in Iceland.


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78 Deerhoof Noise band Deerhoof answers a few questions about ATP, making music and visiting Iceland.

82 The Icelandic Horse

– One of a kind and one of the kindest! 82 86 90 94 96 100

The Icelandic horse: Friend, servant and a nation builder. Flosi Ólafsson: He’s not horsing around! Exhibition Tölt - Inspiration: Art meets the Icelandic horse in Berlin. Team spirit: The magic lies in the hands of the riders. The Icelandic Horse Championships in Berlin: Thousands of spectators – hundreds of riders – one horse breed. Photo shoot gone awry: Iceland’s own horse-savior!

WOW Magazine staff Editor in chief: Guðrún Vaka Helgadóttir Assistant editor: Guðrún Baldvina Sævarsdóttir Design and layout: Ivan burkni / arnardalur.sf Contributing editors: Anna Gréta Oddsdóttir, Davíð Steinsson, Dísa Bjarnadóttir, Hjördís Erna Þorgeirsdóttir, Jón Kristinn Snæhólm, Lilja Björk Haraldsdóttir, Lluis Ruiz Soler, Þór Steinarsson. Proofreading: Paul Michael Herman In-house photographers: Rakel Ósk Sigurðardóttir, Kristinn Magnússon, Ernir Eyjólfsson, Heiða Helga­ dóttir, Hákon Davíð Björnsson.

All about Alicante! 128 Small towns around Alicante 132 Group travel: Get together – Travel together! 134 Mediterranean gastronomy: Exclusive dining in Alicante. 138 The history of Alicante 140 Cycling holidays in Alicante: The perfect combination.

Tel: 00 354 515 5500 Email: Printing

142 Your WOW horoscope The truth about you and your life or just utter nonPrentun: sense. We dare you to find out. Oddi umhverfisvottuð prentsmiðja


Iceland’s protestor Helgi Hóseasson was a rebel with a cause whose daily protests had become a regular part of Reykjavík’s city life.

144 Are we boring you? Well, if we are here’s a little atonement in the form of Sudoku.


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

146 The Traveling Inquisition Actor, singer, songwriter, entrepreneur and rider of the winds, Helgi Björnsson is the latest victim of The Traveling Inquisition.


The elements It’s basic stuff but in Iceland, everything comes with a twist.


Fun and football The match of a lifetime.


A place to remember The Vatnajökull Region covers the area of southeast Iceland and offers spectacular nature and great local food.


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



© Birtíngur Publishing Lyngás 17 210 Garðabær Iceland




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

114 114

The Expo Pavilion An amazing 360° look at Iceland in 15 minutes.


Person of WOW Chef Sigrún keeps the WOW staff well nourished and super happy!


Sigrún’s recipe! Our cook reveals her magic.


The OneMinutesJr. project What they want you to know, in one unforgettable minute.

122 Golfing around Europe These golfers know their business. 124 Get out of town! Don’t miss out on these small town treasures around WOW air’s destinations.

145 Issue four


Dear guest,


elcome onboard WOW air. All of us at WOW air are very excited and grateful for the incredible growth in people visit­ing Iceland from all over the world. However we are not surprised, since Iceland has so many unique and interesting things to offer all year round. One of my favorite ways to explore Iceland is by bike, whether mountain biking or cruising along highway 1 on a racer. There are endless routes across the country that open up unique and amazing sights that even few Icelanders have seen. With this in mind we created the WOW Cyclothon last year, an annual event which takes place around June 19th every year during the summer solstice. Teams of 4 or more do a relay race around Iceland, 1332 km in total in 72 hours or less. It’s a great combination of comradeship, competition, fun and of course the totally unique experience as you ride along volcanic mountains, glaciers and the coastline. This year, 24 teams took part, all of which completed the race with great spirits and within the time limit. I am very proud that there were 4 teams from WOW air that participated and everyone raised money for Save the Children Fund in the process.


ow of course another much older and equally spectacular way to explore Iceland is by horse. The Icelandic horse is unique in many ways and is now recognized around the world for its unique gaits and its wonderful character. WOW air is very proud to be a sponsor of the Icelandic Horse World Championship 2013 that takes place in Berlin on August 4-11. Actually today the Icelandic horse is a World Traveler as there are more Icelandic horses abroad than in Iceland. When travelling in Iceland on horseback at night especially in a mist it’s easy to understand why many Icelanders still believe that certain mountains and rocks are the dwellings of Elves and look closely and see if you can spot a WOW moment :-)   Again thank you for choosing WOW air, we hope you will have a wonderful time.

Skúli Mogensen WOW air CEO and founder

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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 • Contact Budget, tel. 562 6060. • Ask the hotel or next information centre to book it for you.

Tel. +354 562 6060

This and that

Pedal around


omeone told us about the guys at Bike Company, that they were doing great stuff in bike rentals and guided tours both in Reykjavík and all over the country. After reading customer reviews on the internet, we’re con­­sidering ditching the office to go out for a mountain bike trip with the Bike Company. Their tours come highly recommended and for good reason. Offering everything from a few hours with

a guide around the capital city to adrenalin packed days in the highland, riding in lava fields and hillsides, they are sure to satisfy your every passion. Previous customers all claim these are highly professional yet personal services and that their bikes are superb. Biking: the environmen­ tally friendly transportation option we all love. Plus you’ll get super fit! Check out for more information.

WOW Klaus!


OW air is super excited about this year’s birth­ day boy, Berlin Mayor Klaus Wowereit who on October 1st will celebrate his 60th birthday. WOW air loves everything about Berlin, but particularly the city’s mayor who undeniably has the best name in the

mayor-business. For his birthday, WOW air wants to fly him over for a proper cele­­bration. If you run into him, tell him to give us a call so he can celebrate his birthday in style! We’ve already started practicing the German version of Happy Birthday.

The not so dormant Katla


atla is one of Iceland’s largest and most notorious volcanoes. Lying under Mýrdalsjökull glacier in southern Iceland it is both highly active and highly dangerous and like many other volcanoes in Iceland, it bears a feminine name. Sharing its name and some of its more positive characteristics (active, powerful and large) is women’s choir Katla. We are huge fans of this particular women’s choir as it is filled with young, creative women who for no particular reason just like to meet up, and sing and have a good time. They’re conducted by two of the country’s most

Prince in WOW air


o, not Will Smith’s character in the TV series but the actual Prince Harry who seems to have spent some quality time in Iceland recently as he was spotted on one of WOW air’s wonderful airplanes. Or should we say “Uncle Harry”, now that his brother William and wife Kate are proud parents to a baby boy. Congratulations to the Royal Family!

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prominent young singers and as a result, their concerts are both incredibly fun and of good quality. Don’t miss women’s choir Katla performing traditional Icelandic folksongs with their own personal touch, brand new contemporary classical songs or even their own arrangements of pop songs on Culture Night (August 24th) in Dómkirkjan church between 8PM and 10PM along with a mixed group of artists such as quartet Kvika and solo singers. And should they pop up anywhere near you when you’re out and about, do stay and listen. They are an eruption not to be missed.

August 24: Culture Night Culture Night! One 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 pick and what to miss. We of course recommend dropping in on Reykjavík’s many museums and concert venues for a combination of art and music and a visit to one of the downtown residents’ homes who open their doors to visitors for a traditional Icelandic waffle and a friendly chat. Don’t miss the amazing fireworks show near Harpa in the evening surrounded by thousands of your closest friends! We love it and we’re certain you will too!

August 15-22: Reykjavík Jazz 2013 This should be good simply because the Reykjavík Jazz Festival always is. The festival will kick off on Thursday night with a parade from Kex Hostel to Fríkirkjan, led by some of Iceland’s finest jazz musicians. You are advised to bring your instrument and join the party. The next days will be devoted to great jazz in its many forms in Harpa, Hannesarholt, the Nordic House and other brilliant venues all over the city center. Highlights include world renowned saxophone player Joshua Redman and his quartet, Jóel Pálsson’s Heavy Artillery and the always popular Icelandic jazz group ADHD. Check out for further information and to find your inner beat!

September 5 – 8: Night of the Lights The always popular Night of the Lights Festival will be held September 5 – 8 in Reykjanesbær. It used to be just one night of entertainment and fireworks and the special ritual of turning on the lights of “Bergið” (the cliffs). Since the first Night of the Lights in 2000 however, it has become an annual 4 day festival, held the first weekend in September, boasting a huge and attractive program for people of all ages. It is probably the one time of year that Icelanders truly celebrate the ensuing darkness that fall brings. Don’t miss the street fairs, the meat soup (Icelandic specialty), the art exhibitions and the huge concerts and of course the highlights: the lights of the cliffs and the brilliant fireworks display. Check out for further information.

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All the time: The Culture House exhibitions 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 what it means to be Icelandic through its culture. A good place to start is the Medieval Manuscripts exhibition since nothing defines the Icelandic cultural history as well as the Icelandic sagas and our rather brutal history of handling (and mishandling) the manuscripts that preserved them. The Millennium exhibition 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 independence pioneer and national hero.

September 26-October 6: Reykjavik International Film Festival Or RIFF as we like to call it. This year marks the tenth time we celebrate the Reykja­vik International Film Festival and it’s always one of the biggest events of the year, bringing joy, entertainment and art to all in the form of cinematic magic for 10 days straight. The program includes youth workshops (stop motion workshop for kindergarteners and short film workshop for students), an award ceremony and of course, the screenings of super good films all the time. This year they’ve received 400 films thus far so the line up should be diverse and exciting. Hit the red carpet and find out who will take home a Golden Puffin this year! For further information visit

Chair (1972), Þorkell G. Guðmundsson.

AugustOctober: Chance Encounters – Towards modernity in Icelandic design The Museum of Design and Applied Art (Hönnunarsafnið) opens the exhibition “Chance encounters – 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, textiles and ceramics. Mark your calendar. You have until October 13 to catch a glimpse of this designing journey. Read more about the exhibition and the Museum of Design and Applied Art on p. 46-47.

October 5: Alexander Rodchenko at the Reykja­ vik Art Museum, Kjarvalsstaðir On October 5, a retrospective of Alexander Rodchenko’s work will open at the Kjarvalsstaðir building of the Reykjavik Art Museum. Rodchenko, born in St. Petersburg in 1891, became one of the greatest innovators within the avant-garde movement in art and together with his wife, Varvara Stephanova, created timeless masterpieces in photography and graphic design. Whether photographing people, architecture, industry or demonstrations, Rodchenko’s photographs always had a new and unexpected perspective. His mission was to get people to look at the world from a new and unique view through his photography saying “We must revolutionize our visual thinking”. Rodchenko left a whole world of new visual language to inspire those who came after him and which we can enjoy at Kjarvalsstaðir in October.

© A. Rodchenko & V.Stepanova archive and Multimedia Art Museum Moscow

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From slut shaming to victim blaming

Tramp(ing) against rape - Reykjavík’s SlutWalk 2013 The first SlutWalk took place in Toronto in 2011 after a police officer advised women against dressing “like sluts” in order to avoid being sexually assaulted. The comment caus­ed an outrage as it revealed the type of mindset that justifies rape based on the be­­havior, appearance or clothing of the victim.


his mindset, according to SlutWalk, is the result of a subtle yet often blatant “rape culture”. It wasn’t long before the rest of the world took notice and consequently SlutWalk became an international movement that is still active.

“Asking for it” The word “slut” is generally used in a derogatory manner tow­­ards women and also

homosex­­ual men but rarely towards hetero­sex­ual men. One of the issues addressed by SlutWalk is the double standard projected against women and their sexuality. When a woman is sexually active and single she becomes vulnerable to being labeled a slut by both men and women. In fact, practically every woman is at risk because the word is used like a weapon. Single, sexually active men on the other hand are more likely to be praised for being insatiable studs. Calling someone a slut is not only verbal abuse but also an attack on that person’s dignity. By drawing attention to the S-word and basically cele­­brating it, the word is partly reclaimed from its conventional meaning. There

are also terms that are all too familiar such as “slut shaming” where the responsibility for the rape is placed on the victim. The purpose of SlutWalk is to direct the blame where it belongs, with the perpetrator and not the victim. The message is clear: nobody deserves to be sexually assaulted, for no reason, ever.

Reykjavík sluts Last year’s Reykjavík SlutWalk was referred to as an “alleged” SlutWalk, citing the disturbing attitude sometimes directed against victims of rape. Around that time, numerous rape victims came forward in the media, “breaking the silence” through publicly sharing their stories.

bring your swimsuit (optional)

book on our website: small groups of max. eight people

14 ı WOW is in the air Untitled-2 1

7/26/13 12:24 AM

This summer, on July 27th at two o’clock, the SlutWalk took place in Reykjavik for the third time. The march began on Skólavörðuholt in front of Hall­­­grímskirkja and made its pro­­miscuous way down to Lækjartorg where attendants listened to speeches and live music. And like always, there was absolutely no dress code and the demand was simple: Don’t rape.

“Single, sexually active men on the other hand are more likely to be praised for being insatiable studs. Calling someone a slut is not only verbal abuse but also an attack on that person’s dignity.”

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This and that

Running into Ryan


e’s so dreamy and he’s in Iceland. Word on the street is that he’ll be here for awhile, during post-product­ ion of his directing debut film “How to Catch a Monster” which is edited by none other than world renowned Icelandic film editor Valdís Óskarsdóttir. Icelanders, usually cool as ice when it comes to celebrities (We’ve all sat in a hot tub with Björk and picked groceries next to Sigurrós.), have been more than a little wired lately,

knowing that Mr. Gosling is somewhere in the general area. The general area is tiny Reykjavík. We’re really just writing this as an excuse to print this picture. Sigh…

Kling & Bang


Where’s our sun?


t’s been raining for two months straight and after a long and dark winter, plus a summer of dark clouds and rain, we need some sun, seriously. So we spoke to Margrét Helgadóttir at travel agency Úrval Útsýn and asked her what our options were. “Yes, people are really tired of these clouds and our sun and summer trips are all really popular this year. Our most popular destinations cater to different needs and interests so you can pick what you want to do and in what kind of setting you want to do it in whilst being sunny and warm. Classics like Benidorm and Alicante are a sure win for most but Tenerife has that unique scuba diving thing at an island going on, Albir and Almeria might be more suitable for the whole family, and our newest destination, Costa Brava is just an hour from Barcelona so you

can mix and match the beach with the metropolis! If you’re not really into the beaches but just want to get away for awhile, we offer a variety of city tours. For those feeling extra suspicious of the reliability of the European sun, we can take you all the way to Dubai. We also do special winter and skiing trips, but we’ll talk about that at a more appropriate time!”

n Hverfisgata 42, you‘ll see a yellow panel facade and the words “Kling & Bang gallerí”. We highly recommend entering the magical yellow door since you’ve stumbled upon one of Iceland’s most interesting and happening places when it comes to visual art. Kling & Bang is an artist run space and has been an active member of the Icelandic cultural scene for the past ten years, an impressive age for a project of this nature. Originally a project intend-

For further information visit

We all scream for ice cream


ou would never guess it but Icelanders truly love their ice cream. It’s a little bit embarrassing actually, but we all turn into small children at the carnival when we see an ice cream parlor, and we see them a lot. If the sun so much as glances at us for a few minutes, most Icelanders who are not chained to an office chair somewhere, will be taken by an overwhelming urge to immediately go to the nearest swimming pool after which they will cool down with a nice ice cream. And yes, that’s why you’ll find ice cream parlors very, very close to the numerous swimming pools in Reykjavík. Check out

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ed to fill the urgent need of space for progressive, contemporary art, Kling & Bang has become quite renowned for its exhibitions, pro­ jects and stunts in the art world. Don’t miss the “London Utd.” exhibition from July 6th – August 4th, a collaboration including artists Gavin Turk and Turner Prize nominee Mark Titchner followed by Ragnar Thorisson’s exhibition running from August 17th – Sept­ ember 15th.

Ísbúð Vesturbæjar at Hagamelur and ask for the “old ice cream” for a popular special. It’s the recipe that’s old, not the ice cream and traditionally, you drive past slowly to check out the line before making up your mind if you’re going for it or not. Other popular ice cream parlors in the capital include recently opened Valdís at Grandagarður by the harbor, YoYo at Egilsgata and Ísbúðin Álfheimar, each with their own specialty but should you find yourself in Akur­ eyri, Brynja Ice Cream Parlor is in a league of its own and should be the first stop for ice cream lovers when they visit the town.








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Berry picking

Late summer bliss – picking berries in Iceland by Hjördís Erna Þorgeirsdóttir Photos: Birtíngur photo collection and


year, when August arrives, Icelandic families and friends, almost ceremonially, make trips for “berjamó”. “Berja­ mó” is (to go) berry picking, a late summer tradition that is deeply integrated into the Icelandic culture. These trips are ideal for people to connect with themselves, to one another and of course to nature. In a country whose population has predominantly relied on fish, meat and dairy, blue- and bilberries became an essential part of the general diet. The berries are a significant source for much appreciated vitamin C and the trips themselves are particularly refreshing.

Health benefits The most frequently harvested berries are blueberries, bilberries and crowberries. Bil­­berries, called “aðalbláber” (“main” or “prim­­ary” blueberries) are most desired by ad­­vanced (or perhaps picky) pickers. Bilber­r­ies are like small and darker blueberries and they have even more health benefits than traditional blueberries. Other berries

are brambleberries and wild strawberries but they, especially the latter, are extremely rare. Often described as a “superfood”, blue­ berr­ies are rich in vitamins, minerals and fiber. They have an especially high antioxidant activity, especially from vitamins A and E. The excellent level of antioxidants assists in preventing the formation of harmful free radicals. Free radical reaction has been linked to various diseases such as cancer, atherosclerosis and diabetes so incorporating wild berries into your diet is an excellent and healthy habit. The slightly bitter crowberries are rich in iron and bilberries are considered to have a positive effect on eye health. Additional health benefits gained from “berjamó” trips are from the fresh air and exercise.

find berries by Hafravatn in Mosfellssveit and in Þrastaskógur, near Selfoss. On the mysterious Snæfellsnes you can find areas such as above Ólafsvík, situated on the western end of the peninsula.

Popular dishes and uses Blueberries are often used with dairy pro­­duct “skyr”, a delicious and nutritious com­­­bination that can easily be transformed into a succulent dessert. Then of course there is blueberry jam and jelly (note for jamm­­­ers, collect jars). Blueberry jam is a key item in many Icelandic households as it lasts throughout the winter and even longer. Some people eat blueber­­­ ries simply with cream and sugar while others add them to muffins or smoothies. It is also popular to add them to porridge. A lot of the time though, you might end up eating them all as soon as you pick them, because they are just that darn good.

Picking areas Picking wild berries is legal and completely free of charge in Iceland. Icelandic blueber­r­­ies are usually not sold in the stores and foreign blueberries are imported all year-round. Þingvellir, the national park, is rumored to be bountiful with berries and so are the slopes of Mount Esja (Reykjavík’s main moun­­­tain) near Mosfellsbær. You can

At the end of Hvalfjörður, located between Mosfellsbær and Akranes, a hiking trail begins that will lead you to Glymur, the highest waterfall in the country (190m). The area that surrounds the trail tends to be generous to hopeful berry pickers. The very best areas, however, are located in the southern Westfjords and in the northeast of Iceland. In the middle of August, “Berjadagar” (Berry Days) music festival is held in Ólafsfjörður (in the north of Iceland), celebrating both nature and art.

Embracing nature Most Icelanders have a few cherished “berja­ mó” memories from their childhood. In a country where fruits were rare and even con­­­­sidered somewhat exotic throughout the centuries, the annual buffet of blueberries was and still is much appreciated. In addition to creating precious memories with your lov­­ed ones, as corny as it sounds, “berjamó” offers a tender way to appreciate nature and its generosity.

Each year, when August arrives, Icelandic families and friends, almost ceremonially, make trips for “berjamó”.

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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.

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Save more than €47.- off city prices! When you purchase 3 L of popular Italian wines and 6 L of Icelandic beer.

A round of applause to ...

The Volcano

Circus Village by Guðrún Vaka Helgadóttir Photos: Heiða Helgadóttir


orræna Húsið (The Nor­­ dic House) in Reykjavík had an agenda to en­­ ter­­tain the guests and citizens of Reykjavík during the month of July. The people of Reykjavík might not have noticed but July happens to be Reykja­­vík’s slowest month of the year entertainment wise, perhaps because the good people of the capital tend to

use this month for all kinds of travelling around the country or abroad. This leaves the fun loving tourists that come to Reykjavík, the freedom to roam the city with not much to do except looking at statues and old buildings and where’s the fun in that? We were very excited to learn that a whole circus village would appear next to The Nordic House this summer and the opening ceremony only fueled our

“The biggest surprise of all was perhaps that there actually is an Icelandic circus group, Sirkus Íslands, and all of their shows were sold out.” 20 ı WOW is in the air

thirst for more acrobats, trapeze flying, bearded “women” and clownery. The biggest surprise of all was perhaps that there actually is an Icelandic circus group, Sirkus Íslands, and all of their shows were sold out. The Volcano Circus Village certainly livened up the city during a usually dull July. We can’t wait to see what The Nordic House has in store for us next year.

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 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.


A grand house

of earth and grass

On the northern side of Eyjafjörður sits Laufás, a place with a richer and longer history than most sites around the fjord. The farm is mentioned in accounts of the settlement and the site has been home to a church since Christianization. These days the place is known for its ancient turf house, one of the best preserved examples of its kind in the country. There’s also a museum, ideal for culturally thirsty tourists. Laufás has always been a farm of considerable size where up to thirty people would reside at a time. It took a lot of farming hands to reap the benefits this generous farmland had to offer. By Þór Steinarsson Photos: Curtesy of Akureyri Museum


urf has been us­­ed as building material in Nor­­ dic parts since the Iron Age. Romans would use turf among other things in their fortresses when rein­­forcing their strongholds in the north. None of those constructions have survived the test of time due to turf’s poor preservation qualities. At the start of World War I, half of the Icelandic population still resided in turf houses. It is commonly believed that turf houses were damp and generally unsanitary dwell­­ing­-places but that wasn’t necess­arily so. In architect Hjör­­­­­leifur Stefansson’s book on turf houses, aptly named “Of Earth”, it says that farmers built their houses with the skills and tools available at the time. Turf was the most suitable building material in these northern parts which would in fact hardly have been habitable

And so, because of their hist­­­ ori­cal and cultural signi­fi­­cance, glamorous exam­ples like Lauf­ás have been preserved in Ice­ land. The house is a so-call­ed bristle-house (burstabær) and was constructed during Björn Halldórsson’s priesthood from

use of timber in Iceland and in 1768 the gables of Laufás were planked. All of the walls are stacked with a certain type of wedge-shaped turf called “klömbruhnaus” and in some places a specially carved turf has been added that thickens on the outer wall for better insulation, called “strengur.” Although most of them have been renewed over time, remnants of the original wedges can still be seen in the lower layers of the stacked walls.


aced with the northern ele­­ ments, Icelandic turf cutters had to be quite ingenious eng­ine­ers. The turf house in Laufás was inhabited until 1936 when the priest was moved into a more modern accommodation. Today, the old house is fully furnished with cutlery and fur­­niture in line with what was common around 1900, making it a desirable destination for cultural time travel.

“None of those con­­structions have survived the test of time due to turf’s poor pre­­ servation qualities.”

in earlier times without it. Perhaps that’s why nearly everyone lived in a turf house regardless of their class. Everywhere else in Eu­ro­pe, they were considered hous­­­es of the commonage, but in these northern parts, these habitats were probably the best choice.

1866-1870. The oldest parts of the house were built in 1840 and the oldest house of the complex is the so-called Bridle-house, where the bride would prepare before the wedding ceremony. The farm has under­­gone some changes in the course of time, evolving from a tra­ditional passage-house (gangabær) into a bristle-house (burstabær). The 18th century saw increased

The church at Laufás Built in 1865, the church at Lauf­ás, is also of considerable interest and particularly beauti­­ ful. Among its more prized possessions is the 315 year old carved pulpit. At the east end of the church is one of Iceland’s oldest mountain ash trees, plant­­ ed in 1855. The early 20th century saw the rapid demise of the tra­di­tional Icelandic turf house. At the same time, many Icelandic architects coming home from studying abroad had a strong desire to preserve this cultural heritage in the upcoming age of concrete, which can be seen most clearly in many of the houses built around this time. Good examples are Laugarvatn Lower Secondary School and the farm of Þingvellir. Even though this effort to preserve the form did not last long, it is quite clear that the turf house is one of Iceland’s strongest national symbols and a visit to Laufás offers a unique insight into this important part of Icelandic history.

Sources and more information: “Af jörðu” (Of earth) by Hjörleifur Stefánsson

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WOW cyclothon

It was the

best of times! The annual WOW Cyclothon is a 1332 km relay race, circling Iceland where one cyclist passes the baton to the next in teams of 6-10 people. Held on June 19-22, the longest days of the year, in rain, mud and lots and lots of sun, the event is be­ coming quite the summer highlight, but for some it’s the highlight of the year. by Guðrún Baldvina Sævarsdóttir Photos: Ernir Eyjólfsson and Hákon Davíð Björnsson


Cyclothon isn’t just a race and a good time, it’s also a charity event where teams collect pledges and all corporate sponsorship goes directly to charity. This year, the WOW Cyclothon sponsored the Save the Children Iceland foundation and raised a total of 4,274,328 ISK. The event is also meant to encourage outdoor activities and subsequently healthy living. Participating in this year’s race were 24 teams and we asked some of our WOW Cyclothon 2013 contenders to tell us about the highlights, the hardest slopes, and the surprises.

The Bells Coming in on a new women’s track record, “The Bells” won the women’s competition, and team captain Ása Magnúsdóttir was more than willing to share some of the delight of this experience. “It was crazy fun from beginning to end, and a week later we’re still a bit overwhelm­ ed with joy which will hopefully last until next year. It’s a personal challenge to participate, one that improves both your physical endu­ r­ance but also your mental health be­­cause you just stay so happy for so long afterwards. It is also the most unique experience, circling the country on a bicycle and ex­periencing the special summer nights in this way.” But some of those hills are tough, and last year, Ása was especially nervous about the notoriously long and steep hill up from Húnaver, between Blönduós and Akureyri. “I was determined not to be the one to take that part but in the end my teammates tricked me and I finished the whole thing on my own, much to my surprise and their amusement. This became yet another award­­ ing part of the race. Even though our team is all very fit and we all exercise religiously, I can recommend this for everyone. If you enter the B-race you can have larger teams with less physical pressure on each member and just enjoy the amazing ride. We hadn’t even finished the race when we already began talking about how we are going to do things differently and what kind of strategy to apply next year. It’s that much fun!”

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Cops on bikes Cops on bikes, is just that, actual policemen who love to cycle. They love it so much that they were the first team to sign up for the WOW Cyclothon in 2014 and team captain and police officer Sverrir Guðfinnsson told us why. “It’s absolutely incredible! It’s the most fun I have! Having participated last year as well, we were a little bit surer of ourselves and knew what we were getting into but there still were surprises along the way. The weather was tricky with the heavy rain in the start. It cleared up though and another surprise was Öxi, the notorious highland road that we had dreaded, turned out to work

“It was crazy fun from beginning to end, and a week later we’re still a bit overwhelm­ed with joy which will hopefully last until next year.” have gotten much further. We were laughing about what I would have done had it happe­ ned 20 meters from the finish line. I guess I would have just picked up my bike and made a run for it! “I think my favorite part of the whole com­­ petition was during the last quarter, the south coast, when we gave up on trying to distance ourselves from CFR Women (Cross Fit Women’s team) and started working together. It made for good company and it’s physically easier to cycle in teams of two. Even though we’re all strictly amateurs we’re very fit, but I think our strength lies primarily in our professional experience of working nights, under a lot of pressure and sometimes in strange and unusual circumstances. And sleep deprivation was not a problem on our team. We’re all used to close quarters in cars on the road.”

Purple Panthers

out really well for us. Going down Öxi on the gravel road at an enormous speed you experience adrenalin like I don’t know what. It’s a rush I’ve never experienced before! Roughly 10 meters from the finish line, I heard a rock punch my tire with a little click and as soon as I crossed the line I could tell that I definitely had a flat and wouldn’t

This team was, as the name might indicate, made up of WOW air stewards and steward­ esses who re-invented the idea of team spirit during their trip. Some of them even went to work during the race (Yeah, they went on a flight in the middle of a race.) but as a B-team they were able to rotate shifts between the ten of them. Andrea Sóleyjar and Björgvinsdóttir says it was pure joy for two days filled with happiness and friendship. “Oh and lactic-acid-burns in your thighs and applying Vaseline in weird places and learning how to ride a racer for the first time… Such close quarters and highly intense competition creates an incredible team spirit and invaluable memories. We were more like a family than co-workers when we eventually reached the finish line,

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WOW cyclothon of the reason we’ve already started planning next year’s race!”

The Bike Company

exhausted and dirty and ecstatically happy!” So happy that they’re already plotting how they’re going to do things next year.

Marel When we spoke to Steindór Eiríksson, team captain for team Marel, we could literally see his competitive spirit shine through his fun descriptions. “It was full of surprises, and Öxi was surprisingly difficult. It was so dirty and so hard and so much fun! But it meant that we trailed behind and in the end Öxi was the strategic mistake that cost us our lead.” Marel is a large Icelandic company speci­ a­lizing in equipment and systems for the food processing industry and apparently, this group of employees is really into sports. “We’re all runners and we trained all winter

“There was so much rain when we started the race and the traffic was so difficult that our first cyclist was on the road for an hour straight.” for the spring-marathon. After that we started cycling for the Cyclothon.” “There was so much rain when we started the race and the traffic was so difficult that our first cyclist was on the road for an hour straight. The weather was gloomy, cold and raining in some parts and sunny and charming in others. The overall experience was indescribable. I’m speaking to cyclists from all over the world to get more international teams to participate next year. The more the competition the better!”

Össur “It was so much fun. We weren’t through the finish line when we had already begun planning next year’s race” says team captain Georg Vilhjálmsson. “We use bicycles all year round as means of transportation but the two months leading up to the race we met once a week for a long ride around the city or to Þingvellir and back. The Cyclothon was still the longest any of us had ever

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cycled in such a short time, almost 350 km per person. Bjarki (team member) got the idea to offer bike repairs and services to our co-workers for a small donation and so we were able to get more donations than just from collecting pledges for Save the Childr­ en Iceland. Not getting enough sleep was the only difficult part. Nobody slept for more than an hour each night but who can sleep when you’re having that much fun? Even though I was tired for the next few days, I almost feel sad that it’s over. I guess that’s part

The Bike Company is a group of guys who run guided bike tours in Reykjavík and all over Iceland. They know their cycling stuff but are more of the mountain bike adventure types than the eloquent racer types so the Cyclothon still poses some challenges for these professionals. “We‘re all experienced cyclists naturally and this competition was actually easier than we anticipated,” says Guðmundur Arnar Ástvaldsson at Reykjavík Bike Company. We were well prepared physically after 6 months of training but not getting a proper sleep was the hardest part. I can‘t really remember some parts that well due to lack of sleep, the south coast is pretty much just foggy. We had an incident going into the gravel road at Öxi on full speed on a racer and subsequently had an epic flat tire. Going down again on the other side is one of those vivid memories that I‘ll always remember, full speed, on gravel, with mud splashing everywhere. It was amazing!“ “Those hills are difficult for sure but as a team you just finish them and conquering hills like Húnaver and Kambar not to mention highland roads like Öxi, Öxnadalsheiði and Holtavörðuheiði, it‘s just so rewarding. You just keep going and eventually you‘ve made it!“.

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Harpa Concert Hall and Conference Centre

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WOW cyclothon

WOW Cyclothon winners 2013 Team IP with second place Team Synir Helga.

Runners on bicycles

take 1st place! Coming in through the finish line 4 minutes ahead of second place, the competition was, as you can imagine, fierce as the teams cycled into Reykjavík as fast as they could, using up every last bit of force after nearly two days of non-stop cycling. Competition finals hardly get more dramatic than this at 11 o‘clock on a Friday morning. Photos: Ernir Eyjólfsson and Georg Vilhjálmsson


took them a mere 41 hours and 3 minutes to cycle 1332 km, all the way around Iceland. To make it plain; driving the ring road in that time by car, with an engine, fuelled by gasoline, would be considered quite the feat. These men cycled, on their bicycles, using their muscles.

Get impressed! The abbreviation in the team’s name stands for InniPúkar, an Icelandic derogative term for people that spend too much

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time indoors and translates as “inside imps”. They got their nickname from spending most of their exercising time indoors on treadmills. That’s their speci­ alty, they’re all runners and they share a history of running injuries that gradually drew them into cycling. “It’s a great sport and it’s much easier on your joints and back” says team captain Sigurður Hansen. But Team IP got off to a pretty bad start. “There were a lot of incidents and we dragged behind right in

the beginning and had to race back into the game right away. We tried to lose our competi­ tion which counted 8 teams at the time, at Möðrudalsöræfi (the area between Mývatn and Egils­­ staðir) but were unsuccessful so we decided to get ahead at Öxi.” Every single team we spoke to mentioned Öxi, the notorious gravel highland road between Egilsstaðir and the southern regi­on. Öxi is clearly a strategically important part of this cycling competition as well as being a memorable challenge that all the teams overcame. “We are really good going uphill and we used that to our advantage. Even though we got 10 minutes ahead of Team Synir Helga, we decided to wait for them on the other side of Öxi. Using each other’s draft is really important in competitions like this. Team Synir Helga was fierce competition though. They are a really strong team.” They had one long hill left and after cycling with Team Synir Helga all the way from Öxi, they

took off at the steep Kambar hill going up from Hveragerði just 40 km outside Reykjavík. That’s where Team IP really put their legs to work, resulting in their sweet victory. “We’re probably going to com­­ pete next year. We’ve already be­­gun planning it. We’ve got to de­­fend our championship title!”

Photo courtesy of Georg Vilhjálmsson.

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Reykjavik Pride

Hooray for human rights! From August 6th to 11th we’ll be celebrating hu­­man rights for all at Reykjavík’s most colorful event, Reykjavik Pride.


celanders love this event so much that what used to be a simple parade down Laugavegur on a Saturday afternoon has become a six day festival that highlights our diversity as humans in the form of cabarets, drag shows, concerts and of course the most colorful parade ever! This will be the 15th year of Reykjavik Pride and this year the total number of guests during festival days are expected to reach 100,000. The program includes (to name just a few) an exhibition at the National Museum of Iceland titled “Snapshots of Queer History”, the Rainbow Family Festival in Viðey island and the concert “Hidden People”, a new musical composition by Hafsteinn Þórólfsson and Hannes Páll Pálsson. And if you want to combine a guided tour with all the festivities, check out the special Queer Cruise on Friday where you’ll sail around the small islands off the coast of Reykjavik in proper queer fashion. After the cruise you can get your bearings back by going to Kiki Queer Bar for a Queer Dance. Whatever you do, just make sure you show up for the Pride Parade on Saturday, the highlight of the festival. The past few years have seen our mayor Jón Gnarr celebrate his transvestite side on a float in this greatest parade of the year.

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“This will be the 15th year of Reykjavik Pride and this year the total number of guests during festival days are expected to reach 100,000.”

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Do it Your Way! My Way audio day tours are a completely new kind of sight seeing. You are in control of the schedule, the pace, what to see or explore, where stop and for how long. My Way is your own audio day tour consisting of a suitable car for you and your family or friends together with an audio guide programmed into the GPS system. My Way audio day tours are a completely new kind of sight seeing. You are in control of the schedule, the pace, what to see or explore, where stop and for how long. My Way is your own audio day tour consisting of a suitable car for you and your family or friends together with an audio guide programmed into the GPS system. Mixing modern technology with traditional storytelling My Way audio day tours is a small GPS device that rides along with you in your car. It is programmed with geographic locations that recognises your position at any given time and plays audio specific to that location.

At your own leisure

My Way commentary is an entertaining mix of interesting stories, facts and figures, history, geography, directions and curiosa. It is like having a private guide in your car. One who is quite knowledgeable, loves telling stories, and can tell you everything you would like to know while driving along a specific route. The device is joyfully simple to use. You just set it up in the car like a normal GPS navigation unit, turn it on – and voilá – you are on to a most eintertaining day, with stories and folklore, as well as, up-to-date information on sites and locations. You just have to drive, take in the scenery and points of interest. You can take as long a break as you wish to explore further everything that peaks your interest. You are

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not dependent on the points of interest a tour guide in a bus has prechosen and you don‘t need the consent of 50 to 100 co-travellers.

At your service

The commentary starts and stops by itself as the device always knows where you are! You can leave the car and go for a walk, have lunch or just stop for a rest and it will automatically start up when you return to recommence your drive. My Way is a unique method of travel for tourists in Iceland. It combines modern technology with traditional storytelling; the guide works by mapping the geographical locations of the traveller during selected self drive tours, and recognises the position of the traveller’s car at any given time. My Way then plays audio specific to that location, such as facts and figures, history, and geography. My Way offers three different preprogramed tours: The Golden Circle tour; a South Shore tour; and the Reykjanes Peninsula All day tours are available in two languages, English and German. For booking and additional information please visit


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Odd landscape

Boring or fascinating,

friend or foe, but no longer a mystery

You know those large, green areas filled with what seems like tiny, grassy hills? Those hills are called tussocks and we thought it might be nice if we explained what they were. Also, we realized that we had no idea ourselves and figured it was high time we learned. By: Guðrún Baldvina Sævarsdóttir Photos: Gunnar Þór Nilsen


pparently, tussocks form when the ground freezes, causing the top grass-layer to rise due to the expansion of the frozen water in it. When the wat­­er thaws again, the grass­­­-lay­­

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er won’t fall exactly into place again due to the fine ground­materials that rolled under the grass­-layer when it rose. After a cycle of freezing and thawing for a long time, tussocks or “þúfur” as we like to call them,

are formed. They make a normal walk in a green meadow on a sunny day seem like a jaunt through an obstacle course and fall­­ing off a horse in Iceland near­ly always means you’ll land on your back with a tussock be-

tween your shoulder blades and won’t catch your breath again for awhile. However, if you stumble upon a field of large lush tussocks, they can be the perfect spot for a picnic, complete with tussock chairs and a tussock table, and if you’re lucky, even a comfy lazy-boy shaped tussock to watch the clouds afterwards. As nice as they can be, they were once Icelandic farmers’ worst enemy, who in earlier tim­­es had very limited means to combat them. Mowing or har­­­v­­esting a meadow full of tussocks is practically impossible, hence the expression “to be an unruly scythe in tussocks” meaning

to be extremely difficult. More often than not the farmers would simply consider them un­­usa­­ble land, a clear defeat in a country already filled with lava fields, glaciers and a black, sandy highland. A fair attempt was made in 1921 to outwit the natural obstacle when the first tussock-slayer (þúfnabani) was imported from Germany. It was an engineering achievement that truly deserves the adjective “groundbreaking” as that was pretty much what this 6.6 ton machine did. Estimated to replace 180 people in manual labor, it literally broke ground with its rear wheels of 2 meters in

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Odd landscape diameter. Of the 6 “tussock-slayers” imported into the country, only one of them still exists and is preserved in the Agricultural Museum of Iceland in Hvanneyri. This one machine, a remnant of an industrial revolution in Ice­­ landic agriculture, is also the last known example of its kind in the world and well worth a visit to the museum.


owadays, ditches release much of the water from the fields, leaving the frost with less­­­­er means to do damage and so you see less and less of tussocks around farmed areas. But there is something oddly alluring about them. The patterns can be almost hypnotizing and have been the subject of painters, po­­ets and photographers.

Take for example Guðbrandur Sigurlaugsson’s book of poems Þúfnatal (tussock-counting), or visual artist Finnur Arnar’s top hat filled with tussock-like moss titled National Hero or the seemingly endless tussock patterns in the lava paintings of Jóhannes S. Kjarval, one of Iceland’s most beloved landscape painters. Love them or hate them, that

unruly grass will never look the same again! Photographer Gunnar Þór Nilsen, who shot these beautiful photographs, says tussocks have a deeper meaning than most people realize. “When frost and heat are in such an ongoing battle, the ground swells, and subsequently produces a tussock. Tussocks are a constant reminder that this country is barely habitable, a friendly eviction notice from Earth if you will.”

“After a cycle of freezing and thawing for a long time, tussocks or “þúfur” as we like to call them, are formed.”

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Be in your element


Many Golden Circle tours include a visit to Laugarvatn Fontana. Ask at your tour desk to make sure yours does.

Open daily


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.

Be safe

Some pointers for your driving excursions I was driving from Akureyri to Reykjavík recently, along Road 1, the same route I’ve driven a hundred times before. I’ve driven it in the middle of winter when the road is icy, in a snow storm, in sharp winds, hailstorms and in the midnight summer sun that can be as blinding as the London paparazzi. By: Guðrún Baldvina Sævarsdóttir Photos: and Birtíngur photo collection


his particular drive was on a sunny Sunday afternoon when I was heading back to the capital after a weekend in the North. Road 1 is the highway that circles the country and is always busy on Fridays and Sun­­days the whole summer long. After a weekend in 18°C weat­­­her, zero wind and lots of sun (abnormally good for Ice­­­land) the drive seemed like a breeze. But as I drove out of Blöndu­ós and made my way to Hrútafjörður, I entered a thick fog that lasted for the next couple of hours and made me wish I had taken an airplane. I had to take myself down from

my normal speed, recalculate my ability according to the conditions and ignore my instinct to just speed on “cause the faster you go, the faster you’ll be out of it!” the world’s stupidest logic. The next two hours were spent trying not to get hypnotized by the endless uncomfortable white surrounding me and the roughly 5 meter snippet of road I had to navigate while trying not to have a heart-attack when cars would appear out of nowhere heading north. That’s the thing about Iceland, the weather is ridiculously un­p­redictable and as a rule of

thumb, you need to distrust everything, especially your un­­ beatable expertise when it com­­ es to driving, because let’s face it, we all think we’re the world’s best driver.

attention to your current conditions. Road signs have come a long way in the past 20 years so you will be duly warned before a sharp turn or single-spaced bridge and shown the appropri­ ate maximum speed to suit them. Make no mistake though, you need to slow down, aim for that bridge and make sure no­body else is coming from the other direction. Should you be travelling in thick fog like I was or during winter in a blinding snow storm, the yellow sticks along the road are there to help

The roads Icelandic roads aren’t as bad as you might think, as long as you respect them for what they are. Paved roads have a speed limit of 90 km/ph, gravel roads 80 km/ph. Single-spaced bridges, sharp turns and of course, the unpredictable weather can be hazardous and remember to adjust your speed and your

“Every year, the Icelandic volunteer rescue units search for tourists (Icelanders and foreign­ ers) that started hiking in clear skies but got hit with a sudden, dark fog or that tried to cross a huge river in their little Skoda and yes, sometimes people just fall into crevasses.”

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you. They mark the road, reflect your headlights in darkness and stand out of snowdrift and thick buildups to keep you on the road. In some places you’ll notice that the sticks are very long, much longer than normal, which tells you just how bad the snow buildup can get along that road.

The highland So, you’re well schooled in Road 1 and promise to take notice of all the signs and the conditions and whatnot. If you’re planning on leaving the route and its adjacent lowland roads, it’s a whole different ballgame. The Icelandic

a river and never, ever drive on a glacier without a proper e­xpert and an up to date map of crevasses. When dealing with the highland, make your first rule “don’t take any chances”. Every year, the Icelandic volunteer rescue units search for tourists

something of a major insult, like keying someone’s Mercedes in Stuttgart. The ground in the highland is mostly barren, un­touched and subsequently awe-inspiring. Off-road driving however is a form of pointless vandalism on something we value very, very much.

The sheep

Safe Travel

And then there’s the sheep. Iceland has a sheep count of about 500,000 which is considerably more than the human population of 330,000. During the summer, most of them roam free and tend to hang out very close to the country roads that often have a residue of salt (sheep-narcotic) after a winter-long combat with icy roads. For some unexplainable reason, the mother and her lambs are never on the same side of the road and so, when a car approaches, they tend to panic and run over for a family reunion. It’s better to know all these little details to enhance the chances that you’ll slow down when you spot sheep on the side of the road.

If you’re planning on visiting the highland, for hiking or camping or just driving, be sure to leave your travel plan on www. safe­­ It can make all the difference in the world in case something happens and accidents sometimes just happen. That said we’re certain you’ll have the time of your life and an unforgettable experience with nature, like you’ve never seen her before. Be safe and enjoy!

highland is one of the largest unbuilt/untouched interiors in Europe and it is treacherous, dangerous and incredibly beautiful. Be sure to be driving the appropriate vehicle for where you’re going (a 4x4 jeep) and collect all the information you can from visitor’s centers or park rang­­ers. Don’t over-estimate your abilities when crossing

(Icelanders and foreigners) that started hiking in clear skies but got hit with a sudden, dark fog or that tried to cross a huge river in their little Skoda and yes, sometimes people just fall into crevasses. We hate it when people get lost, so don’t do that. And then there’s off-road driving. Off-road driving in Iceland is both illegal and considered

“Icelandic roads aren’t as bad as you might think, as long as you respect them for what they are.” Issue four

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m o m e n t

i n

ti m e

WOW moments is a fun game that allows you to share the absolute WOW of your travels with everyone. If the people of WOW air agree that your moment is truly WOW they will use it in their advertisements and in return invite you on a flight to a destination of your choice, with an opportunity to create even more WOW moments. Everyone that shares their WOW moment has a chance of winning two flight tickets as a lucky someone is randomly chosen twice a month. About 2000 individuals have already shared their WOW moments with photos and videos, which can be seen on Here are some highlights from last month. Jónas Þorkelsson – Zürich.

Dario Endara - Paris.

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Hildur Bæringsdóttir – Vilnius.

Ásbjörg Sigurðardóttir – Kaupmannahöfn.

Birta Rán Björgvinsdóttir – Berlín.

Ólafía Þ. Sigurðardóttir – Alicante.

Þórdís Erla Ólafsdóttir – Barcelona.

Katla Þormóðsdóttir – Alicante.

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m o m e n t

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ti m e

Sóley Anna Benónýsdóttir – París.

“About 2000 individuals have already shared their WOW moments with photos and videos, which can be seen on”

Bjarki Bjarnason – Iceland.

Ármann Loyd Brynjarsson.

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Kristín Ýr Gunnarsdóttir – London.

Our Master Watchmaker never loses his concentration With his legendary concentration and 45 years of experience our Master Watchmaker and renowned craftsman, Gilbert O. Gudjonsson, inspects every single timepiece before it leaves our workshop. All the watches are designed and assembled by hand in Iceland. Only highest quality movements and materials are used to produce the watches and every single detail has been given the time needed for perfection. The JS Watch co. Watch factory and exclusive retail shop located at Laugavegur 62, in the trendy “101� area of Reykjavik provides customers with unique opportunity to meet the watchmakers who assemble and test their timepiece. The quantity of watches produced is limited, giving them an exclusive and truly personal feel.

Laugavegur 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 Open 7 days a week

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Fixed price flights – Preferential service stable travel costs with our highest level of service extras.

Two options:

ISK 19,900 — simple and inexpensive. ISK 29,900 — with extra flexibility. Flights per week (Keflavík to and from): London (13 flights) Copenhagen (10 flights) Paris (6 flights) Amsterdam (3 flights) Barcelona (2 flights) Milan (2 flights) Stuttgart (3 flights)

Berlin (3 flights) Düsseldorf (3 flights) Lyon (1 flights) Zürich (2 flights) Vilnius (1 flights) Warsaw (2 flights)




Contact and guarantee your company cheap flights with WOW.


ISK 19,900**

Extra flexibility

ISK 29,900 **

ISK 2,900


Choice of seat*

ISK 990


Extra leg-room*

ISK 2,990


Change of flight*

ISK 6,900


Change of name*

ISK 6,900


Change of destination*

ISK 6,900


Bag included*

2 legs at ISK 0 (but NB taxes must be paid) — after every 20 legs Booking notice

Included Two weeks

* Per guest and leg. ** One way taxes included. Booking fee is not included. ISK 2,900 addittional for bookings to: Warsaw, Vilnius, Barcelona, Zürich and Milano.

Katrínartún 12

105 Reykjavík

590 3000

One day. Travel price fixed.


The great outdoors Looking at pictures from Iceland you will probably come across photos from Þórsmörk, an oasis for nature enthusiasts, hikers and mountaineers alike. Situated in southern Iceland, between the glaciers Tindafjallajökull and Eyjafjallajökull, the area typically, albeit informally, referred to when speaking of Þórsmörk, covers the region between the Þórsmörk mountain ridge and Eyjafjallajökull. By Guðrún Vaka Helgadóttir

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órsmörk is known for its hiking trails, ex­cep­ tional nature and mild climate as the area is closed off by mountains and glaciers, sheltering it from unfavorable winds. The most famous of the trails is probably Fimmvörðuháls, an 8-10 hour trek usually beginning in Skógar and ending in Básar in Þórsmörk. Daily bus trips are available to Þórsmörk, and most travel companies will get you there one way or another if you ask them. The most fun way is to rent a super-jeep or an SUV with

an experienced driver (Þórsmörk is only accessible by large vehicles) that will take you over the rough roads and treacherous glacial rivers and deliver you there safely. If you are in the 1% you’ll go by helicopter. There are three camping sites in Þórsmörk: Langidalur, Básar and Húsadalur, and in all of them you can opt for a bed in a lodge instead, and use the kitchen and dining area. In Húsadalur there’s a restaurant that serves breakfast, lunch and dinner in addition to preparing some snacks for your hike. This summer Húsadal­

ur is also the “home away from home” for two young entrepreneurs, Emil Tsakalis and Magnús Andri, whose joint interests in yoga, massage and nature led them together in an innovative project.

A luxurious encounter While staying in Þórsmörk, in early June I camped in Básar opting for short hikes with my family due to the small feet of my children and 4 month old puppy. We enjoyed the nature and scenery and felt thoroughly re­­laxed but an air mattress did

not go well with my sensitive back. I’d heard about Emil’s and Magnús’ project so on Sun­­day we chose to drive over to Langi­­ dalur and hike over to Húsadalur, a beautiful trail that takes less than an hour, to check this out. I found the two friends in Húsa­dalur makings signs for their services and they told me about their collaboration called ‘Healing Nature’. “We both work at the Hilton Nordica Hotel. I am a waiter at Vox Restaurant and Emil works at the spa as a massage therapist. We met during our lunch

“We both work at the Hilton Nordica Hotel. I am a waiter at Vox Restaurant and Emil works at the spa as a massage therapist.”

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Relax! break and realized we had simil­ ar interests,” says Magnús who is also a massage therapist. Emil adds that they are both licensed yoga instructors and after he attended Magnús’ yoga class they started talking. Emil shared his idea of doing yoga classes in the Icelandic wilderness this summer, offering massage therapies as well. “When Emil told me his plan, I jumped at the idea. I call this my summer vacation,” says Magnús.

“Nature Yoga is the perfect way to experience the power­­ful nature of Þórs­­mörk,” says Emil. On Saturday and Sunday morn­­ings at Húsadalur, Emil and Magnús invite the guests of Þórs­­mörk to a free hiking oriented Viking yoga session, with an emphasis on Nordic mythology

and the sagas. The session takes place in a secluded location, with a beautiful view. They also offer a variety of relaxing massage treatments and longer yoga walks for groups or individuals. “Nature Yoga is the perfect way to experience the powerful nature of Þórsmörk,” says Emil. “We focus on positions you can do in your hiking clothes and special stretching exercises and breathing techniques that help us on our hike and connect us better to the volcanic nature around us. We teach people how to make their hike easier, how to stretch away their tiredness and how to breathe in a way that can be used to modify the body temperature.” After the yoga session guests can relax in the LavaSpa hot pool and sauna with a homemade and healthy drink to boost their energy.

In the tent, you feel secluded from the environment but in the meantime you can hear every sound of nature outside; birds singing and the rustle of leaves pitting the near silence - reminding you that you are a long way from the bustling capital, a pleasant relief from the usual (and frankly unbearable) panpipe music one normally hears while getting a massage or a spa treatment, not to mention the smell of fresh grass and birch instead of suffocating incense. I came out of the yurt feeling relaxed and invigorated and ready for my hike back to Langidalur which actually felt unbelievably good after the pampering I had just experienced. This is surely what the great outdoors should feel like!

A test run I met Magnús and Emil in early June on their first weekend in Húsadalur, right before they formally started this project. When I contacted them later to get an update for this article, they said its success had exceeded all expectations and that their yoga hikes and massage treatments were very popular with both foreign and domestic travelers,

Time for R‘n’R Magnús showed me to the mass­­age tent and told me it was actu­­ally built by Emil, “He found

blue­­prints for a Mongolian yurt (tent) online and made the frame for it from scratch. He then got Segla­­­gerðin Ægir to make the tarp according to the design.” Stepp­­ing into the yurt is like stepping into a green mountain. I felt a little self conscious gett­­ing practically naked in a big tent in the middle of almost now­­here, but that was soon forgotten as I enjoyed the skilled hands of Magnús helping me let go of all the stress residing in my body. All the while he assured that I was warm enough de­­spite the somewhat cool but calm weather that day.

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I can’t say that I was surprised. As this first summer was meant to be a test run to see how this would all work out, things are looking good for next year. Emil says he hopes to build on this experience and take Healing Nature to more locations next summer. Check out the webpage for the project: Find Healing Nature on facebook: If you plan a visit to Þórmörk visit: Húsadalur: Básar: Langidalur:

Testing the tides

… and tasting the sea

If you find yourself in the west of Iceland, particularly in the picturesque town of Stykkishólmur on the Snæfellsnes peninsula we recommend that you venture a little offshore and check out the awesome islands and scenery of the Breiðafjörður bay. Last June we got the chance to see this all for ourselves and of course we took a small army of photo­graphers with us to capture the beauty and deliver it to the pages of WOW magazine. by Guðrún Vaka Helgadóttir Photos: Rakel Ósk Sigurðardóttir, Ernir Eyjólfsson og Hákon Davíð Björnsson


eiðafjörður is a large shallow bay, the second largest in Iceland, separ­ating the region of the Westfjords from the rest of the country. Encircled by mountains, the majestic Snæfellsjökull glacier and the Snæfellsnes peninsula on the south side and the West Fjord peninsula to the north, Breiðafjörður has a spectacular land and seascape consisting

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of shallow seas, small fjords and bays and an inner part of intertidal areas dotted with about 3,000 islands, islets and skerr­­ies. In olden days people used to say that three things in Iceland could not be counted, the hills in Vatnsdalur valley, the lakes on Arnarvatnsheiði moor and the islands in Breiðafjörður.

Let’s get geophysical If you are a geophysiphile (a word we just invented for those who love to dabble into the wondr­ous world of geophysics)

you will probably be interested in the Breiðafjörður bedrock, formed during rift volcanism in the Late Tertiary. The area consists mainly of a pile of basaltic lava and on many of the islands you can see great formations of columnar basalt, formed from rapidly cooling lava that once flowed there. In some places the columnar basalt even sways and bends, creating a very picturesque landscape.

Islands in the streams The islands in Breiðafjörður have an unbroken history of hu­­man use but now only few is­­ lands are inhabited year-round, the most famous of which is Flatey, the setting for Baltasar Kor­­makur’s film Brúðguminn (White Night Wedding). Many of the islands are used for summer residences and are a source of income for the families and farmers that own them who har­­vest eiderdown. Not so many years ago the islands were not particularly sought after but in recent years owning an island on Breiðafjörður has become somewhat of a status symbol for the rich and aptly so as through the years it was said that the people living around Breiða­­ fjörð­­ur or on its islands never

want­­ed for food as the islands, with their vast birdlife, and the sea provided well.

The freshest sushi you’ll ever get The sea still provides well as we learned during our tour. While we were feasting our eyes on the beautiful scenery the staff aboard our vessel, Særún, dropp­­ed out a plough (for bott­­ om trawling) and scraped up some delicious morsels, such as sea urchins, mussels and scallops. Served with pickled ginger, wasabi and soy sauce, along with some chilled white wine, the delicious seafood, called Viking Sushi on board Særún, tasted like nothing we’d ever had before. The guests aboard, some reluctant at first, soon dove in a feeding frenzy (no just kidding) tasting everything the sea had put on the menu that day. If you want to test your sea legs, fill your lungs with clean air, taste the ocean and sail on Breiða­­fjörður bay, we can definitely recommend Seatours in Stykkis­hólmur. For more information visit or knock on their door on Smiðjustígur 3 by the harbor in Stykkishólmur.

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Testing the tides

… and tasting the sea

“In some places the columnar basalt even sways and bends, creating a very picturesque landscape.”

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“Big Whale Safari is Icelands MUST DO!” “Highlight of the summer” “The most remarkable experience I have ever had” “Family bonding & fun with Gentle Giants” “Excellent service” “Everything was perfect during the whole trip!” “Memorable experience, forever engraved in my memory”



*According to TripAdvisor July 13th 2013

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 tenderness, if the texture of supple, butter soft meat is to your liking, be sure to taste the “28 days” tendered meat specially cured by the chef. The excellent selections and innovative side dishes are all tanta­lizing and be sure not to miss the grilled Icelandic fish, a tasty delicacy worthy of your indulgence. Although the focus is primarily on steaks the vegetarian choice is excellent. A myriad of flavorful starters served with freshly baked bread will set the mood for your meal. The exciting list of side dishes gives everyone the opportunity to design their favorite meal or why not be daring and try something new? How about deep fried tempura vegetables or sweet potato French fries? If selecting becomes too much of a dilemma there is always the set menus. These vary with the seasons and offer the freshest and most popular dishes 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.

Rough and ready style interior The raw decoration and furniture made partly out of recycled materials create an ambiance of old fashioned charm and history. The restaurant is situa­ted just above the old harbor by the whale watching center of Reykja­vík and therefore the interior, re­­miniscent of old harbor pubs, is fitting and

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Steikhúsið Tryggvagata 4-6 I 101 Reykjavík Tel: 561 11 11 I 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 situated firmly in the modern world.

The drinks menu arrives on the table in the form of an iPad making it easy to browse, create a wide 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.

Let´s go to the …

Lebowski Bar

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

sunshine yellow that will cheer even the dullest of days.

Dine and jive Lebowski Bar really captures the diner style with cosy booths and a fabulous jukebox containing over 1,600 songs guaranteed to get those hips swaying. If that´s not enough there’s a DJ on every night of the week so you won´t feel the pressure of select­ing all the music by yourself. The menus are the biggest in Iceland … no literally! Their

phy­­sical dimensions are huge! Doesn´t everyone say that size really does matter? Try their amazing burgers, there’s cheese, bacon, a béarn­aise sauce option and succulent beef tenderloin. If that’s not enough, choose from one of the 12 kinds of milkshakes to go with it.

“Careful man, there’s a beverage here!” Jeffrey ‘the Dude’ Lebowski, the protagonist of the Coen brother’s comedy, is renowned for his penchant for ‘White 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 certainly don’t have the cool vibe of Le­bowski Bar. DJs and a bass player add to the music mix at weekends and there’s room to dance. Check it out dudes, you’re guaranteed a good time. WOW Challenge: Dress up as a real rockabilly chick or dude before you go to the Le­bowski Bar. You’ll fit right in.

The Lebowski Bar Laugavegur 20a +354 552 2300 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 (

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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 customers, the finest ale available to mankind. Today it offers its enthusiastic clientele the chance to sample 50 beers from around the world, as well as a staggering 15 Icelandic brands.

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

A sporting chance

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!

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

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

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.


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 ribeye 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 com­ plement 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 Kitchen open: 17:00-23:00 Sun-Thurs (Midnight on Fri/Sat)


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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 traditional Icelandic meat soup. If not, there’s lamb or the fish stew – You won’t be disappointed. Hressingarskálinn is stylish and old at the same time, a history well preserved. Check out Hressingarskálinn 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.” Promotion

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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 assets 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-

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 feature the country’s largest sel­­ection of sake and a shot before a meal

can truly enhance the feel of real Japanese dining. It comes in a surprising range of flavors too, everything from really girly fruit sake to the fire spewing alcohol content of some of the more butch types; potato sake, warm and cold sake and Japanese plum wine. And then of course are the bottles that didn’t make it on to the menu because no one could read the labels and therefore no one knows what they are. Mystery sake! Sakebarinn is a place born to showcase the talents

the staff have collected over the years work­­ing at their first Sushi restau­­rant called Sushibarinn, which is located on the first floor in the same house. A year and a wild ride later, this sushi family has in­­corporated a bunch of new and talented people with some great new recipes and skills they didn’t know they had and didn’t even know existed. The walls are hand painted by them, the wine selected by them, the menu is designed by them and the place is loved by them. They also love to present food so their clients become part of their love for sushi. The look on your face is what they are aiming for, the look of enjoyment.

Sakebarinn Laugavegur 2, 101 Reykjavík (entrance to the second floor from Skólavörðustígur) Opening hours: Mon-Sun 5:00 PM – 00:00 Tel: +354 777 3311

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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 because of its wonderful quality of being an all-in-one, restaurant, café, bar and nightclub. You‘ll never want to leave! Here the decor is rich on the Mediterranean side and yet 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 I



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 trainers 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 unfiltered, 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 enthusiasts gather for a taste of a great brew and ambiance.

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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 Tapas House

A fusion of food and frolic Fish Company by the old Around Iceland harbor in one evening Fish Company has a very cozy 70’s ambiance and is probably one of the coziest cellar restaurants you’ll ever find. Aptly located, it stands where the remnants of an older harbor were found during an excavation. The remnants have since been incorporated into “The Tides”, an artwork by Hjörleifur Stefánsson that sets the area in a unique atmosphere. In its beautiful surroundings Fish Company takes its guests on an adventurous journey with a fusion menu based on herbs and spices selected from all over the world. Try the “Around Iceland” tasting menu, a great in­­troduction to local produce from the fields to the sea, sending your taste buds on a trip around the country while dining in downtown Reykjavík. Some say the real star of Fish Company is the fresh Icelandic seafood but for other delicious options, there’s a variety of lamb, beef, pork and vegetarian dishes. An eclectic wine list echoes the menu guaranteeing an unforgettable culinary adventure. Fiskfélagið / Fish Company Vesturgata 2a, Grófartorg 101 Reykjavík Tel: 552 5300

Tapas, stemming from the Spanish cuisine, is more than just something to eat, it is the joy of life fused with deliciousness and color. At The Tapas House by the old harbor you’ll find all of that, plus excellent and vivacious service from a staff that takes the fun part of tapas very seriously. Aside from its menu The Tapas House holds a Spanish connection historically as the building that once housed a saltfish processing comp­any mainly catering to Spain. Now, about 90 years later, the saltfish has returned with its place on The Tapas House menu along with fresh seafood straight off the boats, juicy steaks, colorful fruits and vegetables. And speaking of the menu, The Tapas House has declared war on repetitiousness giving its guests the chance to put together their own perfect meal with over a thousand variations. The sample menus have been highly recommended, especially the “Discover Iceland” and “Tivoli Menu”. The Tapas House promises Spanish traditions with all the colors, textures and sensations they embody, a virtual tapas experience, in an environment that is, never-the-less, uniquely Icelandic with an unforgettable view of the old harbor. This is Icelandic tapas! Tapashúsið / The Tapas House Ægisgarður 2 101 Reykjavík Tel: 512 8181

The Seafood Grill

The real taste of the land In 2010 Head Chef Gústav Axel Gunnlaugsson was awarded the title “Chef of the year”. The following year he spent traveling around Iceland looking for the real taste of the land and along the way found a few things that now are key items in the interior of the restaurant. While on the road Gústav also drew up a menu like no other with his delectable interpretation of Iceland’s collective grill taste. Forget the fermented and sour food of days gone by – this is the taste that Icelanders really love! The Seafood Grill, located on Skólavörður­ stíg­ur, midway between Hall­­gríms­­kirkja church and the main shopping street, Laugavegur, has an excellent outdoor area with a view of the church. As the name implies Icelandic seafood has a key role on the menu, which is simple and straight forward with an enticing and affordable lunch menu and a fun sample menu called “Grill party”, a multi course grill feast put together by the chef – guaranteed to make your mouth water. Sjávargrillið / The Seafood Grill Skólavörðurstígur 14 101 Reykjavík Tel: 571 1100

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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 unadvertised happenings on Wednesdays, 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 itself in the Reykjavik social scene and is known locally as Den Danske Kro (we all just want a reason to speak Danish in public). This popular downtown venue serves

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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 (fantastic 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 receive every drink with the words: “Tag skaadoo haw”. They’ll all think you´re from Copenhagen. Honest! Den Danske Kro Ingólfsstræti 3 I 101 Reykjavík Tel: +354 552 0070 Opening hours: 14:00 – 01:00 Sun-Thurs 14:00 – 05:00 Fri-Sat

MAR Restaurant

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


“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 Icelandic 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

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 reflect 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 waterfront while keeping the atmos­ phere laid back. This is what Jón Ingi the restaurant’s manager defines as new style harbor dining. The concept comes from the young design team at HAF, Hafsteinn and Karítas. The choice of materials is somewhat of an ode

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NOX Icelandic handcrafted jewellery


From the finest materials for people who love the very best!

Every NOX piece is beautifully handcrafted from the highest quality metals and stones by goldsmith and jewellery designer Jóhannes Ottósson. Jóhannes learned his craft with renowned Copenhagen jeweller Ole Lynggaard and also in Florence before starting his own company - NOX. Growing up in rural Iceland, Jóhannes draws his inspiration from the rugged Icelandic nature and its rich history. The combination of masculine strength and feminine elegance is evident in Vættir and Frost­ rósir while Mystik evokes feelings of another world coming alive when the brightness of the day fades and the darkness of night takes over.

the North, spreading slowly across the land – dangerous yet full of beauty and light.


Frostrósir Among featured items from the NOX collection is the Frostrósir necklace and earrings which embody the snowy beauty of

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Jóhannes Ottósson, jewellery designer.

With strong emphasis on Iceland´s ancient oral history is the Vættir ring. The four Landvættir (spirits of Norse mythology) are regarded as the mythical protectors of the four quarters of Iceland: The Dragon in the east, the Griffin in the north, the Bull in the west, and the Giant in the south. The four Landvættir of Iceland are depicted on the Icelandic coat of arms.

Through the ages the Icelandic folktales are full of creatures such as elves, trolls, fairies and ghosts. To be present in Icelandic nature as darkness falls is to see the land come alive with myth and wonder. NOX jewellery is available at: Epal, KEF Airport and Harpa Concert Hall, Reykjavik. Rhodium, Kringlan Mall, Reykjavik. Gilbert/JS Watch and Around Iceland, Laugavegur, Reykjavik. Open: Weekdays 11-19 Thursdays 11-21 Saturdays 11-18 Sundays 13-18 Follow us on

An Icelandic serial killer


and his deprived heritage Despite the notorious reputation of Vikings, Iceland is believed to have produced only a single serial killer. In the stunning landscape on the Snæfellsnes Peninsula, serial killer Axlar-Björn brutally murdered his victims in the 16th century. He confessed to nine murders but according to most sources, he was responsible for the deaths of as many as 18 victims. by Hjördís Erna Þorgeirsdóttir Photos: Courtesy of Vesturport theater group from their show Axlar-Björn

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The formation of a serial killer According to Icelandic folklore, Axlar-Björn had developed the taste for human blood in utero. Legend has it that his mother, feeling extremely lethargic dur­­ ing pregnancy, began to crave for human blood. Her husband then began to quench her sinis­ ter thirst by extracting blood from his foot for her consumption. Following disturbing visions in her dreams, his mother apparently believed that the child she was carrying would be unusual, even deviant.

“The gruesome details of Axlar­Björn’s crimes are disturbing even to this day.”

A brutal legacy Before being decapitated, Axlar-Björn’s limbs were shattered with a wooden sledgehammer. After that his severed head and other body parts were im­­ paled around the area. Then his genitals were chopped off and tossed in his wife’s lap. De­­spite being considered an accomplice, she was spared the death penalty because she was pregnant at the time. Their son, Sveinn Skotti, seems to have inherited his father’s mali­­cious nature. Sveinn was believed to have studied witchcraft and had a reputation for being a ruthless thief and a sex offender. After being subdued by a woman he attempted to rape he was

executed by hanging. Shockingly this was not the end of this destructive family’s history because Sveinn’s son, Gísli Hrókur, was also executed decades later for his violent crimes.

Centuries later This tragic story of three gener­­ ations of violent criminals continues to shock and even inspire people to this day. Just last year, renowned theater group Vesturport did a blood-soaked play based on the life and death of this infamous figure. Author Úlfar Þormóðsson wrote a novel about him in 1988 and Iceland­ ic musician legend Megas published a book called Björn and Sveinn in 1994. Perhaps the

most chilling fact surrounding Axlar-Björn lies in his extensive legacy because almost 20,000 Icelanders can trace their ancestry directly to him. This makes every fourteenth Icelander a descendant of Axlar-Björn, the author of this article included.

“Sveinn was be­ lieved to have studied witchcraft and had a reputation for being a ruthless thief and a sex offender.”

As a child, Axlar-Björn was considered relatively normal but as he grew up he began to show signs of troubled behavior and was consequently fostered by his father’s friend. The story goes that, as he was taking a nap at church, Axlar-Björn had a vision of a man who told him that there was a gift hidden under a rock at the top of mount Axlarhyrna that would make him famous. This surprise, Björn found out, was a small axe that would create his eerie legacy, still startling people centuries later.

Murdering rampage It appears that Axlar-Björn vici­ ously murdered every person that was unfortunate enough to enter his home. Some people have claimed that his crimes were financially motivated but the sheer volume of his vict­ims as well as the brutality involved, suggests a more sa­ vage incentive. The gruesome details of Axlar-Björn’s crim­ es are disturbing even to this day. One account tells of an im­poverished mother who arri­­ ved at his home, pleading to be housed for the night along with her three children. After her children were, one by one, lured to their horrid death, the mother managed to escape and report the grizzly details. Others claim that Axlar-Björn was captured after people grew suspicious of his increased wealth. After his atrocities were revealed, Axlar-Björn was sentenced to a torturous death, echoing the brutality of his crimes.

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It’s the small things that count

Tiny objects

– huge treasures

Just outside Akureyri is Sverrir‘s Sundry Collection (Smámunasafnið), one of the quirkiest and most wonderful museums in Iceland. Sverrir Hermannsson, who passed away in 2008, was a carpenter, renowned for his work on the restoration of old buildings of historical value. Many of the structures that tourists visit during their travels across the country have been touched up by Sverrir and during his many projects, he collected small items of interest. By Guðrún Baldvina Sævarsdóttir Photos: Ernir Eyjólfsson


ake no mistake, most of them are tiny and very few people would see them as in­te­­resting when found in ruins somewhere. These include nails, screws, tools, doorknobs, paper clips, used up pencils and many, many, many more. Sverrir however had an eye for detail and a knack for presenting his found objects in the most aesthetically pleasing way. He would place two exhibition boards in front of him, lining everything up on one board to assure that it was visually pleasing, before moving them to another board to be permanently attached according

welcoming space that makes you rethink the way you value objects around you as well as rethink your values. It is an exhibition of objects but at the same time it reveals the lifelong passion of a single man and what can be accomplished through persistance and passion.

A constant element of surprise When entering the museum you might feel a little shaken or put off by the idea of odd collections of toe-nail clippings or dust balls you might see but fear not, Sverrir‘s obsessive collections are all on the safe side and and look at their face to wait for a facial expression that reveals the same impression you just experienced.


he atmosphere is homey and relaxed but at the same time the exhibition is professional and well made. It‘s really the best of both worlds and should you be on the road anywhere near Akureyri, this tiny detour is definitely worth your while. House keys, electrical outlets and safety pins will never look the same because what looks like dispensable junk today, might someday become a rare and precious treasure.

“The atmosphere is homey and relaxed but at the same time the exhi­ bition is professional and well made. to his plan. He did this throughout his career which eventually filled up every square centimeter of his small work shed in his home in Akureyri.


he result is a stunning exhi­­bition of ‘millions’ of things, lined up in a

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reflect a lifetime of experience, craftsman­ship and foresight. Perhaps the museum‘s strong­­est asset is the constant ele­­­ment of surprise. You don‘t really see the place coming when you drive up to it, deep in the Eyjafjörður fjord, or when you walk up to the building that looks like some-

body‘s home. We recommend visiting this museum in good company since it offers endless stunning mo­­ments where you have an irresistable urge to pull your partner towards whatever it was you just discovered and go “There‘s 2,500 of them!“ or “It‘s made out of toothpicks!“

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

We want you out of here – alive!

Museum of Design and Applied Art

Located in suburban Garðarbær, this is a rather unusual stop on the tourist roundabout yet well worth the short bus trip. The Museum of Design and Applied Art focuses on collecting and preserving Icelandic design from the beginning of the 20th century to the present day. This includes information, drawings and documents that relate to Iceland’s design history in order to inform both the museum community and the public.

The lobby

Treasures from a grandmother’s living room to cutting edge technological design Photos: Kristinn Magnússon By Guðrún Baldvina Sævarsdóttir

“At the moment our collection is largely made up of furniture; chairs, tables, sofas and chaise loung­­es, many of them given to the museum by the designers or previous owners,” says the muse­­um collection’s representative Þóra Sigurbjörnsdóttir. “As a result, some of the pieces in the collection are worn and used, a few even visibly damaged but it only works to add a sense of the pieces’ usage, enhancing

their quality as an object of practical design.” Their conservation ef­forts follow this policy of preserv­­­ing found objects of design. “Conservation and resto­­ ration are not meant to make objects look brand new, only to preserve them in their current collection condition,” says Þóra. “We also have a fair amount of Scandinavian glass artifacts and our collection of graphic design and drawings is rapidly increas-

ing but product design actually has very flexible borders,” she says as she points to a big gard­ en shovel, an object of Finnish design. As an Icelander, the museum provides ample amount of nostal­­ gia when you walk past a sofa identical to the one your grandmother had when you were 5 years old, not to mention your excitement when you realize that the old candleholders you still have in your storage room could be rare items of renowned design. In a country of 320,000 inhabitants, chances are you might own something of historic value and that it was manufactur­ ed in very limited supply.

W From the exhibition “Chance Encounters – Towards modernity in Icelandic design.”

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hen asked to nominate an object from their collection of particular peculiarity, Þóra has a hard time choosing between the electric camper van designed by students from the Icelandic Academy of Arts in 1998, the little stool made out of a small buoy designed by Manfreð Vil­hjálmsson and Dieter Roth,

Þóra Sigurbjörnsdóttir.

the entire set of interiors from yester­year’s bank Búnaðarbanki lobby or the human sized wax replica of musician Barði from the electric pop group Bang Gang. The answer to their most prized possession is much easier, “A personal favorite is a rocking chair by Helgi Hallgrímsson. It is both exquisitely beautiful and extremely rare.” Even though objects have been designed for much longer, Ice­­landic design history is generally said to begin in the 20th century. “Our first architects only came back from study­ ing abroad after 1900 and that marks the historical point of de­parture,” says Þóra. But what defines Icelandic de­sign? “It’s hard to find a char­ act­eristic in form in Icelandic de­sign. It’s much easier to find a defining element in material

due to the common restrictions on the designers and manufact­urers of this remote island. Choices were narrow and they often had to make do with what was available at a particular time,” says Þóra. Design has also had a hard time in such a small community where the industry hasn’t necessarily been able to keep up with the de­­ signers. “There are many stories of Icelandic designers participating in exhibitions and shows abroad, acquiring enormous attention and subsequently getting huge orders from retailers that they weren’t able to fill due to the limited means of the manufacturing industry in Iceland,” says Þóra. It’s especially dramatic when you consider the fact that throughout history, Icelandic designers have been both very well educated and extremely passionate. “They had to be pass­ ionate. Nobody would become a designer in Iceland for the money in the 1950s,” she adds.


he Museum of Design and Appli­ed Art is only 15 years old and has done wonders to restore the part of design in Iceland­ ic art history. “We’re still filling in big gaps and with every exhibition we continually learn as more artifacts are found and researched.” In the museum’s lobby you’ll find tables and chairs designed by Erla Sólveig Óskarsdóttir where you can sit down, drink coffee and look through design magazines while your kids enjoy themselves in an adjacent play area. The lobby is also home to one of Kraum’s design shops where you can buy beautiful and innovative Icelandic designs for a good price. This summer you’ll get a proper overview of the history of Icelandic design at the museum. The exhibition “Chance Encounters - Towards modernity in Icelandic design” (curated by Arndís S. Árnadóttir & Elísabet V. Ingvarsdóttir) is open until October, so you have all summ­er to learn more about this often forgotten part of the buzzing Ice­landic creative scene. A guided tour in English with muse­um director Harpa Þórsdóttir will be at 12.30 on August 15th and look out for guided tours with the exhibition’s curators in September. And if you’re well versed in Scandi­­navian design or just have a really good memory, don’t miss the museu­­m’s “Podium”, where they place items of mysterious origins in an effort to get more information or clues of its nature. For more information visit Helgi Hallgrímsson (1911-2005). Rocking chair, 1968

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All Tomorrow’s Parties

The show


must go

The famous saying, here used as a headline, was epitomized at the first All Tomorrow’s Parties music festi­val in Iceland, by legendary Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds. After a bad fall from a ramp leading to the audi­­ence Cave jumped back on stage and gave a powerful two hour performance despite his, later to be dis­covered, badly bruised tail. The Bad Seeds didn’t miss a beat even when their lead singer was M.I.A. but rather powered through with a glorious noise session. We think this is kind of characteristic of the whole ATP Iceland experience. The show really went on! By: Guðrún Vaka Helgadóttir Photos: Sigurður Már Davíðsson


s far as music festivals go, I am a virgin having never even considered going to Glastonbury, Roskilde or Redding. I haven’t even been to a proper music festival in my own country if you don’t count some of the Bank Holiday Festivals in the be­­­ginning of August, which are sometimes dubbed as music festivals but are more like town fairs. So it was with great anti­­cipation and glee that I fueled up my (hus­band’s) ’78 Pontiac Firebird (the ride needs to match the occa­sion), put some friends in the backseat and drove along the Reykjanes Peninsula to Ásbrú, the old U.S. Navy base where ATP Iceland was held at the end of June.

media. I had another prejudgment, or maybe just a very imprinted experience about Icelandic events and that is that there’s always a delay, always! With two venues and a lot of bands I expected a lot of delay. The night before ATP Iceland started my husband waited 50 minutes for just one concert in Reykjavík. How much time would we have to wait for dozens of musicians? But the people behind ATP Iceland are professionals. There was no wait to speak of, not even when The Fall’s infamous Mark E. Smith went well over the allotted time frame in his many poetic rants. The dirt was nowhere to be seen as the venues were already paved. I scampered around in clean clothes, warm for the most part even though the weather more resembled a crisp autumn than high summer, a problem us South-Icelanders have been having since early May.

The perfect first time All Tomorrow’s Parties is an organization based in London that has been promoting festivals, concerts and records throughout the world for over ten years. From the beginning, the festival has set itself apart from other big festivals by staying intimate, non-corporate and fan-friendly. The line-ups are chosen by signi­ficant bands or artists resulting in unpredictable and exciting events Film director Jim Jarmusch curated the movies screened at the Andrews The­ ater on Friday. His band, SQÜRL, also performed at the festival.

Good-bye to prejudice

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My prejudgment of music fest­iv­ als is that they are dirty and sleepless but satisfying and that you have to put yourself in a certain mental frame to live through them. Most of this stems from photos of rain soaked festival goers in the popular

“The Bad Seeds didn’t miss a beat even when their lead singer was M.I.A. but rather powered through with a glorious noise session.”

Before ATP Iceland Mr. Cave stated that the first All Tomorrow’s Parties Iceland would be: “My favourite festival in my favourite country…”

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All Tomorrow’s Parties combining performances by legendary and influential acts with appearances by the latest crop of experimental artists from any (and every) musical genre. For a music festival virgin such as myself this was the perfect first time. Like a gentle but experienced lover, ATP led me through it, never pushing too hard, never rushing and always on time. And just when I thought I knew how this all worked it gave me a pleasant and very fitting surprise in the form of an impromptu performance outside the Atlantic Studios by Icelandic punk band Æla (sounds like Isla but really means Puke). As most first times should, this one has left me wanting more so I was very pleased to learn that ATP will return to Iceland next May. As I said, the show must go on!

“For a music festival virgin such as myself this was the perfect first time. Like a gentle but experienced lover, ATP led me through it, never pushing too hard, never rushing and always on time.” 76 ı WOW is in the air

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Our favorites

The quirky and magnificent

Deerhoof By Guðrún Baldvina Sævarsdóttir Photos: Sigurður Már Davíðsson

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hortly after I first met my fiancé 4 years ago, he played me some of his favorite band, Deerhoof. At the time I thought to myself that it was a good thing I was falling madly in love with this man and could therefore overlook a flaw or two in his otherwise brilliant taste in music and that even though he had obviously not grown out of that embarrassing Iceland­ic habit of loving everything Japanese, I could love him none the less (I would later learn that Deerhoof is actually from San Francisco). Months past and I would switch off Deerhoof for classical piano concertos with a haughty expression of the classical music snob that will not take someone shouting PANDA PANDA PANDA! at me for the full length of a song. At what exact point in time I woke up to the genius that is Deerhoof I have no idea. It took a long time though for the noise to clear and my snobbish defenses to relax enough to let it flow over me but I‘ve become one of those Deerhoof loving weirdos. So when Deerhoof turned up for the ATP festival in Iceland, we were there and when they hit the stage, my otherwise respectable 40 year old fiancé screamed like a teenage girl at a Justin Bieber concert and performed along with Satomi Matsuzaki for the entire length of their set, although Deerhoof never knew that they had a fifth band member in the audience. My crowd of people are snobbish hipsters to say the least and will not sign the sheet of interesting for just anything, but everyone I know (I know a lot of people) could smell the fresh air that they are, which is especially impressive considering that Deerhoof has been fresh for 19 years. Through endless repetition of beats and lyrics, they somehow ensure that they are in constant musical renewal and never actually repeat themselves. Far beyond any band we know, Deerhoof is their own genre which is why we asked drummer Greg Saunier a few questions after the show. What made you decide to do this parti­cular festival, at this time, in Iceland of all places?  You get a call from ATP asking you to play after Nick Cave, you say yes. Actually we came straight from a UK tour so we were hot. Just needed to brush up on some Icelandic phrases.

“If we become either respectable or a progressive rock band then my nightmares would be coming true and I won’t be celebrating at all.” Issue four

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Our favorites Was the festival what you expected? Did you catch any of the other bands/performances? Yeah, I was surprised, all the masseus­es at the festival were English. I thought Scandanavia was famous for its massages. Anyway the bands sounded great and we met them all by the end of the night. People kept coming into our backstage room and introducing themselves. I thought it was because we are so awesome but my bandmates pointed out that we were the only room that had beer left in the refridgerator. How different is performing in your own concert from a music festival? Is there notable difference in the audi­ence and subsequently the atmos­phere?  We played Airwaves once but I don’t think we’re known in Iceland. So you can think to yourself “Oh it’s totally diff­e­rent,” like making out with your girl­friend versus meeting someone for the first time. But the reality is we play the way we play. No matter what kind of audience it is, we want to surprise them, make them smile, watch them dance. The acoustics are different in that crazy room though. When it is that echoey we play everything slower or else no one would have heard anything that was happening. Is the pressure more or less? Do you still feel anxiety or excitement before a live performance or are you all zen masters after 19 years of Deerhoof? What’s the sound of one hand clapping? Deerhoof will turn 20 next year, a respectable age for a progressive rock band. Will you celebrate in style? If we become either respectable or a progressive rock band then my nightmares would be coming true and I won’t be celebrating at all. I don’t think we’ll celebrate anyway because I’m the only one who’ll have been in it for 20 years. We celebrate our band every time we play. That’s what being in a band is, you’re a professional celebrator. It’s awesome!

“Anyway the bands sounded great and we met them all by the end of the night.” 80 ı WOW is in the air

You have a reputation of being a DIY band, producing your own albums, shooting and cutting your own music video, yet at the same time you claim to never really know what you are doing musically. Is it all effortless magic? No one is more aware of what we’re doing than we are. We put all our effort into Deerhoof. But yeah there are times in a band when you really don’t know what you’re doing. I have no clue what kind of song my bandmates will write next for example. Every time we start a new record we aim high. We teach ourselves something we don’t know how to do. Your concerts seem to flow perfectly yet maintain that sense of randomness that we all find so exciting. How directed/improvised are your performances? Thank you. We take care to write songs that we can forget about when we play them. So we’re real self-directed at the beginning and then we just cut loose. We don’t fake it, we play what we want to play. Satomi and I were just talking about that tonight. Sometimes that means somebody just stops playing in the middle of a song. We don’t have to try to create randomness, we are human beings so it is automatic. You had an incident with your drum set at the beginning of your concert. What happened exactly? I think a mic fell over. Trust me, that was nothing. We play really hard and things are breaking all the time. And the classic, embarrassing question we all have to ask... How do you like Iceland? When we were there for Airwaves it was in and out. So this time we booked an extra day at the hotel so that we could see a little more of Iceland. We brought tons and tons of money so we could have an Icelandic meal. I love the people. It’s funny, I would imagine that in crowded places like New York where I live, people would be very calm because there are so many things happening all the time. And in Iceland where it is sparse, people would be very easily shocked or overstimulated when something unusual happ­ ens. But it’s just the opposite. In New York we are spazzing out all the time and in Iceland, people have such a subtle reaction to everything. I admire the philosophical attitude.

“No matter what kind of audience it is, we want to surprise them, make them smile, watch them dance.”

HVÍTA HÚSIÐ / SÍA – 13-2104

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One of a kind and one of the kindest

The Icelandic horse:

Friend, servant and a nation builder Icelandic horses, one of the oldest horse breeds in the world, were developed in Iceland. Although the horses are small, standing an average of 13 and 14 hands (52 and 56 inc­ hes, 132 and 142 cm) high, which is often considered ponysize, breeders and registries always refer to them as horses. by Jón Kristinn Snæhólm Photos: Einar Guðmann and


everal theories have been put forward as to why. One is the breed’s spirited temperament and large personality, and another is simply the absence of the word “pony’’ in Icelandic. Also the breed’s weight (between 330-380 kilograms), bone struct­ure and weight-carrying abilities allows it to be classified as a horse, rather than a pony.

The horse of the Vikings The first Viking settlers brought their horses to Iceland long before any of the European breeds that we are so familiar with today had been established. Along with only a couple of other rare breeds, the Icelandic horse represents the closest link we have to the first domesticated horses. Crossing the Atlantic in their small open boats, the settlers could only bring a few horses at a time. They arrived with families and animals in tow, ready to farm, fish, fight each other and form a republic. For those early settlers and farm­ers in Iceland the horse was indispensible. It plowed the

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fields, and during many centuries was the only means of transport; carry­ing people, cargo, mail and crops, over mountains, crossing glacial rivers and picking its surefooted way over treacherous mountain trails, sharing the often harsh life of its master as an equal partner and a beloved friend. Icelanders have, over the centuries referred to this amazing creature as “Þarfasti þjónninn” (English: The most useful servant).

Origin and history The history of the Icelandic horse can be traced to the settlement of the country in the period between 874 and 930. The settlers brought with them their very best horse, until recently thought to be from various origins, mostly of German descent. New findings though, indicate that the original ancestors of the breed actually came from Siberia, while a comparison between the Icelandic horse, at the time of the settlement of Iceland, and ancient Nor­wegian and German horses show them to have similar bone structure. Although the origin of

“The Icelandic Horse World Championships 2013 is coming up and it‘s always a huge event.” the breed may have been mixed, due to its isolation and the fact that the old Icelandic Parliament (Icelandic: Althingi) prohibited all

importation and crossbreeding of horses in Iceland in 982, today this is one of the most purebred horse breeds in the world, re­­ main­­ing pure for over eleven hundred years. Thus today, there is only one breed of horse in Iceland, i.e. The Icelandic Horse. Diseases are almost unknown among Icelandic horses, and their protection is assured by strict regulations of the Icelandic government. The horse plays a huge part in the Icelandic Sagas where it is frequently mentioned in connection with the time of Viking warfare. The Vikings treated their horses with great respect and like the farmers, warriors often considered it their most prized possession. Through the centuries the Icelandic horse has undergone harsh times due to lack of food caused by inclement weather, volcanic ash poisoning and lava which covered hundr­eds of square miles of land, dry­ing up many rivers.

Characteristics Icelandic people take pride in the Icelandic horse as can be seen in Icelandic art and literature, where painters, poets, and writers have, throughout the centuries, lauded its extraordinary characteristics. It is intelligent, well tempered, versatile and beautiful. It is also the most colorful breed in the world, with over 40 different col­­­­ors and over 100 variations. It has a double coat developed for extra insulation in cold temperatures, and is known to be hardy and an easy keeper (requiring a minimum of food to maintain its weight). The horse, heralded because of its sure-footedness is also unique amongst horse breeds because it masters five

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One of a kind and one of the kindest

“Some Icelandic farmers still use the breed to round up sheep in the highlands during the fall, but today most horses are used for competition and leisure riding.” gaits. In addition to the standard walk, trot, canter/gallop, it also masters two additional gaits, the “tölt” and ’’flying pace’’. The breed is best known for the tolt, which is a smooth four beat gait, similar to the running walk or rack. The tolt is a natural gait; one can often see foals and grown horses tolting in the past­ ure. The ’’flying pace’’ (Icelandic: Skeið) is used in pacing races, and is fast and smooth with some horses able to reach up to 30 mph (48 km/h). The pace is a two beat lateral gait with a moment of postponement between footfalls; each side has both feet land almost simultaneously. Both tolt and ’’flying pace’’ are so smooth that it is said that the rider can hold a full glass of his/her favorite

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drink in one hand and the reins in the other, without spilling a drop!

The contemporary Icelandic horse Icelandic horses still play a large part in the lives of the Icelandic people despite the increasing mechanization and road im­prove­ ments during the last 100 years diminishing the practical necessity of the breed. Thous­ands of Ice­landers today own horses for the simple pleasure of riding them and enjoying the company of a beloved friend. Today there are about 80,000 horses in Ice­­ land (around 100,000 abroad), which is an incredible number for a nation with only 320,000 in­­habitants. Abroad the breed is especially popular in Western

Europe, Scandinavia, and North America. Some Icelandic farmers still use the breed to round up sheep in the highlands during the fall, but today most horses are used for competition and leisure riding. Horse racing and horse shows are very popular in Iceland, and held throughout the country mostly during the summer, but sometimes winter events are also held on ice. There are numeral riding tour operators, specializing in riding tours across the country, who offer different riding tours designed for all ages and levels of experience. Over 10,000 peo­ple belong to riding clubs, and close to 30,000 Icelanders are said to be active riders. The relationship between Icelanders

and horses that began more than eleven hundred years ago, endures today with a love and loyalty that is hard to describe. Further information: The Icelandic language embraces numerous words for the term horse: Hestur (horse), gæðingur (exceptionally good riding horse), hross (horse), folald (foal, filly) jór (in poetry), trunta (very bad riding horse), bikkja (bad riding horse), fákur (mostly poetic), klár (horse), hryssa (female horse), meri (female horse), jálkur (old horse), drösull (solely poetry), trippi (young horse), foli (male foal, colt), graðhestur (stall­ ion), stóðhestur (stallion). Most of all, it’s imperative for you as a guest in Iceland, not only to get to know us Icelanders as humans but also get to know our best friend, the primary build­­er and backbone of modern Ice­­land; The Icelandic Horse. Happy riding.

13-2120 H V Í TA H Ú S I Ð / S Í A

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Details on

The national team

He’s not

horsing around!

I arrived on a sunny day at the farm where the young and talented horse rider Flosi Ólafsson works. Flosi welcomes me and the photographer with a warm smile and you can clearly see that he is the grandson of the famous Icelandic actor and comedian Flosi Ólafsson. Flosi is one of the riders on the Icelandic national team that will be participating at the World Championships in Berlin in August 2013. Despite his young age he’s a Nordic champion and has been working with some of the best riders in the world including the world champion Þórður Þorgeirsson. by Anna Gréta Oddsdóttir Photos: Heiða Helgadóttir and Hákon Davíð Björnsson

The young and promising Flosi At only 21, Flosi, himself is clearly surprised by his achievements. “I never thought I’d achie­ve the goals I dreamt of when I was a boy so early in my life,” but I’ve worked really hard and I’ve made sacrifices to get this far. Now I’m a team member with people that were role models for me as I was growing up. It’s unbelievable!” When Flosi was a little boy, he spent his summers working at his father’s horse rental where he had the chance to enjoy the beautiful Icelandic landscapes while riding the Icelandic horses. ”I remember feeling back then, that there was something special about the Icelandic horse. I soon became addicted to horses and everything about them. I studied the genealogy behind every horse, but the most important thing, for me was, when I could go riding again. I couldn’t get enough of it. It didn’t matter if it was a competition horse or a riding horse, the only thing that mattered to me was to ride and enjoy the companionship of the horse. Flosi admits that he was lucky that his father and grandfather had their own horses and that he had access to them.

Luck and good fortune “I’ve also had the good fortune to work with some great people who taught me a lot. Like at the

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farm, Blesastaðir, where I work now; the horses are great, the facilities are perfect and the people there, that I work with, are fantastic.” Some of the horses that Flosi has been riding are world famous. “Being able to train some great horses has increased my interest in riding.” Flosi continues “When you feel that the training is going well and that you’re doing the right thing, that’s a great feeling. When you’re working with horses, it is so much fun when you discover what it is that makes them feel comforta­ ble, and you feel this special

connection between you and the horse. You don’t necessarily have to be riding to make a good relationship. Just by being near them and patting them you can feel that the horse is your friend. That is what makes horsemanship so much fun. Yes, it’s always great to win a compe-

”I remember feeling back then, that there was something special about the Ice­ landic horse.”

tition, but that’s not what makes this sport so special.

A horse named Möller The horse that Flosi is going to compete on at the World Championship is called Möller. Möller is bay dun. His father is Falur from Blesastaðir 1A and his mother is Perla from Hagi. “Möller is a powerful and happy horse. He is always willing to do things for me. He’s got soft but powerful movements. I’d been working at Blesastaðir since January and then I met Möller. My assignment was to train this popular and well known horse.

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The national team Magnús (the owner of Blesa­ staðir) and I soon noticed that I could do great things with him so the goal was set to get into the national team that would head to Berlin in August. In the qualifying everything worked out perfectly and I became a member of the team.” Icelandic laws prevent horses from being imported into the country and exported horses are not allowed to return. This is a safety measure to protect the Icelandic horse breed.

Leaving Möller behind “Things have gone really well for us and when things are going that way, you always want more. It is hard to say good­­bye to something that you’ve put so much work into and built a special relationship with. The training is all about mak­­ing the

horse feel good so you can get the most out of it. How­­ever, it all comes down to the five minutes that I have on the track. It’s about reaching peak per­­­form­­ ance at the precise time. I have put my heart and soul in this project and I want everything to be perfect, but don’t misunderstand me, there is nothing sad about going to compete at the World Championship. You cannot grieve the whole time that you are competing. You have to enjoy the moment and create unforgettable new memories. Now begins a new chapter in my life, I have to define new goals to achieve. It would be an honor to keep on competing on Möller and win trophies, but there are always new challenges waiting.” And with that he rides off to Berlin.

“Icelandic laws prevent horses from being imported into the country and exported horses are not allowed to re­turn. This is a safety measure to protect the Icelandic horse breed.”

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Exhibition Tölt - Inspiration

Art meets the

Icelandic horse in Berlin by Guðrún Baldvina Sævarsdóttir Photos: From the exhibition, Tölt – Inspiration


summer, an art exhibition of a rather different nature has been running in Berlin, an exhibition entirely inspired by the Icelandic horse. After 7 weeks in the Felleshus building of the Nordic Embassies, the exhibition was recently moved to Kulturhaus Karlshorst where it will run from July 10th – August 11th, prior to and during the Iceland Horse World Championships which will be held next door. With a total of 13 Icelandic contemporary artists and designers, ranging from clothing designers to photographers, the exhibition presents the Icelandic horse in a very wide spectrum, in different mediums and from different per­­spectives. From traditional and exquisite images of the ani­­mal’s nature and beauty, to more nontraditional works like sound installations and an ani­­ mated painting that presents its movement in the landscape, guests are left with a new feel for the Icelandic horse and Icelandic cult­ure as well as that touching experience evoked by good works of art. The exhibition’s curator Ragna Fróðadóttir is an Icelandic clothing designer and a permanent resident in Berlin. “We wanted to introduce the horse in a rat­her nontraditional way, where pe­­ople would get to know its cult­ural character through art and design.” Homesickness is a dramatic

homage to the Icelandic horse, both touching and beautiful at the same time. Due to strict Icelandic animal importation acts that duly protect this unique Viking horse breed, exported Icelandic horses can never return. In his work, photographer Benni Valsson attempts to capture that moment of horse and homeland, saying goodbye forever. Inspired by the poem Stjörnu­­ fák­ur (Star horse) by Jóhannes úr Kötlum, Rut Sigurðardóttir’s work is a photo-series commem­ or­ating the historical exiled horse of the poem, exported to serve out its life in British mines. Three Berlin immigrants from Iceland (clothing designer Mundi, photographer Rut Sigurðardóttir and the horse Freyfaxi) honor the horse’s memory in a poetic way. Thankfully, in modern times, the Icelandic horse is exported for pleasure and admiration instead of hardship and abuse.


on’t miss legendary visual art­­ist Birgir Andrésson’s works on the boundaries between lang­u­­age and perception where he explores old verbal descriptions on horses and Gígja Einarsdóttir and Thorkell Harðarson’s beautiful audiovisual piece, celebrating the horse in its natural setting. If you’re going to the world championships, be sure to visit the exhibition, Tölt – Inspiration for a genuine, poignant experience of the Icelandic horse.

In an effort to promote Icelandic artists worldwide, WOW air agreed to support the art exhibition “Tölt Inspiration” in the Icelandic embassy in Berlin.

Photograph by Gígja Einarsdóttir.

“With a total of 13 Icelandic contemporary artists and designers, ranging from clothing designers to photographers, the exhibition presents the Icelandic horse in a very wide spectrum, in different mediums and from different per­­spectives.” 90 ı WOW is in the air

Ólöf Ragna. - Hrynur from Hrísdalur, 6 winters old – went to Finland

Benni Valsson

Homesickness, 2013. Photo series. Fashion: Jör by Guðmundur Jörundsson, Andersen & Lauth, Erna Einarsdóttir, Stylist: Anna Clausen.

Elísabet. - Ímynd from Hrísar, 6 winters old – went to Finland

Heiða. - Brjánn from Margrétarhof, 5 winters old – went to Finland

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Exhibition Tölt - Inspiration

Rut Sigurðardóttir, Star horse, 2013. Photo series.

Designer: Mundi. Horse: Freyfaxi from Faxaból. Model: Leonie @ Izaio. Hair & make-up: Anna Czilinsky. Assistant: Birta Fróðadóttir. Horse assistant: Júlía Steinbjörnsson.

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Team Spirit

The magic lies in the hands

of the riders by Anna Gréta Oddsdóttir Photos: Heiða Helgadóttir


Icelandic Horse World Cham­­pi­ onship 2013 will take place August 4-11, 2013, in Berlin. The idea is to bring the Icelandic horse to the peo­­ple of Berlin and at the same time bring the fans of the Iceland­ic horse there. Iceland has the largest team at the World Championship with 15 participants in sport horses and 6 in breeding horses. This year, the team also has a higher number of young riders than ever before with 5 of the riders, aged under 21. Three team members are current world champ­ions and the team consists of both men and women. Hafliði Halldórsson, the leader of the Icelandic National team is a fly fishing enthusiast, and a

former handball player but most importantly a great rider. His role is to pick the best Ice­­­landic riders and he is clearly aiming for gold. “My job is to choose the best riders and horses and prepare the team both mentally and physi­cally. The team is selected in a very democratic way. We have a qualifying where the rid­­ers work themselves into the team. The rest is chosen by my associates and I” Do you get a lot of criticism about whom you choose? “Yes I do, everybody has an opin­ion about the Icelandic team, but I need to follow my con­­vict­ ions to get the best results. Fortunately, I have great associ­ates

like Sigurður Sæmunds­son former team lead­er for many years and Rúna Einars­­dóttir, multiple world cham­pion to help me with the selection” How do you prepare for a competition like this? “We have been preparing all winter with, for example, lectur­ es from well-known winning team leaders like Guðmundur Guðmundsson a former handball national team coach and currently the coach of the German team Rhein-Neckar Löwen. Now the most important things are to let the horses rest, have them examined by a vet and make special programs for each rider and build a team spirit. We want the team to be both fresh and hungry for victory. The competi­ tion lasts for days and we have to prepare ourselves and the hors­es for the heat and the strain.

perience and know their horses really well.” Do we have any main opponents? “Not in particular. All nations are our main opponents.” What is it that makes the Icelandic horse so popular? “The Icelandic horse is actually more popular than people realize. Diverse groups of people use the Icelandic horse, from toddlers to old people. It has adjusted so well to the harsh environment, it’s an easy keeper but above all, I think it is the wonderful temperament. He is so lovable, seeking friendship, and of course, the magical five gaits.”

And the strength of the Ice­ landic national team? “That’s easy! We have a strong team, with a lot of diversity and enormous width. The key to reaching peak performance at the precise time is a combination of skills, a good horse, luck and the right motivation. The magic lies in the hands of the riders. The riders have great ex-

“My job is to choose the best riders and horses and prepare the team both mentally and physi­cally.”

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Keeping Iceland warm since 1926

The Icelandic Horse Championships in Berlin

Thousands of spectators –hundreds of riders - one horse breed By Guðrún Baldvina Sævarsdóttir Photos: Christiane Späte, courtesy of the Icelandic Horse


s you may have gathered from glancing at this magazine, this issue is devoted to the Icelandic horse and for good reason. The Icelandic Horse World Championships 2013 is coming up and it‘s always a huge event. This year the championships will be held in Berlin from August

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4 – 11. The Icelandic horse much like everything else Icelandic, is of course, one of a kind and the World Cham­pionships is subsequently, one of a kind. It is the only one of its kind devoted to just one breed. This year, the grand event will take place in Germany‘s capi­­tal and no

wonder, Germans are among the world‘s most dedicated fans of the Icelandic horse. With just over 300,000 Icelandic horses in the world, 65,000 of them live in Germany, the second largest breeding country in the world after Iceland which has a horse population of 78,000.

With its unique gaits, its small but sturdy size and its famous good temper, the Icelandic horse deserves nothing less than a grand show-off championship tournament. There is nothing like a prize winning beast breaking out in the fast and famous toltgait where the horse appears


Þingholtsstræti 2-4 - 101 Reykjavík » Fákafen 9 - 108 Reykjavík » Austurvegi 21 - 870 Vík »

The Icelandic Horse Championships in Berlin

The grand opening show titled “HorsePower” should be an entertaining event for the whole family and will be set off with the arrival of 400 riders on their Icelandic hors­­es at the Brandenburg Gate. to glide through the air with the rider almost perfectly still in his saddle. It‘s a show stopping number and one that is always highly impressive. And this year promises to be even more impressive. The grand opening show titled “HorsePower” should be an entertaining event for the whole family and will be set off with the arrival of 400 riders on their Icelandic hors­­es at the Brandenburg Gate. They will then complete the last echelon of a relay ride from the last Championships lo­­cation in Austria by riding into the Karlshorst area, in nearby Wühlheide Park. An ambitious

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show will ensue where numerous horse breeds will be introduced in a spectacular way, including Friesian stallions, Andalusians, Lusitanos, Arabs and draft horses along with hundreds of Icelandic horses. Circus acts, chariot races and jumps promise a feast for the eyes and entertainment for all. The opening show will set the tone for the horse fair that will be running on Karlshorst’s huge grounds for the entire duration of the tournament with children’s areas, dining areas, presentations, exhibitions and, in the evening, concerts. Visitors will be able to feast on local products from Berl­­in and Iceland while enjoying

the festival. Berlin special “Currywurst” meets Icelandic special “skyr” meets the Icelandic horse! And that’s just the extras. The tournament itself is, of course, the star attraction where the best of the best compete for the title of world champion with no horsing around.


ne of the Championships’ taglines “Bringing people to­­get­­her in their passion for the Icelandic horse,” pretty much sums up the spirit. People who ride horses always do so with a passion for their sport and a beautiful relationship with their animal. And once again, this year

fans of the Icelandic horse will celebrate their passion in style with this week long championship tournament. If you fancy a joyful week of beautiful animals and good fun, be in Berlin for the Championships. Just don‘t mention horsemeat and never, ever call the Icelandic horse a pony or a riot might ensue.

“WOW air is a proud sponsor of The Icelandic Horse World Championships 2013”

Daily tours all year round at Laxnes Horse Farm

Multi day tours in the heart of Iceland Mobile friendly site


Family run 1968 - 2013

Photo shoot gone awry

A little piece

of horse history

By Guðrún Baldvina Sævarsdóttir Photos: Kristinn Magnússon and Birtíngur photo collection


n a beautiful winter day in February 2009, a group of renowned riders brought their thoroughbred Iceland­ ic horses to the frozen Reykjavik pond for a scenic photo shoot on ice. When the ice suddenly broke and the horses fell into the freezing water, chaos ensued as riders and owners tried to save their beloved animals. The first few minutes were terrifying as everyone tried pulling their horses out of the water at the same time to no avail, as the horses found no resistance in the muddy floor of the pond and grew tired in the freezing wat­er, giving up after a couple of minutes. Fjölnir Þorgeirsson, journalist, horse rider and athlete, who was at the scene to cover the event for an Icelandic magazine, put away his camera and jumped in the freezing wat­­er. He then made the horses step onto his thigh to get the resistance they need­­ ed while others pushed and pulled them up. One by one, a group of soaking wet and freezing horsemen managed to save all of them. The horses were then rushed indoors for a hot bath after which they were blow-dried and pampered by their fright­­en­­ ed owners. Fjölnir became an instant hero and has since been known as Fjölnir the Horse-Savior. The pictures give a pretty good idea of this rather scary day in Reykjavík.

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Photo shoot gone awry

“Fjölnir became an instant hero and has since been known as Fjölnir the Horse-Savior.”

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“One of the standouts in recent cookbook releases” Iceland Review “...captures the extraordinary otherworldliness of the Icelandic landscape” Lonely Planet Magazine

Into the North

beautifully illustrated cookbook, a culinary saga of Iceland Zest Magazine

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Iceland’s protester

Rebel with a cause Frequently described as “Iceland’s protester”, Helgi Hóseasson is undoubtedly the most established and dedicated protester Iceland has ever seen. Helgi was born on November 21st (the same day as Björk) in 1919. As an infant, Helgi was christened according to custom. This seemingly insignificant event would end up defining his life and Helgi quickly became a legend because of his persistent activism spanning decades. by Hjördís Erna Þorgeirsdóttir Photos: Gunnar Gunnarsson, Ásgeir M. Einarsson, Eyþór Árnason

The lifelong battle of Helgi Hóseasson Sober adolescence From a young age Helgi took a righteous stand. The story goes that his first one, at 13, was a­gainst tobacco smoking inside his school’s facilities. Helgi did not succeed in that particular battle (rather unfortunate) so he had to continue to endure the second hand smoke of his teachers and fellow students. Today, smoking is illegal inside all public buildings so it seems as though Helgi was definitely ahead of his contemporaries in that matter. In fact, throughout his life, Helgi abstained from not only tobacco and alcohol but also products such as coffee. When Helgi grew older he began to deeply resent the fact that he had been christened as a non-consensual infant. As a result he repeatedly (an understatement perhaps) attempted to have the covenant between him and the church made invalid. He also criticized the government and tried to gain their support but his demands were repeatedly dismissed. This blatant lack of response further fueled Helgi’s frustration and disbelief in govern­ment.

The incident In 1972 the newly voted members of the parliament attended a church service along with the bishop and the president of Iceland. Police officers stood by saluting next to the group when, out of nowhere, Helgi appeared armed with the dairy product “skyr” and a giant scoop. Helgi was so swift and subtle that the policemen did not take proper

notice until he had managed to spread skyr all over the majority of the group, including the presi­ dent. This incident instantly and officially made him a legend in Icelandic society. When asked about the incident decades later he explained that he chose skyr because it would not cause any real harm.

wing politician and the former prime minister of Iceland who was among those who supported the invasion on behalf of the Icelandic nation. Helgi also repeatedly condemned NATO and the Icelandic government’s membership in the organization.

Helgi’s vocabulary and themes Helgi, ironically, means “holy” in Icelandic (and also “weekend” but that’s irrelevant). He was often poetic in his work, making up his own words to describe Christ, figures of authority and even races. One of his phrases was the word “Ríó”, short for “The Government of Icelandic douche bags” (Ríkisvald íslenskra óþokka). He also claimed that due to Christ’s alleged resurrection he was in fact a ghost, an “Arabic ghost” to be exact, and Helgi flat out refused to worship a ghost. He described white people as “pink” explaining that the term “white” was not accurate enough. This pink race, Helgi said, was responsible for two world wars in his lifetime. Not only that, but he also focused on the various other atrocities that took place before and during his lifetime. Almost every war fought

that voting generally resulted in simply choosing the slightly less defi­­cient option in a vast ocean of non-options and that he did not like women’s tendencies to vote for their “tormentors”.

A tender element But Helgi had a heartwarming side. He was just as devoted to his long time partner and wife, Jóhanna, as he was to his activism. In 2003 a documentary about Helgi called “Iceland’s protester” won the Edda (nati­o­­ nal film award) for the best docu­­ mentary of the year. In the docu­ mentary Helgi and Jóhanna’s intimate relationship is revealed and Helgi’s allegiance to his sick partner is truly touching. Jó­hanna, who was a smoker when they met, gave up smoking and drinking when they got together, as that was Helgi’s sole demand. Interestingly, Helgi’s brother was a priest but the brot­hers lost contact due to the enormous ideological gap. At one point Helgi was almost su­spected of setting fire to a church he was watching for his brother but it was promptly dismissed. In some absurd way Helgi was almost a Christlike figure. He rejected traditional vices and

Devoted activist In the decades that followed Helgi remained a devoted activist. On the same exact spot on Langholtsvegur, each and every day, he stood there, clutching one of his handmade signs. Helgi im­mediately began to protest against Iceland’s support of the US invasion in Iraq in 2003. One of Helgi’s customary signs stated “BLÓÐ, BUSI, DÓRI, DAVI”. These words referred to blood, George W.Bush, Halldór Ásgrímsson and Davíð Oddsson. Oddson is an established right-

during Helgi’s lifetime automati­ cally became his burden. He was appalled by the notion of war and delivered that message assiduously to passersby during his lifetime.

Anarchistic tendencies? Helgi was against authority and any sort of brutality. In some aspects he could even be described as an anarchist, with, at least a touch of, feminist con­­­cerns. When asked about his political disposition in a 1997 inter­­view with Mannlíf, Helgi re­­plied that he had voted for the Women’s Party (Kvennalis­­ t­inn) because “women are an op­­pressed group in society and be­­cause of that I vote for them.” Helgi did emphasize though

lectured people on humanity through his activism. His re­­bell­­ ious nature originated from a deep sense of justice and he abso­ lutely refused to back down, a rare quality worthy of recog­nition. But after decades of fruitless struggle, pessimism settled in and it is reflected in the 1997 interview. When Helgi was asked if he was a bitter old man, he replied: “Yes, I am. Who can be happy on this fucking earth?” But whatever his failings, what­ever his shortcomings, his determination as well as his single-minded pursuit of justice makes him in the minds of many Icelanders a kind of hero and a man worthy of respect none the less.

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

Annie Mist

Jón Margeir

Annie Mist For the past months Annie’s train­­­­­­­­ing has mostly revolved around rehabbing her back after an injury earlier this year. She’s work­­­­ing to get back on track for the World Championships in July 2014. “WOW air has played a big role in my recovery as it re­­ volv­­es around meeting different specialists both for rehab and training.  I have physical therapy in London and I’ve been trying to get there once a week as well as having to travel a lot to Den­­­mark.  It makes such a big diff­­­­erence to be able to see all the right people.” Her gym, Reebok CrossFit Reykj­­avik is moving to a new location and will subsequently bec­­ome the biggest CrossFit facility in the world. These days she’s in Los Ang­­­e­­ les watching the Reebok Cross­­­Fit Games where her boy­­­friend is competing, as well as pro­­­moting

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her sponsors. “And at the end of August I’m going to Ali­­cante to teach CrossFit for a week. So many exciting things com­­ing up!”

Jón Margeir Jón Margeir won 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. Last May he set 3 new Icelandic records at the Ösp Tournament and at the end of May he set a further 5 Icelandic records at the German Open Championships in Berlin. He also won almost all of his swims in every tournament he’s participated in, but that’s not all. He’s also an avid mountain biker and decided to participate in a downhill mountain bike tournament in Iceland.

In July he participated in a Half Iron Man Triathlon along with marathon runner Kári Steinn and WOW air employee and cyclist, María Ögn, with their team coming in third place. This August Jón Margeir will participate in the IPC World Championships (International Paralympic Committee) in Montreal, Canada and after that, he’s going on a well deserved holiday in Switzerland to watch the European Downhill Championships, his favorite hobby, aside from swimming and breaking records, obviously!

Baltasar Kormákur Baltasar has been well known for his acting and directing in Iceland for many years but has recently been directing mov­ies in a small town called Hollywood. He’s just finished post-production on his thriller “2 Guns” starring Mark Wahlberg, Paula Patton and Denzel

Washington that will premiere in Iceland on August 14th and all over Europe shortly thereafter. He has also just finished directing a pilot for HBO and in the next few months we’ll know if the TV-series “Missionary” will be picked up for a full series. Just before this issue went to print Baltasar was heading to the Dolomites mountain range in Italy to scout locations for “Everest”, an upcoming film about a 1996 accident on Mount Everest. Shooting is scheduled in Octo­­ ber and rumor has it that the cast will include films stars Josh Brolin, Jake Gyllenhal and Jason Clark. Baltasar says they are very likely contenders as well as other big names that we’ll hear more of in the upcoming weeks. “I’m very excited about shooting in the Dolomites but at the same time I’m not sure what to expect at that time of year” says Balt­ asar and adds that parts of the

Ásgeir Trausti

Baltasar Kormákur Guðmundur Felix

film will also be shot in studio in Iceland and of course in Nepal. Baltasar is a horse enthusiast and breeds Icelandic horses with his wife Lilja Pálmadóttir. He will, of course be attending the World Championships in Berlin right after his film “2 Guns” opens at the Locarno Inter­­­national Film Festival in Switzer­land.

Ásgeir Trausti Ásgeir Trausti became the most popular singer/songwriter in Iceland in just under a year, his first album selling over 20,000 copies. He dominated at the Icelandic Music Awards where his album was named “Album of the Year”. Last May he opened for American musician John Grant on his UK tour and this summer he’s opening for Of Monsters and Men on their Europe tour. His first single in English “King and Cross” will be released on August 12th and October will see the world-

wide release of his first album in English titled “In the Silence”. September will see Ásgeir Trausti playing at the always popu­­­lar Night of the Lights Festi­­ val in Reykjanesbær, as well as at the Reeperbahn Music Festi­­ val in Germany.

the wonderful climate and the friendly people. Interviews and exam­inations for the upcoming trans­­plant have gone well and up next are sessions in the “ana-

tomic laboratory” in September. Until then, Guðmundur is working on improving his French and gett­­ing to know French culture in wonderful Lyon.

Guðmundur Felix Guðmundur Felix leads a full life as a father of two grown girls while running 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. Last June, Guðmundur moved to Lyon where he’ll be residing during preparations of, and recovery from the transplant. He says he’s falling in love with Lyon,

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The elements

– Iceland’s version We all know our elements, but in Iceland, earth, wind, fire and water may not be exactly the same as in other places. Here’s a small introduction to the Icelandic version of the elements. by Guðrún Baldvina Sævarsdóttir Photos: Birtíngur Photo Collection and

Water It is probably our biggest pride and joy, and our most valued resource, the water. Icel­anders reading this will nod their heads and think of the wonderful, ice cold and super clean water that runs carelessly from their taps in their kitchen or possibly think of their favorite stream in the countryside and although they have a point, we often forget about the amazing natural resource that our geothermal hot springs provide. We are so used to having the natural hot water pour out of the other tap in our kitchen that we need a moment to realize that the displeased look on our foreign friends’ face is because they’re picking up the sulfur scent we’ve long stopped noticing. It is also the main material of our most beautiful natural wonders, the waterfalls and geysers, the lakes, even the steam rising up in many places and of course, the glaciers. You’ll find water in its many different forms all over the country and in such beautiful and unusual displays like Vellankatla, the place where fresh water presses into Lake Þing­­vallavatn from underneath the lava fields and standing on the banks of the lake, you can see the

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fresh underwater stream enter the lake from an underwater cave and at Hraunfossar where the water presses out from underneath the grassy lava, forming a long row of miniature waterfalls falling into River Hvítá. If this is your first visit to Iceland, we can pretty much guarantee that during your stay you’ll experience water like you’ve never experienced it before.

Fire And by fire we mean volcanoes, of course.

It is Iceland’s most prominent feature and probably the second thing foreigners think of (after Björk, of course) when Iceland comes up in a conversation. Until the Eyja­­ fjallajökull eruption in 2010 they were seen as a national treasure, considered more awe-inspiring than dangerous and one of the biggest stars on the stage of Iceland’s natural wonders. It’s hard to explain, but what seems like natural disasters (volcanic eruptions and earthquakes) stirs something in Icelanders that is almost welcome, being a nostalgic reminder of the powers in nature that can be destructive and yet are awe inspiring, awakening a quiet reverence and humility. After the Eyjafjallajökull eruption and the 6 day air travel disruption that ensued we were a little mortified actually, as if it were somehow our responsibility to contain our ash and our lava. We’re working on it but hey, we do boast a pretty impressive line-up of volcanologists. For an impressive encounter with beautiful volcanoes, visit the craters of Grábrók near Borgarnes in the west, the very active Hekla in the south (dubbed the Gateway to Hell in the middle ages) or even Askja, along a road less travelled in the highland.

Earth Iceland is actually just seabed that rose from the ocean due to all the seismic

is normally cool and on those very rare days that we feel a warm breeze, we look up and say “Wow, it feels like a foreign country!” The winds can get very strong and storms are an unavoidable part of winter. This is because of the frequent weather depressions and the fact that the lack of vegetation doesn’t provide much of a barrier, but our houses are strong and we’ve gotten quite used to walking almost horizontally during the strongest blasts, so you wouldn’t be surprised seeing a person almost crawling to their car across a parking lot. And if you’re looking to experience clean air in all its glory, we recommend a trip to Snæfellsjökull glacier and the surrounding national park. There is something different in the air on this peninsula that produces an otherworldly feeling for many of its visitors.

activity along the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. Really, it is. And ever since it has been beautifully carved out by glaciers and rivers and the Icelandic road system. With a vast unbuilt interior which is mostly bare sand, lava and rock, we are a nation more earthbound than most. Or at least we should be and yet an impressive majority of Icelanders still believe in elves and trolls, symbolic creatures of our mother earth. With 320,000 people living in very close proximity to the powerhouse that is nature, we know not to fool around with a know-it-all attitude, which is exactly why we build our roads around rocks that rumor has it are inhabited by elves. You simply never know. Iceland is quite young in geological

terms and is still in formation with our newest piece of land being Surtsey, an island south of Vestmannaeyjar island that formed during an underwater volcanic eruption in 1963 and has been the subject of intense geological research ever since.

Air Ah yes, the wonderful clean air of Iceland. Since most of Iceland’s denser populated areas are by the coastline, Icelanders are used to the fresh and cool sea air. We are however, as previously stated, also used to the strong odor of sulfur from our natural hot water. It is a strange combination and one that goes rather well together. The air

The match of a lifetime

The ultimate match

– a carefree journey by Hjördís Erna Þorgeirsdóttir Photos: Courtesy of Gaman Ferðir

Whether it’s because of the excitement and competition or simply the aesthetic elements, football has a way of attracting passionate fans. From all ages and across the world millions of people share this enthusiasm. Most devoted football fans dream of the day of witnessing their favorite team in action. Travel agency Gaman Ferðir (Fun Tours) offers a variety of football trips designed to create unforgettable and carefree experiences.

“For many devoted fans, their exper­ ience almost transcends into a spiritual journey.”

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Good times

Big moments

Þór Bæring and Bragi Hinrik are the owners of Gaman Ferðir with a decade of experience in the travel business. The most popular trips are to premier league football matches, their area of expertise, and to concerts. Currently there are 211 football tours available and 6 concerts, including Fleetwood Mac. They also offer golf trips and city trips as well as special group trips. Then there are football trips to Barce­­ lona for teenagers where girls from 13-16 years old (and younger) compete in the Barcelona Girls Cup and 13-15 year old boys participate in the Barcelona Football Festival. In between games the kids can visit the beach and water parks. Then there are more specialized trips such as the Luxury Yoga Trip where customers enjoy the ultimate relaxation through meditation while enjoying both delicious and healthy food in beautiful surroundings. The customers of Gaman Ferðir have a va­riety of options when it comes to creating the journey of their desire.

Þór describes how many of his customers are people who are finally making a long cherished dream come true. It’s those people, eagerly waiting to see their favorite team or band, that Þór appreciates the most about his work. For many devoted fans, their experience almost transcends into a spiritual journey. Surrounded by other enthusiastic fans while rooting for your team (and cursing the other) is exciting beyond words. The sounds, ranging from jaunty cheers to anguished cries, add to the primeval lure of football matches. According to Þór there is rarely, if ever, a dull moment during the football trips (apart from when your team loses, obviously). He also mentions how many of his clients have been lucky enough to meet famous football players, adding “a little extra ecstasy” to their journey. Free from worries about practical matters such as getting tickets, clients are able to focus on what matters: having a ridiculously good time.

“Travel agency Gaman FerĂ°ir (Fun Tours) offers a variety of football trips designed to create unforgettable and carefree experiences.

The Vatnajökull Region

A place to

remember The Vatnajökull Region is in the southeast of Iceland and stret­c­hes along the south side of Vatnajökull, the largest glaci­er in the world outside the Arctic. There are a great vari­ety in activities, accommodation and restaurants in this area of beautiful and spectacular nature, traversing over 200 km of the Ring Road. Photos: Ragnar Th. Sigurðsson, Þorvarður Árnason, J.T. Gaskell and Páll Jökull

A photographers dream Driving through this enchanted area, the vastness of the glacier, with its various glaci­er outlets, makes a dramatic im­ pres­sion on the mind. The extensive views across the black sands of Skeiðar­ ár­­sandur towards Skaftafellsjökull glaci­er leave one in awe of the glacier’s sheer magnitude, relentless in its crushing effect upon the land beneath it. The beauti­­ful Svartifoss waterfall, one of the main attractions in the Vatnajökull Natio­ nal Park, is famous for its underlying black basalt hexagonal columns.

of Møre of Norway. The municipality Horna­fjörður and several nature sites are named after the settlement farm. Horn means the same thing in Icelandic as in English. The Horn area is below Vestra-Horn, a 454 meter high mountain and an inter­esting geological site composing of unstratified, plutonic rock, mostly gabbro but with some granophyres and stretc­ h­­ing out to sea, east of the mountain is a strange shaped outcrop called Brunnhorn. In the Second World War the Horn area became a base for the British army and later a NATO radar station was set up at Stokksnes, south of Horn. At Stokksnes, you can feel the power of the Atlantic Ocean as the waves hit the rocky shore with massive force. The tranquility there makes it one of the best in Vatnajökull Region for photographers.

Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon Jökulsárlón is one of Iceland’s most popu­lar sites and for a good reason. The large glaci­er lagoon is a unique phe­no­ menon with icebergs constantly breaking off from the glacier and eventu­ally drifting through the short river to the sea. The waves turn some of the icebergs back to the black sand beach where they lie scattered like gems. Jökulsárlón is extremely popular amongst photographers due to its spectacular scen­ery. Jökulsárlón was the setting for the Hollywood films, A View to a Kill, Die Another Day, Tomb Raider and Batman Begins - in addition to the reality-TV series, Amazing Race. There are hundreds of seals in the lagoon during winter and a large number of birds in the area.

Hidden gems - Stokksnes and Vestrahorn One of the first settlement farms in Ice­­ land was Horn, built by Hrollaugur Earl

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Hoffell area Hoffell area offers many possibilities for enjoying nature. The area gets its name from Hoffell glacier and the beautiful Hoffell glacier lagoon is well worth a visit. You can drive or hike north from Hoffell along the sands of Hoffell to get to the glacier lagoon. Along the way you will enjoy the magnificent scenery of mountain slopes that have been carved out by earlier glaciers. East of the glacier lagoon is Geitafell, a popular stop for hikers with tables and stools made of gabbro rock. From there you can choose from numerous hiking trails of the Geita­ fell mountain. After a good hike, a perfect way to relax is in the geothermal baths at Hoffell where you can enjoy the view over mountains, glacier and the sea, a perfect moment and location to capture on film. For more information please visit

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Expo exhibition room

Iceland 360° Cinema of nature

The Icelandic Expo pavilion has been reopened at Mið­­bakki in the Reykjavik harbor area and will be open daily from 10AM-10­PM. It is essentially a 360° film, projected onto walls and ceilings of a single room and thus encapsulat­­es the viewer in a single co­­herent visual continuum. It was originally created for the world‘s fair in Shanghai in 2010 and received much

acclaim at the Frankfurt Book Fair in 2011. The film which is 15 minutes long, attempts to capture Ice­­­land in all its spectacu­­ lar diversity, leaving an awe-inspired audience.


roduced by Sagafilm, the film is a product of new technology in filming, where five synched camer­ as recorded the country from the air, sea and land. The end product is an

impressive wonderworld that in its simplicity and subsequent impact makes you stop and enjoy the view to the exquisite music of Hilmar Örn Hilmarsson. This film project has enjoyed great success with more than 3 million view­­ers already and no wond­­er, this is a unique way to experience both the magnicifent nature and the quirky urban aspects of Iceland in one go.

“This film project has enjoyed great success with more than 3 million view­­ers alrea­dy and no wond­­er, this is a unique way to experience both the magnicifent nature and the quirky urban aspects of Iceland in one go.”

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Iceland Safari and Geysir Green Guesthouse

Perfectly located in the heart of the ”Golden Circle“ “Only 115 km from Reykjavik, Iceland Safari and Geysir Green Guesthouse are perfectly located for anyone wanting to explore the beautiful nature and rich history of South Iceland. They are a few minutes walk from Geysir, the famous hot spring in Haukadalur and only

few kilometers from the great waterfall, Gullfoss. The family owned guesthouse is an ideal starting point for excursions and hikes. With modern, recently renovated facilities the guesthouse is truly a home away from home. The guesthouse is just across from Iceland Safari, a

Super Jeep tour operator. South Iceland is unique and has an amazing display of natural wonders with each season offering something unique. South Iceland is the home of great glaciers, volcanoes, geothermal areas and fertile farmlands and a wide range of activities offered all year round on Iceland Safari’s Super Jeep tours. Iceland Safari´s Super Jeeps are tailor-made for off road tours and equipped with the best available safety gear. Their widely experienced drivers and local guides have wide “off road” experience with Super Jeeps. Iceland Safari offers you local guides who can lead you to the many natural phenomena while telling you stories about the Ice-

landic Sagas along the way. Iceland Safari offers a wide range of tours everyday from 3 hours up to full day tours. They can custom-make your tour where you can travel around Iceland in just days. Iceland Safari will take you to glaciers, volcanoes, great landscapes, and to see the northern lights in the wintertime. They can take you to geothermal nature pools, where you can enjoy the pleasure of bathing in a cozy natural setting onto a glacier where you can explore untouched nature. The tours Iceland Safari are offering will take you to the most attractive places such as Langjökull Glacier, Landmannalaugar, Thorsmörk, Eyjafjallajökull Glacier, Hveravellir and Hekla, to mention a few. Iceland Safari has private tours and tours for small and large groups. Wherever you are in the South of Iceland they offer a pick-up from hotels and airports. For further information please visit or, email:, or phone: +354-544-5454

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Person of WOW


than a meal!

The cafeteria, Sigrún’s workplace in the WOW air building is located in the basement, next to a pool table and a table soccer table, where a few young men are playing at what sounds like an exciting game. Her work area looks like a mix between a modern café and a kitchen in a stylish modern apartment. by Dísa Bjarnadóttir Photos: Hákon Davíð Björnsson


nstead of a few scattered tables, there is one long table decorated with brightly colored flower pots and candles. One wall is bright yellow and another one is a big chalk board with motivational writings on it. When I compliment the surroundings she says that one of the best things about coming into this job was getting the opportunity to design her ideal work environment. Sigrún says, to her the presentation can be as important as the food. That’s why she likes to light candles when she gets to work in the morning. She tells me that this isn’t called a cafeteria, it’s the Dining Room. Today for lunch she served tortillas with homemade guacamole. Sigrún also tells me that she puts great emphasis on buying as few prepared ingredients as possible and makes as much as she can from scratch. She also emphasizes fresh ingredients and knowing where they come from. For instance she gets “Happy Eggs” (organic - could be translated as Happiness Eggs. Icelandic: Hamingjuegg) delivered from the egg farmer himself, so she knows that the chickens they come from are really happy!

Working for WOW How did she come to work at WOW? “My son in-law told me that WOW was looking for a cook. I came in for an interview, looked around the kitchen, which was rather bare at the time and saw it as an exciting opportunity to be the first person to work here and design it to the way I like to cook.” To get started, she got a few of her favorite things, a blender

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to make fresh smoothies for the Monday breakfast meetings, a salad bar in which she serves sprouts, seeds and fresh greens and a Mandolin Slicer which she uses to make her delicious beet and apple salad. What is your favourite thing about working for WOW air? “I like to experiment and cook new things and see what kind of reaction I get from the staff. They’re a fun bunch and easy going and so far I think I’ve made them happy.” Sigrún mentions an idea that she’s had for the basement: a piano. “There is something so cozy about listening to a good

pianist play, and we already have a talented singer on staff. Maybe she could even join the pianist at times for a little duet.”

Favourite food “Wild, freshly caught salmon, trout or arctic char from the Icelandic rivers and wild birds such as blackbird and goose are some of my favorite things to cook. I also love cooking with fresh herbs and the locally grown Icelandic vegetables.” Sigrún says that she likes cooking with ingredients that are local, that haven’t travelled too far. She says she’s a fan of

“I also love cooking with fresh herbs and the locally grown Icelandic vegetables.” the Slow Food Movement. “After the financial crash in Iceland, Icelanders started thinking more about tending to their own garden so to speak, growing their own vegetables and making do with what they could from home,” says Sigrún. She tells me that she has tried most restaurants due to her interest in good food. What

has stood out to her recently is a rather new place downtown called Höfnin (The Harbor). “It’s right at Reykjavík harbor. They serve new and fresh dishes which I like, but I also like to sit there and watch the people go by. And while the food is exotic, there is something so genuinely Icelandic about the interior of the place.


here is also something very special about eating at Fjöruhúsið in Snæfells­ nes, both the food there is good and the environment absolutely stunning. Snæfellsnes is, of course one of the prettiest places in Iceland. The food becomes more fulfilling when you enjoy it in such beautiful surroundings. We don’t just eat to eat but to get satisfied. And when we eat somewhere that’s so beautiful it becomes so intensely satisfying.”

A Jacuzzi in the ocean Sigrún has many stories about favorite places in Iceland. Flatey happens to be one of them. Since it’s a small island where not too many people live she says, “and it’s extremely peaceful. You start feeling like

you don’t need your cell phone anymore, you become so content. When I get to Flatey I feel like an onion. My layers slowly start peeling away until I’m at my core, completely at peace.” She tells me about an unforgettable experience at Flatey. Her friend is a tour guide there and had told her about a secret spot out in the ocean where, during low tide a natural hot pool emerges in the ocean, in the midst of the rocks. This is called Drápssker. “It’s difficult to get to it and you probably can’t get to it without an experienced tour guide but it’s totally unforgettable to sit in a natural Jacuzzi in the middle of the ocean.”

Swimming and seaweed Sigrún says that one of her main hobbies is swimming and she swims one kilometer per day in her neighborhood pool in Garðabær. She says that when she travels around the country one of her favorite things is to try pools in different towns. She says Stykkishólmur has a fantastic

pool and so does Kirkjubæjarklaustur. She tells me that she’s even swum in the ocean one time when she was visiting Flatey with her daughter. They were staying in a camper that had no running water. It was hot and sunny so they decided to go for a dip in the ocean. Even though it was cold it was very refreshing.


t the end of our interview Sigrún wanted to offer a tip for both foreigners visiting Iceland as well as Icelanders. “Try a seaweed bath at Reykhólar. Seaweed cleanses the blood and sucks toxins out of the skin as well as giving the body the minerals that it needs. Their bath tubs are outside with a great view. Seaweed baths do wonders for the body.” We could continue to talk to Sigrún much longer. She’s just that type of person. The conversation flows so easily with her. We bet that’s just another thing that makes eating in her dining room that much more special.

This gem, situated in the heart of Reykjavík, offers a homey Mediterranean atmosphere along with great food from the freshest ingredients. The pizza oven at Caruso is legendary as well as the pizzas and everything from pasta to amazing steak and fish dishes are prepared with love and respect. Be sure to try the delicious homemade chocolate cake. Some say it’s the best in town. Caruso Þingholtsstræti 1 I 101 Reykjavík I Reservations: 562 7335 or email I Fax: 561 7334 Open: Mondays - Thursdays: 11:30-22:30 Fridays: 11:30-23:30 Saturdays: 12:00-23:30 Sundays: 17:00-22:00

ends On week played is c live musi ssic mous cla by our fa r Símon H e y la p guitar an creating Ívarsson le b a tt unforge . ambience

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Sigrún’s recipes! Oven baked salt fish with sweet potato mousse and tomato salad with rhubarb pie for desert!

The fish 600 gr. lightly salted cod (recipe for 4) 1½ dl good heat resistant oil 1 bundle of fresh basil, finely chopped 1 - 2 tablespoons dried oregano 4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped 1 dl black olives, sliced Put all of seasoning and oil in a pan and heat in oven at 170°C for 10 min. Stir the ingredients every now and then and after 10 min. add the fish. Turn the fish after 10 min. in the oven and bake for another 5 min.

The sweet potato mousse Bake 3-4 large sweet potatoes in an oven for ca. 40 min depending on the size. Peel

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the potatoes and put into a bowl with 3 tablespoons of Greek yoghurt and 3 tablespoons of fresh chopped parsley. Stir well with salt and pepper. This mousse is always a hit so make sure you make plenty!

The tomato salad 5-6 nice tomatoes, cut into thin slices 1 red onion, cut into thin slices ½ - 1 bundle of fresh basil, finely chopped 1 bag of fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced Mix it all together with a dash of olive oil and a little salt and good pepper

The rhubarb pie Batter ingredients: 200 gr. spelt wheat 150 gr. butter 1 egg yolk

1 tablespoon water Knead it together and spread it out in a lovely pie dish that you can serve it in later. Bake in oven for about 12 min. before putting 500 gr. of finely sliced rhubarb into the cake pan and top it with good cinnamon mixed with sugar (You can also dash a little port on it for an extra fancy touch.) Topping ingredients: 300 gr. marzipan 250 gr. raw sugar 1 egg white 1 dl single cream Mix it all together and use a piping bag to spread it over the rhubarb. Now bake the whole thing for about 15 min. at 180°C and serve with whipped cream or good ice cream.

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The OneMinutesJr.

What they want you to know,

in one unforgettable minute If you were 12 years old, living in extreme poverty and had to fight daily for your basic human rights, what would you say to the world if they were listening? And how would you say it? UNICEF brings you The One­Min­u­tesJr. project to find out. by Guðrún Baldvina Sævarsdóttir Photos: Courtesy of UNICEF and One Minutes Foundation


t‘s called The OneMinutesJr. and is an international, arts-based initiative run in partnership between UNICEF and the One Min­ utes Foundation. Much like its parent-project The One Minutes, The One­MinutesJr. focuses on making concise videos that last exactly one minute and give a clear message through coherent images. The limited time frame means that the maker is forced to be very critical in his or her choices on material as well as in the cutting room. The OneMinutesJr. project focuses specifically on underprivileged children all over the world that are offered a chance to express themselves about their situation in this unique and moving way. The results are both beautiful and stunning and stay with the viewer for a long time - An inte­

Despite or perhaps because of the short length, each video manages to capture these childr­en‘s daily challenges in a visually moving way. They reveal a personal message which is often a tragic description of these children‘s daily lives yet at the same time a clear sense of self, pride and joy shines through their voices and faces. The videos are their own as they choose the subject matter and specific focus themselves and they manage to do so in a way that leaves their world in your mind for a long time. A video by 14 year old Mihai Ecaterina titled “Frames of Poverty” has Mihai show the viewer ex­actly what poverty looks like in his native Bucharest, Romania. Mihai guides the camera through his neighborhood which is littered with garbage, in between run-down buildings,

presence on the screen. ”We hold workshops for childr­ en aged 12-18 with different backgrounds and different cult­ ural surroundings obviously, and we have a theme for each one such as foster homes, children‘s rights or whatever applies. I‘ve worked with disabled children, children living on the streets and orphans, and in India I work­ed with teenage girls that were shunned by their family for choosing education over marr­iage. In the end they are able to voice their own concerns about what their environment is lacking in regard to equal opportunities and even basic human rights.“

A good example is a video made by 13 year old Olga Gurova, during one of OneMinutesJr. workshops in Krygystan. The workshop took place in an orp­ hanage and the children had to wear their best clothing for the event. They were however forbidden to show anyone their toilet facilities. It was an abandoned house with no roof in the middle of a field. The video they made shows the children runn­ ing around in their best shiny shoes, sneaking the cameras into the toilets whilst trying to avoid stepping into the feces that lined the floor. The video created a big reaction and subsequently new toilets were set up in the orphanage. It is a good example of the power of these videos and a good reminder of how important it is that we all have a voice. And what better way than a short video that reac­­ hes people all over the world, bringing a clear message that is hard to ignore. We highly recommend spending a few minutes or even just one to take a look at the many videos available on

Arnar, Chris Schuepp (youth media coordinator at UNICEF) with Anatol and Andrei in Moldova.

Mihai in Bucharest, Romania

resting effect for such a short video message. Arnar Ásgeirsson is an Iceland­ ic visual and video artist and has been part of the project for 3 years as a workshop instructor. He travels the world to meet these children and help them create the message they choose concerning their situation in life. ”I‘ve been sent to Haiti, India, Moldova, Romania and Montenegro to teach children how to express themselves through video. The idea behind the pro­ject is to give these children a place in the limelight, if you will, bringing attention to their situ­ation and the injustice they face daily.“

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“A video by 14 year old Mihai Ecaterina titled “Frames of Poverty” has Mihai show the viewer ex­actly what poverty looks like in his native Bucharest, Romania. holding a picture frame to liter­ ally frame what he thinks are the highlights. Mihai reveals a visually stunning message of what living in poverty looks like through his direct and focused

Arnar, Natacha Ikoli (youth media coordinator at UNICEF) in Haiti.

From a workshop in Romania. From a workshop in Moldova.

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Better Travel and WOW air

Golfing around Europe by Jón Kristinn Snæhólm Photos: Courtesy of Betri ferðir


or the past twenty years golf has grown tremendously in Iceland bringing the game, next to none as its fastest growing entertainment industry. Who doesn’t want to play golf in the midnight sun in Iceland, enjoying the stillness and specta­cular Icelandic nature? But to many Icelandic golf­ers, especially in the 50+ age group, the game has become a lifestyle, and considering the nine rather cold months and long dark winter, golfing in Iceland is simply not enough. For those 4000 to 5000 Icelandic golf enthusi­asts who seek to play more, Icelandic travel agency Better Travel (Betri ferðir) and WOW air have joined hands in offering exclusive golf tours in London, Paris and Alicante. Björn Eysteinsson, managing director of Better Travel and his partner Jón Karlsson, one of Ice­­land´s leading golf teachers, offer a variety of exclusive golf tours to these cities providing both personal and custom-made arrangements for individuals and groups. “In this industry it’s personal

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trust and experience that counts” says Björn Eysteinsson. “To be able to offer the best value for the golfer’s money you have to be a golfer yourself, know the golf courses, the manag­ers, the staff and the hotel management. Golfers can be picky, and what some golfers want and ask for, others just hate and won’t stand for. This is a delicate business so we try to be as personal and focused on individual needs as possible, with the requisite flexibility for groups. The golf season closes at the end of October in Alicante but we offer year round golf trips to London and Paris. In our London and Paris package we limit the number of golfers from four to sixteen pr. group, but in our package to Alicante we also organize tours for larger groups aimed at companies, golf clubs and events which have golf included in their program.” “In Paris we offer the excellent facilities of the famous Dole Chantilly Hotel and Golf Resort. The club is based in the beauti­ful countryside of Chantilly, north of Paris and only 25 minutes from

Charles de Gaulle International Airport. The Hotel Dolce Chantilly is renowned for its elegance concerning their services and dining options. Its Restaurant Camontelle gained the Michelin status in 2004.”

“In London, we pride ourselves on our good contacts and the variety of golf courses we offer. Among those are the Colson Manor Hotel and Golf Club just 20 minutes from Gatwick International Airport built by Harry S. Colt, Selsdon Park Hotel and Golf Club, located south of Croydon in a typical Surrey landscape, Lingfield Park Marriott Hotel and Country Club just 15 minutes from Gatwick, and Dale

Hill Hotel and Golf Club, south of London and National East Sussex, one of the better known golf courses in England. Two others that we at Better Travel can arrange and are popular among our travelers are Hanburry Manor and Manor of Groves, both north of London.” “Alicante is becoming more and more a destination of choice among Icelandic golfers because of the region’s wide variety of golf courses and other tourist activities. Also a grow­­ ing Icelandic settlement has been forming in the region so many golfers prefer Alicante because they know somebody there or they get a good deal concerning lodging during the autumn. The primary foci of our Alicante golf packages are the Hotel Denia Marriott, La Sella, and Golf resort, considered one of the pearls in the Costa Blanca region, La Manga Golf Resort, south of Murcia on the Mar Menor Beach and Oliva Nova Golf Resort near the famous city of Valencia.” All offers are in line with Better Travel’s motto: “Excellent service for excellent prices” For further information go to:

WOW destinations

Where to next? Get out of town! There’s more to these destinations than buzzing metropolitan life. We picked a few of our favorite towns in the vicinity of our favorite cities. By: Guðrún Baldvina Sævarsdóttir Photos:

Cadaqués to be an inspiratio­ nal haven is long. It includes names like Picasso, Miró, Marcel Duchamp and Dieter Roth. Why not drive up there and see what lured these great talents to this small coastal village in Spain? WOW air flights to Barcelona are available through September on Mondays and Fridays.

the many beautiful churches and the town’s synagogue on your wanderings through this quintessential visit to the Polish countryside. WOW air will take you to Warsaw Chopin Airport on Mondays and Fridays throughout the summer and once a week from the fall.

beautifully preserved medieval village that’s often used for period films set in the Middle Ages. Time your drive so that you’re there in the evening, completing the experience with a torch-lit dinner at dusk. Drive back west for 35 minut­ es, return the car and continue to enjoy the wonderful city that is Lyon there waiting for you. We think we’re very clever, don’t you? WOW that you’ll go to Lyon! Just pick any Saturday this August.

Barcelona Barcelona is a wonderful city with an abundance of wonderful attractions. One thing Barcelona is not though, is a small town. For those dying for a taste of that quaint Spanish village at­­mosphere, try a day trip to Sitges. Described as the Saint Tropez of Spain, real estate prices in Sitges are borderline astronomical, mainly due to the wonderful location (proximity to ocean, mountain ranges and international airport) but also due to the buzzing cultural life and its popularity among expats. Should you want something even smaller yet highly culturally relevant we highly recommend the small town of Cadaqués, approx. 2 hours drive north of Barcelona. This picturesque village was a second home to artist Salvador Dalí during his childhood and the list of other notable artists who have found

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Lyon Warsaw You’ll find the wonderful small town of Kazimierz Dolny a mere 2 hours away from Warsaw. With its tiny population of 3,500 it poses as a desirable tourist location due to its beautiful lo­­cation on the banks of the river Vistula and its unique and charm­­ing atmosphere. Every summer, holiday-goers make their way to Kazimierz Dolny to enjoy the scenery, the architecture and the laid-back summer culture. The renaissance era remains in this town, making it a lovely location for some visual time travelling. Like so many populated areas in Poland, it fell victim to the Holocaust, evident in the art of its most famous resident, Chaim Goldberg as well as a memorial wall commemorating the fate of the town’s entire Jewish population. Don’t miss

We are Lyon’s biggest fans and we don’t want you to wand­er too far away so when the French countryside beckons, rent a car in Lyon and follow these instructions for the perfect day-trip. Drive south to the town of Saint-Savin-sur Gartempe in Vienne (30 min.) for a visit to the town’s famous Romanesque Abbey church, a UNESCO world heritage site with its ancient, beautiful murals. Drive east to the town of Crémieu (45 min.) and enjoy the tangible history that goes back to the 12th century. You can’t miss the wonderful setting and beautiful view that has long attracted landscape painters, tourists and those who enjoy picturesque villages from a different time. Drive north to the town of Pérou­ges (30 min.), another

Copenhagen A 20 minute drive north of Cope­n­ hagen and you’ll find the town of Skovshoved, not like­ly to turn up in your average guidebook but definitely worth the stop due to its perfect place­­ment on your way north and its proximity to the world’s oldest running amusement park, Dyre­havs­bakken! For those not in the mood to be amused, be impressed by world renowned architect Arne Jacobsen’s buildings, spread all over the area. Even Skovshoved’s filling station (still operating) is designed by Arne Jacobsen who used to live in the area.

A further 30 minutes north and you’ll arrive at town Helsingør or like Shakespeare liked to call it, Elsinore. If this is all ring­­ing vague bells it’s probably be­­cause Helsingør is home to Kron­­­borg castle where Shakespeare’s play Hamlet is set. After absor­­bing all the drama leftover from Hamlet’s castle, be sure to visit modernity at The Culture Yard, a state of the art, new cultural center which as of this summer is housing the Danish Maritime Museum. Prize winning architecture meets preserved history in this unique setting by the Øresund Strait that separates Denmark and Sweden. A 15 minute ferry ride will take you to the Swedish town of Helsingborg on the other side, not to be confused with the Danish town Helsingør that you just came from. Confused? So are we. Because Icelanders love everything Danish, WOW air offers flights to Copenhagen almost daily all year round.

Vilnius Half an hour from Lithuania’s capi­­­tal you’ll find the town Trakai that dates back to 1337 and is part of Trakai Historical National Park (Europe’s only historical national park), created to pre­­serve the unique area of and around the village. Surrounded by lakes and forests Trakai is a fairytale of a place, complete with a medieval castle on an island in a lake. Depending on the vibrancy of your imagination, seeing a dragon fly past is quite likely when you cross the bridge to the beautifully preserved castle. Built and inhabited by people of different nationalities and religions, the town’s history is quite unique so be sure to visit the museum for a lesson on Lithuania. Small towns don’t get much smaller than Dubingiai with its population of 260 (unless you’re in Iceland). Despite its tiny size, Dubingiai is a popular tourist destination, mainly due to its proxi­­­mity to Lake Asveja. Rent a boat or kayak and travel down the river that flows from the lake for an outdoor excursion in the Lithuanian countryside. For a more relaxed outdoor

ex­­perience, visit the peninsula (previously an island) to see the ruins of Dubingiai, a castle constructed 600 years ago for Lithuanian royalty and pay your respects to their remains found during an excavation project at the church’s ruins in 2004. Hist­ ory buffs will have their hands full roaming the area around Vilnius! WOW air flights to Vilnius are available every week in August.

Alicante After soaking in the wonderful attractions of Alicante, you might want to have a taste of small town living in which case Moraira is your perfect choice. Situated halfway between Alicante and Valencia, the village is surrounded by mountains and vineyards on one side and the Mediterranean Sea on the other. The population triples during the summer as people make their way to this fishing village, famous for its Muscat grapes, seaside location and fishermen. What’s better than an old fashioned Spanish fish­­ing village, complete with fresh fish, wonderful white wine and a beach to enjoy it all in? Don’t miss the highly popu­­lar fishing market or the oppor­­tunity to go snorkeling or even scuba diving in the Medi­­terranean. Pack your sunscreen and your fishing rod. WOW air is taking you to Alicante until the end of October.

Zürich Just 30 km from Zürich you’ll find the city of Winterthur, known for its many prominent museums and a renowned chamber orchestra. Winterthur offers a

brilliant mixture of new and old, the best of both worlds as you traverse through the historical old town mixed with high-tech and modern buildings. Don’t miss the Technorama Museum for a Swiss lesson in science or the two art museums made up of Oskar Reinhart’s collection which includes an impressive line-up of names such as Casp­ar David Friedrich, Renoir, Manet and Cézanne. If you fancy something smaller, we highly recommend the town of Rapperswil, also just 30 minutes away from Zürich. We admit that we just really love the odd name but as far as we know there are no rappers residing in this tiny, medieval looking village, but you never know. All joking aside, the place is a perfect destination for that “small Swiss town loving tourist” as it looks more like a picture postcard than an actual place. Take a WOW-plane to Zürich. Flights available every Saturday through August.

Berlin This cultural boiling pot of Euro­ pe can get a little overwhelming at times and should you get hit with a sudden need to escape we highly recommend a day trip to the city of Potsdam. Just an hour by train, this city has just the right remedy, namely Sanssouci Park. The palace and surrounding gardens were built for King Frederick the Great and to give you a little feel of what it’s all about, “sans souci” is a French term that roughly translates as “without care” meant for relaxation of stressed out kings. Frederick really nail­­ed it because these restful gard­­ens are among the most impressive we’ve ever seen and we’re really into gardens. If the carefree gardens of Frederick the Great don’t do the trick, stop at Pfaueninsel (Peacock Island) on your way back to Berlin to try the relaxing remedies of his successor, Frederick Wilhelm II. The relatively small island is only accessible by ferry (takes approxi­­mately 2 minutes) and is as close to paradise as you can get this close to a busy city. With its peacocks, forest trails and white palace, it’s a fairytale

location where people “all live happily ever after”. Roll with the kings and chill out near Berlin. WOW-flights to Berlin are available three times a week, all year round. There are no excuses!

Stuttgart Like most of Germany’s cities, Stuttgart was badly damaged during WWII and like most other German cities, Stuttgart has recovered in style, hence the rather modern appearance of this buzzing economic city. For those in need of a little peaceful “Ausflug” (German for mini-break), no worries, Stuttgart is a gateway to the beauti­ ful south German countryside which offers some of that tranquil atmosphere that big, happening cities simply don’t offer. For the perfect day­trip, we recommend the town of Tübingen, known for its old and renowned university and its picturesque setting. Tübingen offers an intact historical “Altstadt” (old town) since it wasn’t considered a desirable target during the war due to its lack of industry. The Neckar River flows right through the town and a stroll along the banks of the Neckar feels like a stroll in a German fairytale. Don’t miss the Hölderlinturm where poet Friedrich Hölderlin once lived, the castle Schloss Hohentübingen, or the sign on a wall in the city center that sarcastically commemor­ates Goethe’s two week visit to his publisher and reads “Hier kotzte Goethe” (Goethe puked here). If you make it to Tübing­ en, be sure to visit Bebenhausen, a village situated in a beautiful wooded valley in walking distance of Tübingen. A visit to Bebenhausen Abbey is well worth the walk or short bus ride and the atmosphere is one of stoic contemplation and silence in this almost 900 year old abbey. Now just pick a date before the end of August.

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WOW destinations

Paris The small towns of France, espec­ially those in the vicinity of Paris have often played host to some of the world’s most famous artists. Giverny is no exception. A visit to the area offers endless awe inspiring scenery that you’ll find in many of Claude Monet’s famous paintings, who lived and died in Giverny. After visiting his home and the garden he nurtured and painted for a lifetime you can pay your respects at his grave in the town cemetery. Vincent van Gogh fans might be more interested in the town of Auvers sur Oise where this famous painter lived out his last days in the care of Dr. Paul Gachet, the subject of one of his last paintings. Experience the landscape made famous by his paintings as well as the historical setting of the painter’s infamous death and his grave if you want to pay your respects. In case you’ve had your fill of deceased painters and their tragic lives, Senlis might be a better choice for a mini-break away from the city. Senlis offers a rare medieval setting with its fam­ous gothic cathedral and ancient abbey that preserve a millennium of religious history in their unique architecture. Paris is just a few clicks away. WOW air is now flying to Paris all year round, five flights a week until the end of August and three flights a week starting this fall.

Amsterdam Holland is famous for its tiny size so daytrips throughout the country are an easy breeze. A mere hour away, the city of Delft is like a miniature version of Amsterdam with its many canals

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and beautiful little bridges. But what Delft has that Amsterdam doesn’t is that medieval feeling in a much smaller city and all the historical Johannes Vermeer you can muster. Fans of the bel­­oved painter can spend days roaming the sites of his life since the painter lived out his entire lifetime here and a visit to the Vermeer information center will be a good starting point. The city center also offers rows of monumental buildings and two historical medieval churches that are sure to impress. Don’t miss the Renaissance style City Hall or Prinsenhof Museum (old urban palace of the Dutch royal family). On the darker side, Delft was the site of a massive explosion in 1654 known as the Delft Thunderclap that destroyed much of the city, killed over a hundred and wounded thousands. On the brighter side, visit the vast and beautiful green areas and forests close by for a nice bike tour or simply a picnic. And don’t forget your wooden clogs and your pearl earring. Book flights to Amsterdam until the end of August or start planning your 2014 summer vacation.

Düsseldorf 90 minutes south of Düsseldorf you’ll find the quaint old town of Limburg or Limburg an der Lahn as the Germans call it. Limburg is home to the Limburger Dom, a cathedral from the Romanesque period and one of the best preserved examples of Romanesque architecture. If the cathedral makes you lust for more impressive historical architecture, check out Limburger Schloss for a genuine fairytale castle experience and the medieval city wall and its towers. And since you’re already there, exploring the river Lahn and its valley is a feast for the senses since the area is not just extraordi­ narily picturesque but also famous for its high quality agriculture. 30 minutes from Limburg you’ll arrive at Bad Ems, the beautiful former summer residence of characters like Richard Wagner, German Emperor Wilhelm I and Fyodor Dostoevsky. In Bad Ems we’re all emperors, composers or

Russian authors so bring your huge egos and your drama for a cleansing experience in this famous bathing resort on the River Lahn. Let yourself be WOW-ed over there, 3 flights a week availa­ ble until the end of August.

Milan Milan is home to the highest possi­ble form of culture, where you’ll roam streets lined with historical architectural wonders while you window-shop the most expensive fashion couture in the world before gazing at Leonardo da Vinci’s Last Supper. Lining the city like a crown are also numerous lakes, world famous for their wonderful villages and mountain range setting. You will have heard of them all before and for good reason (they are popular celebrity tourist destinations). Lake Como, Lake Garda, Lake Maggiore and all the other lakes have an abundance of small villages and towns that cater to tourists in a huge variety of ways. The lakes themselves offer an abundance of entertainment but the hiking trails and quaint Italian villages should not be missed. Rent a convertible, buy designer sunglasses and a silk scarf, eat lasagna, hang out on a yacht in a lake and love life. Let WOW air, lift you up where you belong, pronto. Flights available on Tuesdays and Saturdays, through August.

London A local government survey in 2012 revealed that residents of Richmond were the happiest Brits in the UK; happiest about their hometown at least. And, no wonder, David Attenborough, Mick Jagger, Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt all own homes there (along with countless other cele­ brities). Aside from the endless star gazing, Richmond offers an abundance of botanical gard­­ ens, green open spaces and

bo­asts some of the cleanest streets in the UK, both literally and figuratively speaking since the streets are swept many tim­ es a day and Richmond upon Thames has an incredibly low crime-rate. The combination of pa­laces, greenery, cobblestone bridges and the River Thames, not to mention the mere 30 minu­te drive from London mak­ es Richmond the perfect minibreak destination. Whatever you 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.

Salzburg Dreaming spires, green hills and romantic gardens – Salzburg’s attractions are loved by millions of visitors from all over the World making it one of Europe’s busiest cities all year round. But this home of Mozart and his chocolate (the famous nougat-marzipan-chocolates – ‘Mozartkugeln’ originate from Salzburg) is also the gateway to some of Austria’s best ski resorts making it a brilliant destination for the passionate ski lot. After strolling through the picturesque old town of Salzburg (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) and enjoying the wonderful high culture (powdered wigs, churches and castles) what better than taking a break to enjoy the great slopes of Austria in their beautiful mountain range surroundings. We highly recommend Saalbach-Hinterglemm, two small towns less than 100 km from Salzburg where you can find slopes and facilities to suit the entire family and there’s always enough snow with their excellent snow record. Wax your snowboard, pack your gloves and start planning your winter vacation – WOW is flying to Salzburg once a week this winter from December through February.


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Thingvellir Thingvellir UNESCO UNESCO site site -- Gullfoss Gullfoss waterfall waterfall -- Langjokull Langjokull Glacier Glacier Famous Famous erupting erupting Geysir Geysir -- Kerid Kerid volcanic volcanic crater crater Multiple Multiple secret secret stops stops





Urridafoss Urridafoss waterfall waterfall -- Seljarlandsfoss Seljarlandsfoss waterfall waterfall -- Skogarfoss Skogarfoss waterfall waterfall Solheimajokull Solheimajokull glacier glacier -- Myrdalsjokull Myrdalsjokull glacier glacier -- Vik Vik íí Myrdal Myrdal town town Dyrholey Dyrholey -- Reynisdrangar Reynisdrangar -- Black Black sandy sandy beaches beaches



Urridafoss Urridafoss waterfall waterfall -- Eyjafjallajokull Eyjafjallajokull volcano volcano -- Hiking Hiking in in Thorsmork Thorsmork Gigsjokull Gigsjokull glacier glacier -- Seljarlandsfoss Seljarlandsfoss waterfall waterfall -- Thorsmork Thorsmork Offroad Offroad river river crossings crossings

“One “One of of our our best best experiences experiences in in Iceland” Iceland”


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Small towns around Alicante

A true taste of fun,

culture and Iberian tradition

The region of Alicante has more than three thousand years of history behind it and no better way to explore and breathe its history than visit its vast array of cities and small towns. They all have their unique identities and history, giving you different tastes of Ali­cante‘s rich Iberian culture. By Jón Kristinn Snæhólm Photos:

Albatera Albatera is a typical Spanish town where history has left its distinctive mark. The historical significance of Albatera is the ingenious Roman construction of the intricate system of canals and channels, many of which are still in use today. Albatera in only a 30 minute drive from one of the finest beaches in Costa Blanca and just a 15 minute drive from the town takes you to the most impressive golf and country club of Albatera. The town has all the amenities you would expect. A fantastic family friendly park is in the center of town surrounded by many bars, rest­­aurants and shops that offer you the very best of Catalan cuisine.

Almoradi Almoradi is best known for its thriving and lively Saturday mark­­et held at the town‘s main

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square where people meet to relax, buy foods from the local farmers and frequent the many bars and restaurants in the center. But Almoradi is best known for two things i.e. its great tradition of furniture design and trade and its relatively new architecture compared with other surrounding towns due to its near total destruction in a deva­stating earthquake in 1829. Still surviving is some great architecture, such as the fantastic casino and theater, still in use today for concerts and other performances.

Cabo Roig Cabo Roig is often referred to as “The Jewel of Costa Blanca”. The “Jewel” is one of the small­­est towns on the Alicante coastline, famous for its sandy beaches, crystal clear waters and variety of exciting water sports. The focal point of the town‘s coastline is the 16th century watch­­tower

which has recently been rejuvenated and extended to a modern restaurant complex. The coastline, known as the Aquamar­ina strip is a great place for those who enjoy international cuisine and a robust and colorful nightlife. Due to its wonderful climate Cabo Roig is a popular tourist destination all year around.

Cocentaina Cocentaina is a medieval town with many examples of Moor­ish, Gothic and Christian architecture. The Comtat Palace presenting a mix of gothic and renaissance styles is a total must for those interested in archi­­ tect­ur­al history. The fabulous Catho­lic Church “La Asuncion” is the main tourist attraction and a reoc­curring architectural theme throughout the entire town. During the pre and post Francon­ian period where towns and regions in Spain, specialized

in certain agricultural products or industrial materials, Cocen-

flooded salt flats, a bird sanctuary for migratory birds, its Gothic Catholic church and the tower of La Peca, dating from the 18th century. But beaches are Calpe‘s main attraction because the town is blessed with fantastic beaches, from extensive, fine golden sandy ones to almost hidden pebble bays. There are also a wide variety of restaurants and places to eat in town.


taina became known internationally for its beautiful textile industry. Two special events renowned in the region are the Moors Christian and All Saints Festivals held each year.

Calpe Calpe (also known as the Rock of Gibraltar or Mons Calpe) is a coastal town situated in the territorial subdivision of Marina Alta, in the province of Alicante,

located 67 km from the city of Alicante and lying at the foot of Penyal d´lfac, a large rock which extends straight out into the sea. The economy of Calpe is mainly based on tourism and fishing. Calpe and its surrounding areas offer no shortage of things to see and do, from the historical and cultural highlights such as the ruins of Banos de la Reina (English: The Queen’s Baths), the museum of archeology, the

Dénia is a small tourist village in the province of Alicante halfway between Alicante and Valencia. One of the main attractions are the beaches. It has around 20 km of coast divided in three parts; one sandy, one rocky and the harbor. Dénia has a very long history coming even before the Romans, passing through the period of the Moors and up until the present. There are many ruins from those earlier tim­es to be found in the city; a castle from the 11th and 12th century still in pretty good condition and some old windmills. In the ethnological museum one can find a great deal of information concerning the ancient and

most recent history, when Dénia was a big raisin exporter and had a big toy industry.

Elche Around 23 km inland from Ali­­ cante lays Elche, the capital of the El Baix district in the Alicante province. The economy of this small village is based, in a large part, on the footwear industry, with over 1000 shoe factories, making it one of the most im­­ portant footwear centers in Spain and the rest of Europe. In the historical area of Elche, there are lots of monuments and build­­ings to see. The Altamira Castle (Lord‘s Castle) dating from the 12th – 13th century is located next to the municipal park . Then there’s the temple

“There are many ruins from those earlier tim­es to be found in the city; a castle from the 11th and 12th century still in pretty good condition and some old wind­ mills.” Issue four

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Small towns around Alicante

“Dénia is a small tourist village in the province of Alicante halfway between Alicante and Valencia. One of the main attract­ ions are the beaches. It has around 20 km of coast divided in three parts; one sandy, one rocky and the harbor.”

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The Huerto del Cura is literally full of palm trees, and a wonderful place to enjoy both sun and shade. Basilica of Santa Maria built around 1673 and the Tower of the Basilica that enabled Elche to become known as a city in 1872. The tower of Calaforra is a 12th century tower built by the Arabs. The village is known worldwide for its palm trees and the municipal park, the Huerto del Cura is literally full of palm trees, and a wonderful place to enjoy both sun and shade. The Dama de Elche (Lady of Elche) is a stone bust discovered in 1897 and is believed to date from the 4th century BC. Elche has around 9 km of shoreline with white and sandy beaches, and is known for its prestigious gastronomy.

Villamartin Villamartin is situated on the Costa Blanca in the municipality of Orihuela and the province of Alicante and is about one hour’s drive south of the Alicante Air­port. The main inhabitants

are from Western Europe and mostly English speaking. The Villamartin area is a party to a lot of tourism mainly because of the numerous family-friendly attract­ ions from golf to water sports and go-cart tracks. The major attraction, outside of golf, is the fabulous climate as well as the number of large sandy beaches. The resort offers two championship 18 hole golf courses; Campo de Golf Villamartin, which is a prestigious development and lies to the south of Alicante within an hour‘s drive from Alicante, and Campo de Golf Las Ramblas, both providing a good and enjoyable challenge for golfers of all levels. There

are also a number of champion­ ship golf courses in the near surrounding area. At the heart of Villamartin is a central square, the Villamartin Plaza, with lots of palm trees, which are the home to quite a few African Ring Neck parrots; the plaza boasting a bank, supermarket, and a vari­ety of shops, cafés, bars, and rest­ aurants.

Villena Villena is a monumental city lo­cated at the northwestern part of Alicante. This historical city and its surroundings contain an important group of historical re­mains including castles, one of them being the medieval castle

of the Marquéses de Villena, and several churches, such as the Gothic churches of Santiago from the 15th century and Santa Maria from the 16th century, as well as a number of museums, the most popular one being the Municipal Museum of Archaeology. The city‘s industries produce wine, soap, salt, furniture, pott­ ery and shoes. In the outskirts of Villena, the Gothic sanctuary of Nuestra Senora de Virtudes and the nature park Las Salinas, provide a perfect natural setting for your enjoyment.

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City Car Rental

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

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

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

Group travel to Alicante

Get together

– travel together!

Alicante is one of WOW air‘s sunnier destinations, with endless beaches, happy faces and WOW-mazing castles and ruins. Situated in southeast Spain the temperature varies from 16° during the wintertime up to 32°C during the high summer. A great destination for families or groups, Alicante has something for every age and interest. by Lilja Björk Haraldsdóttir Photos: Courtesy of Nói Siríus and Lilja Hilmarsdóttir


ravelling in a group is a great way to explore new destinations and enjoy the company of others at the same time. WOW air offers groups customized trips where everything is done to fulfill all your requests and give you a truly WOW experience.

A group in good hands I sat down with WOW air’s group travel coordinator Lilja Hilmarsdóttir as she told me about her work, how fun it can be to travel in a group and gave me some information about beautiful Alicante! And WOW did I meet the right woman! With over 20 years in the business she is full of wisdom and experience about

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travelling around the world. Given the nickname “The Queen of Berlin” since from the beginning of her career she is best known for her guided trips to Germany’s cultural capital. Lilja also boasts of invaluable experience in many other places around the world. Having travelled often with groups to locations like Berlin, Cuba, Thailand, Paris, Alicante, Barcelona and London she’s gathered a lot of experience in travelling internationally and because of this she became a part of the president of Iceland’s entourage on his trip to India. With Lilja in charge of organizing and producing the trips, making sure that everything is done to meet customers’ requests and following the

groups from A – Z, groups can expect a smooth and satisfying experience.

Sun, fun and sights Alicante is one of WOW air’s most popular destinations with bustling cultural life, music events, museums, Michelin restau­­rants, cute little alleyways, color­­ful houses, historical architect­ure and ruins in the older part of town and last but not least a 400 m long beach. WOW air can organize cultural events like opera nights, theater shows, gala-dinners, sightseeing trips and other activities for groups connected to their interests.

A must see is the old castle, Castillo de Santa Barbara where the view is amazing and you can visit a number of churches, gardens and museums. Lilja specifically mentions how much fun it is to stroll through the

older part of town, imagining the life and atmosphere in the days gone by and exploring the historical houses and narrow alleys.

Daytrips One of the best things about staying in Alicante is the location which gives endless possibilities of sightseeing and day trips. And why not take a day exploring Guadalest, a town renowned for its beauty or Altea, a small artist town? Lilja highly recommends groups to go on a day tour to Valencia, Spain’s 3rd largest city, known for its many marketplaces, good shopping and beautiful scenery. Another one of Lilja´s recommendations is the town of Granada, about a 3 hour drive from Alicante through breathtaking scenery. It is an amazing experience. What you don’t see with your eyes you see with your heart Lilja says passionately. With great delight she’ll organize trips for groups to this beautiful town. It’s safe to say that a group trip to Alicante with WOW air will in­­spire anyone seeking sun, fun, a bustling cultural life, cheerful people, beautiful surroundings and amazing sights!

“WOW offers groups customized trips where everything is done to fulfill all your requests and give you a truly WOW experience.”

At your service- Anywhere- Anytime

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

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

ALICANTE: Mediterranean Gastronomy

Michelin restaurants

in Alicante by Lluis Ruiz Soler, gastronomic journalist Photos: Courtesy of Grupo Gourmet Alicante

Alicante is the capital of the province of Alicante and the center of both the finest Mediterranean seafood and a pro­­­found and diverse tradition of rice going far beyond the stereo­­typical paella. There are restaurants classic and modern, traditi­­ onal and contemporary, of all trends and styles. Lots of contenders All the key ingredients of Mediterranean cuisine flow together in Alicante stemming from a remote Roman past with deep Arabic footprints to a present inspired by contemporary and universal tastes. Alicante is a province with incredible diversity of landscapes and ecosystems that rises to the summit of Aitana, 1600m above sea level, down to numerous beaches and bays, picturesque villages to cosmopolitan towns, industrial and service sectors and to fishing and agriculture with bountiful citrus orchards and dry

farming areas with olives and almonds. This fertile environment nurtur­es an astonishingly abundant source of culinary delights, responsive to the latest trends and going to the extreme vanguard. This is embodied by Quique Dacosta’s Restaurant in Denia in the north of the province; with three Michelin stars and number 28 in the Worlds 50 best restaurants, with its rich traditional cuisine made with local products, fished off the coasts of Denia, Vilajoyosa and Santa Pola; in particular the celebrated ‘gamba roja’ (red shrimp). Add to this the fresh medlars (fruits)

from Callosa de’n Sarrià, mountain cherries, artichokes and the garden produce from Vega Baja de Segura, sausages from Pinoso and other villages.

THE STAR ATTRACTION – Rice The turron (nougat) and ice creams of Jijona, the salted fish with deep Roman roots, the extra virgin olive oils and wines of Denominacíon de Origen de

Taberna del Gourmet.

Barra Monastrell.

Monastrell Restaurant.

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Restaurante Monastrell.

Maria Jose San Roman with her daughter.

Alicante, in particular the magni­ ficent reds create an unequalled epicurean festival, sealed with dedication to the first order of hospitality and restaurant ser­­ vice, the hallmark of Alicante. The province of Alicante is located in the southern part of the autonomous community of Valencia. The Valencian Community is known for its many rice dishes, the principal ingredient of Alicante’s cuisine. From this

‘A banda’ rice with snails.

ALICANTE: Mediterranean Gastronomy The restaurant is carefree and trendy, with an animated bar where tapas are the stars, and various dining areas where the cuisine, traditional and succulent, include a variety of rice styles and always all the finest products. A few meters away, you can enjoy the same cuisine at La Terraza del Gourmet, an enchanting space in the open air on La Explanada del España, the most favored promenade in the city. Maria Jose San Roman.

comes a unique diversity of rice based recipes: dry, runny, sweet, paella and baked in the oven with fish, meats, vegetables and nearly every imaginable ingredient. Arroz a banda, being the most representative.


licante is where this gas­tronomic heritage all flows together with two great specialists in rice, in tra­­­ditional cuisine and in the Spanish culinary art of the bar – the restaurants Nou Manolin and Piripi. Good examples of contemporary cuisine are La Ereta, with its spectacular views over the city and the classical Maestral, in an elegant chalet. Besides these are numerous other options in all styles and to suit all pockets. And if one chef can be considered the Ambassador of la Cocina Alicantina with her extensive travelling and media appearances around the world, she is Maria Jose San Roman, chief executive and owner with her husband Jose Perramon, of a group of restaurants Monastrell, La Taberna del Gourmet, Tribeca and La Vaqueria which together offer all of these styles and trends.

THE AMBASSADOR of la Cocina Alicantina


n the same barrio as Mona­ strell and La Taberna, is Tribeca, the most informal offering

of the group. Of late, fashionable gourmet hamburger foodies complement the main meal with a premium gin and tonic. Tribeca reaches its ultimate expression in a New York inspired ambience during an uninterrupted hour for drinks and listening to music after work or late at night. Finally, in a residential district, is La Vaqueria, which aims at the eco-gourmet trend, growing its own vegetables in a nearby garden and adapting the characteristic charcoal grill of northern Spain to modern Mediterranean cuisine with fabulous fish, meats and vegetable dishes.

An acclaimed international champion of two intrinsically Spanish products – saffron and Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Maria Jose San Roman also known as the Saffron Queen, personally heads up her most ambitious restaurant Monastrell. Integrated into the Hotel Amerigo, the only 5 star hotel in the city, and located centrally in a small

The Valencian Com­ munity is known for its many rice dishes, the principal ingredient of Alicante’s cuisine. sixteenth century palace, is the greatest exponent of a cuisine genuinely contemporary and of a refined sensibility using only raw materials of excellent quality served either in the restaurant, on an enchanting terrace, or at a bar designed for an exclusive and cosmopolitan clientele. Very close to the Monastrell, La Taberna del Gourmet is in the fashionable area of the city.

Pumpkin lasagna.

“The restaurant is carefree and trendy, with an animated bar where tapas are the stars, and various dining areas.”


Crispy suckling pig.

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Pularda con salvia, cebolla y trigo verde.

Alicante vegetable garden.

Go Home writthh A Story Wo Sharing!

Open everydaym from 8am-10p


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A look at Alicante

By Jón Kristinn Snæhólm Photos: Birtíngur photo collection and

Alicante is the capital of the province of Alicante and also a historic Mediterranean port where commerce and cultural integration contributed to the modern Spain we know today. The area around Alicante was first settled between 5000 and 3000 BC when hunters crossed from central Europe. Some of the earliest settlements were made on the slopes of Mount Benacantil and by 1000 BC Greek and Phoenician traders had begun to visit the eastern coast of Spain, establishing small trading ports and introducing the native Iberian tribes to the alphabet, iron production, the pottery wheel and the art of navigation and sailing.

History and main sights of the

Spanish Mediterranean Gem


y the 3rd century BC, the rival armies of Carthage and the Roman Empire began to invade the Iberian Peninsula because of the military and commercial importance of the region. The Carthaginian general Hamilcar Barca establis­ hed the fortified settlement of Akra Leuka or the white moun­tain, where Alicante stands today. The Moors took over control of the region after many years of Roman rule, surprisingly without a fight from either them or the powerful Visigoths. The Arab conquest of Medina Lagant was the beginning of the Moor’s rule for five centuries thus marking their territories in southern and eastern Spain as one of the most culturally and prosperous regions in Europe. Education and commerce flourished and riches like rice, oranges and techniques in art and architecture became the cornerstone of modern Alicante‘s trade. Alicante was finally taken in 1246 by the Castilian king Alfonso X. In 1298, the region came under the rule of the house of Valencia where King Jam­es of Aragon reigned. After several decades of major clashes between the Kingdom of Castile and the Crown of Aragon, Alicante became a major Mediterranean trading station exporting wine, olive oil, oranges and wool but when King Felipe III expelled thousands of Moriscos between the years 1609-1614, because of their support and cooperation with Barbary pirates who continually attacked and robbed coastal cities, the region went into rapid decline causing the flight

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of many skilled artisans and agricultural laborers. The feudal nobility found itself sliding into bankruptcy. Things got worse in the early 18th century after the war of the Spanish Succession, but by making shoes and growing agricultural products such as almonds, oranges and on account of its fisheries the region got by.

The area around Ali­ cante was first settl­ed between 5000 and 3000 BC when hunt­ ers crossed from central Europe. In the end of the 19th century freedom in international trade gave regions like Alicante an economic boost due to the ever growing demand for their products, especially fish. And due to the neutrality of Spain during World War I their products came into high demand in war torn Europe. Although the neutrality of Spain in WWI gave Alicante a considerable economic boost the first part of the 20th century was difficult for the region. The Rif War in the 1920s, where long and bloody campaigns in the former Spanish protectorate in northern Morocco took its toll of young men from Alicante and the political unrest of the late 1920’s which led to the victory of Republican candidates in local elections and the abdication of King Alfonso XIII, did not in any way bring prosperity to the region although the proclamation of the Second Spanish Republic was much celebrated

in the city on April 14, 1931. The Spanish Civil War broke out on July 17, 1936 and after near three years of bloody conflict, Alicante was the last city to surrender to Generalissimo’s Franco´s forces on April 1, 1939. Alicante was targeted by vicious air bombings during the civil war. On May 25, 1938 the Italian air force bombed the city causing the deaths of more than 300 civilians.


nder Franco’s first 20 years of dictatorship Alicante did not prosper whereas the status of the whole country was rather uncertain in the aftermath of WWII. In the new world order anti fascist governments in the West and East put Spain on political ice. The economic situation was poor and stayed so until the Cold War climaxed in the 1950’s and 60’s. As a member of NATO and a strong European ally to the US and Britain things got moving again for Spain and especially the Alicante region. In the 1950´s and early 1960´s the city saw the onset of a lasting transformation of the tourist industry. Large buildings and complexes rose in nearby Albufereta and Playa de San Juan with foreign investment pouring in benefiting the whole Spanish economy. New restaurants, bars and other tourist oriented enterprises kept the hotels full and Icelanders were among those who started to pour in, thirsty for sun and fun. When Dictator Franco died in 1975, his successor Juan Carlos I played his part as the living symbol of the transition of Spain to a democratic constitutional monarchy. The governments

of regional communities were given constitutional status as nationalities, and their governments were given more autonomy, including the Valencia region. Amongst the notable features of the city are the port of Alicante on Mount Benacantil and the Castle of Santa Barbara, which sits high above the city. The tower is the oldest part of the castle, built in the 9th century, while part of the lowest zone and the walls were constructed later, in the 18th century. The promenade Explanada de Espana , lined by palm trees is paved with 6.5 million marble tiles creating a wavy form and is one of the most lovely promenades in Spain where the people of Alicante stroll along the waterfront in the evenings.

It is also a venue for outdoors musical concerts. At the end of the promenade is a monument by the artist Banulus of the 19th century. L´Ereta Park is situated in the foothills of Mount Benacantil on the way to the castle. It runs from the Santa Barbara Castle down to the old part of Alicante and consists of several levels, routes, decks and rest stops which offer a panoramic view

overlooking the city. El Palmeral Park is one of the favorite parks of Alicante’s citizens. It includes walking trails, children’s playgrounds, ponds and brooks, picnic tables and an auditorium for concerts. The city of Alicante is compact and family friendly with a variety of fun and interesting things to see and do for all age groups. There is a good public transport system but if you stay in the old

town most areas of interest are within walking distance. Sources: and Encyclopedia Britannic.

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Cycling holidays in Alicante

Get you going Earlier this year the WOW Cyclothon was held with great success, where 200 competitors in 24 teams cycled around Iceland, most of them in under 48 hours. A true, cycle frenzy has developed on this little island in recent years and it only seems to be spreading even more. Now WOW air is offering people the chance to take their passion even further and go on a cycling holiday in Alicante, Spain, a well known cyclist Mecca. by Lilja Björk Haraldsdóttir Photos: Ernir Eyjólfsson and


licante, famous for its sunny beaches and hot weather has a lot more to offer. Amazing scenery, great climate, endless mountain roads, hiking trails and tasty tapas restaurants make it a great holiday choice for cyclists and active people alike.

Dedicated to cycling WOW sat down with experienc­­ ed cyclist and competitor in the annual WOW Cyclothon, Magn­­ús Ragnarsson, to gain insight into the world of cyclist enthusiasts and learn about their upcoming trip to Alicante. A weeklong trip in October with plenty of cycling,

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good food and great company, this trip should not disappoint anyone dedicated to cycling. The group organizers plan on cycling for around 100 km each day on different routes in the beautiful mountains around Ali­­cante spending evenings re­­­­covering and carbo-loading in the local tapas restaurants. A mix of a training camp and luxury holiday, this brings the best of both worlds. But even though the average temperature in October is around 20 degrees and the sun is shining this is no time to work on your tan. The sun will only reach patches of your body as

you race down the mountains slopes, relaxing into the bends and curves of the road.

Cyclist Mecca Magnús tells me that Alicante truly is a cyclist Mecca with most of the big European teams training there during the wintertime, preparing for next summer’s big races. It’s no wonder either since Alicante offers great conditions with endless routes on beautiful mountain roads, a climate that is perfect for training and astounding scenery. Magnús recommends that pe­­ople bring their own racer bikes but it will also be possible

Your paradise for high fashion

… board style!


When visiting Iceland be sure not to miss such attract­ ions as the Blue Lagoon, Golden Circle tours and of course one of Iceland’s most popular store, Brim.

to rent one if needed. A trip for people who are serious about cycling, he hopes that this will become a semi-annual event with week long trips in spring and autumn so cyclists can extend their training season and get in real good shape for next year’s cyclothon.

Load up on carbs A hard work out in a warmer climate demands some extra care and attention and Magnús says it’s normal to drink at least half a

liter of water every hour, so you don’t get dehydrated as well as to make sure you get your carbs. I guess that’s where the Spanish cerveza and infamous tapas come in! For people serious about cycl­ ing this will be the trip of their dreams, training in the best way they know, with good company, great cycling possibilities, amazing food and drinks and a well deserved rest in luxurio­ usly comfortable climate. A true WOW experience!

Located on Laugavegur, Reykja­vík’s most trendy shopp­ ing street, this two floor 360 sq. meter shop offers more var­i­ety than most in Europe when it comes to board fashion for all ages. Here you will find soft goods along with hard goods from over 20 major brands which all have one thing in common. They are all connected to skate, snow and surf. This 15 year old store has distribution contracts straight from the manufactures, for all their brands, making them able to offer better prices than the neighboring countries in northern Europe. Labels include such giants as Billabong, Element, 686, Rome SDS, Bataleon and Lobster

snow­­boards just to name a few. If you forgot to pack your bathing gear or even outerwear, or just want to see what’s brand new in the world of boardsports, be sure to stop by at Brim. Brim Laugavegur 71 and Kringlan shopping center 101 Reykjavík Tel: 5517060

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The future is now The odds of you surviving the day with your sanity intact are low. All your better ideas have already been stolen and used in the past. Damn those thought stealing time travelers!

Libra 23 September - 23 October

Cancer 22 June - 22 July

Aries 21 March - 19 April The Aries has been checking the weather forecast all week hoping for better weather to no avail. Alcohol might just become your new best friend but try not to over­­do it or you’ll miss your next flight. Hey! It happens! Your irrelevance will become clear in the next few days and you will feel a new sense of freedom. Try some herbs to alleviate the stress of it all. Or alcohol again?

Feeling locked up when you’re in an open park is a sure sign that you’re slightly claustrophobic. Horrible smells and green patches on your body may make your day turn sour. You’ll have forgotten all about this in a year or two.

Leo 23 July - 22 August

Taurus 20 April - 20 May Later today you will feel a tingling sensation in your spine, but you won’t be able to attribute it to anything specific. You are likely to meet someone who grew up in a small fishing village over the next few days, stay away from them! While trying to download some risqué material off the internet (OK, let’s just call it porn), you suddenly become suspicious of a work colleague and let me tell you right now, those suspicions are entirely correct.

Clear your schedule for tonight as you are about to meet a special, unexpected visitor. Well not so unexpected now, sorry. Feeling romantic you invite a stranger on a date in the next days. Let me tell you right now that there will be no happy ending to that evening. Don’t pretend to be someone you’re not, that acting-like-a-cat thing you’ve got going is starting to bug everybody.

Virgo 23 August - 22 September

Gemini 21 May - 21 June It can be scary, sad and lonely. Are you sure you want to go ahead with your plans? Whether you want to or not, there’s a journ­ ey in store for you this week.

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Make sure you’re not caught standing alone next weekend. Virgos should seek out new drinking buddies. We recomm­ end Aries for the position. After reading a political rant on someone’s blog you decide to change the world right now and begin by conquering the known universe. The phenomenon of time standing still may occur to you numerous times over the next few days.

Avoid happy thoughts; they’ll only bring you down with a crash. Next Thursday you will realize you are everything you always hoped you would never be. As a result you will try all sorts of quick fixes to change yourself ending in numerous plastic surgeries that will make you look like a freak. The most freakish part of it all is that it will actually make you much happier. If you get invited on a date by a Leo yell, NO! and run like a bat out of hell in the other direction.

Scorpio 24 October - 21 November The number of times you walk into a door today will cause you to seek out new ways of thinking. Your usually positive outlook on life will shift slightly as you are forced to babysit for a relative for a few hours. Seek refuge in rhyming everything you say. It will help.

Sagittarius 22 November - 21 December A chance encounter with someone you really don’t like will leave you feeling bitter and angry. I urge you not to go down into your cave (OK, basement) and plot their demise as this person will later become the savior of the universe. In the afternoon you will feel a little pain below the knee and the only thing that will make it go away is one tablespoon of cinnamon and some whipped cream.

Capricorn 22 December - 19 January Today you’ll save a Sagittarius who accidentally inhaled cinnamon. The silly thing was following an advice from a horoscope page. Can you believe it! Tell him the cinnamon and whipped cream, were not meant to be taken orally. Your well deserved summer vacation is turning sour as you can’t forget about work, and the weather sucks. Your selfish ways will not improve this week as you win a sizeable jackpot in the lottery.

Aquarius 20 January - 18 February As you have let all the opportuni­ ties life has thrown you over the last years pass you by, life is getting rather frustrated with you. Seize any new opportunity you can or life will quit sending them. But there’s a catch; of course there is. I don’t know what it is yet, so just be careful in your opportunity seizing. Night terrors will plague you throughout this month and you may feel that both the living and dead are out to get you. Well at least you can take comfort in the fact that you are right about that.

Pisces 19 February - 20 March You should express yourself all you can over the next days. Make people really see and feel the real you since soon you won’t be able to, mostly because of the straight jacket you’ll be wearing, but there are other contributing factors I won’t get into right now. Watch out for wasps and other insects. Your only hope for redemp­tion is bringing the cure for greed to the world.

Disclaimer: This horoscope is total and utter nonsence. Any accuracies, real or imagined by readers, are purely incidental.


Sunday - thursday 9pm to 1am Friday and saturday 9pm to 4:30am

Ármúli 7 | 108 Reykjavík | Sími 537 1330

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

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

144 覺 WOW is in the air

The Traveling Inquisition


of the winds Looking for a peaceful place for quiet meditation or perhaps rolling fun and dancing in Berlin? Just ask actor, singer, songwriter, entrepreneur and horse rider Helgi Björns who knows all the right places! by: Dísa Bjarnadóttir Photo: Gunnar Gunnarsson

Who is Helgi Björns? “Well, I graduated from the Icelandic Drama School in 1983 and my first role was in a film, Atómsstöðin (The Atom Station) based on a book by the Nobel Prize writer Halldór Kiljan Laxness. For ten years I was an actor for Borgarleikhúsið (Reykjavík City Theater) where I was in two big plays per year as well as singing with bands. Around 1993 I took a break from the theater and went with my band to the United Kingdom to try and make it big there. We made an album and played in all kinds of clubs. After that I opened up a restaurant in Reykjavík called Astró

which became so popular, that a generation was named after it – The Astro generation. Around 2000 I was a part of a group that started the television station Skjár 1. Three years later I took part in rebuilding an old theater in Ber­l­ in called Admirals Palace, which is right in the center of Berlin. There you have my last 30 years summed up in less than a minute!”

What are you up to these days? “I just finished shooting a film called “Paris of the North” which was filmed in the Westfjords:

Flateyri and Þingeyri. It’s made by Hafsteinn Gunnar Sigurðsson and it’s a beautiful story about ordinary people. What’s coming up is a trip to Berlin where I’ll be performing at the Icelandic Horse World Championship with my group Reiðmenn Vindanna (Riders of the winds). We’ll be performing on Thursday night which will be the big Icelandic night.”

You have lived in Berlin. Want to tell us about some good places to check out there? “Clärchens Ballhouse. It’s where the East Berliners used to go back in the day to dance away their boredom and troubles with the communists. After the Berlin Wall went down and the young artists started flowing into the city because there was plenty of cheap housing, the young hipsters started coming to the Ballhouse, so it created an interesting mix of people, while staying very true to its original form. There is always one Salsa night per week, a Tango night and a Swing dancing night. On Fridays and Saturdays bands play and when the bands are done it’s a real discothèque like they were in the 70s. There’s a restaurant there as well so you can get a table and sit there and watch the people dance. It’s a really fun place with a lot going on.” I think most people know White Trash Fast Food at Schönhauser Allee. It’s American food like burgers, ribs and steaks. Everything in there is in the real rock and roll vibe. It’s a cool place to both eat and hang out.”

What is your favorite place in the world? “Formintera, a small island that belongs to the Balaeric Islands. I first visited there in 1978

146 ı WOW is in the air

when I was 20 years old with my wife Vilborg, and it became our oasis. It’s always peaceful. They don’t allow big hotels to be built there. It has an air of mystique and artists used to flock there in the 60s. It’s considered one of the power spots in the world, like Bali and Snæfellsnes.”

“I think most people know White Trash Fast Food at Schönhauser Allee. It’s American food like burgers, ribs and steaks. Everything in there is in the real rock and roll vibe.” How about your favorite place in Iceland? “Hornstrandir is a powerfully beautiful place. It is so peace­­­ ful, no technology, and cell phon­­es don’t work there. Þing­­ vellir is also beautiful. It’s no coincid­ence that that’s where Iceland­­ers wanted to have their Parliament. There is something so peaceful and holy about that place. Anywhere you go there you can just sit down and take in nature’s beauty. I’ve sat there for many hours and there was always something new to catch my eye.”

I know you have horses. What’s your favorite place to ride? It’s great to ride around Þingvellir. Also Fjallabak nyrðra and syðra (north and south) is unforgettable, as well as riding around Löngufjörur.

Anything you’d like to add before we let you go? Nah... I’m wearing black underwear.....

Goðafoss (Waterfall of the Gods) is closely connected with one of the most historical events in Icelandic history, the conversion to Christianity in the year 1000. Faced with the difficult task of settling the growing disputes between the christian and the heathen parts of the populace, the lawspeaker, Þorgeir Ljósvetningagoði, despite being a heathen chieftain and priest himself, decided that Iceland should adopt Christianity. Legend has it that once he had announced his decision, he bade farewell to his heathen gods by throwing their statues into the falls in a symbolic act. This is how Goðafoss got its name. Goðafoss is an impressive 12 metre high waterfall, located in the north-east of the country.

Michelsen Goðafoss The Waterfall collection was inspired by the watchmakers’ quest for perfection and the exceptionally beautiful Icelandic waterfalls Svartifoss and Goðafoss. These waterfalls deserve their names on a watch. A fine Swiss mechanical movement, hand-beveled and hand-decorated by a 4th generation Michelsen watchmaker. The Goðafoss features a high quality solid stainless steel case with black coating (DLC), and a Swiss traditional dial made by hand. Available with several strap offerings, including exotic Icelandic spotted wolffish leather.

For more information please visit

Laugavegur 15 - 101 Reykjavík - Tel. 354 511 1900 -


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

– V i s it ou r s t or e s : 101 R e y k j a v í k , A k u r e y r i a n d G e y s i r, H a u k a d a l . w w w. g e y s i r. n e t –

WOW magazine issue 4 2013  

WOW air in-flight magazine