Why Birds Flock to Iceland The North Prepares for ... - Land og saga

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Why Birds Flock to Iceland The North Prepares for ... - Land og saga

Why Birds Flock to IcelandThe North Prepares for WinterTake a Step Back in Timewww.icelandictimes.com


Autumn arrives from one day to thenext in Iceland. The weather changesare dramatic—as are the colours, both in thevegetation and in the sky. Spectacular sunsetslead to ever-earlier nightfalls, after which theskies are filled with the Northern Lights.The sheep are brought down from themountains, the harvest is brought in before theinevitable storms that signal the onset of winter.Iceland puts on an entirely different set ofclothes after basking in the warm summer sun.Something Old and New ............................................................. 4-5Now Showing at the National Museum of Iceland ...................... 6-7Focus on Fashion ............................................................................8Hands On Trips ...............................................................................9Fine Dining, Classic Taste .............................................................10Viking Hospitality ..........................................................................11The Celtic Secret ..........................................................................11Handknitters United ......................................................................12Enter the Volcanic Café .................................................................13The Brave get the Best .................................................................14Hot Winter Nights ..........................................................................15Harbourside Sushi ........................................................................15Life of Whales ..............................................................................16Jewels & Art by the Sea ................................................................18Eat Thai in Iceland ........................................................................18Reykjavík Art Museum ..................................................................19Art to Enjoy and Own ....................................................................20A Taste of the Good Life ................................................................21Fine Art and Design ......................................................................21Come Out to Play ..........................................................................22Food Fit for Kings ..........................................................................23Make Your Trip Memorable ..................................................... 24-25Stay Warm this Winter ..................................................................26Connoisseur’s Delight ...................................................................27Baked to Perfection ......................................................................28The Grindavík Experience .............................................................30A Different Iceland ........................................................................31Leather Designer ..........................................................................31The World of the Vikings ...............................................................32Hotel with Charm ..........................................................................33Enjoy Icelandic Farm Life ..............................................................34Deep in Natural Wonders ..............................................................34Mystical Snæfellsnes ..............................................................36-37Iceland to Yourself ........................................................................38The Mountains and the Bay ..........................................................39PUBLISHERLand og Saga ehf.Síðamúli 1 • 108 Reykjavíkinfo@icelandictimes.comEDITOR & GENERAL MANAGEREinar Þ. Þorsteinssoneinar@landogsaga.isSALES AND MARKETINGAnna Margrét Bjarnadóttiranna@icelandictimes.comDelphine Brioisdelphine@icelandictimes.comElín Sigríður Ármannsdóttirelin@icelandictimes.comSigurlaug Ragnarsdóttirsigurlaug@icelandictimes.comHulda Davíðsdóttirhulda@icelandictimes.comCreditsErna Sigmundsdóttirerna@landogsaga.isARTICLES WRITTEN BYAndrew Scott FortuneAnna Margrét BjarnadóttirDelphine BrioisElaine Marie ValgarðssonHrafnhildur ÞórhallsdóttirJóhann Óli HilmarssonJúlíana BjörnsdóttirKelly BaumannNanna Hlín HalldórsdóttirSigrún PétursdóttirSteingerður SteinarsdóttirSúsanna SvafarsdóttirVignir Andri GuðmundssonVisitors who have seen the country in summer,see a very different landscape in autumn—andthen, an even more different scene in winter.It’s an exciting time, especially in the North ofIceland where, in Akureyri, commonly knownas the country’s winter capital, after the cruiseships have left, the skiing and winter sportsbegin, drawing visitors from all over the world toexperience the uniqueness of an Icelandic winterin all its glory. The evenings are filled with lightsand entertainment.ContentsThe Life of the Town .....................................................................39Superb Views and Food ................................................................40Snack in the Sun at Snæfellsnes...................................................41Dining in the Old Town ..................................................................41Birds in Breiðafjörður ..............................................................42-43Step Back in Time .........................................................................44Soft as Silk Spa.............................................................................45Sailing Breiðafjörður Bay ..............................................................45I Discovered America First ............................................................46Peace with Nature and Birds ........................................................48Dine with the Vikings ....................................................................48Pirates in Patreksfjörður ...............................................................49Cosy Nostalgia ..............................................................................50Sleep by the Riverside ..................................................................50Love and Joe .................................................................................51Hannes Boy Café & Kaffi Rauðka ..................................................52At the Top of the World .................................................................53Tröllaskagi’s Mystic Beauty ....................................................52-53A Perfect Day in Hrísey ...........................................................54-55The Heart of the Island ................................................................56An Outdoor Paradise .....................................................................56The Northern Playground ........................................................58-59Dine with the Saddler ...................................................................60Enjoy Akureyri on a Budget ...........................................................61Men who Made Iceland .................................................................62A Hundred Years of Flowers ..........................................................64The Café in the Flowers ................................................................65Baking the Best in Akureyri ..........................................................66Enjoy Winter this Year .............................................................68-69At last in Reykjavik! ......................................................................70Flavour Festival in Akureyri ..........................................................71Home to the Raven’s Roost ...........................................................72Spacious, Clean and Central .........................................................72Arctic Winters Conquered ............................................................73Local Fishing Secrets Shown ........................................................73ENGLISH EDITOR& PROOFREADERAndrew Scott FortunePROOFREADINGElaine Marie ValgarðssonVIDEO & TV DEPARTMENTEinar Þ. ÞorsteinssonGabriel RutenbergSigurlaug RagnarsdóttirLAYOUT & DESIGNLand and Saga Layout TeamFRONT COVER PHOTOAkureyri MuseumÞórhallur JónssonIcelandic is one of the European rootlanguages, like Latin. There is no ‘c’or ‘z’ in modern Icelandic, except inforeign words. However, It still containssome letters not found in most otherlanguages. This basic list provides ageneral idea of their sounds, usingfamiliar words rather than phonetics.CharacteráæðþIcelandic languagePronunciationLike ‘ow’ in ‘cow’Like the personal pronoun ‘I’Like ‘th’ in ‘that’Like ‘th’ in ‘thing’The opinions expressed in Icelandic Times do not necessarily refl ect those of the editor, publishers or their agents. Though thecontent of this issue have been meticulously prepared, no warranty is made about the accuracy and completeness of its content.Copyright © September, 2012 Land og Saga ehf. All rights reservedOddi Ecolabelled Printing Co.www.icelandictimes.comSports feature highly, also, in Mývatn, wherethe lake freezes over. This year marks the 10 thanniversary of the horse riding competition onthe ice. It’s not all cold there, though, as thegeothermal baths are more enticing than ever,making a visit well worth the trip.Birds feature highly in this edition, both atthe mystical Breiðafjörður Bay and around thenorthern towns and villages. In particular, LakeMývatn is home to many species of birds, anumber of which stay through the winter.It’s a different Iceland—but one that is all themore exciting, challenging and memorable. It’sa visit you will never forget!Andrew Scott FortuneNo One Comes Home Empty Handed ............................................73The Old Town of Akureyri ........................................................ 74-75Pure and Natural ...........................................................................76The Long Valley.............................................................................77Eat Vegan in Akureyri ....................................................................78A Guesthouse in the Country ........................................................78Icelandic Times .............................................................................79The Country Experience ...............................................................79It’s a Bird’s Life .......................................................................80-81Birdwatching in paradise ........................................................82-83The Magical Mystery ....................................................................84Dimmuborgir Guesthouse .............................................................85Winterland Wonders ...............................................................86-87Memories of a Country Childhood...........................................88-89Loghouse Life near the Lake ........................................................90The Entrance to the East ........................................................92-93Neat as a Pin .................................................................................94At the Eastern Crossroads ............................................................94The Mystery of Randulf´s Sea House ............................................96A Class from the Past ..................................................................97Idyllic Days at Þakgil .....................................................................97On Top of the World ...............................................................98-99Experience Excellence ................................................................100Refreshing Vík.............................................................................100Ásólfsskáli Farm Holidays ..........................................................101The Old Cowhouse Restaurant ..................................................101Beyond the Mountains ........................................................ 102-103Within The Golden Circle.............................................................104Down Into the Depths .................................................................104A Taste of Wild and Sweet ..........................................................105Another taste of Ethiopia ............................................................106Eat At The Source ......................................................................106High Adventure ...........................................................................107The Icelandic Sheep ........................................................... 108-109Tender is the Meat ...............................................................110-111How to make use of QR codesUse your QR code reader application on your smartphone oriPad to scan the QR codes. QR code reader applications can bedownloaded free for all makes of smartphonesIcelandic TimesSíðumúla 1 • 108 Reykjavík+354 578 5800info@icelandictimes.comwww.icelandictimes.comHARPAA NEW DIMENSION IN ICELANDIC CULTURAL LIFEVISIT HARPATake a guided tour of the building and peak behind the scenes.Enjoy the glass facade, elegant halls and different floors ofgenius design. Harpa is definitely a must-see on any Icelandtravel agenda.Located in Harpa are Munnharpan, a lively bistro on the first leveland Kolabrautin, an a la carte restaurant on the fourth floor withstunning views over the city.On the first level you‘ll also find 12 Tónar, the music experts,and Epal, a design store with design and gift products.GUIDED TOURS DAILYWeekdays at 15.30. Price 1500 ISK(Around 10 Euros) Weekends at 11.00 and 15.30.Price 1500 ISKGUIDED TOURS PACKAGESBook a tour package for small or large groupsAll tours can be booked at the box office desk,at tours@harpa.is or via telephone +354 528 5009THE BERLIN PHILHAMONIC OCHESTRAICELAND AIRWAVESFRÖST RIDES AGAINTHE UNDERCURRENT MUSIC SERIESYOU ARE IN CONTROLPOHJONEN PLAYS MOZARTMASTERPIANIST SERIES IN HARPAADVENT CONCERT – THE MESSIAHTHESE ARE JUST SOME OF THE EVENTSTAKING PLACE IN AUTUMN 2012Visit www.harpa.is for our full programme.IL TROVATORE


Somethingold and newReykjavik Excursions reveals the heart of ReykjavikHow to get to know a country when you areonly here for a week or two? It’s a dilemmawhich many people solve by taking advantage ofthe tours to the major places of interest.Don’t forget the home baseIn Iceland, there is simply so much that youwill never find anywhere else that it canseem a little overwhelming. To give you agood foundation and start to your holiday,it’s a good idea to look at the capital itself.Here, there is much to see and do - but youcould waste a lot of time wandering.Reykjavik Excursions has two tours that giveyou a perspective of not only the capital, butthe country itself, which will help you makethe most of your stay. These are fascinatingtours that encompass history, nature, themain attractions and popular spots.Reykjavik Grand ExcursionAn afternoon tour, 3 hours long, this beginswith a pick-up at your hotel. Reykjavik is nota large city, nonetheless, it can take awhile toboth get your bearings and make your way fromone spot to another. On a tour like this, youdon’t want to be stuck in a bus, just gawking atthe sites; you want to experience them. So thistour uses the bus to quickly get you from siteto site, with a guide using the opportunityto give you an insight into the many variedaspects of the life and history of the city.It’s a fascinating tour, filled with anecdotes,folk tales, fun facts and history. In this shorttime, you get an appreciation for much of thetown and what it contains, so you can thenmore knowledgeably use your stay.famous meeting betweenReagan and Gorbachev took place in 1986,Elliðaár river and Laugardalur valley.The tour finishes in time for you to choosewhere you would like to eat your evening meal.By then, you will have had the opportunity tobuild up quite a photo collection. It’s a populartour that runs every day of the week.A Sense of ReykjavikBetween Thursdays and Saturdays, there is alsoa 3-hour early evening tour that uncovers moreof the history of the capital - past and living,taking you first of all to Seltjarnarnes where youcan see how close to nature Reykjavik is. This isespecially of interest to bird lovers, but everyonewill find the variety of both the birdlife andflora to be quite amazing both in a country sofar north and less than 10 minutes from the citycentre, where the tour moves to next.Taking advantage of the warm, light summerevenings, you stroll through parts of the townthat even long-time residents may have missed.Having grown from a small fishing village, theold and the new mingle together, fascinatinggalleries next to enticing restaurants - at twoof which you pop in to try their delicacies.You quickly get an appreciation for bothIcelandic culture and the internationalvariety that makes up the city today.You see the old preserved and renovated tofi ll new roles. Nowhere is this more evidentthan at the oldest house in Reykjavik and theold harbour, where the bright green, formerfishermen’s huts have found a whole range ofnew purposes, from jewellery workshops to giftshops to Viking speciality stores to bustlingrestaurants and cafés. This is a popular spotyou will doubtless want to revisit.These tours give you such a good overview ofthe capital in all its aspects that you will have alist to follow up on by the time the tour returnsyou to your hotel. You’ll just be left wonderinghow to fit everything in—which is why so manymake return trips to discover more.–asfReykjavik ExcursionsYou visit the key landmarks, such asHallgrímskirkja and The Pearl, overlookingthe city, Reykjavik City Hall and theUniversity of Iceland. It also delves into theunusual, such as Höfði House, where theBSI Bus Terminal • 101 Reykjavík+354 580 54004 www.icelandictimes.comwww.icelandictimes.com5main@re.iswww.re.is


Now Showing at the National Museum of IcelandThe National Museum of Iceland offersan insight into Icelandic history andculture. The Museum’s permanent exhibition‘Making of a Nation—Heritage and History inThe Match of the CenturyIn the Land of Chess, History was MadeFor many people the world over, the ‘Matchof the Century’ refers to one event:the 1972 chess match between defendingchampion, the Russian, Boris Spassky andthe 29 year-old American, Robert Fischer.In the midst of the Cold War, the match wasfraught with political overtones.Iceland’ is designed to illuminate the country’shistory by placing the cultural heritage in ahistorical context, guided by the question,“What makes a nation?” TemporaryIceland, being half-way between the twoprotagonists’ countries and a chess-playingnation, was the natural venue. Today, visitorscan catch the spirit of the match in the NationalMuseum of Iceland in Reykjavik, right next tothe university. The special exhibition is just oneof a very diverse range of exhibitions, bothexhibitions are arranged on a regular basis,with new ones opening every few months.Here are four exhibitions now showing:temporary and permanent at this museum,known for its creativity in bringing historyto life in very interesting ways.‘Bobby’ Fischer, started the match with adisastrous loss of the fi rst two games afterhis eccentric behaviour had almost led toits abandonment. He had never won a gamefrom Spassky, though he had beaten othergrand masters. In a match full of dramaand controversy, Fischer beat the Russianmaster by 7 games to 3, with 11 drawn.Fischer, who was later given Icelandiccitizenship, after feeling persecuted by hisown country, died in Iceland aged 64 in 2008and is remembered as one of the greatest chessplayers. Spassky remains the oldest livingformer world chess champion at 75 years old.Advent in the MountainsIceland’s mountainous wastelands are no place to be in DecemberWinter in Iceland can be both beautifuland dangerous, with sudden storms,blizzards, ice and bitter cold–especially up inthe mountains of the north. Every year, in theautumn, a major event takes place: bringingthe sheep down to the safety of the sheepbarns before the storms set in. However,there are always a few who get lost. They facealmost certain death in the winter.A Photo Story with a DifferenceEvery year, a farmer set off at the beginningof Advent to look for those lost sheep andbring them to safety. His struggles against allthe odds provide the background of a specialexhibition at the National Museum of Iceland.The dramatic story of his search and all he wentthrough, risking life and limb with his faithfuldog and bellwether sheep, is told in equallydramatic black and white photos from thearea of North Iceland where the story is set byphotographer, Sigurjón Pétursson.A Folk Tale with MeaningA folk tale, penned by Gunnar Gunnarsson,who was nominated for the Nobel Prize,the story is both a parable and a grippingstory, the shepherd’s survival a matteroutside his own control, and the eventualoutcome, a moving testimony to the simplestandards of service to others that are oftenoverlooked in today’s society.Plucked from Stormy Seasa daring rescue at the remote Látrabjarg was heard around the worldOn the 5 th December 1947, the trawlerDhoon slipped out of Fleetwood,bound for the West Fjords area to fish.A week later, the fishermen were caughta ferocious storm. Mountainous seas,storm-force winds and blizzard conditionsmade it impossible to see more than afew metres and then, in the darkness, asickening crunch. They were stuck fast onthe rocks. A sailor’s nightmare.Dawn showed the full horror of theirpredicament. Towering over them was a sheercliff, 600 feet high, covered in snow and ice.Rescue looked impossible. The skipper andtwo crewmen were lost overboard in thestorm. Twelve crew members were still alive.Their distress call was picked up inReykjavik and a message was sent immediatelyto the nearest farm. No vehicles were available.The farmers hiked to the cliff, finally findingTraversing Time and Techniquefour artists, two centuries, drawing together timeless qualitiesThe year is 1789. Aboard Sir John Stanley’sNorthern Seas expedition is John Baine,a mathematician, astronomer and artist. Baineused the latest techniques to calculate andrender ground plans with passion and empathy.Add three 21st century artists, Per Kirkeby,Anna Guðjónsdóttir and Þóra Sigurðardóttir anda whole new dialogue begins through the pictures’qualities: their force, mystery and tactility.The countryside inspirationAll the drawings deal, in some way, with thecountryside, its land, minerals, soils and nature.Their focus is on observation of substances,environments, and conditions through theabstract methods entailed in drawing.the stricken ship and a rescue operationbegan. Twelve courageous men from thenearby farms, young and old set out in terribleweather, with no thought for their personalsafety. The trek was slippery and hazardous.They set up a base on the exposed clifftopthen rapelled down to a small ledge some 80metres (240 feet) above sea level. From there,four continued down to the shore. Theyclimbed and slid over the icy rocks for 4 km,laden with the heavy ropes and rescue gear, inconstant danger of falling rocks and lashed bythe spray in the bitter cold of the storm.Arriving at the site of the wreck, theyspotted some men at its stern. On the secondattempt, a rocket reached the ship and therescue began. Before darkness fell, all 12crewmen had been rescued and 7 had beenhauled up to the ledge with one of the rescuersbefore the tide cut them off. The remainingDanish artist Per KirkebyA geologist, two centuries later, he engraveshis drawings in the field directly on copperor zinc, his work being transferred later topaper. He has worked in Greenland, Iceland,the Faroes, drawing as he hikes.men spent the night on the shore where twowere injured by falling rocks.Those on the narrow ledge had to stay thenight, their feet hanging over the edge, withtheir rescuers keeping them warm and safe.The men were almost dead fromexhaustion when they reached the cliff topwhere villagers had set up a tent. From there,they were taken on horseback to the farmsand nearest village, where the womenfolk fedand cared for them. By now, everyone wasexhausted by the hard work, the bitterly coldweather, exposure and lack of sleep.A Royal Navy ship collected the 12 survivorswho were all safely home for Christmas. Therescue team was later specially honoured byQueen Elizabeth for their successful butextremely hazardous mission.The Museum’s Photo Gallery displays photosby Óskar Gíslason taken while filming“Rescue at Látrabjarg”, the cliffhangerrescue against almost impossible odds thatgripped the world at Christmas time in 1948.The film will be shown at 3 pm on sundaysfor the duration of the exhibition.Anna GuðjónsdóttirA long-time resident of Germany, she oftendelves into forms such as matted roots andgrasses, her plays of fi ne brush-lines comingacross as swirling streams.Þóra SigurðardóttirHer works focus on minerals used asglazes on fired clay—cobalt, kaolin,iron, copper. Her source is the immediateenvironment, whether creases in skin,cracks in a wall or sprouting twigs.–asfÞjóðminjasafnSuðurgata 41 • 101 Reykjavík+354 530 2200thjodminjasafn@thjodminjasafn.iswww.thjodminjasafn.is6 www.icelandictimes.com www.icelandictimes.com 7


Open 18.00–22.00.Focus on FashionTop designers are developing fashion for men and women at KraumIceland is a country with inspiration inits blood. It pours out through an everincreasing number of talented designs foreverything from the humble pancake pan tothe latest developments in fi sh skin to maketop quality men and women’s shoes.When Kraum fi rst opened in Reykjavik,a group of just 30 designers presented theirideas. Their number has swelled to morethan 300 all over the country and the rangeof products has multiplied likewise.Designed with Men in mindWomen’s clothing and accessories founda natural home in the shop but the latestdevelopment is for men’s designer clothingto join them. Starting with a range of shirts,named after Huginn & Muninn (The Mindand The Memory), the ravens of Norse god,Odinn, they look really stylish. A range ofpants complements them, making an idealensemble whether for business or partying.A Mecca for the uniqueThe Vikings were renowned for theirengineering and craftsmanship skills thattheir descendants have amplifi ed over theyears, producing a range of unique ideas anddesigns, skillfully using both common andunusual materials in totally new ways.Whether it is living jewellery or a stoolthat is a light or a shaggy lambskin seat,a butterfly formed by the play of lightand shadow or a pair of fishskin shoes,it is immediately obvious that each is thework of a thoughtful, inspired designer,creating something never found intoday’s mass-produced world.Searching for a memorable gift forsomeone special, the choice from over 300designers could seem a little overwhelmingbut the way the shop is laid out, it is easy andquick to fi nd what you’re looking for—oreven fi nd something you didn’t know youwere looking for but which fits the bill moreprecisely than you could have hoped.Being designer products, they are designedto be easily shipped. Kraum can handle it foryou if you have too much to take on yourfl ight and, if you forgot something, it is easyto order from their website, too.Finding KraumThe oldest building in Reykjavik, originallybuilt by the Icelandic reformer, SkúliMagnússon as a factory to produce goods forhis needy countrymen, is found by Ingólfstorg,the square just down from the Post Office andit is there you will find Kraum.–asfKraumAðalstræti 10 • 101 Reykjavík+354 517 7797kraum@kraum.iswww.kraum.isYummi YummiHands On TripsGateway to Iceland prepares the details to make your tour terrifi cIt certainly says something that acompany has been awarded TripAdvisor’sCertifi cate for Excellence for the last twoyears in a row—the only tour operatorin Iceland with that record. There’s agood reason for it. People appreciate thepersonalized service. When somebody posts,“...it truly felt like we had a friend who wastaking us around on a personal tour” andothers echo their sentiments, you know thecompany has something special.City Car RentalLocated in downtown ReykjavikWe are a professional car rental servicelocated right in the centre of Reykjavik.Whether for business or leisure, we havejust the car to fit your needs and budget.Bookings can be made directly with us orthrough your hotel’s front desk. We willbe there to pick you up and drop you offor you can also drop off the key at yourhotel’s reception. To ensure that youget what you really want, reserve aheadof time online. Tour around Iceland andenjoy Icelandic hospitality.Snorrabraut 29 • 105 Reykjavík +354 771 4200info@citycarrental.is www.citycarrental.iswe recommend.......Thai Fusion FoodOne price 1000 kr.Hverfisgata 123 við Hlemm and Smáralindwww.yummy.isGTI can handle every aspect of yourstay—and they do it with style. They don’tcharge extra for all the planning involvedand go out of their way to make your stay assuccessful as possible, fi lled with humour,stories, explanations—and consideration.Whether you’re on a honeymoon or abusiness trip, a school group or travellingalone, your adventure and fun will beginbefore you even leave home as they workwith you to make your visit everything and16 Seaters / 250 euroRenault MasterBanThai9 Seaters / 200 euroToyota Hi-AceHyundai H1Laugavegur 130, ofan við Hlemmtel: 692-0564more than you desire, from meeting you atthe airport to the guided tours in anythingfrom luxury cars to comfortable mini-buses.Keeping the groups small ensures thatpersonal attention wherever you’re travellingwith them in Iceland.GTI also has standard tour packages fromday tours to the key Icelandic destinations.Gateway to Iceland–asfJeeps 4X4 / 150 euroSuzuki Grand VitaraSanta FeHyrjarhofdi 4 • 110 Reykjavík+354 534 4446info@gti.iswww.gotraveliceland.isSmall Cars / 75 euroToyota Yaris • Kia PicantoAygo • Daihatsu1/10 The Best Restaurant in Icelandthe best thai foodyear 2009,2010,2011 and 2012Ban Thai is the finest thai restaurant in Iceland8 www.icelandictimes.com www.icelandictimes.com 9


Handknitters UnitedThe One stop shop for all Things Woollen at the Handknitting assn.Sheep came to Iceland with the Vikingsettlers and they quickly proved theirworth, not only for their meat but also theirwool. Living conditions were very basic andespecially tough in the cold and dark wintermonths. Sheep helped keep the settlers alive.These Icelandic sheep have two types offleece—an outer, weather and water repellantlayer and a soft, warm fleece close to theskin. Combined, they have provided warmclothing for farmers and seamen, adults,children and babies for centuries. Makingsweaters became a tradition in farmhouses,cottages and houses around the country.The Handknitting Association of Icelandwas founded in 1977 to help overcomeproblems that knitters were having ingetting their handiwork marketed. Agroup of women formed the association,established standards and guidelines forthe production that was - and still is, animportant supplement to many familyincomes and shortly thereafter, opened ashop to sell their members’ woollen goodson Skólavörðustígur, the main shoppingstreet that descends from Hallgrímskirkja,the cathedral overlooking the city.As the name indicates, these woollencreations are hand made. The motto fromthe outset has been, ‘Buy directly from thepeople who make them’. Walking into theshop, one cannot help but be amazed at theskill and productivity of these ladies—andsome men, too, from all walks of life, livingin all parts of the country. Every item hasthat sense of individual uniqueness that onlyhandmade items carry.The world of knitting has changeddramatically since the association began.A few decades ago, the designs took on theform of the ‘lopapeysa’ or sweater, withits distinctive scalloped pattern, whichhas become so popular worldwide, butnumerous young Icelandic designers havealso turned their attention to wool as amedium of choice for their fashion designs,resulting in new products, styles andcolours. There is a wide range of sweaters,gloves, hats, scarves, socks, bags and manyother items in sizes to suit everyone froma Viking warrior (or farmer) to a prettyfashion model to a newborn baby.The store has become a centre not onlyfor selling the fi nished products but also forsupplying the wool and all the accessoriesrequired to make woollen items.The association has established highstandards for the wool they supply theknitting community so as to get anequally high quality product back to sell.This is all the best genuine Icelandicwool with its unique characteristics.Visitors can have their purchasesshipped to them and they can also emailorders from the website in the comfortof their own homes. That includes thepatterns, wool, needles and accessories,not just the clothing. If knitting isyour hobby, there is a world of warmdesigns just waiting for you.–asfHandprjónasambandImages by © Gabriel RosenbergEnter the Volcanic Caféfeel the shakes and Tremors of Earthquakes and VolcanosWhat is it like living on a small islandwhere eruptions occur on averageevery four years and earthquakes of varioussizes occur daily, is a question Icelanders arefrequently asked. An island where ice andfi re are constantly battling, moulding andreshaping the island’s appearance and theislanders’ mood and emotions. The onlyreply we can give is: We wouldn’t know howto survive in a country which is not alive.But if you are curious about the realityof the Icelandic life-force enter the VolcanoHouse, a café in the centre of Reykjavikand experience for yourself the impact of aneruption or an earthquake while enjoying acup of tea or coffee, or munching on a sliceof cake or homemade bread.Volcano House is no ordinary café. It isalso a cinema and a museum, specialisingin the tremors and shakes, the colours,the smells and the touch of living in thisstrange, remote corner of the world.Volcano House’ in-house cinema offerstwo back–to–back documentaries. First up,a fi lm about the eruption in the WestmanIslands in 1973. The second one, ‘TheVolcano Island’, by the Icelandic fi lm makerJón Sigfússon, is a documentary on theEyjafjallajökull eruption in 2010, nominatedfor the 2011 Emmy Award for outstandinglocation cinematography.The Westman Island documentarycontains unforgettable footage from the 1973eruption which started without warning inthe middle of the night on January 23 rd .The entire population—over fi ve thousandindividuals—were evacuated by boat to theIcelandic mainland where they stayed untilthe end of the eruption seven months later.The documentary contains truly dramaticand unforgettable footage.The Eyjafjallajökull eruption causedmillions of people to be stranded acrossEurope due to thousands of flightsbeing cancelled over several weeks. Thisdocumentary contains some breathtakingaerial views and footage and is truly a gem.Additionally, Volcano House offers ahands–on geology exhibition where guestscan handle various samples of pumice, ashand lava from Icelandic volcanos.An interesting exhibitionA large collection of semi-precious rocksand minerals from around the countryare also on display and are available forpurchase. Volcano House offers guidanceand information throughout the exhibitionwhich is particularly interesting for schoolgroups and students of geology. VolcanoHouse occupies an enviable location in theheart of Reykjavik, with large bay windowsoverlooking the colourful old harbour. Itis open seven days a week from 10.00 to22.00. The documentaries in English canbe viewed hourly from 10.00 to 21.00.German language commentary is availablefor groups or private screenings.–ssVolcano HouseSkólavörðustígur 19 • 101 Reykjavík+354 552 1890handknit@handknit.iswww.handknit.isTryggvagata 11 • 101 Reykjavik+354 555 1900info@volcanohouse.iswww.volcanohouse.is12 www.icelandictimes.com www.icelandictimes.com 13


The Brave get the BestThe sea Baron’s fish Meals attract visitors from all over the worldIceland has many ‘different’ foodswhich have their roots in seafaringhistory. The Vikings came up with manynovel ways of preserving their foods andtheir traditions continue to this day.Some of these foods sound unappealing,to say the least, and it takes the daring soulto step out and try them. Iceland is for theadventurous and they reap the benefi ts ofthe brave. The timid stick to burgers!A True FishermanA former fi sherman and Coast Guard chef,Kjartan Halldórsson, also known as the SeaBaron, is the master of unusual fi sh dishes.His lobster soup, for example, has gainedfame around the world, earning it the titleof ‘the world’s greatest lobster soup’. Whilehe doesn’t reveal the secrets of his recipe,that doesn’t stop his restaurant from beingfi lled every day with afficianados.He entered the restaurant business bychance. One day, when standing by his boxesof fish, some foreign visitors asked if he couldprepare some fish for them. Spotting anopportunity, he ran to the nearest hardwarestore to buy a grill—and was in business! Hisvisitors were invited to dine in his shop in thisimprobable restaurant. Word quickly spreadand soon he was shifting his boxes out of theway to make room for tables and chairs.He took the unusual and created deliciousmeals that no-one else had thought oftrying. He took old recipes, some ofwhich sounded revolting, and from them,made meals that have established hisreputation around the world.Kjartan’s restaurant is popular with thefi shermen who sailed for many years fromReykjavik. It is filled with memorabiliadonated by old sea captains and theirfamilies, that fill it with a character allits own. Handmade model sailing boats,pictures of ships of the past and stuff edbirds fill the second floor’s walls, wheregroups of up to 35 can celebrate togetherand where the fishermen used to sleepwhen coming to land.Dining as a Seafaring ExperienceEating at the polished tables, sitting oncushioned fish barrels, surrounded byparaphernalia of the sea, is an experiencethat will leave you with both goodmemories, a satisfied appetite—andperhaps, a rather shocked mind that youwould actually have eaten fermented fi shand that it tasted so, so good.Smoked in SucculenceA true pioneer, Kjartan is always comingup new ideas. Besides the smoked eel,Kjartan has taken to smoking mackerel andthe special grey halibut, the delicious flatfi sh with both eyes on top. His techniqueimbibes the fish with a delicious flavour thathas to be tasted to be believed.–asfSægreifinnA Changing of the SeasonsWelcome to the enticing and inviting Café HaitiIn autumn, when the weather inevitablystarts cooling down, Café Haiti servesas one of those cosy, unpretentious placeswhere you can pop in to warm your toes andenjoy an excellent cup of coffee from beansroasted every morning right on the premises.Here you can start your day early with a hotlatte or cappuccino, along with a freshlyHarbourside Sushisushismiðjan–Midori, a Top Class Restaurant at the Old HarbourIn one of the bright green buildings downat the old harbour is Sushismiðjan, abright and busy sushi restaurant.Serving a range of tasty sushi disheswith sake, wine or beer, this is a verypopular eating and meeting place.Sitting on the patio on a cool autumn day,enjoying a delicious sushi and the view over theharbour to Mount Esja across the bay, this isthe life! For freshness, the harbour is the placeto be. The combination of Icelandic fi sh andbaked croissant or two, for this is one of thefew places in the downtown area that opensfor breakfast—8.30 am to be precise. Thereis also an enticing array of home baked cakesand pastries should you feel the inclinationfor a little something sweet.The laid back atmosphere is also afavourite with locals for lunch—quiche,fi sh and vegetable soups served with freshlybaked bread are offered. Try the smokedsalmon on toast, or the always fresh ‘catchof the day’, fi shed right from the waters ofFaxaflói Bay. A steaming bowl of plokkfiskur,a traditionally Icelandic fi sh stew, is just thething to warm you after an afternoon ofwhale watching at the Old Harbour.Café Haiti is great place to do some‘people watching’, for it´s as popular withtourists as it is with Icelanders. You mighteven spot a well known Icelandic celebrityor two while you’re at it. Enjoy!Café Haiti–EMVGeirsgata 7a • 101 Reykjavík+354 588 8484kaffi@cafe-haiti.comwww.cafe-haiti.comsushi cannot be beaten for quality and flavour—and its presentation is top class.The menu offers Makis, Nigiris andSashimis, along with a mixed vegetable sushiand different children’s dishes. Japanesenoodles with chicken, vegetables or Tigerprawns, fi sh or miso soup, seafood or beefsalad round out the main courses. Fordesert, there is chocolate cake with cream,ice cream and fresh berry smoothies.The restaurant is open from 11:30 amto 11 pm. Take-away meals can be orderedby phone or on the web. They cater forcompanies, parties and lunches, too.Sushismiðjan–asfGeirsgata 8 • 101 Reykjavík+354 553 1500info@saegreifinn.iswww.saegreifinn.isGeirsgötu 3 • 101 Reykjavik+354 517 3366sushismidjan@sushismidjan.iswww.sushismidjan.is14 www.icelandictimes.com www.icelandictimes.com 15


Northern LightsLife of WhalesWatch whales, porpoises and dolphins from the ‘andrea’Whales and humans coexistharmoniously in Faxaflói bay in thesefirst sunny days of summer. The whales havebeen playing and enjoying riding along Life ofWhales’ ship ‘Andrea’, while the humans enjoythe view of these magnificent animals.The whales by the shores of Iceland, arewithout a doubt, some of the most spectacularsights Iceland has to offer. Four types of whaleslive in Faxaflói bay, which makes them quiteaccessible from Reykjavík. Those species are:the Minke Whales, White-Beaked Dolphins,Harbour Porpoises and Humpback Whales.Tour the bay on a stable shipLife of Whales is a small family company,which runs three tours a day from the oldharbour in Reykjavík, each one lasting threehours. In addition to the whale watching,they visit the puffin islands in the bay,where one can easily see the peculiarpuffin among other seabirds, hundredsand thousands of which have alreadynested in these islands.The ‘Andrea’ is the biggest whale watchingship in Iceland; thus it is very stable,comfortable and—most importantly—has16 www.icelandictimes.comexcellent viewing decks, providing you with agreat sailing experience. Guests can have a nicecup of coffee or hot chocolate indoors or borrowa sweater to wear outdoors on colder days.Notes from a guide’s diaryAccording to the guide’s diary to be found onLife of Whales website, the beginning of Junewas really exciting on the bay. One day, forexample, a Minke whale stayed with the shipfor awhile during a thick fog, a descriptionone normally only encounters in mystic fairytales! Another entry tells of some harbourporpoises competing with Minke whales toshow off only ten metres from the ship infront of the eager human audience.Yet another entry tells of a playgroundof Minkes, a group of five staying a secure60 metres distance from the ship, while agroup of three others dared to come muchcloser, surfacing at the same time in the samedirection. This same tour also witnessed somedolphins, mothers and calfs alike jumping outof the water and turning in the air. Whales arejust like us humans, some of them are moresuspicious, keeping their distance from the shipwhile others are more daring, playing along andperhaps even communicating with us!Make your visit completeStaring at the unbelievable sight of a whalesurfacing from the sea is something oneshould not miss while staying in Iceland.On board the ‘Andrea’, you are providedwith both the comfort and facilities toenjoy that experience to the fullest.–NHHLife of WhalesÆgisgarði 1 • 101 Reykjavík+354 562 2300hvalalif@hvalalif.iswww.hvalalif.isSeljalandsfossDay tours / Activities / Airport ExpressWe are one of the leading tour operators in Iceland and offer professional services, flexibility andsafety for travellers in Iceland.Allow us to provide you with a transfer from the airport and introduce you to the variety thatIceland has to offer; from its richness in culture and history to its breathtaking beauty in natureand daily life.Enjoy Iceland withIceland Excursions – Gray Line Icelandwww.grayline.isGeysir area


Jewels & Art by the Seasædís hand crafts jewellery in her studio at the Old HarbourFor centuries, jewellery has had a specialplace in the heart. An object of art andbeauty, a gift of love to be treasured. Tofi nd craftsman-made jewellery is a rarity intoday’s mass-produced world.Sædís creates designs that range from themost feminine to pieces for both men andwomen. They evoke images of Iceland’s mostdistinct symbols, nature and pure water.Eat Thai in IcelandDelicious Downtown Thai Dishes at Krua ThaiDown by the Old Harbour in the centreof Reykjavik is a restaurant that servessuch good Thai food that visitors fromThailand and groups know to go there. Allthe key ingredients are imported straight fromThailand to be cooked by experienced Thaichefs. This results in that genuine experienceof a truly delicious meal, which is so enjoyable.Sædís, whose name means ‘Goddess ofthe Sea’, works with all the precious metals,which she combines with gemstones, blue,appropriately, being her favourite and Icelandicstones like the lava stone. Her respect for theenvironment and a strong emphasis on qualityis evident in all aspects of her work. She usesgreen practices in choosing her elaboratelyhandcrafted materials and fair trade stones.A full range of Thai meals with a widerange of options is available, each being madeto order and freshly cooked on the spot.The restaurant itself lends authenticityto the experience, being decorated intraditional Thai style.Take-away and home delivery are available.There is a second branch close to the SmáralindCustom-made BeautySædís also makes pieces embodying thewishes of clients using whatever metalthey request, making a unique andprecious gift from the heart.She also sells quality fish leather products andfine art pieces by significant Icelandic artists.You’ll find her creations for sale onlineat saedis.etsy.com and through her website,where you can order from abroad but if you’rein Reykjavík, a visit to her open workshopand gallery is a worthwhile experience.–asfSædís the JewellerGeirsgata 5b • 101 Reykjavík+354 555 6087saedis@saedis.iswww.saedisbauer.comshopping centre, one in Grafavogur and one inAkureyri, called Krua Síam.After having lived many years in Thailand, Ican attest to the range and taste of Krua Thai’sdishes. It is definitely my restaurant of choicewhen dining out, Thai food being my favourite.Krua Thai–asfTryggvagötu 14 • 101 Reykjavík+354 561 0039kruathai@kruathai.iswww.kruathai.isReykjavik Art MuseumWhere It all startedAlthough Iceland is a young nation interms of art history, you’d be surprisedto discover the quality and unique character ofIceland’s finest artists. Reykjavik Art Museumoffers the chance to experience the best ofclassic and contemporary art in Iceland in oneenlightening day. The museum is situated inthree different buildings in the city centre:Hafnarhús, Kjarvalsstaðir and Ásmundarsafn,each with its own theme and character.Th e M u s t - S e eThose wondering who the stately gentlemanstaring at you from the 2,000 krónur bill is andwhere the unique imagery comes from, wouldbe well advised to visit Kjarvalsstaðir, hometo Iceland’s most beloved painter, Jóhannes S.Kjarval (1885-1972). While it is hard not to beinspired by Iceland’s colourful landscape, fewhave managed to capture its essence and tie it sosecurely into the Icelandic psyche as Kjarval did.Among the dozens of celebratedpaintings you’ll fi nd now on display theexquisite Fjallamjólk, which Icelandic artscholars claim has contributed more to theIcelandic identity than any other painting,making it an absolute must-see and worththe trip to Kjarvalsstaðir by itself.Hafnarhús, Tryggvagata 17, 101 ReykjavikKjarvalsstaðir, Flókagata, 105 ReykjavikThe Kjarvalsstaðir museum is dedicatedto permanent exhibitions of Kjarval’sworks, a sizable portion of which hedonated to the city of Reykjavik before hisdeath, as well as exhibitions of paintings,sculptures and design by establishedIcelandic and international artists.Kjarval, Mountain Milk, 1941Get With the TimesWhile Kjarvalsstaðir covers the moreconventional forms of artistic expression,Hafnarhúsið has the liberty to experimentand take on ambitious projects withcontemporary artists from all over the world.While Hafnarhúsið has six differentgalleries devoted to the most exciting currenthappenings, one of them is dedicated to apermanent exhibition of the works of Erró,the acclaimed pop-artist who has donatedover 2,000 works to the museum.Being located close to the city centre in anintriguing building and due to its ambitiousundertakings, Hafnarhúsið has become acenter of-sorts for the creative arts in Reykjavik.The Hidden PearlProbably the least known of the threebuildings is Ásmundarsafn, which is quiteremarkable considering that it is dedicatedto the wonders of one of Iceland’s foremostsculptors, Ásmundur Sveinsson (1893-1982).The museum is housed in a uniquebuilding, designed mostly by the artisthimself, who sought inspiration fromÁsmunarsafn, by Sigtún, 105 ReykjavikErró, The Grand Children of Mao, 2007the Mediterranean, the domed buildingsof the Middle East, and the pyramids ofEgypt. Ásmundur’s sculptures can be foundsurrounding the house and on the inside,making a magical land inspired by Icelandiclandscapes, literature and its people.All in One DayThe famous landscapes of Iceland are wellknown and easily accessible, but onlythrough the eye of the artistic mind can onefully comprehend their signifi cance to thenation‘s identity, making it an unmissablepart of your discovery of Iceland. ReykjavikArt Museum offers its guests a chance todo it all in one day with their museum daypasses. What really makes it an outingworth your time is that it also gives youthe chance to experience the culture ofReykjavik while you stroll between themuseums and relax in their coffee shopswhere patrons of the arts spend their time.You can even get souvenirs and informativebooks to commemorate your day.Look out for Reykjavik Art Museum’sautumn programme for upcoming exhibitions.www.artmuseum.is –VaG–##18 www.icelandictimes.com www.icelandictimes.com 19


the presidential residenceweekly and occasionally dining in-house.Úlfar Eysteinsson and family bought therestaurant in 1989 and opened in the very lastdays of the beer prohibition. Úlfar kept thepeculiar name, a name with dual reference toa long trench coat and the previous owners,two Frenchmen and a Frenchman’s wife.Art to Enjoy and Ownfind fine art at Gallerí ListArt is a major part of Icelandic culture.There are probably more artists,musicians, writers and poets per capitathan in any other country. Walk intoalmost any house or business and there willusually be at least one work of art hangingthere, as many of those who are not artiststhemselves tend to be collectors or patrons.Gallerí List is the longest running andmost successful art house in town. Since1987 and, under its current owner, GunnarHelgason, it has gone from strength tostrength. A few years ago, a move wasmade to its current and larger home toaccommodate their growing collection, andgrowing reputation as the leading art housein the city. Gunnar was able to completelyredesign the interior and its lighting to bestexhibit each picture. With its high ceilings,large works can now be displayed in the bestambience. The Gallerí is currently housedin the spacious ground floor of Skipholt50a, an elegant modern round house, just astone’s throw from Reykjavik’s main street,Laugavegur. Exquisitely lit in a sweepingopen space design, Gallerí List showcasesthe cream of Icelandic artistic talent.The works of between sixty and eightyIcelandic artists are on display at any giventime. With all the major media represented,from graphics, watercolours, oil paintingsand acrylics to ceramics, porcelain and glass,the art aficionado can experience the fullwealth of Icelandic artistry under one roof.In addition, the Gallerí also holds amonthly exhibition devoted to either newor established Icelandic talent. Gunnarsays that variety is the spice of life and,in the case of Gallerí List, it seems to be asuccessful route, as well. “I think one of thekeys to our longevity in a competitive worldis the diversity of our collections.“We pride ourselves on our widecustomer base with something to suit allartistic tastes”, he says. The same philosophyextends to the price tags, and of courseprofessional packaging and internationalshipping is available upon request.From the expert art collector to the moremodest, but conscientious gift shopper, therealways something unique for everyone atGallerí List that makes a visit worthwhile.Gallerí List–asfSkipholti 50A • 105 Reykjavík+354 581 4020gallerilist@gallerilist.iswww.gallerilist.isA Taste of the Good LifeBringing french and Icelandic cuisine together in Þrír frakkarOn a little corner in the little big city in theNorth is a small haven for the food lover.Behind the beautiful rouge exterior of ÞrírFrakkar með Úlfar is a romantic dining room,small and intimate, like a French bistro in theParisian Saint Michel, yet rich in Icelandicheritage through chef Úlfar Eysteinsson’sartful fusion of French and Icelandic cuisineusing primarily fresh Icelandic produce.Fine Art and DesignSpecialising in fresh fish and knownfor his superb skills in creating richfl avours and a tender texture to seafood,Úlfar has earned a reputation as one ofIceland’s most skilled chefs, marryinglocal traditions and fi ne French cuisine.Úlfar’s list of prestigious clientele is longand President Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson isa regular customer, ordering take away toGallery Dunga’s Gallery and Ceramic studio is at the Old HarbourDesign and handicraft has alwaysbeen part of the Icelandic women’sdaily life. Over the centuries, they havehad to use their creativity to make clothesand jewellery, decorations and practicalknickknacks from scratch, working withthe material provided by Icelandic natureand farming. Thus, the tradition goes wayback and today it is stronger than ever.Gallery Dunga, next door to the SeabaronRestaurant by the old harbour, is an excellentexample of the ingenuity of Icelandic womenwhen it comes to design and creativity.The gallery sells bags and belts made fromfish-leather, lovely feminine clothes fromEvuklæði (Eve’s Clothing), exquisite ceramicand glassware, oil and acrylic paintings andhas an absolutely new take on IcelandicÞrír Frakkar með Úlfari is truly oneof Reykjavik’s hidden gems where finedining and Icelandic family values cometogether in a feast for the palate!Þrír Frakkar–JBBaldursgata 14 • 101 Reykjavik+354 552 3939frakkar@islandia.iswww.3frakkar.comwool. Owner Ingibjörg Klemenz works inher own workshop on the premises.All the designers aim to use mostly Icelandicmaterial in their work, thus creating quiteunconventional pieces. Thus, a visit to GalleryDunga is a must when in Reykjavik.Gallery Dunga–ssGeirsgata 5a • 101 Reykjavík+354 527 1200ingaklemens@isl.iswww.dunga.is20 www.icelandictimes.com www.icelandictimes.com 21


Joyful traditionMinilik has been very well received by theIcelanders and it’s no wonder. The food isauthentic and delicious, with herbs andspices imported from Ethiopia—a joy for thepalette and fi ngers as guests use traditionalEthiopian bread (similar to crepes) instead offorks, to scoop up the food with their fingers.Come out to playThe activity Parks in Gufunes and smáralind provide hours of funThrough play, children learn tounderstand the world, relate to eachother and develop skills. Adults who keep intouch with the child inside and play all theirlives will always be a step ahead of others.The activity park in Gufunes and itssister park in Smáralind Mall provide anopportunity for fun and amusement.Gufunes is a former settlement. In theearly days of Iceland there was a harbourthere where goods were traded. The pirateship watching over the park could just aswell have docked there centuries ago.Because the staff are experts in eventmanagement, the park is ideal for orienteering.They can create games that will promote teambuilding, sharpen your attention and helpdevelop resourcefulness. The park also offersmini golf, laser tag and paintball.In Ketill’s hut, where the settler Ketill Gufa isremembered, food and refreshments are offered.Joy is the key to a long lifeIt is said that laughter strengthens the heartand is the key to good health and there isplenty to go around in Smáralind Park.The park is a small world full of fun andexciting challenges with over 100 gamesoffered: bumper cars, a sledgehammerthat spins you 14 metres in the air, a droptower and arcade games which provide achallenge for people of all ages. The first 7Dmotion theatre on earth takes participantsinto the world of animation during whichthey can affect the fi lm’s outcome.Open from early afternoon till lateevening, you can spend time in the variousattractions, watch live sports, play pool ordarts or try to set a new record in the gamesin the arcade hall. If it’s competition youwant, grab a scorecard and create your owncompetition with your friends.Food nurtures the soulIf you are hungry, the Forest Snack offerstreats such as candy floss, ice cream, popcornand soda. For those who prefer somethingmore substantial, try the Fun Café on thesecond floor. The best thing about amusementparks is the atmosphere of excitement andromance that lets us nurture the child within.–sT.sSkemmtigarðurinnHagasmára 1 • 201 Kópavogi+354 534 1900info@skemmtigardur.iswww.skemmtigardur.isFood Fit for KingsEthiopian culture in the North atlanticMinilik is an Ethiopian restaurantserving exquisite food. Locatednear the Smáralind Mall in Kópa vogur,at Hlíðarsmári 15, Minilik is owned andoperated by an Ethiopian couple, LemlemKahssay and Yirga Mekonnen.The restaurant derives its name fromPrince Minilik, son of the Queen of Sheba.According to the Bible, the Ethiopian queenvisited King Solomon of Jerusalem to studyhis wisdom and presented him with gold andother precious gifts. They became lovers andupon her return to Ethiopia she gave birthto a child who she named Minilik, whichmeans ‘the son of a wise man.’Ancient cultureLemlem, a professional marathon runner andYirga, a former journalist, have been living inIceland for a number of years, raising their fourchildren. Though they are both from Ethiopia,they met in Germany. “I persuaded her to moveto Iceland,” says Yirga and adds playfully, “It isimpossible to ‘escape’ from Iceland!”When asked why they decided to opena restaurant, the couple reply, “Ethiopianculture is 3-4,000 years old and has a greatculinary tradition. We wanted to share ourtradition which is little known today as mostof the news the world gets from Ethiopiais of hunger and famine. But Ethiopia hasanother huge side to it. We have 85 tribes,thus 85 dialects, 85 cultures with their owntraditional songs and dances and culinarytraditions. So, it is a rich and diverse cultureand we are offering dishes which wereserved in Ethiopian palaces 3,000 yearsago. Ethiopian restaurants are very popularall over Europe and the US and we wereconvinced the same would apply to Iceland.”The jewel in the Minilik crown is the coffeeceremony. Be sure not to miss it. Ethiopia isknown as the ‘Mother of Coffee’ and at Minilik,guests can observe the process from start tofinish; from the roasting of the washed coffeebeans to the hostess pouring the aromatic anddelicious brew into cups—as traditionally, onlywomen can perform this ceremony.The service at Minilik is warm and lovely. Onecannot help feeling welcome and at home in thispart of Africa moved to the northern Atlantic.Minilik Restaurant–ssHliðarsmári 15 • 201 Kopavogur+354 554 0908azeb-kassay@hotmail.comwww.minilik.is22 www.icelandictimes.com www.icelandictimes.com 23


Make Your Trip MemorableIceland Excursion’s Tours bring you the country’s essenceAs you plan your holiday, you’re probablywondering how to do it all, see it all,enjoy it all and, when you come back,remember it all. That’s a lot to fit in but thereare clear shortcuts to making it happen.Say you’d like to ride a horse, seethe famous Icelandic sights and learnsome history but not have the trouble ofdriving yourself. Among its many tours,Iceland Excursions has one tour thatcovers those criteria pretty well.Starting with a pick up at your hotelaround 9 am, this particular tour takes youout past Mosfellsbær to Laxnes Horse Farm,where a horse is selected to match your ridingskills. After putting on helmets and ridinggear, you’re off into the beautiful countrysidefor a two-hour ride. Run by Porí and hisfamily, the Laxnes Horse Farm has built areputation for safety and quality, with manyfamous celebrities riding there.After a break for an optional lunch witha delicious soup and hot, fresh bread, thecoach arrives for the remainder of the tour.Now that the roads are paved to the majorsites, the coaches are the same modernluxury coaches found all across Europe.This is where a tour beats drivingyourself hands down! The guides are allhighly trained and very knowledgable andmake the most of the drive to point outthings you would have otherwise missedor share an anecdote from history—both ancient and recent. This turns thetour into an enjoyable and memorableexperience, allowing you to focus ontaking photos to later jog your memorywhen sharing your experiences withyour friends. These tours are certainlysomething you will want to share, too, asthe combination of the nature, people andguide’s talks will leave you feeling as ifyou really know this part of the country,rather than having just seen it.I talked with a young couple who hadrented a car to go sightseeing. When Itold them about my experiences of takinga tour to where they had been, they weredismayed, feeling they had wasted theirtime and missed so much—and, in manyrespects, they had. Just as you wouldn’tride a horse without the proper equipment,getting the most from your visit to Icelandreally requires someone experienced toshare their knowledge with you.If you take a look at their website, youwill notice Iceland Excursions’ professionalapproach to their tours. You can also readthe reactions of others who have taken a tour.After all, if you are spending your time andmoney coming all the way to Iceland, youwill doubtless want to make the most of it.The gratifying thing about the tours isthat they are not intrusive. They get youto the places you want to see, tell you allabout the sights and history so that whenyou arrive, you are prepared to fully enjoythem and will know what you want tofocus on. By taking the strain out of thedriving, you arrive fresh at each place—and you do arrive—you don’t get lost!A nice thing about Icelanders is that theysincerely want you to enjoy the country theylove and get the most out of your visit. Theywant to share it all with you. You don’t feeldisappointed or ripped off. On the contrary,you come away feeling you have lived yourholiday to the full and are taking home veryspecial memories. You will probably nothave time to see everything in one holiday,but Iceland Excursions will be here to takeyou to other equally amazing destinationson your next trip. And you will want toreturn! You have but scratched the surfaceof an astounding country.Iceland Excursions–asfHafnarstræti 20 • 101 Reykjavík+354 540 131324 www.icelandictimes.comwww.icelandictimes.com25iceland@grayline.iswww.grayline.is


Stay Warm this WinterÁlafoss’ wool keeps you warm and dry–just like the Icelandic sheepIceland is known for its ferocious winterstorms. Generations of Icelanders havestayed warm, dry and comfortable wearingwoollen clothing from the sheep that roamthe mountains in this wild country. Icelandicwool is noted for its special qualities. It hasa virtually waterproof outer layer and a soft,warm inner layer. The clothes are warm andshower-proof. This makes them especiallycomfortable and suitable for all weathers—unlike many wool clothes that end up aheavy, sodden mess when it rains.Made in Iceland, Found in ÁlafossAll the woollen clothing to be found inÁlafoss is made in Iceland from Icelandicwool, ensuring that you can find theseauthentic qualities you are looking for.Today, the clothing ranges from traditionalto high fashion. Many young designers havetaken the Icelandic wool to create a wholenew range of designs and colours, whichgives plenty of choice for men, women andchildren alike. You’ll fi nd them at Álafossalongside a stock of the traditional designsthat have become a fashion statementin themselves the world over. For thosewho enjoy knitting themselves, balls ofyarn, knitting accessories, patterns andeverything associated with making theclothing, are available in the shop.A Living HistoryÁlafoss is also a virtual museum. Built in 1896,it was here that the Icelandic woollen industrybegan and flourished. The mill itself has closedbut the building now houses the Álafoss store.There are looms, pieces of machinery, vintagestylecash registers, original early phones andexamples of equipment used to make theoriginal company the powerhouse that droveIcelandic society for so many years in the 20 thcentury. There is a small café which overlooksthe waterfall that started it all.It is the kind of store where you can relaxand browse, enjoy the ambience and find thosespecial gifts and personal items that are so rarelyfound in Europe or the rest of the world.Just 20 minutes from Reykjavik lies thetown of Mosfellsbær on the road to the north.There, after passing under the two bridgesyou will find a roundabout. Most trafficcontinues straight but if you turn right, you’llimmediately see the red-roofed building ofthe old mill, built next to the álafoss or álawaterfall, from which the mill took its name.–asfÁlafoss Wool StoreÁlafossvegur 23 • 270 Mosfellsbær+354 566 6303addi@alafoss.iswww.alafoss.isConnoisseur’s DelightHand-made knives by Palli are treasured across the worldCarefully carved out of diligentlyresearched and prepared materials,often rare and always unusual, Palli’s knivesare now found in at least 85 countries ofthe world. When he makes a special knife,there can be quite a competition to own it.Born from enthusiasmPalli started carving knife handles over 25years ago as a personal hobby. He enjoyedfinding unusual materials to create thehandles and took delight in carving eachone carefully to match the individual blades.Under the bladeVisit his workshop and you will most likelyfi nd yourself seated right under a collectionof blades magnetically held to a bar on theceiling above you. None has fallen yet! Atrue craftsman, he always chooses the bestblades, sourcing them from as far away asPakistan. Others come from a blacksmithin Denmark. Factory made blades comefrom Norway, Sweden and Germany. Theyare either made from fi ne Damascus steel,stainless steel or single high carbon steel:which keeps its sharp edge the best.Nature’s provisionWhat is special about these handles? Palliloves to wander the countryside, lookingfor new materials for his handles. Often,he will blend different materials togetherto form a composite handle that, whencarved, will be unique. A horse’s hoof, areindeer’s antler, a goat’s horn, a hippo’stooth, elm, fossilized wood, ebony or evendifferent Icelandic stones—these are buta few of the materials he uses to createa handle. Whilst most are found withinIceland’s shores, his search also takes himto many different parts of the world.The Patience of a MasterSometimes, materials will require specialtreatment if they are to last and that cantake time. Some woods need to dry slowlyor they will split. Others, such as thefossilized tree he pulled from the water thatwas turning into brown coal, need morepatient treatment. In this case, he wrappedit in plastic and for the next 6 years, he dailypricked a tiny hole in the covering to let justa bit more air in to dry it. Had he done itfaster, it would have splintered and crumbledto dust. Such is the thought and care appliedto each individual material that each handlestands out as carrying the touch of a mastercraftsman, a quality much sought–after.Custom or catalogue—all are uniqueBecause each knife is hand made, it is aunique creation. He does have a cataloguebut the images are just samples, as noknives are completely identical. He lovesthe challenge of experimenting with newmaterials. A 65 year-old dentist drill ispressed into use for intricate carvings. Theycan be ordered online or, in Iceland, canbe found at Brynja, the handyman shop onLaugarvegur 29, Reykjavik’s main shoppingstreet and at his workshop in Mosfellsbær. It’sworth the 15 minute trip there (from downtown Reykjavik) to see the environmentfrom which he draws his inspiration in hisworkshop next to the Álafoss waterfall.–asfPalli the Knife MakerÁlafossvegur 29 • 270 Mosfellsbæ+354 899 690326 www.icelandictimes.com www.icelandictimes.com 27palli@knifemaker.iswww.knifemaker.is


• trip duration approx. one hour from your accommodation to the airportO R12936Free wiFi hotspoton board allreykjavik excursionscoaches.reyKjavÍK cityreyKjavÍK KeF airportBaked to Perfection30 Years supplying delicious hand–made baked goods at MosfellsbakaríJust over 30 years ago, a young coupleworked together at a summer job in theWestman Islands. Later, they met again,working with the herring in the very east,in Seyðisfjörður. Love blossomed andRagnar and Áslaug married.They decided to start a bakery inMosfellsbær. They wanted it to provide a realservice to the then tiny community, so theyadded some tables and chairs in the cosyatmosphere of the warm bakery, so peoplecould sit and chat over a coffee and cookies.That thoughtfulness, along with their growingrange of delicious breads, cakes and pastriesmade them very popular. Travellers fromReykjavik would stop off on their way north.Chocolate LoversAn opportunity presented itself to open abranch in the capital and this, too, was soonthriving. Its reputation was enhanced whenHafliði, Ragnar and Áslaug’s son, startedmaking his chocolate creations. These arereal chocolates in contrast to the massproducedbars in supermarkets and youcan just taste the quality! Is it any wonder,therefore, that a branch has recently openedin Reykjavik’s oldest house on Aðalstræti,specialising in these delicious delicacies?The best of bakingIcelanders relish real, freshly-baked bread andpasties. Family events and parties always havea range of delicious cakes. Mosfellsbakarí isnow celebrating its own 30 th anniversaryin each of its 3 shops: downtown inReykjavik’s oldest house on Aðalstræti,in Háaleitisbraut and in Mosfellsbær.28 www.icelandictimes.comTheir range of handmade breads, cakes,pastries, cookies, sandwiches and buns areso wholesome and delicious. In the lattertwo bakeries, there is also a delicatessen,showing their continued commitment toservice and innovation. The original bakeryin Mosfellsbær has moved to larger premisesat the shopping centre but it still retains itscomfortable café, with more seating.Start the day deliciouslyWhether you are on a day trip or travellingaround the country, stopping off at one ofthe bakeries will certainly give you a goodstart—and a good opportunity to stock up ondelicious lunches, snacks and coffee to fortifyyou. The glittering silver Italian machinesoffer a good reminder of just how goodcoffee can taste when made right. And thosechocolates? You might not want to tell yourfriends or relatives. They are just too good!–asfMosfellsbakaríHáholti 13-15 • 270 Mosfellsbæ+354 566 6145mosbak@mosbak.iswww.mosfellsbakari.isFor our flexibleschedule scanthe QR codewe‘ll taKeyou there!all the most excitingplaces in icelandmore detailson toursin our brochuresFast, FreQuent & on scheduleevery day oF the weeK.BSÍ Bus Terminal • 101 Reykjavík580 5400 • main@re.is • www.flybus.isBSÍ Bus Terminal101 Reykjavík580 5400main@re.iswww.re.isTravel AgencyO RAuthorised byIcelandic Tourist BoardTravel AgencyAuthorised byIcelandic Tourist Boardexperiencea great daywith us!discover all the magical places notto be missed when in iceland:beautiful nature, multicoloredmountains, fertile farmlands,stunning views, plummetingwaterfalls, natural wonders andgeological phenomena.Book now at your receptionBook now by calling 580 5450Book now on www.re.is


The Grindavík Experienceso Much More than Just the Blue LagoonAll too few visitors to the famous BlueLagoon realise that, just beyond thesurrounding hills is a wonderland of geologyand history—at the centre of which is thetranquil fi shing town of Grindavík. Havingsurvived extreme conditions throughout thecenturies, the industrious people of Grindavíkhave now united to give their visitors a chanceto get the full ‘Grindavík Experience.’Unique Geology, Tranquility by the SeaSigurður Óli Hilmarsson, chairman ofGrindavík Experience, says the initiative hasexceeded most expectations, but the biggestreward is giving people a chance to experiencethe area which the people of Grindavík areso proud of. “The attractions here are reallylimitless, with a history so rich that it wouldtake days to recount. I myself have done someguiding in the area and found I could spendan entire day talking just about one particularcape, called Hópsnes, without anyonebecoming even remotely bored,” says Sigurður.Extreme ConditionsGrindavík retains a special place in historyas one of Iceland’s prime locations for theproduction of salted cod. While present dayIceland has welcomed modern comforts andtechnology, it’s important to remember thatuntil only a few decades ago this was one of themost inhospitable places imaginable. Extremeweather conditions, lack of vegetation,unforgiving tides, isolation, darkness, disease,famine, poverty and even pillaging piratesfrom Algeria are among the struggles that thepeople of Grindavík have had to deal with overthe centuries and the only way out of these direcircumstances was through the salted cod.With Grindavík Experience, visitors arenow able to get a better sense of how historyhas moulded the nation of today. “Throughthis initiative we’ve been able to merge all thesedivergent sources of interest into one experience.As a result you can, for example, enjoy the lavafields and craters and learn about the manyshipwrecks and ship rescues in the area. Withtheir involvement in the project, smalleroperators have been able to present their serviceson a much bigger scale, giving visitors a uniqueway of experiencing the area,” says Sigurður.Geological WonderlandThe peninsula on which Grindavík ispositioned is actually the Mid-AtlanticRidge rising out of the Atlantic Ocean asa result of powerful underwater volcaniceruptions As you can imagine, the area isbursting with energy. The region is hometo over 100 volcanic craters, over 200 lavatubes, lava fields, hot springs and muchmore. These phenomena have however beensomewhat hidden and hard to reach, but viathe Grindavík Experience, the area has beenmade easily accessible by walking tours, allterrainvehicles, bus tours, bicycle tours andeven on horseback. Signposts and paths havealready been placed throughout the lavafieldsand historical sites and a new direct path fromthe Blue Lagoon to Grindavík is underway.A park guiding you through one hundredvolcanic craters was established recently andthe creation of a Geopark is in the works.The Geopark concept is a collectivevenue where visitors can experience history,modernity, landscape, geology, cuisine, arts,crafts, flora and fauna of the area.–VaGGrindavíkurbærVíkurbraut 62 • 240 Grindavík+354 420 1100grindavik@grindavik.iswww.visitgrindavik.isA Different Icelandsalty Tours takes you to places other tourists will missVisiting Iceland is a thrill. Time islimited and you promise yourselfto return and see more. Most peoplehave heard of the Golden Circle tourencompassing a few of the country’shighlights. However, there is so much moreto this country of hidden secrets than this.Leather DesignerLadies handbags, earrings and necklacesQuality Icelandic design and leatherhandcraft is much sought after. “Myfirst leather design was a handbag painted withcolourful artwork and patterns,” says GuðrúnStefánsdóttir, a successful independent architectwho found a second career in creative leatherdesigns. Guðrún designs leather handbags andnow she’s added necklaces and earrings to herArk Art accessory collection. “I wanted to usethe leather cut-offs for something useful, whenI came up with the idea to use them to makejewellery—earrings and necklaces.”Salt y Tours’ owner,Þorsteinn, is an expert guide. Visitors hetakes on tours consistently give him ravereviews on sites like TripAdvisor.com becausehe takes them to see and do the unusual,sights commonly missed by tour groups butwhich are easily as inspiring and interesting.His commentaries alone are worth the trip.Whether you plant your own tree or visita rare goat farm, stand on the continentaldivide or enjoy the multi-colouredlandscape around boiling mud pools, youwill certainly have fascinating memories totake home—and, hopefully, plenty of fi lmand photos to prove it to your friends. Yes,he can also take you to the Golden Circle,if you ask, but you’ll miss the crowds andsee them in a different light.He’ll pick you up from your hotelfor a day you will not forget, leavingyou with that, “Can we do that again?”question on your lips.Salty Tours–asfBorgarhrauni 1 • 240 Grindavík+354 820 5750Guðrún’s Ark Art leather jewellery isrecognisable by her use of thin leather rings orsquares and use of colours. It is a sophisticatedyet simple design, skilfully using geometricshapes and colours.Guðrún graduated from the Royal Schoolof Architecture in Denmark in 1986. Afterworking at an architect’s office, she started herown business. “I’ve worked on some amazingprojects, ranging from large buildings tosingle family homes. My favourite projectsare those where I design everything fromA-Z for private homes. Those projects wouldtypically involve the house and interiordesign, the landscaping around the house andthe furniture inside.”The Ark Art collection is available at theNational Art Gallery, Sædís jewellery shopat Reykjavik’s Old Harbour and directlyfrom Guðrún.More info on facebook: Ark.art leatherdesign.Arkart–NHH30 www.icelandictimes.com www.icelandictimes.com 31tgk@saltytours.iswww.saltytours.isDragháls 10 • 110 Reykjavík+354 551 5533arkgunna@simnet.iswww.arkart.is


The World of the VikingsThe Complete Viking ExperienceMuch has been made of Iceland’s Vikingheritage and many Icelanders proudlyclaim they possess some of the Vikings’most desirable traits; strength, courage andpersistence. The modern day Icelander can,however, hardly be considered an accuraterepresentation of the Viking lifestyle. Outsideof witnessing history buffs dressing up intraditional garb in county festivals, the fullextent of the Vikings’ incredible way of life isnowhere more visible than in Víkingaheimar,The World of the Vikings, in Reykjanesbær.Millennial VoyageOne of its prize displays is the Viking shipÍslendingur, an exact replica of a genuineViking ship, dated back to 870 AD, whichwas excavated almost entirely intact inNorway in 1882 and is considered one ofthe best examples of the era’s engineeringand maritime knowledge. What makesthe Íslendingur so amazing is that itwas actually used to cross the Atlanticin the year 2000 to commemorate LeifEiriksson’s discovery of North-America.Sailing across the Atlantic might not seemthat impressive with the technology andmaterials we have today, but one cannot butbe impressed when looking at the 18 tons ofwood and 5,000 nails used to make a woodenbehemoth which could survive the unforgivinghigh seas of the Atlantic Ocean – Viking style!The Whole Viking PackageVíkingaheimar is full of informative andentertaining exhibitions, which delve intothe story of the Viking expansion across theAtlantic, their unique mythology, myths andthe archeological findings in the Suðurnesregion which tell the story of the settlementof Iceland. After your visit you’ll no longerwonder why so many Icelanders cling soadamantly to their Viking ancestry. TheVikings’ accomplishments and ingenuityin face of extremely harsh environments ondisplay in Víkingaheimar speak for themselvesand when you show up at home with yourViking helmet on, you’ll actually be able toretell the incredible heritage that it signifies.Iceland at Your DoorstepWhen arriving to Iceland all too many touristshop on the first bus they see and head straightto Reykjavík, missing out on the wonders ofthe Reykjanes peninsula —geological, historicand cultural. You’d be well advised to bookyour first night in Reykjanesbær and workyour way from there. Despite its proximityto the airport, Reykjanesbær is no ordinaryairport town; it’s actually a vibrant villagewith a unique history, countless activities andnatural phenomena to be discovered.–VaGReykjanesbærHotel with Charma quiet, picturesque spot by the Harbour just 5 min from the airportHotel Berg, the cosy family hotel inKeflavík, has been open less thana year and yet it is garnering a lot of topreviews on sites like booking.com andTripAdvisor.com. Whether just overnight orfor a holiday, many go to these websites toread the reviews. After all, it’s an importantaspect of your stay and the reviews give you agood picture from other guests’ perspectives.What the Guests are Saying“Very close to the airport, which was greatsince we flew in at 23:30 at night. Very quiet,comfortable and clean, and a nice landingspot to begin our trip in Iceland.” “The quaintharbour location makes you feel removedfrom the airport though. Lovely rooms andvery homely. Breakfast was plentiful and wellprepared. Highly recommended.” “Lovely,new, small hotel in a residential area next tothe 2nd (quieter) harbour of Keflavick(sic) . Th eowners do free transfers from the airport for allguests. Very comfortable rooms, good breakfast,good value. What mroe(sic) to say? Stay here onyour way out of Iceland and you won’t regret it.”I could have chosen any of the 220recommendations on these sites and theywould have echoed these sentiments.Soothing and InspiringMany reviewers mentioned the quietlocation. The airport could be a millionmiles away rather than a mere 5 mins.There are beautiful walks, all the facilitiesof the town only a 5 min. walk away, witha range of good restaurants, and all theusual facilities. Mind you, each room has aTV and DVD player and there is a libraryof DVD’s to watch if you want to stay in.Right outside the front windows, the smallharbour is lined with little boats, adding tothe charm of this family hotel’s location.After a long fl ight, a visit to the hotel’shot pot will soothe aching muscles andtension in the best possible way.In winter and early spring, you can sit therewith a glass of wine, watching the NorthernLights dance across the sky overhead and feelthat all is well with the world!See the SightsIt’s not necessary to stay in the capital to beable to visit all the landmark sites. It’s justas easy from here, as there are tours withexpert guides who will uncover the region’shidden secrets which you might otherwisemiss. Then, when it’s time to return to yourold life, the complimentary airport transferwill return you to the airport in time—andbefore the rush—for your fl ight.–asfHótel BergTjarnargötu 12 • 230 Reykjanesbæ+354 421 6700reykjanesbaer@reykjanesbaer.iswww.reykjanesbaer.isBakkavegur 17 • 230 Reykjanesbæ+354 422 7922berg@hotelberg.iswww.hotelberg.is32 www.icelandictimes.com www.icelandictimes.com 33


Enjoy Icelandic Farm Lifea superb View of the Dale from steindórsstaðirSteindórsstaðir in Reykholtsdalur Valleyis a fully functional farm that offers bedand breakfast in a warm and welcomingfarmhouse. Just a stone’s throw away are someof the most beautiful places in Borgarfjörður.The Icelandic highlands await above the farmwith glaciers, lava caves and panoramic viewsof extraordinary mountains.The same family has owned the farm since1828 and the old residential home, wherethe guest rooms are, was built in 1937 aftera fi re had destroyed the turf house that hadbeen the homestead for centuries. The fireoccurred during a dry spell so it was impossibleto control and the family lost nearly all theirbelongings. They only managed to save someof their better clothing and odds and endsfrom the living room. The household, a totalof eleven people, took up residence in the sheepshed where they lived for three months untilthey could move into the then new house.Rising from the ashesThe top floor was added around 1950 and thefirst floor was enlarged around 1965. Totalrenovation of the building was conductedfrom spring 2009 until the opening of theguesthouse in June 2010. A large terrace with ahot tub is situated in front of the house whereguests can relax, enjoy the view and languishafter a long day of travelling.Deep in Natural WondersGamli Bærinn Bed & Breakfast at HúsafellDriving north towards Akureyri in thespring, I decided to wander off the ringroad near the town of Borgarnes to do someexploring. Forty minutes later, I found myselfat Húsafell—an area rich in history withseveral extraordinary waterfalls, two scenicglaciers and some pretty amazing people.Húsafell is a service village nowadays,but in former times it was a sprawling estatewith a farm and rectory under the care ofthe 18th century Pastor Snorri Björnason.The old farmhouse from 1908, knowntoday as Gamli Bærinn, has been renovatedand turned into a quaint bed and breakfastthat offers sleeping bag accommodationand made up beds. Owners Steinunn andSæmundur will be more than happy to pointyou in the right direction to the naturalwonders in the area, among them: Surtshellir—a lava tube, the longest cavein Iceland at (1970 m or 6463 ft) Hraunfossar—a series of low cascadingfalls that come up through the lava plain. Barnafoss falls Langjökull and Eiríksjökull GlaciersIn the vicinity areReykholt, Deildartunghver, the largest hotspring in Europe in terms of volume of water,Barnafoss, Hraunfossar and Húsafell. Aninteresting hiking route along Rauðsgil offersa wonderful view of the many waterfalls inthe canyon and the forest of Steindorsstaðir ispeaceful and inviting. It’s an ideal base to travelfrom around the valleys of Borgarfjörður, seeingall the sights and returning in the evening forsome pampering and rest.Enjoy the comforts of homeAdding to the attraction is the factthat this is a working farm with cows,horses, sheep, forestry and corn growing.The farm animals and the fact thatthis is a home make it exceptionallyinteresting and inviting. Staying at sucha diverse Icelandic farm is educationalas well as comfortable. Enjoy Icelandichospitality—it’s first class.–sT.sSteindórsstaðirBeautifully sculpted rocks, the work ofsculptor and musician Páll Guðmundsson,himself the great, great, great grandsonof Pastor Snorri, are scattered around thegrounds. A fascinating artist and musician,Páll is also known for his marimba-likeinstrument made of stones. Páll and theSigur Rós band did a performance using the‘steinnharp’, as it is called in Icelandic, severalyears ago in the Surtshellir lava tube cave.Gamli bærinn HúsafelliReykholt • 320 Borgarfjörður+354 435 1227steindorsstadir@steindorsstadir.iswww.steindorsstadir.is–EMVAt your service- Anywhere- AnytimeSpecial sightseeing taxi toursWe specialize in personalized sightseeingday trips to the natural wonders of Iceland– for small groups of 4-8 persons.We´ll make you a Comfortable Price offer!34 www.icelandictimes.comHúsafell • 311 Borgarbyggð+354 895 1342sveitasetrid@simnet.isnoneAll major credit cards accepted by the driver.To book in advance: tel:+354 588 5522 or on www.hreyfill.is E-mail: tour@hreyfill.is


MysticalSnæfellsnesfour Hotels Cover all the Varied aspects of the Peninsula and its BeautiesSnæfellsnes was immortalised by JulesVerne’s ‘Journey to the Centre of theEarth’, with its intrepid explorers descendingthe volcano that, while currently dormant,has scarred the surrounding land with ahuge lava field, clearly visible today.The glacier-covered volcano rises1,446 metres and is clearly visible fromReykjavik. It makes a thrilling tour on eithersnowmobile or snowcat from Arnarstapi, onthe south side of the peninsula.Snæfellsnes has long been thought ofas a spiritual place, with its ley lines andreports of the Huldafólk or Hidden Peoplebeing common, as well as other spiritualinfluences being felt by visitors. The springat Mariulind—the Virgin Mary’s spring—isconsidered to have healing powers.Hótel HellnarSituated on the southern tip of Snæfellsnes,this tranquil country hotel is favoured byguests from all over the world. With theglacier towering above it on one side and theFaxafloi Bay on the other, it is a beautifulplace to stay. The hotel has won Green Globecertification since 2002 and the IcelandicTourist Board Environmental Awards twice.Dolphins and whales are frequently to beseen sporting close to the hotel and the wholearea is a bird paradise and is thus popular withphotographers. Guests’ praise for this beautifulspot, surrounded by nature, the national parkand lots of wildlife, is well-founded.Activities include horse riding, whalewatching, hiking and glacier tours, hikingand bird watching. The people we spoke tofound the photo opportunities outstanding,with some returning year on year.Snjófell GuesthouseJust before Hellnar, this former tradingpost has a lovely guesthouse and restaurantand several historical buildings. The stoneimage of the giant half-man, half-troll,Bárður stands guard to protect the areafrom evil. Its harbour is still in use byfi shing vessels under the rugged cliffs. Thehike between here and Hellnar throughthe lava field with its bird cliffs and uniquerock formations takes about an hour andis very popular. The distinctive Mt.Stapafell rises over the village, adding tothe nature highlights of the area.The guesthouse sleeps 45 in a 2-storeyrenovated house and the restaurant nextdoor seats 55 in a traditional turf-roofedfarmstead-style building.Hótel ÓlafsvíkWith Snæfellsjökull towering above the smalltown and the Breiðafj örður Bay stretchingout to the north, Ólafsvík is a good spot totake a break for a night or two. The hotelis placed across the road from the harbourwhere the fishing boats land their catches.The 3-star hotel has a restaurant and bar andWiFi Internet. It has 19 studio apartments,18 rooms with double or twin beds with abathroom and 13 rooms with shared facilities.It is open from May to September, making it aconvenient place to base from while exploringthe north end of the peninsula.Hótel StykkishólmurThe largest of the hotels in the area,Hótel Stykkishólmur is on top of a hillwith a stunning view of the bay and itsmany islands. It’s a beautiful hotel forboth individuals and groups, with atop class á la carte restaurant that alsoserves Scandinavian-style breakfasts eachmorning, a bar and large function roomwith a stage, dance area and dining tablesfor up to 300 people. The 79 rooms are allvery comfortable, each with bathroom, TV,Internet, phone and hair dryer. There is aluxury suite with comfortable dining area,lounge, a large TV—and a view right up thefjörd to the mountains in the distance.The swimming pool is a minute’s walkaway, with its mineral waters that are sogood for the skin and overall health. A golfcourse, free for guests, lies besides the hotel.The standard of service from theEnglish-speaking staff was very good andwe greatly enjoyed each one of the hotels.No pretensions—just friendly, helpful andinformative in a natural way.–asfHellnar • 356 Snæfellsbær+354 435 682036 www.icelandictimes.com www.icelandictimes.com 37Hótel Hellnarhotel@hellnar.iswww.hellnar.is


Iceland to Yourselfautumn in Grundarfjörður reveals a different worldHotel Framnes sits right on the bayin Grundarfj örður, enjoying a clearview over the waters of Breiðafj örður, withits myriad islands. Jutting out into the bayto the left rises the most photographedmountain in Iceland, Mt. Kirkjufell.The hotel was built to be a fi sherman’shostel but, following extensive renovation,it is now popular for its comfort, serviceand warm friendliness.An ever-changing landscapeGrundarfjörður is particularly easy to get tofrom Reykjavík, being just a two-hour drivethrough amazing countryside. It is the centralof the three fi shing villages on the northerncoast of the Snæfellsnes peninsula. Hikers lovethe coastline and the mountains, lakes andwaterfalls behind the village, while the bayitself is popular for fi shing as well as being aphotographer’s hot spot. Glacier trips and horseriding are both inspiring experiences here andall the main attractions on the peninsula canbe easily reached from Grundarfjörður.Colours and comfortAs August draws to a close, it is the time forthe independent traveller who likes to enjoythe serenity of the mountains. Colours beginto change—in both the landscape and thesky, with spectacular sunsets on a regularbasis. As the evenings cool, the northernlights begin to appear, dancing across thenight skies. Travellers can enjoy them fromthe comfort of the hot tub, which has a screenprotecting them from any sea breezes withoutinterrupting the view. A massage chair andsauna provide soothing for sore muscles.It is little wonder that this 29-room hotel,with a 60-seat dining room and free wirelessInternet has won the approbation of visitors asTripAdvisor’s Certificate of Excellence attests.Láki ToursSailing in the mystical bay aboard atraditional oak fi shing boat holds a magicall of its own. Sea angling from the boat isfun for any age and the catch can be a goodsize. Islands like Melrakkey are home tothousands of puffi ns and different sea birdsand, out in the deeper waters, the dolphins,porpoises and whales swim. Last year, thetours had 100% success in seeing whales.The powerful orca or killer whales are mostoften seen in the first months of the year andare a truly amazing sight. They follow theherring that come into the fjord, providing aonce-in-a-lifetime experience.Group bookings are accepted in Septemberand October. Bookings can be made for thedaily trips at Hotel Framnes.–asfLáki ToursNesvegi 6 • 350 Grundarfirði+354 438 6893framnes@hotelframnes.iswww.lakitours.comThe Mountains and the Baysee the snæfellnes peninsula from the Old Post Offi ce GuesthouseThe mountains of Snæfellsnes andBreiðafjörður Bay are two outstandingsights in West Iceland. Beautiful waterfallscascade down the mountains while snowstill covers their upper reaches. Kirkjufell,the strange mountain that juts out into thebay is one of the features of Grundafj örður,the middle of the three fishing towns on thenorth of the peninsula.From the Old Post Office Guesthouse orgamla pósthúsið in Grundafjörður, this is theview from the bedrooms and the balcony. It isa 7-room guesthouse that offers comfortablebeds, free Internet connection and IPTV ineach room for very competitive prices. Thebedrooms comprise 1 twin, 2 single and 4double-bed rooms. This represents good valuefor the budget-conscious visitor.The Life of the TownKaffi 59’s meals draw diners who love delicious Icelandic mealsWhat is on your mind after a day’shiking or exploring? Food! Themountains of the Snæfells peninsulaoffer some memorable experiences, photoopportunities of nature, birdlife, outstandinglandscapes and more but then hunger strikes!Kaffi 59 is a very popular restaurant,café and bar on Grundafjörður’s mainstreet where you can get a delicious andfilling meal at almost any time of theday. On the weekends, it stays open lateinto the night, too.It offers self catering, with free use ofthe kitchen. The supermarket is just acouple of minutes away, as is Kaffi 59,with its range of full meals.The summer months bring a beautifulevening light to the area and, in winter,the Northern Lights are a spectaculardisplay—especially with the mountainsand sea as a backdrop.Gamla pósthúsið–asfGrundargötu 50 • 350 Grundarfjörður+354 430 8043gisting@tsc.iswww.gamlaposthusid.isOn warm days or summer evenings, you cansit out on the veranda, surrounded by spectacularmountains and a magnificent view of the bay.Whenever there is a major sports event, it isshown on the large screen. The ambience makesmeals enjoyable —especially on the weekends,when live musicians and karaoke make it anexciting place to spend the evening.Here, you will find home-baked cakesand traditional Icelandic food, as well aspizzas, hamburgers and sandwiches. This iswhere we always come to eat when we’re inthe area because we’re guaranteed good foodand warm, friendly service.K a f fi 5 9–asfGrundargötu 59 • 350 Grundarfjörður+354 438 6446kaffi59@simnet.iswww.kaffi59.is38 www.icelandictimes.com www.icelandictimes.com 39


Superb Views and FoodLet Your senses Imbibe the spirit of snæfellsnes at LangaholtWhether you rent a car, ride a bike or takethe bus, spending a day in the middleof all the sites of interest on the Snæfellsnespeninsula will leave you both refreshed andinspired by the beauty of the nature and thetranquility with which it refreshes your spirit.Langaholt is a 20-room guesthouse witha campsite, golf course and restaurant, withprobably the best view of the Snæfells mountainand glacier from the beach by the campsite.This is a great place to come for a weekendgetaway, to spend a night or two enjoying theIcelandic countryside, eat a delicious meal orfew and enjoy both the natural and historicalsites of the area, which are no doubt verydifferent from any other country you’ve visited!Speaking of meals, this is a restaurantwith a top chef who wants you to enjoy awholesome meal, not a fancy work of art butyou will get good-sized portions that will fillthat hole left from a busy day’s exploring.A number of the vegetables and spices aregrown in their own gardens and you won’tfi nd food that comes from outside the area.With its proximity to the sea, you would besurprised if seafood wasn’t on the menu.If you arrive for a good lunch, there is a choiceof fish or vegetable soup, fish of the day and fishstew. The deserts are that delicious chocolatecake or waffles with whipped cream, caramelsauce and mint—something you must try!For dinner, starters include fish soup,vegetable soup, trout marinated in dill, ormussels - these as a starter or main course.Other main courses could be fish stew,catfish with ginger and soya, cod steakfried in butter with rose pepper, basil andsun-dried tomatoes or lamb with red winesauce. The menu varies depending on theavailability of the fresh ingredients.For desert, there are pancakes or chocolate cakeand there is a good selection of red or white wines.After a satisfying meal, you might be forgivenfor booking a room and enjoying a good night’ssleep before exploring the area some more.Take a walk outside and look at the glacier.With your left ear, you’ll hear the relaxing soundof the surf, whilst in your right, the whispers ofwaterfalls. Swirling around you are the manyvarieties of birds like the arctic terns and thedifferent gulls. You can watch the clouds rollingover the mountain peaks while you play a roundof golf or set up your tent on the campsite.Langaholt–asfYtri-Garðar • 356 Snæfellsbær+354 435 6789langaholt@langaholt.iswww.langaholt.isSnack in the Sun at Snæfellsnesfjöruhúsið is a relaxing setting for a break in HellnarHiking around the Snæfells peninsulais a beautiful experience. The walkfrom Arnarstapi to Hellnar is especiallyspectacular, with its bird cliffs filled withscreeching arctic terns and gulls. In thebackground is the Snæfells glacier peak.Right down at the harbour at Hellnar isFjöruhúsið, probably the most picturesquecafé I have seen, surrounded as it is by therocky bird cliffs, right under the Snæfellsglacier. The cosy café seats two dozen insidebut, on a sunny day, it is the outside seatingthat is always fi lled, as walkers take a restand imbibe the beauty of the surroundingswhilst enjoying a delicious snack or lunch.Tour guides know the best places to stopand this is one of them, so it’s popular. Openfrom Easter to October, the little family caféprovides seafood soup, homemade bread,vegetable or chicken quiche, pasta, waffles,a range of delicious cakes and drinks of allkinds, all with friendly service.Dining in the Old Towna meal in Narfeyrarstofa is a delicious trip back in timeThe small fishing town of Stykkishólmur ishome to a restaurant with excellent food,an extensive á la carte menu and an innovativechef who has worked in top internationalrestaurants. In addition, the ambience takesyou back to the early days of the last century,and its close connections to Denmark.Narfeyrarstofa was converted into arestaurant in 2001 and quickly gained areputation for such quality of food and servicethat royalty dined there. The current chef,Gunnar, received awards in Denmark for hisdeserts and, as a chocolatier par exellence, youmay not want to leave after the main meal!Situated next to the old church close to theharbour, it’s well placed to get the freshestseafood and this restaurant takes seafood tothe next level. A group of visiting chefs fromNorway rated the restaurant as the highlightof their trip to Iceland—praise indeed.You’ll fi nd Fjöruhúsið easily when you’rewalking but if you’re driving, go right downto the harbour parking spot and you’ll see itperched on the cliffside.Fjöruhúsið Café–asfHellnar • 365 Snæfellsnes+354 435 6844fjoruhusid@isl.iswww.fjoruhusid.isThe menu, which can be viewed online,shows the emphasis placed on fresh, healthyfood and each selection is named, with a briefexplanation giving its history. It shows justhow appetising the Icelandic food chest canbe in the hands of a master chef.Narfeyrarstofa–asfAðalgata 3 • 340 Stykkishólmur+354 438 1119narf@narf.iswww.narfeyrarstofa.is40 www.icelandictimes.com www.icelandictimes.com 41


Puffi n with fooda White-tailed Eagle in fl ight in Breiðafjörðura playful pair of Red-necked Phalaropesa male snow Bunting on flatey IslandBlack Guillemot on flatey Islanda pair of Black-legged Kittiwakes with their chickBreiðafjörður is the domain of the Glaucous GullBrünnich´s Guillemots at snæfellsnesa Common Eider drake on displayEuropean shag in BreiðafjörðurBirds inBreiðafjörðurThe Mystical Bay with Marvellous BirdlifeBreiðafjörður is an expansive andshallow bay located on the west coastof Iceland. The bay is the largest area ofshallow waters and beaches in the country,and rich wildlife can be found both aboveand below its surface. The area has greatertides and tidal currents than elsewherein Iceland, and it is believed that about aquarter of the country’s beaches are locatedin Breiðafj örður. The bay has more diversebenthic species than have been detectedelsewhere in the country. While folk beliefholds that the islands in Breiðafjörðurare infinite, estimates put the number atapproximately 2,500. Breiðafjörður wasonce a great source of food and numerousislands were inhabited. The islands are nowmostly deserted, with only two which areinhabited year round—but many houses aremaintained and used as summer dwellings.The birdlife in Breiðafj örður is uniqueand one of the most important in Icelandand the whole of the North Atlantic.Breiðafjörður is protected according tolaw, in addition to being identifi ed as anImportant Bird Area (IBA) by BirdLifeInternational. The outpost of Breiðafj örðurto the north and west is Látrabjarg, thelargest bird cliff in the North Atlantic.The microcosm is characterised by birdswhich are wholly dependent on marine life,and many of them nest in large colonies.Furthermore, the beaches in Breiðafjörður arean important stop for migratory birds on theirway to and from wintering grounds east of theAtlantic and breeding grounds in Greenlandand the Arctic Islands of Canada. The reasonfor this rich bird life is an abundance of food,which is based on an interplay of landscape,significant tides, and the fertility of the sea.As an example of the importance ofBreiðafjörður to birds, one can mention thattwo thirds of the Icelandic White-tailedEagle population and the vast majority ofGreat Cormorants and European Shagsnest by the bay. By far the world’s largestRazorbill colony is on the Látrabjarg birdcliffs, and about one third of the CommonEider population is in Breiðafjörður. Thelargest Glaucous Gull breeding grounds inIceland are in Breiðafjörður, and the bayis also home to large colonies of NorthernFulmars, Black-legged Kittiwakes, and ArcticTerns. In addition, a large part of the worldpopulations of Brent Geese, Red Knots andRuddy Turnstones pass through the beachesof Breiðafjörður in the spring and autumn.The White-tailed Eagle is known as theking of Icelandic birds. This majestic bird ofprey was almost extinct in Iceland in 1960, butBirdLife Iceland was able to save the populationwith its fight against narrow-mindedness andignorant views. When the population was at itslowest, it managed to prevail in Breiðafjörður,which was and still is its main habitat inIceland. Currently, the White-tailed Eaglemostly nests on islands and islets and on lowpeninsulas and cliff edges, but during thepopulation slump, it nested quite a lot onsteep, unscalable mountainsides. The eagleis wholly protected and its nest may not beapproached unless permitted by the Ministryfor the Environment. The Sæferðir company,which sails from the town of Stykkishólmur,has a permit to sail near an eagle’s nest andshow tourists this magnificent bird.The Atlantic Puffin is one of the mostcommon birds which nest in Breiðafj örður,nesting in tight colonies on grassy islandswhich are plentiful in the bay. It dives for fishand, in late summer, it is often seen in flightcarrying sand eels for its young. The Puffin isvery popular with tourists and Breiðafjörðuris a good spot for viewing it.The Baldur ferry stops on the island ofFlatey on its trips between Stykkishólmurand Brjánslækur. A day can be spent on theisland between ferry stops or a longer period ifpreferred. The bird life on Flatey is special anddiverse and well worth paying attention to asmany birds on the island are unusually tame.Prominent along the coast of Flatey are the jetBlack Guillemots sporting white wing patches,red legs and the inside of their mouth is brightred. Their main source of food is butterfishwhich they hunt in the seaweed along theshore. Puffins are quite common underLundaberg cliff and on the islands aroundFlatey. Other prominent sea birds are Shags,Fulmars, Kittiwakes, and Eiders. The SnowBunting sings its wistful song from rooftopsor rocky outcrops. The Red-necked Phalaropeswoops and swirls on most ponds and poolsbut can also be seen at sea, while its cousin, theRed Phalarope, may also appear on the beach.Redshanks call from fence posts, CommonSnipes drum overhead, and Arctic Terns diveat unwelcome visitors on the nesting grounds.One cannot discuss the birds ofBreiðafjörður without mentioning theLátrabjarg bird cliffs, even though it isnot within the area covered by laws onthe protection of Breiðafjörður and eventhough it is a different IBA. Látrabjarg isthe largest bird cliff in the North Atlantic,and it is home to hundreds of thousands ofsea birds: Fulmars, Kittiwakes, Razorbills,Common Guillemots, Brünnich’sGuillemots, and Puffi ns. Bjargtangar is thebest place in the world for photographingPuffi ns; in the evenings, they are so tamethat you can almost touch them, andnowhere else in the world can you taketheir portraits using a wide-angle lens!Happy birdwatching!42 www.icelandictimes.comwww.icelandictimes.com43–JÓHImages by © Jóhann Óli Hilmarsson


Step Back in Timea stay in Hotel flatey is a trip into the life of the pastIt seems that time stopped about a centuryago when you get off the Baldur ferry inFlatey. Life is slow here, far from the freneticpace of most of the world’s cities. You feel awave of peace and calm flow over your spiritas you walk past small coloured cottages, withthe sheep grazing just outside their doors.Was there life before the Internet? Here,there is freedom from the tyranny of emailand the web—and it’s a real relief. Theworld goes on and you really miss very littleof it. It seems out of place to even have alaptop or mobile phone here.The island of Flatey is the largest ofthe thousands of islands in the mysticalBreiðafjörður Bay. It has been inhabitedsince the days of the Settlement. This smallcommunity has a rich history. It had it’sown church and doctor and it’s library helda treasury of old manuscripts. The librarystill stands today behind the church and hasbeen an inspiration for authors, musiciansand artists for centuries.The Hotel with a HistoryHótel Flatey started life as a ‘pakkhús’,or warehouse for the goods brought bylarge sail boats that moored in the naturalharbour. Today, it has 11 rooms, consistingof 1 large family room, 3 suites and 7 doublerooms for the many visitors who want tospend a little more time on the island. Therooms retain the style of the past, completewith magazines from the early 1960’s.It’s popular with photographers for therich birdlife and interesting landscapes onthe island. Many of the birds are unafraidand approach the house, day and night.The restaurant has been used for manypurposes: It began life as a warehouse, thena meeting house, a radio communicationhouse, young people’s association, gym andtheatre. It is still used for music concerts ofevery genre, especially on the weekends.Downstairs, there used to be a salt storageand a place for tanning sheep skins. Nowconverted to a bar - the Salt Bar, you’ll bereminded of your childhood with seats fromthe old school, the wooden vaulting boxand benches from the old church. It’s full ofcharacter and good drinks.A Summertime SpecialThe hotel opens at the end of May andcloses at the end of August. Nowadays,only the two farming families stay on theisland throughout the year. They stillcollect bird eggs, including puffin eggsand farm the sheep on the island.–asfHotel FlateyFlatey • 345 Flatey+354 555 7788info@hotelflatey.iswww.hotelflatey.isSoft as Silk Spasjávarsmiðjan’s seaweed therapy brings health and reliefIf just the word ‘spa’ evokes feelings ofcomfort and well-being, you shouldtry the real thing—especially after a day’shiking in the beautiful Reykhólar area, withits birds, seals and whales—not to mentionthe spectacular countryside. Soaking inSjávarsmiðjan’s hot pots, with its naturalhot water, is both relaxing and invigorating.Sailing Breiðafjörður BayEyjasigling takes tours, photography and birdwatching to seaEyjasigling or Island Cruises is very aptlynamed as they sail Breiðafjörður Baywith its innumerable islands, many teemingwith birdlife. The bay itself is home to seals,dolphins and the occasional whales, presentingopportunities to the wildlife photographer anda wonderful experience for anyone interested inseeing these creatures close-up.Sailing from Staður’s harbour, less than adozen kilometres from the village of Reykjólaron the southern Westfjords, Eyjasigling’sAdd to this the wonderful proven healthbenefits of seaweed gel and you will come outrejuvenated, with your skin as soft as silk,strengthened and with improved elasticity.Seaweed detoxifies the body bystimulating the release of excess body fluids.Toxins are replaced by minerals. Scientistsreport that Seaweeds are rich in vitamins A 1,19-passenger boat, the Sula, takes enthusiastsout twice a day at 10:30am and 4pm.Enjoying the wildlife in its naturalenvironment is a fulfilling experience and, withguide, Björn Samuelsson, bringing the bay’shistory to life and taking you to the best spotsto see the birds, seals and dolphins, it’s one ofthose truly defining moments in a holiday.Björn also takes you to Flatey or Skáleyjar,the only islands inhabited year-round. Here,you will feel as if time stood still a century ago.B 1, B 2, B 6, B 12, C, E, K, pantothenic acid,folic acid, and niacin. They are an importantsupply of 60 trace elements and an excellentsource of over 12 minerals, especiallysodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium,phosphorus, iron, zinc and manganese.Other health benefits of seaweed bathsinclude reduction of tension, muscle painand fatigue, improved circulation, aidingweight loss and cellulite control and easingmenopausal discomforts. Those with asthma,arthritis, insomnia, inflammation, dermatitisand psoriasis find great improvements.Sjávarsmiðjan–asfVesturbraut 2 • 380 Reykhólar+354 577 4800sjavarsmidjan@sjavarsmidjan.iswww.sjavarsmidjan.isThe farmers still live a simple self-sufficientlifestyle, collecting eider down, birds’ eggs,fishing and seal hunting.There is a rich history going back to theSettlement days of the 900’s AD, whichBjörn tells his guests all about.Eyjasigling–asfReykyhólum • 380 Reykhólahreppi+354 849 6748eyjasigling@eyjasigling.iswww.eyjasigling.is44 www.icelandictimes.com www.icelandictimes.com 45


Á HVÍTUM GRUNNIÁ SVÖRTUM GRUNNISVARTHVÍTTI Discovered America FirstThe small Community of Búðudalur has a Rich HeritageWest Iceland is fi lled with history andthree of it most famous characterslived around the small village of Búðudaluron the spectacular road to the West Fjörds.Iceland’s famous pioneerAs you enter the village, an information signpoints to the left, down to a clean, grey buildingby the shore. Leifsbuð houses an impressivedisplay of pictures, ancient manuscripts, modelsand more, detailing the exploits surroundingthe discovery of America centuries beforeColumbus. Historians now generally acceptthat this courageous Viking pioneer was thefirst to not only discover, but found settlementsin the New World such as the one in L’Anseaux-Meadowsin Newfoundland with 2,400recently discovered Viking objects.In 2000, as further confirmation, anaccurate reconstruction of a Viking longship,the Íslendingur, sailed to New York, retracingLeif Eiriksson’s voyage across the Atlantic.Erik the Red settled in GreenlandLeif’s father, the fi ery Erik the Red—wasfi ery not only in hair but in temperament,too. Arguments with his neighbours gotviolent and led to his exile, first fromNorway, then from his home just outsideBúðadalur and finally, from the island ofÖxney. His farm has been reconstructed inHaukadalur and gives a fascinating insightinto his life before he became the firstpermanent European settler in Greenland.The Queen lived hereQueen Auður the Deepminded, daughterof a Celtic king, after building her ownship in secret in Scotland, established aChristian community in the area. She waswell-known for her deep connection withGod and practice of her faith. She builtup a centre of learning in a time of deepignorance and superstition and infl uencedfuture generations with her example.Activities in the areaIn Hvítadalur, you can go horse ridingthrough the countryside. Cycling,especially around the coastline is muchenjoyed. There are beautiful salmon fi shingrivers. Bird watching and photography areincreasingly popular, especially with anumber of eagles adding to the many speciesand the natural beauty of the area.Camping and AccommodationThe campsite received a 5-star accoladefrom the DV newspaper, who hailed itas the best campsite in Iceland. BjargGuesthouse is in the centre of the villageand, a little farther north, Þurranes, acountry guesthouse set in a beautifulvalley between high mountains, canreceive up to 30 guests—great forindividual or group get-aways.Still an area for pioneers, Erpsstaðir farmproduces its own ice cream, cheese, skyrand other dairy products. The Handverkcraft shop is well worth a visit as it sellsbeautiful woollen sweaters and many otheritems made in the area at good prices.–asfDalabyggðFEATUREDEXPANSIONACCESSORIES2X MORE POWERFULWi-Fi BacPac Wi-Fi Remote LCDBatteryBacPac BacPac World’s Most VersatileVideo CameraWear it. Mount it. Love it.11MP Professional Sensor2X Sharper Glass Lens2X Faster Image Processor1080p | 960p | 720p | WVGAFull 170° | Medium 127° | Narrow 90° FOV120 | 60 | 48 | 30 Frames Per Second11MP Ten Photo Burst / SecondWi-Fi BacPac + Remote Compatible3D HERO ®SystemChestMountWristHousingHead StrapMountSuction CupMountlsÍs enkuALPARNIRHandlebarSeatpost MountMiðbraut 11 • 370 Búðardal+354 430 4700dalir@dalir.iswww.dalir.is46 www.icelandictimes.com


Images by © Karl Eggertsson8 rooms, including 2 family rooms that cantake 4 guests each, are all beautiful, with wi-fithroughout. The linen has been specially madeby Icelandic designer, Linda Björg Árnadóttir,and can be purchased at the hotel.Peace with Nature and BirdsHótel Látrabjarg brings back the simple joys of lifeOn Europe’s western–most tip,Hótel Látrabjarg is set amidst aphotographer’s and birdwatcher’s paradiseat the furthermost point of the Westfj ords.It’s a rugged countryside here, with sheercliffs rising high above the fjords. Althoughthe road is paved from the ferry terminal toPatreksfj örður, the nearest town, from theend of the fj ord, a gravel road takes you tothe beaches of Rauðasandur, the bird cliffsof Látrabjarg and the hotel. The route isstudded with spectacular vistas, ending ina bay that, with its curved white sand beachand clear blue waters looks as if it belongs ina travel brochure for the Caribbean.The hotel has a commanding view of thefjord, where whales can sometimes be seen, andof the bay and valley below, where sheep grazepeacefully. It’s an almost idyllic situation duringthe summer months, when it is open from 15 thMay to 20 th September. It was originally builtas a boarding school for local children.Although it can handle up to 40 guests,owners Karl and Sigríður like to maintaina close, homely atmosphere and thereforedo not take groups during the high season.This has made it popular with individualswho appreciate its simple style, deliciousmeals and tranquil surroundings, with theirconstantly changing colours.Hótel Látrabjarg–asfFagrihvammur • 451 Patreksfirði+354 456 1500info@latrabjarg.comwww.latrabjarg.comPirates in PatreksfjörðurPirates welcome at the Pirate House: Travellers at Hotel RáðagerðiDown by the shore, an old workshop hasbeen taken over by pirates, teachingchildren the pirates’ life. Making knots,navigating by the stars, choosing a sailingroute and what to eat, it’s a pirate school forall the family where children learn usefulnautical training, all dressed up to take theirplace in the crew. What would a pirate hall bewithout food and drink?—Only in this case,it is good food and drink—not the typicalpirate’s fare, eaten at long wooden tables.It’s just getting started—but ye landlubberswatch out; thar’ll be pirates about!A Travellers’ HavenSafe from those pirates, on the hillside with abeautiful view of the bay, Hotel Ráðagerði hasjust re-opened after extensive renovation. TheWhale watching without the boatThe large windows look out onto the fj ordwhere, in recent years whales have oftenbeen seen jumping clear out of the water andswimming close to shore.Open all year, this is a beautiful hotel tobase from when exploring Látrabjarg or thebeaches at Rauðasandur.–asfSjóræningjahúsiðVatneyri • 450 Patreksfirði+354 456 1133alda@sjoraeningjahusid.iswww.sjoraeningjahusid.isHoliday cottagesRestaurant for60 peopleDouble & familyrooms with or withoutprivate facilitiesCamp site with afully-equippedservice houseFishingpermits can bearrangedMini-golf • Hot Pot • SaunaDine with the VikingsTaking the Westfjords with a tasteful touchIt’s an area that can be challenging to reachbut those who take up the challenge winthe rewards of some of the country’s mostthrilling landscapes, spectacular views,fascinating legends and mystifying monsters.EagleFjord travel service provides acomprehensive menu of tours to take in alltastes and top it off with terrific culinarypossibilities. This is what retired sea captain,Jón Þórðarson has dreamed up. Whetheryou take his sea angling tour, catch and cookyour own fish (or take them with you, to eatlater), his ‘Gísli the Outlaw’ tour, with talesof tragedy told in dramatic form on the hillsof his demise or any of his equally innovativetours, prepare for a day to remember.You may have a little barbecue at homebut Jón’s is about 5 metres long—and it© Guðbjörg Fortune Sigurðardóttirtravels on his boat, on the mountainside,wherever the food is to be cooked! Perhapsyou would rather eat in the comfort of hisdining room—only to find probably the mostinnovative dining table you’ve seen. Shapedin a ‘U’, it has a broad channel in the centrefi lled with water, with shells on the bottom!Food is ‘shipped’ to the diners in glass Vikingboats, sailed down the channel.No, this is no ordinary dining room, for here,you are dining in an art gallery of works bydifferent artists, which are available to purchase.EagleFjord–asfDalbraut 1, • 465 Bíldudalur+354 894 1684jon@bildudalur.iswww.bildudalur.isDæli Holiday FarmAccomodation, Camping, Restaurant & BarDæli • 531 Hvammstangi +354 451 2566 daeli@daeli.is www.daeli.isÞurranesOffering accommodation in three new cottages and an old farmhouse. Each cottage is 43 m 2with two lovely double-bed bedrooms and a deluxe jacuzzi on the veranda. The farmhousehas five double-bed bedrooms, bathroom w/shower, kitchen and dining room, seating up to40 people,living room and an attic with made up beds or sleeping bag accommodation for tenpeople. Deluxe jacuzzi just outside, keeping guests warm at heart. Single rooms or the wholehouse are available for rent. Cottages can both be rented out for one night or a whole week.The Þurranes travel service is open every day of the yearÞurranesi II - 371 Búðardal +354 434 1556 thurranes@centrum.is www.thurranes.isThe Artic Fox CentreA non-profit research and exhibition centre, focusingon the arctic fox. At the centre is a cosy café,Rebbakaffi, where visitors can enjoy refreshments.Open all year - days during summer from 10 to 22and during winter from 10 to 18.Eyrardal • 420 Súðavík +354 456 4922melrakki@melrakki.iswww.melrakki.is48 www.icelandictimes.com www.icelandictimes.com 49


Cosy NostalgiaHótel Blönduós brings a romantic ambience to its roomsFor those looking for excitement,Blönduós may not look like much tothe casual observer. In fact, from your carwindow you will only see petrol stations,a church, a river and a camping site. Butall is not what it seems: the river Blandá,which courses through the town, is one ofSleep by the RiversideGlaðheimar Cottages and Campsite in BlönduósGlaðheimar Cottages and Campsiteare on the northern shores of theRiver Blandá in the town of Blönduósin the north of Iceland. This moderatelypriced accommodation stands quite closeto Route No.1 which circumnavigates theentire country. Glaðheimar is thereforea very convenient place to stay for thosetravelling around Iceland, as well as thosewho might wish to spend time in the area.the best salmon fishing rivers in Icelandand the town is the starting point fornumerous hiking trails into the highlandsand along the shoreline. It is a paradise forbirdwatchers and, during the winter, offersa variety of winter-sports. Blönduós also hasan great variety of interesting museums.“We’re open all year round,” says LárusB. Jónsson, who is the man in charge. “Wehave 20 fully equipped cottages suitable for3–8 persons each. Hot tubs come standardwith most of the cottages, and four cottageshave a sauna in addition. We also run acampsite and a caravan park.”Blönduós has only 900 inhabitants.However, it is blessed with a wide range ofservices and leisure opportunities. There’s a50 www.icelandictimes.comBy the Blandá estuary is Hótel Blönduós,a delightful little country hotel with a fullylicensed bar and a restaurant specialising intraditional Icelandic cuisine, what Icelandersrefer nostalgically to as ‘grandmother’scooking’. From the cosy lounge one canobserve the beautiful sunset, the calm orraging sea and depending on the weather andthe season, the dance of the northern lights.The rooms and suites are beautiful, eachwith its own style, colour range and privatebath. The suites are especially romantic withsloping ceilings, soft lighting and lovelylinen. It is quite a treat to spend a few daysat this lovely hotel in charming Blönduos.Hótel Blönduós–ssAðalgata 6 • 540 Blönduós+354 452 4205hotelblonduos@simnet.iswww.hotelblonduos.isswimming pool, a 9-hole golf course, cafésand restaurants and a grocery store. Museumsinclude the Atlantic Salmon Museum, Sea IceExhibition Centre and the Icelandic TextileCentre and Textile Museum.Glaðheimar is an ideal place from which toexplore. “Blönduós has enough things to dofor visitors for a day. For those who choose tostay with us for a few days, there are at leastfour distinctive day drives,” says Lárus. Justask him or one of his staff when you’re here.Glaðheimar–HÞMelabraut 21 • 540 Blönduós+354 820 1300gladheimar@simnet.iswww.gladheimar.isLove and JoeTraditional Pastries and Local food at Áskaffi CaféIlove what I do and do what I love,”says Herdís Sigurðardóttir, owner ofÁskaffi coffee shop and restaurant inGlaumbær Folk Museum.On the edge of North Iceland, this oldwooden house, whose stone foundation datesback to 1886, makes people immediately feelat home. Guests can enjoy traditional Icelandicpastries such as kleinur (twisted fried pastry)lagterta (four layer white cake with rhubarbjam) brúnkaka (four layer brown cake withbuttercream) and soðbrauð (fried bread).While all these sweet treats are made fromwell known recipes, Herdís has kept onespecial recipe secret for close to two decades,before deciding to print it on postcards shedesigned herself, in English and German.“It’s my sherry cake!” she says with pride.“It’s a recipe which has belonged to thecoffee shop since its opening and has realsherry in it—generously measured!”Open sandwiches have always been populardomestically as well, and freshly madesoðbrauð served with local smoked trout isWe offer personal service and casual atmosphere in a small,comfortable, three star hotel. Hotel Varmahlíð has 19rooms with private facilities and is conveniently located byroute 1.Our Restaurant focuses on local cuisine from theSkagafjörður region and welcomes all travellers who want totry some tasty dishes from our menu.nothing but delicious, washed down witha cup of ‘joe’ (coffee). Other delicacies arethe Áskaffi’s signature dishes which includeseafood soup made with locally caught troutand locally caught shrimp and lamb soup,made with fresh lamb and vegetables—meatand bones boiled together is the secret tosuccess, according to Herdís. The soups canbe ordered for groups of 10–40 at a time.So if you are in the mood forsomething extra delicious, Áskaffi looksforward to welcoming you!Á s k a f fi–sPHótel Varmahlíð welcomes youCheck out ourwebsitewww.hotelvarmahlid.isfor onlinebookingGlaumbær • 551 Varmahlíð+354 453 8855askaffi@askaffi.iswww.askaffi.is560 Varmahlíð, SkagafirðiSími: 453 8170 :: info@hotelvarmahlid.is :: www.hotelvarmahlid.is Tel.: +354 453 8170E-mail: info@hotelvarmahlid.iswww.hotelvarmahlid.isSkagafjörðurwelcomes youall year round.Experiencesummer joy orwinter pleasure


Tröllaskagi’sMystic BeautyThe beauty of the northern towns with their vibrant lifestyleHótel BrimnesLocated right at the top of the Troll Peninsula,Iceland’s cradle for great backcountry skiingand ski touring, less than an hour’s drive northof Akureyri, Hótel Brimnes in Ólafsfjörður,Fjallabyggð is the perfect place to unwind.As well as standard rooms in the hotel, it offerslog cabins (accommodating 4-6) each with theirown private hot tub. A delicious restaurant menuincludes Icelandic seafood and meat specialities.Hannes Boy Café & Kaffi RauðkaLively weekends and cheerful surroundings at the ‘End of the World’Siglufjörður feels like it is as far north Hannes Boy is the bright yellow buildingas you can go. This former herring right on the harbour, just a few feet fromcentre is set in a beautiful fjord and is a the boats, landing their fresh fish. Inside, thevery popular place to hike from and enjoy wood–beamed restaurant, with its lanternthe extraordinary birdlife and nature. The wall lights, wooden tables and chairs, ispristine beauty of the landscape is matched bright and cheerful. The menu includes fi shonly by the atmosphere of the town, where and lamb and you’re guaranteed a deliciousthere is much to see and do.meal in the inspiring atmosphere of thisWhen you have built up a good appetite warm and welcoming fi shing town.in the nature, you know you can dine at one If you’d rather have something lighter,of the best restaurants outside Reykjavík. the Kaffi Rauðka in the equally brightWelcome to the mysti cal Troll Peninsula!Bylgjubyggð 2 • 625 Ólafsfjörður+354 466 2400hotel@brimnes.iswww.brimnes.isred building next door is your place. Thisis a lively place—especially on Friday andSaturday nights, with its live bands. It’s agreat spot for lunch, for getting to know thelocal people and enjoying their lifestyle.Rauðka–HÞGránugata 5 • 580 Siglufjörður+354 467 1550raudka@raudka.iswww.raudka.isAt the Top of the WorldExperience siglufjörður’s beauty from Hvanneyri GuesthouseMany visitors looking for the realessence of Iceland find it whenvisiting the northerly town of Siglufj örður,the former herring capital of Iceland.The fi shing boom eventually ended, butthe people stayed, including the family inHvanneyri Guesthouse. The family patriarchhad, in fact, worked in Siglufjörður’s fi shingindustry since he was six years old until thelast fi sh processing plant closed this year.The guesthouse is located on the mainstreet and is thus within arms’ reach ofthe town’s restaurants, shops and bakery,making it an ideal place to set up baseduring a stay in Tröllaskagi.Accommodation ranges from dorms tolavish suites, something of which Katrín andher family are especially proud–offering eachcustomer a room to fit their taste and budget.Returning FriendsA family–run business, HvanneyriGuesthouse puts special emphasis on friendlyservice. “We feel our customers appreciateAðalbakaríGreat variety of freshly bakedbreads, buns, sandwiches, pastriesand cakes along with a lunch menuof soups and pasta.Bylgjubyggð 2 • 625 Ólafsfjörður+354 466 2400this and many of them keep returning. Infact, I just received baby gifts for my newbornfrom one of our customers. I guess it doesn’tget any more personal than that,” says Katrín.A Trip into Icelandic CultureThe town has a lot to offer in itself. The peopleof Siglufjörður are particularly proud oftheir museums: the award-winning HerringEra Museum and the Folk Music Centre,where you can delve into Iceland’s folk musicheritage, thanks to Rev. Bjarni Þorsteinsson,a former resident ofSiglufjörður, whodiligently collectedand documentedhundreds of folksongs from the year1880 onwards. That’snot to mentionthe beauty of theTröllaskagi area itself.Hvanneyri Guesthouse–asfSuðurgata Adalgata 10 86 •• 580 Siglufirði+354 +354 467 1506 1506order@hvanneyri.comhvanneyri@simnet.iswww.hvanneyri.com52 www.icelandictimes.com www.icelandictimes.com 53


A PerfectDay in HríseyTravel back in time on the Pearl of EyjafjörðurHrísey, Iceland’s second largest island,is in the middle of Eyjafjörður.With 200 inhabitants, it is part of themunicipality of Akureyri and alwaysreferred to as the Pearl of Eyjafj örður.Visiting Hrísey is pure fun and makes aninspiring day trip for groups or individuals. Thevillage is really cute and clean, as all the housesare very old, though beautifully renovated andpainted in bright colours. Travellers cannot taketheir cars to the island, so it is peaceful. There area few cars on the island but most transportationis by tractor. The number of tractors give theisland a special flavour and it is common tosee a tractor parked outside a home insteadof a car. As a matter of fact, there is nowhereelse in Iceland with as many tractors percapita as on Hrísey. The island is easy toreach as there are trips every two hours fromthe morning until 9 pm, all year round bythe Sævar ferry from ÁrsskógssandurVillage, 35 km from Akureyri. It onlytakes 15 minutes to sail there.It is possible to take in many of thekey spots—and more—in the two hoursbetween the ferry trips, making it aninteresting visit for tour groups. From thepier, there is a fun trip with the tractortaxi—a hay cart towed by an elderly, sedatetractor. The driver serves as a guide, tellinghis passengers tales and history during theforty minute trip around the island. Youstill have ample time to enjoy a meal at theBrekka restaurant, Kaffi Hrísey or Júllabúðand pick up some handmade souvenirs fromthe Perlan souvenir shop or take a stroll.Staying longer enables you to thoroughlyenjoy the island, swim in the beautiful newgeothermal pool, go fi shing and have a goodsleep during the arctic nights, either in one ofthe guesthouses: Jónatanhús, Mínukot (www.visithrisey.is) or Brekka (www.brekkahrisey.is), or at the island’s camp site. There arenumerous pleasant hiking trails and othertypes of tours are available by land or sea.The Tourist office, located in theMuseum of Shark-Jörundur is open dailyduring the summertime.All bookings for accommodation,activities and tours can be made there allyear around, on the website or by phoneat the number below.Museums of Life at Sea and HomeThere are two interesting museums onthe island. In the oldest house, built by alegendary figure called Shark-Jörundur,visitors can learn about the history of theisland as well as shark fishing in Iceland.Shark fi shing was not for the faint of heartin earlier times, only those of exceptionalstrength and endurance could survive in thearctic cold and tumultuous seas.Holt, the Memorial Museum of AldaHalldórsdóttir, shows a typical workingclasshome from 1900 onwards, a storyof the old world meeting the new, withfurnishings, gadgets, handicraft embroideryand photographs of old times.A Birdwatching ParadiseThe island is known for its bird life, as about40 bird species nest there, the most abundantbeing the ptarmigan. One reason there is anunusually large concentration of birds is thatall hunting of birds and gathering of eggs isbanned on the island and there are no predatorssuch as foxes, minks, mice or rats. Therefore anumber of the birds are so unafraid of man thatyou can come up very close to them.–aMBSkólavegi • 630 Hrísey+354 695 007754 www.icelandictimes.comwww.icelandictimes.com55Hríseyhrisey@hrisey.netwww.hrisey.net


The Heart of the IslandIsland Cuisine at it’s finestIf the way to people‘s hearts is throughtheir food, then there is really no way toget closer to the heart of Hrísey Island thanthrough the diverse Brekka Restaurant menu.In an island of less than 200, therestaurant works as both a centre of cultureand culinary delights. The house in whichBrekka is operated is especially grand and,when it was built in the early 1930’s it wasreferred to as the Count’s Palace. It wastransformed into a restaurant in the 1980’sand has since earned itself a place in thehearts of both visitors and nationals.Elís Árnarsson, owner and chef, originallycome to the island as an apprentice chef overtwenty years ago and has since been unableto leave. “The island has acompletely different tempo from anywhereelse. Time seems to stand still here and wetry to make Brekka reflect that,” says Elís.Brekka is famous for its Gallowaytenderloin steak, for which many makea special trip to the island. Because of itsisolation, Hrísey serves as a breeding groundfor the exquisite purebred Galloway cattlegiving Brekka a unique opportunity toprovide its customers with one of the fi nestproducts available. The chefs at Brekkaobviously don’t have to go far to collectfresh sea products as the island is less than 8square kilometres, surrounded by sea.Being a meeting-point of sorts, Brekkadoes not limit itself to fine gourmet culinaryexperiences, as it also provides a lighterand more family oriented setting, offeringburgers, pizzas, and the like. Brekka alsooffers accommodation for visitors who areunable to escape the island’s charms.–VaGVeitingahúsið BrekkaBrekkugata 5 • 630 Hrísey+354 466 1751brekkahrisey@brekkahrisey.iswww.brekkahrisey.isAdventure and Activity in Northern IcelandCATSKIINGSCUBA DIVINGAn Outdoor ParadiseWhy Húsabakki is a smart Choice to Enjoy NatureNature based and education tourism isHúsabakki’s focus, located at the edgeof the Friðland Svarfdæla Nature Reserve inthe north of Iceland, a 30 minute drive fromAkureyri. Open all year, Húsabakki is anexcellent choice for nature lovers surrounded,as it is, by the high mountains of the Trollpeninsula, providing numerous hiking routesand both easy and challenging conditions forback-country skiing and mountaineering.Húsabakki is owned and run by localfirms and individuals and is connected tovast hiking trails with signboards and birdobservation points. It is a birdwatcher’sparadise with the oldest wetland reserve inIceland, created by the valley farmers in 1979.Húsabakki offers a range of accommodationthat can easily house 62 people in 18 rooms ofvarious sizes and prices. A sleeping-bag facilityin a 16–bed dormitory, large and spaciousfamily rooms and double rooms are available.It also has a lovely campsite with access to awashing machine, cooking facilities, internetconnection and bathrooms.56 www.icelandictimes.comAt the location is a sports field, aplayground, an outdoor kitchen witha fireplace and, nearby in the valley,opportunities to play golf, go swimming,canoeing and take a whale watching boattour, go horse-riding, take yoga classes andso much more. There are also excellent hikingguides, experts on the history and nature ofSvarfaðardalur and the Nature Reserve.Far from the madding crowd, theatmosphere at Húsabakki is tranquil andcosy, the service warm and personal andstaying there for a few days is relaxing andcertainly power-boosting.–ssHúsabakkiSvarfaðardalur • 621 Dalvík+354 859 7811husabakki@husabakki.iswww.husabakki.isSUPERJEEP TOURSSNOWMOBILE TOURSwww.sporttours.is | sporttours@sporttours.isTel: +354 899 8000 | +354 894 2967- Troll Peninsula Northern Iceland -


TheNorthernPlaygroundakureyri, the Base to Reach all the Northern sights and HighlightsThe dozen inhabitants in 1786,clinging to the side of Iceland’slongest fj ord, Eyjafj örður, probably neverimagined their brave struggle wouldultimately produce a town of 18,000people with all the services of a major city.Akureyri is not as big as any of the world’scities but it provides all the features and servicesexpected of a big city in a very compact form,so that everything is within a short distance.Take, for instance, winter activitieslike skiing. The family-friendly slopes areunder 10 minutes from the airport and thehotels. Likewise the horseriding tours, boattrips, bird watching, shopping—to namea few—are all so close, you can almosttouch them. You name it, it’s close-by.The weather, with its combination ofcrisp, dry snow and Northern Lights—atthe peak of their cycle this winter—makes aholiday here memorable.Cultural Centre of the NorthWhen it comes to culture, Akureyri has itall: museums, art galleries, internationalexhibitions, conference facilities, musicconcerts of all genres, opera, theatres andcinemas showing the latest fi lms.It has well over 20 restaurants, coveringboth Icelandic and international cuisine, withtop chefs who create their own innovativecuisine. Cafés, each with their individualspeciality abound, while local microbreweriesand farms offering food tasting area fascinating addition to the food scene.For groups and incentive tours, Akureyrioffers such a wide range of activities,events and opportunities, maximising thetime available. There are a multitude oftours covering every interest from flying tocaving, from fi shing to the Hidden People,walking to whale-watching.Sports of all kindsSport activities are very popular in theNorth and many sports are represented inthis dynamic community.The geothermally–heated swimmingpools, with their hot pots and jaccuzzi areopen—and very popular—all year round.The Arctic Open Golf championship isplayed on the most northerly 18-hole coursein the world, just outside the city undersnow–covered mountains and the midnightsun. You can hire clubs if you need them andrelax in the club house afterwards.See the SightsAkureyri is also a service base for many of themost important tourist destinations in NorthIceland. From here, you can visit Mývatn,Dettifoss—the most powerful waterfallin Europe, the islands of Hrisey, with itspowerful healing energy and Grímsey,straddling the Arctic Circle, see volcanos andboiling mud pools and, in fact, reach all thepearls of the north in under 2 hours.Easy AccessFlights from both Keflavik international andReykjavik airports take just 40 min. Scheduledbuses leave from Reykjavik Bus Station. Thereare numerous tours, some of which go throughthe highlands during summer months. Thebus service is free in town.Naturally, every common form oftransport is available: car, bike, boat,horse, ATV, plane rentals. Every type ofaccommodation is also on hand, from 4-starhotels to camp sites.Akureyri has it all and an outgoingfriendly welcome, too.Akureyrarstofa–asfStrandgata 12 • 600 Akureyri+354 450 1050akureyrarstofa@akureyri.iswww.visitakureyri.is58 www.icelandictimes.comwww.icelandictimes.com59


Romantic AkureyriGuesthouse Hóll 2We offer accommodation in a two bedroomapartment, which sleeps four. The apartmentis fully furnished, available from one night andby agreement. Swimming pool and a beautifulgolf course nearby.Welcome to Eyjafjörður!B.O.M. Silver—Dynamic JewelryFeminine and romantic silver jewellery created under the influence ofancient cultures and the forces of Icelandic nature. Handcrafted, eachone is unique. The designers seek perfection in the imperfection ofeach jewellery piece, with a focus on ancient ways in their construction,making B.O.M. jewellery a beautiful token for the past, present and future.One of Akureyri’s best keptsecrets is the recipe for NorthIceland’s most famous ice cream.Treasured in the family for over100 years - more delicious thananything you ever tasted!Welcome to Brynja!Bryndís Pernille Magnúsdóttir • +354 699 0818 • bp.magnusdottir@gmail.comOddrún Halldóra Magnúsdóttir • +354 894 0410 • oddrunhalldora@simnet.isAðalstræti 3 • 600 AkureyriHóll 2 • 601 Akureyri +354 848 2360 edda@krummi.isGránufélagsgata 48 • 600 Akureyri +354 461 4099 / 894 0410+354 462 4478 brynjaehf@simnet.isDine with the SaddlerOne of the oldest houses in akureyri has opened its doors for visitorsBuilt in 1906, in what is now the centreof Akureyri’s walking street, Kaffi Ilmurstarted out as a saddler’s shop. Later, it becamea goldsmith’s, overlooking the fjord before theland was extended and more shops were built.Today, after extensive restoration, thegranddaughter of Ingimar, the saddler, hasopened a café, enabling visitors to take a stepback in time, surrounded by the originalwalls, pictures and furniture—as well as thenovel use of the former flooring and roof andsome of the artifacts excavated from the area.With the healthy lunches served upstairsand the delicious snacks served withthe drinks downstairs, this is a winningcombination that is very attractive tocustomers. On warm days, you can sit outsideat the tables, sheltered from any wind.It’s easy to feel like you’re eating withIngimar, back in the early 1900’s. It stillfeels like his home. The lunches are designedto be both wholesome and healthy, whilstthe snacks are both traditional Icelandicfavourites and fresh creations.It’s a lovely spot to take a break fromsightseeing or shopping while enjoyingEyjafjörður—the beautiful fjord inwhich Akureyri lies.Kaffi ilmur–asfHafnarstræti 107b • 600 Akureyri+354 571 6444kaffiilmur@internet.iswww.kaffiilmur.isEnjoy Akureyri on a Budgeta Warm and friendly Guesthouse that has all You NeedSúlur Guesthouse is popular with budgetconscioustravellers to Akureyri. It has 8rooms with both made-up beds and sleepingbag accommodation. With two kitchens, oneon each floor, it offers self-catering and has alaundrette. There is free wireless internet and TV.Set on the hillside next to the campsite,overlooking the town and the fjord, it isclose to the geothermally heated swimmingpool, the beautiful botanical gardens and agrocery shop. If you’d rather not walk, thefree bus service will take you down to thetown for quick access to all the amenities,or on a tour around the town.Súlur is open all year-round, so it makes agreat choice for skiers taking a winter breakto enjoy the slopes above the town. Duringthe summer months, from 1 st of June tomid-August, an additional 12 rooms areavailable which are ideal for families orsmall groups. They consist of 3 apartments,comprising 4 bedrooms each, again, withself-catering facilities in every apartment.Súlur Guesthouse–asfÞórunnarstræti 93 • 600 Akureyri+354 461 1160sulur@islandia.iswww.sulurguesthouse.is60 www.icelandictimes.com www.icelandictimes.com 61


Men who Made IcelandMatthías Jochumsson, poet and writer of Iceland’s national anthemThe West Fjörds have produced someof Iceland’s outstanding leaders indifferent fields, particularly in the 19 thcentury, at a time when many of theworld’s greatest names were born.Matthías Jochumsson (11 November,1835–18 December, 1920) was born on theSkógar farm on the south part of the WestFjörds to a poor farming family. He didnot begin school until a comparatively lateage when his talents were recognised andhe attended the Latin School in Reykjavik.During the Christmas holiday in 1861,he wrote a play called, ‘The Outlaws’which his fellow students performedthe following year. It became an instantsuccess, thereby distinguishing Matthíasas a major poet, which marked thebeginning of modern Icelandic drama.The play tells the story of the outlaw Skuggaand his companions and their conflicts withthe locals, and was inspired by the stories ofoutlaws living in the Icelandic wilderness. Ithas since been performed many times andMatthías, who had been planning to become abusinessman, discovered his love of languagesand literature that was to define his life.On graduating, he became a priest but,when he lost his second wife, it led to greatmental anguish and a reconsideration ofhis religious beliefs. He took a break fromthe priesthood for some years, becomingthe editor of the most popular weeklyIcelandic journal, Þjólðólfur.Although he returned to the Lutheranpriesthood, his was a liberal thinking incontrast to the harsh religious dogmatismof the day. He travelled extensively, being62 www.icelandictimes.comdrawn to the Romanticist and Reformmovements like the Unitarian church. Heread the works of Ralph Waldo Emersonand was said to be Iceland’s most ableproponent of the liberal religious position.He translated many works fromdifferent languages, including a number ofShakespeare’s works, but it was his prolificpoetry that made him popular. He wrotehis most famous poem for the 1,000 yearcelebration of Ingólfur Árnason’s pioneeringof the country. This was destined to becomeIceland’s national anthem.He was the first poet to be granted apension and the title of National Poet bythe Alþingi, the Icelandic governing bodyin 1900, when he retired as a clergyman.Through his religious poetry, hymnsand funeral elegies, along with his heroicnarrative poems, he continued to preachChristian faith and humanity.He moved to the northern town ofAkureyri, where he built a house in 1903,where he lived until his death. The houseis now open as a museum and study centre.–asfTour OperatorAuthorised byIcelandic Tourist Board


A Hundred Years of Flowersakureyri’s Botanical Gardens has thousands of plants and treesLystigarðurinn Akureyri is one of thenorthernmost botanical gardens inthe world. It was founded in 1912 by fourof the most prominent ladies of Akureyri.They dreamed of creating an oasis wherethe townspeople could relax and enjoy thecolours of spring and summer after the trialsand tribulations of the harsh island winters.Although the town council agreed to a publicpark and provided money to start the creation,the botanic section had to wait. It wasn’topened until 1957. Today, there are about6,600 alien varieties growing in the garden inbeds and the nursery. A further 430 species ofthe native varieties are to be found there, withmore being constantly added to the collection.The park has been enlarged three timessince 1912 and is now about 3.6 ha and liesat 40-50 m altitude on Eyrarlandsvegurroad near midtown. There are several aimsto the Botanical Garden’s activity. Themost important task is to provide northernIceland in general with trees, shrubs andperennials that fulfi l the demands of beautyand hardiness. The garden also functions asa gene bank for hardy plants suitable to theweather conditions in Iceland. The IcelandicFlora contains rather few species comparedto other countries. There are around 500species at the moment and most of them aredisplayed in Akureyri’s Hortus Botanicus.Further, the general idea is for multiple use,such as a seed-exchange, public information,education and recreation.Part of the ladies’ dream was to have a caféin the park but they did not live to see thatpart realised. Indeed, the townspeople hadto wait a hundred years for the café whichfi nally opened in June this year.The park has been immensely popularright from the start, both with Icelanders andforeign visitors. It is a tranquil and colourfulplace, with wonderful aromas, a good café –and exceptionally family friendly.–ssLystigarður AkureyrarThe Café in the FlowersThe newly opened café brings refreshment to the Botanical GardensThis year is the centennial anniversary ofthe Akureyri’s Botanical Gardens. InJune, a new café opened to provide food anddrinks to visitors to this beautiful garden.Tall trees line the pathways, evidence that,even at such a high latitude, it is possibleto grow here. The café refl ects these lovelytrees in its large picture windows on eitherside, the varnished brown wooden windowframes forming trunks and branches.These windows give a panoramic view ofthe gardens from the comfort of couches andchairs inside the café. Since it is open all yearround, visitors can enjoy the changing seasons,whether sitting outside in the sunshine orinside, sheltered from the elements. A range ofsnacks and drinks are always available, makingthis a very enjoyable spot to meet, to relax orsimply to take in the beauties of the plants andtrees that surround it. Unlike most cafés thatjust have tables and chairs to sit at, there aretwo lounge areas with couches and arm chairsalong with a low lounge table between them,making for a very congenial atmosphere.Even though set high on the hill above thetown, close to the hospital and the churchthat stands as a landmark over the town, thegardens themselves are a tranquil spot, shelteredby the trees from the worst of the winter winds.However, there is nothing more welcomingthan the lights of the café after wandering thepaths of the garden and the prospect of a nice,hot drink and snack, relaxing with friends atone of the tables or lounge areas.On the warm, sunny days though, youdon’t really want to be inside and the caféhas a large patio where the tables and chairsare set so you can enjoy the ambience of thegardens, soak up the sun while enjoying yourcoffee and cakes. A display of large photos ofdifferent fl owers forms an attractive windbreakand backdrop to your conversation.Café Björk–asf600 Akureyri+354 462 7487bjorgvin@akureyri.iswww.lystigardur.akureyri.isEyrarlandsvegi 30 • 600 Akureyri+354 460 5600info@cafebjork.iswww.cafebjörk.is64 www.icelandictimes.com www.icelandictimes.com 65


Baking the Best in AkureyriThe Bakery with a Healthy Dose of Delicious InnovationOpen every morning at 6.30 for theearly risers and travellers, Bakarívið brúna is a natural stop for a healthybreakfast, lunch or evening take-away. Theshelves are packed with all kinds of breads,pastries, cakes and sandwiches—which,along with coffee make a hearty meal.Invite your girlfriend for poetryThe café area is a cosy place; the wallsare tastefully decorated with pictures ofa number of different bridges aroundIceland. The hand-painted tables deservespecial mention, too; each with a differentmap on it, showing the direction from one ofIceland’s towns right to the bakery and eachone inscribed with a small poem!Bread Bowl—with a differenceA very tasty idea is the bread bowl. Takea round loaf, cut off the top, scoop outthe insides and pour in fresh, hot soup.You may have had bread with soupbefore—but never like this. It was adelicious lunch—especially with thebuns or sandwiches filled with a varietyof salads, meats and cheeses. Hot pizzais also available and on Thursdays, thebakery serves a traditional Icelandic fishdish. Everything is hand-made here withthe healthiest of ingredients.The delicatessen has a range of natural,locally-produced herbal teas and jams,fish oils and fresh pesto.66 www.icelandictimes.comAprès-ski PartyThe bakery aims to provide the best possibleservice. You can order ahead—handy for groupsand parties. After skiing the slopes less than 10min away, it´s the ideal place to come to thebakery to warm up over coffee or soup and someof those delicious pastries with your friends.You’ll find the bakery right behindthe Gleratorg shopping centre.–asfBakaríið við brúnaGleráreyrum 2 • 600 Akureyri+354 461 2700bakariidvidbruna@simnet.iswww.vu2012.ispcp-01.garun-veflausnir.is


Enjoy Winterthis yearWhy don’t you go, then? My colleague’squestion led me to the brief fl ight toAkureyri, right across the highland centre ofthe country to the spectacular descent downinto the fjord where this northern town lies, afew moments later. No hours of waiting for thebaggage carousel, either. Before we knew it, wewere in the car for the 5 min. drive to the hotel.Hotel Kea is right in the centre of thetown. The pace is relaxed here. Everythingis within a few minutes walk. Even the skislopes are just a short drive away. “Whyaren’t more cities like this,” I wondered.Hotel Kea was built in 1944 as a 4-star hoteland now has 104 rooms, receiving groups andindividual travellers throughout the year. It hasthat old-world, comfortable feel to it.Staying here myself, I understand why it is apopular choice. The view of the fjord from thewindows of the restaurant and my bedroom arejust beautiful. I can step out onto the balconyComfort and friendliness make for a memorable stay at Hotel Keaand enjoy the sun and fresh air. I can walk outof its front door and I’m just a few steps fromshops, restaurants, galleries and gardens.Dining at the restaurant is relaxed, witheach dish both beautifully presented anduniquely flavourful. Even though it was almostfull when I ate there, its design and lightingprovide a discreet, calm ambience. The staffepitomised the Icelandic culture with theirgood natured, friendly service, being there justwhen needed and providing knowledgeablecounsel about the menu when asked.The town is filled with art, music and culturethat continues throughout the year. Top operasingers and avant garde groups perform at thecultural centre whilst art is everywhere.Akureyri offers very special autumn andwinter experiences that are hard to findelsewhere. From late August, the NorthernLights begin to sweep the skies. The hills offergreat skiing whilst the mountains, waterfalls,lakes, horse riding, jeep tours present a totallydifferent picture that is even more inspiringand fulfilling than in the summer.At the centre of it all, is Hotel Kea; a4-star hotel with 5-star friendliness.Hotel NorðurlandAt the other end of the walking street isthe 3-star Hotel Norðurland. The roomsare a little smaller and simpler—butthe warm, friendly service is the same.Although it doesn’t have a restaurant, thedining room provides the same range ofbreakfast foods as the Kea.This hotel is understandably popularwith cost-conscious visitors and takesin groups, too, with 41 rooms on twofl oors, including a room with access forhandicapped guests. It is a comfortableplace to base from when visiting the area.Hotel GígurVisitors to North Iceland almost invariablywant to see Lake Mývatn, with its amazingbirdlife and natural beauty, flanked byvolcanos and geothermal areas. Set on thelakeside itself, you would never know that thishotel was once a school, so well has it beenconverted and upgraded and it is rated as 2-staronly because the rooms are more compact.The beds are very comfortable and there’sno problem in getting a good night’s sleepwith only the gentle sound of the birds towake you in the morning. It’s service is justas good as other Kea group hotels, friendlyand right there when you need it.The dining room and lounge area isbeautiful, with large windows offering anunparalleled view of the lake and the sunsetover the mountains. It is lit with ornatechandeliers. The meals are delicious. Wetried all the choices during our stay hereand they are equally recommended.As autumn sets in, this is a fantasticspot to view the Northern Lights. Mývatnis a dry area, so the Aurora is frequentlyvisible as the weather cools down. Ithad been sunny all summer but therewas a sudden snow shower just after ourarrival that coated the mountains in apicturesque white and highlighted thesteam rising from the geothermal hotspots. Right across the road, horses aregrazing—but they can be rented for a ridein the beautiful nature around the hotel.Flying back home, I couldn’t help thinkingthat for both individuals and incentive groups,a visit in winter to North Iceland would bethe experience of a lifetime. The wide range ofactivities, including horse riding or go-kartingon the ice to skiing the slopes to bathing in thenatural hot baths, surrounded by snow, provideunique bonding opportunities. Having stayedin the Kea hotels, I can’t imagine any moreconvenient and comfortable.Hotel Kea–asfHafnarstræti 87-89 • 600 Akureyri+354 460 200068 www.icelandictimes.com www.icelandictimes.com 69kea@keahotels.iswww.keahotels.is


At Last in Reykjavík!at Rub23 the chefs make sure to play with all your sensesRub23 has surely been the mosttalked about restaurant in Icelandover the last few years and is a regulardestination for Icelanders travelling toAkureyri, where it opened in 2008.Newly opened in Reykjavík, it is perfectlylocated in the basement of the Geysir House(where the Tourist Information Centre is tobe found) with the interior of brick walls andship-deck floors adding a mysterious feelingto the exotic atmosphere of unique spices; apromise of an extraordinary journey.Rub23 plays on all the senses. Apart fromsmell and atmosphere, every dish is a piece ofart; it looks colourful and sounds wonderful,sizzling and crackling on the plate and in themouth. That may sound a bit outlandish—but it is, in fact, quite Icelandic with themost loved types of fi sh on the menu: cod,halibut, flounder, salmon and trout. The onlything left to do is choose the spice–blend—orrub—that most agrees with your palette. Doyou wish to rub your taste buds with a senseof summer gardens, mountains and lakes, theOrient, the Americas or Africa today? And allwithout interfering with the taste of the fi shcaught and brought in earlier this morning.The world is an herb and a spice oysterFor the renowned chefs, Einar Geirsson andKristján Þórir Kristjánsson, it is not merelyanother day at work. Being a chef is theirpassion—their calling, if you like. They mixall the rubs themselves, constantly improvisingand creating new and different spice–blends.Travelling widely around the world withthe Icelandic fi shing company, Samherji, tointroduce the wonderfully fresh and tastyNorth Atlantic seafood, they are constantly onthe lookout for different herbs and spices. Atthe Akureyri restaurant there is a room full ofherbs and spices, gathered and imported fromall over the world. The aim is perfection.Of course you can also get rubbed meat:lamb, beef or chicken and then there is Sushi.Icelandic sushiSushi was first introduced to Icelanders a veryfew years ago, but has caught on quite fast.Icelanders simply love this Japanese delicacy.The combination of fish, seaweed, wasabi,soy and rice seems to agree perfectly with theIcelandic taste buds. And of course, at Rub23,the chefs take the Sushi to quite another level,working with typically Nordic ingredients tocreate their own artistic bites. Even if you’re notkeen on Sushi, be sure to try their Sushi–pizza.Made with marinated fresh arctic char, it willmost surely proof to be the best pizza and bestsushi–bite you have ever experienced. Indeed,if you are pressed for time, during lunch, forinstance, step into Rub23 and have a Sushi–pizza and a glass of lovely chilled white wine.It is such a joyful experience.–ssRub23Aðalstræti 2 • 101 Reykjavík+ 354 553 5323reykjavik@rub23.iswww.rub23.isFlavour Festival in AkureyriRub23 blends mixtures of herbs in an exotic fantasyFrom the moment the entrée is set onthe table to the last bite of the meal,our taste buds are treated to flavoursboth brash and subtle, in combinationsunheard of in the average restaurant.Even in a single appetiser dish of salad, thedifferent raw vegetables combined in differentbites, mixed with herbs into what seemed likea fairground of flavour and aroma.Our main course was fresh salmon, caughtlocally and cooked to perfection in a choice ofdifferent herbs. The result was amazing. I havenever tasted fish like this—and neither had mywife, born and raised by a salmon river.The chefs are clearly passionate about theirart and pour their energies into creatingeach plate to be the best it can be. The staff,too, obviously enjoy explaining not justthe differences between the dishes but thewhole concept of Rub23 and its method ofblending herbs into the fi sh or meat.While the portions are a good size, thisis not a heavy meal and, in the unrushedcomfort of the restaurant overlooking theblue waters of the fjord and the multicolouredmountains on its far side, there is time tosavour every bite and enjoy each new flavouras it spreads over the tongue.This is healthy eating taken to an entirelynew level. Apart from the fi sh and meats,everything presented was raw food, thusretaining all the freshness and livinggoodness. It proves that the raw foodalternative can easily exceed traditionallyprepared food in every area—taste, flavour,texture and health benefits, when preparedby someone who has a mastery of theblending of the different ingredients with theright spices and in the right combinations.The name, Rub23 comes from a blenditself: the method of mixing spices with thefi sh or meat and the original address of therestaurant. Now, residents in Reykjavik andthe south can fi nd a Rub23 restaurant inthe capital at Aðalstræti, thus avoiding thelong drive to Akureyri for dinner.Rub23–asfKaupvangsstræti 6 • 600 Akureyri+354 462 222370 www.icelandictimes.comwww.icelandictimes.com71rub23@rub23.iswww.rub23.is


Home to the Raven’s RoostHrafninn Guesthouse, one of akureyri’s finestOne of the most comfortable, yetreasonably priced guesthouses inAkureyri is located in the heart of thedowntown area. Hrafninn Guesthouseoccupies a rather stately, classic, double storiedhouse built in 1932, which greatly adds toits character and charm, lending more of ahotel atmosphere to it. Each room is tastefullyfurnished and comes with a flat-screen tv, andprivate bath. The comfy beds are made up withfluffy duvets and quality linens.Close to EverythingFrom its central location, everything is withineasy reach; 5 or 10 minutes on foot are all youneed to pop out for a movie or shop for suppliesto make your own meals in Hrafninn’s fullyequipped communal kitchen.In summer, be sure to make use of thebarbecue on the furnished terrace for theultimate touch of summer living. Openyear round, Hrafninn Guesthouse is oneof Akureyri’s finest.Hrafninn is the Icelandic word for Raven.Gistihúsið Hrafninn–EMVBrekkugötu 4 • 600 Akureyri+354 661 9050info@hrafninn.iswww.hrafninn.isArctic Winters ConqueredMaking the Most of Your Winter VacationSoutherners in Iceland often jokinglybicker with northerners about whichhas the better weather in the summer,but few will contest that northerners havethe better winters. Snow covered valleys,forlorn mountaintops, glacial rivers andunpredictable weather are what you canexpect, but for newcomers, the Icelandicwinters can appear quite intimidating andimpenetrable and that’s where Akureyri’sIcelandic Adventures can be of help.Ice fi shing, skiing, snowmobiling, ATVtours and holiday festivities are among theactivities available and Iceland Adventurecan tailor–make your winter adventuresaccording to your needs. If you’re in Icelandaround the holidays it is an absolute must toinquire about their Christmas tours, whichtake you to unique Christmas houses, cosyhome–stay hotels, holiday feasts and tovisit the mischievous Icelandic Yule Ladsin the ominous Dimmuborgir.Taking a snowmobileor an ATV and driving to secludednorthern valleys and up treacherousmountains is an experience not easilyforgotten. There is a feeling of con queringthe unconquer able and a brief separationfrom the often complicated modern world.For those looking for a completely uniqueexperience, a day of ice fishing should beconsidered. Icelandic Adventures can takeyou—by jeep, ATV, snowmobile or even byhorse—to a frozen lake where you’ll make ahole and catch your meal for the night.Icelandic Adventures offer skiers, both noviceand experienced, full five–day ski trips on oneof Iceland’s best ski slopes. The NorthernLights are of course a must–see and IcelandicAdventures will find you the optimal conditionsand locations. But first and foremost, IcelandicAdventures aims to give their customers apersonal experience which accommodates theoften very different needs of travellers.–VaGIcelandic AdventuresHafnarstræti 99-101 • 600 Akureyri+354 849 3003marta@icelandicadventures.iswww.icelandicadventures.isSpacious, Clean and CentralCentrum Hostel is a smart choice for families and smaller groupsWhen in Akureyri with friends orfamily, an ideal place to stay isCentrum Hostel at Hafnarstræti 102. Smackin the centre of town with restaurants, cafés,shops and museums within a few minuteswalking distance, the Hostel offers largerooms with bedding for up to six people.At the moment, the hostel provides sevenbedrooms and offers beds for 28 people, butas the rooms are quite big, there is plentyroom for additional mattresses. In the springseven more rooms will be added to thisclean and cosy hostel. With either made-upbeds or sleeping-bag accommodation, theCentrum Hostel is a nice choice, as eachroom has its own refrigerator and TVattached to a satellite dish with over 200channels to choose from.Although guests cannot cook meals inthe hostel, the living room has a grill and amicrowave, so preparing your breakfast is easy.There are two separate toilets on the floorand two separate showers. The third shower/toilet is especially designed for the disabled.Access to the hostel is also designed for thedisabled and an elevator to adds to the comfort.For those staying during wintertime, thehostel has a room for storing skiing gear andcan offer its guests parking space.Centrum Hostel–ssHafnarstræti 102 • 600 Akureyri+ 354 892 9838svenni@svefn.iswww.hotelibudir.isLocal Fishing Secrets ShownNo One Comes Home Empty HandedFishing in Iceland can be a rewardingand unforgettable experience, butif you don’t know the right places ortimes to go, you might be disappointed.Recognising this, the staff of IcelandFishing Guide Tour Company decidedto share their secrets and decades ofexperience of fishing in Northern Iceland.Iceland Fishing Guide places specialemphasis on keeping its operations on apersonal scale and Matthías, the manager,says that they form friendships rather thanbusiness relations. “All our guides areexperienced fi shermen from the area whohave amassed a great deal of knowledgeabout the region through the years. As aresult we are almost always able to findsomething which suits our customers’needs and this summer we’ve never failedto yield at least one fi sh,” says Matthías.Working on a relatively small scale hasgiven the company freedom to changelocations as the fish pop their noses up,instead of being bound to a specific location.“This gives our customers the opportunityto tailor their experience according totheir needs. We can take more experiencedfishermen to secluded locations to chasethe bigger fish or we can take those lessexperienced where there is a higher yieldpercentage,” says Matthías. So if you wantto tackle a weighty brown trout, the prizedAtlantic salmon or the arctic char, but don’tknow where to look, Iceland Fishing Guidesare willing to give up some of their secrets.–VaGIceland Fishing GuideHafnarstræti 99-101 • 600 Akureyri+354 660 1642matti@icelandfishingguide.comwww.icelandfishingguide.com72 www.icelandictimes.com www.icelandictimes.com 73


TheOld Townof AkureyriOne Hundred and fifty Years Back in TimeThe town of Akureyri has been called thecapital of the north and rightly so, as itserves as a centre for transport, services andculture, connecting the north to the rest ofthe country. Akureyri, however has a uniqueand distinctive character which makes it anessential stop for anyone travelling north. Thecore of its character can be found in the OldTown of Akureyri —called Innbærinn.Only a few minutes walk from the citycentre, the area is a monument to Akureyri’sculture and history. Many of the city’soldest houses have been preserved andtoday are homes to people, businesses, cafésand museums, giving visitors a chance toexperience the town’s rich history. The OldTown’s location plays no small role in itscharm as a cliff forms a natural border tothe north and the ocean to the east.Where the Past Meets the PresentIn recent years, steps have been taken tosecure the Old Town’s legacy, both in termsin preservation and accessibility. Informativesignposts have recently been placedthroughout the Old Town giving visitors achance to learn about life in a different era.Hanna Rósa Sveinsdóttir, at the Museumof Akureyri, says it has been important totake these steps to preserve and maintain theOld Town, but at the same time, adaptingit to modern day life. “In my mind, theOld Town is a historical monument whichconnects the town’s history to the present,making it completely unique,” says HannaRósa. “We’ve managed to maintain theoriginal street planning even though theOld Town has been inhabited all this time.The townsfolk respect the town’s historyand when it comes to renovations and newbuildings, it is always done with that inmind,” says Hanna Rósa.Akureyri is now celebrating the 150 yearsthat have passed since it was given its officialtitle as a township. The name Akureyrihowever, dates back to the 15th century,but it was in 1778 that the first dwellingwas built. The oldest standing buildingis Laxdalshús, built in 1795, which todayhouses a restaurant & café that serves localdishes. The Old Town is replete with oldpicturesque timber houses which give thetown its relaxed and charming ambiance.History Captivated in MuseumsFittingly, the Old Town is home to manymuseums. Nonnahús is the childhood homeof one of Iceland’s most celebrated writers, JónSveinsson, author of a series of books aboutthe adventures of a boy named Nonni, andtranslated into over 30 languages. Built in 1850,it has been renovated into a museum dedicatedto his life and works—a landmark in Akureyri.The Museum of Akureyri is located inAkureyri’s first villa with an extensive gardenwhere forestry was started in 1899 and explainswhy the city is so blessed with vegetation. Themuseum is dedicated to everyday life fromhistoric times to the present, and includesart and photography displays.You’ll also find museums dedicated tomotorcycles, industry and aviation. A day inthe Old Town visiting museums will thusleave you enlightened about almost everyfacet of life in the north imaginable.The Best Ice Cream in all the Land?Icelanders have a strange obsession withice cream and will bicker to no end aboutwhich shop has the best. Considered astrong contender by many is Brynja, theshop in the Old Town, where ice creamconnoisseurs from all over the country stopby every time they’re in Akureyri.However you choose to spend your time, avisit to Akureyri’s Old Town it is well worthyour while, taking in the sights and goingjust a little bit back in time.–VaG74 www.icelandictimes.com75


Pure and NaturalNorth Iceland’s only Certifi ed Organic skin Care ProducerThe mountains reach high aboveNorth Iceland’s Eyjafjörður. Withthe flowers and herbs gathered by handon their slopes, Urtasmiðjan or the HerbalWorkshop creates the Sóla range of pureorganic skin care oils, balms and creams.Iceland’s pure air and unpolluted soilprovide the ideal conditions for the plantsto grow slowly, thus increasing theirpotency.Pure sources, pure process, pure productThe Herbal Workshop products are allproduced by hand, without the use ofmachinery. No chemical or petroleum base,artificial colourings or fragrances are usedin any of the products—just pure herbaloils and bees wax, with natural vitamin Eoil providing the anti-oxidant. Urtasmiðjanimports high quality, expensive carrier oils,such as Moroccan oil and coconut butter.All the products contain Omega 3 and 6oils that store vitamins and are so vital to theprotection and nourishment of the skin. Theherbs that are used are known for their provenpositive effects on the skin and for healing.Protect your skin from pollutionToday’s lifestyles in polluted cities, makeit important to look after your skin andSóla products organic purity provides thebest possible care. The product line isavailable online and from selected healthand tourist shops. Your skin is vital toyour health, so protecting it makes sense.–asfUrtasmiðjanFossbrekku, 601 Akureyri+354 462 4769urtasmidjan@urtasmidjan.iswww.urtasmidjan.isThe Deep Valley in the NorthIn Eyjafjarðarsveit you can take part in the farm lifeAll is not always what it seems inIceland. A town is not merely atown and the countryside is not eitherwilderness or farmland. The valley southof Akureyri in the north of Iceland is oneof those areas diffi cult to defi ne. It has theatmosphere of farmland, offers a variety oftourist attractions and activities any townwould be proud of and accommodationranging from camping sites to lovely hotels.The Eyjafjarðará river runs through thisnarrow valley, which is surprisingly long atabout 50 kilometres. The farms are mostlylocated along the riverbank with the roadcrisscrossing the river via a number ofbridges, making access to everything onoffer to the tourist quick and easy.Comfortable guesthousesEyjafj arðarsveit has, of course, an excellentoutdoor swimming pool with hot tubs andfun slides, a lovely playground for youngsters,museums, cafés, an ice-cream factory with anice cream bar, a vegetarian restaurant whichalso offers a raw food menu, horse rentalfarms, river-fishing and two golf courses.When planning a holiday with your familyand friends in Iceland, the many guesthousesin Eyjafjarðarsveit are a real treat. There isBrúnalaug Guesthouse, a bungalow situated700 metres from the main road providingabsolute peace and quiet. Further north isÖngulsstaðir, where the old barn has beenrenovated and now houses a tiny hotel whereall rooms come with en suite bathrooms, andthe lovely Lamb Inn restaurant. Nearby, isHóll Guesthouse, an apartment with twodouble rooms and all necessary facilities andUppsalir Guesthouse which can accommodateup to ten individuals. Uppsalir and HrafnagilGuesthouse, 12 kilometres south of Akureyri,invite their guests to take part in theirbeautiful farm life, which is especially lovedby city youngsters. Family–friendly HrafnagilGuesthouse offers five large rooms andfacilities for babies and children.Then there is the Leifsstaðir, one of theloveliest hotels in Iceland. An hotel with a view,lovely verandas and its very own golf course.Kátur is a Horse Rental at Kaupangs bakkar,offering guided tours ranging from 1 to 3hours, every day of the week from 8 th June to1 st September each year. They also offer customhorseback riding trips for groups of any variety.Raw food and farm ice creamThe real treat in Eyjafjarðarsveit has gotto be Holtsel, offering their very ownfarmhouse ice cream, labelled Holtsels-Hnoss. The ice creams are made from cream,milk, yoghurt, full-fat, low-fat, non-fat andsorbets. Something delicious for everyone.A short distance away is Kaffi Kú or CaféCow, a bar specialising in whisky along witha vast selection of beer and, of course, coffeeand quite different cakes, like their liquoricecake. A truly original place.The Silva vegetarian restaurant issteadily becoming one of the mostpopular raw food restaurants in Iceland,offering a good vegetarian and raw foodmenu, fresh shakes and juices.When travelling in this area in latesummer, try not to miss the handicraftscelebration held each year in August.As you drive around Eyjafjarðarsveit,be sure to visit the various old churchesin the area, each with its own specialhistory and architecture.And last, but not least, do not missthe Smámunasafnið, an original and funmuseum containing one man’s collectionof odd and everyday pieces. A day spent inEyjafjarðarsveit is a day well spent.–ssEyjafjarðarsveitSkólatröð 9 • 601 Akureyri+354 463 0600esveit@esveit.iswww.eyjafjardarsveit.is76 www.icelandictimes.com www.icelandictimes.com 77


Eat Vegan in AkureyriThe only vegan restaurant outside Reykjavik is silva, in HrafnagilThe beautiful valley that extends fromAkureyri into the countryside iswatered by clear mountain streams and sounpolluted, the rich farming land is ideal forgrowing organic vegetables.Just outside Hrafnagil, in the old school houseon the hill, a new vegan and raw food restauranthas opened. All the food is made fresh there fromvegetables grown mostly in the valley. Besidesfull meals, they make delicious smoothies andsnacks—cakes, cookies and gluten-free bread,all without wheat, sugar, dairy or yeast.This is just what the health-consciousfamily is looking for: living food at areasonable price. So if you’re travellingaround Iceland, Silva is just 12 km fromAkureyri. There is easy access for disabledguests and a children’s play area, too.They make take-away meals and can havethem ready for you if you give them a callbefore leaving town—even out of normalopening hours. Although, if you are there atlunch or dinner time, it makes sense to relaxand let the spectacular tranquil views of thevalley and fjord bring peace to your spirit.Kristín also runs a series of short courses,teaching how to create raw food meals yourself.Silva–asfSyðra Laugaland Efra • 601 Eyjafjarðarsveit+354 851 1360silva@silva.iswww.silva.isThe Country Experiencea family-friendly stay at Hrafnagil farm GuesthouseYou’ll fi nd the village of Hrafnagil just12 km south of Akureyri in Eyjafjörður.The valley is protected on either side by steepmountains and provides rich farmland andlovely views all the way to the Arctic Sea.A farm for familiesYou feel you’re in the depths of thecountryside. It’s a beautiful place to stayand the guesthouse has the added benefit ofbeing part of a working farm, so you’ll seehorses outside the windows, sheep on thehills above, chickens in the yard and cowsin the fields across the road, not to mentionthe cat and dogs. It’s a great opportunity forchildren to learn about and enjoy farm life.There are cots, changing tables and safetygates in the house for the babies.A traveller’s restThe guesthouse is warm and spacious withcomfortable beds and a delicious breakfastevery morning. The 5 rooms are spaciousand the largest bedroom, with 4 beds hasplenty of room for families. There is a largelounge where you can read, write or watchthe TV or surf the Internet.Travellers of all ages we met herespoke very highly of their stay and of thethought and care that went into makingthem both welcome and comfortable.It’s a very convenient place to base fromwhen travelling the North.–asfGistihúsið HrafnagiliHrafnagil • 601 Akureyri+354 463 1197hrafnagil@gmail.comwww.hrafnagil.isA Guesthouse in the CountryThe farm at Ytra Laugaland offers an invigorating stayIn the unspoiled valley of Eyjafjörður, some12 km from Akureyri, the Ytra Laugalandfarm has been opening its doors to familiesand independent travellers for the last fiveyears. The house has large, comfortablerooms: one suite for a family and three twinbedrooms. One of the bathrooms has ajacuzzi—so relaxing after a long day out.The farm was built in 1927 and isbeautifully decorated. Owners Óttar andVilborg have created a cosy, family-friendlyhome. The beds have health mattressesfor a comfortable sleep and breakfasts arewholesome and healthy for a good start tothe day. There are facilities for self-cateringand there is a health-food restaurant justa minute’s drive away. Also close by is theswimming pool, less than 5 min away.A TV lounge and Internet access provideaccess to the outside world, should you needit while the farm is in a most beautiful valley,with a view clear up the fjord to the Arctic Sea.–asfGistiheimili VilborgarYtra-Laugaland • 601 Akureyri+354 463 1472hrisey@hrisey.netwww.hrisey.netIcelandic TimesMeeting the World’s Thirst for Knowledge about IcelandIn the last few years, Iceland has beenshowing up more and more on theprospective tourist’s radar the world over.Thanks to many positive articles, guidebookreviews and the overwhelming approval ofvisitors who unanimously voted Iceland as atop tourist destination, the country continuesto climb in popularity and the number ofvisitors to the country continues to swell.Icelandic Times magazine providesa valuable source of information, notonly about Iceland’s fascinating naturalphenomena but also its culture, its peopleand its vibrant business sector.Published by Land og Saga ehf inReykjavik, the magazine has been wellreceived since its launch in 2007 and isbecoming a one of the fastest growingtourist magazines on the market today. Itis distributed free of charge around Icelandwith more than 500,000 copies publishedannually. The magazine is available in allmajor hotels, restaurants, airports, Icelandictourist offi ces, and on all Wow Air fl ights,providing an infl ight magazine that helpsthem get the most from their holiday.As a complementary service, IcelandicTimes offers a video advertising platform,enabling clients to promote their businessvia their own website or on the IcelandicTimes website, www.icelandtimes.comwhich receives over 30,000 individualvisitors and over 100,000 page views permonth. The entire magazine can also bedownloaded free from the website.New in 2012The magazine is now available in 3languages, English, French and German,each with its own unique focus.–DBIcelandic TimesSíðumúla 1 • 108 Reykjavík+354 578 5800info@icelandictimes.comwww.icelandictimes.com78 www.icelandictimes.com www.icelandictimes.com 79


It’s a Bird’s LifeMývatn is known to birders throughoutthe world for its rich birdlife,particularly its abundance of breedingwildfowl. No other site in Europe can boastsuch a diverse range of breeding ducks asthe Mývatn area. Fourteen of the sixteenspecies of duck which breed in Iceland canbe found here; the Common Eider andCommon Shelduck are coastal species andare therefore rarely seen at Mývatn. Threeother species of wildfowl, Whooper Swan,Greylag Goose and Pink-footed Goose, alsobreed in the area. Two species of divers andone grebe breed: Great Northern Diver,Red-throated Diver and Horned Grebe.Their habits resemble those of ducks inmany ways, at least during the summer.A pair of Red-necked PhalaropesOne year in the life of the birds in the Lake Mývatn areaA pair of Horned Grebes feeding youngDifferent habitatThe Mývatn area offers you a wide rangeof excellent bird watching sites. Bird lifeand bird habitats are extremely diverse,typified in this region by highland oases,lakes of global importance for birds, richbirch woods and scrubland. Wetlands andsmall lakes are frequently encountered andmoorlands are found widely.SpringIn April, as spring arrives and the ice on thelake melts, migratory birds flock to Iceland.Fields, ponds, lakes and rivers are swampedwith birds arriving from Europe and Africa.The first breeders, like Raven and GyrFalcon, have already laid their eggs and atthe end of April the Horned Grebe starts itsmagnificent courtship display.In May, the elaborate display of numerousspecies of ducks reaches its climax. May andJune are the best months for birdwatching.Nature is recovering from the long, hardwinter and the birds are extremely activeand conspicuous. The countryside is filledwith the sound of bird song, courtship andlively displays, the sun barely dips below thehorizon and the symphony of nature seemsendless. Drakes are particularly impressive atthis time of year, with Long-tailed Duck andBarrow’s Goldeneye fi ghting vigorously formates and territory. Harlequin Ducks hurtlealong the River Laxá and the Great NorthernDiver can be heard wailing out on the lake.The Remaining MonthsIn July, everything seems to calm down andthe adult birds get on with quietly feedingand raising their young. The drakes moultand group. Drake Harlequin Ducks andCommon Scoters head for the sea.In August, the birds gather formigration and those that travel thelongest distances, like the Whimbreland the Arctic Tern, leave for theirwintering grounds. Mývatn is by nowswarming with ducks if the breedingseason has been successful.September is the main migration monthin north-east Iceland but geese and someducks and passerines do not leave untilOctober. However, numerous birds remainin the area during the winter. At Mývatnand River Laxá some areas remain openall winter and attract resident WhooperSwans, Barrow´s Goldeneyes, Goosandersand Mallards. Even a few Harlequins cansometimes be found on the river in winter.Other birdsWaders often nest in or close to rich,vegetated marshland, which is a commonhabitat in the Mývatn area. They takeadvantage of the abundance of midges andcan often be seen on the shores of the lake,picking up insects which have drifted ashore.One of the most characteristic birds of theMývatn area is the Red-necked Phalarope.Eight species of waders breed in the area,including Black-tailed Godwit, and severalmore species are seen regularly.Black-headed Gull is the most commongull in the Mývatn area and the only specieswhich breeds in any number. Lesser BlackbackedGulls and Great Black-backed Gullsare summer visitors to the lake. The ArcticTern is a common breeder but it does notA drake Harlequin Duckbreed in large colonies at Mývatn. ArcticSkuas breed on the surrounding moorlands.The varied habitats around Mývatn attracta range of passerines and the abundance ofinsects provides rich pickings for them andother birds in the area. Birch scrubland andwoodlands are home to Iceland’s typicalforest birds, like the Redwing, CommonRedpoll and Eurasian Wren, for example.Pair of Harlequins on the fast flowing water of River LaxáSnow Bunting and Northern Wheatear nestin lava fields, stone walls and craters.Other land birds are the resident GyrFalcon and Rock Ptarmigan, and themigrant Merlin and Short-eared Owl.MidgesThe midges at Mývatn (which means MidgeLake in Icelandic) and the River Laxá are themainstay of the local birds’ existence. If themidges were absent, there would be far fewerbirds. The larvae of non-biting chironomidmidges live in the lake itself; they develop inthe mud on the lake bed and live on diatomsand decaying organic matter. Black fly larvae,on the other hand, attach themselves to rocksin the River Laxá and feed on passing debris.Only the black fly bites; chironomids simplyirritate people, livestock and birds by flyinginto their noses, eyes and ears.Mývatnsstofa–JÓHHraunvegur 8 • 660 Mývatn+354 464 439080 www.icelandictimes.com www.icelandictimes.com 81info@visitmyvatn.iswww.visitmyvatn.isImages by © jóhann Óli Hilmarsson


Drakes Barrow‘s Goldeneye fighting for territoryA pair of Horned Grebes feeding youngA male Tufted Duck taking offBirdwatchingMývatn is a shallow and highly fertile lakewith powerful fresh water springs andextensive areas of geothermal heat. Invertebratesthrive in the lake and they provide the food forthe huge number of birds living in the area.Mývatn is one of the best knownbirdwatching sites in Iceland and is also aRamsar site. Fifteen species of ducks breedregularly at Mývatn and the River Laxá, andthere are few places in the world with sucha diversity of breeding wildfowl. Barrow’sGoldeneye is the area’s fl agship species andthe greatest density of breeding HarlequinDuck in the world is found in the upperGreat Northern Diver callingin paradiseBirding sites around Lake Mývatnreaches of the River Laxá; these species breednowhere else in Europe but Iceland. The sameis true of the Great Northern Diver, whichalso breeds at Mývatn. Other species whichbreed at Mývatn include Whooper Swan,Greylag Goose, Pink-footed Goose, RedthroatedDiver, Horned Grebe, Gyr Falcon,Merlin, Rock Ptarmigan, various waders,including large a population of Red-neckedPhalarope, Black-headed Gull, Arctic Tern,Short-eared Owl and Eurasian Wren. Almost120 species have been recorded at Mývatn.Take a Tour from ReykjahlíðLet’s take a tour clockwise around Mývatn,approximately 35 km by road, and visit a fewof the best birdwatching sites. Just below theold hotel at Reykjahlíð is a pretty stretch ofthe lakeshore with a number of small islets.Horned Grebes breed commonly here andvarious dabbling ducks can be seen here too—sometimes Northern Shovelers are present. It isa very pleasant place to go birdwatching.Just south of the village of Reykjahlíð, thereis a bay called Helgavogur. The bay is ice-freein the winter and often attracts large numbersof birds at that time of year. In winter the wateroften gives off a lot of steam owing to thepresence of geothermal heat and it sometimesmakes for an impressive sight. In winter it is oneof the main sites for dabbling ducks at Mývatn;in summer all species of dabbling duck whichbreed in Iceland can be found here, includingthe rarest, the Northern Shoveler. Other speciesbreed here, including several pairs of HornedGrebe, and waders and gulls can often be seenon spits of land jutting out into the bay.The Dry Rocks of DimmuborgirDimmuborgir is a special place. Apart fromthe lava formations and bizarre landscape,the bird life here differs from elsewherearound the lake. It is a very dry place andcliff-nesting birds such as the CommonRaven, Merlin and Gyr Falcon all breedhere. Redwing and Eurasian Wren areconspicuous in the scrubland.At Höfði, there are native birch woodlandswith patches of rowan, and numerousintroduced species have been planted. Thereare a variety of birds, with a range of passerines,including Eurasian Wren, Redwing, andCommon Redpoll. In the bay to the northof Höfði there are large numbers of ducksand Barrow’s Goldeneye breeds in the lavaformations; there is often a great commotionin the spring when the females are fightingover the best nesting sites and chase each otheraround and are then joined by the males.Around the Klasar Rock PillarsAlong the shore at Ytrivogar there is a pathleading to the Klasar rock pillars, whichmust feature on every second postcard ofMývatn. There are various birds along thispath, including Horned Grebe which breedsAn aggressive Long-tailed Duck drakeA male Harlequin Duck in currentin the reeds right by the path, and a range ofbreeding ducks. There are often a lot of birdsat Birtingatjörn, on the other (eastern) side ofthe road but unfortunately there is nowhere tostop the car to watch them.Lake Stakhólstjörn forms part of theprotected area around the pseudocraters atSkútustaðir. The islet in the lake is home tonesting Great Northern Divers. You canoften hear the haunting call of the divers onbeautiful spring and summer evenings.Kritartjörn is separated from the lakeby a long, narrow spit of land. To thesouth and west there are large expanses ofsedge, which are home to Horned Grebesand numerous dabbling ducks. There areoften lots of Whooper Swans here and atÁlftagerði, near Skútustaðir, the bay isoften teeming with birds.A Parade of HarlequinsThe River Laxá in the Mývatn area is one ofthe best known breeding sites for HarlequinDuck in the world. Food is plentiful andthe birds dive to the bottom of the river tocatch black fl y larvae. It is also one of thebest sites for brown trout fi shing in Iceland.A pair of Horned Grebe in courtship danceIn years when there is little food in the lakeitself but there are still plenty of black fl ies,lots of other birds come to the river. Barrow’sGoldeneye raise their young here and theriver hosts plenty of other ducks.On the western side of the lake fromVagnbrekka to Neslandavík there arenumerous good sites for birdwatching. Theroad closely follows the lakeshore. As thisis a protected breeding area from May toJuly, it is not recommended that you leaveyour car or walk around here—it is muchbetter to watch the birds from your car.There are often flocks of dabbling ducks,diving ducks, Great Northern Divers, geese,Horned Grebes, waders, gulls and ArcticTerns here. The western shore is the bestplace to fi nd Common Scoters at Mývatn.It is less common on the eastern shore butcan be found there too.The bird museum at bay Neslandavík isone of the best birdwatching sites at Mývatn.A flock of several dozen Whooper Swansmoult there and in late summer you can findhundreds, if not thousands, of ducks on thebay. Horned Grebe, geese, ducks and variousother birds breed around the bay. –JÓH82 www.icelandictimes.comwww.icelandictimes.com83Images by © jóhann Óli Hilmarsson


The Magical MysteryLake Mývatn and the surrounding areas will never cease to amaze youThe breathtaking beauty of the LakeMývatn area is unique. It has beencreated by volcanic eruptions and seismicactivity throughout the ages – and sculptedby wind and rain, ice and snow. It is theultimate creation of Fire and Ice.It is beautiful during the light nightsof summer with the lake mirroring therays of the midnight sun sweeping aroundthe mountain tops, It is beautiful duringthe dark days of winter, with naturalsnow sculptures forming and constantlyreshaping, giving the landscape theillusion of dancer-like movements in theperpetual Northern Lights.© Jóhann Óli HilmarssonDancing lightsLake Mývatn and the surrounding areas arethe one place in Iceland protected by thehighlands from the harsh northern winds andwet southern winds thus retaining relativetranquility all year round and giving theblissful Northern Lights free reign. No matterwhere or how you move around the area,magical lights are always within reach. You canchase them on horseback, on skis, on skatesor snowmobiles, but you’ll never catch them.They will just change their form or colour,their playfulness filling you with delight.The real treat is to sit in the warmthof the Mývatn Nature Baths withgeothermal water drawn from depthsof up to 2,500 metres, gazing at theNorthern Lights‘ movement across thesky. Or, you can go on an highland touron snowmobiles towards Askja, to findout where the lights and the land meet.Due to the extraordinary display ofthe nature, all the tourist services aroundLake Mývatn are open all year around.Hotels and restaurants, swimming poolsand nature baths provide excellent servicefor tourists.And guess what! In Dimmuborgir byLake Mývatn, the Yule Lads can be found.The Yule LadsThirteen days prior to Christmas thethirteen Yule Lads start descending from themountains – one each night. The sons of theancient, vicious trolls, Grýla and Leppalúði,the kind lads decided to leave home andsettle in Dimmuborgir. There they foundtheir perfect home and during the monthof December they receive visitors every daybetween 13.00 and 15.00. Furthermore,during the fi rst December Saturday, all 13brothers come for their annual Christmasbath in the Mývatn Nature Bath. Be sureto join this raucous lot at the baths on thatexact day for a lot of fun and laughter.Horse riding on IceThis winter celebrates the 10 th Anniversaryof the horse riding competition held on thefrozen Lake Mývatn on 23 rd February. Nowonder this part of the island is so popularwith tourists visiting Iceland.–ss© Þorgeir Gunnarsson © Jóhann Óli HilmarssonDimmuborgir Guesthousesharing the secrets of the illustrious Lake MývatnLake Mývatn is one of the absolutehighlights of any visit to Iceland, butdue to its fragile ecosystem, access to thelake is somewhat limited. The family-runDimmuborgir Guesthouse has however, builtup their business on the age-old traditions offishing and farming by the lake shore, givingits visitors unparalleled access to the lake—with breath–taking sunsets in the spring andNorthern Lights in the winter.The owners of Dimmuborgir Guesthousehave taken special care to integrate Mývatn’shistory and nature into their operations.“We realise that people come here becauseof the unique nature, so we’ve placedspecial emphasis on accommodating thosedemands,” says Helgi Héðinsson, managerof Dimmuborgir. “We want to provideour guests with a comfortable and relaxedhome base which reflects the landscapes andculture they’re in. Our cottages are thereforeplaced with optimal views in mind, privacy,tranquillity and giving visitors free access tothe lake’s beaches,” Helgi says.Being a family business, visitors are givena unique perspective to the area, as thefamily knows all there is to know and areextremely willing to share this information.Safeguarding Mývatn´s history, the familyat Dimmuborgir Guesthouse still operatean over 50 year–old smokehouse wherefi shermen would ‘cook’ their catch from thelake and guests are thus treated to locallysmoked trout at the breakfast buffet.Birdwatcher’s HavenMývatn is famous for its extremely diversebirdlife and rare birds in Iceland suchas the Horned Grebe, Gyrfalcon, theGreat Northern Diver and the Barrow’sGoldeneye can all be found in closeproximity to the guesthouse. “We’ve seennests only a few metres from the house andthe Barrow’s Goldeneye and Horned Grebeare seen almost every day during the springand summer, right in front of the breakfasthall. This summer during a guided walk wecame within five metres of a curious falcon,which is an extremely rare occurrencealthough the falcons are frequently foundclose by. Furthermore, we’ve recentlyconstructed a platform which overlooksthe lake, making it one of the best birdwatching spots available,” says Helgi.Open in Every SeasonNorthern Iceland’s prime attractions are allwithin easy reach from Lake Mývatn—be itnature baths, volcanoes, waterfalls, fi shingtowns and of course the volcanic rock formationswhich the guesthouse is named after.Lake Mývatn is no less enjoyable duringthe winter than in the summer. “In fact all theattractions and activities people associate withsummer are just as enjoyable during winter,but with a different character. In fact, due tothe area’s low rainfall and northern latitude itis one of the best and most beautiful locationsfor enjoying the northern lights. There’s reallyno need to chase after them, you can just enjoythem within the comforts of our windowedlounge area,” Helgi concludes.–VaGDimmuborgir GuesthouseGeiteyjarströnd 1 • 660 Mývatn+ 354 464 4210dimmuborgir@emax.iswww.dimmuborgir.is84 www.icelandictimes.com www.icelandictimes.com 85


WondersWinter is cold—and often miserablein most countries of the NorthernHemisphere. In England, for example, thedamp and cold seep into your bones andbitter rains soak you to the skin.Now, Iceland is different. It is furthernorth, for sure—but in this case, that’san advantage. Surrounded by the GulfStream, the winters are not nearly assevere as most of Europe.Winter without PainWinter offers so much that’s enjoyable,inspiring and awesome. The cold isdry and crisp—especially around LakeMývatn in Northern Iceland. The snowdoesn’t turn to a wretched, wet slush thatsoaks your shoes and socks...and feet. It’scrisp and powdery. The air is clean. There’sno pollution here—just pristine beauty.WinterlandEnjoy Mývatn’s total winter transformation at Hótel ReynihlíðIf you’re thinking of a holiday or takingyour company on an incentive trip, this isthe trip everyone will be talking about foryears to come with brightness in their eyes.It’s an experience difficult to effectivelyportray in words, but let’s give it a try.Lights in the SkyNights are not pitch black but arelit almost every night by a display ofNorthern Lights sweeping across the skyin an endless dance of swirling colour,beautifully offset by crisp white snow.Warm clothes are a must, of course, butyou don’t need to worry about the cold.You can even stand outside in a sweater toenjoy the night. This year, the NorthernLight cycle reaches its peak. There won’tbe such an opportunity to enjoy them somuch for over a decade to come.Ride on the Lake, Snow and MountainsThis area has so many features that peopletravel across the world to visit it. Winterjust adds a new dimension to the activitiesthat are possible. It’s the driest and stillestpart of Iceland. The lake freezes hard—so hard that you can enjoy the thrill ofhorse-riding on the ice. These beautifulanimals are known for their friendlinessand good disposition—along with theirenjoyment of giving you a smooth rideover practically any surface.Recently, go-karts have taken to the ice,too, in a thrilling drive on special tyres.Others like to try hiking across the lake ormountains on snowshoes or skis.This is a birdwatcher’s paradise,whatever the time of year, offering newways to enjoy the birdlife, with photoopportunities everywhere.Hot in a Frozen worldDuring spring and summer, nearby Dettifosswaterfall, the most powerful waterfall inEurope pours over 600 cubic metres of waterper second into the canyon below it. In winter,it is equally awesome—especially whensilenced into a frozen ice monolith. SuperJeepsand snowmobile tours, crossing this volcanicterrain are another thrilling day’s excursion toseveral such sites. You can also see the massivecracks in the rocks caused by the movement ofthe tectonic plates and stand on two continentsjust a short walk from the hotel.Not everything is cold, however. Volcanossurround Mývatn, leaving plenty of hotspotsand fascinating features. There’s no memoryto beat swimming in a natural geothermal,mineral-rich, hot pool in the middle of thesnow. Your body is so warm from the waterthat you don’t feel the cold.Catering for Body, Mind and SpiritBecause of the area’s pure conditions inwinter, it can do wonders for the body, mind,soul and spirit. Hótel Reynihlíð, for example,besides arranging all the activities above, alsoruns a Health and Wellness Programme thathas become very popular, adding a practicaland spiritual aspect to your holiday.It brings its 4-star rating to every aspectof its service. Just take a look at the reviewsin TripAdvisor.com and you get the picture.What about fun when you’re in the depthsof the countryside, if being surroundedby snow, steam, ice, geothermal hot pots,horses and SuperJeeps isn’t enough? Youhave to get to know the Yule Lads in nearbyDimmuborgir if you come before Christmas.Hótel Reynihlíð was the only hotel inMývatn, providing weary travellers in theirarduous trek between Akureyri and thevillages of the East with rest, refuge andsustenance in the last century. Today, itboasts a good restaurant with an extensivemenu and a nice bar to relax in after a day’sactivities. Its experienced staff are veryknowledgeable and will be happy to helpyou get the best from your visit—and yourvisit will be your best, too.Hótel Reynihlíð–asfReynihlíð • 660 Mývatn+354 464 4170bookings@reynihlid.iswww.reynihlid.is86 www.icelandictimes.com www.icelandictimes.com 87


© Ragnar Þoresteinsson© Andrew FortuneMemories ofa CountryChildhoodGrowing up in one of the oldest settlement areasHave you ever wondered what it is liketo live in a remote valley, far from thecity? Margrét Hólm Valsdóttir shares theexperience that shaped her life.It was May, 1976 and I was 8 years old.I was excited and a bit nervous. We weremoving from the small town of Akureyrito the valley where my father oversaw thegenerators at the hydroelectric power stationat the head of the Aðaldalur valley.SummerThe summer was very hot, so we wereoutside every day. The sun never went down.There was no school, so we had lots of funthe whole time. I celebrated my 9th birthdaythere. There were lots of fl ies in June, butthey never came inside. The fish and thebirds live on them, so we had lots of fi sh andbirds that year. It was beautiful.The river came rushing into the valley fromthe mountains. After the power station it flowsto the Arctic Sea. There were lots of trout inthe river, so we fished and played by the water.AutumnIn early September, the farmers brought thesheep down from the mountains. They wereall mixed together from different farms, sothey are brought to the ‘réttir’, where they areall divided up. It’s a big celebration and lots offun as we all helped to sort out whose sheepwere whose. There was no school until after theréttir, so my new friends and I would play inthe valley. We would eat dinner at whicheverhouse we were closest to—and would oftensleep there, too. It was over 15 km across thevalley and yet, we were all like a big family.When school started, there were 15 in myclass: 10 boys and 5 girls. Today, there areabout 40 children in the whole school. Thefarming dictated our school life, however.For instance, in 1979, the summer was badbut the weather improved in October,so the farmers had to harvest then. Theschool was closed so everyone could helpbring in the harvest before the stormsbegan and the snow buried everythingin a pristine white. Also, there werenever any meetings between 5 and7pm because that was milking time.We children grew up learning totake responsibility for the animalsand our siblings. We helped with thework, too. There was no crime—our education in life taught usto be well-rounded. We learntrespect for our surroundings, thepeople and our friends and family.When one of the animalswas sick, we would fight for its life, so we learnedto value life.Sometimes, teenagers with problems fromReykjavik and other big towns were sent to livein the valley with a family and it would havea healing effect on them, changing their lives.Life was so beautiful: the nature, the valleyitself, the people; all together they created thebest experience growing up. When you neededit, all the community was there to help.WinterLiving at the head of the valley, we didn’t needpictures on our walls as the big picture windowsgave us the best views we could want. In winter,the snows were offset by the Northern Lights.We were so used to seeing them, we didn’t thinkanything of it when they appeared.Snowstorms are common in the northernwinters. Sometimes, the river providing thewater to the power station would freeze,damaging the generators. The electricityfrom the power station was used all acrossthe valley but it often broke down, leavingthe houses without light and heat. Everyonehad candles but it got cold if there was a longpower cut. The farmers would hook up theirtractors to run the pumps to milk the cows.Communal LifeMy mother started working in the littlestore that served as a community meetingplace, too. It was a general store that seemedto have almost everything but sometimes,we would have to get some things from thetown of Húsavík or even Akureyri. Whattoday is an hour trip could take over 2½hours over heavily rutted gravel roads insnow and ice, so we didn’t make that tripmore often than necessary! The mountainroad would often be closed anyway.The old phones were communal. If youphoned someone, the others could listen, too.In the early 70’s, black and white televisionsreached the valley. Programmes were shownonly a few hours a day. On Sundays, at 4 o’clock,we all watched ‘Little House on the Prairie’.Colour TV’s didn’t arrive until 1980. Whenneighbours bought a VHS video machine inthe same year, everyone went to watch.It was not always easy, but I had awonderful childhood—a childhood thatshaped my life in a beautiful way. I’ll foreverbe thankful for that move to the valley.Today, Margrét is married, with twochildren, to a farmer by Lake Mývatn,where she is also a manager at theReynihlíð Hotel.–asf88 www.icelandictimes.comwww.icelandictimes.com89© Ragnar Þoresteinsson


Loghouse Life near the LakeBread from the Earth, Dinner with the Cows at VogafjósEat dinner in a cowshed with bread dugup from the ground? Are you serious?Is this some strange Icelandic joke? Not atall! The Cowshed restaurant is a unique ideain Mývatn, where they serve bread baked ina geothermal oven at the hot springs nearby.Recognising that visitors needed a placeto eat when visiting Mývatn, the farmers atVogafjós built a farmhouse, with the cowshedon one side of it and a beautiful restaurantwith picture windows overlooking the farmand the lake. You can see the cows throughwindows into the cowshed—milking cowsand calves of different ages.Many people enjoy the experience ofmeeting the cows up close—and especially,the baby calves. The animals respond to theaffection and clearly enjoy the experience, too.The restaurant provides very wholesome andnatural meals in the beautiful environmentof the Mývatn lake. You can have wines orspirits from their collection. On the walls areimplements and equipment from the farm’shistory. The surrounding stone walls outsideare made from lava painstakingly picked upfrom the fields to allow for cultivation.Fancy Fish Skin ShoesIn recent years, a company in NorthIceland perfected the tanning of fi sh skin.As a result, it has been made into manydifferent distinctive fashion items. Thereis a small boutique at the restaurant, withhandmade fi sh skin items, accessories andshoes. The designer is the oldest daughteron the farm, who studied Footwear designat the London College of Fashion. She nowfocuses on creatingsustainable highfashion accessoriesand shoes under herlabel HALLDORA,inspired by themagnificent natureof the Lake Myvatnarea. The fi sh skin issurprisingly strongand very longlasting.Live in a LoghouseThe Vogafj ós Guesthouse, run by the samefarming family, consists of 3 log houses thatcan accommodate up to about 60 people.The rooms all have private bathrooms andthe houses are set in the copse just acrossthe road from the restaurant.From here, it is easy to get to popularspots like Dimmuborgir and Dettifoss. Inwinter, before Christmas, you can meetthe Yule Lads and see the mighty power ofDettifoss waterfall silenced. There are alsomany different activities from SuperJeeptours to horse riding on the ice.–asfVogafjósMyvatn NaturebathExperience Relax EnjoyMyvatn NaturebathsEnjoy a relaxing visit to the Naturebaths.Begin with a relaxing dip in clouds of steamrising up from fissures deep in the Earth’ssurface and end with a luxurious bath in apool of geothermal water, drawn from depthsof up to 2500 meters. Myvatn Naturebathsis perfect for those who enjoy close contactwith nature and want to relax their body andsoul in the warm natural waters, overlookingthe scenery of Lake Myvatn and the volcaniccrater of Hverfjall.RestaurantKaffi Kvika or “Magma Café”, is the newestaddition at the Naturebaths. Our guests canenjoy light meals, drinks and sweets in abeautiful setting with great view over the area.Opening hours:Summer - June, July, August - 09:00-23:30Winter - September- May - 12:00-21:30MývatnLake MyvatnThe region is one of Europe´s greatestnatural treasures. Shaped by repeatedvolcanic eruptions and seismic activity downthrough the ages, the landscape aroundthe 36 km2 lake is spectacular panoramaof surreal lava, crater and cave formations.The wetlands around the lake are teemingwith plant and birdlife which are also home insummer to the swarms of midges from whichthe region takes it´s name.Jarðböðin - Myvatn Naturebaths - Jarðbaðshólar, 660 Mývatn - Tel: (+354) 464 4411 - info@jardbodin.is - www.jardbodin.isVogum 1 • 60 Mývatn+354 464 4303vogar@emax.iswww.vogafjos.net90 www.icelandictimes.com


The Entrance to the EastQuality handcraft at the East Iceland CrossroadsOn the banks of Lagarfljót river locatedin East Iceland, we find the capitalof the east, Egilsstaðir. With a populationof just over two thousand people, the townof Egilsstaðir can trace its urbanizationto a farmer who laid the groundworkfor increased commerce and services byconstructing a large residential buildingthere at the start of the 20th century. Thefarmer was confi dent in his choice of landand predicted ‘the crossroads will be here’,which later proved true.Magic Happens at the CrossroadsAccording to old Icelandic folklore, whencoming to a crossroads, one should stopand envision what greatness lies ahead andby magic it will all come true.In the heart of Egilsstaðir, at thebusiest crossroads in East Iceland, sits theenchanting Hús Handanna, known for itscreative and quality handicraft from aroundEast Iceland. The gallery specialises inselling and promoting East Icelandic qualitydesign, both creative and skilfully made.Filled with some of the most intriguingdesigns that East Iceland has to offer, there isa wide selection of paintings, beautiful ceramicproducts, quality handcrafts made of reindeerskin, reindeer antlers and local woodwork.While the majority of items come fromEast Iceland, some of the design workcomes from other areas of the country.All beautifully designed and crafted,many items transcend the boundariesbetween memorabilia and art.Local food delicacies from AustfirskarKrásir (East Iceland Delicacies) whichoversees the production of local artisanalfoods, is also featured at Hús Handanna.East Iceland Delicacies was foundedin February 2009 in Egilsstaðir toreinforce the East Iceland food heritageand to combine the forces of thoseinvolved in local food production.Snacking on SouvenirsSouvenirs in the form of food are a relativelynew feature in Iceland. Now every regionhas their specialities and the variety of thoseedible keepsakes grows daily.Hús Handanna has quite a few East Icelandicdelicacies meant to tickle your taste buds orbring to loved ones for a delicious surprise.Golden turnip, chutney with apricotsand angelica are among these savoury bitsand with Austfi rskar Krásir offering a widerange of organically grown products, friendsand family back home will be able to enjoytheir pancakes with Icelandic birch syrup orrhubarb jam and cream while listening tostories about the native elves and trolls.With attention on the excellence of theirproducts, the gallery of Hús Handannaprides itself on nothing but the best forsale and show. An atmosphere of warmthand creativity welcomes its visitors, whilethe interiors, displays and installation ofthe products are expertly done under thesupervision of local designers.Every month sees a special emphasison one particular artist of the month—aswell as the designer of the month—withspecial focus on their work and oftenspecial offers on their creation.Hús Handanna shares their buildingwith the local Tourist Information Centre,so after enjoying the arts and crafts, visitorsare able to fi nd useful information beforeheading towards another adventure.Introducing local designersBorn in 1974, Ríkey graduated spring 2003from the Haandarbejdes Fremmes Seminariumin Copenhagen, majoring in textile andembroidery. Since graduation she has beendesigning and working effectively on projectsunder her own name as well as co-designing asuccessful clothing line for boys, Húnihún.Ríkey started creating collars in 2006with the idea of design which wouldcombine both fashion and functionality.Knowing that jackets and coats can oftenuse a little pizazz, her beautiful designs aroundthe neck can embellish and completely changean outfit. Inspired by lace and embroideredcollars from the Romantic era, Ríkeybelieves that such mystic femininity addsa great touch to modern style fashion.Handmade from the finest wool,sometimes mixed with mohair, silk orkashmir, the collars are often decoratedwith Ríkey’s old jewellery from her daystravelling the world.The main decor is recycled vintage lacedoilies—usually crocheted or tatted, thatthe designer dyes, arranges and mixes withembroidery, gems and pearls, giving eachand every collar a unique feel.Tatting is a technique for handcrafting aparticularly durable lace constructed by aseries of knots and loops. Tatting can beused to make lace edging as well as doilies,collars, and other decorative pieces.Enter partners Rósa & ZdenekThe longing to make a significantly positivedifference, combined with an interest indesign, led partners Rósa Valtingojer andZdenek Patak together in Reykjavík 2006.Rósa, a textile and ceramic designeroriginally from East Iceland, introducedgraphic designer, Zdenek, to her hometownin Stöðvarfj örður, where they now live andenvision future locations for sustainablecommunities all over Iceland and worldwide.Designing for, and running Mupimup!Recycled by Design, the couple’s designapproach is focused on post-consumerismand recycling industrial waste.An example of their design made fromrecycled plastic bottles is a beautiful lightcalled Crystalic Globe, Blossoming Floweror 42 PET. (PET referring to materialwidely used for plastic bottles).Created from forty-two, two litre plasticbottles, the lampshade is delicately woveninto branches that are curled togetherforming whimsical leaves.The material is about 400 metresof hand-cut bottles which would takeapproximately 600 years to decompose inthe ground. The inner construction is madeout of plexiglass, industrial waste fromplexiglass company Plexigler ehf.Hús Handanna is definitely a placewhere magic happens! Welcome tothe Entrance to the East!–sPMiðvangur 1 • 700 Egilsstaðir+354 471 2433info@hushandanna.isOn Facebook92 www.icelandictimes.com www.icelandictimes.com 93Hús Handanna


Whether you want to picnic beside Lake Mývatn or climb the glaciers above SkaftafellVatnajökull National Park — A Guidebook is your ideal companion. The handy littletome provides essential and thorough information about all the best sights in the park.Available in Icelandic, English and German.Neat as a PinEgilsstaðir’s Lyngás Guesthouse is fresh and cleanOpened in 2010, Lyngás Guesthousegives guests in Egilsstaðir the optionof good quality accommodation at anaffordable price. Lyngás is located in thecentre of town and has six rooms suitedfor individuals, couples or groups of up toseven. White walls, accented with brightphotos of plant life emphasise clean cutminimalism. All rooms share bathrooms,kitchen, and the living room with freewireless access throughout the guesthouse.At the Eastern CrossroadsEgilsstaðir Guest HouseEgilsstaðir Guest House, on the shoresof Lake Logurinn in the town ofEgilsstaðir is a remarkable old world hotelthat has been accommodating guests since1884. Eighteen renovated double rooms, allwith en suite bathroom, plus a fi ne diningrestaurant, complete with white linentablecloths and views overlooking the gardenand lake, make this a cosy and romanticchoice for an overnight stay or longer.94 www.icelandictimes.comFrom the start of autumn, guests canget excellent bargains at this clean andmodern guesthouse just a few minuteswalk from Egilsstaðir’s pool and artmuseum. Guests on a tighter budgetcan bring their sleeping bag for areduced price or pay a small fee for theconvenience of a made up bed.–KBLyngás GistiheimiliLyngási 5-7 • 700 Egilsstöðum+354 471 1310lyngas@lyngas.iswww.lyngas.isA Bit of HistoryThe guest house shares sprawling estategrounds with Egilsstaðir Farm, which hasbeen operating continuously for centuries.The town of Egilstaðir grew up around thefarm and eventually became the site of themajor crossroads of East Iceland. Today,the farm continues its operations with 70cows that provide the hotel with all itsdairy products, such as milk, skyr, yogurtand cheese, as well as some of the highestquality beef products in Iceland.The kitchen is overseen by HuldaDanielsdóttir who is fast gaining a reputationfor her creative cooking skills and blending oftraditional and progressive cuisine, sourcingmost of the ingredients either locally or fromaround East Iceland.The restaurant prides itself on its beeftenderloin from Egilsstaðir Farm as well as itsdelectable handmade ice cream and sorbets,both of which come highly recommended.–EMVGistihúsið Egilsstaðir700 Egilsstöðum+354 471 1114egilsstadir@egilsstadir.iswww.egilsstadir.com“A wonderful pocket guide”Eric Hansen, reporter for The New York TimesFriends of Vatnajökull - nonprofit association supporting Vatnajökull national park


The Mystery of Randulf’s Sea HouseMjóeyri Travel service reveals Eskifjörður, past and presentThe saga of Randulf’s Sea House is oneof the most unusual and remarkablestories in Iceland today. Built in 1890 bythe Norwegian fisherman Peter Randulf, thebuilding was used for landing and processingherring, as well as providing fi shermen withlodging in the upstairs quarters.After the demise of the herring erain 1930, the Sea House sat unused andabandoned for almost 80 years. When itwas fi nally opened in 2008, the interior wasfound untouched and perfectly preservedas if frozen in time. Upstairs, trousers werestill hanging on hooks, several pairs ofboots were left under the bunk beds and alarge collection of letters to loved ones onthe continent were discovered. Curiously,no Icelander had ever seen the inside of thebuilding until it was opened in 2008.Dine back in TimeMjóeyri Travel Service organises toursand events at Randulf’s Sea House, nowoperating as a restaurant within a museum.Visitors can tour this fascinating buildingand afterwards enjoy a traditional meal withstarters such as fermented shark, dried fi shand herring on rye bread, chased by a shot ofbrennivín. The menu includes dishes madewith ingredients from around the fjord. Trythe reindeer meatballs with rice and chilisauce or the smoked and cured reindeerwith salad and blueberry sauce. Traditionalfish, meat soups, and roast East Iceland lambcan also be provided for group lunches ordinners with advanced booking.As a travel service, Mjóeyri offers a widevariety of activities in the area, including boatrental, reindeer watching and/or hunting,nature hikes and bird watching tours andskiing in winter. Tailor made tours accordingto your wishes, can be arranged.Iceland SparIt has been speculated that the ‘sunstone’mentioned in medieval Icelandic textswas Iceland spar and that Vikings usedits light-polarizing property to tell thedirection of the sun on cloudy days, fornavigational purposes. The mineral,known formerly as Iceland Crystal,is noteworthy for its extraordinaryproperties of double refraction, which wasstudied at length by prominent scholarssuch as Christiaan Huygens and Sir IsaacNewton. Intriguing visits to HelgustaðirCave, where Icelandic spar was minedfrom the 17th—20th centuries are madepossible with Mjóeyri Travel Service,guidance and equipment included.Mjóeyri Travel’s striking summer housesstand tall against the jaw droppinglybeautiful background of the setting sunbeyond the mountains. Owners Berglindand Sævar welcome you to spend a day, aweek, a month on the blissfully tranquilshores of Eskifjörður in East Iceland.–EMVMjóeyri GistiheimiliStrandgötu 120 • 735 Eskifirði+354 477 1247mjoeyri@vortex.iswww.mjoeyri.isA Class from the Pastseyðisfjörður’s Hótel aldan surrounds Guests with eleganceWhen arriving at one of the furthestpoints in East Iceland, surroundedby magnifi cent views, one can almost feelthe sparks of creativity combined with thepeacefulness the area has to offer. Knownas something of a trendy place, musiciansand artists from all over Iceland and abroadhave been attracted to Seyðisfjörður’sflourishing cultural scene.Starry Nights and Stellar FoodSeyðisfjörður’s Norwegian–style woodenhouses, dating from early 20 th century,make the village unique in Iceland. HótelIdyllic Days at ÞakgilOne of Iceland’s best kept secretsJust 15 km off the ring road and 5 kmfrom Vik, lies a small enclosed canyon,sheltered on all sides by steep mosscoveredvertical mountains, creating acosy amphitheatre of sorts. The floor of thecanyon is a grassy plain, about the size of afootball stadium, which serves as a campingsite along with nine recently built, snugpine huts that are also available to rent.Several magnificent day hikes to the nearbyMýrdalsjökull Glacier are possible and inAldan is located in two of those gems, dividedinto Hótel Aldan and Hótel Snæfell.Hótel Aldan is in what used to be the bankof Seyðisfjörður for almost a century. Elegantlyfurnished with antiques imported fromDenmark and soft furnishings from India, thebedrooms are the picture of gentle relaxation,especially when guests can cherish the starrynight sky from the skylights above their beds.Several of the rooms boast adjoiningsleeping quarters in a recessed alcove, whichare sure to be a popular cosy nook for children.Immaculately clean rooms with quality linensand down duvets add a touch of luxury.the evenings, a dining hall set in a largenatural cave, replete with cooking grill and afireplace for warmth, is especially welcomingon cooler summer nights.An Alternative to Landmannalaugar?Getting to Þakgil is also part of theadventure itself. You will see all mannerof weird and wonderful rock formations,scenic panoramic views that go on foreverand even the remains of no less than twoHótel Aldan also housesthe restaurant, a treasure on its own, wheretraditional lamb and langoustine dishes,as well as fresh fish from the fjord arefeatured. Many dishes are seasoned withherbs, handpicked from the mountainsabove the fj ord every summer.Collected specially for the restaurant,these fragrant flowers and herbs give HótelAldan’s signature dishes their distinctivefl air. The classy restaurant is perfect for aromantic autumn evening dinner in elegantsurroundings on the edge of the world.Hótel Snæfell, a more budget option, hastotal of nine rooms in a charming woodenhouse from 1908 located at the mouth of theFjarðará River with views across the fjord.Recreational highlights includemidnight kayaking (in summer only),attempting the challenging ‘Seven PeaksHike’, mountain biking, sea angling andbird watching at Skálanes.Hótel Aldan–sPNorðurgötu 2 • 710 Seyðisfirði+354 472 1277hotelaldan@simnet.iswww.hotelaldan.commovie sets, Beowulf and the Americantelevision show, Game of Thrones, partsof which were filmed here.The gravel road is well maintainedand an average passenger car can makeit all the way to the campsite in about 30minutes. Þakgil has no trouble competingwith the famous Landmannalaugar,where you will find many tourists at theheight of the season. If you are short ontime, Þakgil is a wonderful way to peekinto Iceland’s interior and possibly, agreat alternative to Landmannalaugar.–EMVTjaldstæðið ÞakgiliHöfðabrekkuafrétti • 870 Vík+354 893 488996 www.icelandictimes.com www.icelandictimes.com 97helga@thakgil.iswww.thakgil.is


On Top ofthe Worlda timid soul’s approach to the mighty VatnajökullBed down for the night in theheart of the Vatnajökull districtat Vagnsstaðir Youth Hostel, just28 km east of the Jökulsárlónglacier lagoon. Sleeping bagaccommodation, linen rental,a well equipped kitchen, diningand lounge areas, as well as3 fully equipped cottages areoffered. There is a campgroundwith good sanitary facilities.The coast, just 1500 m fromVagnsstaðir provides numerouspossibilities for scenic walks andbird watching. Maps of the areaare available at the hostel.The weather report was looking good—afull day of sunshine ahead of me andtemperatures above 10°C. I was on my wayto a face to face encounter with the world’s 3 rdlargest glacier, the mighty Vatnajökull. Thistrip would mark a couple of firsts for me—myfirst time ever to set foot on a glacier, and myfi rst time to travel by snowmobile. Needlessto say I was really excited!I first met Kristján and Bjarney, of GlacierJeeps, at our pre-arranged meeting place: thecrossroads of Route No.1 and F985. Thisis the offi cial meeting place for all GlacierJeep summer tours. Glacier Jeeps has yearsof experience conducting jeep, snowmobileand hiking tours on the glacier since 1994.(Bjarney has been helping run the familybusiness since she was 14 years old.) I parkedmy car and joined them in their sturdy 4WDwhich wound its way slowly ever upwards,following the undulating gravel road, whichtwisted and turned around hairpin bends,past waterfalls and deep canyons. My guidesfill me in on the details of the landscape,pointing out how the glacier has crawledacross the terrain, devastating everything inits path along with other interesting facts.Thirty minutes and 830 metres above sealevel later, we arrive at Jöklasel, Iceland’shighest restaurant and owned by GlacierJeeps. Jöklasel will serve as our base campwhere we suit up with boots, warm overallsand helmets for the snowmobile excursion.Now it’s time to test drive the snowmobiles.I am a little hesitant at first and Kristján showsme the ropes. It looks easy enough but I decidethat I prefer to let him drive over the glacierwith me sitting safely behind him on this‘skidoo for two’, at least until I get a better feelfor it. ‘Off we go over the wild white yonder,climbing high into the sun’ to paraphrase anold song, with cloudless blue skies above usand the wind in our faces. Further along westop and dismount, to take in the magnificentpanoramic views over the glacier, the AtlanticOcean and the town of Höfn far below in thedistance. I felt like I was on top of the worldand it was truly a cause for celebration!Kristján jokes that we cannot go onwardsunless I drive. By now I am feeling a littlemore sure of myself and agree to give it atry. This time we are off to inspect a massivesheer rock face that rises straight up from theglacier at an elevation of 1200 metres. Finally,our one hour snowmobile adventure comes toan end and it is time to return to Jöklasel fora well deserved bite to eat and a hot drink.The view out the restaurant windows is as onewould expect: magnificent.Glacier Jeeps also offers a hiking tour of theglacier that comes with all the equipment suchas safety helmets, climbing irons and ice axe,instruction and a guide, included in the price.In case you just don’t think a strenuoushike or a thrilling snowmobile adventureis for you, then Glacier Jeeps offers analternative to see the glacier in a comfortable,specially equipped 4WD and is available yearround, weather permitting. Each tour is only3 to 4 hours in total, giving you plenty of timeto do other things with your day, even thoughonce you are up there you may not want tocome down. Although it’s best to book oneday in advance, you can also just show upat the crossroads (F985) at either 9.30 am or2.00 pm and join the tour from there.Vatnajökull Glacier Jeep tours: amust for your bucket list!Glacier Jeeps–EMVSilfurbraut 15 • 780 Hornafjörður+354 478 1000glacierjeeps@simnet.iswww.glacierjeeps.is98 www.icelandictimes.comwww.icelandictimes.com99


Experience ExcellenceHótel Lundi brings eco-aware service to south IcelandLocated in the heart of Vík, surroundedby beautiful landscape, Hotel Lundi isa jewel about 10 minutes walk from Vík’sfamous black sand beaches. A cosy little hotel,its goal is to ensure you enjoy your stay.Hotel Lundi provides excellentservice and a lovely atmosphere. Aneco-conscious hotel, they respectnature and follow environmentallyfriendly standards in both the hotel andrestaurant. Of the 22 double ensuiterooms, twelve were built in 2011,spacious and beautifully decorated withreference to the astonishing landscapeof Vík village and its surroundings. Freewi-fi is available for guests.The restaurant serves outstanding mealsfor both lunch and dinner, using only freshIcelandic fish, eggs, dairy and other highquality ingredients from local farmers. Theoutcome is delicious traditional Icelandicfood with a modern touch.The restaurant seats up to 75 peopleand, during high season (June-August),offers an excellent á la carte menu. Duringlow season, a solid selection of homecooked meals is provided. Group menusare available on request all year round,provided they are ordered in advance.All local services, such as supermarket,swimming pool, information centre and bank,are within walking distance of the hotel.Hótel Lundi–sPVíkurbraut 26 • 871 Vík+354 487 1212hotellundi@islandia.iswww.hotelpuffin.isÁsólfsskáli Farm HolidaysLiving under Eyjafjallajökull VolcanoIt’s one of those places that is easyto miss if you are rushing along thering road on Iceland’s majestic southcoast. Sharing the peaceful location justbelow Eyjafjallajökull with a handful ofother farms, Ásólfsskáli Farm seems tomagically come into focus in a way thatyou might not expect.It won the 2011 award for being themost beautiful farm in Rangárthing-eystracounty and the honour is wholly fitting forthis neat and tidy dairy farm that openedits doors to travellers in 1991.There are two self-contained cottagesthat can sleep up to 6 people each andcome complete with jacuzzi and gasbarbecue, making it an ideal retreatin a picture post-card perfect setting.Visitors are welcome to watch themilking of Ásólfsskáli’s 50 cows, hikethe foothills along marked trails or visitthe picturesque 19 th century Ásólfsskálichurch that presides over the landscape.Ásólfsskáli–EMVÁsólfsskála • 861 Hvolsvelli+354 487 8989asolfsskali@simnet.iswww.asolfsskali.isRefreshing VíkHalldór’s Café satisfi es Locals and Travellers alikeGuests at Halldór’s Café are greetedby the scent of steaming soup andfreshly baked bread as they walk throughthe door. Across from Vík’s shorelinewith its black sand beaches, Halldór’sCafé serves up small dishes like soup ofthe day or salads with tuna, chicken orjust feta along with bigger meals of fish,lamb or chicken. Originally, Halldór’sCafé was a general store, built in 1831to meet all of the needs of Vík. Today, itcontinues to satisfy patrons with its menuwhich has something for every taste.Halldór’s Café supports artists with arotating display of local talent featuredon its walls, and serves up steaming cupsof coffee and cake, ideal for meeting andgreeting old friends or new acquaintances.Halldór’s Café opens in the middle of Apriland closes for the season in the middle ofSeptember. Its hours are 11:00 to 22:00 or23:00, but Fridays can turn into late nights,with the cafe remaining open until 1:00am with its fully stocked bar providing alate night place to grab a drink.Halldórskaffi–KBVíkurbraut 28 • 870 Vík+354 847 8844halldorskaffi@gmail.comwww.halldorskaffi.isThe Old Cowhouse Restaurantsitting Pretty on Iceland’s south CoastLocation wise, The Old CowhouseRestaurant couldn’t be in a moreperfect position for feasting your eyesupwards to the misty, craggy, moss-coveredpeaks of Eyjafjallajökull. It’s a welcomeaddition to Iceland’s ever-growing list ofnew amenities that have been popping upall over the country.The remodelled former barn easily seats50 to 60 dinner guests while retaining itsunpretentious character and sweet bovinesimplicity, making this a thoroughlyenjoyable place to stop for lunch or dinnerwhile travelling the south coast.The menu boasts grass-fed beef, as is thenorm in Iceland, coming straight fromrestaurant’s own cattle herds. A hearty andwarming meat soup called Volcano Soup,served with homemade bread, is a favourite.Open year-round, the Old Cowhouseplans monthly events including an Octoberevening of traditional food, a Novemberevening of game (reindeer and geese), aDecember buffet of traditional Christmasdishes, as well as musical evenings ofIcelandic folk music at various timesthroughout the year.For opening hours in winter, pleasecontact The Old Cowhouse Restaurantdirectly. Large and small groups welcome.Gamla Fjósið–EMVHvassafell • 860 Hvolsvelli+354 487 7788oldcowhouse@gmail.comfacebook.com/oldcowhouse100 www.icelandictimes.com www.icelandictimes.com 101


Beyondthe mountainsWhere nature imposes silence© Philippe PatayFjallabak means ‘beyond the mount ains’in Icelandic. It’s the name of an oldwalking route that meanders through a tangleof paths crisscrossing the volcanic highlands ofIceland’s interior. This track is the birthplace ofthe sport of hiking in Iceland.TranscendenceIf you dream of exploring the great outdoors,observing raw nature and volcanic phenomena,Iceland is undoubtedly one of the best places forthis type of adventure. There’s nothing like totalimmersion to uncover the secrets of this country.Leave Highway No. 1 behind, go with aprofessional guide and discover the vast andextraordinary scenery of the interior. Feelingsof awe, peace and a sense of revitalization areamong the emotions you may feel during yourstay and whether you prefer hiking, riding orskiing, a variety of treks to the highlands arepossible. Offering a subtle mix of effort andpleasure, highland treks are very conduciveto some great encounters, whether via a smallgroup of hikers or with Icelanders themselves.Travelling is, above all, a way to realise yourdreams, to satisfy your curiosity or to keep thenomadic spirit alive, all the while storing visualmementos in one’s heart and soul.Depending on the time and budget youhave available, between one and four weeksare needed to truly discover Iceland andchoose the trip that suits you best.The Fours Seasons Tour‘The Four Seasons of Iceland’ tour aroundIceland is open to all. The approximately3,000 km route takes 27 days, averaging125 km per day, with plenty of time forbeautiful walks, nature watching andcontemplation. It takes into account theclimate and seasons, the flora and birdlife.You can choose to participate in all or partof this tour, join up with it at any pointalong the way or leave before the end.Off the Beaten PathTotal immersion in the heart of thisunforgettable country is something that issought out by hikers. There are countlessroutes in Iceland which, were they inmainland Europe, would be famous hikingtrails, well documented and certainly welltrod. But here in Iceland, apart from afew arctic foxes and fl ocks of migratorybirds, visitors to them have been few andfar between ever since Iceland rose out ofthe ocean. With the advent of walking asa sport discipline, certain paths have onlyjust been discovered and have becomeglobally known, such as the Laugavegurtrail. While well maintained with trailmarkers and strategically located huts,its raw beauty is just a tantalising tasteof the mysterious hidden beauties to befound within Iceland.Beyond the MountainsHike Mount Hekla, one of the mostfamous volcanos in Iceland or the volcanichighlands of Öræfi along the shores ofthe Elves’ Mountains on the east of theisland—a trek ranked among the 25most beautiful in the world according toNational Geographic. The isolation ofthe region accompanied by sudden moodswings of the elements require everyoneto be in good physical shape. These treksare for adventure purists, contemplativehealthy types, free spirits and lovers ofthe great outdoors who wish to immersethemselves in the raw nature and to discoverlandscapes that are only barely imaginable.Expeditions on foot or Nordic skis are onlyfor the most hardy and experienced hikersand mountaineers, who delight in pittingtheir skills against the likes of the sheerslope of a volcanic ridge.For visitors who hesitate between a trekin a particular area and seeing a broadspectrum of the Icelandic landscape, thereare treks that combine the most beautifulsites of South Iceland with hiking in theremote highlands of the Fjallabak regionin centre of the country.Philippe Patay, founder and directorof Fjallabak has lived in Iceland forover 40 years and is one of the trekkingpioneers in Iceland. With nearly 30years of experience leading specialisedtreks around the country, the Fjallabakteam expertly attends to the detailsof organisation, safety and planning,allowing you to relax and enjoy yourselfto the full. Let Philippe, with his team ofprofessional guides, take you on a journeyof discovery into Iceland’s vast and remotehinterlands, truly at the ‘end of the world.’Fjallabak–DB/EMVPo.Box 1622 • 121 Reykjavik+354 511 3070102 www.icelandictimes.comwww.icelandictimes.com103info@fjallabak.iswww.fjallabak.is


Within The Golden CircleGallerí Guesthouse is surrounded by famous attractionsThe small but lively town of Laugarvatnlies within the Golden Circle, createdby Thingvellir, Geysir, and Gulfoss. Thecentrally located Gallerí Bed & Breakfastwas begun by owners Thuríður and Joelafter their children had flown the nest;the three extra bedrooms now fi lled withtourists wanting more than the normal daytrip to Iceland’s most famous attractions.From an enclosed patio, that will soonfeature a fireplace, two of Iceland’sDown Into the DepthsCaving with Laugarvatn adventureThe mouth of Gjábakkahellir caveleads down to rocky paths hollowedout by lava flows that pushed throughearth, forming the cave’s smooth andpolished walls near Laugarvatn, the townwithin the Golden Circle.All Laugarvatn Adventure guides havehad over a decade of experience in cavingand can navigate through almost any ofthese caves. Tours vary in diffi culty fromGjábakkahellir’s relatively gentle descent,active volcanoes, Eyjafjallajökull andHekla are clearly visible.Gallerí’s knack for handicrafts is apparentin light fi xtures made by Thuríður and smalldecorations scattered throughout the rooms.The Gallerí gift shop is where Thuríður andJoel’s artistry shines, allowing travellersto take home a small piece of Icelandicdesign. Joel and Thuriður extend aninvitation to their guests to come alongand find out the secret to their tastyto Tintron’s vertical drop accessible onlyby abseiling down a rope. LauagarvatnAdventure’s three cave tours let visitorssafely delve into the depths with the helpof guides who are professional cavers andare active members of the Icelandic Searchand Rescue Team. Children over fi ve cango on some of the easier tours, while adultstackle the challenge of rock climbing onThingvellir’s craggy cliffs or crawlingthrough a small hole at the opening ofbread, baked in a natural hotspring closeto Geysir. The bread is served along withslices of salmon each day at Gallerí’s café.Gallerí Guesthouse is open year round.Gallerí Laugarvatn–KB‘Litli Björn’ cave. Tours are offered dailyfrom May through August with a twoperson minimum necessary for departure.Laugarvatn AdventureHáholti 1 • 840 Laugarvatni+354 486 1016galleri@simnet.iswww.gallerilaugarvatn.is–KBHáholti 2c • 840 Laugarvatni+354 862 5614smari@caving.iswww.caving.isA Taste of Wild and SweetLaugarvatn’s Lindin Restaurant & Café BistroLindin Restaurant & Café Bistro, locatedon the banks of Lake Laugarvatn, standson a fi rm foundation of culinary excellencethat has attracted patrons from around theworld. Owner and head chef, Baldur ÖxdalHalldórsson trained at the Culinary Instituteof America in New York in 1986–1987, andreceived training as a pastry chef at theprestigious Richemont Professional Schoolin Lucerne from 1988–1989, where hedeveloped his interest in the art of chocolateand learnt the secrets behind a great dessert.After his training abroad was completed,Baldur began something of a culinaryrevolution in Reykjavik, working at manyof the top hotels and restaurants, creatingspectacular and sophisticated desserts thatwere hitherto unknown in the capital.Mecca of Icelandic wild gameBaldur took over Lindin Restaurant in 2002which is known as the ‘Mecca of Icelandic wildgame’, priding itself on its year round menufeaturing only wild caught fi sh and seafood,game and lamb. Exotic dishes like grilledreindeer and cormorant with wild mushroomsauce and arctic char tartare with coconutsauce are featured on the menu. Always aheadof his game, you can be sure of fi nding newand exciting additions to his dessert menussuch as his delectable chocolate mousse withraspberry sauce, with watermelon pieces andwhite chocolate foam and his bilberry skyrmousse with crow berries and rhubarb.Only the freshestPassionate about food, Baldur insists onthe absolute purity and freshness of all hisingredients—not too diffi cult a task whenyou are located in the heart of Iceland’s‘greenhouse belt’ where he can take hispick of the choicest fruits and vegetablesgrown in the area year round. Therestaurant even has its own small kitchengarden providing a fresh supply of rhubarb,chervil and red and black currants.The VerdictTaking our coffee and dessert out on thespacious terrace overlooking a lush lakesidegarden, no less than 2 famous volcanoes,Hekla and Eyjafjallajökull were both visibleon the eastern horizon. The setting wasmagical, the coffee, among the best we’vetasted in Iceland and the chocolate mousse...was, well...simply divine.In the heart of the Golden CircleLindin is located in the village of Laugarvatn,beside the natural steam baths and pool atFontana Spa. The 45 min scenic drive fromReykjavik takes you through enchantinglandscapes between Geysir and Gullfoss andThingvellir, making this an excellent day tripin one of the most scenic areas of Iceland. Checkthe opening times on the website.–EMVLindin RestaurantLindarbraut 2 • 840 Laugarvatni+354 486 1262lindin@laugarvatn.iswww.laugarvatn.is104 www.icelandictimes.com www.icelandictimes.com 105


Another taste of Ethiopiaancient african Cuisine in Upcountry flúðirFlúðir is possibly one of the bestlocations in Iceland for an Ethiopianrestaurant. Ethiopians are famous fortheir fasting 150 days a year, which meansthey are not allowed to eat any kind ofmeat. With Flúðir being one of the largestgreen-house areas in Iceland, the accessto vegetarian ingredients has to be thebest. Even when serving the traditionalEthiopian chicken and beef dishes, theplates are loaded with very fresh vegetables.The owners of Minilik, Flúðir are ÁrniHannesson and Aseb Kahssay and therestaurant was opened in June 2011. Ithas proved to be popular, especially withtourists and the locals are catching on, too,warming to this exotic and wonderful foodwith locally grown vegetables and importedEthiopian herbs and spices. Chicken andbeef come from Icelandic stocks.One cannot enter an Ethiopian restaurantwithout getting acquainted with their lovelycoffee ceremony and at Minilik, Flúðir it isa real treat as the Ethiopians are second tonone when it comes to coffee.The restaurant can seat 25 diners andalso serves as a take-away. And, if you arestaying in a summerhouse near Flúðir,you can also order their splendid dishesfor both large and small parties.As Minilik, Flúðir is a small restaurant, besure to book your table ahead.Minilik Restaurant–ssGilsbakka • 845 Flúðir+354 846 9798azeb-kassay@hotmail.comwww.minilik.isHigh Adventureadrenalin—High Rope adventureFly high in a swing or challenge yourselften metres above the ground while stayingin a magnificent environment of geologicalwonders. This is ‘Adrenalin—High RopeAdventure’ at Nesjavellir Rift Valley for you.Situated a short distance from the capitalarea, this entertaining fun park offers you agreat chance to pump some adrenalin roundyour body—whether you prefer to do it one,five or ten metres above the ground.Each obstacle course has its owncharacteristics. In some, you are climbingbetween tyres, in another, you are walkinga thin line and yet another, taking one stepat a time over a quite unstable bridge. Andthere’s no need to worry: safety is a priorityat Adrenalin and the staff is highly trainedin security measures. Once you start to trustthe line you’re fastened to, you will forget theheight and lose yourself in the experience!This highly entertaining adventure park isa great choice to do something fun with yourfamily on your way to Thingvellir NationalPark or the Golden Circle or if you want to addyet another element to your nature experienceand adrenaline activities in Iceland.–NHHAdrenalíngarðurinnSkúlatúni 4 •105 Reykjavík+354 414 2910adrenalin@adrenalin.iswww.adrenalin.isEat At The SourceDine on Delicious Langoustines at Eyrarbakki’s Rauða húsiðvisit to Iceland is not complete withoutA a visit to the birthplace of the Icelandiclobster industry. Here, you can indulge ina feast of the finest Icelandic seafood atthe Rauða húsið (Red House) restaurant,found in the picturesque seaside village ofEyrarbakki. In this beautiful red house, ashort drive from Reykjavik, langoustinesare served in a charming atmosphere amidsta rich and well-preserved history. Now atranquil village, Eyrarbakki was once animportant trading centre in Iceland. Manyof its houses were built in the early 1900’sand the village maintains that turn-of-thecenturycharm and atmosphere. Icelandwas late to discover this seafood delicacy.Lobster fi shing was born off the shores ofEyrarbakki in 1954. In fact, it was not tillthen that the langoustine was discovered tobe not only edible, but delicious, too!Care is taken to maintain the sense ofhistory within the restaurant. The redhouse boasts beautiful original woodenfloorboards dating back to 1919. If youarrive by noon, a hearty bowl of langoustinesoup or a light seafood salad sets you up forthe day. Choose an evening of indulgenceand you can savour the Catch of the Day,consisting of three different seafood dishes.Pair a bottle of fi ne wine with any of the106 www.icelandictimes.commenu’s off erings and cap it off with oneof the Rauða húsið’s signature desserts.Serving a variety of delicious fi sh and meatdishes, the restaurant’s cuisine is a mixof international and Icelandic foods, allfeaturing local ingredients. Enjoy a walkaround the village either before or after ameal at the Rauða húsið.The walk could continue along thebeautiful black beaches only few minutesaway from the village. A relaxing stroll bythe water makes the visit complete.Rauða Húsið–asfBúðarstíg 4 • 820 Eyrarbakka+354 483 3333raudahusid@raudahusid.iswww.raudahusid.isIn Reykjanesbær,Keflavík,Hafnargata 50Charity shop openTue-Fri 11-17Phonenumber: 421 7090In AkureyriHrísalundur 1bCharity shop openweekdays 13-18Phonenumber: 462 4433In ReykjavíkGarðastræti 6Charity shop openweekdays 13-18Phonenumber: 561 3277In ReykjavíkEyjaslóð 7,by the harborCharity shop openweekdays 13-18Phonenumber: 858 5908Get a Bargain and Make a Difference by Supportingthe Salvation Army’s youth and welfare program!Hjálpræðisherinn • Kirkjustræti 2 • 101 Reykjavík • 561 3203 • info@herinn.is • www.herinn.isIn ReykjavíkÁlfabakka 12at MjóddCharity shop openTuesdays, Wednesdaysand Fridays 13-18Opening soon !


SheepThe Icelandicstrong and hardy, Icelandic sheep contributed to the nation’s survivalSheep. They seem to be everywhere, forces: water, wind, fi re and ice, as well aswandering freely all over the mountains and the encroachment of men and animals has,highlands as if they own the country. They are in the course of time, disturbed the layerone of the most common animals in Iceland. of surface vegetation. When destroyed, aIcelandic sheep are so called short–tailed chain reaction of soil erosion begins whichanimals, an ancient Nordic Breed which was is difficult to stop. This shows how hard theformerly common in the north part of Western struggle for survival has been in Iceland.Europe, but now only found in a few areas of The sheep has been called one of the keysthe world. It is a strong, hardy breed which has to survival the country in the old times. Theadapted well to Icelandic conditions. animals could survive on winter grazing, andThe Icelandic sheep is special in many the people fed themselves on their meat andways. Part of the breed is called ‘leader milk and made warm clothes from the wool.sheep’ and possesses unique qualities, not Since the last decades of the 20 th century, stepsfound in any other sheep breed in the world. have been taken to fight erosion by reforestation,Many stories have been told of their rescuing reseeding and other programmes to protectboth men and other sheep from danger. sensitive areas from overuse by men andAround 1980, there were about 10 times animals. Government regulation now prohibitsmore sheep than people in the country or unsustainable use of land. One of these stepsaround 2,000,000 sheep (including the has been to reduce the number of sheep so nowsummer lambs) and 226,948 inhabitants. there are 475,000 adult sheep in the country orThe number has now been reduced by 1,100,000, including the summer lambs.almost half, because of overgrazing in somecases but also market developments. Lambing TimeIn former times, sheep were allowed to The mating season is in December. Thegraze freely all year round, even in winter. farmer registers the individual matings, andThis had disastrous effects when the climate their dates. So when the lambing seasonbecame cooler. The interaction of natural starts, he can look into his book to see whotheir father is and on which dates his lambsare due. It’s important to know the dateof delivery so that he can keep the motherindoors when she gives birth and to be able toshelter the newborns on their first days. Eachfarmer has a special earmark, cut into one ofthe lamb’s ears soon after its birth.This traditional book-keeping methodwould make it easy for farmers to providea genealogical tree of the meat you arepurchasing! Today, the lambs are also taggedwith modern plastic eartags.Nowhere else in the world are sheep bredby this method because in most countries thesheep simply have their lambs outdoors and noone knows anything about their genealogy.The lambs are born in May and stay withtheir mothers all summer long. After the firstfew days indoors, they graze on grass fields onthe farm for 3-4 weeks. Then they are sentout to graze the hills and mountain pasturesall over the country, running free until themiddle of September, feeding on the rich andnourishing vegetation. During the interveningtime, the farmer harvests the hay to feed hissheep during the winter. Only about 1% ofIceland is cultivated. This means that most ofthe grass and plants the sheep feed on is wild.The Réttir (Round-up)Farmers gather their flocks in the autumn.Systematically, they round up the sheep allover the country. There is practically noplace in the wilderness of the highlands ofIceland where sheep cannot be found duringthe summer—except maybe on the glaciers.The round-up is conducted on horseback oron foot with the assistance of sheepdogs. Theentire process may take up to a week and,during this time, participants stay overnightin mountain huts, where they pen in thesheep they have gathered so far, then hangup their damp clothes, uncork their hipflasks and swap stories and songs.When the search is over and all thesheep are accounted for, the fat friskylambs, ewes and rams are herded downto the lowlands and into a corral called a‘réttir’, where they are identifi ed by theirearmarks and sorted into the correct pens,belonging to individual farms.The réttir is a popular event across thecountry and most Icelanders like to take partin it, be they bureaucrats or bankers, schoolchildrenor teachers, sailors or seamstresses.Some travel companies offer foreigntravellers the opportunity to participate also.After the sheep have been herded intothe correct pens they are divided up. Thosedestined for the slaughterhouse are removedfrom the flock. Those destined to live grazeon fields on or near the farm, until November,when they are housed for the winter .Sheep used to be sheared before they werereleased to roam the pastures. Nowadays, mostfarmers shear them in winter when they areindoors, as this wool fetches a higher price.A Valuable ResourceWool was one of the country’s mostimportant exports during the Middle Ages(along with dried fi sh, known as stock fi sh).It became the basis of a valuable exportindustry again in the 20 th century.The fleece of the Icelandic sheep, whichvaries in colour from white through grey andbrowns to near black, is made up of two layers.The inner layer of short, fine fibres, called ‘thel’was used for knitting delicate laces, underwearand baby clothes while the coarser, longer,outer fibres, called ‘tog’ were used for warmand water resistant winter garments. Todaythe soft spun ‘lopi wool’ is used in traditionallypatterned hand knitted sweaters, the mostpopular souvenirs from Iceland.–aMB108 www.icelandictimes.com www.icelandictimes.com 109


Tender is the meatIt is Lamb-season in Iceland when the year’s fresh meat is celebrated throughout the countryIcelanders love their lamb and autumnis the traditional lamb-season withthe 4–5 month-old livestock beingslaughtered after roaming the highlandsthroughout the summer. Closer togame than farm-animals, the meat isexceptionally tender, its texture fine andnutritious enough to have carried manyan Icelander, adult and child, throughrelentlessly harsh winters.Traditional QualityWhen producing high quality meat, youneed unpolluted raw materials and Icelandicsheep farmers can guarantee as much.Sheep farming in Iceland is as old as thesettlement of Iceland itself. To this dayfarmers are rearing their sheep by a methodestablished by centuries of tradition, withmost farms still family-owned and operated.The breed is still the same as in the time ofthe Vikings—sturdy small animals, welladapted to the environment.The Protective ColdMuch of Iceland’s lamb production issimply based on sustainable harvestingof the bounties of nature. The use ofhormones is prohibited and antibiotics arestrictly regulated. The Icelandic weather,clean air and an abundant supply of freshmountain water make the use of pesticidesand herbicides unnecessary. The cool climateprotects the land against many diseases andpests which plague agriculture in warmerlatitudes. Due to Iceland’s geographicalisolation and agricultural regulation,which prohibits the importing of liveanimals, many common animal diseases areunknown in Iceland.The lambs are entirely reared outdoors.Their natural diet of sedge, willow, thrift,mass campion, and berries makes theIcelandic lamb instantly recognizable for itsdelicious and distinctive taste.Nutritional FactsIn an environment where consumers areincreasingly conscious of their health,food must be safe to eat, pure andnutritious. For these reasons, Icelandiclamb meat is becoming recognisedthroughout the world for its healthynutritional value and unique taste. TheIcelandic sheep is a direct descendant ofthe sheep first brought to the island by theViking settlers. It has not been crossbredby importing other breeds.The cold climate influences thecomposition of the plants the sheepgraze on. The lambs also move freelythrough extensive wild pastures inpristine mountainous landscapes.This, and the young age at slaughter(4–5 months), gives the meat uniquequality and properties. The averagecarcass weighs around 16 kg (35 lbs).The muscle has a high proportion ofOmega-3 fatty acids and iron, givingthe meat its wild game flavour. Thedistinctive taste is a result of the wildpastures; the grass and the aromatic andspicy herbs on which the lambs graze.Some subtle differences have beennoted between the flavour of meat fromlambs grazing in the highlands, thelowlands, and by the seashore. The meatis very tender and has a fine texture dueto its high amount of red muscle fibres,which is influenced both by the breedand its grazing habits. The tenderness isenhanced by electrical stimulation andstrict control of chilling rates.And the best thing about theIcelandic lamb: It is the perfect matchto any kind of herbs and spices. –ss110 www.icelandictimes.comwww.icelandictimes.com111

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