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WOW magazine – The entrepreneurs of low-cost flying

70 years in the air

The entrepreneurs of

low-cost flying



six 2015

Power to the people Issue six 2015

How do


survive the

darkest months?

your free copy-take me with you

15-1627 - HVÍTA HÚSIÐ / SÍA

Make sure you give yourself time to

visit and explore. Share the experience

#wheninKEF because good times are to

be shared.

2 WOW Power to the people

The airport has been going through radical

renovations. We can now offer more space, better

facilities, diverse restaurants and more products

at better prices. Arrive early and start your

journey with us.

Enjoy your stay at KEF airport

Issue six 3


elegaNt restauraNts,

spa with hot spriNg jacuzzi,

beautiful Nature & fuN activities


TOp 25 besT places

TO phOTOgraph

On The planeT earTh


Nice aNd cozy rooms

iN chalet or oNe wiNg hotel

right opposite of

the hot spriNg geyser area

gourmet a la carte restauraNt

local luNch buffet every day

hotel & spa

outdoor activities all year rouNd

amaziNg NortherN lights


hotel geysir

4 WOW Power to the people




the geysir ceNter

is directly opposite of

the geothermal area of

the great geysir

aNd strokkur



geysir glima bistro

Coffee house With freshly ground Coffee

sWeet iCe Creams & Cakes

traditional iCelandiC meat soup

fish soup & vegetarian soup

loCal food

museum of hot springs, volCano

and iCelandiC glima

The geysir cenTer


www.geysircenter.com / www.geysirglima.com / tel: +354 480 6800 / geysir@geysircenter.is

www.facebook.com/hotelgeysir / www.twitter.com/hotelgeysir

Issue six 5

6 WOW Power to the people

We look forward to seeing you

Please book in advance at bluelagoon.is

Issue six 7

Power to the PeoPle Issue six 2015

Power to the PeoPle Issue three six 2015 2015

How dO


survive tHe

darkest mOnThs?

low-cosT flying

your free copy-take me with you


sIx 2015

In this issue

Power to the people – Issue six 2015

A letter from the editor

‘Tis the season

The darkest months are upon

us here in Iceland, but that’s

ok. First of all, we’re used to it

and secondly, we have plenty

of reasons to be merry in December

and January. The biggest reason of

all is, of course, the festivities around

Christmas and New Year’s, but we’ve

got more than fairy lights and fireworks

to light up our days.

Our darkness is lit up by Northern

Lights and snow and made bearable

by our abundant geothermal energy,

keeping our houses warm and cozy

even during the coldest of days. From

December 21st we celebrate that the

days are getting longer again—it might

just be by a few minutes each day, but

we feel it almost instantly.

You’d think that January would be

long, dark and boring—and it can be,

but Icelanders, masters of finding a

reason to party, have a cure for that. It’s

called Thorri, the festival where we eat

all that rotten food you’ve heard stories

about and it stretches into February.

You see, there’s no reason to let the

darkness get you down. Iceland is also

a wonder to behold all covered in snow

and frozen to the core. Getting caught

in an Icelandic blizzard is an adventure

on its own (please be careful though)

and if all else fails, find an Icelander

with a reason to party.

Happy holidays!

Guðrún Vaka Helgadóttir, editor in chief


WOW magazine staff

Editor in chief: Guðrún Vaka Helgadóttir

Design and layout: Ivan Burkni / ivanburkni@gmail.com

Proofreading: Paul Michael Herman

Contributing writers: Marvin Lee Dupree, Svava Jónsdóttir,

Gerður Harðardóttir, Einar Skúlason, Kári Gunnlaugsson,

Fjóla Helgadóttir, Guðrún Baldvina Sævarsdóttir, Paul

Michael Herman, Cindy-Lou Dale, Judy Colbert, Katherine

LaGrave, Halldóra Anna Hagalín, berlinur.de and www.


© WOW air

Katrínartún 12

105 Reykjavík


mhverfisvottuð prentsmiðja



141 776

Tel: 00 354 590 3020


E-mail: magazine@wow.is

Oddi environmentally certified printing company

All rights reserved. Reprinting, direct quoting or recapitulation

prohibited except with a written permit from publisher.

10 A letter from the CEO

12 WOW Cyclothon

The biggest ultra-cycling race in Iceland

(and probably the world) is held in June

each year. The winning team of the A-category

2015 was Fast as Fire with Ergo.

16 Surviving the dark

Check out our WOW tips to survive even

the darkest of days in Iceland.

18 The top 10 of 2015

It’s time to review the most newsworthy

stories of Iceland 2015.

20 Sharing is caring

Take a look at all the ways you can engage

with WOW air through social media.

Where’s the Like-button for this article?

22 A night on the town

Wondering how to get acquainted with the

Reykjavik bar scene? Take a guided tour

and meet some fun people on the way.

26 A journey in time

At Iceland’s National Museum you can

take a literal stroll down memory lane

and learn a thing or two about the Iceland’s

culture and history.

30 Traditional holidays

Because of Iceland’s relative isolation

we seem to have held on to some special

Christmas traditions that go all the way

back to heathen times.

34 Breaking bread

Find out more about the leaf bread, Iceland’s

uniquely cut and fried Christmas


36 Shoot the Northern Lights

Whether you are a professional photographer

or a layman you probably want

to catch that epic Northern Lights photo

while you’re in Iceland.

40 70 years in the air

Captain Dagfinnur Stefánsson is one of

Iceland’s most experienced pilots and

has been at the forefront of Iceland’s

aviation history almost from the beginning.

Among his numerous adventures

is his role in what is now known as the

Loftleidir Adventure.

64 Holiday season and high


Now’s a good time to disappear into

warm cozy places with friends and loved

ones. Try these recommended restaurants

by eatsandsleeps.is.

66 Realm of Vatnajokull

Filled with contrasts, the Vatnajökull region

is a great destination all year round.

68 Take a hike

Do some city hiking and absorb stories

and the charm of Reykjavik spiced with

love, passion and other good things.

74 The Icelandic sweater

Icelanders wear their lopapeysa on all

occasions and you should too.

Attention advertisers!

Will your company be in our next issue?

Contact our advertising representative and he’ll make it happen.

He’s just that good!


76 The future of banking is now

From the chaos that ensued after the

financial crash of 2008, one of the most

interesting startup and now leading

innovative company came into existence.

WOW Destinations

80 Montréal on

the roll

Biking through Montreal

is definitely one of the

best ways to explore

the city.

82 12 reasons to

visit Toronto

There are more than 12

reasons but we were out

of pages!

84 Stockholm—

nature and


Often called “Venice of the

North,” Stockholm is filled

with great spots to enjoy.

86 Christmas in Berlin

Berlin is famous for its Christmas

markets and it’s due time we revealed

the best ones.

88 Dublin—go to the dogs

“Going to the dogs” takes on a brand

new meaning and is actually a great

thing to do in Dublin.

90 California—

The Golden State

No need for winter

clothes. Come spring

2016 WOW air will take

you all the way to California

via Iceland with our

two new and warm destinations

in the Golden

State—San Francisco

and Los Angeles.

92 Free in D.C.

While the Lincoln Memorial might be

the most popular site to remember the

great emancipator there are numerous

places around Washington, D.C. where

you can learn about Honest Abe.

94 A French road trip

After exploring Paris, the city of art and

romance it’s a great idea to take a road

trip and see more of France’s elegant

and graceful beauty.

96 Sweet Boston

Every Bostonite swears

loyalty to one shop or

another. Here’s where

you’ll find Boston’s best


98 The cream of Bristol

Yup! We’re heading to Bristol, England

in spring 2016 and here’s a few things

you might want to know before you go.

100 You want more?

See more of WOW air’s destinations.

102 This and that

…mainly this.

106 What’s going on?

…quite a lot, actually.

110 WOW horoscope

What’s in your future? WOW air’s famed

astrologist has the answer.

112 Bored on board?

Solve these sudokus.

114 The Traveling Inquisition

Gísli Johann quit his job to become a

full time stand-up comedian. He and his

friends now have a weekly stand-up in

English every Monday and Wednesday

night at Gaukurinn.

WOW magazine – The enTrepreneurs OF lOW-cOsT Flying

WOW magazine – The 70 years FOOd in issue The air

70 years In the aIr

The enTrepreneurs of


On the cover

Dagfinnur Stefánsson is one

of the heroes of Icelandic

aviation history. He’s been a

pilot for 70 years and played

a part in one of the most

exciting entrepreneur adventures

of the 21st century.

Read about Dagfinnur’s

story and the Loftleidir

Adventure on pages 40-45.

Dagfinnur was photographed, by world

renowned photographer and fellow pilot Ragnar

Axelsson aka RAX.

P.S. Would you like your very

own copy of WOW magazine?

Take this one with you or contact us

through magazine@wow.is and we’ll

send you a printed copy.

You can also check out WOW

magazine online at


8 WOW Power to the people

Keeping Iceland warm since 1926

Shop at 66north.com

Issue six 9

A letter from

the CEO

WOW, what a year!

What an amazing year this has been for our “little” WOW air. Before starting our new routes to North America, we

acquired two brand new Airbus A321 aircraft and introduced our $99 transatlantic fares. Our team grew by 40%, our

annual number of guests increased by 47%, our revenues by 62% and our load so far this year has been around 90%. In

short we’ve exceeded all our goals, many of which we’d been told were impossible to reach. None of this would have been

possible if it wasn’t for the incredible WOW team that has done a fantastic job on all fronts. I am extremely proud of our

team and I’m also grateful for the trust that you, our dear guests, have bestowed in us. We could not do this without you.

Inspired by history

Many people have asked what inspired me to start an airline and while the airline industry is full of great entrepreneurs

and interesting characters, the ones who have truly inspired me are some of the early aviation pioneers in Iceland. Like

the Wright brothers, they were true adventurers that overcame any and all challenges in order to pursue their dreams.

It’s with great pride and pleasure that we have Captain Dagfinnur Stefánsson on our cover this month as one of those

pioneers. His story and the early years of Loftleidir are nothing short of spectacular. The men behind Loftleidir were

incredibly entrepreneurial and resourceful in how they started and grew their company to become a market leader in

transatlantic flights back in the 1960s. Loftleidir pioneered the low-cost model and by using Iceland as a hub were able

to go up against much larger players successfully. This is exactly what the WOW spirit is all about.

Back to the future

After such a great year, some might sit back and enjoy it for a moment but here at WOW air we’re just getting started! We

have already announced multiple new routes such as Montreal, Toronto, Stockholm, Bristol, Nice and not the least Los

Angeles and San Francisco. With these new routes and increased frequency to many of our existing destinations, we will

more than double our capacity in 2016 and expect to fly with over 1.5 million guests to over 25 destinations. Our fleet will

grow to 10 aircraft and we are especially excited about adding three new Airbus A330s to our fleet. The Airbus A330 has

great range and will serve Los Angeles and San Francisco as year-round destinations starting in June 2016.

WOW air is committed to lowering fares wherever we go and we look forward to continuing our mission to make air

travel affordable for everyone as we enter 2016. Thank you for choosing WOW air and making the WOW dream a reality.

We look forward to seeing you again soon.


Skúli Mogensen

Founder and CEO of WOW air

10 WOW Power to the people

Make a toast with

Iceland’s no. 1 beer

Pour a glass of the number one beer in the country,

raise your glass to a friend and say “scowl fyrewr

thyer!” You should fit right in.

Skál fyrir þér!

Enjoy responsibly

Issue six 11

12 WOW Power to the people

Fast as Fire

The A category

winners of WOW


The winning team of WOW Cyclothon’s A category

did not win by chance. The team’s members: Kári Brynjólfsson

(b. 1988), Davíð Þór Sigurðsson (b. 1989), Rúnar

Karl Elfarsson (b. 1991) and his brother Anton Örn

Elfars son (b. 1989), have all competed in multiple races

in Iceland and Denmark with great results. All of them

have received Icelandic Cycling Championship titles

in various categories and two of them, Kári and Davíð,

were on the Icelandic National Team. They’ve been

cycl ing from a young age with HFR (Reykjavik Cycling

Club) when cycling was considered a sport for the

eccentric, and that’s where their friendship and love

for the sport began.

Photos: Kristinn Magnússon

Named “Fast as Fire with Ergo” after Ergo, their main sponsor,

the team reached the finish line in just 38 hours 43 minutes

setting a new record for the A category. Rúnar Karl participated in

2014 with Team Hleðsla and came in third. After that you could say

that he tasted blood and he began plotting his return to the race the

following year.

Getting the team together

Rúnar Karl started by running the idea by his brother Anton Örn who

thought it over for a long time before deciding to get onboard. He

then went and convinced Kári to join their team as Kári had won the

first WOW Cyclothon race in 2012 with his team Piltarnir (The Lads)

so he had a lot of experience. “Davíð was last to join the team as he

was playing “hard to get.” He’s a very strong cyclist so he knew he was

worth his weight in gold for the team,” they agree.

“Even though we‘ve all been into competitive cycling on and off for

the last 12 years, as well as keeping up with school and work, we

haven’t all been in top form at the same time for at least 10 years,”

they add with a laugh.


As all of the team’s members lead busy lives they did not train

together for the Cyclothon. “We’re all competitive cyclists so our

training was not especially directed toward WOW Cyclothon but you

could say that the race was a good extra motivation for us to keep to

our strict training programs last winter and spring,” they explain. The

team only got together once to train specifically for WOW Cyclothon.

“It was the Sunday before the race. We cycled the new final leg of the

race from Sudurstrandavegur Road. This part of the course is quite

hilly and it was important for us to experience it. Also we wanted to

see if our bikes were fit for the gravel part of the road,” they say.

Getting a head start

Even if they did not train together they obviously had their race

strategy well planned out. “We wanted to drive up the speed before

the first changeover in Hvalfjörður to weed out the strongest cyclists.

The tempo during this first part of the race is usually very high. It is

the part of the race that most resembles traditional street racing and

so all teams normally start with their strongest cyclists. We are all

pretty equal in strength as cyclists and we weren’t really sure which

one of us was the best cyclist so we just agreed that Anton and Davíð

would take the first leg of the race. As soon as the flying start began

below Mt. Esja they started taking turns attacking the other teams

and allowing the competition to reel them in. Shortly before we turned

into Hvalfjörður the group had gotten a lot smaller and we were

cycling with Team CUBE, SS Gólf and 18 Bláir. This was a very good

group and we started working together at good tempo throughout

Hvalfjörður because we knew that we’d left behind some strong

teams that would want nothing more than to catch up to us.”

Issue six 13

Alliances on the road

Teamwork is certainly the name of the game

when it comes to WOW Cyclothon as cyclists help

each other break the wind, save their strength

and gain more speed on the road. “Working

with other teams also helps you stay sane,” the

four teammates agree. “We wanted to keep this

collaboration going for as long as possible but

we did test our friends a few times though.”

Once Team Ergo was cycling along the south

coast, working with Team CUBE and SS Gólf,

they started to think

up ways to ensure their

victory. “At the hill before

Our pace during the final leg Almannaskarð Anton

of the race was incredible tested the competition to

and the favorable wind on get a sense of how tired

Suðurstrandavegur Road

they’d become. He opened

a small gap between us

really helped us along.

and SS Gólf but we didn’t

leave them there as they

had some good cyclists

that were essential to keep up the speed of our

group. We decided that Davíð should break up

the group while climbing the steep hill after Vík

and our dream scenario was to break away with

one of the teams and leave the other behind.

Davíð really drove up the tempo but neither of

the teams would join him. It wasn’t until later

that we managed to break up the three team


And then there were two…

“We kept up a great average speed throughout

the south coast but the form of the other

teams’ members varied greatly and it came as

somewhat of a surprise when we left SS Gólf

behind because their cyclist couldn’t keep up.

Their car was the last in line so they couldn’t

respond with a new cyclist until it was too

late. After that we were able to maintain great

tempo with the CUBE team. Anton attacked and

Davíð took the sprint through Selfoss and we

managed to create a gap between us and Team

CUBE. It was imperative to keep the gap and

widen it further so we decided to change tactics

and started doing changeovers at ever shorter

intervals, 8-12 minutes max, where each

cyclist really gave it his all. We managed to

keep this fast pace all the way to the finish

line. Our pace during the final leg of the race

was incredible and the favorable wind on

Suðurstrandavegur Road really helped us

along. Working with other teams had really

paid off as we needed all the energy we

could muster during the final kilometers.

In retrospect we think that one of our

strengths was how equal all of us are when

it comes to cycling. Each one of us was able

to keep up the pace until we reached the

finish line,” the guys say.

Through the rough spots

When asked if the team hit any rough spots

on the road they agree that the whole circle

was pretty much smooth sailing. “The road

construction near Laugar in North Iceland

was a bit of a surprise but fortunately Kári

was out with his cyclocross to tackle that

part. The biggest incident of our journey

happened near the end of the race, while

we were doing the fast changeovers. Elfar,

our team leader, was asking our next cyclist

if he was ready to go out and race but he

said ‘No, I really need a bathroom break and

I need it now!” We were in quite a dilemma

and despite having just finished a really fast

sprint, one of us had to go out again and

cycle while that bathroom break took place.

Fortunately our guy came back even stronger

after doing his thing,” the guys say laughing.

Fast as Fire with Ergo seems to have

kept their cool on the road. “We all knew

each other before the race which makes

maintaining a good atmosphere in the RV

that much easier. We also had a lot of good

food to eat and in our opinion that’s a key

factor to keeping your sanity on the road.

Our team leader and driver Elfar (Rúnar

and Anton’s father) helped motivate us. He

strategized with us, helped us keep up our

pace and encouraged us. It was a really good

feeling to receive his applause each time we

came back into the RV,” they say.

At the finish line

What stands out after WOW Cyclothon

for the Fast as Fire with Ergo team was,

of course, winning the race. “It was also

an added bonus to set a new record for

the A category which wasn’t our goal. The

camaraderie of the team and the good

teamwork we had with other teams is also

what we’ll take home with us,” they say.

Again? “We haven’t discussed it yet. There’s

a lot of time that goes into setting up a team

and participating in a race like this and

there are a lot of pieces that have to come

together such as sponsorship, finding a team

manager, training etc. But this was a great

experience and if we see strong teams sign -

ing up for next year’s race who knows… It’s

tempting to go again and defend our title. v

Team Fast as Fire with Ergo at the finish line in Hafnarfjörður.

Join us for WOW Cyclothon 2016, June

21-23. Registration has already begun at

www.wowcyclothon.com. See you on

the Ring Road!

14 WOW Power to the people


Elevate your encounter with Iceland!

Amazing helicopter tours around Iceland for individuals or groups. You can choose from

a 20 minutes city sightseeing tour up to a whole day journey and everything in between.

AirTaxi! We are often available on short notice!

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The fleet is made up of the most modern and meticulously maintained helicopters

on the market. The pilots are trained to the highest standards, experienced, friendly,

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They will make your journey unforgettable.

Safety and comfort of our customers is always our main priority.

• We operate from Reykjavik (city) Airport.

• We offer free transport services within Reykjavik city area in connection

with our flights.

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• We are flexible.

Our service team is on duty 24/7 and will happily assist you at any time.

Check out our tours and prices on our website.

E-mail to info@rehe.is or call (+354) 589 1000


Issue six 15

WOW tips

Surviving the dark

by Guðrún Baldvina Sævarsdóttir

Photos: Thinkstockphotos.com

So you’ve decided to brave the

darkness of the Icelandic winter?

In a land of extremes, this is admittedly

a magnificent time of year but as you

succumb to the awe-inspiring forces that

rule these parts you might want a list of

activities to lighten the heart should you

find yourself writing existential poetry or

showing an unnatural interest in throat

singing. Take a page from our book and

follow these directions should it all

become a bit too dark.

Lighten up!

After a summer of almost continuous

daylight most Icelanders embrace the

sun finally setting properly in September

and as it gets colder there’s nothing better

than lighting some candles, putting on

your favorite somber music and catching

up on your reading. This is the time of year

to buy some delightful fairy lights, lamps

and candlesticks to add a gentle touch to

that comfy darkness. The same applies

outdoors and when you catch your first

glimpse of the northern lights you realize

how wonderful the dark is. There is nothing

quite like it, and if anything can pluck an

Icelander away from binge watching the

latest Netflix series and get him outdoors

it’s the Aurora Borealis.

Despite the tiny population of this

very large island the urban areas here

are as light polluted as they come so it’s

best to get out of the city to view them

properly. Don’t worry, you’ll see them from

downtown Reykjavík alright but if it looks

like they might make a real show of it while

you’re in the city a good idea would be

to head down to a place along the shore

(Grótta/Örfirisey/Ægissíða) where you’re

a little removed from the street lamps to

better view the marvel.

Turn up the heat!

The most frequent question Icelanders are

asked when abroad is: “Isn’t it really, really

cold there?” No, not really. Even though the

windchill will sometimes feel quite scary,

the cold is easily manageable with all the

geothermal activity. Make the most out

of this luxury and enjoy the abundant hot

water, warm houses and heated garages.

Besides this Icelanders relish their eider

duck feather duvets and superb winter

cloth ing. And then there’s the temperature

regulated outdoor swimming pools and

the truly hot hot-tubs. A dip in an outdoor

swimming pool may sound preposterous if

you’re already cold but trust us on this one

and head to your nearest pool in the next

snow storm. You won’t regret it.

Discover new friends!

There’s nothing like a nice crowd of people

to warm you up from the inside out and

this is where Icelanders truly excel. One

of many contradictions that define this

country is that this spacious capital with

its tiny population hosts an impressive

variety of cultural events. Check out

Rósenberg Café on Klapparstígur for

Even though the

windchill will some ­

times feel quite scary,

the cold is easily

manageable with

all the geo thermal


live music every night of the week. Tiny

artist-run gallery and performance

venue Mengi on Óðinsgata is the perfect

destination for an intimate experience of

something new and experimental and then

there’s the crispy new concert hall Harpa

for something on a larger scale. Harpa

houses an ambitious program ranging

from the Icelandic Symphony Orchestra

(highly recommended) to music festivals

Dark Music Days (contemporary) to Sónar

(dance and electronic). Should you not be

in the mood for music check out art gallery

Kling&Bang, the Museum of Design and

Applied Art or the Writer’s Union events

at Gunnarshús. It might get dark but you

definitely won’t be lonely. v

16 WOW Power to the people


Cristiano Ronaldo is born to break all the records. His motivation is to win at every

occasion to challenge the human statistics. Like TAG Heuer, Ronaldo surpasses

the limits of his field and never cracks under pressure.

Issue six 17

Laugavegi 15 & Kringlunni - 511 1900 - www.michelsen.is


The top 10 of 2015

Now that the year 2015 is rapidly fading and the year 2016 will be encroaching into our collective minds a short

retrospective of this island nation’s most newsworthy events during 2015 is in order.

by Marvin Lee Dupree

To most sports journalists, Iceland’s

football association claims this is all

the culmination of player development,

exce llent facilities and excellent coaching;

whereas most Icelanders know this is

only the first step toward complete global

domination in all fields.

Number SEVEN

Speaking of global domination or rather

intergalactic domination, Star Wars:

Rogue One was apparently filmed near

Hjörleifshöfði and Hafursey in South

Iceland. This can only mean one thing: with

Mads Mikkelsen in a starring role, some

Icelandic men will be able to convince

their wives and girlfriends to come see at

least one Star Wars film.

Number ONE

Topping the list is the music world’s

favor ite man/boy Justin Bieber. Bieber

made headlines around the globe, or

per haps more in Iceland, when he made

an impromptu visit to the island this past

September, only to return recently in his

Calvin Klein undies in the glacial river at

Fjarðárgljúfur Canyon in his music video

“I’ll Show You.”

Number TWO

One thing that has been a constant since

we settled Iceland is our dependence on

“skyr.” When we Icelanders are abroad

we try to explain how fantastic it is—and

we draw parallels to the Dutch-German

“kwark” or Greek yogurt, but neither are

entirely close to the Icelandic delicacy.

So it is no small wonder that MS Iceland

Dairies released a video mocking Arla

Skyr for pretending to be Icelandic, when

it is in fact a Swedish brand, produced in

Germany. In the video MS has an anth ropo

morphized skyr speak to an Arla “skyr”

product in Icelandic—and hilarity ensued.

1-0 for Iceland in the “Skyr Wars.”

Number THREE

Although we Icelanders are descended

from Vikings we do love being cosmo -

politan. Our foreign minister Gunnar Bragi

Sveins son committed a colossal blunder

by sending the EU a curt and terse letter

announcing the withdrawal of Iceland’s

membership application, despite the ruling

coalition’s promises of a referendum

on the matter. This seemingly furtive

action sparked massive protests.

Number FOUR

As a result of these actions some com -

mentators argue that, along with other

political blunders on both sides of the

political spectrum, this has enabled

the Icelandic Pirate Party to reach un -

prec edented heights of more than 30%

in polls. In many polls they have more

sup port among young voters than the

Left Green, Progressive Party and Social

Democrats combined. Their message

regarding eschewing the left-right binary,

while also focusing on direct democracy,

government transparency and free speech

has really struck a chord with the younger


Number FIVE

Outrage among

Icelanders was not

limit ed to politicians

though, in April

the Chilean artist

Marco Evaristti

poured crimson

dye into the geyser

Strokkur, thus giving

its eruptions a pinkish hue and causing

chagrin to locals. However, some applauded

his efforts and pointed out that many

governments and corporations are doing

far worse to nature than his “canvas work.”

Number SIX

A far less controversial event occurred

in Iceland that has the whole football

community shaking its head. How did a

nation that is quite shy of half a million

people manage to quality for Euro 2016?



Icelandic Pirate

Party has reached

un prec edented

heights of more

than 30% in polls.



Star Wars: Rogue

One was apparently

filmed near

Hjö r leifs höfði and

Hafursey in South


Number EIGHT

Regardless of the fairer sex’s interest in

Star Wars or lack thereof, Icelandic women

made headlines across the globe with

the initiative Free the Nipple. Numerous

females from all walks of life and of all

ages took part in the viral #FreeTheNipple

campaign. This digital feminist action

emphasized gender equality while raising

general awareness—and simultaneously

showing the world how badass Viking

women can be.

Number NINE

True to our Viking nature, Iceland has

been culturally exporting various products

with skyr becoming ever more popular

but the highlight of this year’s export is

the runaway success of the Icelandic film

Rams. Currently it will be opening the

Zagreb Film Festival and has managed

to garner accolades such as Cannes’ Un

Certain Regard, once again proving that

Icelandic lamb is the best in the world.

Number TEN

Finally, some meta-news to finish off

the year since, you dear reader, probably

helped Iceland in its financial recovery.

Not only have you done that by visiting

Iceland—but tourism is now the sector

that garners the most revenue for the

country, outpacing the fishing industry

which has dominated Iceland’s economy

since its modernization. Not bad at all! We

are glad to have you! v

18 WOW Power to the people



Free WiFi





on this flight

Why not buy a tour with us on board this flight?

– just ask the cabin crew.




More tours available on

our website www.re.is


BSÍ Bus Terminal

101 Reykjavík

+354 580 5400

main@re.is • www.re.is


Issue six 19

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20 WOW Power to the people

Issue six 21

Wake Up Reykjavik

A night

on the town

Another Saturday night and you ain’t got nobody? Don’t worry, the guys

at Wake Up Reykjavik will take you out and make sure you have a great time.

Photos: Julien Ratel and Eva Björk Ægisdóttir, courtesy of Wake Up Reykjavik

Founded by two friends, Egill Fannar Halldórsson

and Daníel Andri Pétursson, Wake Up Reykjavik is

a high end event planning company, specializing in

the vibrant Reykjavik nightlife. They are known for

plann ing the best bachelor and bachelorette parties

in Iceland and their Reykjavik Bar Crawl has gotten

outstanding reviews from all over. WOW magazine

sat down with these nightlife aficionados and got to

know all about it.

Getting into the groove

Having been friends since high-school, Egill and

Daníel have definitely experienced their share of

party ing but they soon found themselves creating and

organizing large events for high schools in Reykja vik

which was how their business relationship started.

But from high

Wake Up Reykjavik

are known for planning

the best bachelor

and bachelorette

parties in Iceland

and their Reykjavik

Bar Crawl has gotten

outstanding reviews

from all over.

school events to the

Reykjavik nightlife,

how did that

happen? “We were

constantly meeting

new travelers that

all had the same

question: “We want

to experience the

nightlife. Where

should we go?” So,

two years ago we

realized that with

our knowledge of the

Reykjavik nightlife

and our love for

meeting new people

we had just what we

needed to create something special. We wanted to

give all those trave lers the chance to experience the

awe some Reykja vik nightlife like us, the locals. We

want ed them to stay away from the tourist-trap bars

and get to know the true Reykjavik, through the most

inter esting venues, the most unique drinks and first

and fore most, the Icelandic people. The result, the

soon to be the most popular nightlife tour in Iceland,

the Reykjavik Bar Crawl was born.”

The Bar Crawl

Most people have had their share of bar crawls on

their own so what’s the difference between going out

and hopping between bars in downtown Reykjavik

by themselves and springing for the Reykjavik Bar

Crawl experience with Wake Up Reykjavik? “Ours is

a ‘see it all, do it all’ tour if you want to have fun and

experience the Reykjavik nightlife in one memorable

night! For 3 hours we experience all the best of what

the Reykjavik nightlife has to offer through premium

Icelandic beer, unique cocktails, Black Death snaps

and some traditional Viking cuisine. We visit three of

our favorite bars and end the night at Reykjavik’s larg -

est nightclub for those who want to drink and dance

‘till the break of dawn,’” Egill and Daníel tell us and

they might be on to something as the reviews on travel

sites such as TripAdvisor are praising their services.

Could you show up alone to the Bar Crawl? “YES!

Even though we host a number of private Bar

Crawls and other events we host a so called ‘OPEN’

Reykjavik Bar Crawl every Friday where anyone can

join the fun. We limit these tours to 15 people and

usually we have a fun mix of people from all over the

world, both smaller groups and solo travelers. For

the private events we take out everything from two

people up to a hundred in one group.”

Staying current

As in other cities the nightlife scene of Reykjavik is

subject to changes. What was hot yesterday might

not be so hot today so the two friends have to keep

on their toes. “At this moment we are extremely

happy with our tours as we have been running them

for a long time but we are always working on im -

prov ing or modifying the agenda when we see the

chance to do something better. This is a game that

is constantly changing. What are the hottest venues

today? What drinks are considered the best and what

does today’s crowd actually like? So, we definitely keep

our eyes open for changes and new opportunities and

don’t hesitate to change our schedule if we think it

would make the night even better.”

Rotten shark tales

When people get together and drink, something is

bound to happen. So what have Egill and Daníel seen

on their tours around town? “Although our Reykjavik

Bar Crawl is a nightlife tour, we very rarely see anyone

in our group get ‘hammered’. Five drinks are

included in our price and that is usually just the right

amount to keep everyone buzzed and excited. BUT,

since we do a lot more than just the Reykjavik Bar

Crawl then yes, we have definitely had our share of

some crazy experiences! A very harmless but classic

story is a moment from when we were at a Viking

22 WOW Power to the people

Issue six 23

ar and among other things, we try the Icelandic

fermented shark! Most people don’t know this but

the shark can be really variable and you can have

a piece that is actually pretty good while the next

one can be absolutely terrible … To make a long

story short, we once had a guest try the shark who

got a really good piece. He laughed at his friends

who thought it was terrible and then ate 3-4 more

pieces at once … and it wasn’t long before he RAN

to the bathroom!”

The famous Reykjavik nightlife

A lot has been said about the Reykjavik nightlife

that for the most part happens in just a thin slice

of downtown Reykjavik. We asked Daníel and Egill

to share the highlights with us. “In recent years,

Reykjavik has become famous worldwide for its

wild and vibrant nightlife and is even considered by

Although we get a

lot of bachelor/stag

groups and company

retreats where men

are the majority, we

actually get a higher

number of female

participants in our

Reykjavik Bar Crawl.

The most common

guests in the Bar

Crawls are couples,

groups of friends and

female solo travelers.

international travel

magazines as one

of the world’s best

cities to party in.

The reason for this

is a combination

of many things,

the Icelandic

cocktail culture

is on a rapid rise,

we have got lots

of brand new


that have been

a big hit among

locals and visitors

alike and it seems

like new and

exciting bars and restaurants are opening up every

weekend. So there is definitely a reason for all the

hype. But in our experience, all of this wouldn’t

matter if it wasn’t for the friendly Icelandic people.

There are of course huge nightlife scenes all over

the world in big cities like New York and London but

what makes Reykjavik special is that all the venues

are literally on one street and everyone knows

everyone and that’s what creates the awesome

vibe that is the Reykjavik nightlife.

There are some that say that nightlife tours and

event planning is often catered to groups of guys.

What about the girls? “After a short thought, we

wouldn’t agree with that statement. Although we

get a lot of bachelor/stag groups and company

retreats where men are the majority, we actually

get a higher number of female participants in our

Reykjavik Bar Crawl. The most common guests in

the Bar Crawls are couples, groups of friends and

female solo travelers. We think the reason for this

might be that exploring the nightlife scene in a

foreign country by yourself can be both scary and

lonely but the tours are safe, fun and a great way to

meet like-minded travelers.”

Get out of downtown!

All of Wake Up Reykjavik’s nightlife tours are

located in the heart of Reykja vik, on or around

the main shopping street, Laugavegur. But Egill

and Daníel also organize all kinds of activities

outside the city for their guests, such as ATV tours,

snowmobile experiences, heli copter tours and of

course their famous yacht parties. “We wanted to

create something extraordinary, something that

didn’t already exist in Reykjavik. We also wanted to

offer our guests a VIP experience that no one else

is offering. So, today we’re able to throw our guests

a private yacht party with every thing that a good

party needs which is defini tely a once in a lifetime

experience for groups of friends or bachelor/

bachelorette groups visiting Iceland.”

Speaking of bachelor and bachelorette parties—

Wake Up Reykjavik organizes a great number of

such parties in Reykjavik and it’s hard not to notice

that Iceland is quickly becoming one of the hottest

locations for this in the world. “We aren’t surprised,”

Egill and Daníel tell us. “With extraordinary nature,

an endless list of adrenaline fuelled daytime

activities and most importantly, a WILD nightlife,

this also makes Reykjavík the perfect destination

for unforgettable stag or hen parties.”

The TripAdvisor revelations

Having hosted numerous nightlife events, parties and

of course the Bar Crawl the TripAdvisor’s re views for

Wake Up Reykjavik are through the roof and it’s quite

amazing to see that there appears to be no decline

in the quality of their service as the company gains

momentum. To what do Egill and Daníel owe this

success? “We are ridiculously proud of our TripAdvisor

account and even though we haven’t been on

TripAdvisor for a long time, we would advise everyone

that is not convinced about joining a nightlife tour

to give it a look. But what to thank … It’s obviously a

mix of tons of different things. If I had to pick out one

thing, then I would say that every night we have one

really clear goal, and that is to have fun. And so far

that has been working out great for us.” v

Join Egill and Daníel for a night out on the town and experience the awesome Reykjavik nightlife first hand in great

company. You’ll find more information on Wake Up Reykjavik at wakeupreykjavik.com.

24 WOW Power to the people

Iceland’s National Museum

A journey in time

Each year a regular flow of tourists, students and seniors citizens visit

the National Museum of Iceland for educational tours and lectures.

Museum specialist Helga Vollertsen, makes a journey in time through

the museum’s permanent exhibition, a chronological history of Iceland

beginning from the time of settlement to recent times.

by Paul Michael Herman

Photos: Courtesy of the National Museum of Iceland

The first settlers

Our journey begins safe within the outline

of a Viking ship shaped by lights on the

museum floor, a subtle reminder of the

well-crafted ships that once carried

Nor wegians, Swedes and Danes, during

Iceland’s time of settlement.

From a record written in 1200, the date

given for the arrival of the first settlers was

874. Evidence of this has been unearthed

through the discovery of heathen graves

on display at the museum dated to be

from this time. Found in Sílastaðir, north

of Akureyri, one grave contains a weapon,

tools, jewelry, a horse and a dog; all objects

considered desirable for the afterlife.

Another grave, this one found on the

Snae fellsnes Peninsula is of a woman and

baby. An item in it with Celtic markings

indicate that some people came from the

British Isles. The woman in the grave is

about 40, considered too old for that time

to have been the baby‘s mother but as

in other such findings, a child was often

buried, with a woman to care for it when

they reached their destination. These types

of burials were not uncommon because

during this time the mortality rate of

childr en was high.

Men, on the other hand, had an attractive

option. Those that died in battle would

go to Valhalla where they would feast all

night, enjoying the pleasure afforded to all

brave warriors... In the morning it was back

into battle.

These findings are considered a re pre -

sen tations of people’s concerns and their

dis position in those days. Work, self-de -

fense or perhaps the taste of blood and

the spoils of war as well as the milk of

hu man kindness were all a part of their

lives. Also a belief in the afterlife was firmly

entrenched in the minds of people living

then as it has been since ancient times.

Christianity arrives

In the year 1000 Iceland became a Christ ian

nation, a decision prompted by a priest in the

heathen religion, Þorgeir Ljós vetn ingagoði,

the most powerful man in the country,

and agreed on by the chief tains who were

officers of the Althingi (Parliament).

From the middle of the 10th century until

the 1550s religion was a big part of the

daily life in Iceland, the church was rich

and strong and there were a lot of Christian

artifacts produced. A fair number of these

are on display.

Keeping up with the Continentals

Between the years 1000 and 1200 most

of the people in Iceland were farmers.

The ability to produce woven (homespun)

woolen cloth was shared by many Ice -

landers who worked in their homes. This

From a record

written in 1200,

the date given for

the arrival of the

first settlers was


cloth became Iceland’s biggest ex port

from around the 12th to the 14th century

and there are some good examples on

exhibit at the National Museum. Although

Icelanders were living in a harsh environment

and overall had little by way of

mater ial comforts they did like to dress up.

In an attempt to copy the high fashion of

Continental Europe, wool was woven and

then the threads were pulled to make a

woolen coat look more like a fur coat which

was considered very fashionable during

that period.

A hint of the old religion

Since faith was an important part of people’s

lives small churches were often built

in the little communities dotted around the

countryside. The oldest church in Iceland

that still remains to this day was built

26 WOW Power to the people

around 1650 and thanks to the Danish

National Museum, the Valþjófsstaður

Door, the front door of a church from ca.

1200 was sent to the National Museum of

Iceland in 1930 to celebrate the Althingi’s

1000th anniversary. This door remains on

display in Iceland’s National Museum to

this day. The unusual thing is that rather

than a Christian motif, carvings of dragons

biting each other’s tail are carved into this

national treasure. Although Christianity

had been the official religion of Iceland the

old religion never really died out and these

dragons just might be a sign of that.

It just so happens that this old church of

Valþjófsstaður stood in in the Fljótsdalur

Valley where Helga, the museum specialist‘s

grandfather served as priest.

Art and literature

While the Renaissance flourished on the

Continent from the 1300s, it wasn‘t until

around 1600 during the period of the Reformation that we can

find a painting made that gives an accurate impression of what

an Icelander looked like. Displayed in the museum is one such

painting of Guðbrandur Þórláksson, Icelandic mathematician,

cartographer and clergyman and it was the same man that had

the first Lutheran Bible in Icelandic printed in Iceland. Guðbrandur

also brought the printing press to Iceland and had two books

printed each year during his 50 year tenure (The presses were

roll ing in Iceland. It was just a long process). The Bible on display at

the National Museum is an original dated 1530.

The creative arts in bloom

Beautifully carved wooden chests for

clothing and other items are on display from

the period from 1600 to 1800. The chests

were real attention-getters with rhymes and

riddles on them and secret compartments.

Tapestry of great diversity including

religious themes, stories from the sagas

and tales of knights woven into them were

skillfully craft ed during this time.

Today Icelander‘s are known for their

creativity and innovation in the arts,

evidentially a fruit born from these earlier


Mother‘s nature—Icelandic style

The period between 1800 and 1900 was the

Romantic Period in Iceland. During this time

Sigurður Guðmundsson, the first curator of

the National Museum designed a woman‘s

costume representing the Icelandic nation

Issue six 27

with symbolism depicting the glaciers, the

Northern Lights and Icelandic flora using

just colors that you can produce here. It

also represents the ideal women, beheld

as virtuous, a woman with an indomitable

spirit and in the role of a mother. The

strength of the modern Icelandic woman

definitely has its roots.

A farmhouse from the 19th century

If you really want to see what farm life in

Iceland was like during 19th century you

can visit a farmer‘s home from that time

period set up in the National Museum

of Iceland. Laid out on the floor of the

museum is a life-size fully furnished upp -

er part of a farmhouse—a single room

with four beds and everything else you‘d

expect to see. From this you can begin to

fathom the lives of people living in these

circumstances. Below this room was the

kitchen and the stables.

Icelandic tradition

—for better or worse

As can be seen in the room, all homes

in the 1800s had a spinning wheel and

on Christmas everyone was expected to

wear some newly spun piece of apparel.

Those who thought they were exempt

from honoring this national tradition

would be tracked by the Christmas cat

and unceremoniously eaten—a natural

consequence to what then was

taken as a sign of laziness. This

tradition is alive today.

Besides wearing something

new, once a year, specifically

the 23rd of December was

the chosen day each year for

washing one‘s clothes. This was

also the big day for bathing. It is

a somber fact that hygiene was

not high on the list of “things

to do“ back in those days. This

custom of infrequent bathing

was not exclusive to Iceland.

Iceland emerges

Because of internal struggles

during the 13th century Iceland

became weakened and in

1262 lost its independence

to Norway. Norway eventually

unit ed with Sweden and

Demark but after the disso -

lution of this alliance, Iceland fell under Danish rule. The blue and

white flag on display symbolizes Iceland‘s hard fought struggle for

independence. In 1904 home rule was granted and in 1918 Iceland

became a sovereign state in union with Denmark where the king of

Denmark was simultaneously the king of Iceland. In 1944 Iceland

finally gained its independence.

Christmas at the National Museum

In spite of the influence other Nordic nations had or tried to have

on Iceland, Iceland is an island way out in the North Atlantic and

therefore had the freedom to develop its

creativity with little or no interference

not only in the arts but in their customs

and traditions. For example, the Icelandic

folklore and religious traditions observed

during Christmas in Iceland are unique

in many ways. The National Museum of

Iceland will be presenting a Christmas

Program where the public is invited to

learn about them.

December 6th at 2PM the Yule Lads‘ par -

ents, Grýla and Leppalúði visit the museum

along with musicians. It is a well-known

and appreciated event for Icelandic fami -

lies but more tourists take part every year.

The program is in English.

Every day from December 12-24 at 11

a.m. one Yule Lad at a time (there are 13

in all) visit the Museum and entertain

children with stories and traditional Ice -

landic carol singing. This is very popular

among school classes and up to 500 kids

visit the event each day.

On December 19, Terry Gunnell, Professor

of Folkloristics at the University of Iceland,

will give a lecture on Icelandic Christmas

traditions, the lecture is free of charge (like

the Yule Lad-events) and in English.

The museum is open on December

25th from 10-2 PM as well as December

31st and January 1st. On other days the

museum is open from 10-5 except on

Mondays. v

28 WOW Power to the people

Issue six 29

Traditional holidays

Iceland and Christmas

—an obvious match

In Western countries Christmas has now become associated with cultural touchstones such as

Gremlins, Home Alone and National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. Contemporary celebrations

of Christmas in Iceland focus on immense family gatherings and massive consumption of

electricity to combat the midwinter darkness.

by Marvin Lee Dupree

Photos: Thinkstockphotos.com

For most Icelanders the mere

mention of the word Christmas

brings up a myriad of connotations. Some

think of all the Christmas books published

and gifted, as well as the necessary

Christ mas pajamas which one wears all

Christmas to read and have epic sessions

in front of the TV with their loved ones.

It is also a time for traveling across the

country to be with loved ones amidst a

steady stream of loud family gatherings all

throughout December, reaching its apex

between Boxing Day and New Year’s Eve.

However, there are also many more

customs that often baffle foreigners,

especially because Christmas in Iceland

is more of a religious holiday than in the

Anglo-Saxon countries, yet it is a hybrid

curiosity with Christmas ogres, loads of

Yule Lads instead of just one Santa Claus,

not to mention the murderous Yule Cat.

On top of that, Christmas in Iceland does

not really end until the 6th of January or

on “þrettándinn” (the Twelfth Night) when

the end of Christmas is celebrated with

bonfires and supposedly elf dancing.

So without further ado, let us delve into

the winter solstice psyche of this island


The Vikings are subdued

Despite the Christian repackaging of

Christmas, Icelandic Christmas festivities

have always been deeply rooted in a

predictably peculiar Icelandic paganism

of old and the more recent transposed

Christian tradition. Yet, in the Germanic

and Nordic tradition the mid-winter

associations have held more sway than

with more southern nations.

Celebrations during the winter solstice

have always been a part of the Icelandic

heritage, regardless of Christianity. In

stories such as Eyrbyggja Saga it is

apparent that “jól” had a different mean -

ing since the festivities included copious

amounts of alcohol and homicidal ten -

dencies, while both in Grettis saga and

30 WOW Power to the people

Víga glúms saga “jól” is a time of festivities.

Consequently, it was a bit later in Ice -

land’s history that the social and cult ural

institutions that later became en trenc -

hed in Iceland, and the paradigm shift

from Yule to Christmas began; with the

building of churches and Christianity

becoming more organized here based on

the establishment of a diocese, Icelanders

stopped toasting the old gods and began

to celebrate the more recognizable form of


Still, as always, because Iceland was so

isolated it managed to keep many curious

aspects. One notable social pheno meno

n was that many Icelanders instead

of attending Christmas evening mass

de cided they’d rather visit friends, drink

and be merry. Apparently this infuriated

the Danish clergy who tried to uproot this

tradition but it became popular again in

the 20th century, especially with the in -

troduction of the radio.

Nowadays, shortly before 6 o’clock on

Christmas Eve, Icelandic families turn

on the National Radio and wait for the

bells of Hallgrímskirkja Church to peal

for Christ mas through a live broadcast.

This is, for many, when the holy days truly

begin and everyone wishes each other a

happy Christmas before they sit down for a

lavish Christmas dinner while listening to

a Christmas Mass.

Christmas dinner in the turf house

For Icelanders born in the 19th century

Christmas was a rather humble affair.

Most homes were centered around

the “baðstofa” which functioned both

as a sleeping room and as the hub of

communal living. If one reads personal

accounts of Icelanders and the Christmas

tra di tions, there is a noticeable com -

monality between all of them that is

crystalized in one of the most iconic

Ice landic Christmas songs “Bráðum koma

blessuð jólin” (“Soon the Christmastide

will be here”); in it Icelanders sing that

everybody receives a gift—at least some

playing cards and a candle.

To many youths today these lyrics come

off as enigmatic but to Icelanders back

then, the highlight of Christmas was when

one received a candle and the “baðstofa”

was lit up all night on Christmas Eve.

For the extremely lucky, an apple was a

rare delicacy that they were able to taste

once a year and only six or seven decades

ago many Icelanders’ most common

association with Christmas was the aroma

of apples. However, in some regions, not

all, it was common to make leaf bread

(see page 34) during Christmas Day along

with an assortment of delicacies such as

Icelandic pancakes and waffles. Other

treats included “pottabrauð” which is

a variant of the Icelandic straight rye

bread or “rúgbrauð.” As for the main meal

it was most commonly smoked lamb

meat which was made to last until the

New Year in many homes, while in others

“lundabaggar” or rolled-up slices of gela -

tinous meat or Icelandic sausages were

eaten. In some cases it was the economic

choice of fish. For dessert people would

eat skyr with cream or “sætsúpa” which is

basically fruit soup made of dried fruits

that have been boiled in water along with

some grains, either oats or rice.

Icelandic Christmas food during

the 20th century

Christmas culinary traditions of Iceland

began to evolve with more affluence and

with the migration of people to Reykjavík

and its surrounding municipalities. Meat

became more affordable for all and

gastronomical hedonism became the

norm; in recent years Icelandic Christmas

dinners have led numerous Icelanders

to seek out medical assistance due to

overconsumption on Christmas Eve.

However, the most noxious and in fa mous

Christmas dish is served on Þorláks -

messa (Mass of St. Thorlac), or the 23rd

of December. This tradition from the

West Fjords to eat fermented skate on

this day ceased to be a regional affair

and became, regrettably, a nationwide

custom. Why regrettable? Well, because

the sweet aroma of ammonia from the

skate is omnipresent. Further changes

to the Christmas culinary traditions here

happened due to the increasing influx of

Danish products; one such introduction

was the “hamborgarahryggur” or pork

rib steak as well as the “London lamb”

which was less smoked than its older

counterpart the “hangikjöt.” As for side

dishes most Icelanders become teary

eyed if the compulsory green peas and red

cabbage from the Icelandic Ora canned

goods factory are missing from the main

dish—although in many families this is

slowly being phased out.

It’s not Christmas without fruit,

here near the edge of the world

Besides all these gastronomic hedonistic

dishes that popped up during post bellum

years, Icelanders began to enjoy other

novel foods—like fruit. In fact, this year’s

Christmas will hopefully be the last where

Icelanders experience capital controls

but they’ve been a common practice from

the 20th century, thus making apples,

oranges and other foreign delicacies

an extravagant luxury as some years no

apples were imported at all. However,

during this period fishermen were able to

circumvent the capital controls by selling

cod roe to obtain foreign currency that in

turn enabled them to purchase apples and

grapes to give to their kin and friends. This

phenomena was known as “gotupeningar”

(roe money) and allowed many Icelandic

homes to celebrate Christmas with the

sought after luxury goods they considered

essential during the holidays.

The evil Santas are coming to town!

During the twentieth century the con -

temporary version of Christmas that most

Icelanders have come to love began to

be formalized. For example there were

various alterations of the Yule Lads and no

exact fixed number, with accounts of nine,

thirteen or even eighteen of them. It was

For the extremely

lucky, an apple was

a rare delicacy that

they were able to

taste once a year

and only six or

seven decades ago

many Icelanders’

most common

association with

Christmas was the

aroma of apples.

only due to the popularity of Jón Árnason’s

Icelandic Folktales and Legends that the

number became fixed to 13 along with

their current names, not to mention the

radio broadcasting of Árnason’s stories

during the 1930s.

In the old days the Yuletide lads were

the monstrous offspring of Grýla and

Leppalúði, and were considered evil just

as the Yule Cat was, being more canni -

balistic trolls than jolly tricksters. In

the famous Icelandic poem Grýlukvæði,

Stéfan Ólafsson wrote about their

mother who was a three-headed beast

akin to the mythological Cerberus, with

chin fuzz and a ram’s nose to boot. Like

with the Coca-Cola Santa Claus and the

Scandinavian Nisse, the Icelandic Yule

Lads have evolved from

their original


into more

Issue six 31

not have at least one new item of clothing

by Christ mas Eve you would land in its

claws. The simple explanation behind this

questionable parenting is that it was tied

to the Protestant disdain for idleness.

Within the Scandinavian and German

culture areas the terror-inducing creature

of choice for parents to scare wicked or

lazy children was the Christmas goat

or Krampus. Goats were not common in

Ice land so the devil’s other favorite animal

became the alternative choice, thus

making the Yule Cat a very logical myth.

Some things never really change

Over time and due to increased affluence

many of these memories have faded

somewhat in Iceland, but the cultural

memory for some traditions is still

vibrant, including such traditions as

bak ing copious assortments of cookies.

Another Christmas tradition is the vast

amount of Christmas cards sent every

Christmas to kin and friends around the

country and globe, thus straining the

capacity of the Icelandic postal service

every Christmas season. Despite the

immense demographic and social changes

in Iceland, Christmas is first and fore -

most a festival to celebrate family and

lift one’s mood in the midwinter as has

been customary in Iceland throughout

the generations—except now we give our

children iPads, not tall tales about canni -

balistic cats and trolls. Instead of playing

cards it is now board games so, despite

some cosmetic alterations, Christmas is

always the highlight of the year in Iceland

and is ushered in with the beautiful Advent

lights that adorn the nation’s homes.

Happy Holidays!

modern capitalistic friendly gift-giving

figures. Many historians and folklorists

say it was amended because the Danish

bourge oisie were shocked by the grue -

some tales told to frighten children; that

and the fact the Danish merchants wanted

to make a few more krónur.

From evil ogres to friendly

Yule Lads

The modern version of the Yule Lads, how -

ever, has them giving Icelandic child r en

gifts when the children place their shoe

in the window before going to bed, that is

to say if they’ve been good. Naughty kids

tend to receive a potato. Their evolution to

more amicable characters can be seen in

an Icelandic children’s magazine in 1901

where the Yule Lads are by then more

tricksters than trolls.

As for the Yule Cat, most children were

filled with existential fear of the dread

ed black cat. Parents would scare

childr en with stories of it and if you did

However, the most

noxious and in fa ­

mous Christmas

dish is served on

Þorláks messa (Mass

of St. Thorlac),

or the 23rd of


32 WOW Power to the people

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Issue six

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Breaking bread

Fancy cutting


The title of this article might sound like an oxymoron of sorts but the

festive staple “laufabrauð” is often known as snowflake cake or under

the idiomatically correct term “leaf bread,” while others have usually

called it lace bread. Basically, it is a thin round cake fried in oil, but

previously it was cooked in mutton fat. Nowadays, it is often served

with butter, sweet béchamel sauce and smoked lamb.

by Marvin Lee Dupree

Photos: The Cultural Museum of Leafbread

If you desire to make

your Christmas a bit

more Icelandic, you can

find recipes for leaf bread

all around the Internet

and to make it authentic

you can pick up a leaf

bread iron before leaving

the country.

one’s inner artist. Later the leaf bread

iron became the tool of choice and is now

found in homes across the nation.

Artisan Christmas

The leaf bread iron was originally

a heavy copper roller but now it is

produced in a wide variety of shapes and

designs, while some have utilized more

specialized designs made from bullhorns

or even whale teeth. Researching the

history of this unique Icelandic item, I

spoke to Hugrún Ívarsdóttir, a talented

designer who is also the caretaker of the

Laufabrauðssetur in Akureyri (a cultural

museum for leaf bread). During our talk,

I discovered the rich heritage of leaf

bread as well as the longevity and stench

from years old leaf bread, although

they had a lovely design. However, not

everybody has accepted the leaf bread

iron enthusiastically since many also

consider carving each piece of leaf bread

as a distinct piece of art; in fact Hugrún

informed me that in the old days, some

people were so talented they would

travel between Icelandic households

to display their craft. In modern times

though, leaf bread irons have now

become an iconic symbol of Christmas,

just like the Advent lights.

If you desire to make your Christmas a

bit more Icelandic, you can find recipes

for leaf bread all around the Internet

and to make it authentic you can pick

up a leaf bread iron before leaving the

country. It is available for purchase from

Handverk Haraldar and at the Icelandic

design store Kraum. Additionally, you can

view information about the leaf bread

and Hugrúns’ designs at islensk.is. v

For those of you who are still

wondering why it is such an im -

portant tradition to Icelandic people

during Christmas it might help to get a

short primer on this wonderful tradition.

Eking out an existence in Iceland was

always a challenging task; simple

products such as flour were rationed

and not available to all, and when

the Danish government did import it,

Icelanders could sometimes expect it

to be maggot-infested. To overcome

shortages, Icelanders started rolling

out flour, rye and barley to make leaf

bread. In a yuletide folk song about

Grýla the terrible troll that eats naughty

children, the lyrics go “the children shall

receive bread to feast on at Christmas.”

So obviously for many folklorists the

connection between flour shortages and

leaf bread is evident. With increased

imports of flour to Iceland this custom

seems to have faded out except in the

north of Iceland, but with increased

migration to the south it seems to have

flourished once again due to the familial

and cultural aspect as making leaf bread

is an activity done with the entire family.

Tools of the trade

In the old days just before the Christmas

fast, or advent, during the midwinter,

families and extended family members

would meet just as they do now to carve

out very delicate and intricate designs in

the leaf bread. Another factor was that

both genders took part in this ritual, thus

a pocket-knife was often used to reveal

34 WOW Power to the people

Issue six 35

Gotta catch’em all

Shoot the

northern lights

Tis the season. Forget about the electric lights of the city and head into the Icelandic

wilderness to see the real show: the elusive northern lights.

Photos: Ao Thor

IIceland is truly a dream destination for photo -

graphers and many travelers come here

exclusively to photograph the country. Visiting

Iceland to see and photograph the northern

lights is becoming increasingly popular but

it’s not always easy. For optimal northern lights

gazing and photographing you have to get away

from the illuminated city and the most photogenic

spots are often far from the beaten tracks and

can’t be reached except by 4WD vehicles driven by

experienced drivers.

For this reason many tour operators offer a

great variety of northern lights tours and one of

them, Arctic Advanced, even offers a speci aliz ed

photography tour. Led by professional photo grapher

Eyjólfur Már Thoroddsen aka Ao, the Northern

Lights Photography Tour is definitely

something to try whether you’re

a pro fessional photographer or a

photo graphy enthusiast. “Finding the

northern lights might be fairly easy,

but to shoot them perfectly you need

a bit more know-how. We are very

selective in the locations we choose

for the northern lights tours and they

usually involve places where we have

our privacy and can take our time to

shoot,” says Ao about his northern

lights tours.


Iceland to

see and




lights is becoming



but it’s not



For those interested in knowing more about the Arctic Advanced photography tours we recommend checking

out arcticadvanced.com, aothor.com and photographyguide.is. Happy snapping!

36 WOW Power to the people

Issue six 37

Tips and tricks for shooting the

northern lights:

1. Check the northern lights forecast on


before you set off.

2. When shooting the northern lights, a tripod

and a cable release are a must.

For best results, go to

places without light


3. If possible, set the camera on timer, 10 sec.

of the northern lights is plenty.

4. Don’t use filters.

5. The wider the lens, the better the results. A

14 mm lens would be ideal. It’s a plus if the

lens is f/2.8, but not necessary.

6. Great lenses for shooting the northern

lights would be Samyang 14, f/2.8, Nikon

14-28, f/2.8 and Canon 16-35, f/2.8.

7. The new Sony cameras are giving brilliant

results with green colors and producing

some amazing images of the northern


8. Canon cameras are doing wonders with the

red hues.

9. For best results, go to places without light


10. Spare batteries in your coat pocket;

freezing temperatures and long exposures

drain camera batteries. v

38 WOW Power to the people

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Bus Terminal at Holtagarðar shopping centre





Issue six 39


70 years

n the air

Have you ever heard of the low-cost model when it comes to flying?

If you’re reading WOW magazine you probably have, but did you know

that the idea of offering cheap, no-frills transatlantic flights is

actually an Icelandic idea and not a very recent one?

Photos: RAX – rax.is

40 WOW Power to the people

The entrepreneurs of low-cost flying

Issue six 41

There was a whole group of us

Icelanders training to be pilots and

this one time some of us got into

a spot of trouble at a dance and

were all thrown in jail. It was a very

big jail, many stories high and the

acoustics were magnificent, so

naturally we started singing.

Meet Captain Dagfinnur Stef -

ánsson, one of the most

experienced pilots in Iceland

who has been flying for 70

years and holds Icelandic pilot license no.

26. He was at the forefront of Icelandic

aviation history and played a role in what is

now known as the Loftleidir Adventure.

The Loftleidir Adventure begins

What is Loftleidir you might ask? Loftleidir

was an Icelandic airline also known as

Icelandic Airlines and the first to offer low

fares between North America and Europe

using Iceland as a hub. The company was

founded on March 10, 1944, and Dagfinnur,

who had not yet become a pilot at that

time, put forward some money to help

found the company.

Loftleidir got started, Dagfinnur tells

us, when three men, Alfred Eliasson,

Sig urdur Olafsson and Kristinn Olsen,

came back from Canada after finishing

their pilot training, bringing with them a

four-seat Stinson Reliant airplane. “They

offered their airplane to Flugfélag Íslands

(Iceland Airways) asking for a job as well.

The executives at Iceland Airways held a

board meeting discussing this offer and

decided that yes, they’d be willing to buy

the airplane and yes, they’d be willing to

hire two of them but that they thought one

of them was too heavy,” says Dagfinnur.

Presented with this counter-offer, the

three friends declined and decided to

found their own airline. “They were pushed

into it really. Me and Alfred are related as

our fathers were brothers and Kristjan

Johann Kristjansson was married to our

aunt. Kristjan ran a packaging factory,

Kassagerdin. Alfred got in touch with

him about financing the new airline and

Kristjan got together a few other men who

had some money. With their help Loftleidir

got started. Alfred asked if I would like to

join them. I didn’t have a lot of money at

the time, I was working as a sailor then, but

he knew that I was interested in aviation.

So I put in 5,000 krona but being at sea I

couldn’t attend the inaugural meeting, so

Kristjan Johann took care of that for me

by being my representative. That’s how

it all began and Loftleidir began flying to

Isafjordur in the West Fjords. There was

one passenger in the inaugural flight, the

airplane could take three,” says Dagfinnur.

Soon Loftleidir needed more planes

and Sigurdur went back to the States and

bought another Stinson and then later a

Grumman Goose seaplane. “The Grumman

seaplane worked really well for the West

Fjords,” says Dagfinnur. “They had no

airports there but in those seaplanes they

could go all the way up to the shore, put the

wheels down and drive up to land. We had

to be careful not to go too far so we wouldn’t

stop the traffic on Isafjordur’s main street,”

Dagfinnur reminisces and smiles.

The advantages of

having a US army base

Dagfinnur decided to become a pilot at

an early age and to quit his job as a sailor.

He started working for Loftleidir in the

fall of 1944. “My job was to service the

planes, fuel them and that sort of things.

Then in the spring of 1945 I went to Tulsa,

Oklahoma to train as a pilot. I flew out the

with the US army’s ATC – Air Transport

Command. They often went between

Ice land and the US carrying soldiers, diplo -

mats and others. Their aircraft only had

benches – no seats.”

The war in Europe had just ended and

the US was still at war with Japan, but

Dagfinnur says he had no trouble getting

a visa from the US Embassy. “No, they

were very accommodating and also in

the States. There was a whole group of us

Icelanders training to be pilots and this one

time some of us got into a spot of trouble at

a dance and were all thrown in jail. It was

a very big jail, many stories high and the

acoustics were magnificent, so naturally

we started singing. The black guys joined

in immediately, but all the others started

cursing us, telling us to shut up. Then came

the wardens, opened our cell and told us

to get the hell out of there, we weren’t fit

for jail, but we’d have to appear before a

judge the following day. We did and the

judge asked: ‘So, you’re from Iceland? We

have an army base in Iceland, right?’ We

said yes and then he asked, ‘What happens

when our guys get into trouble in Iceland?’

‘They’re taken care of by their own officials,’

we answered. Then he banged down his

gavel and said ‘Same here’ and let us go.”

Having a US army base had yet to prove

even more useful for Icelandic aviation.

“We could hear

the captains


between boats

on the radio,


us pilots: ‘These

flying monkeys

never see a

damn thing!’

they said.”

The Herring Adventure

There was a job waiting for Dagfinnur at

Loftleidir when he got back. At the time

the “Icelandic Herring Adventure” was in

full force and both Loftleidir and Iceland

Airlines were hired to search for the

herring. “I think I enjoyed these herring

flights most of all. I was only about 20

years old, and I was so excited to fly these

planes and to be able to report to the

ships where the herring was located. The

herring was in such great shoals at the

time that the sea appeared to be black.

We had a secret code name for every area

and zone so the foreign boats that were listening in couldn‘t get the

locations. Sometimes there was no herring to be found, then the

boats would go and wait for the herring to come in from the east.

We could hear the captains chattering between boats on the radio,

badmouthing us pilots: ‘These flying monkeys never see a damn

thing!’ they said. They might lie there, wobbling and not even see

that a shoal of herring was right next to them. When that happened

we tried to fly low over them in the direction of the herring, alerting

them on the radio. They sounded different then: ‘Thank you my

dear friend’ they’d say.”

Scaring the competition

Loftleidir competed with Iceland Airways on the domestic market

for almost a decade but according to Dagfinnur, Loftleidir’s slice

of the pie, decided by the Icelandic government, was less than

favorable. Loftleidir was allowed to fly to the West Fjords but not to

the places east of Saudarkrokur in North Iceland such as Akureyri

and Husavik, or to places on the east coast such as Egilsstaðir.

Iceland Airways got the lion’s share of the island. “They had the

Eimskipafélag (Icelandic Steamship Company Ltd) behind them,

as it was their biggest shareholder,” he says, and at that time the

Icelandic market was pretty much ruled by companies related

to the Steamship Company, which also had ties in the Icelandic

government. These ruling companies were often nicknamed “The

Octopus” because of their many and far reaching arms.

Loftleidir started flying to Europe’s mainland in 1947 using

Douglas DC-4 Skymaster aircraft, the first real international aircraft

owned by an Icelandic airline. A year later, Loftleidir got permission

to fly to the United States and added a second DC-4 to their fleet.

Dagfinnur tells us not everyone believed in Loftleidir’s venture

into international aviation. “When we were buying the Skymaster

aircraft the CEO of the Icelandic Steamship Company called Alfred

for a meeting and asked him: ‘Is it true that you’re planning to buy

a Skymaster aircraft?’ Alfred confirmed and then the CEO asked:

‘Oh, but where are you going to get the money to do that?’ to which

Alfred replied: ‘That’s none of your business. But you can rest

assured that we won’t be stealing it out of the Icelandic Steamship

Company!’ and then he walked out of there.”

“All the specialists here in Iceland, those learned men and the

money specialists, they all said: ‘Are you going to fly to America,

competing with PanAm, American Airlines, British Airways,

42 WOW Power to the people

“Loftleidir did

have low fares,

but I think we also

offered quite good

service. When we

had our stopovers

in Reykjavik

our guests

were offered a


dinner in a

barrack at the

airport while we

fueled up the


Lufthansa, Air France and all those great

big airlines? We’re sorry, but this won’t

work. This plan is nonsense.’ And those

were the specialists!” says Dagfinnur and

admits that Loftleidir really didn’t feel the

international competition all that much.

“Well, IATA did try to have us banned in the

US. They brought charges against us in

Washington, D.C., but they didn’t succeed

as the officials said our flights were in the

public’s interest. I think perhaps a part of

that good will from the US officials had

something to do with the fact that they

had an army base here in Iceland at the


“It went pretty well but, of course,

there were hard times too. Sometimes

we couldn’t even be paid our salaries so we were asked if we would

be willing to take our salaries in shares. Those who did never lost

any money. The overall atmosphere within the airline was really

good; morals were high,” says Dagfinnur adding that he can’t really

explain how the working atmosphere got so good but that to a large

extent it was thanks to Alfred Eliasson. “He was so resourceful in

everything that he did. For instance in how he decided that our

base of operations during the herring flights should be located at

Miklavatn Lake in North Iceland. Iceland Airways always flew out of

Akureyri but Miklavatn Lake was close to the fishing zones and being

based at the middle of its eastern shore gave us greater options for

take offs and landings in all wind directions. And the fact that it is a

freshwater lake was also good because there was less corrosion on

our seaplanes than from seawater,” Dagfinnur explains.

Going international

In 1952 Loftleidir discontinued all domestic routes deciding to

focus solely on international routes and two years later they started

offering prices that had never been seen before, and people loved it.

“Loftleidir did have low fares, but I think we also offered quite good

service. When we had our stop-overs in Reykjavik our guests were

offered a complimentary dinner in a barrack at the airport while we

fueled up the aircraft. They really liked it,”

says Dagfinnur. Note that in those days

a flight between Reykjavik and New York

could take up to 18 hours depending on

the weather. The DC-4 airplanes were

unpressurized and had to fly quite low

often resulting in icing that slowed the

aircraft down.

Hippie Airlines

Being a young airline, long before the

age of the internet, Loftleidir sought new

low-cost ways to introduce themselves in

the market and they found ways to target

young people in the states by teaming up

with colleges to create essay competitions

where the author of the best essay on

Iceland won a trip with the airline. “It

was pretty clever on our publicist’s part.

The kids started competing for the prize

and meanwhile they learned a lot about

Iceland,” says Dagfinnur. Loftleidir became

popular among young Americans as it

enabled them to travel cheaply to Europe

earning it the nickname “Hippie Airlines”

or “Hippie Express” in the late 1960s.

Traveling with Loftleidir became somewhat

of a rite of passage, even Bill and Hillary

Clinton traveled with them to Europe.

Loftleidir did not join IATA (International

Air Transport Association), which defined

the fares for its member airlines on

transatlantic routes at the time, so they

were able to offer considerably lower ticket

prices than the big IATA airlines. Loftleidir’s

passengers had to be more interested in

getting to their destination cheaply than

comfortably or exactly on time. Loftleidir

took advantage of its somewhat underdog

situation and even advertised under the

slogan “We are the slowest but the lowest.”

But they did more than charge less, as

expressed in the slogan “Lowest fare –

most care.”

Jet-setters without jets

Following the massive success of Loftleidir,

their airplanes filled up fast and it

often happened that the bigger airlines

delayed their departures in order to see

if anyone got left behind. “Yes, they came

to our office at Kennedy Airport, KLM and

Lufthansa for example, shortly before

our departures, asking if we had more

passengers than we could carry. They paid

great attention to us and were always

ready to pick up our scraps,” Dagfinnur

says with a laugh.

Yes, the 1960s were booming years for

Loftleidir and they were operating five

Douglas DC-6B Cloudmaster airplanes

which they bought from PanAm. “The DC-6s

changed a lot for us. They were pressurized

so they could fly higher,” says Dagfinnur.

Loftleidir’s fleet started getting both bigger

and faster, first with Canadair CL 44D-4 in

1964 and two years later the first of four


In 1970, Loftleidir became the founders of

Cargolux, in partnership with Luxair, Selina

shipping company and investors. Dagfinnur

was captain of the first ever Cargolux flight,

along with Kari Jonsson, Jon Ottar and Karl

Oskarsson. This flight was for the Red Cross,

flying relief goods from Zurich to Sao Tome.

Cargolux is still a thriving company and

amongst leading cargo airlines, operating to

the main continents of the world.

Issue six 43

I celebrated my 70 years of flying

on June 14th this year. I’ve flown

31,400 hours. When we were flying

the DC-4s, one could get ca. 1,000

hours every year because they

were so slow.”

44 WOW Power to the people

“The economic

situation was

difficult in those

years. I was

always against

this merger and

I believe that it

would have never

happened if

Alfred’s health had

not deteriorated

at the time and if

those who were

meant to steer

the company had

been up to the


Loftleidir entered the jet age with its

first two DC-8-63 in 1970 and also a

DC-10 in 1979. As well as building up

their fleet, Loftleidir realized their jet

age visions and ideology by building the

modern style Loftleidir Hotel and offices

at Reykjavik Airport. It was both the

biggest and grandest hotel in Iceland,

with a conference center, swimming pool

and restaurant. It was also ambitious with

great artworks both on the exterior and

interior of the building.

The end of Loftleidir

Due to unfavorable conditions Loftleidir

was forced to merge under government

pressure with the politically tied Iceland

Airways in 1973. The merged airline was

named Flugleidir, which, some years later,

became Icelandair. According to Dagfinnur, this merger didn’t have to

happen. “The economic situation was difficult in those years. I was

always against this merger and I believe that it would have never

happened if Alfred’s health had not deteriorated at the time and

if those who were meant to steer the company had been up to the

task. After the merger, there was even talk of discontinuing flights

to America, which was started by cutting out Chicago and then

Luxembourg, which had been Loftleidir’s main destination center in

Europe for many years. The government in Luxembourg had always

worked with us, even forgoing the landing fees and such things when

we were going through hard times. After the merger, the new board of

Flugleidir also wrote off Cargolux; they didn’t want to have anything

to do with it,” Dagfinnur says, adding that he believes that Loftleidir

on its own would at least be of similar size as Icelandair is today

had the merger not happened. Dagfinnur still upholds the history

of Loftleidir and raises the company’s flag on its birthday on March

10th every year. Along with one of Loftleidir’s former chief mechanics,

he’s rebuilt the old base at Lake Miklavatn which now holds all sorts

of memorabilia and articles from the herring flights and Loftleidir’s

golden age. “Alfred always said that Lake Miklavatn is where the

Loftleidir Adventure got started,” Dagfinnur says.

Doing good

Dagfinnur was captain with Flugleidir and then Icelandair until

1988 when he retired as a commercial pilot. “When I retired, a lady

at the office, Birna Thorisdottir, asked me

if would like to fly the Orbis plane now

that I was retiring. Orbis is a non-profit

non-governmental organization dedicated

to saving sight worldwide. The Flying

Eye Hospital is operated in a specially

equipped aircraft with volunteer pilots

flying the plane and its medical team

to various developing countries in order

to perform eye operations aboard the

plane, free of charge. I flew that plane

occasionally for three years, we flew to

countries in Southeast Asia and South

America—the plane would stop for ca.

three weeks at each destination and the

pilots were usually sent home on other

flights during that time, but sometimes we

decided to stay. Once there, the doctors

performed various eye operations, people

would come in blind and leave the plane

seeing. It was quite amazing. There, under

the Orbis insignia, we could travel through

areas that were under siege or wrought by

civil wars because the Orbis plane and cars

with the Orbis insignia were sacrosanct by

all parties,” Dagfinnur says, obviously fond

of his time spent with the Orbis project.

From Jennys to jets

With 70 years of flying Dagfinnur has

had his fair share of adventures, from

crashing on Vatnajokull Glacier during a

cargo flight from Luxembourg (the whole

crew survived), to getting his plane shot

at during a refueling stop in Dubai, when

terrorists attacked passengers on a

British Airways plane, shooting them as

they left the plane. “Many lost their lives,

amongst them one local serviceman who

was under our plane during the shooting,”

says Dagfinnur. “Then there was this one

time when we were flying in darkness

from New York to Iceland and were hit

by unfavorable headwind and icing, we

couldn’t maintain our altitude and had to

send out an emergency call to go lower. We

saw that we wouldn’t make it to Keflavik

and were thinking of turning around and

heading to Goose Bay, but even that was a

stretch. The wind at the airport was strong

ca. 86 knots, and we were going to try to

land at a US army base at Narsarsuaq

Airport in Greenland, but it had no runway

lights. So the Americans parked cars along

the runway to light it up. We were able to

land there despite the weather conditions

and all ended well. Our passengers were

invited to a cocktail party thrown by the

army after we landed and then they got an

opportunity to shop various goods at the

army’s special store. They were quite happy

about it.” In spite of his various experiences

such as the ones mentioned, Dagfinnur

adds: “Still, nothing has scared me enough

to keep me from flying.”

Dagfinnur still has his pilot’s license and

likes to fly his Super Cruiser plane every

now and then. “I celebrated my 70 years

of flying on June 14th this year. I’ve flown

31,400 hours. When we were flying the

DC-4s, one could get ca. 1,000 hours every

year because they were so slow,” Dagfinnur

says. Just two weeks ago he fulfilled his

dream of flying a Curtiss Jenny biplane in

Kentucky. “Now I can say that I have flown

everything from Jennys to jets.”

When asked what stands out from his

long career he is quick to answer: “All of it.

It’s been a varied experience; I can’t put it

any other way.” v

And there it is, low-cost transatlantic

flying was invented by the entre pre -

neurs at Loftleidir. We here at WOW air

are proud to follow in their footsteps

and can only hope to find pilots like

Dagfinnur along the way.

Flying a Jenny. Dagfinnur sittting at the front ,with his friend Dorian Walker. Photo: Courtesy of BG Daily News

Issue six 45


The Lebowski Bar

Laugavegur 20a

101 Reykjavik

Tel: +354 552 2300

email: info@lebowskibar.is


Lebowski Bar

The Reykjavik venue that rocks!

From the entrepreneurs that brought you Café Oliver and Vega mot, comes Lebowski Bar.

You can take a quick guess where the name and inspiration comes from and even if you

didn’t like the infamous 1998 movie we are cert ain you will love this bar.

Just walking into this retro American bar

puts a smile on your face and the mood

is very 1960’s. You can hang out at the

old fashioned porch and imagine you are

in a real action movie. They don’t make

bars like that anymore … oh wait they

do, this one! Four big screens adorn the walls, so

it’s also a great place to hang out when there are

big events and sporting high lights to be seen. And

there’s also an “outside” area deco rated in a zappy

Miami -sunshine yellow that will cheer even the

dullest of days.

Dine and jive

Lebowski Bar really captures the diner style with

cosy booths and a fabulous jukebox containing

over 1,600 songs guaranteed to get those hips

swaying. If that’s not enough there’s a DJ on every

night of the week so you won’t feel the pressure of

select ing all the music by yourself. The menus are

the biggest in Iceland … no literally! Their phy sical

dimensions are huge! Doesn’t everyone say that

size really does matter?

Try their amazing burgers, there’s cheese, bacon,

a béarn aise sauce option and succulent beef tender

loin. If that’s not enough, choose from one of the

12 kinds of milkshakes to go with it.

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

Jeffrey ‘the Dude’ Lebowski, the protagonist of

the Coen brot her’s comedy, is renowned for his

penchant for ‘White Russ ians’ – vodka based cock -

tails featuring coffee liqueurs and cream or milk.

The Lebowski Bar has taken this now-iconic drink

to a new level, offering an astounding 18 varieties

of White Russian, along with an extensive bar list.

Bowling at the bar

The real icing on the Le bowski cake, however, is

the bar’s gen u ine bowling lane – it’s a classic. How

many bars have a bowling lane? In Iceland, not

many, unless you count the bars at actual bowling

alleys that certainly don’t have the cool vibe of Lebowski

Bar. DJs and a bass player add to the music

mix at weekends and there’s room to dance. Check

it out dudes, you’re guaranteed a good time.

“Try their amazing burgers, there’s

cheese, bacon, a béarn aise sauce option

and succulent beef ten der loin.”

Lebowski Bar is my favorite place to hang out at. I love grabbing a good beer, a burger & topping it with

a delicious milkshake.

Lebowski Bar plays oldies music which mak es the vibe like none other in Reykjavik.

They also have happy hour from 4-7pm and who doesn’t love that!

Bottom line, Lebowski Bar is a great main stream bar where you can meet fellow travel ers and have a

drink with locals. Practice the word ‘SKÁL’ (Cheers) ~ Inga,@TinyIceland (www.tinyiceland.com)


Twitter: @LebowskiBar - Instagram: #LebowskiBar - Open 11:00 – 01:00 Sun-Thurs and 11:00 – 04:00 Fri/Sat

46 WOW Power to the people



Lækjargata 6a

101 Reykjavik

Tel: +354 845 88 68

email: kolla@hresso.is


At the center of

the scene

Lavabarinn represents what Reykjavik is famous for … nightlife! Admit it, you’re not here

to collect stamps. You’re here to travel, take photos and brag about it all while sitting at

a fantastic lounge drinking delicious cocktails. That’s exactly what the Lavabarinn is all

about and the architecture and design is beautiful.

Lavabarinn focuses on high quality cock -

tails, mixed by highly skilled bar tenders.

The age limit is 25 so leave the kids with

the babysitter and dress up. This is no

place for sneakers and hoodies.

If you require VIP services, then this is

your place. Lavabarinn has a secret room with a

secret door that leads up to the top floor; very 007.

The VIP service doesn’t stop there as you’ll have

your own private drink elevator, private bathroom

and security to hold off all your fans.

After drinking magical cocktails that taste like

paradise, why not move down to the lower floor and

shake it to some high class music by hot DJ’s from

all over the world. It doesn’t hurt that Lavabarinn

also has a Funktion-One sound system, the most

respected sound system in the world.

Downstairs also has a large make-up room for

everyone that chooses to freshen up while in there

and seats to cool down after a great dance session.

There’s even an excluded outdoor smoking area

for those who are absolutely smokin’ and they can

bring their drinks along for the break. You won’t be

disappointed by either the cocktails or the music

at Lava barinn. You might want to get in early before

the line starts and secure your spot. If it’s nightlife

you seek, it’s nightlife you’ll find at Lavabarinn.

“After drinking magical cocktails that

taste like paradise, why not move down

to the lower floor and shake it to some

high class music by hot DJ’s from all over

the world.”


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

Issue six 47


The English Pub

Austurstræti 12

101 Reykjavik

Tel: +354 578 0400

Mobile: +354 697 9003


Save water, drink beer!

For years, Iceland has enjoyed a diverse selection of restaurants and often sophisticated

bars. However, one tiny grumble occasionally surfaced from the country’s Anglophiles

– simply that there was no proper “pub”.

And so the English Pub was born.

From modest beginnings it has built

a hearty reputation, seeking out,

with the advice and guidance of its

de di cat ed cust omers, the finest ale

available to mankind. Today it offers

its enthusiastic cli entele the chance to sample 50

beers from around the world, as well as a stagg er -

ing 15 Icelandic brands.

Whisky galore

Not content to rest on its laurels, the English Pub

has ventured north of its virtual border and also

offers the finest selection of whiskies anywhere

in the country. The choice of some 60 malts

include many of Scotland’s finest, ensuring that

numerous Ice landers and worldly travelers make

the pil grim age to the pub’s humble door. Located

at the very heart of down town Reykjavik, the walls

of the English Pub are adorned with hundreds of

photographs – like an album of the city’s history

just waiting to be explored over a quiet beer.

A sporting chance

Live sporting coverage is amply catered for, with a

choice of three big screens and TVs. In side the pub

there is room for up to 150 people, and an out door

terrace can accommodate plenty more on those

balmy Ice landic evenings! Whether it is foot ball

(Premier and Champions League), rugby or golf,

there are always special offers when live events are

being broadcast. Live music every night adds to the

at mos phere and for anyone feeling lucky, there is

the Wheel of Fortune. Regulars like nothing more

than to spin the wheel and chance a “Sorry” or

pre fer ably win what used to be call ed a Yard of Ale.

These days, it’s ine vitably known as a meter of beer,

but the winners don’t seem to min

“Located at the very heart of down town

Reykjavik, the walls of the English Pub

are adorned with hundreds of photo -

graphs – like an album of the city’s hist ory

just waiting to be explored over a quiet


48 WOW Power to the people



Vegamótastíg 4

101 Reykjavík

Tel: +354 511 3040

email: vegamot@vegamot.is


Very nice Vegamót

The all-in-one


This elegant but casual two floor restaurant is located in the heart of

Reykja vík on Vega mótastígur, close to Lauga vegur.

The restaurant has been popular for

many years, perhaps because of its

wonder ful quality of being an all-in-one,

rest aurant, café and bar. You‘ll never

want to leave!

Here the decor is rich on the Medi terr -

anean side and yet elegant with a jazzy ambiance.

In the summertime tables are moved outside to

the shelt er ed terrace, probably one of the hottest

places in Iceland during those short summer

months. This place is famous for their ‘fresh fish of

the day’, served all day from lunch hours. It has very

rea sonable prices for quality, portions and presentation

and guests can choose from a wide variety of

decadent dess erts – if they make it that far.

Try their excellent selection of good beers. Every

day there is a special offer on bottled beers worth

a taste.

“The restaurant has been popular for

many years, perhaps because of its

wonder ful quality of being an all-in-one,

rest aurant, café and bar. You‘ll never

want to leave!”

Issue six 49



Austurstræti 20

101 Reykjavik

Tel: +354 561 2240


Coffee house,

restaurant & night club

Hressingarskálinn is a warm place with plenty of seating and a great loca tion in downtown

Reykjavik. It’s one of the few places that open at 9 AM to serve breakfast for hungry

travelers or locals. Hressingarskálinn is a big part of Reykja vík’s history; the house was

built in 1802 and the restaurant was established in 1932. The house has hosted

Hress ingarskálinn since 1932.

Sitting down for a coffee has a magnetic

effect on Iceland’s most talented art -

ists and writers. Smokers can have a

seat on a heated patio with service all

day. Over the summer, this place really

comes alive. The yard is completely

sheltered from the wind, allowing you to enjoy food

and beverages in the bright sunlight. Thursday to

Sunday is usually packed with people from all over

the world. It’s a great place to meet strangers for

some interesting story sharing. Live bands play

on Fridays and Sat urdays, guaranteeing a crowd

before all the popular DJ’s hit the floor with party

tunes from 01:00-04:30 AM. The menu consists

of great selections and offers everything from

breakfast to a fantastic dinner. Hressingarskálinn

offers Icelandic food for curious visitors. You can

always try the traditional Icelandic meat soup. If

not, there’s lamb or the fish stew – You won’t be

disappointed. Hress ingar skálinn is stylish and

old at the same time, a history well preserved.

Check out Hress ingar skálinn for great prices and

awesome fun!

“The menu consists of great sel ect ions

and offers every thing from breakfast to a

fantastic dinner.”

50 WOW Power to the people



Laugavegur 2

101 Reykjavík

Tel: +354 777 3311


The one and only choice

for Sushi & Sticks

…so you can check it off your bucket list

Located in a loft on Laugavegur, the main shopping street, in one of Iceland’s old est buildings

(1886) is a great new restaurant with a great view and an amazing at mosphere called

Sakebarinn. In its beautiful location, surrounded by windows that look down on Austurstræti,

(an extension of Laugavegur leading to the Old Town) and up Skólavörðustígur (known for

its cafés, local boutiques and art shops with native works), Sakebarinn lies in the very heart of

downtown Reykjavík. In the winter you can see the Northern Lights from the balcony and in

the summer, the amazing summer sunsets over the harbor.

The owners of Sakebarinn have a keen

interest for the arts and crafts and a

wealth of creative assets to play with.

Although Sake barinn has a strong

foundation in pure Japanese cuisine the

current style of the restaurant proves

that the owners are not afraid to break some of the

rules. To them sushi is meant to be an art form.

Along with its handcrafted sushi, Sakebarinn

also offers a sel ection of sticks and other meat

cours es, featuring whale and horse and anything

that’s fresh and interesting that day. Why live on

an island in the middle of the Atlantic if you’re not

going take advantage of the natural fauna? Along

with the local seafood, Sakebarinn also carries

some more exotic things like octopus, just to

keep it interesting, and with a little some thing for


Opening hours: Mon-Sun 5:00 PM – 00:00

everyone. There’s love on every plate – You will feel

it with each taste.

It’s no accident that the place is named Sake bar -

inn. It does feature the country’s largest sel ection

of sake and a shot before a meal can truly enhance

the feel of real Japanese dining. It comes in a

sur prising range of flavors too, everything from

really girly fruit sake to the fire spewing alcohol

con tent of some of the more butch types; potato

sake, warm and cold sake and Japanese plum

wine. And then of course are the bottles that didn’t

make it on to the menu because no one could read

the labels and therefore no one knows what they

are. Mystery sake! Sakebarinn is a place born to

show case the talents the staff have collected over

the years work ing at their first Sushi restau rant

call ed Sushibarinn, which is located on the first

floor in the same house. A year and a wild ride later,

this sushi family has in corporated a bunch of new

and talented people with some great new recipes

and skills they didn’t know they had and didn’t even

know existed. The walls are hand painted by them,

the wine selected by them, the menu is designed

by them and the place is loved by them. They also

love to present food so their clients become part of

their love for sushi.

The look on your face is what they are aiming for,

the look of enjoyment.

“Along with the local seafood, Sakebarinn

also carries some more exotic things like

octopus, just to keep it interesting, and a

little some thing for everyone.”

Issue six 51


Tíu dropar

Le Chateaux des Dix Gouttes

Laugavegur 27

101 Reykjavík

Tel: +354 551 9380

Tíu dropar / Le Chateaux des

Dix Gouttes

Tíu dropar (Ten Drops) is a café located in the cellar of Lauga veg ur 27. This is one of the oldest cafés in Iceland

and for the last 30 years to this very day they serve freshly baked pancakes and waffles á la the grandmothers of

Iceland, with lots of whipped cream and Icelandic jam.

Ten Drops is also known for its home -

made cakes, baked from scratch

ac cord ing to old re cip es, and of course,

their hot cocoa, known by many of their

guests as ‘The Only Real Hot Cocoa on

Earth’. If you’re not in the mood for old

fashioned Icelandic good ies you can choose from

an assortment of light dishes, tea, wines and beer.

We recommend the French meat soup, a pop ular

dish and another old favorite.

Where did the café go?

Don’t be surprised if you can’t find the café after

18:00. Some thing happens around that time that

trans forms this little cellar into a French wine

room known as Le Chateaux des Dix Gouttes or the

Castle of the Ten Drops. This is a lovely place to sit

and enjoy good win es along with cheese, ham or

other light dishes for as little as 500 ISK a plate,

and don’t worry, the coffee, co coa and pancakes are

still there! Lovely French music sets the mood and

the ambiance is perfect for a deep conversation.

Guests want ing to break out in song can have their

turn after 22:00 on the weekends, as long as they

can find some one to play the antique piano given to

the café’s owner, David Bensow, by a regular.

Choose your wine

Guests can have their say on the wine list of Le

Cha te aux des Dix Gouttes and David will make

special orders to fulfill their wish es. In fact, he

wel comes any sug gestions making the wine list

one of the more, well-endowed in Reykjavík. He’s

especially interested in serving good Port to his


Intimate climate

The little wine room and café seat only 40 guests

and the mood is set in the early evening. It’s safe to

say this is just the kind of place that was missing

from the brimm ing Icelandic bar and café scene

- a perfect sett ing for a small group of friends to

reminisce over the good old days or for a first date.

Be sure to taste David’s “wine of the week” or let his

fair beer prices amaze you.

“Don’t be surprised if you can’t find the

café after 18:00. Some thing happens

around that time that trans forms this

little cellar into a French wine room

known as Le Chateaux Des dix Gouttes

or the Castle of the Ten Drops.”

Check out the ten drops twitt er feed and find both café and wine room on Facebook.

52 WOW Power to the people


Kol Restaurant

Skólavörðustígur 40

101 Reykjavík

Tel: +354 517 7474

www. kolrestaurant.is

Cocktails and feel good food

at Kol Restaurant

Be prepared for a memorable night out at Kol Restaurant.

Situated at Skólavörðustígur 40 in

Reykja vík, Kol Restaurant’s design

con cept is a mixture of warm modern

Icelandic feel with international touc -

h es and the furniture of designer Tom

Dixon playing the central role. The

rest aur ant is on two floors with an open kitchen

and a mighty bar. Both floors are divided into spac -

es with cozy leather couches and a variety of diff er -

ent table settings. Kol Restaurant centers on the

bar where the country’s best cocktail bar tenders

serve craft cocktails from the best ingredients

available and offer an ambitious cocktail list to

begin and complete the dining experience.

The selection is feel good comfort food with a

twist on classic cuisine. The menu offers a variety

of finger food, salads, fish, steaks and dess -

erts. The head chefs, Einar Hjaltason and Kári

Þor steinsson, have over 20 years of ex perience

at Reykjavik’s best restaurants as well as work

ex perience in several known restaurants in London,

for example Le Manoir Aux Quat’ Saisons, Dabbous,

Noma, 28/50 and Texture. Don’t miss out on this

brand new gem on the Reykjavik restaurant scene.

This is a great place to begin a fun evening.

“Kol Restaurant cent ers on the bar where

the coun try’s best cock tail bar tend ers

serve craft cocktails from the best in -

gredi ents available and offer an ambi -

tious cocktail list to begin and com plete

the dining exper ience.”

Kol Restaurant

Open: Monday-Friday 11:30-23:00 / Saturday-Sunday 17:30-23:00

Issue six 53


Den Danske Kro

Ingólfsstræti 3

101 Reykjavík

Tel: +354 552 0070


When in Iceland,

go Danish!

You know that Iceland used to be a Danish colony, right? Even though inde pend ence

from the Danish Crown was necessary, Icelanders still celebrate every thing Danish, so

don’t expect to meet a big Danish crowd at The Danish Pub, they are all Icelanders just

act ing like they’re Danish. Really!

This bar has made a name for itself

in the Reykjavik social scene and is

known locally as Den Danske Kro (we

all just want a reason to speak Danish

in public). This popular downtown

venue serves a remarkable selection

of beers in cluding the famous Danish white beers,

the darker more malt brews and of course the

tra ditional and almost obligatory Tuborg and Carls -

berg. If you come during the Christmas sea son you

can taste some of the renowned Christ mas brews,

very popular in demand. Just ask for Julebryg


Do as the Danes do

The owners of the Danish Pub strive to create the

true Danish atmos phere known among the Danes

(and Danish-prone Ice landers) as “hyggeligt”. If

you truly are Danish this can be your “home away

from home”. And in this spirit, check out the “house”

within the pub – an off-the -wall design in its most

literal sense!

Get carefree or “ligeglad” (lee-glaath), shoot some

darts, try the custom ary Gammel Dansk bitt ers

or catch some live football. Watch the world go by

on the outside terrace and have a taste of the tra -

ditional smørre brød (fantastic open sand wiches).

You can pre-order these delicious snacks for larger


Does this sound too tranquil?

The Danish Pub is nothing if not a place to party.

The at mos phere is easy going and you can choose

from a variety of shots and even cocktails if you’re

not in the mood for a beer (Does that ever happen?).

Reminder: If you thought you were in for a quiet

night guess again, The Danish Pub features live

music every night with special appearances and

unad vertised happenings on Wednesdays, Fridays

and Saturdays. Put your musical knowledge to the

test at the Wednesday night pop-quiz; the prizes

will surprise you.

Best local pub in Reykjavík

Wherever you‘re from you’ll want to have a great

time while vis iting Reykjavík. The people of Reykjavík

do anyway, so they flock to The Danish Pub for a

beer “en øl” dur ing the Happy Hour every day from

16-19. The place is crowded and you’re guaran teed

to meet some fun, “lee glaath” people.

“Get carefree or “ligeglad” (lee-glaath),

shoot some darts, try the custom ary

Gammel Dansk bitt ers or catch some live

football. Watch the world go by on the

outside terrace and have a taste of the

traditional smørre brød (fantastic open


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

54 WOW Power to the people


Kaldi Bar

Laugavegur 20b

101 Reykjavik

Tel: +354 581 2200


A breath of fresh air

Cool as Kaldi

Kaldi Bar is one of Iceland’s most unique bars.

An oasis in central Reykjavík.

It might not be spacious but it makes up for it with great relaxing

atmos phere in a rustic setting. Besides the congenial atmosphere,

there’s a great outside seating area in a cozy backyard. Known for

its wide collection of local micro brews both on draft and in bottl es,

Kaldi Bar is very popular among locals who check in at happy hour

to get their fill of the unfiltered Kaldi brew.

Drop by and get to know everybody, they might even give you some

good tips on how to become a local.

“Kaldi Bar is one of Iceland’s most unique

bars. An oasis in central Reykjavík. It

might not be spacious but it makes up for

it with great relaxing atmos phere in

a rustic setting.”

Opening Hours Sunday-Thursday: 12:00 noon - 01:00 am Friday & Saturday: 12:00 noon - very late / Price list Beer on draft 0.5 –

1,100 IKR Glass of vine – 1,200 IKR / Happy hour 16:00-19:00 / Beer on draft 0.5 – 650 IKR / Glass of vine – 650 IKR

Issue six 55


Kopar Restaurant

Geirsgata 3

101 Reykjavik

Tel: +354 567 2700

www.koparrestaurant.is / info@koparrestaurant.is

Kopar Restaurant by

the old harbor

Kopar Restaurant is situated by Reykjavik‘s romantic harbor,

in one of the old green fisherman‘s huts.

The fishing industry still thrives in Reykja -

vik, so the old harbor is full of life. In the

morning, fishermen go out to sea and

return later with their catch of the day.

As you stand on the pier you can feel

the history of Reykjavik and watch the

harbor life: fishing boats, fishermen, the catch, and

young kids with their rods trying their luck off the

pier. Meanwhile passersby are walking about and

enjoying life. This fresh and energetic atmosphere

of the old harbor is all part of the experience when

you dine at Kopar. Kopar is a seafood restaurant

featuring locally caught seafood and crustaceans.

They are especially proud of their crab soup, made

with Icelandic rock crab from Hvalfjordur. Kopar

offers a variety of Icelandic produce, including wild

game, although the main emphasis is seafood, the

fruit of the ocean.

Kopar‘s head chef, Ylfa, is a member of the gold

medal winning national culinary team. She pre -

pares the seafood in a unique and delicate manner,

in tent on giving you an unforgetable experience.

Delight yourself with great service and atmosphere,

delicious food and the best view in town. When

visiting Reykjavik, enjoying a night out at Kopar is

a must.

“Kopar‘s head chef, Ylfa, is a member of

the gold medal winning national culinary

team. She prepares the seafood in a

unique and delicate manner, intent on

giving you an unforgetable experience.”

Kopar Restaurant

Opening hours - Mondays to Thursday from 11:30-22:30 - Fridays from 11:30-23:30 - Saturdays from 12:00-23:30 - Sundays from 18:00-22:30

56 WOW Power to the people


7 course menu

A unique Icelandic Feast

Starts with a shot of the Icelandic national spirit “Brennivín“

Puffin – Smoked puffin with blueberries, croutons, goat cheese, beetroot

Minke whale – Minke whale with tataki

Arctic charr – “Torched“ arctic charr with parsnip purée, fennel, dill mayo

Lobster – Lobster cigar with chorizo, dates, chili jam

Reindeer – Reindeer slider with blue cheese, portobello, steamed bun

Free range icelandic lamb – Lamb with coriander, pickled red cabbage,

fennel, butternut squash purée, chimichurri

And to end on a high note ...

Icelandic Skyr – Skyr panna cotta with raspberry sorbet, white chocolate

crumble, passion foam, dulche de leche

Our kitchen is open

17.00–23.00 sun.–thu.

17.00–24.00 fri.–sat.

7.590 kr.

Sushi Samba

Þingholtsstræti 5 • 101 Reykjavík

Tel 568 6600 • sushisamba.is

taste the best of iceland ...

... in one amazing meal

icelandic gourmet feast

Starts with a shot of the infamous

Icelandic spirit Brennívín

Followed by seven delicious tapas

late night dining

Our kitchen is open

until 23:30 on weekdays

and 01:00 on weekends

Smoked puffin with blueberry “brennivín” sauce

Icelandic sea-trout with peppers-salsa

Lobster tails baked in garlic

Pan-fried line caught blue ling with lobster-sauce

Grilled Icelandic lamb Samfaina

Minke Whale with cranberry & malt-sauce

White chocolate "Skyr" mousse with passion

fruit coulis

7.590 kr.


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


American Bar

Austurstræti 8-10

101 Reykjavik

Tel: +354 571 9999

Mobile: +354 697 9003

Find us on Facebook/AmericanBarIceland

American Bar

American Bar captures the American spirit; land of the free, home of the brave with a unique selection of

beer and a simple yet delicious menu. American Bar is a must-visit when in Reykjavik.

Beer selection second to none

With more than 50 different kinds of beer you are

sure to find the beer that suits your taste. There’s

beer made in the Hawaiian Islands as well as beer

made from the famous Icelandic water.

Location and experience

Located at the heart of Reykjavik, American Bar

is easy to find. Once inside you’ll feel at home

right away, especially if you’re an American; with

decorations like football helmets (find your favorite

team) and the American flag.

Live music, live sport and the

Wheel of Fortune

Live music every night brings the right atmosphere

and if you want to shake it up a bit you can hit the

dance floor on weekends and dance into the crazy

Reykjavik night. If you are feeling lucky you can

always spin the Wheel of Fortune.

Must see that game in the English PL or the

Champions League? You will be well taken care of

at the American Bar. HD-screens and TVs in every

corner make sure that you won’t miss one second

of your favorite sport.

Inside and out—all day long

With more than 100 seats inside and a great

outdoor area on the sunny side (for those

wonderful sunny Icelandic summer days) you will

always find a seat at a good table. The outside

area is truly remarkable, overlooking Dómkirkjan

Cathedral and Alþingi (Parliament House). When

you think of central Reykjavik this is it! The menu

is simple, yet delicious. The hamburgers, ribs and

chicken wings are well-known to the locals for

being unique and tasty.

Lunch or dinner, live music or dancing, beer or

cocktails; the American Bar has it all and is truly

worth the visit!

Life is short—Drink early!

Located at the heart of Reykjavik,

American Bar is easy to find. Once inside

you’ll feel at home right away, especially

if you’re an American; with decorations

like football helmets (find your favorite

team) and the American flag.

American Bar

Open: Mondays to Thursday from 11:00 am - 1:00 am - Fri - Sat: 11:00 am - 4:30 am - Sun: 11:00 am - 1:00 am

58 WOW Power to the people

LOFTIÐ // Austurstræti 9 // Second floor


Issue six 59


Reykjavik Fish

Tryggvagata 8

101 Reykjavik

Tel: +354 578 5656

Email: info@reykjavikfish.is


Reykjavik Fish

In the heart of Reykjavík, right next to the old harbor, you can find Reykjavík

Fish, a new restaurant offering ultra-fresh seafood. Ultra-fresh means that

the fish you order today was swimming last night.

The menu at Reykjavik Fish is structured

to provide hearty portions of quality sea

food at very reasonable prices. The crown

jewel of the menu is the spelt battered

fish and chips; crispy and healthy at the

same time, a perfect meal with a nice Icelandic beer.

If you’re up for something a little more traditional

Icelandic try the “Plokkari” (plucked fish). Their

recipe is the same as used in the old days except

with fresh fish of course.

Perfect location and Icelandic seafood at its

finest. Reykjavik Fish has plenty of seats and

wel comes everyone, solo travelers and big groups

alike. When you come to Reykjavík and would like

to try a nice fish and chips just look for the big red


Perfect location and Icelandic seafood

at its finest. Reykjavik Fish has plenty

of seats and wel comes everyone, solo

travelers and big groups alike. When you

come to Reykjavík and would like to try

a nice fish and chips just look for the big

red door.

Reykjavik Fish

Open from 11 AM to 10:30 PM

60 WOW Power to the people

Issue six 61








San Fransisco

Washington, D.C.

Los Angeles


Canary Islands




Following the successful launch of our

transatlantic routes to Boston and

Washington, D.C. / Baltimore WOW air

will start flying to California starting

the summer of 2016.

To fly our guests safely and

efficiently across the Atlantic

Ocean and all the way across the

United States of America, WOW air

will operate three new Airbus

A330-300 aircraft, which are

economical mid-size wide-body

jets with state of the art technology.

62 WOW Power to the people


The A330 is the most cost efficient

aircraft in its class.

The A330 has a smaller environmental

footprint than similar sized aircraft.

The A330 has low noise and emission levels

for a cleaner and quieter flight.

With up to 11,750 km range that covers the entire

northern hemisphere when flown from Iceland,

the A330 can get us all the way to North America

and Asia, North Africa and a part of South America.

The A330-300 will be the biggest jets ever

used in commercial flights from Iceland.






WOW air’s A330-300 jets will have seats for

342-350 guests in a single class configuration.

WOW air’s A330-300 were manufactured in

2015 and 2010 and have a state of the art

technology when it comes to navigation.

The A330 aircraft are among the most popular

aircraft for many of the aviation industry’s

leaders around the world.


Issue six 63

Warm and cozy

Holiday season

and high


Winter is a time to disappear into warm cozy places

with friends and loved ones. Dream of Aurora Borealis

and hope to avoid the polar bears and the crazy

Vikings. Kári Gunnlaugsson at eatsandsleeps.is has

some recommendations for you.

Austurvegi 2

800 Selfoss, Iceland


Tryggvaskáli is a restaurant in Selfoss, South

Iceland perfectly situated at about 45 minutes’

drive from Reykjavik with great spots for Aurora

viewing in all directions. Great chefs along with

their friendly staff are sure to give you a real

gourmet experience in this truly wonderful place.

Make this your outside-of-the-city-stop for a fine

dining experience before hunting for the

Northern Lights.


by Kári Gunnlaugsson

Photos: Courtesy of respective restaurants

Aðalstræti 2

101 Reykjavík


Tucked away in a basement in the heart of the

city is this quality restaurant. If langoustine laced

with foi gras followed by a great steak and a

collection of gin impressive enough to take down

an empire within original stone walls sounds

good then this is your place. A great place to wine

and dine the evening away with good friends

or a special someone.


64 WOW Power to the people

Matur og drykkur

Probably the most original place in town and in a good way

too. A menu based on a classic Icelandic cookbook “Matur

og drykkur” (Food and drink), with some very cool chefs

bringing it all back home and at the same time making both

their teachers and grannies proud. Here’s the only place in

the world where the menu just isn’t supposed to sound as

good as the food actually is; a real Icelandic experience.

Grandagarður 2

101 Reykjavík


Skólavörðustíg 14

101 Reykjavík

Vesturgötu 2a

Grófartorg - 101 Reykjavík

Fish Company

A cozy little place situated under a bridge. A fun menu

takes you around Iceland or around the world; as you like.

You might start feeling that you are in a novel or a movie

here but rest assured this is real and you’re in good hands.

These are warm dark surroundings set up for a

romantic evening.



A sweet place halfway down the

road from the big church. Seafood is

really good and their combinations

will hit spot. Take your group here

and ask for the downstairs which

should do the trick for a good

night out. You are also on top of

the Reykjavik bar trail so get your

bellyful and then plan that crossing

of the Rubicon.


Issue six 65

The Vatnajökull region

Land of Ice

and Fire

In the realm of Vatnajökull you

find the real reason why Iceland

got its name. The area is dominated

by Vatnajökull Glacier which is the

largest glacier in the world outside

the arctic regions. There you

also find some of Iceland’s most

popular tourist attractions such

as the spectacular Jökulsárlón

Glacier Lagoon, Skaftafell, which

is the jewel in Vatnajökull National

Park and Hvannadalshnúkur, the

highest peak in Iceland and a popular


Photos: Þorvarður Árnason

The Vatnajökull region is filled with con -

trast in the nature with its black beaches,

white glaciers, red volcanoes, green birch forest

and blue Atlantic Ocean. Serenity, energy and

forces of na ture combine to make a visit to the

realm of Vatna jökull a never-to-be-forgotten


Wild at heart

Wildlife is rich in the Vatnajökull region with

thousands of migrating birds such as puffins

and the arctic tern passing through, especially in

the spring and summer. Herds of reindeers are

also a common sight in the region and if you’re

lucky you’ll spot a seal at Jökulsárlón Lagoon or

an arctic fox running through the land. You will

also find dozens of companies that offer all sorts

of activities year round, diverse accommodation

and great restaurants with local food.

Winter paradise

The Vatnajökull region is in the southeast of

Iceland spanning over 200 km of the Ring Road

from Lómagnúpur in the west to Hvalnes in the

east. It covers the accessible southern side

of the Vatnajökull glaciers and photography

en thusiasts should find the Vatnajökull region

particularly delightful as it provides countless

magnificent views of the glaciers and mountains

in daylight and also after dusk settles especially

when the Aurora Borealis light up the sky.

Have you ever imagined looking inside a

glacier? Winter in the Vatnajökull region offers

the opportunity of such unique and memora ble

experience! A trip into the ice caves of Vatna -

jökull’s southern crawling glaciers is an adventure

that no one should miss. The col ors and refracted

light in the ice reveal a world of true wonders,

providing a thrill for any photo graphy enthusiast.

Local guides who know every crevice of the glacier

seek out caves formed duri ng the winter months

and offer tours. Travel ers should only go on such

trips under their guidance.

Höfn – culture and cuisine!

There is one town in the area—Höfn, a lively

fishing town with a population of 1800. Höfn is

known for being the lobster capital of Iceland

where you can find lovely restaurants offering

this precious product as well as other local spe -

cialties year round. Höfn is also a great base for

exploring the magnificent Vatnajökull National

Park... and be sure to drop by at the park’s

Visitor Center in the beautiful historical building,

Gamlabúð, by the harbor.

Activity, accommodation and restaurants

Much of the activity in the realm of Vatnajökull

revolves around the glacier and the nature

around it. You can choose between glacier walks

and ice climbing, a thrilling snowmobile ride

Have you ever

imagined looking

inside a glacier? Winter

in the Vatnajökull

region offers the

opportunity of such

unique and memorable


on Vatnajökull or a

comfortable tour

of Europe’s largest

ice cap in a super

jeep. The area also

offers ATV tours and

geothermal baths

at Hoffell, reindeer

excursions, a visit to

the Thorbergssetur

Cultural Museum,

a local mineral stone collection, the local hand -

icraft store, the petting zoo at Hólmur and much


There are various possibilities in accom mo -

dations to suit different needs and you’ll be

sure to find a warm welcome by knowledgeable

hosts. Several restaurants are in the area

and most of them offer local food made in the

Vatnajökull region. Be sure to ask for the local

beer Vatnajökull, which is brewed from icebergs

in Jökulsárlón and the local herb arctic thyme.

Accessible year round

The Vatnajökull region is well accessible the

whole year round due to good weather conditions

and frequent transportation. Eagle Air has a

daily flight from Reykjavík to Höfn Airport during

the summer and five days a week during other

seasons. Buses between Reykjavík and Höfn

(Strætó) are scheduled daily throughout the

year. There are also three car rental companies

in Höfn. v

For more information check out


66 WOW Power to the people

Issue six 67

68 WOW Power to the people

Take a hike

Love, passion and more

in Reykjavík

When you take a walk you have a choice. You can empty your mind and think

about nothing; you can also let your mind dwell on the past. A third option is to

take a walk and absorb stories and places of Reykjavík spiced with love and

passion and other good things, and that‘s what we are about to do.

Text and photos by Einar Skulason

The Hljómskálagarður Park

We start in the women’s corner in

the sculpture world of Reykjavík in the

Hljómskálagarður Park. It was decided

to dedicate this part of the park to the

memory of six female sculpture pioneers

in Iceland. Let’s take a better look at two

of them: Gunnfríður Jónsdóttir was from

Blönduós in the north of Iceland. She

was educated as a seamstress but had

a dream to become a sculptress and at

the age of 41 she finally made her first

statue. After that she never looked back,

making 35 statues in her career. One of the

statues, Homeward Bound (Á heimleið) is

from 1947. Many years earlier Gunnfríður

had witnessed a very homesick girl whose

image had stayed with her and was the

inspiration behind the statue.

Nína Sæmundsson was the youngest

of 15 siblings in a poor family who got

to visit her aunt in Copenhagen and was

coincidentally given a lump of clay to work

with; from then her future was set. She

lived and worked in Rome, Florence, Paris,

New York and Los Angeles and sculpted

the Mermaid in 1948 in her Hollywood

studio. In 1959, an earlier version of the

Mermaid was purchased by the city of

Reykjavík and put into the Reykjavík pond

near the bank. Not everyone agreed with

the location and many voiced their anger

in the media. A few months later the

sta tue was blown up in the middle of the

night and until this day it is not known who

was responsible for the vandalism. Let’s

hope that this one will be left in peace.

Hólavallagarður Cemetery at


When you walk around the cemetery and

read the descriptions on the tombstones

you find signs of memories, loss and,

most importantly, love. Hólavallagarður

was inaugurated in 1838 and served

the citizens of Reykjavík, but became

full around 1932. Since then two other

ceme teries have been built. The number

of known graves in Hólavallagarður is

close to eleven thousand. The author

Þórbergur Þórðarson (1889-1974) named

the current Suðurgata “Kærlig heds -

stígur” (Love Street) in one of his books

and described how couples took their

rom antic walks past the cemetery. Let’s

walk Love Street and visit a tree.

The sycamore maple tree in


Have you ever asked yourself if it’s possi -

ble to love a tree? When the merchant

Nicolaj Bjarnason planted this sycamore

maple tree (Acer pseudoplatanus) in 1917

it was probably just a simple attempt

to make his garden look better. Little

Have you ever

asked yourself if

it’s possi ble to love

a tree? When the

merchant Nicolaj

Bjarnason planted

this sycamore

maple tree (Acer

pseudoplatanus) in

1917 it was probably

just a simple

attempt to make his

garden look better.

did he know … As the tree grew bigger it

started earning admiration, and in 1994

it was no surprise to tree lovers when it

was selected Tree of the Year in Iceland

by the Icelandic Forestry Association.

Nicolaj’s garden is long gone but the tree

stays in the corner of the parking lot. A

few years earlier in 1989 the owner of

the site wanted to build a house in the

parking lot and of course the architects

designed a rounded shape of the corner

of the building next to the lovely tree to

make space for it. Nothing has been built

though, at least not yet.

Next, we walk past the parliament

where daily demonstrations took

place in January 2009 and head up

Skólavörðustígur to visit the past.

Issue six 69

Café Mokka

Some love the old times and complain

when things change. If you are one of

those, Café Mokka will welcome you

with open arms and protect you from the

ever changing times. The interior hasn’t

changed in Café Mokka since 1958. Go

there and write that poem you should have

written ages ago. Have a hot chocolate and

a waffle and put whipped cream on both.

Live a little.

offers the best atmosphere. When you go

in the lavatory on the first floor you are in

for an appreciated surprise, at least if you

are a Star Wars fan.


Next door to Babalu is a small photo

gallery. Ari, the gallery’s owner was a

news reporter in his previous life but grew

weary of that and decided to follow his

passion and work on photographs. If you

ask him he will probably say he doesn’t

have a passion for photography but his

photos of the daily life in Reykjavík are the

best we’ve seen. The one with the old lady

walking past the vulgar graffiti statement

is classic.

Love Balls at Kaffibrennslan Café

For those of you who are in the endless

and sometimes agitating search

for love, look no further! Go into the

Kaffibrennslan Café and ask for an

“ástarpungur” [au:sdarphYnga] (love ball).

They taste good and make you instantly

happy. So go ahead, make your day, these

little bundles of joy are yours for only

290 ISK a piece. This kind of lovemaking

should be practic ed sparsely since an

excess eating of love balls won’t do your

heart any favors in the long run, but a walk

up Klappar stígur will do you good now.

Babalu Café

The owner of Babalu Café, Glenn, is

from New York and moved to Iceland in

2004 to marry his Icelandic boyfriend,

Þórhallur. Obviously he moved to Iceland

for love, right? There is always an easy

going and pleasant atmosphere at Babalu

Café. Probably nothing in there comes

from IKEA, it looks more like Glenn has

been shopping at Góði hirðirinn (Good

Shepherd), a second hand household store

in town. Babalu may not be Reykjavik’s

most posh café but it most definitely

Hotel Holt

If I you feel exceptionally full of yourself

you I might dress up in black and white

(sort of Dean Martin style) and head

for Hotel Holt, one of Reykjavik’s most

renowned hotel. Walk into the lobby,

slowly because there are beautiful

paintings gracing the walls. The hotel

has the largest private collection of

Icelandic paintings in Iceland (or in the

world for that matter) and boasts of

more than 600, many of them by the old

masters. If you continue straight into the

lounge you will see the gem-drawings

of common people made by our beloved

Kjarval (1885-1972). Look closer and

compare the drawings and you will

realize that he liked some of his models

more than the others. However, his real

passion was nature. He spent weeks

and weeks every summer painting the

landscape, not least, the lava. He loved

everything about nature and preferred

not having people around when he had

these rendezvous.

If you love whisky, like Dean Martin did,

the selection of the bar in Hotel Holt is

one of the best in Iceland. v

When you take a

walk you have a

choice. You can

empty your mind

and think about

nothing; you can

also let your mind

dwell on the past.

A third option is

to take a walk and

absorb stories and

places of Reykjavík.

This Reykjavik walk is just one of the available walks

and hikes in the Wapp - Walking app, available for free

in Playstore and Appstore.

70 WOW Power to the people

ICEWEAR offers an extensive

collection of clothing for the

outdoor enthusiast, ranging

from high-tech down jackets

to unique wool products made

in Iceland. We strive to offer

colors and cuts in line with the

latest trends, quality materials

and competitive prices.

icelandic design

since 1972


Issue six 71

The Nordic House in Reykjavík

One of

Alvar Aalto’s gems

The Finnish modernist architect Alvar Aalto designed the Nordic

House in Reykjavík. The building stands by a blue pond and under

the blue sky that is a blue rooftop like the dot over the “i.” The ultramarine

blue ceramic rooftop takes its shape from the mountain row

in the background. It’s truly a work of art.

by Svava Jónsdóttir

Photos: Kristinn Magnússon

The Nordic House is like a gem near the center of the capital

of Iceland. From the windows you can enjoy a beautiful

scene showing part of the residential area in old Reykjavik, Hall -

grímskirkja Church which stands like a guardian, protecting the

city, the mountains in the background and of course, a wide open

and largely unobstructured view of the sky. Sometimes you can see

some geese near the house or white swans swimming in the little

pond in front of it.

The world within

The Nordic House in Reykjavík opened in 1968. It is one of Finnish

modernist architect Alvar Aalto’s designs and is a testament to his

extraordinary ability to harmonize carefully crafted constructions

with the physical environment.

Inside, the house is bright and modern, yet stylistically classic. In

the central space, daylight comes through a dome-shaped skylight

that is spread over the ceiling. From the central space you can go to

the concert/conference auditorium, the

While the Nordic office wing, the house’s restaurant and

House stands like a the library that’s like a world of its own.

Nordic fortress near the The goal has always been to foster

University of Iceland and and support cultural connections

the Reykjavik Domestic be tween Iceland and the other Nordic

Airport, there’s a lot of countries and in the library there are

open, undeveloped area only books in the Nordic languages

around it including a by Nordic authors as well as various

pond nearby.

magazines from the Nordic countries.

No, they don’t forget the children—in

the library there is the Children’s Library Grotto where the young

ones can find novels and technical books in all the seven Nordic

languages: Icelandic, Faroese, Danish, Norwegian, Swedish, Finnish

and Greenlandic.

Aalto who?

Alvar Aalto (1898-1976), who was one of the most noted architects

of the 20th century didn’t just design the house. All installed

furnishings and lamps in the Nordic House, as well as most of the

furniture, are his designs. Even though the cultural institution was

opened in 1968, 47 years ago, it is quite modern and this can be

said about the furniture as well.

There’s a shop inside the Nordic House where you can buy Nordic

design. And the restaurant, Aalto Bistro, that emphasizes unusual

ingredients while “flirting with Scandinavian cuisine with a Central-

European influence.” Definitely worth a try.

72 WOW Power to the people

Inside and out

You can enjoy this magnificent architectural showpiece both inside

and out. While the Nordic House stands like a Nordic fortress near the

University of Iceland and the Reykjavik Domestic Airport, there’s a lot of

open, undeveloped area around it including a pond nearby. The pond and

grounds adjacent to it are all part of a nature reserve, set in the midst of

Reykjavik’s city center that serves as home to a variety of birds. Yes, the

Nordic House, the beautiful nature and the vibrant city center; there’s

lots to enjoy! v

Osushi is a unique rest aurant in Iceland. The met hod

of dining involves snatching small plates from a

conveyor belt. Pricing is distinguished by the color

and pattern of the plate – most range between

230 - 440 ISK.

Everything off the con vey or belt is tasty and if you

don’t really fancy sushi, you can instead choose for

ex ample teriyaki chicken, noodle salad, tempura

and desserts.

The vibe in Osushi is friendly and relaxed. The

restaurant is located almost next door to Althingi

(the parliament) which is in the heart of the city.








Pósthússtræti 13 / Borgartúni 29 / Reykjavíkurvegur 60 HF.

Tel: 561 0562 / www.osushi.is


Issue six 73

WOW design

Lopapeysa - The Icelandic sweater

by Gerður Harðardóttir Photo: Courtesy of Farmers Market

The Icelandic sheep is one tough cookie, having, since the Viking

settle ment of Iceland in the second half of the 9th century, had to

adjust to and survive the volatile and harsh climate that frequently

ravages the North Atlantic.

The fleece of Iceland’s robust and

stocky sheep is dual-coated and

a key factor in its ability to survive the

extreme weather conditions in Iceland.

“Þel” (pronounced thel) are the soft warm

insulating fibers next to the body of the

sheep whereas “tog” are the water repellent

fibers on the surface. Processed

together þel and tog make up “lopi,” a type

of knitting wool that is unique to Iceland.

The wool from the Icelandic sheep is

exceptionally warm (even when wet) and

has kept us warm and comfy throughout

the centuries.

And then came the sweaters

The Icelandic sweater, “lopapeysa,”

(lopi meaning wool and peysa meaning

sweater) with its distinctive circular

yoke pattern, has become quite iconic

for Iceland. But if you thought that the

Icelandic sweater as you know it has been

worn by Icelandic farmers and fishermen

through the centuries, with patterns being

handed down from mothers to daughters

like a treasured family heirloom, you are

dead wrong, for it wasn’t until the 1950s

that the Icelandic sweater was born.

The origins of the sweater is shrouded in

mystery although it has been suggested

that its design is based on the national

costume of Greenland or Swedish textile

patterns popular in mid-20th century’s

women’s magazines. What is known

for sure is that Icelandic women began

knitting the distinctive wool sweaters

around the time of the World War II when

yarn was scarce in Iceland.

A nation’s symbol

In the 1960s, the export of the Icelandic

sweaters developed into a lucrative

business and the Icelandic “lopapeysa”

became symbolic for Iceland, its heritage

and culture. In the last few years, the

Icelandic sweater has become quite the

fashion item especially after the economic

meltdown in 2008 when it became a

symbol of Iceland’s identity during this

time when morale was at a low ebb. During

these tough times, a strong urge to return

to our roots, heritage and traditional

values swept the country, which resulted

in many Icelanders starting to handcraft

products of local materials such as the

Icelandic wool.

Redesigning the Icelandic sweater

The fact that the sweaters have become

fashion items of late, even worn with

dresses on special occasions, can largely

be credited to designer Bergþóra Magnús -

dóttir of Farmers Market who infuses in

the hugely popular fashion brand natural

materials, traditions and designs with

fashionable and trendy designer items.

The origins of the

sweater is shrouded

in mystery

although it has

been suggested

that its design

is based on the

national costume

of Greenland or

Swedish textile

patterns popular

in mid-20th

century’s women’s


Today shops catering to tourists offer

various versions of the Icelandic sweater

in different shapes and sizes. You will be

able to find sweaters of different colors

although the traditional colors of the

Icelandic sheep (black, brown, white and

gray) probably remain the most popular.

The sweaters are available in a myriad

of patterns, with or without zippers or

buttons, with and without hoods and as

vests or ponchos. In many shops you will

be able to pick up a sweater accompanied

with info on the woman who actually

knitted it. Yes, to some, the Icelandic

sweater is, and will only be, truly authentic

Icelandic if it’s hand-knitted by an Icelandic

woman in Iceland. v

74 WOW Power to the people





Save both time and effort by using the Duty Free Express service.

Discounts are available regardless of what passport you may hold

or which country you are flying to or from.

Order online and pick up at the Duty Free Store.


Issue six 75

WOW entrepreneurs

The future of

banking is now

Recession what? Like many other countries, Iceland felt the fallout from the economic

crisis that sent shockwaves around the globe in 2008; however resilience

seems to be encoded into the genes of most Icelanders. From the chaos that

ensued, one of Iceland’s most interesting startups and now leading innovative

companies came into existence.

by Marvin Lee Dupree

Photos: Courtesy of Meniga

The company in question is Meniga,

the brainchild of its CEO, Georg Lúðvíksson.

I had a brief chat with him about

this innovative company and Meniga’s

phenomenal growth.

Meet Meniga

Meniga is one of the numerous companies

that sprung forth out of the financial crisis

and large swaths of its talented ranks

came from the collapsed banking industry.

With its initial launch in Iceland back in

2009, Meniga was one of the first personal

finance management solutions within

Europe and attracted plenty of satisfied

customers from the beginning. As of today

its solutions can be found in 16 different

countries. With a customer base of over 25

million, it has offices in Reykjavík, Stock -

h olm and London.

Today, Meniga’s software powers personal

finance management solutions in

online banks of many of Europe’s lead ing

banks, such as Commerzbank, Skandia -

banken, ING Direct in Spain, Santan der,

Standard Bank and many more. Ever

since its foundation, Meniga has received

num erous accolades, with its newest

recognition being prestigious awards such

as the Finovate Best of the Show 2015,

where they beat a large pool of inter na -

tional competitors, as well as receiving the

award for the best technical solution in the

category of business and commerce at the

UN World Summit Award.

Technology can improve lives

As is customary one cannot help but be

curious about the genesis and the philoso -

phy of a trailblazing company such as

Meniga, so I asked George to explain how

it came into being. “From a young age I was

the one advising friends and family on all

sorts of money issues, such as what kind

of mortgage to take and how to think about

it. I also believed I could build much better

money management software than what

was available 10 or 15 years ago. I’m an

entrepreneur at heart and Meniga is the

3rd company I’ve started. Of the three it is

the one closest to my heart because I have

always been passionate about helping

people manage their money. To me this is

Today, Meniga’s

software powers

personal finance


solutions in

online banks of

many of Europe’s

leading banks.

one of the major issues of our time as way

too many people in every country lower

the quality of their lives needlessly by

overspending or worrying about money—

and this is almost independent of their


“Money worries are one of the major

causes of divorce, depression and

absenteeism from work.” Adding to this

Georg says: “I was living in Boston for my

MBA back in 2006-2008. At the time a

new generation of money management

solutions emerged in the USA with comp -

anies such as Mint.com and Wesabe.com.

I immediately knew I wanted to be part

of this revolution and when I moved back

to Iceland for family reasons in the fall

The company in question is Meniga,

the brainchild of its CEO, Georg


76 WOW Power to the people

of 2008 I came with the idea of starting a

Europe-focused personal finance software


Innovation is recession proof

During our chat, Georg explained to me

how the financial crisis helped pave the

way for Meniga because the new banks,

which had arisen from the ashes of the

previous ones, were under pressure to

give relief to Icelandic households that

had seen a significant dip in purchasing

power. One of them, Íslandsbanki, decided

to trust Meniga, even though they were

just a small startup, and as a result

became one of the first banks in Europe

to offer comprehensive personal finance

management solutions as part of its

online bank platform in 2009. George also

explains how the atmosphere after the

financial crisis was just right for Meniga:

“Many of Iceland’s best software developers

who had been working for the banks

were now looking for new opportunities

and most of our initial team came from

the banks, including Meniga’s CTO and cofounder,

who had been leading the development

of the online banking of Ice land’s

largest bank, Landsbankinn.”

A shift in financial habits in


It is apparent that both personal finance

and finance literacy are crucial for increasing

people’s quality of life—and it

is something Georg is passionate about.

Naturally, I had to ask him if he thinks that

there had been a paradigm shift in these

matters within the country because of

the financial crash: “Too many people live

beyond their means and have effectively no

rainy-day fund. If we can help only a small

share of our users improve their financial

Meniga’s software

gives its users a better

oversight of their

spending and income.

If you want

to make your

personal finances


and attractive

and gain more

oversight, look

no further.

behavior we are making quite a difference.

Iceland is probably not very different from

other countries but I believe financial

behavior and literacy have improved in

recent years and that Meniga has been a

part of that improvement. When we survey

our users in Iceland, almost half say they

have improved their financial behavior

since they started using our solutions. This

is something we are very proud of.”

The nuts and bolts of it all

Of course, these goals are all fine and

dandy but to a layperson this might seem

idea listic, so I inquired from Georg how

his company actually achieves these lofty

aspirations: “Meniga’s way to market is to

sell to and partner with banks to help them

expand their online and mobile banking

to include personal finance management

functions and various personalized insights

as well as to advise people on how

they can improve their financial behavior

and become smarter consumers. People’s

data; spending history, financial behavior

and economic situation, play a key role

in being able to provide a personalized

and compelling user experience. We pride

ourselves on our core competence which

is analyzing data and presenting it to

users in an intuitive way. Furthermore,

transparency in how data is being used

and making sure people’s privacy is always

respected are key priorities of Meniga.”

If you want to make your personal

finances easy and attractive and gain more

oversight, look no further. Meniga will guide

you into the future of personalized banking

and finance, check it out at

www.meniga.com. v

Issue six 77




San Fransisco

Washington, D.C.

Los Angeles





78 WOW Power to the people











Milan Salzburg


Barcelona Nice






Gran Canaria

Issue six 79

Destination Canada

Montreal on a roll

Come spring, bikers emerge from the cold Montreal winter like so many

butterflies from cocoons. They’re commuters, leisure bikers, and tourists.

The appeal is obvious with the summer temperature generally in the 70s

(21°C), although it can be humid and the occasional summer day can

reach into the high 90s (32°C).

by Judy Colbert

Photos: Thinkstockphotos.com

It’s easy to ride around Montreal, with more

than 600 kilometers (almost 400 miles) of bike

paths in and around the city. With fairly flat terrain

that lets you go from straight to winding, parkland to

city streets, and scenic to historic, courteous motor

vehicle drivers and numerous bike rental facilities

there’s also plenty to see and do along the way.

Look around and you’ll realize that Quebec’s Route

Verte is the longest cycling path in North America

and the Trans Canada Trail is the world’s longest

recreational trail. Montreal is well-recognized as

one of the most bike-friendly cities in the world.

The Les Berge Cycle Path

A favorite bike route is a waterfront look that starts

at Atwater Market (a great indoor/outdoor market,

Montreal, particularly along the

biking routes. Note that you can take

the metro rapid transit system to

your starting point because bikes are

welcome in the last car of each train.

If you want something more

organized, check the Montreal

activities calendar for bicycle events.

They include a Go Bike Montreal

Festival (from late May to early June)

that has something for locals and

visitors of all skill levels and ages,

including short films about urban

biking, a fashion show, and even a

Ferris wheel. Bike-in parties are held

along the Lachine Canal, a Bicycle

Montreal is well-recognized

as one of

the most bikefriendly

cities in

the world.

London. With 5,360 three-speed bikes

located at 452 docking stations around

town, you’re almost always within a

few blocks of a station.

Rates for 2015 were C$2.75 for a

one-way pass, C$5 for a 24-hour pass,

and C$12 for a 72-hour pass. Each one

of these options is based on 30-minute

use, with extra fees charged after that

amount of time. In other words, schedule

your trips to be under 30 minutes by

places you want to see or visit or have

a coffee/lunch break near where you

can turn in your bike. After turning it

in wait about two minutes until the

system has reset and you can use your

open at 7 am daily, with food stalls to stock up for

your energy boosts) and offers a number of options

depending on your stamina and available time. The

21-kilometer Les Berge Cycle Path parallels the St.

Lawrence River with views of the Lachine Rapids

and Saint-Pierre Lake. You’ll be joined by inline

skaters and, in the winter, cross-country skiers. At

the end of the path, you can detour to the Rene-

Levesque Park with picnic tables and resident

birds, including great herons. Then hookup with the

Lachine Canal path going north and head back into

central Montreal.

Film Festival, and a Grand Prix des Cyclistes in

September. The basic premise is promoting the

idea of touring the city via bicycle.

Rent a bike

As you may not be traveling with your bike, you

have several rental options. The biggest is Bixi

Montreal (a portmanteau of bike and taxi –

montreal.bixi.com). The company started renting

bikes in Montreal in 2009 and now has branches

in 17 cities and universities including Boston and

bike (or another one) again; a little convoluted,

but workable. The rental season runs from April

through November, depending on the weather.

Other companies rent by the day or longer (or

shorter) so you don’t have to worry about docking

your bike every 30 minutes. Some also offer guided

tours of various lengths and difficulty. Whether

your tastes are pastoral or urban, when you want

to combine sightseeing with enjoying nature

and meeting new best friends forever, try biking

through Montreal. v

The cycling scene

Check the Velo Montreal website for suggested

bike routes, whether you just want to find an easy

way to get from Point A to Point B or do a lot of

exploring. No need to worry about stopping for

lunch or a snack because food trucks abound in

Bring your bike to Montreal or rent one when you get there. WOW air starts flying to Canada in May

2016 offering four flights a week all year round.

Cool Canada awaits.

Find cheap flights to Montreal from Europe at wowair.com.

80 WOW Power to the people

Issue six 81

Destination Canada

12 reasons to visit Toronto

There is no place in the world like Toronto, a city chock-full of unexpected and unique experiences.

Sure, comparison to the world’s other great cities can be flattering, but there really are great things to

do, see and eat here.

by Cindy-Lou Dale

Photos: Thinkstockphotos.com and Cindy-Lou Dale

1. Toronto is home to Casa Loma,

North America’s only real, fullsize

castle, which spreads out over

98 rooms, complete with medieval

turrets, gorgeous gardens and secret


2. Feel the heat at North America’s

biggest Caribbean festival. The Scotia -

bank Caribbean Carnival Toronto is a

grand-scale shindig that first hit the

The puck stops here

for hockey fans. The

Hockey Hall of Fame

features the world’s

largest collection of

hockey memorabilia,

including the Stanley


For more information on

Toronto check out


streets in 1967 and combines wildly

crea tive and colorful costumes with

soca, calypso, salsa, steel-pan and

reggae artists along a 1½ km route.

3. The Fairmont Royal York was the

first hotel in the world to make its

own honey on its rooftop. Now its

apiary is home to 300,000 bees that

produce more than 363 kg of honey


4. Bono, Madonna and George

Clooney have attended TIFF (Toronto

International Film Festival). The annual

celebration attracts more than

400,000 moviegoers to films from

over 65 countries. It’s North Ameri ca’s

most important film festival.

82 WOW Power to the people

5. Take yourself out to the ball game. The Blue Jays

are Canada’s only Major League Baseball team.

Tour the Rogers Centre, home to the world’s first

fully retractable roof. An awe-inspiring feat of

engineering, it opens or closes in 20 minutes and is

31 floors high.

6. The puck stops here for hockey fans. The Hockey

Hall of Fame features the world’s largest collection

of hockey memorabilia, including the Stanley Cup.

7. Want your thrills on a large scale? Meet

Leviathan, the country’s fastest (148 km/h),

steepest (80-degree drop), tallest (93.3 m) roller

coaster at Canada’s Wonderland.

8. Welcome to a Land Down Under. PATH is the

world’s largest underground walkway, linking 28 km

of shopping, restaurants, services and businesses,

and encompassing approximately 1,200 stores.

9. The Gardiner Museum of Ceramic Art is the only

museum in North America that focuses exclusively

on ceramics.

10. Ride the red rocket, as streetcars are known

in Toronto. Hop on board the 501 Queen streetcar,

anytime day or night, and enjoy the 24.8 km ride—

the longest route in North America.

11. Go fish. On Toronto’s doorstep you can relax

with a pole in hand and hope for a great catch.

The salmon—especially Chinook and Atlantic

varieties—are abundant in the Credit River with

prime spots including Forks of the Credit Provincial

Park near Brampton and the harbor in Port Credit

in Mississauga, where the river empties into Lake

Ontario. It’s urban fishing at its best.

12. Sole-searching begins here. The Bata Shoe

Museum boasts the world’s most comprehensive

collection of footwear and related artefacts.

Before you leave, be sure to take in Kensington

Market—a story of immigrants and the best place

to experience the city’s animated multiculturalism;

a neighborhood alive with street art; scruffy alleys

and independent stores, bars and food stalls with

food from around the world.

There are of course many more great reasons to visit Toronto and here’s one: WOW air now

offers cheap flights to Toronto and will start flying there in May 2016.

Find a cheap flight to Toronto from Europe at wowair.com.

Issue six 83

New destination


– nature and nightlife

WOW air is adding the beautiful city of Stockholm to its schedule in May 2016. Built on 14 islands,

Stockholm is often called Venice of the North and the city is filled with great spots to enjoy whether

you’re looking for culture, nature or nightlife.

by Halldora Hagalin

Photos: Thinkstockphotos and Stockholm Mediabank

84 WOW Power to the people

With over 750 years of history, 70 museums

and rich cultural life, Stockholm will surely

deliver in the cultural department but right now we

want to tell you about the nature and nightlife of

this great city.

The nature

The green island of Djurgården is home to some of

the city’s most popular attractions. It is set in the very

heart of Stockholm and was once the royal hunting

ground but now it is a protected nature reserve.

At 279 hectares (for only 800 inhabitants), Stock -

holm’s green belt is larger than London’s Hyde Park

and Kensington Gardens combined. The park is

divided into two main sections. To the west, the

area closest to the city, are the very well-tended

public gardens, a number of restaurants, the

Gröna Lund Amusement Park, the Vasa Museum

(which holds the world’s only entirely preserved

17th century ship), the gigantic Skansen Open-Air

Muse um and Zoo, and a naval shipyard. And let’s

not forget the Junibacken which is a museum de -

voted to Swedish children’s literature, but especially

Astrid Lindgren—can you say Pippi Long stock -

ing, anyone? Outside the building is a bronze statue

of Lindgren. The art direction and images for the

interior design were made by Swedish artist Marit

Törnqvist, who had previously made illustrations for

more recent versions of Lindgren’s books.

At the other end, stretching a long way into the

Stockholm Bay, the eastern part of Djurgården is

home to more traditional historic monuments. For

example it is home to the art museum Walde -

marsudde and the Rosendal Palace. Djur gården

also features sunken lanes, forests and marsh -

lands where birds thrive. A bucolic ambience at

just ten minutes by bike from the center of the city.

Sooner or later, all visits to Stockholm must include

the Island of Djurgården. Simply take the Djur gården

tram from wherever you are in Stockholm and


The nightlife

Of course Stockholm offers you a fun night on the

town with blossoming nightlife full of laughter, joy

and dance and the area of Södermalm in addition

to the Stureplan Square is famed in Stockholm for

its clubs and bars.

The local’s advice is to enter a club or bar early,

before midnight, because after twelve o’clock the

lines tend to be slow. Do not forget to bring your ID!

Here are the top three nightclubs according to

popular clubbing-website:

Patricia is a party boat with five indoor bars in

addition to two bars out on the deck during the

approach with classic architecture. The audience is

an urban mix of people between 23 and 30 years.

Club Berns or Berns Salonger has been a Stock -

holm landmark since 1863. Situated in the heart

of the city, Berns Salonger features an elegant

boutique hotel, conference and banqueting facilities,

a vibrant Asian restaurant and summer

terrace, popular bars, the nightclub, Gallery 2.35:1,

and probably the best concert venue in town—all

under one roof! The name, 2.35:1, may at first seem

strange, but it has a logical explanation. It is the

name for a video format that is a recurring theme

in the basement. The futuristic interior mixed with

world class artist bookings week after week makes

this one of Stockholm’s most prominent clubs.

Last but not least we would like to say that

although there are three of Stockholm’s hot clubs

listed above we have found out that the best way to

enjoy nightlife in foreign cities is to ask the locals.

So we recommend that you knock on the shoulder

of a smiling local on your journey and ask him or

her where she or he would recommend, as the

locals often have the best advice for the upcoming


All the info

How people went traveling before Google and

smartphones is beyond our comprehension. No,

not really, but after the Internet came into our lives

it has to be said that traveling and sightseeing has

become much easier. You can search for the best

places to see, and get in touch with locals who are

Stockholm Stortorget …

Stortorget in Stockholm’s Old Town.

Photo: Jeppe Wikström / mediabank.


summertime. The boat has been afloat since the

‘80s and has a great history from its war days.

You’ll find Patricia at Metro Slussen by Gamla Stan.

Sturecompagniet has long been one of Sweden’s

most legendary nightclubs. The venue consists of

four rooms on two floors around a beautiful atrium.

Some years ago, the nightclub went through a

gentle but full renovation. It combined a modern

happy to help with all kind of things. But please

don’t get lost on your smartphone and don’t forget

to look up from your newest technology and enjoy

what’s in front of you. Try to ask around by tapping

on strangers shoulders instead of your hand-held

device. If you do take a great photo in Sweden,

remember to tag us in with #wowair so we can

enjoy it with you. v

Come spring 2016 WOW air will offer cheap flights to scenic Stockholm all

year round from USA and Canada via Iceland.

Stockholm has so much to offer and we can’t wait to take you there. Check out our flight

schedule to and from Stockholm at wowair.com.

Issue six 85


WOW destination

Christmas in Berlin

Alle Jahre wieder—so begins a German Christmas song and it really says it all: Every year Christmas comes again

and again, each time awakening those warm and wonderful sentiments. Some can hardly wait while others think

November is simply too soon for all those ornaments and Christmas delicacies in the stores.

by Berlinur.de

photos: Berlinur.de and thinkstockphotos.com

86 WOW Power to the people

is the Stollen cake that originates in Dresden, a

city that lies south of Berlin. Stollen is a beautiful

sweet loaf of yeast dough cake filled with dried

fruit and marzipan that goes especially well with


For more children friendly treats try the Leb -

kuc hen and Spekulatius, two aromatic baked

goods seasoned with the traditional holiday spices.

Speaking of being children friendly ... most Christ -

mas markets in Berlin offer something for children.

At the Alexanderplatz Market the children can even

enjoy a pony ride or go ice skating around Neptune,

the god of the sea, that towers over the Neptune

Fountain right across from Berlin’s Red City Hall.

The most daring take a ride on the Ferris wheel and

enjoy the view of the city.

Our favorite

Berliners have a favorite Christmas market in

Berl in and that’s the one at Gendarmenmarkt. Admission

to the market is 1 Euro but you’ll get your

money’s worth just watching the program on the

stage where choirs sing carols and theater groups

put up their Christmas pageants. In addi tion to

the spectacles on the stage there are all sort of

strange creatures roaming about the market,

spreading joy and having fun with the visitors.

Another great Christmas market is the one by the

Charlottenburg Palace.

No one should

miss out on the

glorious Christmas

markets in

Berlin and if you

keep your eyes

open you’ll also

find an outlet

from Käthe


Christmas Shop

close by.

Christmas all year

If unfortunately you’re not in Berlin during the

Christmas holidays you can always quench

your thirst for the yuletide atmosphere at Käthe

Wohlfahrt’s Christmas Shop at Kurfürstendamm.

No matter what time of year you will hear Christmas

music and smell the

Chrismas incense when

walking by. Inside you’ll find

handmade and traditional

German ornaments made

from wood, tin and glass.

Almost every German home

has a little pyramid shaped

ornament where candles are

placed underneath generating

heat that turn small propellers

above. The ornament also tells

the story of Christmas with the

help of small wooden figures. A

nutcracker is also a staple in German homes; how

else are you supposed to enjoy the deliciousness

that hides within the hard shell of the walnut?

No one should miss out on the glorious Christmas

markets in Berlin and if you keep your

eyes open you’ll also find an outlet from Käthe

Wohlfahrt’s Christmas Shop close by. We, at least,

are planning to enjoy the Advent in Germany with

all its delicious treats. v


A. Berlinur.de recommends

the Gendar menmarkt

Christmas market

in Berlin.

B. German Christmas


C. Delicious Stollen cake,

jam-packed with dried


Christmas in Berlin officially begins at the

end of November when the Christmas mark -

ets open all around the city. Like with so many

things in Berlin there’s not just one Christmas

market but several that can be found even in the

most unlikely of places; from the most popular

streets and squares to shopping centers and the

outskirts of the city. What might come as a surprise

for many is that most of these markets close at

precicely 11 PM on December 23rd.

The taste of Christmas

For us at Berlinur.de the most exciting thing about

all these Christmas markets is the food and if you

know us, you know why. First and foremost there’s

the mulled wine (Glühwein) but a close runner up

D. Katrin and Margret

Ros at Berlinur.de are

already enjoying the

yuletide spirit.


Fly into the holiday spirit. You’ll find cheap flights to Berlin from USA, Canada

and Iceland at wowair.com

Written by Katrín Árnadóttir and Margrét Rós Harðardóttir at www.berlinur.de, the Icelandic

hostesses of Berlin. Berlinur offers a variety of guided tours around Berlin in both Icelandic and

English all year round. For more information and booking visit www.berlinur.de or email them at



Issue six 87

Destination Dublin

Gone to the dogs

During a press trip courtesy of Tourism Ireland, early last summer we explored Dublin and the surrounding countryside.

We visited many great places, like the historic Trinity College and the magnificent Glendalough Valley. What we didn’t expect

was that a “night at the dogs” would be one of the highlights of our stay.

Photos: Courtesy of Shelbourne Park Greyhound Stadium

As Icelanders we have little experience of

animal racing, horses, dogs or otherwise and

the closest thing we have to any of the popular

races around the world is the Icelandic rally and

Formula Off Road. We’d never understood the

at tract ion of animal racing and because of our

inexperi ence we were barely looking forward to our

night out.

A great evening out

After an informative tour of the Guinness Factory -

—a must stop for all who visit Dublin, if not only for

the view from the top floor bar and a taste of the

famous Guinness stew—our hosts had reserved

great seats for us by the window at the restaurant

of the Shelbourne Park Greyhound Stadium that

gave us a superb view of the track.

Looking around we soon realized that dog racing

is not just for hard core fans but rather a fun night

out for groups of friends or for the whole family.

While the youngsters feasted on French fries and

pizza, bachelor groups had their beer and burgers

in private group rooms and the older crowd had

their (surprisingly good) fine dining and wine.

Once the betting had been explained to us novic -

es, the attentive betting staff came to our tabl es

before and after each race to take our bets if we

wanted to place them or to pay us our winnings; we

never even had to stand up. We each got a voucher

for five Euros to play with and were told that on

88 WOW Power to the people

average people usually don’t bet more than 1-3

euros at a time as this is mostly for fun. For the

rest of the night we had fun picking out cool names

from the racing program and placing small bets.

Some we won and some we lost but it didn’t even

seem to matter as we were having so much fun.

Beloved family pets

The Irish have a long history of dog racing and

they have their Irish Greyhound Board to make

sure everything is up to par. A racing dog usually

doesn’t race for more than two years and then be -

comes a great pet for a lucky family. The manag er

of Shelbourne Park told us he had two at home.

Having been assured that no animals were end ang

er ed we could carry on betting and having fun and

even winning a small amount which would come in

handy the following day.

A night at the dogs is definitely recommended

for families and friends on vacation in Dublin,

especially during the winter when having fun in -

doors seems like the best idea. For reservations

or group bookings go to www.gogreyhoundracing.

ie. And if you do go, make sure to try out the fries,

they‘re among the best you’ll get in Dublin! v

Unleash you inner animal in Dublin. WOW air offers cheap flights to Ireland from USA

and Canada via Iceland all year round.

Check out our flight schedule and low fares to Dublin at

wowair.com. See you on board!



Freshly caught seafood and free range lamb – with a modern twist





Slow cooked ocean perch, beetroot purée, spicy butter, serrano ham, beetroot


Shallot vinaigrette, crispy Jerusalem artichokes


Yuzu mayo, truffle mayo, crispy quinoa, apple


Samphire, green asparagus, blood orange, lime beurre blanc


Lamb fillet, leeks, pickled onions, browned celeriac, baked carrots, spinach and dill cream

Austurstræti 16 101 Reykjavík Tel: 551 0011 apotek.is

Dessert by pastry chef Axel Þ.


Chocolate mousse, raspberry gel, Sacher layer

Issue six 89

New destination

The Golden State

Stretching from the Mexican border along the Pacific, California is known for its

dramatic terrain and cliff-lined beaches among other things. Two of the state’s

most famous cities are San Francisco and Los Angeles and that’s where we’re

taking the WOW next summer.

Photos: Thinkstockphotos.com

Yes, you heard right. WOW air is

secur ing its name on the short list of

ultra -low-cost long-haul car riers by offering

cheap flights to California’s biggest cities,

con nect ing them via Iceland to our biggest

desti nations in Europe. We hope you’re excit -

ed because we sure are!

San Francisco

The cultural, commercial and fin ancial

center of Northern California, San

Francisco is the second most densely

populated city in the United States after

New York City. The city is well known for

its liberal atti tude and as the birthplace

of the “hippie” coun terculture, the Sexual

Revolution and the Peace Movement.

San Fran cisco is also home to one of the

largest and oldest pride parades and the

festivities are truly something to witness

and be a part of.

Public transportation is well used in San

Francisco but in addition to a great transit

system, the city also runs a historic streetcar

line and the famous cable cars that are now

a National Historic Landmark and a major

attraction. San Francisco has also been

rank ed the second-most walkable city in the

United States.

From the infamous Alcatraz Prison (make

sure to book your trip there well in ad vance)

to the Golden Gate Bridge, one of the seven

wonders of the modern world, San Fran cisco

impresses its visitors with its stunn ing land -

marks. In addition, great food, magni ficent

wines, culture, history and nightlife will

ensure that you’ll never get enough of this

great city.

San Francisco’s climate is mild all year

round thanks to the fact that the area is

sur rounded by water on three sides. The

cool currents of the Pacific Ocean regulate

tempera ture swings keeping everyone cool

dur ing the summer and warm during the


Los Angeles

The City of Angels, also known as L.A. is

eclectic, progressive, trendy, laid-back and

retro all at once. This is the place many of the

most famous peo ple in the world call home

and should you find yourself in Hollywood

chanc es are you’ll recognize a face or two.

Among the most popular things to do in

Los Angeles is a visit to Venice Beach, a great

spot for people watch ing or to join in with the

surfers, skat ers or bodybuilders. Checking

out the Hollywood Walk of Fame is for some

a rite of passage and of course a trip up to

Mulholland Drive to take in the view from the

famous Holly wood sign is a must. If growing

up is something you forgot to do, or you’re

traveling with kids, a trip to Disney land is

probably on the horizon and meeting Mickey

and Donald will not disappoint.

A sprawling metropolis and a major center

of the American entertainment industry,

Los Angeles is surrounded on three sides by

mountains and has a subtropical-Medi -

terr anean climate which means it’s pretty

warm and cozy all year round. Temperatures

rarely drop below 10°C (50°F) in the winter

months and on average they are closer to

15°C (59°F) reaching as high as 40°C (104°F)

during the summer.

Wine country

California is wine country and there are

many wine regions to be found, the most

fam ous of which are Napa and Sonoma, both

about an hour’s drive north of San Francisco.

Both regions boast rolling hills lined with

some of the world’s most coveted grapes but

whereas Napa Valley is home to grand estat -

es and elegance, Sonoma County has a more

intimate feel.

Many tour operators focus on wine tours

that are always popular; some even stretch

for days. We recommend finding a good one

and then tasting your way through the best

wine regions of California. v

Stay tuned for cheap flights to California from Europe. Our hot tickets to

Los Angeles and San Francisco go on sale in January 2016.

Want to be the first to know? Join WOW air’s club at wowair.com/wowairclub,

hang out with the cool kids and get our great offers straight to your inbox.

90 WOW Power to the people

Issue six 91

Free in D.C.

An Abraham Lincoln

tour of Washington, D.C.

Abraham Lincoln is one of the most famous U.S. presidents, and rightfully so; he is credited with

preserving the Union during the Civil War, and for bringing about the emancipation of slaves. And

while the Lincoln Memorial is a popular site for tourists in D.C., there are numerous other places

where you can learn more about Honest Abe. Here’s what else to check out.

by Katherine LaGrave

Photos: Thinkstockphotos and Flickr

Lincoln’s Cottage

Head to the cottage at the Soldi ers’

Home and see where Lincoln escap ed

the heat of the White House during the

summers of 1862, 1863 and 1864. Today

a national monument, the cot tage was

originally built be tween 1842 and 1843

as a private home for a reputable D.C.

banker and business man. On your visit,

step into the wood-panel ed library

where Lincoln drafted early parts of his

famous Emancipation Proclamation,

and learn more about Lincoln as a

Commander-in-Chief through a tour of

the Robert H. Smith Visi tor Education


The Willard InterContinental

Known primarily as a lavish, landmark

hotel, the Willard is a short two blocks

Duck into the

New York Avenue

Presbyterian Church

three blocks from

the White House and

see where Lincoln

worshipped with his


from the National Mall. It is here

that Lincoln came to stay after an

assassination attempt before his

inauguration as president in 1861,

and where he conducted official

business, completed cabi n et

appointments, and made adjust -

ments to the first inaugural address. On March

4, once the inaugural ceremonies were complete,

Lincoln returned to the hotel to enjoy his celebratory

lunch as president. Reportedly on the menu?

Mock turtle soup, corned beef and cabbage,

parsley potatoes and blackberry pie.

Lincoln assassination tour

Journey back in time as you walk through the night

of Lincoln’s assassination on a free tour with a

guide from DC by Foot. Tours meet at 7 p.m. and

begin by the Andrew Jackson statue in Lafayette

Square, highlighting places along the way including

the Willard Hotel and the Star Saloon before

ending at Ford’s Theater (reservations required).

New York Avenue Presbyterian Church

Duck into this church three blocks from the White

House and see where Lincoln worshipped with his

family. Here, hints of the former president remain:

92 WOW Power to the people

see Lincoln’s hitching post which

remains outside, and head indoors to

observe the family pew and a stunning

stained glass Lincoln window.

National Museum of Health and


Located in nearby Silver Spring, Mary -

land, this museum houses thous ands

of specimens from the history of

military medicine. Among them? An

official sketch of Lincoln’s deathbed

scene, the surgical kit from the autopsy

of the president, locks of Lincoln’s hair,

bone fragments from his skull and

even the bullet from the assassination

that led to his death on April 15, 1865.

And more…

Visit Virginia: If you have time, head to

nearby Richmond, Virginia, to follow in

the footsteps of Lincoln—and Steven

Spielberg. Yes, it was primarily here

that Spielberg filmed his 2012 historic

drama, Lincoln, over 53 days. Under

fire at Fort Stevens: Erected to defend

D.C. during the American Civil War,

Fort Stevens was reputedly under fire

when Lincoln rode out to observe the

action. Accounts of Lincoln’s immi nent

danger at the fort vary, but there is

nonetheless a plaque memori alizing

his visit on July 12, 1864.

See Abraham through the ages:

Explore the Smithsonian’s National

Port rait Gallery, where you can see

cast ings of Lincoln’s hands and face,

and what is thought to be one of the

last photo graphs of the president. v

The handgun used by John Wilkes Booth

Photo: Tim Evanson courtesy of Flickr.

Inside the Willard Hotel.

Photo: Roman Boed courtesy of Flickr.




09:00 09:00 09:00

13:00 13:00 13:00 13:00 13:00 13:00 13:00 13:00

Price: Adults: 8.700 ISK

Children (7-15) 4.500 ISK Children (0-6) FREE

Buy your

discounted ticket

on this flight!

New York Avenue Presbyterian Church. Photo: Sack Winberg courtesy of Flickr.

We’ve all got the freedom to go and explore Washington, D.C. WOW air will

take you there from Europe all year round.

You’ll find cheap flights to Washington, D.C. from all around Europe with

WOW air at wowair.com. Join our club at wowair.com/wowairclub and

get all the best deals directly to your inbox.



22:00 21:00* 21:00 21:00 21:00 21:00 21:00* 22:00

PRICE: Adults 8.700 ISK Children (7-15) 4.500 ISK Children (0-6) FREE

*Departing at 21:00 from 16th Oct-14th Mar

**Until 15 April

Book online www.specialtours.is / info@specialtours.is

Call us +354 560 8800, or visit our ticket sale at the old harbour

Issue six 93

Destination Paris

A French road trip

We’ll never stop loving Paris. Explore the city of art and romance and unwind

among accordion players while walking the cobblestoned roads.

by Guðrún Baldvina Sævarsdóttir

Photos: Thinkstockphotos.com

Flying to Paris can be just the be -

ginning if you fancy seeing a little

more of the dreamlike country that is

France. Why not rent a car and head out

to see some of the breathtaking and

unbelievable sights France has to offer?

Here are some highly recommended

destinations just a few hours away from

the city of love.

The city of Reims

An hour and 50 minutes-drive to the

east-north-east will take you to the city

of Reims. Reims is the ideal destination

for history buffs and champagne lovers.

Situated in the Champagne-Ardenne

region of France this is where the

drink was invented and where it is still

made today. It’s only real champagne

if it comes from these parts and for

the authentic champagne experience

visit some of the manufacturers in the

area. Highly recommended is Pommery

where you can learn about the process,

explore the caves where the bottles are

kept, and have a taste of course! Make

sure to check out the Reims Cathedral

so you can stand in the footsteps of

Joan of Arc and marvel at Marc Chagall’s

stained glass windows.

Directions: Take the E54 out of Paris

and then get onto the A4.


Giverny is a commune just an hour and

20 minutes-drive northwest of Paris.

It is best known as home to Claude

Monet’s house and garden where you

can spend a lovely afternoon roaming

through the painter’s study and

amazing living room and walking

around his gardens and ponds; scenery

very recognizable from many of his


Driving to Giverny takes you through

one of France’s most scenic routes. The

trip will take you through one beautiful

village after another in an amazing

setting of the Vexin region.

Directions: Head into the 8th

arrondissement and get onto the A14

that later turns into A13. Follow A13 to

Avenue Aristide/D113 and then get onto

D201 to Rue du Grand Val in Giverny.

Don’t be afraid of

the French, they

will spend a good 10

minutes mimicking

rifles and pigs in a

game of charades

(looking for wild pigs

at the local butchers)

if you don’t speak a

word of French and

it will make their day

if you appreciate

their local produce.

Just make sure

whatever you say

ends in “madame” or

“monsieur” and you’ll

be alright.

Périgord Limousin Natural Park

Four hours south of Paris is Périgord Limousin Natural Park

where you’ll find Camping de L’étang, our most favorite

campsite in the world. Situated in a forest next to a small lake,

it’s run by a Dutch couple who built the place up from scratch.

They rent out cozy little huts, run a nice bar and restaurant

with a pool table and dartboard, have good spacious pitches

for tents and motor homes, a little beach on the lake with

a boat you’re free to use anytime and their dogs and cat

absolutely love your company. Charming villages surround the

campsite and you can easily lose track of time walking in the

woods or shopping from the local farmers.

Directions: From the 13th arrondisment head on to the E15/

E50/A10/E5 and follow signs for Orléans/Chartres. By Orléans

Are you ready for a European road trip? Pack your GPS and book your

flight to Paris at wowair.com.

follow signs for A71/Toulouse/A20/E9 and drive

on until you get close to Limoges where you turn

onto N520/Rocade Nord-Ouest. Follow signs for

Angoulême until you get onto D13, turn left unto

D27, then right onto D50 and finally another right

onto D112.

Camping in France

If camping is your thing, then France is your

kind of country. Wherever you go you’ll find

excellent campsites with hot showers, good

accommodations for caravans and motor homes,

swimming pools, game areas, horse rentals, etc.

Camping in France can be a wonderful experience

and requires minimal research to be a great

success. That said, you can also find charming

and comfortable accommodations in B&Bs, gîtes

(private holiday homes for short-term rent) and of

course the little hotels in every tiny village. When

traveling through the smaller villages of France,

a good rule of thumb is to head for the usually

very visible church tower and there you’ll find

everything you need; shops, markets and cafés.

Don’t be afraid of the French, they will spend a

good 10 minutes mimicking rifles and pigs in a

game of charades (looking for wild pigs at the local

butchers) if you don’t speak a word of French and

it will make their day if you appreciate their local

produce. Just make sure whatever you say ends in

“madame” or “monsieur” and you’ll be alright.

While driving on the country roads keep an eye

out for handmade signs pointing to a farm where

you can buy produce straight from the farmer;

fruits, vegetables, meats and best of all: the nut

and olive oils! Always try the local produce from

the region as it is the region’s specialty, made

with a passion most other nations can only dream

about. French cuisine is renowned for a reason

and a big part of that reason is the quality of the

products. Be aware that the French take their

lunch breaks very seriously and almost everything

shuts down between 12 and 14 (sometimes even

15 if they’re very relaxed). They’ll be enjoying their

lunch at a nice restaurant with a nice glass of wine

before heading back to work a couple of hours later.

Take a leaf out of their book; eat, drink and relax. v

We see Paris, we see France, we see you pack your traveling pants.

WOW air offers cheap flights to France from USA, Canada and Iceland all year round.

94 WOW Power to the people

Issue six 95

Photo: Todd Van Hoosear, courtesy of Flickr.com

Sweet Boston

Where to find the best

cannoli in Boston

Every Bostonite swears loyalty to one shop or another. Here’s where to

find some of the city’s best offerings.

Like any good town with strong

Italian roots, Boston has no shor -

tage of espresso bars, gelaterias and

bakeries dedicated to the art of the

Italian desserts. But there is one treat,

above all, that continues to be subject

to the most virulent of debates: the


Sicilian pastry desserts, these “little

tubes” are a staple in Boston’s Italian

and historic North End. Walk the city’s

oldest residential community, and you

can find anything from the traditional

(a plain shell with ricotta cheese) to the

modern—think Oreo, mint chip, and

espresso. Here’s how five of the city’s

most popular shops stack up.

Maria’s Pastry Shop

Not judging the book by its cover is

important on a visit to Maria’s, where

the aesthetics of the small, no-frills

shop indicate nothing about the rich -

ness of flavors found in its des serts.

Walk the city’s

oldest residential

community, and you

can find anything

from the traditional

(a plain shell with

ricotta cheese) to

the modern—think

Oreo, mint chip, and


Plain, chocolate and choco latedipped

cannoli shells line the glass

coun ter but it’s more than likely

you’ll get a fresh shell from the

back of the bakery—if not, ask for

one. Each shell is filled to order and

given a hearty sprinkle of powdered

sugar. Traditional, tasty and artfully

made: there’s a reason Maria’s has

previously been voted “Boston’s

Best Cannoli” by the city’s residents.

You’ll find Maria’s Pastry Shop

on 46 Cross Street in Boston’s

North End.

Mike’s Pastry Shop

Though the mass of people spilling

out of Mike’s swinging doors might

serve as a deterrent to passersby,

have no fear: the line moves

quickly. Once inside, you choose

from 18 flavors at this North End

96 WOW Power to the people

institution, with selections ranging from limoncello

to pistachio. Shells at Mike’s are about as big as

they come in this cannoli town, but are pre-filled to

handle the high-turnover rate and, as a result, are

not as crunchy. Add a cappuccino or cup of tea to

your order, and settle in the shop’s designated café

area. If you can’t handle the bustle of the crowd,

ask for your cannoli to go, and your selections will

be carefully placed in an emblematic Mike’s box:

blue and white, tied with string, a souvenir all on

its own.

You’ll find Mike’s Pastry Shop at 300

Hanover St. in Boston’s North End and now

also on Harvard Square in Cambridge.

Modern Pastry

The lines at this North End staple are just shorter

than those at Mike’s, but to Bostonites, the

comparisons don’t stop there. Cannoli here, are

smaller, and there is an evident mom-and-pop

feel to the place cultivated by small tables and

generational service—the family-owned shop

was established more than 70 years ago, after

all. Cannoli here are also fresher, and filled on the

spot with your choice of vanilla custard, chocolate

custard or ricotta. Prices increase incrementally by

topping or shell, but rarely top $4.

Caffè Paradiso

Paradiso’s sweets and espresso bar form the back

of the traditional cafe, and a visit here is sure

to include mingling with the many Italians who

use this as their local spot. Ask what fillings you

can get in your cannoli, and you’ll most likely be

greeted with a scoff: ricotta, or original, is the only

option. Points here for presentation (a sturdy box

with a gold seal), originality and taste, all of which

have undoubtedly stayed the same since the café

opened in 1962. For the odd traveler who’s not

interested in cannoli, Paradiso also has some of

the city’s best gelato and Italian coffee.

You’ll find Caffè Paradiso at 255 Hanover

Street in Boston’s North End.

Bova’s Bakery

Instead of being a one-stop shop for cannoli, Bova’s

seems to have it all: stromboli, arancini, black and

white cookies, Whoopie Pies, calzones, tiramisu,

meatball subs and pizza. They’re best known for

their famous round bread and for being open

24-hours a day, but they also boast a mean set of

sweets—and there’s rarely a line. First opened in

1926, this family-owned and operated bakeshop

prepares their pastries fresh each day, and it comes

through in the taste: crispy, golden cannoli shells are

filled with a homemade ricotta and served with a

dusting of powdered sugar. Now that’s amore.

You’ll find Bova’s Bakery at 134 Salem Street

in Boston’s North End.

You’ll find Modern Pastry at 257 Hanover

Street in Boston’s North End and also in


Bring your sweet tooth to Boston. WOW air offers cheap flights to Boston from

around Europe several times a week all year round.

You’ll find cheap flights to Boston with WOW air at wowair.com.

Join our club at wowair.com/wowairclub and get all the best deals directly to your inbox.

At your service- Anywhere- Anytime

Special sightseeing taxi tours

We specialize in personalized sightseeing day trips

to the natural wonders of Iceland

– for small groups of 4-8 persons.

We´ll make you

a Comfortable

Price offer!

All 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

Issue six 97

New destination

The cream of Bristol

WOW air announces cheap flights to Bristol in May 2016 so here are a few

things you might want to know before hopping aboard.

Photos: Shutterstock.com

Flying to Bristol Airport

is the obvious choice

for those who want to

explore the beautiful

countr yside of South

West England.

For those who didn’t ace geography you

should know that Bristol is a city in located

in South West England with little under 500,000

inhabitants and a history that stretches all the

way back to the Iron Age. Whether you’re traveling

with the family, on a romantic break, searching

for historic sites or just up for some UK shopping,

Bristol is a great destination.

Having a history is great but today Bristol is a

modern city built on the creative media, electronics

and aerospace industries. The city is one of UK’s

most popular destinations not the least based on the

fact that it is an excellent starting point for exploring

South West England and Wales but also as this is one

of the warmest and sunniest cities in the UK.

What to do in Bristol

The first thing you’ll notice about Bristol is the

iconic Clifton Suspension Bridge and the amazing

hilly landscape. Clifton Bridge is Bristol’s most

famous landmark which is fitting since the city’s old

English name, Brycgstow, means “the place at the

bridge.” After checking out the famous bridge take

a stroll around town and feast your eyes on some

of the city’s street art, most notably the early works

of world renowned artist Banksy who grew up in

Bristol. A Bristol vacation would not be complete

without a visit to Brunel’s ss Great Britain a.k.a. “The

ship that changed the world,” a former passenger

steamship that sailed between Bristol and New

York and that for a time was the longest of its kind

98 WOW Power to the people

to have been constructed 3000-2000 BC the

monument was added to the UNESCO’s list of World

Heritage Sites in 1986 along with its bigger, although

seemingly lesser known cousin, the Avebury henge

also in South West England (ca. 23 miles north

of Stonehenge). If you like ancient mysteries the

henges will surely keep you busy, at least for a day.

in the world (1845-1854). Built in Bristol the ship

now serves as a museum in Bristol Harbour where

you can learn about the ship’s history as well as

witness the miracle of its restoration.

What to do in South West England

Flying to Bristol Airport is the obvious choice for

those who want to explore the beautiful countr y-

side of South West England. With historical cities

Bath and Glaucester nearby you’ll be sure to get

your fill of Roman history in the UK. The Cotswolds

area, famous for its hundreds of honey-colored

limestone villages in a beautiful rural setting is

also close by. Try renting a cottage and taking

leisurely strolls around the pretty villages and the

nearby hills or better yet—rent bikes for the whole

family and see more of the area. Just across the

Bristol Channel you’ll be entering South Wales

known for its natural beauty – just perfect for a

family road trip.

Last but not least flying to Bristol is ideal if

you have always wanted to see Stonehenge. This

prehistoric site shrouded in mystery is located in

Wiltshire, ca. 50 miles southeast of Bristol. Believed

Good times in Bristol

Visit Bristol in July and be a part of the Bristol

Shakespeare Festival, an event with a passion for

bringing the freshest, most exciting productions

of Shakespeare’s plays to beautiful and unusual

spaces around Bristol.

At the end of July there’s also the Bristol Harbour

Festival held on or near the waterfront of Bristol

Harbour, celebrating the city’s maritime heritage.

Visit Bristol in August for the magnificent Bristol

International Balloon Fiesta where teams from the

UK and other parts of the world bring their colorful

hot air balloons and participate in mass ascents. It

is surely a sight to behold.

Visit Bristol in September and witness the Bristol

International Kite Festival where hundreds of

brilliant kites are airborne at the Ashton Court

Estate. v

WOW air will fly to Bristol three times a week all year round

from USA and Canada via Iceland.

You’ll find cheap flights to

Bristol at wowair.com

All you need in one place

• Skólavör›ustígur 19

tel.: (+354) 552 1890



• Radisson Blu, Hótel SAGA

tel.: (+354) 562 4788

• Laugavegur 53b

tel.: (+354) 562 1890


Issue six 99

WOW destinations

You want more?

WOW! We’ve been announcing a lot of new destinations recently but that doesn’t mean

that our established routes have been forgotten. We could never fit all of our destinations

into just one issue but you should know that WOW air has well over 20 destinations and

there’s still more to come. Stay tuned!

and 5-7 flights a week during the summer.

Connecting flights* to Amsterdam are available

from Boston and Washington, D.C. in the USA and

from Toronto and Montréal in Canada. Starting

spring 2015 we will also offer cheap flights to

Amsterdam from San Francisco and Los Angeles.



Warm up by the Mediterranean Sea and taste

the best of Spain.

WOW air offers cheap flights to Alicante from

Iceland four times a week during the summer

months and 1-3 times a week from March to

May and September to January.


A city of art, architecture, cool people and canals,

and don’t forget windmills, weird wooden shoes

and tulips. Amsterdam is a fairytale and a great

place to visit.

WOW air offers cheap flights to Amsterdam from

Iceland 2-4 times a week during the winter months

Barcelona truly is the perfect destination; tasty

tapas, seaside promenades and mind-blowing


Getting there is the easy part. WOW air offers 2-4

flights a week to Barcelona from Iceland from the

middle of May until October.


The former capital of Iceland is still a favorite

among Icelanders and now’s your chance to

find out why.

WOW air offers several flights a week* to

Copenhagen from USA and Canada all year

round via Iceland.


This great city on the Rhine is famous for its art

and culture, luxury fashion and lifestyle.

WOW air flies to Düsseldorf, Germany from

Iceland twice a week during the summer



London has been on our schedule from the

beginning and for good reason. This sprawling

metropolis is a popular destination all over the

world. It’s sort of like a rite of passage for travelers;

you have to visit at least once. And if you’ve already

been there you can go the other way from Gatwick

airport and visit the beautiful Brighton.

WOW air offers cheap flights to London from

Iceland up to 9 times a week.

Connecting flights* to London are available from

Boston and Washington, D.C. in the USA and from

Toronto and Montréal in Canada. Starting spring

2015 we will also offer cheap flights to London

from San Francisco and Los Angeles.

100 WOW Power to the people


Experience the gastronomic capital of France with

all its history and vibrant cultural scene.

WOW air flies to Lyon from Iceland twice a week

during the summer months.


Get ready for high fashion and high culture and

don’t forget to feast your eyes on da Vinci’s Last


WOW air flies to Milan, Italy from Iceland 2-3 times

a week from June to September.


All roads lead to Rome but we’re going to fly to this

most famous world capital.

WOW air offers cheap flights to Rome, Italy once a

week from July to September.

Gran Canaria

The city of Las Palmas in Gran Canaria is a new destination because we love getting our guests into the

sun during the winter.

WOW air offers weekly flights to Gran Canaria from February to May 2016.


Looking for that perfect winter destination? Go

skiing in the Austrian Alps’ best ski resorts, just

a short drive from Salzburg Airport.

Pack your skis; WOW air flies to Salzburg from

Iceland once a week in December, January and



Relaxing on a tropical island sounds like a dream

and Tenerife is a dream come true.

WOW air offers weekly flights to Tenerife Sur from

Iceland all year round and twice a week in January,

February and March.


Are you hungry for something different? Visit the

capital of Lithuania and see the UNESCO World

Heritage listed Old Town.

WOW air offers flights between Vilnius and Iceland

once a week during the summer.


The capital of

Poland has some

historic charisma

and is a great

destination if

you’re on a budget.

WOW air offers flights to Warsaw from Iceland

three times a week during the summer months

and weekly from September to January and

April and May.

* Note that the availability of connecting flights between USA and Europe may

vary depending on the flight frequency to each city. WOW air connects London,

Bristol, Dublin, Berlin, Copenhagen, Amsterdam, Paris and Stockholm to Boston,

Washington, D.C., Los Angeles and San Francisco in the US and Toronto and

Montréal in Canada

Issue six 101

This and that …

mostly this

by Fjóla Helgadóttir

QuizUp the TV show!

NBC has announced they will be turning the

Icelandic megahit game app, QuizUp in to a TV

show! The TV show will have a multiplayer format

like the gaming app itself with in-studio contestants

competing against at-home viewers playing in

real time on their mobile phones. Winning all eight

rounds gives the in-studio contestant the possibility

of winning up to one million US dollars! At-home

contestants can win too of course. They‘re able to

win the money assigned to each round. To qualify

for competing in-studio or at home, candidates

must successfully pass a trivia quiz. Even those who

don’t pass or do not have the mobile app can play

while watching, with the questions and answers

synchronized with the broadcast. Game on people!

Let Bieber show you!

Thanks to Justin Bieber everyone

on the planet now knows

about Iceland. Bieber visited us

in September, and in October we

found out, along with the rest of

Walk around

the world, what he was actually

doing here. Shooting a video! The

video to his song “I’ll Show You”

shows some of the most amazing

landscapes this beautiful island of

ours has to offer. In fact, we won’t

be surprised if teenage girls start

flocking to Iceland to see some

of Bieber’s shooting locations.

Whatever keeps the youth interested

in Mother Nature, right? We

see what you did there Bieber,

good one!

Wapp is a brand new and innovative Icelandic walking app that

will take you on a hiking tour and help you have your own Icelandic

adventure outdoors using GPS-activated pop-up facts, stories and

photos from the area. The trails are of great variety and the experience

meaningful and joyful. It’s not just about the reaching a destination but

also about enjoying the overall experience on the way.

Try the new variety of trails in Iceland equipped with the important

safety measure of always knowing your location as the route


The Wapp’s main features entail:

1. A display of varied trails in Iceland, using your phone as a personal

travel guide.

2. Storing trails on your phone for offline use.

3. Collection of nearby trails easily visible and accessible on your phone.

4. Opens up possibilities of diverse trips or exploring new areas.

5. Simple search by length of trip, elevation, difficulty or territory.

The Wapp can be downloaded for free from Appstore and Playstore

and offers a few free trails for you to test. Try the Reykjavik Walk

(see page 68-70).


to win an Emmy?

The Icelandic children’s program, LazyTown

has been nominated for an International Emmy

Award in the Kids: Preschool category. The

ceremony will take place on 5 April 2016. The

show’s creator, Magnús Scheving, who also

plays the role of Sportacus, was nominated in

2007 for outstanding directing in a children’s

series and the year before Julianna Rose

Mauriello, who plays the role of Stephanie, was

nominated as an outstanding performer in a

children’s series. The show has gained massive

popularity and is aired in 170 countries in more

than 20 languages. Go LazyTown!



are on

a roll!

The Icelandic movie Þrestir

(Sparrows) recently won the Golden

Shell Award at the San Sebastián

International Film Festival. Þrestir

tells the story of a sixteen year old

boy who moves to a remote fishing

town in the Westfjords in the hopes

of reconnecting with his father.

Rúnar Rúnarsson, who wrote the

script and directed the film, received

an Oscar nomination for best short

film in 2006 for his film Síðasti


102 WOW Power to the people

This and that …

mostly this

Fischer’s Pawn Sacrifice

Back in 1972 the World Chess Championship was held in

Iceland with Boris Spassky and Bobby Fischer competing

against each other for a shot at the title. Pawn Sacrifice, a

biopic about Fischer’s life was released last September,

portraying the events of the World Chess Championship,

with Tobey Maguire as Fischer and Liev Schreiber as

Spassky. The film tells the story of Fischer’s childhood and

offers some insight into the life of this peculiar genius, who,

at the age of fourteen was the youngest person ever to

win the U.S Chess Championship. A must see for all lovers

of biographical films, chess and of course the lovers of


Another film award!

The Icelandic film Fúsi (Virgin

Mountain) won the Nordic Film Prize

last October having previously won

three of the main awards at the Tribeca

Film Festival in New York last spring;

Dagur Kári Pétursson, who wrote the

script and directed the film, won for Best

Screenplay, Gunnar Jónsson who plays

the main character Fúsi, won for Best

Actor and the film won Best Narrative

Feature. The film tells the story of Fúsi

who, in his forties, still lives with his

mother and doesn’t have the courage to

leave home.

“Great first meal in Reykjavik”

“Amazing food, excellent staff”

“Best restaurant in Iceland”

Scandinavian cuisine

Enjoy a four course Icelandic set menu in one of Reykjaviks oldest buildings

Hönnun: Marknet ehf.

Lækjarbrekka restaurant - Bankastraeti 2, 101 Reykjavik - Tel: (+354) 551 4430 - www.laekjarbrekka.is - info@laekjarbrekka.is

Issue six 103

This and that …

mostly this

Go float about

Float is a water therapy product designed to give users a relaxing water experience.

Float is available as a cap and a pair of floating aid straps for legs offering a weightless

and stress-free time in the swimming pool. Swimming pools all over the capital area

have started offering float sessions and there is even a special Northern Lights floating

tour available that takes you to a secret lagoon outside Reykjavik (www.floatingtours.

com). The swimming pools at Garðabær and Álftanes now offer floating sessions once

a month. In the swimming pool in Ásgarður in Garðabær there’s a session on Fridays

at 7 pm to 8 pm with dates including 18 December, 15 January and 19 February. And at

the swimming pool in Álftanes on Saturdays at 11 am to 11:45 am with dates including 5

December, 2 January, 6 February and 18 March. Float caps are available for loan on site

and guests only pay the admission to the pools. This is probably the cheapest but most

unique and relaxing spa session you’ll ever try.

For more information on Float visit www.float.is


B E S T T H A I F O O D 2 0 1 5



w w w . b a n t h a i . i s


L a u g a v e g u r 1 3 0 v i ð H l e m m

T E L : 5 5 2 2 4 4 4 , 6 9 2 - 0 5 6 4


A L S O B E S T 2 0 0 9, 2 0 1 0, 2 0 1 1, 2 0 1 2, 2 0 1 3, A N D 2 0 1 4


m a n y f a m o u s p e o p l e a r e r e g u l a r s h e r e

Free the nipple wins an award

Adda Smáradóttir, a college

student in Reykjavík, started a

revolution on the morning of 26

March 2015 when, as a sign of

protest, she posted a picture of her

naked breasts on Twitter. A fellow

male student publicly criticized

her actions and soon hundreds

of girls and women in Iceland

showed their support to Adda by

posting pictures of their breasts on

Twitter and Facebook. At the same

time these women protested the

double standards set by society in

which women need to cover their

“You don’t decide what

makes your heart beat.

It just beats.”

nipple area while men don‘t. Adda,

who was only sixteen at the time,

recently won an award in Taiwan

for her act of bravery and for

starting the national #freethenipple

revolution in Iceland.

Páll Óskar, Iceland’s biggest pop icon and former Eurovision

contestant has always been untiring in his efforts to show the Icelandic

people that love is love no matter what. Páll Óskar is the front man every

year at the Reykjavik Pride Parade and the most famous gay person

in Iceland who people look up to him and honor in his fight in LBGT

matters. Páll Óskar recently appeared on “Stundin okkar,” The National

Broadcasting Service of Iceland’s oldest children’s program, to talk

about homosexuality to the next generation. It was pretty easy for him

to explain: “I’m never going to have any girlfriends. Because I don’t get

crushes on girls…I get crushes on guys, because I’m gay.” When asked

more about what that meant he replied: “You don’t decide what makes

your heart beat. It just beats.”

104 WOW Power to the people

The golden circle on a super truck and snowmobiling

This and that …

mostly this

Daily tours

all year round

Do you

believe in elves?

BBC Earth recently showed a TV pro gram with journalist Melissa Hogenboom who came to Iceland

in search for elves and trolls. Hogenboom did not find any elves or trolls but she did discover some

interesting Icelandic folklore and myths. Hogenboom met Terry Gunnell, a professor in Folk loristics

at the University of Ice land who told the journalist of the misfor tunes of road builders in the seventies

while working on the road Álfhólsvegur, which means Elf-hill-road, in Kópavogur. Gunnell says in the TV

program that pipes burst, build ing equipment broke down, bull dozers stopped working and cars would

break down in the middle of the road. Although you might not come across any elves or trolls during

your stay in Iceland, it’s worth looking for Álfhólsvegur Road in Kópavogur, and see how the street

itself swerves past a small hill of rocks. Building a road in the elves’ living room—now that’s just rude!


a look at


The super talented actress

Hera Hilmars, most recently

known for her role in the

movie Vonarstræti (Life in a

Fishbowl) is up for the role

of Ben Kingsley’s lover in

the movie An Ordinary Man.

Kingsley plays the part of a

war criminal in hiding who

starts a love affair with his

maid played by Hera. As

searchers close in on him he

realizes she is the only one

he can trust. Sounds thrilling!

Tel. (+354) 580 9900



Your Ticket to Adventure

Issue six 105



What’s going on over here?

Quite a lot actually, and if you know where to go you can live each

night in Iceland like there’s a full blown festival going on.

What: Mass of St. Thorlac

When: December 23

Where: All around the country

Mass of St. Thorlac (Þorláksmessa) is

a big part of the Icelandic Christmas

tradition. For many families this is

the day to put up the Christmas tree

and decorate it and this is also a big

night for last minute shopping before

Christmas (not unlike Christmas Eve

in the U.S.). In downtown Reykjavik,

people will be rushing from store to

store to buy the last presents for their

loved ones and also settling in at

cozy bars and cafés to meet friends

and have fun before the holy days.

Laugavegur and Skólavörðustígur in

Reykjavik are lined with musicians

making the atmosphere festive so you

can feel the true Christmas spirit.

If you find yourself in Reykjavík (or

any town center that has restaurants)

during Þorláksmessa you’ll discover

a strange odor coming from some

of the restaurants. That is the smell

of fermented skate and the taste

is similar to the smell. Use this

opportunity to have a proper taste of

this well known traditional food.

What: Moses Hightower

Where: Húrra, Tryggvagata 22

When: December 26 from


Moses Hightower is an exciting band

which has released two 10-track

al bums that both got outstanding reviews.

Here you get a good oppor tunity

to see one of Iceland’s top indie bands

perform at a local bar. You simply show

up at Húrra, at Tryggva gata 22, before 8

PM in down town Reykjavík and have a

good night out.

What: New Year’s Eve

When: December 31

Where: All around the country

If there is one night to celebrate in Iceland it is New Year’s Eve. Family and friends come together in their best dresses,

enjoying a good meal partying throughout the night. The main event during New Year’s Eve for the locals is the Annual

Comedy Revue broadcasted by the Icelandic National Broadcasting Service (RUV), which people will talk about

for days after whether it was good or not. Going to bonfires and shooting up a whole lot of fireworks illuminating

every village, town and city in beautiful colors is also on the agenda. It is well known that Icelanders are mad about

fireworks during New Year’s Eve and it is truly a sight to behold. If you are in the capital feel free to hit downtown (start

by Hallgrímskirkja Church before midnight) for one of best parties in the world.

What: The last day of Christmas

When: January 6

Where: All around the country

Generally known as Þrettándinn (The Thirteenth) in

Icelandic, the last day of Christmas is the day when

creatures out of this world will be more visible than

other days. The Thirteenth marks the thirteenth day

of Christmas and the day that the last Yule Lad leaves

town and heads back to the mountains. People should

be on special alert this night as it is believed that on

this day cows can talk, and those who hear them loose

their sanity as a result, so stay away from farm animals

during this day. If that isn’t enough, elves and fairies

look for new dwelling place during this time so they will

be more visible than on other days of the year.

In ancient days the thirteenth was actually the

day people celebrated the birth of Christ but in the

18th century this was changed and Christmas was

moved to the 24th of December. For the next two

centuries the day was actually nicknamed “The Old

Yule.” Today Icelanders celebrate the Thirteenth in a

similar fashion as New Year’s Eve by lighting bonfires,

shooting up fireworks and partying with elves, trolls

and the last of the Yule Lads before they disappear

again for another year. Wherever you stay during this

day ask a local to direct you to the nearest bonfire for

a fun night out.

106 WOW Power to the people

Vodafone 4G


Vodafone Iceland

With Vodafone, you gain access to an

extensive 4G network in Iceland with excellent

3G/4G roaming connectivity, no matter

whether you’re on sea or land. Share

your memories by using Vodafone’s

prepaid mobile starter kit

with voice and data.


Power to you


Buy your prepaid SIM card at BSI bus terminal,

Vodafone stores, N1 gas stations all around

Iceland, and at our network of resellers.

Issue six 107


going on

over here?

What: KEX Jazz

Where: KEX Hostel, Skúlagata 28

When: Every Tuesday from 8:30-10 PM

Did you know that every Tuesday live jazz performances are held at KEX-Hostel? Throughout the years

a great variety of artists have performed at KEX Jazz making it well known for music lovers in Iceland.

Jazz it up in Reykjavik simply by showing up and enjoying great music in good company.



What: Thorri

When: Late January

Where: All around Iceland

What: Kristján Jóhannsson’s Christmas Concert

Where: Harpa Concert Hall

When: December 6

One of Iceland’s most beloved tenors will be performing a

Christmas concert on December 6 at the Harpa Concert Hall.

Experience the voice of Jóhannsson and fill your soul with

Christmas spirit.

Tickets are available at www.tix.is.

Þorrablót is a pagan midwinter feast were the food served is of particular note. In ancient

times the blót meant a sacrifice, probably to the Norse god Thor, to ensure the survival

of the household during this last and most trying of winter months. This pagan ritual

disappeared after the Christianization of Iceland but during this country’s period of

romantic nationalism a festival named Thorrablot was introduced and is still popular today.

But back to the food, which is the biggest part of modern Thorri festivities. The old food of

Iceland’s rural regions is what’s for dinner. In the old days all parts of slaughtered animals

were utilized and eaten. It was at a time when food was scarce and preservation was

crucial. Preservation before the time of refrigerators and freezers often meant curing or

pickling the meat and offal in whey but also smoking it, drying it and/or salting it. During

Thorri, Icelanders get together and eat these questionable delicacies and some even

love them. But what is served during a Þorrablót? Here are some examples: singed sheep

heads, pickled ram testicles, pickled blood pudding, rotten shark, dried fish and pickled

whale blubber to name just a few. Tempted? Ask a local to guide you to a restaurant serving

traditional Thorri food and bon appetit.

108 WOW Power to the people




Our Master Watchmaker

never loses his concentration

With his legendary concentration and 45 years of

experience our Master Watchmaker and renowned

craftsman, Gilbert O. Gudjonsson, inspects every single

timepiece before it leaves our workshop.

All the watches are designed and assembled by hand in

Iceland. Only highest quality movements and materials are

used to produce the watches and every single detail has been

given the time needed for perfection.


Issue six 109


21 March - 19 April

Yep—you’ve done it again; and after we tried

to warn you and everything. Your carefully

chosen and timely bought Christmas presents

are hidden and you don’t remember where.

FYI, they’re in the back of your closet. Now

let’s just hope you read your WOW horoscope

before Christmas. If not—just pretend you’re



20 April - 20 May

Procrastination is the name of your game so

as always you wait until the last moment to

buy Christmas presents for your loved ones.

This will result in some weird choices that will

affect you all through 2016.


21 May - 21 June

You decided last year that this year would

be different but you just realized that it was

exactly the same minus that cat incident. Well

done Gemini. 2016 will be more of the same.


22 June - 22 July

As last issue’s horoscope predicted, you

founded your own cult and you’re now

regrett ing it since you have very few followers

and you forgot all about Christmas. Rookie

mistake! In 2016 you will change the rules and

gain more followers because of it.


23 July - 22 August

You know what everyone else wants for

Christmas but you decide to buy it all for

yourself instead and post it on Facebook

to make them jealous. Seeing that so many

people now want what you have this will have

amazing effects on your social life in 2016.


23 August - 22 September

You’ll have a slight panic attack when you

realize that your Christmas tree will never look

like the ones in the magazines because other

people wrap presents too and then send them

to you, totally destroying the theme of your

own artfully wrapped gifts. Eeugh! 2016 will

begin normally but when you send out that

“Guide to Christmas Wrapping” in September

you will lose a few friends.


23 September - 23 October

You went a little crazy with the baking this

year and are having problems giving those

yummy cookies away. The stars have just

teleported their address into you mind and are

looking forward to your package. In return they

will sprinkle a lot of good things in you path for

2016. Stay tuned.


24 October - 21 November

When will you realize that sex toys are not a

good Christmas present?—not for your new

romantic partner, not for your parents and

definitely not for your favorite co-worker or

boss. Your social life will take a quick dive in

the beginning of 2016 but they’ll get over it



22 November - 21 December

Your handmade presents will not impress

anyone except your grandmother. Perhaps you

should actually learn a skill before you try and

create something for others, hmm? On the

bright side the stars predict that you will need

a new hobby for 2016.


22 December - 19 January

You spent 2015 handcrafting all your

Christmas presents so you wouldn’t go over

your budget this time. When the holidays draw

nearer you will however get sucked into the

material cheer wanting to give everyone a little

something extra. The stars do see you losing

your holiday weight faster than anyone in 2016

though, so there’s a plus.


20 January - 18 February

Sending out Christmas presents in January?

Why not? It shows people that you’re not

bound by tradition and the expectations of

others. Good for you. You know it says 2016 on

the calendar but you’re still living it up like it’s



19 February - 20 March

You bought the Christmas presents early but

unlike Aries you know where you hid them.

The only problem is that you’ve been second

guessing every one thinking you made the

wrong choice. In 2016 you will try to get to

know people better so you won’t have to live

through this agony ever again.

Disclaimer: This horoscope is total and utter nonsence. Any accuracies, real or

imagined by readers, are purely incidental.

110 WOW Power to the people

Issue six 111

WOW Sudoku


really bored? Here are a few

sudokus to make time fly.

But how do I do it?

The object is to insert the numbers in the boxes to satisfy only one condition: Each row, column and 3x3 box must contain the

digits 1 through 9 exactly once. What could be simpler?

112 WOW Power to the people

Issue six 113

The Traveling Inquisition

What‘s so funny?

In downtown Reykjavik, Gísli Johann along with his group the Goldengang are bringing

stand-up comedy in English every Monday night, and from December 2015, Wednesday nights

too, to Gaukurinn, a bar on Tryggvagata 22, where he and 10-20 comedians one after the

other perform their short and often hilarious stints.

by Paul Michael Herman / Photos: From private collection

“I want to make

stand-up comedy

more popular

in Iceland and

Icelandic standup


more popular


Standing up

The leader of the group, Gísli Jóhann, the young

man who got this “show on the road” has apparently

found his niche. Gísli explains how he got into


“I’ve always been a huge fan of stand-up. I re -

member when I was ten, watching my first hour

special with my dad. I didn’t understand a lot of

what was being said but it felt funny and I liked

it and I wanted to see more. As I grew up it nev er

occurred to me that this could be an actual profession for me. Then around

Christmas 2014, I was working as a machinist standing in front of a machine

8-10 hours a day listening to podcast comedians the whole time. I felt that

rather than standing there, I should be sitting in a group of comedians

joking around with them. So I looked into it, found an open mic and on the

5th of February 2015, I was on stage telling jokes. I haven‘t stopped since.”

The Goldengang emerges

When asked to describe his experience, Gísli says: “Amazing! It’s been the

best thing I’ve ever done. I quit my job to do this and yes, it has been rough.

To start out, most comedians just get paid in beer which doesn’t pay the

bills, but it’s been incredibly rewarding in so many other ways.”

For the first few months Gísli had no income and no place of his own to

stay so it was sometimes only one meal a day and then a friend’s couch at

night. But Gísli wasn’t expecting it to be easy and hardship does make great

material for comedy. When asked how it’s been over the past six months,

Gísli explains...

“By performing, I was able to attract the attention of other comedians

until we eventually formed a group. Since May, we’ve had a show on every

Monday that has expanded exponentially both in terms of comedians per -

forming and the size of the audience. The show features Icelandic comedy

in English and because it’s an open mic we are also getting a lot of travel ing

comedians jumping in to perform.

“We started out as 6 comedians performing in front of 20 people. Now

it’s up to 20 comedians performing in front of 120-150 people each week.

Because of this show we’ve made friends with other comedy groups from

other countries and we are working on bringing in international talent,

thereby creating opportunities for our comedians to be discovered.”

Check out the culture

“I want to make stand-up comedy more popular in Iceland and Icelandic

stand-up comedy more popular internationally,” Gísli says when asked

about his vision for the future.

What would a comedian recommend for people visiting Iceland? “Spend

money. We love money. Seriously though, I’d recommend people take the

time to explore Iceland’s culture and nightlife. Reykjavik, for example has

everything you’d find in any other bustling city. Nightclubs, live music, art

and now Icelandic stand-up comedy in English.”

Gísli (now) has his apartment, his plans and his passion and thanks to his

good sense of humor, Iceland has a lot more to laugh about and perhaps

soon the world. v

114 WOW Power to the people




goose down

Taped seams





BJÖRN ÓLAFS is a long down parka filled with quality

white duck down. It’s water repellent with taped

seams. The perfect companion for the cold winter.

Issue six 115

www.cintamani.is | Bankastræti 7 | Austurhraun 3 | Smáralind | Kringlan

– Visit our stores: 101 Reykjavík, Akureyri and Geysir, Haukadal. www.geysir.com –

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