WOW magazine – The entrepreneurs of low-cost flying
70 years in the air
The entrepreneurs of
Power to the people Issue six 2015
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spa with hot spriNg jacuzzi,
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On The planeT earTh
Nice aNd cozy rooms
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right opposite of
the hot spriNg geyser area
gourmet a la carte restauraNt
local luNch buffet every day
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outdoor activities all year rouNd
amaziNg NortherN lights
4 WOW Power to the people
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is directly opposite of
the geothermal area of
the great geysir
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traditional iCelandiC meat soup
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6 WOW Power to the people
We look forward to seeing you
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Issue six 7
Power to the PeoPle Issue six 2015
Power to the PeoPle Issue three six 2015 2015
your free copy-take me with you
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.
Guðrún Vaka Helgadóttir, editor in chief
WOW magazine staff
Editor in chief: Guðrún Vaka Helgadóttir
Design and layout: Ivan Burkni / firstname.lastname@example.org
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
Tel: 00 354 590 3020
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All rights reserved. Reprinting, direct quoting or recapitulation
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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
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
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.
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.
80 Montréal on
Biking through Montreal
is definitely one of the
best ways to explore
82 12 reasons to
There are more than 12
reasons but we were out
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.
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
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
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 email@example.com 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
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.
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!
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
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
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
WELCOME ON BOARD!
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Safety and comfort of our customers is always our main priority.
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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.
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Issue six 15
Surviving the dark
by Guðrún Baldvina Sævarsdóttir
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.
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
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
AQUARACER CALIBRE 5
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.
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.
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.”
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.”
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.
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
Icelanders was not
limit ed to politicians
though, in April
the Chilean artist
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.”
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?
Party has reached
un prec edented
heights of more
than 30% in polls.
Star Wars: Rogue
One was apparently
Hjö r leifs höfði and
Hafursey in South
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.
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.
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
ALL THE MOST EXCITING
PLACES IN ICELAND
on this flight
Why not buy a tour with us on board this flight?
– just ask the cabin crew.
GREAT VARIETY OF NORTHERN LIGHTS EXPERIENCE!
A SIGHT NOT TO BE MISSED!
EXPERIENCE A GREAT DAY WITH US!
More tours available on
our website www.re.is
AND IN OUR BROCHURES!
BSÍ Bus Terminal
+354 580 5400
email@example.com • www.re.is
Issue six 19
Sharing is caring
WOW! We’re so social
Active on social media? So are
we and we love sharing great
photos, travel tips, good deals
and other fun things on our many
social media outlets as well as to
our WOW Club members.
Face to face
Find WOW air on Facebook – facebook.com/wowiceland – hit
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the WOW. We promise not to fill up your newsfeed with boring
stuff or click-tag games. Perhaps just a cute kitten video
once a year.
We’re on Instagram too but we only use it to share good photos
and we never Instagram our coffee; that’s a promise … unless it’s
really, really good coffee. Follow @wowair on Instagram for great
travel inspiration or just to see beautiful places.
We love tweeting @wowair. It’s so much more of a challenge to
have to put out the message in 140 characters or less, right?
WOW air also has a special twitter page for queries, comments
and complaints @wowairsupport where our social media team
is ready to give feedback during local business hours.
We recently snapped on to the Snapchat trend and it’s gotten
great reviews. Add wow-air to your list of snappy friends and
watch videos and photos from our destinations, created for
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Join the club
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Club members receive regular club emails and will always be the
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Share with us for a chance to win flight tickets!
We would love to share your travel memories or photos from your hometown. Hashtag your Instagram photos with #wowmoment or #wowair so we can help
you spread the WOW. You can also send us photos via moments.wowiceland.co.uk for a chance to win flight tickets.
20 WOW Power to the people
Issue six 21
Wake Up Reykjavik
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
parties in Iceland
and their Reykjavik
Bar Crawl has gotten
from all over.
school events to the
how did that
happen? “We were
new travelers that
all had the same
question: “We want
to experience the
should we go?” So,
two years ago we
realized that with
our knowledge of the
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.”
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.
magazines as one
of the world’s best
cities to party in.
The reason for this
is a combination
of many things,
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
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.
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
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.
—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.
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
28 WOW Power to the people
Issue six 29
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
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
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
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.
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
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
dish is served on
Þorláks messa (Mass
of St. Thorlac),
or the 23rd of
32 WOW Power to the people
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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
one’s inner artist. Later the leaf bread
iron became the tool of choice and is now
found in homes across the nation.
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
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
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 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
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
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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Contact Information - 24 hour booking service
Book now at www.grayline.is or call +354 540 1313
Sales Office, Hafnarstræti 20, 101 Reykjavík, Iceland
Bus Terminal at Holtagarðar shopping centre
Issue six 39
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
on the radio,
us pilots: ‘These
never see a
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
have low fares,
but I think we also
offered quite good
service. When we
had our stopovers
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.
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
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 –
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
difficult in those
years. I was
this merger and
I believe that it
would have never
Alfred’s health had
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.
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
Tel: +354 552 2300
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)
FIND IT ON FACEBOOK and Twitter
Twitter: @LebowskiBar - Instagram: #LebowskiBar - Open 11:00 – 01:00 Sun-Thurs and 11:00 – 04:00 Fri/Sat
46 WOW Power to the people
Tel: +354 845 88 68
At the center of
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
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
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.
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
Tel: +354 511 3040
Very nice Vegamót
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
“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
Tel: +354 561 2240
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
“The menu consists of great sel ect ions
and offers every thing from breakfast to a
50 WOW Power to the people
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
Le Chateaux des Dix Gouttes
Tel: +354 551 9380
Tíu dropar / Le Chateaux des
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
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
Tel: +354 517 7474
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.”
Open: Monday-Friday 11:30-23:00 / Saturday-Sunday 17:30-23:00
Issue six 53
Den Danske Kro
Tel: +354 552 0070
When in Iceland,
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
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
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
Tel: +354 567 2700
www.koparrestaurant.is / email@example.com
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
“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.”
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
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
Vesturgötu 3B | 101 Reykjavík | Tel. 551 2344 | www.tapas.is
Tel: +354 571 9999
Mobile: +354 697 9003
Find us on Facebook/AmericanBarIceland
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.
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
Tel: +354 578 5656
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
Open from 11 AM to 10:30 PM
60 WOW Power to the people
Issue six 61
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
A330-300 FACT SHEET
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.
WE LOOK FORWARD TO WELCOMING YOU ON BOARD
Issue six 63
Warm and cozy
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.
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
by Kári Gunnlaugsson
Photos: Courtesy of respective restaurants
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.
Grófartorg - 101 Reykjavík
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
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
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.
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
inside a glacier? Winter
in the Vatnajökull
region offers the
opportunity of such
unique and memorable
on Vatnajökull or a
of Europe’s largest
ice cap in a super
jeep. The area also
offers ATV tours and
at Hoffell, reindeer
excursions, a visit to
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
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
maple tree (Acer
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
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
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.
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
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
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.
Issue six 71
The Nordic House in Reykjavík
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
although it has
that its design
is based on the
of Greenland or
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
HVÍTA HÚSIÐ / SÍA
I LIKE TAKING MY TIME WITH
SHOPPING, SO I ORDER ONLINE
THEN ALL I HAVE TO DO IS PICK UP MY ORDER
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
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
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
online banks of
many of Europe’s
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
gives its users a better
oversight of their
spending and income.
If you want
to make your
and gain more
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
Issue six 77
CONNECTING THE CONTINENTS
78 WOW Power to the people
Issue six 79
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
– 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 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
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
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
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.
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.
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
No one should
miss out on the
Berlin and if you
keep your eyes
open you’ll also
find an outlet
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
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
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
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
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
DINNER – 6 COURSE MENU
STARTS WITH A “REFRESHING“ SHOT OF THE NATIONAL SNAPS BRENNIVÍN
FOLLOWED BY A BITE-SIZED TASTE OF PUFFIN
ICELANDIC OCEAN PERCH
Slow cooked ocean perch, beetroot purée, spicy butter, serrano ham, beetroot
ICELANDIC MINKE WHALE
Shallot vinaigrette, crispy Jerusalem artichokes
ICELANDIC SEA TROUT
Yuzu mayo, truffle mayo, crispy quinoa, apple
Samphire, green asparagus, blood orange, lime beurre blanc
RACK OF FREE RANGE ICELANDIC LAMB
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
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.
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!
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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.
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.
SEP OCT NOV DES JAN FEB MAR APR
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
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.
NORTHERN LIGHTS BY BOAT*
SEP OCT NOV DES JAN FEB MAR APR**
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 / firstname.lastname@example.org
Call us +354 560 8800, or visit our ticket sale at the old harbour
Issue six 93
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
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
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
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
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
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
community, and you
can find anything
from the traditional
(a plain shell with
ricotta cheese) to
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
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
You’ll find Mike’s Pastry Shop at 300
Hanover St. in Boston’s North End and now
also on Harvard Square in Cambridge.
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.
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.
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
All major credit cards accepted by the driver.
To book in advance: tel:+354 588 5522 or on www.hreyfill.is E-mail: email@example.com
Issue six 97
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.
Flying to Bristol Airport
is the obvious choice
for those who want to
explore the beautiful
countr yside of South
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
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
SWEATERS AND SOUVENIERS,
NO KNITTING MATERIAL:
• Radisson Blu, Hótel SAGA
tel.: (+354) 562 4788
• Laugavegur 53b
tel.: (+354) 562 1890
Issue six 99
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.
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
and is a great
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 …
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
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,
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
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!
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 …
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
“Great first meal in Reykjavik”
“Amazing food, excellent staff”
“Best restaurant in Iceland”
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 - firstname.lastname@example.org
Issue six 103
This and that …
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
N E W A W A R D
B E S T T H A I F O O D 2 0 1 5
R E S T A U R A N T
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 …
all year round
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
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
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.
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
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
WORLD’S SMALLEST WATCH
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
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
in Iceland and
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,
“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
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 –