Is it a good idea to travel with children to Iceland?

Travelling with children in Iceland

Iceland is many people’s dream. Sometimes I get the question if Iceland is suitable for children or that even if it is too dangerous to bring children along.

To me Iceland is a paradise for children. Living in Denmark for ten years and in Holland for the last four, I appreciate what Iceland means to my son the ten year old.

Space is what comes first to mind. The possibility of running around, running on the lava fields, running up and down a hill or a mountain, running on the shore in crazy winds.

Our favorite when travelling in Iceland is going to one of the geothermal pools you can find in almost any tiny town in Iceland. Sitting in a warm pool, going on a slide into the pool or just hanging around talking to the locals, looking at the view. Many locals visit the local pool at least once or twice a week, some of them daily.

Iceland is filled with mystical things like the trolls, elves and the hidden people. These folk stories are a big part of the culture of the Icelandic people and are integrated into the habits and way of living.

History is important to explore in Iceland. Histories of Vikings and other historical figures can be found everywhere around the country, and this is a fascinating way to explore and to understand a bit more how this nation, on a rock in the middle of the Atlantic has survived hard nature and has been formed in many ways by nature, folk tales and the will to survive and invent solutions to have a good life.

Last but not least, meeting the locals for a dinner where you can meet other children to discuss the differences and also how we all are connected is a precious experience to give to one’s child.

 

More information on personalized travel planning, also for children can be found on the website

www.icelandunwrapped.com

(Picture – Midnight in June camping)

HUH – Football Iceland style

At the moment the Icelanders are waking up after a dream coming true, after the Icelandic football team managed to get a space in the World Cup in Russia in the summer of 2018.

It‘s an unbelievable results for a nation of a bit over 300.000 people.

I have been  thinking since I saw one of the games of this team in France last year at Euro 2016, how it was possible for these guys to manage to get to where they are and I think that is a very important story to tell.

The fact is that the guys who are playing for Iceland in the World Cup next summer are known for a good group spirit where no link is more important than any other. This is an ideology and management approach used in many workplaces in the world with success.

But why are these guys so humble? Why are they not flying around in a cloud of self love and arrogance because of their acheivements?

I think the answer is that they have had to work for it and they know that football isn´t life.

I have a personal experience, where I actually was the boss of one of these players. He was 21 years old at the time and starting his career as a starter for his team. To be able to keep on playing, he had to attend two practices every day. One in the morning and one at noon because they had games in the evening. To be able to do this meant he had to get special permission from his boss to attend these trainings. It wasn´t easy to make it work but boy I am glad that I gave him that permission.

Distances pay a big role too. If it takes only five minutes to get to your training location from work, it makes everything easier. That is the case in the Reykjavik area and in most other towns in Iceland.

This has been the reality of these players to work and play football as well in any kind of weather. At the time there were not many possibilities to train inside, like there are today as a result of Iceland‘s investment in indoor football training facilities, so these guys who now are entering the World Cup are truly modern-time Vikings, and the joy of playing and community in the team is their trademark.

Nevertheless, indoor facilities are not accessible everywhere for all clubs in Iceland, so many of these guys and girls have to play outside in all weather possible on this rock in the North Atlantic.

I have my favorite team already and, you guessed it, it´s Iceland.

To organize a custom Iceland Football Tour, or attend a match of the National Team or one of the country´s top club teams during your visit, contact me on www.helgastina.com

A dash of Energy – The emotion of Iceland

I have been living abroad for many years now and it is amazing how I miss my country at times.

I try to go to Iceland at least twice a year to meet family and friends and to get the kick of being there in the landscape and energy. I don’t worry so much about the weather when I am over there. I put on an extra jacket, cover my head and face, and I am basically fine.

When arriving at the International airport in Keflavik, an hour outside of Reykjavik, the first impression normally involves wind in one’s face. Massive bursts of fresh air, often in the company of a little rain who never goes straight down but seems to find its own path each and every time.

It is amazing how a shock of fresh air awakes you and gives you energy on the spot, and you are ready for anything.

The drive through the lava rocks on the way to Reykjavik is a trip in itself.

It is kind of like looking at the ocean or the clouds. Nothing really happens . You could look at the landscape for hours and imagine a lot of things…it has its shape and I start to think about the stories I heard when I was a kid about trolls and elves and the hidden people and spirits who are hiding in the stones.

The weather in Iceland is not the reason for traveling over there, unless you find sudden climatic changes remarkable. It is better to pack your whole wardrobe when you go for a walk because the weather changes every five minutes, and it can occasionally cover the full range of seasons in an hour.

When I took my husband to Iceland for the second time we went for a short trip. Originally we were planning to go to Snæfellsnes peninsula, which is one of the most fantastic and energetic places on earth. It’s where my father’s side of the family comes from; my mother’s side from the Western fjords (West Fjords). These two parts of Iceland are known for being very stark and imposing and powerful and I am raised with stories of witches and spiritual people from there. Apparently one of my great great grandfathers was burnt at the stake for witchcraft in the days when alternative medicine was not considered socially acceptable. A least that is what I heard.

Because the weather didn´t allow us to go to Snæfellsnes, we decided to go to Thingvellir and then further. The weather was supposed to be better in that direction. After a snow storm came in from Thingvellir, we experienced all weather possible…rain, sun, wind, snow, hail. Amazing and scary at the same time. Puts you in your place. You cannot control nature and you cannot control Iceland or Icelanders for that matter. We go our own way for good or for bad. We are an independent people, as the title of our one Nobel Prize-winning novel would call us.

 

My American husband is not very fund of cold beaches so I took him to a beach. It was raining. It was crazy windy and I just shouted into the wind because that is the main thing one can do under such circumstances. I think it must be like months of therapy to get all of that energy out of your system and get a new one from the black volcano stones and wind and the amazing powerful ocean with all of its secrets and tragedies. I love it. He was shocked but understood the extent of my craziness a bit better I think.

 

If you would like to experience the wind, energy, snow, sun, rain and people who go down their own path, or to see the scenery that lines such a path, please contact me. I am Helga Stina, and I would like to unwrap Iceland for you.

www.icelandunwrapped.com

Iceland – A dash of energy

I have been living abroad for many years now and it is amazing how I miss my country at times.

I try to go to Iceland at least twice a year to meet family and friends and to get the kick of being there in the landscape and energy. I don’t worry so much about the weather when I am over there. I put on an extra jacket, cover my head and face, and I am basically fine.

When arriving at the International airport in Keflavik, an hour outside of Reykjavik, the first impression normally involves wind in one’s face. Massive bursts of fresh air, often in the company of a little rain who never goes straight down but seems to find its own path each and every time.

It is amazing how a shock of fresh air awakes you and gives you energy on the spot, and you are ready for anything.

The drive through the lava rocks on the way to Reykjavik is a trip in itself.

It is kind of like looking at the ocean or the clouds. Nothing really happens . You could look at the landscape for hours and imagine a lot of things…it has its shape and I start to think about the stories I heard when I was a kid about trolls and elves and the hidden people and spirits who are hiding in the stones.

The weather in Iceland is not the reason for traveling over there, unless you find sudden climatic changes remarkable. It is better to pack your whole wardrobe when you go for a walk because the weather changes every five minutes, and it can occasionally cover the full range of seasons in an hour.

When I took my husband to Iceland for the second time we went for a short trip. Originally we were planning to go to Snæfellsnes peninsula, which is one of the most fantastic and energetic places on earth. It’s where my father’s side of the family comes from; my mother’s side from the Western fjords (West Fjords). These two parts of Iceland are known for being very stark and imposing and powerful and I am raised with stories of witches and spiritual people from there. Apparently one of my great great grandfathers was burnt at the stake for witchcraft in the days when alternative medicine was not considered socially acceptable. A least that is what I heard.

Because the weather didn´t allow us to go to Snæfellsnes, we decided to go to Thingvellir and then further. The weather was supposed to be better in that direction. After a snow storm came in from Thingvellir, we experienced all weather possible…rain, sun, wind, snow, hail. Amazing and scary at the same time. Puts you in your place. You cannot control nature and you cannot control Iceland or Icelanders for that matter. We go our own way for good or for bad. We are an independent people, as the title of our one Nobel Prize-winning novel would call us.

 

My American husband is not very fund of cold beaches so I took him to a beach. It was raining. It was crazy windy and I just shouted into the wind because that is the main thing one can do under such circumstances. I think it must be like months of therapy to get all of that energy out of your system and get a new one from the black volcano stones and wind and the amazing powerful ocean with all of its secrets and tragedies. I love it. He was shocked but understood the extent of my craziness a bit better I think.

If you would like to experience the wind, energy, snow, sun, rain and people who go down their own path, or to see the scenery that lines such a path, please contact me. I am Helga Stina, and I would like to unwrap Iceland for you.

www.icelandunwrapped.com

 

Icelanders and equality

When I was growing up in Iceland, I was surrounded by powerful women. My mother came from the “West fjords” in northwest Iceland where life was harsh, nature was brutal and women often had to lead the fight for their families survival.

My grandmother on my father’s side came from the relatively isolated Snaefellsnes peninsula. In most coastal areas in Iceland, the main livelihood at the beginning of the 20th century came from fishing the treacherous North Atlantic. My great-grandfather, Adalsteinn, had bought his own fishing boat to provide for his family: my great grandmother Helga, for whom I am named, and my grandmother Kristin for whom I also named. Adalstein’s ship tragically went down on the coast, visible to the village where he had been born and in front of his wife and two-year -old daughter.

The day after the officials of the area came to collect all of the belongings of the family to pay for the boat that had just gone down so tragically.

Fortunately Helga had a good friend, a woman, who agreed before the officials arrived that it would be best that Helga would give her belongings to her, to prevent them from being taken from her. A powerful act by a powerful friend who managed to save family treasures, some of which still belong to the family. When my wonderful Aunt Helga (also named after our grandmother) told me this story I was impressed by the power of this incident and the kindness and courage of my great-grandmother’s friend in those days.

Since I was a young woman, my group of friends and I have shared stories of our fore mothers in Iceland, we have talked about great women heroes of ours, like the first woman president of the Republic of Iceland, Vigdis Finnbogadottir, Audur Laxness, the wife of our Nobel prize winner, the women settlers and Viking women who went through tough situations, took risks, and found a way to survive powerfully in making the world more tolerable to those around them. We have made trips to honor these women, visited their places of birth and so on and so forth.

At the moment initiatives and the vibe in Iceland on equality is very interesting and extraordinary in fact. The focus on laws ensuring equal pay, projects run by women in business and in politics, cooperation with schools and workplaces, projects in music and in cultural events, including initiatives by men in promoting equal rights and so on and so forth. The Icelandic vibe focuses on cooperation of everyone making equal rights becoming a reality in the every day of the Icelanders, so equality will never be questioned again but becomes a certain part in the lives of people.

 

What an amazing opportunity.

Please contact Helga Stina for more information.

www.helgastina.com

 

Beer – An important part of the Iceland experience

There has never been a better time to be a beer drinker in Iceland, with an unprecedented mix of clean-tasting lagers and craft-brewed ales, stouts, porters and Belgian-style options available to locals and travelers alike.

While Icelanders are fond of their beer, the good times have only rolled in the Land of Fire and Ice since 1989, when the country lifted its national ban on normal-strength beers.

The ban was intended to keep the hooch-loving locals on the straight and narrow, but its widespread subversion by bar owners and party hosts who mixed the watered-down 2% alcohol “Pilsener” with prime Icelandic vodka, led to a release of the small country’s untapped potential as a truly micro microbrewing superpower.

For those who indulge, Iceland offers a potent mix of microbrews.  Indeed, given the size of the market, even its standard lagers would be microbrews anywhere else.  I am a big fan of two: Gull and Brio, which are both brewed at Reykjavik’s Olgerdin brewery and benefit from the pristine Icelandic glacier water with which they are brewed. Olgerdin also has a small visitor’s center and a range of craft micro beers, the Borg range, anchored by Borg’s Garun Nr.19 Icelandic Stout and with more than 60 mainly British, Irish, and Belgian-inspired brews.

My preferences aren’t universally shared: rival lager Viking Beer, from the city of Akureyri in the country’s north, beats out Reykjavik’s Gull as the country’s market leader.  Perhaps its slogan gives some insight: “You deserve to feel like a Viking at heart. You deserve to drink like one too. You deserve Viking Beer.”

Akureyri’s also represented in the world of craft and micro beers, with Einstok, a local brewery. Einstok produces ales, bocks and porters highlighting the city’s proximity to the Arctic Circle, and enjoys good national distribution.

Sampling these brews is easy in Iceland’s often-excellent collection of pubs and beer bars, with Olstofan and Kaldi being personal favorites.  Olstofan is kind of like a laid-back journalists’ bar with enthusiastic bartenders, and Kaldi more like a US fraternity house from the late 1980s.

Outside of the bars and licensed restaurants, finding a decent beer requires some local knowledge.  Unless you go to the state-run Vinbudin, which has a healthy selection of more than 300 beer options, it will be as if 1989 had never happened.

But a cold lightweight “pilsener” with one of Iceland’s distinctive lamb-based hot dogs, or with a hamburger at a gas station lunch counter has its place. It is a traditional part of the Iceland experience.

If you are coming to Iceland, will beer be on your agenda? Helgastina can arrange brewery visits, recommend watering holes and make sure your favorite microbrew type is waiting for you when you Dine with the Icelanders.

Mike Klein is an American writer and Belgian beer enthusiast based in The Netherlands.

Why not dine with the Icelanders?

Did you know that the Icelanders bake bred and steam fish in the geothermal springs?

If you are interested in getting to know the Icelanders, have wonderful meal in beautiful environment have a look at the website and register for an experience of a lifetime. Dining with the Icelanders 

It is an exciting way to get to know Iceland and Icelanders.

Here is why the idea of Dining with the Icelanders came up three years ago.

I am addicted to travel. I love seeing new places, meeting new people and dining different and exotic food.

When I was younger I was fortunate to live in a couple of places while studying. The most amazing people I met on these stays were the locals who invited me and sometimes my friends to stay with them for some days, or for an evening, having dinner. I am forever thankful to these people for giving me the precious experience of dining with the locals.

Therefore in the memory I remember being at peoples houses, helping with preparing dinner, tasting new things and hearing the history of the food, the recipes, sometimes coming from the grandmother or great grandmother of the family. Both in Austria and in Brazil i even received a cooking book from the area so I could try the recipes at home.

Sometimes interesting stories came along.

In Iceland I heard the story of the woman who always cut the leg of lamb in two before putting it in the oven on a Sunday afternoon.

She never thought about it that much, but when her daughter asked her why she was doing that all these years, she replied ” my mum always did and so did my grandma”. The story unfolded when the grand mother reviled the secret.

When she was young, in the beginning of the 20th century,  making dinner in the kitchen with her mum, they used to not have a big enough pot for the lamb, for it to fit in entirely, so her mum had to cut the leg of lamb in two.

Many years later when she moved with her children and husband to a new house, with big enough pots, she continued cutting the leg of lamb in two and that is where this tradition in the family began.

I am sure that for this family the lamb would taste entirely different if not cut in two so I guess they continued the tradition, until this day.

In Iceland organic spices from the Icelandic flora have been used in cooking for centuries. It is not a secret that growing spices in Iceland can be hard because of the weather and conditions, even though people have been growing vegetables and other delicious food products using the geothermal  heating, the cheap energy, to warm up green houses for growing things.

The Icelandic flora is amazing and the smell, colors and possibilities of it endless. In recent years companies and individuals have been exploring and investigating the strengths and the possibilities of the Icelandic flora in medicine, cosmetics and food.

For some of my friends over there, collecting eatable mushrooms is one of the tradition of the family when summer is almost over.

I visited my friend this summer who lives on the country side close to Reykjavik, surrounded by a forest, her partner has been growing for years, and a salmon river in her back yard. In this area organic production has started on the nearest farms where entrepreneurs have seen and tested on their own skin how organic products both taste better and make you feel better.

I had a lamb for dinner at my friends house, as one does a lot when visiting Iceland, with freshly picked herbs from the mountain next to her (she took a little walk to get them for the dinner). This was enjoyed with products from her own green house and from the organic farm next door.

After that day I was feeling totally relaxed, physically tired after our walks that day. Breathing deep because of all of the fresh air and feeling warm inside because of an amazing company.

This is what I love about Iceland. It´s personal and the people are warm and inspiring. The air is fresh,  the nature is right there and the weather changes constantly. Gives a lot of spice in life in a short time.

When I was working with young people in Iceland many years ago, I used to use the kitchen as  a way of getting to know people. It it actually my experience that when working together preparing a meal or cleaning up, your boundaries are less in the way of the communication and that allows people to interact in a better and more precious way

More info on Dining with the Icelanders on www.icelandunwrapped.com

 

Everybody needs to eat – You should dine with the Icelanders

If you are interested in getting to know the Icelanders, have wonderful meal in beautiful environment have a look at the website and register for an experience of a lifetime. Dining with the Icelanders 

It is an exciting way to get to know Iceland and Icelanders.

Here is why the idea of Dining with the Icelanders came up three years ago.

I am addicted to travel. I love seeing new places, meeting new people and dining different and exotic food.

When I was younger I was fortunate to live in a couple of places while studying. The most amazing people I met on these stays were the locals who invited me and sometimes my friends to stay with them for some days, or for an evening, having dinner. I am forever thankful to these people for giving me the precious experience of dining with the locals.

Therefore in the memory I remember being at peoples houses, helping with preparing dinner, tasting new things and hearing the history of the food, the recipes, sometimes coming from the grandmother or great grandmother of the family. Both in Austria and in Brazil i even received a cooking book from the area so I could try the recipes at home.

Sometimes interesting stories came along.

In Iceland I heard the story of the woman who always cut the leg of lamb in two before putting it in the oven on a Sunday afternoon.

She never thought about it that much, but when her daughter asked her why she was doing that all these years, she replied ” my mum always did and so did my grandma”. The story unfolded when the grand mother reviled the secret.

When she was young, in the beginning of the 20th century,  making dinner in the kitchen with her mum, they used to not have a big enough pot for the lamb, for it to fit in entirely, so her mum had to cut the leg of lamb in two.

Many years later when she moved with her children and husband to a new house, with big enough pots, she continued cutting the leg of lamb in two and that is where this tradition in the family began.

I am sure that for this family the lamb would taste entirely different if not cut in two so I guess they continued the tradition, until this day.

In Iceland organic spices from the Icelandic flora have been used in cooking for centuries. It is not a secret that growing spices in Iceland can be hard because of the weather and conditions, even though people have been growing vegetables and other delicious food products using the geothermal  heating, the cheap energy, to warm up green houses for growing things.

The Icelandic flora is amazing and the smell, colors and possibilities of it endless. In recent years companies and individuals have been exploring and investigating the strengths and the possibilities of the Icelandic flora in medicine, cosmetics and food. That is a very exciting development by for example Sóley Organics  and more.

For some of my friends over there, collecting eatable mushrooms is one of the tradition of the family when summer is almost over.

I visited my friend this summer who lives on the country side close to Reykjavik, surrounded by a forest, her partner has been growing for years, and a salmon river in her back yard. In this area organic production has started on the nearest farms where entrepreneurs have seen and tested on their own skin how organic products both taste better and make you feel better.

I had a lamb for dinner at my friends house, as one does a lot when visiting Iceland, with freshly picked herbs from the mountain next to her (she took a little walk to get them for the dinner). This was enjoyed with products from her own green house and from the organic farm next door.

After that day I was feeling totally relaxed, physically tired after our walks that day. Breathing deep because of all of the fresh air and feeling warm inside because of an amazing company.

This is what I love about Iceland. It´s personal and the people are warm and inspiring. The air is fresh,  the nature is right there and the weather changes constantly. Gives a lot of spice in life in a short time.

When I was working with young people in Iceland many years ago, I used to use the kitchen as  a way of getting to know people. It it actually my experience that when working together preparing a meal or cleaning up, your boundaries are less in the way of the communication and that allows people to interact in a better and more precious way

 

 

Summer is coming – Golfing in the midnight sun

NEWS FLASH: There are six and a half month until the beginning of summer in Iceland!

Why not start planning now? After all, even thinking of the midnight sun can add a bit of sunshine to life .

It sounds crazy but the only time I have been golfing in my life was in the North of Iceland on a beautiful summer day in July and it was midnight. Magical view and great company. Golfing did not become my passion but I will never forget this experience.

Fishing at midnight is also one of the things Iceland has to offer and what a way to end the day by a beautiful river, in spectacular surroundings, with fresh air and time standing still.

I also went climbing up a mountain at 8 AM in June when I was a young woman. No time to waste in summer. Everything is possible and the feeling of energy is endless.

It´s a fact that during the summer, visitors and locals are filled with energy during the time of the midnight sun where everything is possible. So why not go golfing, horseback riding, swimming, hiking, sailing, kayaking or dancing at midnight. You can even play chess outside in the midnight sun and I´m certain you could find someone to play with you.

The feeling of peace, space and excitement when you manage to use your day to the fullest while in Iceland during summer. There is nothing like it.

I reccomend it.

Summer 2018 is just around the corner.

Time to start planning your visit to magical Iceland.

I can‘t wait to hear from you – Greetings from Helga Stina owner an founder of Iceland Unwrapped.

Iceland Unwrapped 

(Photo by Frida Hjaltested)

Golfing in the midnight sun

Have you ever thought about golfing in the midnight sun in a magnificent location?

Go fishing in a beautiful bay and have your catch cooked for you in a an amazing authentic restaurant?

Have you had a dream of attending a concert in someones home?

Are you in for kayaking in a deserted fjord?

Would you be interested in meeting the Icelandic horse and explore Iceland peacefully?

If any of this is appealing to you or if you would like to experience something completely different, contact Helga Stina for making your personal dream come true.

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