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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Two years and the importance of connecting when travelling

Our two year anniversary, and the importance of connecting when travelling

Iceland Unwrapped by helgastina is two years old this October.

The reason for establishing the company here in Holland was to try to combine my interest in tourism, connecting people and my love for my home country Iceland.

As you probably know, Iceland has gained increasing attention as a tourist destination in recent years.

What I was aware of before starting the company that many of the visitors that I met on their return from Iceland were super excited to meet me, the Icelander, as they had not made much contact with the locals when in Iceland.

In a country of about 300.000 people there is need of additional work force to receive tourists sufficiently and that is why many of those working in the tourist industry in Iceland are people from abroad who know languages and are excited to be a part of the development of tourism in Iceland.

I thought that of course something more could be done to provide visitors to Iceland a connection to the Icelanders, to make the trip even more exciting and fulfilling.

In the development phase of my company, I was in contact with my Icelandic network to hear about new trends and exciting entrepreneurs working on projects aimed at connecting people together, and to give an extraordinary experience while in Iceland.

This has been my goal ever since and on my trips to Iceland in the last two years, I have been around the country visiting people who offer personal service and unique experiences.

I am very thankful for my network  that has made it possible for me to develop extraordinary experiences for my customers.

Dining with the Icelanders, concerts in the homes of locals, personal guided tours based on the customers’ individual interests are some of the few things Iceland Unwrapped has discovered and developed on this path.

Did you know that Iceland Unwrapped has had a very diverse group of customers? That is the beauty of being a travel planner working with people´s interests and dreams.

Let me give you examples

Friends going on an adventure trip, a mother and daughter having a stopover in Iceland, a group of students visiting Icelandic institutions and enjoying the magic of Iceland between meetings, a group of employees invited by their company on a group building trip and a family of 5 seeking adventures, to name a few.

Did you know that you can go fishing and have your fish cooked for you in a fine restaurant after your fishing tour?

Did you know that there are 4 big international music festivals in Iceland during the year and a lot of smaller ones?

It is a privilege to learn the wishes and dreams of people wanting to go to Iceland and to connect them to the Icelanders.

It has been an amazing learning experience to start a travel company in the midst of a travel boom in Iceland. To decide that I wanted to do different things, and to focus on the personal and connecting people was a great step in offering diverse possibilities for people wanting to visit this beautiful and exotic island, Iceland.

“Meeting the Icelanders was my favorite part of the trip – in part because of the people we were able to meet, but also because that day we saw some of the most spectacular scenery. It was great to have a personal tour, to be able to learn about Iceland and connect with real people”. (Sara – USA)

I look forward to the years to come.

Helga Kristin Fridjonsdottir( Helga Stina)

Founder and owner of Iceland Unwrapped by helgastina

More info on travel planning and extraordinary experiences

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.

Keeping it real in the face of Iceland’s tourist boom

I remember when growing up in Iceland and traveling with my parents around the country, that people were curious about each other. The smallness of the country was sometimes too much for a globe trotter like me, but it was also amazing how people managed to find out how they were related or connected with a two minute conversation. And everything changes when you suddenly know people or someone they know. The world becomes smaller and there is a common interest.

Iceland has become of one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. When I meet people from around the world, everyone wants to go there, and everybody knows someone who has been there or is planning to go there. This makes me proud because when I was young and adventurous in Brazil in 1990 many people didn´t know where Iceland was, and at the University I attended it wasn´t even on the map in the classroom. Of course I drew it on the map for them on the spot, not willing to accept this ignorance of my fellow students.

What’s at risk with a tourist boom like what is happening now in Iceland, is that the personal touch goes down the drain. People get greedy and want to make everything big and exciting and commercial for all the curious tourists arriving. I read somewhere that Iceland is expecting 1.6 million tourists in the year of 2016. Notice that the population of Iceland is 300.000. So this means a big pressure on the infrastructure and a need for a lot of people to service the crowd.

Iceland to me is personal, real, and authentic. Not a Hilton Hotel next to the Geysers or 18 busses next to the Blue lagoon.

When I discovered that my favorite guesthouse in Reykjavik had been bought by a huge firm owning 70 apartments in the center of Reykjavik I was truly disappointed.

The personal Iceland I want to present focuses on providing access to the authenticity of the country, introducing visitors to people who want to share the best of Iceland’s culture, nature and unique way of living, to lodging places that reflect the real traditions of this special place, and to locations beyond the reach of the usual tour busses and tourist circuits.

My personal Iceland is the real Iceland. Let me share It with you.

All further information on www.helgastina.is