Peaceful Iceland – and its appeal to the 2021 traveler

When people mention Iceland, the first things that generally come to mind are mountains, volcanos, geysers and breathtakingly stunning landscapes. 

Oh, they’re all included in the price of a plane ticket (assuming you can rent a car, a guide or take a tour that will get them to you). But, having lived in Iceland since July of 2020, I get a sense there’s another side of Iceland that will have some appeal to those willing to travel this spring and thereafter.

It’s peaceful.  

And by peaceful, I don’t necessarily mean “quiet”.  I mean, rather, that Iceland works and is more than ready to accommodate its next visitors.  

Rain and shine in Reykjavik – Photo by Helga Stina

 

While it will take some time for Iceland’s tourism industry to recover, the country is emerging from the worst of COVID-19 relative to other destinations.  

Never a big package-tourism place, Iceland has a great base of small hotels and rental properties (many optimistically called “summer houses”).

Being in total relaxation for a couple of days in this environment is a treat of a lifetime – Photo by Helga Stina

 

Many summer houses are secluded and have scenic views and built in hot tubs, some using Iceland’s famous geothermally heated water. Most have fully equipped kitchens. As seclusion in Iceland does not mean being completely cut off, Iceland’s well-supplied supermarkets are rarely more than a half an hour-hour drive away.  

 

Town life, and the comings and goings in Iceland’s university-town-sized capital of Reykjavik, has remained active throughout the pandemic – with restaurants and cinemas remaining open, and with the local geothermal spa/swimming pools fully operational in most towns across the country.

Iceland is perfect for picnic. Reykjavík autumn sun – Photo by helgastina

Reykjavik has an easy feel to it at the moment.  No crowds, plenty of dining choices, a selection of small museums and local sights.  A brief drive of 15-20 minutes outside the city or its suburbs situates you in sweeping seascapes, lunar landscapes, silent volcanos and steaming geothermal zones.  To make the most of your Reykjavik area experience, the services of local experts like Iceland Unwrapped are invaluable now because many sites and locations have closed or are changing hands as the recovery gathers pace.

The mercurial national currency, the Icelandic Krona, is also the most tourist-friendly it’s been in years, bringing prices down to levels comparable to larger cities in North America and Europe, excepting of course the nation’s pricey if diversely supplied chain of state liquor stores.

To be sure, you can come to Iceland and be blown away by the scenery.  But travelers seeking peace, quiet, comfort and space will be pleased by a trip to the Land of Fire and Ice.  2021 will be a good time to come.

Mike Klein is Principal of Changing The Terms, a Reykjavik-based business communication consultancy.  A US native, Mike has lived in Iceland since 2020 and has also resided in Belgium, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands and the UK.  He is the former Europe – Middle East – Africa chair of IABC, a leading global communication association.  He is particularly fond of Icelandic cod and the Gull brand of Icelandic lager, and is married to Helga Stina, founder of Iceland Unwrapped.

Happy New Travel Year 2021

This has been a weird year to say the least.

Everything we have taken for granted has been put on hold: such as hugging each other or shaking hands, traveling or meeting up with all of our family and friends at once. Some places have been hit very hard and are still in the middle of this Covid hurricane.

Last month the first vaccines arrived in Iceland. The minister of health, a fine lady, was following the flight on radar to make sure everything would be as it should be and nothing would stop this important cargo to arrive safely to the shores of this rock in the north Atlantic.

There is a relief in Icelandic society now as we can see an end of this situation in sight and possibilities of getting life back to normal, whatever that normal will be.

At the moment health staff are vaccinating our most vulnerable, along people in nursing homes and health personnel, the heroes of 2020 without a doubt.

But what will 2021 look like? 

The travel industry in Iceland and around the world has shrunk, collapsed or been put on hold.

Will we be able to recover from this? I am sure we will. But it will take time,

I also know that people have kept on dreaming about travel and destinations because dreaming is important when you are in the middle of a pandemic. Dreams that might come true in the New Year or in the year after that.

Iceland has been a popular destination and will likely see something of a travel revival. Here are 4 main reasons:

1. Space. People need to get used to the idea of being around other people again and will want uncrowded destinations with space for social distancing. Iceland becomes a strong choice because of its low population density and abundance of open space. All 360.000 of us live in a space the size of the US state of Ohio, twice the size of Denmark and nearly two and half times the size of the Netherlands

2. Hospitality. The Icelanders are aware of the importance of receiving guests with respect and the uniqueness of a small society. That is why all around Iceland you can find entrepreneurs who have built up wonderful businesses with their heart, soul, and bare hands to be able to show the best of Iceland’s nature, culture and gastronomy. You can even visit people in their homes for dinner or a home concert. The diversity in accommodation is also important – you can find any type of accommodation on the island, from a farmer’s guesthouse with animals in sight to a fancy hotel in one of the towns.

3. Diversity. There are few places on earth that offer the diversity in landscape as Iceland does. The land of fire and ice offers geothermal pools that are open all year round, waterfalls, glaciers and lava formations that will make the imagination go crazy. Ocean all around, rivers and creeks with pure water to drink on your hikes. The midnight sun in June and the Aurora Borealis in winter are experiences everyone should have at least once in their lives.

4. Distance management. I always recommend my clients to take it easy even as they take their extraordinary excursions in Iceland. Feeling the culture, nature, fresh air and the purest water imaginable is a part of the experience. And to be able to do that you need to know how to do it. Distance is a big part of planning your trip in Iceland. That is why working with locals is essential to make the most of visitors’ time and money.

Keep dreaming. Iceland will be waiting when you are ready. It will be wonderful to receive you in the coming months – or the coming years.

Wishing you and your loved ones a happy new year 2021.

Helga Stína – Founder and owner of Iceland Unwrapped by helgastina

What’s next for travel? Possibilities in the challenges

“Never let a serious crisis go to waste. And what I mean by that it’s an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before.” (Rahm Emanuel).

I know many of us are wondering “where to next”? How is travelling going to look like? What is going to be possible? What, if anything, will remain the same.

I see this challenge as a great opportunity to change the way we look at travel and service to travelers. I see endless possibilities and creations in coming years in tourism despite this crisis.

My view on travel for years has been that less is more. Authentic is sustainable, and its immensely important to connect with the locals if we genuinely want to connect the world.

Where to next, is what many of us are wondering at this time – Photo by Helga Stina on a fantastic hike last autumn in Iceland

I have been running Iceland Unwrapped for the past five years. When I was researching about how to go about starting my approach, I came across blogs and information on celebrities who had been so fortunate to travel to fantastic locations, like Iceland, having a personal travel planner doing the planning.

I thought to myself. Why can I not offer this approach to people who are not celebrities. People who don´t want to follow the crowds and people who need a personal approach to their traveling and needs.

So I did.

Cliffs can be scary but to be able to get to the top you need to plan ahead as you do with every challenge – Photo by a client Claudia from The Netherlands

Meeting clients on their terms

Iceland Unwrapped focuses on meeting clients on their terms, having their needs in mind. Time, money and dreams play main roles in the travel planning approach. Getting people to connect with one another is also an aim – both to create a richer experience for the client, and to make the world a more connected place.

I have developed the concept and am now offering the same approach for people who visit Delft in The Netherlands, where I live.

I receive families, individuals, groups of friends, workplaces and specialist groups who want to be inspired in a new location.

What next?

Now we are in a big crisis for many people. Tourism has been hit in a hard way. Many of us are wondering what will happen next. How will tourism look after this crisis and how are we going to recover?

Even though I think many people are realizing how life can be more simple, with working from home and being confined to limited areas being the current norm, the yearning for something different remains alive.

The likely need for continued social distancing builds in a challenge for destinations and providers to meet the needs and importance of people to enjoy, connect, and experience the wow factor while keeping safe and being more physically distant.

Mandy and her group from Tennessee enjoying a wonderful dinner in 2019, opera singing and cultural experience in the company of Bergþór and Albert – Photo courtesy of Albert Eldar

How will this show up in real life?

Transport

Transport is not going to be the same. It will not be possible to shuffle loads of people in planes, ships, trains or busses having the principles of social distancing in mind, at least not until a vaccine takes hold.

As you know, there are two ways to get to Iceland. By plane or by ship.

There is a ship going from Denmark to Iceland with a stop on the beautiful Faroe Islands. It is possible to bring your car and therefore avoid renting a car in Iceland. My prediction is that there will be less people on ships like that or limited service to prevent people from dining together for example.

Flying will also be a challenge to ensure the social distance. Fewer passengers on each plane is a logical guess and less service perhaps.  It will be interesting to see how this develops because people are not going to stop traveling forever but we will be traveling in a different way and perhaps less frequently.

Highland road – Iceland offers a lot of space so social distancing is something we are very good at when needed – Photo by Helga Stina in Kjolur

Accommodation

A challenge regarding accommodation is the service level. Focus on personal accommodations, small or middle size with an experience of servicing smaller crowds, with the personal approach as key, is the future in my opinion. At least in the nearest future. We have to have in mind as service providers that people are skeptical and perhaps afraid of being to close together with people they don´t know. That is a going to something to have in mind when planning tourism in the future.

Could the future include breakfast rooms with more spaces in between and bye bye to buffets?

Everyone needs to eat so thinking out of the box is essential here. Less clients each time and more care when serving is key. There are many challenges here and also many entrepreneurs in  toursims that are geniuses in finding sollutions and fun ways of addressing this issue.

Flatey Island – Everybody needs some peace and quite in life and Iceland offers endless locations for just that – Photo by Helga Stina

Experiences

This situation offers a unique opportunity of making trips and adventures in Iceland and around the world more authentic and personal. Many fantastic companies in Iceland are offering trips for smaller groups and individuals and the creativity is incredible. I am fortunate to be working with partners that think out of the box with creative solutions and experiences as key. This will be essential when traveling and experiencing the near future. Talking together and finding solutions together is key here, to make tourism work again with a different focus.

Dining with the Icelanders has been the flagship of Iceland Unwrapped where 14 families and individuals open their homes to travelers in Iceland for the amazing experience of connecting and dining a simple meal together. The options are endless both in connecting people through interests such as cross fit, knitting, history, medicine, horses, photography, music or whatever the travelers are interested in knowing about.

In the future I can see this option being possible having sanitation and social distancing method in mind, at least until a vaccine has been discovered.

A wonderful meal and a typical Icelandic cake for dessert is an unforgettable and a simple way of adding the extra touch to a trip to Iceland – Photo by Helga Stina and the cake is called “Randalín”

 

Thinking out of the box

Overall these are challenging times but also an opportunity of growing, thinking out of the box and create a more sustainable tourism experience for travelers around the world.

It´s now we need to enjoy the creativity and braveness of the many entrepreneurs in tourism to be able to create fantastic options after this challenge we are facing.

So just to sum my ideas up.

More personal approach to meet the needs of clients with different needs than before, such as avoiding crowds during their entire holiday.

Cooperation between partners to use each others strenghts.

Thinking out of the box for soulutions.

Keep dreaming – Iceland will be waiting when you are ready

Iceland is going to be waiting for you when you are ready. To find solutions for you trip, contact your personal travel planner to maximize the experience.

More information on www.icelandunwrapped.com or contact Helga Stina directly for an informal chat about your options.

If you are a travel planner or a travel company feel free to contact me for a chat on how the future may look for all of us.

In the covid-19 crisis the world has connected in a unique way. There is so much space for continuing that development, also in the travel business.

The “looking forward to” is an option – By Helga Stina

Many of us are in shock due to this horrible virus attacking us all around the world. It´s an unprecedented situation and we are all trying to figure out how to function in this changed world.

This is of course devastating and challenging in many ways for various reasons.

The scenery in Iceland is often breathtaking – Photo by Helga Stina

One – People are afraid and insecure and when that is the case people make strange decisions like buying all toilet paper rolls possible in every shop.

Two – Businesses stop with people losing their jobs making future planning difficult and scary.

Three – People have to reshape their daily lives when staying home all day, working, homeschooling their children and use different methods in shopping and providing for themselves.

Four – For the travel enthusiasts. It is difficult to plan ahead as it is difficult to know when this crisis is over.

Vestrahorn beach, Iceland
It is very important to get of the beaten track when in Iceland – Photo by Helga Stina

But there is a positive side

As I am working in tourism thinking out of the box is important at these challenging times.

What I always enjoy the most when working with my clients is to use a good time to plan ahead.

The focus is on making the Iceland trip an unforgettable one, where you connect to the Icelanders, experience hidden gems, extraordinary scenery and the feeling of Iceland.

My aim in my company is always to connect people and offer authentic trips.

“Iceland has been a bucket list destination for me since I was really young. My husband and I finally decided to take the plunge this year and visit with some of our friends. I knew trying to arrange my own travel plan would be quite time consuming and I frankly did not know where to start. We called upon Helgastina to help us and it was the best decision we made. She took care of everything. All we had to do was choose accommodation from a list of recommendations she provided.

We were provided with a complete guide for day-to-day activites for every area/region we were in. She also was spot on with our request of 50% “touristy” activities and 50% relaxing/quieter activities. We had a wonderful trip. I will definitely be planning another trip in the future to explore more of Iceland.

Thank you again Iceland Unwrapped for such a wonderful vacation” (Thandi Storey – Traveling in Iceland in the summer of 2019)

The looking forward to is very important and especially in the time of being stuck home and not able to make the travel dreams come true at the moment.

The unforgettable lava formation around Iceland are a must for every traveler. Photo by Helga Stina

So in these strange times, I would like to invite you to look at Iceland as a destination in August, September and October 2020…or whenever fits your agenda.

Starting a conversation about your dream trip is important and when you work with a personal travel planner like myself, the playing with ideas, looking at possibilities and looking forward to will make your trip even more enjoyable.

If you would like to see how it works or what the focus of Iceland Unwrapped is please don´t hesitate to contact me to schedule a call. It doesn´t matter if you are  thinking of traveling in 2020 or in 2021. Starting to dream and plan is a wonderful possibility.

Look forward to hearing from you.

Keep dreaming.

Helga Stina

Founder and owner of Iceland Unwrapped

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Windy Wine tasting – By Brynja Bjarnadóttir

Have you ever dreamed of opening up a bottle of wine by the ocean?

A friend of mine inspired me by writing down one hundred things she wanted to do or accomplish in her life. I followed her example and did the same. I started of with the most obvious things (like meeting Beyonce and climbing Mount Everest) but after writing around thirty things, my idea bank started running dry. Then came the fun part, I had to be creative and come up with a lot of less significant things, I remember writing things like cooking a three course meal, sleeping under the bare sky and knitting a scarf. My favorite one was definitely opening up a bottle of wine by the sea. It had that romantic feel to it and I was very excited about doing it.

Windy Wine – Photo courtesy of Brynja

A friend of mine from the Check Republic told me he was coming for a short visit to Iceland and I thought it would be a perfect opportunity to check this thing of my list, we could open a bottle of wine up together by the sea. He had one night in Reykjavík before he would go driving around the country, so the day was set and I bought the bottle of wine. The day arrived but unfortunately it was an extremely windy one, definitely not an ideal time to go and sit by the ocean.

Windy Wine – courtesy of Brynja

 

I had a decision to make, to be defeated by the weather or to be stubborn and go anyway. I chose the ladder, it was an absolutely crazy idea. We went to Ægissíða together with some friends, where there is a small hot tub for our feet and we all huddled up there together, fighting off the wind and opened up the bottle. The bottle went from one person to the other and we were laughing so hard at what we were doing. It didn’t have that romantic feel that I was hoping for but it was perfect anyway, even better then what I had imagined.

 

Later my friend told me this was the best thing he did in Iceland.

For more information on extraordinary places to experience hidden gems contact Iceland Unwrapped 

Iceland Unwrapped by helgastina is a travel planning company focusing in connecting to the Icelanders, culture and nature in Iceland. Please contact us for more information
Brynja Bjarnadottir – Musician – Dancer- Filmmaker – Freelance writer for Iceland Unwrapped 

When is the boat picking us up? – By Brynja Bjarnadóttir

Have you ever dreamed of visiting a remote place , only reachable by sea in Iceland?

Can you think of a remote little town in Iceland?

Now think of an even smaller one and way more remote. That is Hesteyri. There are only few houses there, a run down whaling station and a cemetery. No one lives there any more except for a few people in the summer. To get there from Reykjavík you first have to drive to Ísafjörður, threading all the fjords on the way and once you’re there, you have to take a small boat to get to the final destination, a one hour boat trip organized specially on request.

The harbor in Hesteyri – Photo courtesy of Brynja

 

I went there for the first time with a group in 2016 to work on building a small hydro power plant to provide the summer habitants with renewable energy. Almost all house in Iceland rely on renewable energy but there are a few exceptions, some places are so far away from the grid that they have to rely on oil or gas. Hesteyri used to be one of them until 2017 when the power plant was ready.

Picture courtesy of Brynja

 

I had never heard of the place before I went there. Because I was going there to work I didn’t have a very glamorous image of the place in my head. But I couldn’t have been more wrong! As soon as I stepped off the boat I fell in love with the place. I remember seeing tall angelica’s and a field of purple and yellow flowers, I had never seen anything like it before. In Iceland it is quite uncommon to see a field filled with flowers and I didn’t realize right away why in Hesteyri flowers grow so wild. The answer lies in the remoteness; not even the sheep can get there. They are known to waltz freely around the entire country in summertime, eating all the grass they stumble upon and making no exceptions for beautiful flowers.

Flowers in Hesteyri – Photo courtesy of Brynja

 

While staying there I picked up a book from the shelf called Ég man þig (I remember you). It’s a ghost/horror story that takes place in Hesteyri. A group of people go there for a week and strange things start to happen. The scenery is perfect, abandoned houses with no electricity or phone connections. I recommend the book but I’m not sure I can recommend reading it there. I definitely had some nightmares.

Hesteyri – Photo courtesy of Brynja

 

For more information on extraordinary places to experience hidden gems contact Iceland Unwrapped 

Iceland Unwrapped by helgastina is a travel planning company focusing in connecting to the Icelanders, culture and nature in Iceland. Please contact us for more information
Brynja Bjarnadottir – Musician – Dancer- Filmmaker – Freelance writer for Iceland Unwrapped 

 

Have you ever dreamed of knowing more about the trolls and the elves and the hidden people of Iceland?

The Icelanders were a nation of fishermen and farmers until the Second World War, when people moved to the capital Reykjavik and other towns in Iceland. This was mainly because of work provided by the American military that stayed in Iceland during the war. Here is a bit of information on the Occupation of Iceland during that time. 

Before that people stayed in fisherman villages and on farms and made life work for themselves, using folktales among other things to entertain themselves during rest hours and evenings.

Imagine being on a farm in Iceland, surrounded by lava fields, extraordinary nature and the colors and power of the mountains everywhere you look. As you can imagine the possibilities of story telling about natural phenomena such as lava formations surrounded by geothermal smoke, fog and lack of sunlight during the winter months could encourage creative minds to form stories and tales through the centuries.

Photo by Frida

The book nation Iceland is known for having shelves filled with books by Icelandic authors and sometimes specially chosen foreign ones. In recent years this has changes a lot and the selection of books in the Icelanders shelves has changed from being Icelandic to being more international.

When I was growing up there were at least two Icelandic authors that were in every shelf in every home in Iceland I dare to say. One was our Nobel Price literature author Halldor Laxness. The other selection of books I was especially scared of and excited about at the same time as a child, were the folk tales collected by  Jon Arnason

These books were so exotic, scary and exciting at the same time, about trolls, elves, hidden people, ghosts and other unexplained creatures. Enough to scare the hell out of everyone or at least get you wondering what was real and what was not.

Dimmuborgir – North of Iceland – Photo by Helga Stina

And where did these stories come from? Yes they came from people living in extraordinary landscapes where the formation of the lava when the sun was setting or rising could be anything from a troll to an elf or a Christmas cat (yes there is such a thing in Iceland).

These stories have integrated into the soul and being of the Icelanders through the centuries and influence a lot of everyday life and way of being. Perhaps you have heard stories of elves disturbing and changing plans of constructions in recent times in Iceland

Not it´s not a joke.

When asked if I believe in elves, trolls and hidden people, I always say that I don´t know if they don´t exist so why not believe and make your reality a bit more colorful and exciting. You can even get a guided tour and hear tales in areas where elves and hidden people have been living. That is a very exciting experience to try.

Here is an example of one of those stories with a bit of background

In modern times the Icelanders have integrated the believes in hidden people, trolls and elves into daily life such as during Christmas, New Years and midsummer celebrations when these creatures appear for some people to see..and some not.

You don´t need a huge imagination to understand where these tales come from if you have experiences being outside in the fog on a mountain surrounded by lava fields and no sound..

…until you hear something…..

Grýla – Mum of the Jule Lads

(Helga Stina – Founder and owner of Iceland Unwrapped)

If you want to know more about unwrapping Iceland and get a personalized travel plan for you and those who travel with you contact Helga Stina

“We tell the stories of all types of exploration – from inner caves to outer space and many places in between”

“We tell the stories of all types of exploration – from inner caves to outer space and many places in between”

By Mike Klein @mklein818

 

Thirty miles from the Arctic Circle, in Husavik, a town with 2200 souls, a small but ambitious museum invites visitors to experience stories of exploration – including the most complete explanation of Iceland’s own “lunar mission” as a training location for the Apollo astronauts.

 

“The Exploration Museum tells stories of all types of exploration – from the Vikings to caves outer space.  The common themes – human curiosity and the desire to uncover something new,” said Örlygur Hnefill Örlygsson (Orly), the museum’s founder and leader.

Orly explaining the geology of the Askja region to the family of Neil Armstrong during a visit in 2015.

 

The story of “Iceland’s Lunar Mission”

 

Orly’s own interest in exploration dates back to his early childhood, to the time of NASA’s Challenger Space Shuttle Disaster. In spite of the tragedy, Orly began to develop an interest in space and in the reasons why people were interested in heading there.  “My mother bought me a book, I was so interested – in space, planets, space suits, and even though I focused on other things when I was 10-25, my interest was re-sparked when I found out that the Apollo astronauts had trained here.”

 

“I was reading a book of old newspaper articles and saw an article, but also noticed there was not an effort to put the whole story together, which dated from two training missions in 1965 and 1967. So I started to gather the oral history of the event – locating the people involved, the drivers, journalists, and caterers, and they had a lot of stories to tell.”

 

 

“I managed to get some good stories and some amazing photos, which form the heart of the exhibit,” Orly added.

The family of Neil Armstrong unveiling a monument in Húsavík, Iceland honoring Iceland’s part in the Apollo program.

 

In collecting the stories, Orly noted a number of themes:

  • The astronauts themselves: “It was very powerful to get to know the astronauts. The stories about them were still vivid fifty years later. The astronauts were expected to be role models, and they had to be very discreet about their partying activities. And they partied a bit in Iceland too. In order to purchase liquor, they created a coded language with a local journalist to radio in orders. ‘Blue shirts’ was code for Vodka, ‘white shirts’ was code for whiskey. They also went fishing and did the touristy things one did here in those days.
  • Why they selected Iceland: “It wasn’t just that Iceland bore a resemblance to the moon, but that the types of geology were relatively similar compared to other locations around the world. As most of the Astronauts were trained as test pilots, they needed to learn geology and learn to pick the best rocks to return with.  It’s a common misconception that they came here to practice moonwalking.”
  • Connecting with local history: the mission was not secret, and the Astronauts even had a press conference when they arrived. One of the first things they mentioned is that the Icelandic Loftleidir airliner they had flown from the US was named for Leif Eriksson, the Viking explorer said to have been the first European to land on North American soil.

 

The Exploration Museum’s exhibit is built around these stories and photos, but also includes personal items from the astronauts, an Icelandic coin from the astronauts’ first trip, rock samples used during the geology part of the training and even a small moon rock.

 

 Exploring beyond the museum

 

As part of the Exploration Museum’s mission, Orly and his team also offer interested travelers opportunities to visit some of the locations where the astronauts trained. “We can take people to all of the places, and we have actually had eight of the thirty two astronauts come here with their families.”

 

The mission of the museum also focuses on stimulating the spirit of exploration more broadly.  Every year, the museum hosts the Explorers’ Festival, where up to eight explorers from around the world come to exchange their stories, be they astronauts, cave specialists, or even scuba divers. Aside from sharing their stories, they share their art, sketches, poetry and music, and the Leif Eriksson Awards are given for life exploration achievements and for young explorers.

Here is a video focusing on how Iceland and the area near Husavik can be used for training purposes for future astronauts.

 

For those who make the six-hour trip from Reykjavik to Husavik (or the faster but pricey AIr Iceland Connect flight), there is much to explore in the nearby area, including glaciers, fjords, bays and opportunities to get out onto the sea.  In the summer, it is also possible to drive across Iceland to Husavik through the stunning and largely untouched Icelandic Highlands.

Moon walker Charlie Duke visiting Ásbyrgi last year with Orly and his daughter Aníta.

 

 

If you are interested in being a part of an extraordinary trip visiting the highlands of Iceland and specially chosen locations, a cooperation of The Exploration Museum and Iceland Unwrapped, please have a look at www.moontrip19.com

Travel time can be in August and September 2019

 

This trip combines the wonders of Iceland with an adventure of a lifetime in the highlands and with a tailor made exploration trip in the Husavik area. This trip is for groups of families, friends, workplaces or anyone that would like to explore extraordinary nature, get to know the history of the exploration to the moon with experts in the field, don´t hesitate to contact us. All you need is a group of minimum four and a dream to do a trip like no other. 

 More information on the Exploration Museum can be found on their website www.explorationmuseum.com

More information on Personalized travel planning in Iceland with Iceland Unwrapped can be found here 

Photos by Helga Stina – Frida Hjaltested and courtesy of The Exploration Museum in Husavik.

 

 

 

Unwrapping my Iceland – By Edda Jonsdóttir

Unwrapping my Iceland

When asked to unwrap my Iceland, I immediately thought about the opportunities I have had to show visitors around the country and provide them with insights into the culture. What a privilege that has been. That is why I admire the services offered at Iceland Unwrapped, where tailor-made itineraries often include interaction with locals and cultural insights that are sure to leave an imprint.

 

Iceland has become a highly popular destination in the past few years. But what does this remote volcanic island, in the middle of the Atlantic, really have to offer?

With Students At Seljalandsfoss waterfall

Postcard Iceland

Soft moss like green puddles in the midst of lava fields. White glaciers and black sands bathed in blue light. The Northern Lights dancing in the skies above magnificent mountains and rocky highlands. These are all parts that together make the mystic Icelandic nature. But how does a nature this unique mold the character of those who live on this remote island in the middle of the Atlantic?

 

Shaped by the elements of nature

 Some say that the constant fight with the elements of nature shapes one‘s character. If that is true, than it must be true for those who live in Iceland. The strong winds build fortitude as one fights a daily battle to get from one place to another.

 

The stark contrasts between the dark winter days and the summers when night and day are joined by endless light, creates a carpe diem mindset. You are bound to seize the day, whether your body is filled with the endless energy of summer or challenged during the gloom of winter.

Reynisfjara is one of my favorite spots in Iceland

Get to know the people of Iceland

 Nordic people are often said to be cold (much like the weather) and distant, but under the cool facade, molded by the harsh nature, you will often discover colorful characters.

At the risk of generalizing, the people of Iceland love telling stories. After all, storytelling is ingrained in our DNA, with folklore and Sagas being a part of our cultural heritage.

We also love swimming, which explains the number of geothermal pools and hot tubs around the country. For Icelanders, going to the pool is as much a social event as it is a healthy ritual. Political debates and business deals are often conducted in the hot tubs in public swimming pools around the country.

If you have visited Iceland during the winter months, it may seem that there are more pools than there are people, but that is not true. Most people just spend more time indoors during the winter.

The people of Iceland are indeed quite a small group. Although the population is growing, it still only counts around 350.000 people (yes, that is the total number of people living on the whole island!)

 

Group picture from one of many trips

 

The land of singing  

The music scene in Iceland is quite versatile. According to Interkultur, a website dedicated to the international choral scene, Iceland has more than 300 choirs with more than 9000 members. I think it is safe to say that we love singing!

 

Many renowned musicians have roots in Iceland. Of monsters and men, Bjork and Sigur Ros are worth mentioning, along with many more. If you love music, be sure to ask your Iceland Unwrapped travel expert to include a musical event in your itinerary.

Hraunfossar waterfall

 

Viking hospitality

The Vikings were avid travelers and had a lot to say about hospitality and being a gracious guest. Havamal, the sayings of the Vikings (you can get a copy in most bookstores in Iceland) are a wonderful read. The following are two verses with instruction on how to treat guests.

Fire is needed by the newcomer
Whose knees are frozen numb;
Meat and clean linen a man needs
Who has fared across the fells,

Water, too, that he may wash before eating,
Handcloth’s and a hearty welcome,
Courteous words, then courteous silence
That he may tell his tale. [1]

 

Dining with the locals

Traditionally it is considered a true privilege to be able to share moments with visitors. Particularly when it provides them with an inside into the daily life in Iceland. In the past few years, I have been involved in hosting a summer school in Iceland, so I have had the chance to unwrap my Iceland to groups of university students.

 

We have had quite a few vegan and vegetarian students and I have been pleasantly impressed with the food options available to them. But if you are neither vegan nor vegetarian, the local favorites are fresh fish, organic grass fed lamb and our dense, yogurt-like, fresh cheese called Skyr. When you dine with the locals, you will typically be given a taste of those.

Mashed fish, butter and Icelandic bread

 

I recommend asking your Iceland Unwrapped expert to book you a dinner with locals, so you can get a direct experience of what is hidden under the mystic facade of the people of Iceland.

The author is a leadership coach and responsible business management consultant at EddaCoaching

Originally from Iceland, she is a seasoned expat but spends several weeks a year in Iceland.

 

[1] https://www.ragweedforge.com/havamal.html

 

The Icelandic people – Entrepreneurship and travel in Iceland

 

Are you kidding me? That‘s what came to mind when I visited a travel presentation market in Iceland this week.

Entrepreneurship in Iceland is extraordinary, in my opinion, for three main reasons:

First of all, as there are only 330.000 people living in Iceland, the need for people who can wear multiple hats is immense. When I used to work with young people in the municipality of Reykjavik many years ago, we used to hire really multi skilled people. The engineer and mountain bike geek, the actor and social worker, the musician and journalist  and I could talk forever about the diversity of these combinations.

In Iceland you need to wear many hats to make things work. You need to be able to take a chance on trying new things, be brave and believe in yourself. That is why, in almost every tiny town in Iceland, (sometimes with less than 500 inhabitants) we have a swimming pool, restaurants, choirs, acting groups, reading groups, schools, shops and so much more.

Always good to have dried fish with you in Iceland as you cannot just grab something to eat whenever you need to.

This facts makes it common that the Icelanders use the term „Þetta reddast“ (which means ‘all will work out’) often when things look impossible. You can always find someone, somewhere who can help.

This is what makes entrepreneurship accepted and treasured atop this rock in the Atlantic. People need to help each other, finding solutions and putting on different hats.

Secondly, entrepreneurship is important and common in Iceland due to resources.

Every season has it´s resource needs and you need to work fast in making the most of each season. If it is blueberry picking in fall, mussel picking in all months that have the letter R in them (September, October, November, December, January, February, March, April), trout fishing in the summer, getting wool from sheep in the fall. The summer months are crucial, and the winter months as well, where you can use the time to smoke products, preserve them in sour, and so on.

In Iceland we can promise you weather. All kinds of it. Even in one day.

This means again that people have to work fast together to make the most of things, to be innovative from how to preserve food so you can enjoy it all year round, to how you can create different uses for products (like opening a beer spa at a brewery).

Thirdly, Icelanders are a bit crazy. We believe in ourselves. We rely on our abilities to make things work and we have Viking blood inside so we are eager to explore both new worlds and new possibilities around us.

I invite you to come see for yourself and to experience the entrepreneurship of Iceland in its many forms.

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