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

An autumn journey into wellness – By Helga Stina

Last week, I returned again to Iceland to visit some of my hospitality partners – and made yet another interesting discovery in the town of Hafnarfjordur, just outside Reykjavik.

The town council has decided to use one of the most beautiful buildings in Iceland, a former hospital, as a home for new businesses focusing on wellness. Together, they offer a holistic approach where mind, body, and soul can be nurtured in the same place.

Sometimes it is good to take a break and focus on where you are at and where you are heading – photo by Helga Stina

Guðbjörg and Ingibjörg, two of the founders, are looking to serve companies, institutions and individuals by offering them the opportunity to snap out of their stressful realities and focus on being present and exploring themselves, taking advantage of the nearby lava fields and the unique and inspiring scenery of the area.

A particular focus are those in service professions – people who work with people – who often give so much of themselves that they can benefit from some restorative care in a peaceful yet beautiful setting.

It´s precious to have nature and peace close by – Photo by Helga Stina

This includes, doctors, nurses, teachers and everyone else that is specialised in helping others. Come to think of it, everyone working anywhere can fit the criteria, bankers, lawyers, engineers, shopkeepers, human resource managers, PR directors and the list is endless.

As they say when you are flying on an airplane: put the oxygen mask on yourself before helping others. That makes sense don´t you think? How can we become better professionals without forgetting to nurture ourselves in the process.

Every season has it´s charm in Iceland. Autumn is beautiful with it´s colors and mystical light – Photo by Helga Stina

Groups from workplaces, institutions or private or family groups can focus on themselves, get inspired, have a mindful experience with great walks, conversations, healthy food and guidance of qualified specialists with great experience in working with people, getting the best out of each and everyone. A focus on you as a human to make you even better as a specialist working with other humans.

But why Iceland?

It is quite incredible to witness what happens to people when they visit Iceland. In a few days people de-stress and gain a new perspective towards themselves and the nature surrounding them. In that atmosphere, there emerges a possibility for growth and expression that might be difficult in a big, busy city or in a person‘s normal routine.

Iceland is great for all ages. Always time to let the imagination go free – Photo by Helga Stina

Being able to rejuvenate in nature, yet be only five minutes from a town with all the required amenities is an extraordinary possibility, a rare one indeed.

If you are interested in an informal chat about possibilities contact Helga Stina

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Why time is so important in Iceland

I have just returned from my ever changing island after a fabulous work trip. I was exploring new places and meeting fantastic entrepreneurs in the areas that I recommend for my clients. It seems that there is never enough time while in Iceland. Many of my clients get the taste of Iceland on their first trip and then choose to go again and again. Read More

The importance of connecting, being and having peace

In my talks with many clients traveling to Iceland with Iceland Unwrapped there has been a red thread.

Connection, peace and the possibility of experiencing quietness is at the essence of a journey to Iceland.

My suggestions often include traveling around, stopping, breathing, having a picnic, reading a book, hiking a bit, meeting the locals and laying down in the moss for a little nap, is a perfect way to explore Iceland for some people. And if you decide to read a book by one of Iceland‘s authors that takes place in the areas you travel in, even better.

Iceland is all kinds. There is a chance to do extreme adventures like glacier climbing, kayaking between glaciers, hiking for days, rafting and fishing.

But for some people living in big cities or with intense jobs or personal pressures, the need for peace and inspiration in crucial for their wellbeing, so they choose vacation destinations that offer that.

That is very interesting for a travel planner who is interested in the well being of her clients and wants to offer a trip that is unforgettable for all senses, adding the spice of connecting to inspirational people and hidden gems all around the country.

On my recent trip to Iceland during the holidays, I met partners that I work with in Iceland that focus on wellbeing, on the experience of using your senses to experience Iceland, it´s beauty, power and diversity.

As a busy mum, wife and entrepreneur, I can relate to this need and the imporartance of finding yourself and nurture the senses in a place like Iceland. Iceland is for all. With a travel planner the option of a tailor made experience can give a visitor exactly what they need, away from the crowds.

Would you like to explore, get to know the people and culture of Iceland? Would you be interested in visiting hidden gems and go off the beaten track?

Are you interested in being actively involved in the adventure of creating your own tailor made travel plan in cooperation with an experienced Iceland specialist?

 

Contact Iceland Unwrapped for more information.

 

Let‘s have a talk on possibilities for you if you are traveling alone of if you are traveling with friends, family, your workplace or other people in your life.

www.icelandunwrapped.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

SPA RETREAT

Recover, refresh and rejuvenate the Icelandic way

Enjoy the healing powers of Iceland’s best spa retreats! Iceland has some of the world’s most breathtaking natural spas and springs. I take my visitors away from the crush of tourists to a really hidden gem.

Relax the unforgettable way

Iceland Unwrapped offers information on all kinds of geothermal pools and spas around Iceland. Do you want something authentic and natural? Something a bit more fancy, or a mix of all kinds of experiences? Let us know and we make a plan for you, including all kinds of options.

Combining your trip with a Yoga retreat, hiking tours or mindfulness activities is a great way to travel in Iceland. The nature provides the peace of mind and healthy alternatives, amazing quality of pure food and professional people who want to be of assistance.

Contact us for more information on how to integrate all kinds of options on your trip in Iceland.

Body, mind and spirit

Iceland Unwrapped by Helgastina offers an extraordinary experience for the body and soul. An alternative way to recharge your mind. We work exclusively in cooperation with the NLFI Health Clinic in Hveragerði. We offer packages at the spa from 2 to 21 days. This includes a personalized activity plan, accommodation, access to facilities at the clinic and full board with organic food. The package also features our unique and unmissable ‘Dining with the Icelanders’ experience.

Hveragerði, the Hot Spring capital

The NLFI Rehabilitation and Health clinic in Hveragerði is 45 km from Reykjavik in the scenic south of the country. The town prides itself for being the Hot Spring Capital of the World. The clinic is one of a number of ‘hidden gems’ that we at Iceland Unwrapped offer to our visitors. This retreat is beneficial for those recovering from cancer or other serious illnesses. It’s also ideal if you have psoriasis, neck and back problems. Visit this spa to reduce your weight, give up smoking or reduce stress. The centre can totally turn your life around.

Please note that the activities and SPA at the NLFI can only be used when staying minimum two nights on location.

Contact us for further information regarding combining your trip with spa and wellness.

Spa and wellness retreat, Hveragerði, Iceland

A life changing experience

With access to natural geothermal baths and health treatments, you will come back rejuvenated. The centre offers renowned fresh cuisine and inspiring scenery, a must-see for everyone. Staff are medically trained and its community of people are all committed to natural wellness.

Bookings through Iceland Unwrapped with Helgastina also receive a 10% discount off all treatments at the clinic.