Today is Be Inspired by Iceland Day

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Most people are aware of Iceland’s recent plight of financial meltdown and volcanic erruptions. The Eyjafjallajökull (Ey-ya-fja-dilla-yehrk-uhddle) erruption though is currently more likely to bring to mind flight cancellations and deferred holiday plans - rather than the panorama of the stark ethereal beauty of mother nature. For Iceland is a land of continuous and immense geological upheaval, it is a land of fire and ice, of ancient Nordic gods, enduring Sagas and mysterious hidden Elvish People. It is a land of waterfalls, enormous skies, ever-changing weather, the Aurora Borealis, the midnight sun, swimming pools, glacial lagoons, elemental art (e.g. Ólafur Elíasson) and elemental music (e.g. Björk and Sigur Rós). It is also a ’Green’ land, by ethos and ecology, a land of celebration, literature (Nordic Crime Fiction - Arnaldur Indriðason, Yrsa Sigurðardóttir), technology, exploration and commerce, and a land inextricably connected to the sea.

All who arrive in Iceland never fail to be awestruck by the stark beauty of Iceland’s raw, unspoilt landscape and nature. A trip around the ’Golden Circle’ exposes you to Europe’s most significant rift valley and seat of the first democratically elected Parliament in the world, the water spout that gave ’Geyser’ its name, as well as one of the most beautifull waterfalls in Europe - Gullfoss (the Golden Falls). Jökulsárlón - the glacial lagoon, has been featured in at least a couple of James Bond films to date, and dozens of feature films and advertising and pop promos have been filmed in Iceland’s often Lunar, sometimes Martian, but almost always volcanic landscape. The air is clean and fresh and so crisp that the horizon appears almost supernaturally highly defined.

I was born in Iceland, and have been very much shaped by its inspirational raw natural power and splendour. For those who wonder what sparks off Björk’s imagination - leading down so many different otherworldly yet creative pathways - you need only to feast your eyes on Iceland’s limitless landscapes. Icelandair and Iceland Express offer several daily flights from American and European Destinations (epecially London) to Reykjavík. Don’t miss out on the experience of a lifetime! - Be Inspired By Iceland Now! And while you are there, try to fit in some of the following:


10 must-dos for Iceland (in no particular order):

  • Stay in the heart of town in Reykjavík’s glorious Art Deco Hotel - Hotel Borg
  • Go pony-trekking on an Icelandic Pony
  • Go skidooing on a Glacier
  • See three of Iceland’s great natural wonders in one trip - The Golden Circle
  • Expose yourself to the heavens at the Blue Lagoon
  • Luxuriate at Laugar Spa and Swimming Pool
  • Grab the best soft icecream in Iceland at Ísbúð Vesturbæar - 3 locations in Reykjavík currently (Icelanders love icecream)
  • Dine in luxury at Iceland’s only revolving restaurant - The Pearl - with the best views over all of Reykjavík
  • Enjoy the World’s Bezt Hotdogs at Bæjarins Beztu after a night out on the Town
  • Take a trip around Route 1 if you have time (Iceland’s one and only ring-road - allow at least 4 days for this)


10 Places to stay in Iceland (Hotels placed in non-specific order; all are 4-star hotels, but some are slightly more modern / more luxurious than others):

+ NOTE - Hotel Rangá is only one listed which is outside of Reykjavík (1½ hours to the East); also recommend Hotel Hérað (3-star but really nice) if you want to check out East Coast; and Hotel Kea (4-star) if you are staying in the North of Iceland; if you are doing a Route 1 trip, you might also want to Stay at Hótel Höfn (3-star) on the South pass



10 Places to eat in Iceland (Restaurants placed in no particular order and all happen to be in Reykjavík, but there are plenty more great restaurants all around Iceland):


10 Icelandic Foods & Drinks you should try:

  • Icelandic Seafood (The freshest, tastiest and most creative fish and seafood recipes - Cod, Herring, Salmon (especially Gravlax), Lobster - cooked, cured, pickled or raw - prepared in every way imaginable)
  • Harðfiskur (Dried fish / stockfish - traditional low-fat snack with high nutritional values)
  • Icelandic Lamb (Icelandic sheep are allowed to roam totally free-range which exposes them to various fragrant wild herbs and grasses - which flavours the meat in a most subtle yet excellent fashion)
  • Hangikjöt (Smoked Icelandic lamb, usually consumed as cold cuts on Icelandic flatbread - flatbrauð, also consumed boiled, broiled or more recently - in carpaccio form)
  • Icelandic Reindeer (Similarly flavoured by mountain herbs, fantastic in savoury, herby blueberry sauce - as best served on the East Coast of Iceland)
  • Icelandic Wild Fowl (Subtly flavoured Ptarmigan, Duck, Wood Pidgeon and Puffin)
  • Appelsín (Highly sugary but enduringly tasty fluorescent orange & lemon fizzy drink)
  • Icelandic Confectionery and Snacks ’Nammi’ (Wonderful, mostly creamy chocolate and liquorice confections made from the finest ingredients; e.g. Hraun, Hrís, Kúlusúkk, Lakkrís Draumur and Stjörnupopp (squeaky-fresh-just-packed-popcorn))
  • Icecream from Ísbúð Vesturbæar (Make sure you order ’old-style’)
  • Icelandic tap water (Icelanders don’t need to drink bottled mineral water, most households are connected to lava-filtered underground spring sources - mineral water on tap, as it were - for this very same reason all Icelandic brewed and produced drinks; e.g. Coca-Cola - taste a lot ’cleaner’ / fresher than you would sample outside of Iceland)

NOTE - Most of the Icelandic Confectionary / Snacks can be purchased from website



10 Things to bring back from Iceland:

  • Icelandic Designer Boutique Clothing (Highly Exclusive and Unique clothing; e.g. Elm, GuSt, Spaksmannsspjarir, STeiNUNN)
  • 66° North Outdoor Clothing
  • Cintamani Outdoor Clothing
  • Icelandic health products - various unique formulations made from fish oils or wild herbs and grasses; e.g. Lýsi, Penzim, Purity Herbs)
  • Blue Lagoon Spa Products - various creams and treatments which use unique skin-toning volcanic minerals
  • Icelandic Music CDs (Pop into 12 Tónar independent music shop on Skólavörðustígur)
  • Icelandic Designer Jewellery (Some of it is a little old-fashioned and overly idiosyncratic, but much of it is unique and unusual; e.g. Hendrikka Waage, Hansína Jens, Kraum)
  • Icelandic Landscape Photo Books - perfect coffee table companions showing off Iceland’s many marvelous panoramas
  • Icelandic Lopi Wool Knitwear - exceedingly warm, but can be quite coarse, usually lined with polyester or similar barrier to prevent itchy-scratchiness - coolest examples come from The Farmers Market, more mainstream designs are found at Rammagerðin
  • Icelandic Fish-skin products - durable, ’fish leather’ bags, wallets, bookmarks, clothing etc. - quite unique and wonderfully textured and detailed; e.g. Joja


NOTE - All these top 10’s are entirely the author’s preferences, but do represent much of the best of Iceland; some difficult decisions had to be made and some very close favourites just missed out, I could have done a Top 20 or 30, but thought it best to make it brief so that weekend trippers could fit in most of the good stuff in 3 or 4 days - if some of your personal favourites are missing from here - feel free to add them to the comments at the base of this article ...



’Things’ to Avoid:

  • Þorramatur (Traditional Icelandic subsistence food!)
  • Hákarl (Shark which has been cured / putrified in ammonia)
  • Kæst Skata (Skate which has been cured / putrified in ammonia)
  • Brennivín (Drain-cleaner masquerading as high strength liquor)


Useful Resources:

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