The four bars you have to visit when in Iceland

We talked to Jónas Heiðarr Guðnason the head bartender at Apotek which is one of Iceland’s most prestigious bars. Jónas studied bartending  in London and has been successful in bar tending competitions in Iceland. He even took home the award for the best cocktail at Food & fun last year. We asked him to give us his choice for the best bars located in Reykjavík.

Geiri Smart

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The dining area at Geiri Smart

Geiri Smart is located at the bottom floor of Hilton Canopy Reykjavik. They serve really good drinks in a super comfortable atmosphere. The place is very stylish but has a really interesting look to it. It kind of feels like going to visit your grandma but at the same time everything is really modernly decorated. On top of that the bartenders there are fun, creative and really know their cocktails.

Kol

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The bar and dining area at Kol

Kol is a restaurant/bar that has been doing really innovative things with their cocktails recently and have been picking up trends in the global cocktail scene rapidly. The food there is also amazing.

Slippbarinn

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The bar at Slippbarinn

Slippbarinn can be found at the ground floor of Icelandair hotel Reykjavík Marina. It has been one of the leading bars in the Icelandic cocktail scene for quite a while now. They are unafraid to try new things with their drinks and change up their cocktail menu. As an example they are currently experimenting with serving cocktails from a slushee machine.

Apótek

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The bar at Apótek restaurant

And of course I can’t do this list without mentioning my own bar at Apótek restaurant. We have a great lounge for people that want to enjoy our cocktails. We only use high quality spirits and a lot of our ingredients are homemade. A lot our custom cocktails/ingredients are made in collaboration with the expert chefs in the kitchen. The place has a really cozy interior and a great vibe to it.

You can check out Jónas’s instagram here

The websites for the bars can be found here

https://www.geirismart.is/en

https://kolrestaurant.is/en/

https://www.slippbarinn.is/en

Forsíða

Golf in the amazing landscape of Iceland

When people think of Iceland, the first thing that comes to mind is snow and cold weather. That´s why golfing is not the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about activities in Iceland. There are about 65 golf courses in Iceland so the variety is enough. Golfing is an amazing way to experience the beautiful landscape that Iceland has to offer. Due to Iceland´s northern location there are almost 24 hours of sunlight during June and July. This makes it possible to enjoy midnight golfing, which is completely another experience.

We decided to pick three golf courses worth playing, which combine the best of Icelandic nature and offer high quality golfing experience.

Brautarholt Golf Course

Brautarholt Golf Course is located only a 30 minutes away from Reykjavík. It has spectacular view over Reykjavík, the Atlantic Ocean and the mountain Esja. This high quality nine-hole golf course is located in a remarkable nature. It has the biggest greens in Iceland which are known for their high quality. This golf course made it into Golf Digest´s top 100 list of best golf courses in Scandinavia and was actually the only nine hole golf course on that list.

Website: www.gbr.is/en

brautarholt
Brautarholt

Vestman Island Golf Course

Vestmannaeyjar Golf course is located on an island south of Iceland. It has a reputation for having one of the best greens in Iceland. Because of the landscape it offers many great challenges for example teeing off against a backdrop of volcanic walls. It is extremely difficult because of changing wind directions and unpredictable weather. The course plays well with its surroundings and lets you play across and over the sea.

Website: http://www.gvgolf.is/

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Vestmannaeyjar

Kiðjaberg Golf Course

Kiðjaberg golf course is located in the southern part of Iceland. In English the course is called White River Golf Course. It is located between the river Hvítá (White River) and the lake Hestavatn. It is known for its exceptionally beautiful surroundings.

Website: http://www.gkb.is/efni/golfklubbur_kidjabergs_kidjabergsvollur_gkb

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Kiðjaberg

Sources

http://www.top100golfcourses.com/golf-courses/continental-europe/iceland

http://www.icelandcomplete.is/golfiniceland.html

Brautarholt Golf Course

Vestman Island Golf Course

Icelandic Vikings

History


The Icelandic history preserves many interesting sagas about the vikings who are said to have settled the country from the Norse kingdom of mainland Europe in the 8th century.

In the ancient Icelandic language the word “viking” translates to “pirate, a man who conducts sea warfare” which indicates that those people may not have been very friendly. Most of the Icelandic sagas also include ruthless stories about people killing each other.

Let’s take a brief look at the history of the Icelandic vikings in the following video.

Source : Youtube

Archeology


Archaeologists in Iceland have excavated many archaeological things such as weapons, and other artifacts which they trace back to the Viking age. If you’re interested you can see most of them by visiting the National Museum of Iceland which is located in Reykjavík.

 From the National Museum of Iceland. Photos by TripAdvisor.

Most of the people in the Viking age lived in turf houses which are still standing today in multiple places in the country, some of them have been under constant monitoring and maintenance to preserve the culture of ancient times.

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The house which Erik the Red lived at, Eiríksstaður in Haukadalur in the Dalasýsla region of Iceland. It was the birthplace of his son Leifur Eiríksson, the first known European discoverer of the Americas. Photo by TripAdvisor.

Entertainment


In Iceland, you can find many different entertainment activities related to the Viking age like the restaurant Fjörukráin or Viking Village, where the theme of the place is the Viking age. It’s located at Hafnarfjörður, there you can enjoy modern food while getting entertained by the waiters who sing ancient folk songs.

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The restaurant Fjörukráin at Hafnarfjörður. Photo by VikingVillage.

Theatre is also actively creating shows about the Icelandic viking sagas where they are performed as a comedy act. Like the show Icelandic sagas which is performed regularly throughout the year at the venue Harpa.

The show Icelandic sagas performed at Harpa. Photos by TripAdvisor.

Our unique politicians – Which we love to brag about

Icelanders love to brag about their uniqueness. If you end up in a conversation about politics in Iceland, you most likely will hear one of these politicians name-dropped.

Vigdís Finnbogadóttir – President of Iceland from 1980 – 1996 

History was made in 1st of August 1980 when Vigdís Finnbogadóttir became the first woman in the world to be democratically elected president. Since then Vigdís has been an important role model for women all around the world and an iconic symbol in the movement towards gender equality.

Her values state that education is important, women are equal to men and last but not least that your visions can turn into reality.

Vigdis Finnbogadottir
Vigdís Finnbogadóttir

Jón Gnarr – Mayor of Reykjavík from 2010 – 2014

Jón Gnarr surprised the Icelandic nation when he ran as the mayor of Reykjavík in 2010. Being one of Iceland´s most renowned comedians and reputable actors, no one thought he was serious until his political party, the Best Party, won the elections. He formed the Best Party with several other people, who also had no background in politics. Among their promises during their campaign were bringing a polar bear in Reykjavík Park and Zoo, building a Disneyland in Reykjavík, a drug-free parliament by 2020 and free towels in all swimming pools.

One of his most famous acts as a mayor was when he first appeared as a drag-queen in Reykjavík Pride 2010. He continued to participate in the festival through his term, dressed in a different drag each time.

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Jón Gnarr

Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir – Politician and former prime minister of Iceland from 2009-2012 

In 2009, Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir became Iceland´s first female prime minister. That’s not all. She also became the first openly gay head of government in the world. She had been a member of Althingi (the Icelandic parliament) since 1978 and when she became the prime minister of Iceland, Forbes listed her as one the 100 most powerful women in the world.

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Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir

Guðni Th. Jóhannesson – current President of Iceland 

Iceland’s favorite and the current president of Iceland. Recent studies show that today Guðni has approval ratings of 97%. Guðni describes himself as unaffiliated with any of Iceland´s political parties. The most unique thing about Guðni is that he truly is a member of Iceland’s community. He takes his children to school himself – on a bicycle. He orders pizza, and picks it up himself. He even showed up on a formal event with an informal beanie called “buff” on his head, which is a common headwear for young children in Iceland. It’s almost impossible not to love him.

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Guðni Th. Jóhannesson

Movies filmed in Iceland

Did you know that these movies were filmed in Iceland? Icelandic landscape has been very popular in movies that happen on another planets.

James Bond, Ben Stiller, Jon Snow, Angelina Jolie, Batman. What do all these people have in common? They have all filmed in Iceland. Check out scenes, making of and behind the scenes from movies like Interstellar, Rouge one, Oblivion, Prometheus, Lara Croft and Game of Thrones here.

Just hover your mouse over the map here below and blue bubbles will appear with the locations.

https://www.thinglink.com/scene/913818199990992897

 

 

 

 

 

 

How Iceland succeeded with renewable energy

While some countries rely mostly on fossil fuels to make their energy, Iceland relies on 100% renewable energy sources to make their electricity. Hydroelectricity accounts for 73% and the other 27% is geothermal energy. In addition 9 out of every 10 buildings in Iceland are heated with geothermal energy. The cost of geothermal energy for residential heating in Iceland is the lowest in the world. Looking at how Iceland has achieved it’s success is increasingly important in an era where climate change is becoming a more serious problem every day.

Learning points

The United Nations performed an analysis on Iceland’s success with the transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources. They analysis resulted in a few learning points for other countries that have access to the resources needed.

  • Cohesion between municipalities, government and the public
  • Local empowerment and public engagement
  • A favorable legal and regulatory framework
  • Long term planning for renewable energy implementation
  • Showcasing every step of success to the public

History

Excluding how local farmers used geothermal pools for washing and bathing, geothermal and hydroelectric resources in Iceland were not taken advantage of for centuries. It wasn’t until the year 1904 that the first hydroelectric power station was built. It was only 9 kW but it was enough to make Hafnarfjörður the first electrically lit town in Iceland. This power station got the ball rolling and in 1915 a lot of homemade mini-hydroelectric power stations made a total of 370 kW of energy. The hydroelectric power plants got bigger and bigger and in 1965 the first big hydroelectric power plant Búrfellsvirkjun was built. In the same year the power company Landsvirkjun was founded which is by far the largest electricity generator in Iceland and one of the ten largest producers of renewable energy in Europe. It is owned by the state of Iceland which means that manipulating resources for power creation is done by democratically elected representatives instead of corporate big shots.

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Búrfellsvirkjun  hydroelectric power plant. Photo by  Richard Bartz

Simultaneous to this hydroelectric plant building process Icelanders started taking advantage of their geothermal resources. The first documented use of geothermal heating came in 1907 when a farmer ran a concrete pipe from a hot spring to his house to get steam for heating. In 1930 the first pipeline was constructed in Iceland’s capital Reykjavík to heat the local hospital, two schools and some nearby houses. The government of Iceland established a geothermal drilling fund that loaned money for research and test drilling in the late 1960’s. In 1969 the first geothermal power station using steam turbines was built in Iceland. Since then 5 more geothermal power stations have been built.

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Hrauneyjafoss power station. Photo by Landsvirkjun

The Blue Lagoon

An interesting side product of the geothermal adaptation came in 1976. A Geothermal power station was built in Svartsengi in Iceland’s southern peninsula. The power station was the first geothermal power station in the world that was both used for electric power generation and hot water production for district heating.  The waste water of the plant was supposed to form a stream and run down into the Atlantic. Instead the Sulfur in the water filled up the holes in the nearby lava fields. The hot waste water made what is now known as the Blue Lagoon. A local resident got permission to bathe in the lagoon as a treatment for his psoriasis which paved the way for more people to use the lagoon. Now the Blue Lagoon has become one of the top tourist attractions in Iceland. However most tourists are not aware of the fact that the Blue Lagoon was originally an environmental accident.

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The Blue Lagoon. Photo by Landsvirkjun

Sources

http://os.is/gogn/OS-arsskyrslur/OS-arsskyrsla-2016.pdf

http://www.nea.is/media/utgafa/GD_loka.pdf

http://www.landsvirkjun.com/company/history

http://www.landsvirkjun.com/company/powerstations

https://unchronicle.un.org/article/iceland-s-sustainable-energy-story-model-world

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Renewable_energy_in_Iceland