DATELINE ICELAND
May / June / July 2005

Welcome to Dateline Iceland. Welcome to an unabashedly and totally biased look at one of the most adventurous countries in Europe. Fire and ice make up the land, but it's the people, the cuisine and the cultural scene that make each trip an adventure.

>Next Stop Reykjavik
>Midnight Madness
>Arctic Circle Golf Holiday
>Horsing Around
>Family Driving Vacation
>Host of New Hotels
>All That Jazz
>Hop On, Hop Off
>Soccer Showdown
>The Blue Lagoon Rules
>Shop 'Til You Drop
>Belly Bombs
>Oh Joy!
>We Get An A+
>Pre-Columbian Contact
>They Said It

Next Stop Reykjavik
Fly Non-stop from SFO to the land of Bjork, FROG, and Trabant

Starting May 18, the Bay Area becomes closer to Iceland than ever.
San Francisco hosts Icelandair’s first direct service from the West Coast. No switching planes.

Iceland is a special place with spectacular Northern Lights, 10,000 glistening waterfalls, 10 million colorful and comical puffins, five ancient geysers, dozens of spectacular fjords, purifying hot springs and spas, and majestic mountains (including 150 volcanoes in varying degrees of activity). The country is an impressive palette of outdoor adventure, sports, culture and gourmet cuisine. It’s Pure. Natural. Unspoiled. And best of all, everyone speaks English.

Climb aboard and it’s next stop: Reykjavik for some of Europe’s hottest nightlife. You haven’t partied until you’ve experienced our brand of fun under the midnight sun. As far as FROG and Trabant are concerned, they’re Icelandic bands that play internationally. Trust us. We know these things.

Here are some travel packages you may want to consider this spring and summer. We’re waiting for you to visit. In fact, you could say we’ll leave the lights on for you this summer – all night long.

Midnight Madness
“Midnight Madness” is the excitement Icelanders feel when the long, dark winter is over and they can once again play and party under the midnight sun. This may be our best travel deal of the year. From $499* per person based on double occupancy. More…

Arctic Circle Golf Holiday
Come and play on the northernmost golf course in the world, as confirmed by the Royal Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews. Founded in 1935, the Akureyri Golf Club has a challenging championship course more than 6,400 yards in length. The scenic course, framed by glacial mountains and Iceland's longest fjord, is minutes from the nightclubs of Akureyri (Iceland’s second-largest city), geothermal swimming pools and fine dining at the Fidlarinn Restaurant. From $999* per person double occupancy. More…

Horsing Around
We have a perfect plan for those of you who want to trek for a couple of days through Iceland on the famously docile horses brought here by our Viking ancestors. This two-day riding tour through a nature preserve near Reykjavik offers all the nature, plus hotels and warm baths at night. It sort of takes the “rough” out of roughing it. From $889* per person double occupancy. More…

Family Driving Vacation
This ideal holiday focuses on South Iceland, an area that showcases the best of Iceland. The driving distance is kept to a minimum so there is plenty of time to plan your own activities although, sadly, Iceland has no Wally World like in the famed National Lampoon movie. But don’t let that stop you – children travel at a special low price. The package includes breakfast every day but arrival, children's road map of Iceland, children's story book about Iceland (in English), and rental car with unlimited mileage and tax for 7 days. The cost for this 9-day trip from May 16-Sept. 30 is $1,265 pp/do and includes airfare. (Save $100 per adult if purchased before June 30, 2005).
From $1,265* per person double occupancy. More…

*Prices quoted are exclusive of applicable taxes and official charges by destination of approximately $100-$180 per person including the Sept. 11th Security Fee of $2.50 per U.S. enplanement.

More Room at the Inn
Four new hotels will be available to tourists by the time you have a chance to book your next Icelandic vacation. Due to open in May, the Radisson SAS 1919 Hotel is an office building dating from 1919 redesigned into a four-star hotel. Centrally located in the Icelandic capital, the hotel has 70 rooms and is close to all the cultural attractions of this dynamic city. The hotel features video on demand technology, multi-station, multi-language, Internet access in every room, an outstanding business center and new gym facilities. With its distinctively styled rooms, the unique building will surely become one of Reykjavik's favorite hotels. More…

The Hotel Centrum opened its doors on April 1, offering 89 rooms, two conference rooms and a boardroom to travelers. The Hotel Centrum boasts the most modern amenities and an excellent location in the heart of Iceland’s capital city, Reykjavik. More…

Fosshotel Reykholt recently reopened after extensive renovations as Iceland’s first culturally themed hotel. Reykholt was the homestead of Snorri Sturluson (1196-1246), Iceland’s greatest medieval writer, poet, scholar and statesman. The 68-room hotel will have three sub themes that will be interwoven throughout the hotel: Norse mythology, Icelandic literature and classical music. More...

The Radisson SAS Island Hotel will hold a grand reopening as the Park Inn Island, Reykjavik. The Park Inn Island (pronounced “EES-land” which is “Iceland” in Icelandic) features 119 modern and spacious rooms, the Café Island restaurant, a lobby bar, 90 square meters of meeting space and indoor parking facilities. Best of all, next door is Broadway, the largest nightclub in Iceland. Park Inn is a young and fast growing brand with a colorful and fresh attitude. The hotel will fit right into the lifestyle of cosmopolitan Reykjavik. More…

There are lots of fine hotels to choose from in Iceland, but for those on a tighter budget, Iceland is full of cozy guest houses. One of our favorites is the Domus Guesthouse located right in the center of Reykjavik. The Domus, with its 12 spacious rooms, is just a block away from the popular shopping street Laugavegur, and within a short walk of the capital city’s museums, movie theaters, restaurants and pubs. The cost for a double room during the peak summer months is half that of a full-service hotel, about $173, including breakfast. More…

All That Jazz
Music is an international language, and there is no greater proof than the 18th annual Egilsstadir Jazz Festival featuring the music of Duke Ellington. The festival takes place June 24-26 in the eastern Icelandic hamlet of Egilsstadir and will feature the Reykjavik Big Band conducted by Danish pianist Ole Koch Hansen. Langholtskórinn, one of the leading choirs in Iceland, will sing a selection of Ellington’s non-secular music and the festival will be capped off by videos of Duke and a swinging rendition by a local jazz band. The festival will be action-packed, so bring your dancing’ shoes. More…


Hop On The Big Bus
Reykjavik Excursions and SBK will begin a new service in Iceland for tourists. In May, red double-decker buses will be available for sightseeing around Reykjavík similar to the Hop-On Hop-Off system well known in major cities in Europe. The tours will run every hour and make ten stops around Reykjavik. Passengers can hop on or off buses as they please - each ticket is good for 24 hours. More…

Visa Rey Cup Showcases Iceland's Best Future Soccer Stars
The Visa Rey Cup once again kicks off at the Laugardalur Sports Center in Reykjavik, July 20 – 24, as boys and girls 15 and younger gather for five days and nights of international tournament-style competition. The tourney will take place on five fields at two stadiums with thermal pools, water slides, botanical gardens and the Family Park nearby. Trophies will be presented to the final teams as well as awards for fair play during the competition. The Visa Rey Cup is like the World Cup, only pint-sized. More …

Blue Lagoon Voted Best In The World
The readers of Condè Nast Traveler chose Blue Lagoon – Geothermal Spa as the best medical and thermal spa in the world. The list includes other well-known spas like Royal Park Evian in France and Clinique La Prairie in Switzerland. This is the second annual readers spa awards but last year Blue Lagoon was ranked number eight. This year, readers gave Blue Lagoon the highest score for a unique experience in a unique environment. More …

Shop 'Til You Drop
One can’t spend every day looking at waterfalls and geysers. For those who like to shop ‘til they drop, two of our favorite places to shop are the Smekkleysa Record Store at Laugavegur 59 – it’s a CD shop, concert venue and art gallery all rolled into one. It’s the perfect place to load your iPod with the sounds of Sigur Ros and The Sugarcubes.

Also, don’t miss the Museum Store at the newly furbished National Museum at Sudurgata 41. Check out the Icelandic Hnefatafl board game that dates back to the days of the Vikings. More…

Iceland Belly Bombs
The Mangógrill restaurant in Grafarholt, a suburb of Reykjavík, is now serving superburgers made from 1.1 pounds of beef. At the moment they're having a special deal: if a customer can finish the burger along with french fries, cocktail sauce and a soda within ten minutes, the meal is free. The Imodium is extra.

According to owner Magnús Gardarsson a.k.a. Maggi Mangó, the hamburger measures 8-3/4-in. diameter. The bun is specially baked and the burger is garnished with six slices of cheese, bacon, tomatoes, onion and iceberg lettuce. According to a nutritionist, such a hamburger contains 2,000 calories, not counting the fries and soda.

Oh Joy!
Icelanders are one of the world's happiest nations, according to a new international suvey which appeared in the Danish newspaper Berlingske Tidende.

Icelanders shared fourth place on the list with the Irish, rating a 7.8 out of 10 on the happiness scale. The top three places were shared by Denmark, Switzerland and Malta. The survey reached 90 countries.

Dateline Gets An "A+"
Not every e-mail is a spammed invitation to buy cheap meds or lower our mortgage payment. Here’s one we particularly liked:

“I am an American woman. My husband and I visited Iceland two years ago. We travel quite a bit, and Iceland is one of our favorite places. But, my comment is about something else. I am an English teacher, and I can't help noticing how well written this newsletter is. Are you native English speakers writing this or Icelanders?

“If you are Icelanders I commend you on your perfect English. Of course, I couldn't help noticing how well most of the Icelanders spoke English when I was there, too.”

– Rita Koeser, Princeton, N.J.

Dear Rita:

Truth be told, we do get a little bit of help writing Dateline, although English is a lot easier to learn than Icelandic. Imagine being a youngster in school and being asked to spell the northern-most county in Iceland (correct answer: Raufarhafnarhreppur). See what we mean? Next time your students confuse “their” with “there” or “your” with “you’re,” they should be glad they’re not enrolled in an Icelandic school.

Yours truly,

Iceland Tourist Board

Dissing Columbus
Iceland President Olafur Ragnar Grimsson addressed the Explorers Club Annual Dinner on Mar. 19 in New York to “stake a claim” on behalf of their hometown hero, Leif Eiriksson. “Icelanders see themselves as descendents of explorers and discoverers,” he said. “We are a proud people so sure of ourselves that after we discovered America, we didn’t bother to tell anyone else. We just wrote about it in our sagas in a language (Icelandic) no one else could understand.”

According to ExpeditionNews.com, Pres. Grimsson later said, “We need to ensure that our societies are open to innovation, and adopt to new ways of thinking that discoveries uncover. How is it that a small country like Iceland can be so successful? Part of the reason is the heritage of Viking exploration that we have inherited.” More …

THEY SAID IT

“Midsummer in Iceland is a jewel, adorned by moss and pounded by melting snow. This trail to Skogar is open for three months a year, when sheep can be spotted scampering up the vertical faces.” – Photo caption for the grand prize winner of the Mercury Montego and Outside Magazine “Doors to Discovery” Photography Contest. See the image in the May 2005 issue of Outside magazine.

“There’s no reason why you can’t keep warm and look hot. Icelanders understand that better than anyone.” – Sharon Prince, U.S. importer of Iceland’s 66 Degrees North apparel, speaking in the Jan. 28 Wall Street Journal.

“During our nine-day drivearound, we saw rugged coastline, delicately colored tundra, friendly and colorful Icelandic horses, weird rock formations, amazing sunsets, glaciers, icebergs, steaming hot springs, and more waterfalls, raging rivers and streams than we could count. I can't recall anywhere I've visited being more spectacular. And, for the most part, we had it all to ourselves. – Phil Marty, Chicago Tribune, Apr. 10, 2005

“The Amstel Light Iceland Open, played over a 48-hour period in June on two dazzling courses – Reykjavik and Keiler – in the capital city Reykjavik, is an extremely casual tournament where hanging out and drinking is as important as the tourney itself. And Iceland, located smack dab in the middle of the North Atlantic, is stunningly beautiful.” – Kevin Raub, New York Post, Jan. 11, 2005.

The tournament is June 23-24, 2005. More …





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