Thursday, 31 August 2017

Strange architecture in Iceland! - What to see in Iceland

Hallgrímskirkja (73 meters high) is the tallest church in Iceland and is located in central Reykjavik. The architect Guðjón Samuelsson was commissioned in 1937 to design Hallgrímskirkja, but the construction work didn’t begin until 1945 and ended 36 years later in 1986. It was designed to resemble the basalt lava flows in the Icelandic landscape. The church tower gives a magnificent view over Reykjavik city. Hallgrímskirkja is also well-known for its 5275 piped organ of the famous German brand, Orgelbau Klais.

Strange architecture in Iceland! - What to see in Iceland

The Water Library (Vatnasafn) displays a permanent installation that was designed by the American artist, Roni Horn in the old library in the coastal town, Stykkishólmur. On the main floor, a large room offers breathtaking views overlooking the sea and town and holds 24 glass columns containing water collected from some major glaciers around Iceland.

Strange architecture in Iceland! - What to see in Iceland

The new church of Stykkishólmur is a concrete building that was built in 1990. It stands on a promontory overlooking the town and can hold nearly 300 people. It was designed by the architect Jón Haraldsson and the church altar was painted by Kristín Gunnlaugsdottir. The church has excellent acoustics and hosts many concerts annually.

Strange architecture in Iceland! - What to see in Iceland

The gigantic sculpture Tvísöngur in Seyðisfjörður, east Iceland, was sculpted by the German artist, Lukas Kühne. Tvísöngur consists of five interconnected cement domes that resonate sound when the wind blows through them, creating a five-tone harmony (a musical tradition unique to Iceland).

Perlan is situated on the hill Öskjuhlíð, and serves as a hot water reserve to Reykjavík city, and is also a building that houses exhibitions, concerts, shops and restaurants. Perlan (25 meters high) is clearly recognisable on the Reykjavik skyline for its glass dome-shaped roof that offers stunning views of the Icelandic capital.

Strange architecture in Iceland! - What to see in Iceland

Skriðuklaustur is an old manor farm in the valley Fljótsdalur, in the east of Iceland, which was once a monastery from 1493 to 1552. In 1939, the writer Gunnar Gunnarsson bought the property and asked the German architect Fritz Höger to build a large house near the ruins of the cloister. When the writer moved to Reykjavík in 1948, he donated the house and land to the Icelandic nation. In 2000, the building became a cultural and historical centre open to visitors every summer.

Strange architecture in Iceland! - What to see in Iceland

The bizarre house of Icelandic film director, Hrafn Gunnlaugsson (located at Laugarnestangi 65, Reykjavík) is open for guided tours. With thirteen gates, this property is an array of strange works of art and sculptures made from metal, stones, rocks and recycled materials.

Strange architecture in Iceland! - What to see in Iceland

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Tuesday, 29 August 2017

Ugly Food Festival. Try icelandic food in Þorrablót!

Þorri is the Icelandic pagan name given to the fourth month (thirteenth week) of winter on the old Norse calendar. Þorrablót begins on a Friday between January 19th to February 25 and is a winter celebration in honour of Þór, the god of thunder in Norse mythology. The tradition faded when Iceland converted to Christianity around the year 1000, but then years later in 1873, Icelandic students living in Denmark revived this tradition, celebrating Þorri on January 24 in the Danish capital. The following year, Þorri was celebrated in Akureyri, North Iceland, then the rest of Iceland followed suit and ever since Þorri (Þorrablót) is celebrated annually all over Iceland.

Ugly Food Festival. Try icelandic food in Þorrablót!

The first day of Þorri is called "Bóndadagur" or "the day of the peasant" dedicated to men. That day, women do something special for their husbands/boyfriends like offering gifts or bringing them out for a delicious breakfast. Þorri ends with Konudagur, "women's day", about a month after the start of Þorri when it's the men's turn to do something special for the ladies.

Ugly Food Festival. Try icelandic food in Þorrablót!

The main celebration, known as the Þorrablót, "the Þorri festival" mostly involves eating traditional Icelandic food. On the dinner table during the festival, you can find everyday Icelandic food such as smoked or salted mutton, herring, rye bread and dried fish (harðfískur). But, there are also other foods served during Þorrablót that you'd rarely see on the typical Icelandic dinner table; once I ate at a farm where I was served sheep's head for lunch.

Ugly Food Festival. Try icelandic food in Þorrablót!

At the Þorri festival, you'll find sheep head (SVID), block sheep's head (svíðasulta), shark gamy, stomach of mutton filled with blood (blóðmör), ram's testicles (hrútspungar) - or if you're extremely lucky, sour rams testicles (sour hrútspungar) yum yum!. The food is hearty and rich in protein! However, if nothing seems appetising, there are usually accompanying mashed turnips, and alcohol flows freely, including the famous "Black Death", Brennivín.

Ugly Food Festival. Try icelandic food in Þorrablót!

If you get an invite to a Þorrablót party, and you don't speak Icelandic, no worries, one sentence will suffice: nei, takk ;) And if you feel adventurous about tasting Þorrablót and didn't get a Þorrablót party invitation, Icelandic traditional restaurants offer þorramatur. Besides, rumour has it this celebration was revived primarily through a greedy restaurateur.

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Sunday, 27 August 2017

The best festival in Iceland? Iceland Airwaves!

The first Iceland Airwaves festival was held on October 16th, 1999, in an aircraft hangar at Reykjavík Airport. Originally suppose to be a one-off event, the festival has since become one of the biggest and most exciting music festivals in Iceland for showcasing new bands. Seven groups played that first night back in 99’, three International bands and four Icelandic bands. Iceland Airwaves (sponsored by City of Reykjavík and Icelandair) will take place in a variety of venues in downtown Reykjavík, including Harpa, Nasa, the Art Museum and Iðno.

¿The best festival in Iceland? Iceland Airwaves!

For four days, downtown Reykjavík will be buzzing and alive with musicians performing gigs everywhere! RollingStone magazine described Iceland Airwaves as ‘the hippest long weekend on the annual music-festival calendar’. The festival will take place in Akureyri as well for the first time in its history (November 2nd and 3th).

This year 217, Iceland Airwaves will take place from November 1th-5th, with more than 230 bands expected to perform. According to Grímur Atlason (manager of Iceland Airwaves), altogether, 9000 people are expected at this year’s festival and a majority of people (6,000) will arrive from overseas especially to attend Iceland Airwaves.

¿The best festival in Iceland? Iceland Airwaves!

For anyone without a ticket for the main Iceland Airwaves Festival, you can still attend the festival’s “off-venues”. These are good quality gigs, free of charge, and can be found in hostels and cafes in downtown Reykjavík. Some big names may show up to play the off-venues. In 2011, Of Monsters And Men played off-venue gigs at Reykjavík Downtown Hostel and Kex before becoming world famous. The festival is known for helping to kick-start many bands, including Clap Your Hands Say Yeah and Architecture in Helsinki, who had never played outside their hometown (New York) before playing the Iceland Airwaves festival in 2004.

¿The best festival in Iceland? Iceland Airwaves!

In previous years, the Blue Lagoon near Keflavik International Airport, hosted the “Blue Lagoon Chill” concert for Iceland Airwaves, unfortunately, this year the concert is not on.

Some names not to be missed at this year's festival: Mumford and Sons, Fleet Foxes, Billy Bragg, Childhood, Mammút o JFDR -the complete list of artists can be found on the site http://icelandairwaves.is

¿The best festival in Iceland? Iceland Airwaves!

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