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Itinerary ARt and landscape Tour to Reykjavik and iceland's Southern Coast september 7 - 14, 2019

Note: the times in this itinerary are in the local Greenwich Mean Time Zone (GMT) which is 5 hours ahead of EST and the same as UK time.

DAY 1, SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 7th | WELCOME TO "NICELAND"

8:00 am ~ Arrive at KEF airport and transfer to Reykjavik. Most flights from the US or Canada to Iceland arrive at around 8:00 am. We will meet at the Keflavik airport and drive into Reykjavik. People arriving at different times will also be escorted from the airport. Tip: since alcohol is so heavily taxed at 40% in Icelandic, locals always take advantage by buying their brennivín (popular Icelandic spirit) and other drinks duty free in the Icelandic Airport on their way into the country.

9:30 am ~Breakfast at Sand Hotel. Enjoy a typical Icelandic breakfast after a long flight. Our hotel has one of the best bakeries on the island. We can leave our bags with the concierge. Check in isn't until 2:00 pm.

11:00 am ~ Introduction: Morning culture walk with musician Sverrir Gudjonsson. Sverrir is a charismatic and well known vocalist who knows Reykjavik better than anyone. He will walk with us around the historic core to show us the many sites, sounds, shops, and secrets of this enchanting city.

The Pond, Reykjavik

12:30 pm ~ Lunch with Sverrir at Sæmundur í Sparifötunum. This gastro pub at the heart of KEX Hostel. Sæmundur serves food based on the Icelandic heritage with a complete focus on local ingredients coming from local producers and foragers. It comes out as honest, straightforward and a bit rough on the edges. http://www.kexhostel.is/

2:00 ~ Check In at Sand Hotel and nap. We’ll be staying at our favorite boutique hotel with contemporary Scandinavian design in Reykjavik. The Sand Hotel is well-located in the heart of Reykjavik on the high-street, Laugavegur. It has one of the best bakeries in Iceland. Take the afternoon to rest and readjust to the new time zone.

Sand Hotel in Reykjavik

6:00 pm ~ Private tour of Harpa Concert Hall. Experience the award winning architecture of Harpa and visit areas that are not open to the general public. Our guide will share some of Harpa’s secrets, stories of odd incidents and the struggles during the economic crisis. Learn how Icelandic nature, volcanoes and the Arctic light inspired the unique design by artist Olafur Eliasson and the amazing glass facade of the house – and be able to photograph it from new intriguing angles; allowing you to explore the less visible brilliance of this world renowned architectural masterpiece. https://en.harpa.is

Harpa Concert Hall

7:00 ~ "How to become Icelandic in 60 minutes" at Harpa. In seeing “How to become Icelandic in 60 minutes” Bjarni Haukur Thorsson teaches you everything you need to know about being Icelandic, in just one hour. You will learn how to walk, talk and behave like a regular Icelander. Additionally you will learn why eating sour sheep balls might save your life. The live performance is much more than a stand up comedy routine, it is a hilarious blend of incisive and visual observation of the Icelandic human condition, their attitudes, struggles and everyday life. You will laugh and learn and at the end of the show leave the theater feeling 100% Icelandic.

8:15 ~ Dinner at Kolabrautin. One of the goals of this trip is to introduce you to the very best of Icelandic cuisine. Reykjavik has become an international foodie destination of many traditional, contemporary, exotic, and sophisticated flavors. Enjoy our first dinner on the top floor of the famous Harpa Concert Hall. The views of the harbor are spectacular, the service is excellent, the food is delicious. http://www.kolabrautin.is/en/

DAY 2, SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 8th | ICELANDIC MUSIC

Breakfast at the hotel. Sand Hotel has a popular breakfast buffet with a variety of hot and cold choices and is included every morning at the hotel. A typical Icelandic breakfast usually consists of skyrr (Icelandic yogurt), müsli, green apples, oranges, coffee, eggs, oatmeal, kleinur (Icelandic cardamom crullers), and their miraculous fish cod oil for the daring! The Sand Hotel's bakery is the best in town. The buffet is open from 7:00 to 10:00 am.

10:00 am ~ Introduction to Icelandic Music at 12 Tónar record shop and independent label. This legendary shop in the heart of Reykjavík has played an important role in the Icelandic music scene. Known for its carefully catered selection of Icelandic and international music, friendly atmosphere, and regular live concerts, it has frequently been listed amongst the finest record stores in the world and in some occasions declared the #1 record store in the world. With nearly 80 releases on its label, covering a wide range of genres, 12 Tónar has launched the careers of numerous musicians and released the music of artists and bands like Jóhann Jóhannsson, Samaris, Víkingur Ólafsson, Mugison, Hildur Guðnadóttir, Ólöf Arnalds, Daníel Bjarnason, Pink Street Boys and The Brian Jonestown Massacre. The founder Larus Johannesson will give us a short lecture and discussion on the history of Icelandic music. Then we can browse their wide selection of music, magazines, and literature on two floors and enjoy free espresso. http://www.12tonar.is

Icelandic record stores

11:15 am ~ Visit to record shop and independent label Bad Taste Records. Bad Taste (known as Smekkleysa in Icelandic, literally Tastelessness) is one of Iceland’s most important record labels; located in Reykjavík and known worldwide for being home to The Sugarcubes and Björk, it also publishes poetry books, short films, greeting cards and Icelandic gifts. We'll get to meet the founder, our friend Asi Jónsson. https://smekkleysa.net

12:00 pm ~ Lunch at Messinn. This cozy little restaurant has unique local cuisine, exquisite seafood, large portions, and a beautiful environment. http://messinn.com

2:00 pm ~ Private informal concert and visit to composer / band (TBD) at Mengi. We are arranging a special activity with one of Iceland’s most interesting musical artists. For example, this could be a live concert and screening of Fantomas by Amiina at Mengi. After meeting the artist and hearing them perform, we will have an opportunity to discuss music first-hand in Iceland. Mengi is an independent experimental music and art organization and venue created and managed by artists in Reykjavik. It hosts diverse art events, releases music by some of the nation's most ambitious musicians, and operates an art and record store.

4:00 pm ~ Organ recital at Hallgrímskirkja Church. One the tallest structures in the country at 244 feet high, this architectural icon has incredible acoustics. It houses a famously large pipe organ by the German organ builder Johannes Klais of Bonn. This Lutheran church is named after the Icelandic poet and clergyman Hallgrímur Pétursson (1614–1674) and designed by Guðjón Samúelsson's in 1937 to resemble the trap rocks, mountains and glaciers of Iceland's landscape. After the concert we’ll take a lift up to the viewing deck and view Reykjavík and the surrounding mountains from this scenic observation tower.

Hallgrímskirkja Church

5:00 pm ~ Choral concert. Choral music is the Iceland's primary musical tradition. Until relatively recently Icelandic people did not have much access to instrumental music because the weather was too harsh and there was not wood or metal to build with. A capella music has become such an important pastime that you find active choirs all over Iceland, even in the most remote small towns. We'll be attending one of these concerts, to be determined, with a group such as the Schola Cantorum Choir or similar.

Dinner and evening on your own. Take some time to eat dinner and experience the night life independently. We'll recommend places to go.

DAY 3, MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 9th | ICELANDIC ART

Breakfast at the hotel. Sand Hotel has a popular breakfast buffet with a variety of hot and cold choices and is included every morning at the hotel. A typical Icelandic breakfast usually consists of skyrr (Icelandic yogurt), müsli, green apples, oranges, coffee, eggs, oatmeal, kleinur (Icelandic cardamom crullers), and their miraculous fish cod oil for the daring! The Sand Hotel's bakery is the best in town. The buffet is open from 7:00 to 10:00 am.

9:30 am ~ Private visit to artist Kristin Gunnlaugsdóttir’s studio. We’ll visit the studio of this local and internationally renown painter whose large-scale work deals with female identity. We’ll have the chance to meet her, see her works in progress, and discuss her life as an artist based out of a country like Iceland. http://kristing.is/

Studio Olafur Eliasson

11:00 am ~ Guided tour at Icelandic National Gallery Art Museum. The old harbour warehouse, Hafnarhús, offers a progressive exhibition program with local and international contemporary artists. The works of key figures, as well as established and emerging current artists are presented in six galleries. Hafnarhús is located in the oldest part of Reykjavik, where the town’s boats and first docks lay. The building was erected in the 1930s and at the time it was one of the largest buildings in the country. Enjoy their complementary coffee. http://artmuseum.is/hafnarhus

1:00 pm ~ Lunch at Marshall House. We'll have lunch with our friend Brooks Walker who will be leading our southern coast excursion. This restaurant, Marshal House, is a prime example of this and is located below one of Iceland’s most interesting contemporary art spaces, Kling & Bang. https://marshallrestaurant.is/?lang=en

Marshall House

2:30 pm ~ Visit Olafur Eliasson's Studio, the New Center for Visual Art, the Living Art Museum, and Kling & Bang. Upstairs from the Marshall House Restaurant are artist run contemporary art spaces established in 2003. The aim is to introduce emerging and established, national and international artists, that challenge the context and content of creative thinking. The space is also the permanent home to works by Olafur Eliasson. https://visitreykjavik.is/marshall-house-new-center-visual-art-reykjavik

4:00 pm ~ Browse Grandi Harbor. Stroll back to town passing the art galleries, boutiques, and delicatessens inside old “boat houses” in Grandagardur Harbor. Visit the home of Farmers Market, a popular Icelandic fashion brand. The "Grandi area" is the main hub of Reykjavík's fishing industry and now also where many of the capital's best restaurants are located. It's sometimes jokingly referred to as the "Fishpacking district," sharing a similar background in the food processing business as New York´s famous Meatpacking district. http://icelandmag.is/article/here-our-guide-grandi-reykjaviks-new-food-district

Grandi Harbor

Dinner and evening on your own. Take some time to explore the Reykjavik on your own, go shopping, relax, and experience the nightlife. We'll recommend places to go.

DAY 4, TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 10th | GOLDEN CIRCLE

Breakfast at the hotel. Sand Hotel has a popular breakfast buffet with a variety of hot and cold choices and is included every morning at the hotel. A typical Icelandic breakfast usually consists of skyrr (Icelandic yogurt), müsli, green apples, oranges, coffee, eggs, oatmeal, kleinur (Icelandic cardamom crullers), and their miraculous fish cod oil for the daring! The Sand Hotel's bakery is the best in town. The buffet is open from 7:00 to 10:00 am.

Sand Hotel Bakery

Morning on your own. Experience a local hub of activity at Vesturbæjarlaug Pool. Most of Reykjavík's citizens meeting here in the mornings to discuss politics, culture, the weather and life. There are four hot tubs, an outdoor pool, a cold tub and a steam room. Alternatively, try one of Reykjavik's many museums including the Volcano House, Maritime Museum, Punk Museum, Northern Lights Museum, or the Saga Museum.

12:00 am ~ Backroad drive to Thingvellir National Park via Nesjavellir. We'll take a scenic backroad to get to Thingvellir National Park. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is home to the rift valley between the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates and the site of the ancient Icelandic parliament, the Althing. On the way we'll pass by the Nesjavellir Geothermal Plant.

Most of Iceland's energy is geothermal

3:00 pm ~ Geysir and Strokkur Geyser. Geysir is historically Iceland's most famous and is the origin of the word "geyser." Strokkur geyser erupts every six to ten minutes.

Strokkur Geyser

4:00 pm ~ Gulfoss Waterfall. The 600-foot-wide roaring and thundering waterfall epitomizes the raw beauty of Iceland. There are usually rainbows abound.

Gulfoss Waterfall

6:00 pm ~ Leisure time. Return to the hotel, explore the city on your own, go shopping, or relax.

8:00 pm ~ Tasting menu dinner at Fiskmarkadurinn. Colours and scents and sounds mingle when fish is traded fresh off the boat. The cold air is heavy with potential; it invites discovery. Wander, hear the fishmongers and seamen, allow for the unexpected. Take a moment and celebrate our last night in Reykjavik with a tasting menu that head chef Hrefna Rósa Sætran and her team have created from what the best Fish Market has to offer. http://www.fiskmarkadurinn.is

DAY 5, WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 11th | SKOGAR

Please note that the various activities on our Southern Iceland excursion are subject to weather changes. We will also hope to spontaneously make space in our schedule to experience a "rettir," or roundup, where shepherds gather their wild ponies and sheep after roaming free all summer to bring them in for the cold winter. Rettirs are unpredictable and depend on the weather.

Breakfast at the hotel and check out. Sand Hotel has a popular breakfast buffet with a variety of hot and cold choices and is included every morning at the hotel. A typical Icelandic breakfast usually consists of skyrr (Icelandic yogurt), müsli, green apples, oranges, coffee, eggs, oatmeal, kleinur (Icelandic cardamom crullers), and their miraculous fish cod oil for the daring! The Sand Hotel's bakery is the best in town. The buffet is open from 7:00 to 10:00 am.

9:00 am ~ Depart for southern coast excursion with Brooks Walker. Brooks Walker is an American-Icelandic photojournalist who has been living in Iceland for twenty-seven years and has photographed Iceland for National Geographic, NY Times Sophisticated Traveler, Conde Nast Traveler, Smithsonian, and Archeology. He has driven almost every road on the island and navigated every type of weather condition. He will be leading our four-day journey eastbound and will show us the best of Iceland’s Southern coast. We'll travel in two Volkswagen Caravelle 4x4 vans. On our way to Skogar we'll visit the Seljalandasfoss Waterfall.

Seljalandasfoss Waterfall

12:00 am ~ Lunch, waterfalls, and the Skogar Folk Museum. Skogar Museum is a cultural heritage collection of 15,000 regional folk music and craft artifacts that tell the incredible survival story of Iceland's history. They are exhibited in historical churches, schools, and houses that were brought to the museum from various places in Rangárvallasýsla and West Skaftafellssýsla and reconstructed on the site. We’ll have lunch at the Skogafoss Waterfall, get a guided tour of the folk museum, and explore another secret waterfall before hitting the road at 3:00 pm.

Traditional Icelandic cottage

3:30 pm ~ Dyrholaey Point. We'll stop at this beautiful lighthouse on a cliff where we can see the arch into the sea, black beaches, and columnar basalt.

Dyrholaey Point

4:30 pm ~ Check into cottages. We’re renting beautiful private luxury cottage in the country village of Dyrholaey. This evening we can relax amongst the sublime nature that surrounds us and enjoy a true Icelandic experience in the countryside. If we're lucky we'll see an Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights).

7:30 pm ~ Home cooked dinner party at house. Return to our cottage for a home cooked dinner.

Photo by Brooks Walker

DAY 6, THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 12th | JOKURSALON

8:00 am ~ Breakfast at the house.

9:00 am ~ Day trip to Jökursálón. We'll drive east and savor every moment along the way of of the world's most stunning landscapes. We'll take a scenic detour on a smaller road that cuts through the coastal countryside and make many stops along the way for photography.

Photo by Brooks Walker

11:00 am ~ Skaftafell Glacier. Skaftafell is one of East Iceland's most beautiful locations, where we will be treated to striking white glaciers against a backdrop of green fields and black sands.

1:00 pm ~ Light lunch on the road.

2:30 pm ~ Jökursálón Glacial Lagoon. We'll visit a magical lagoon of turquoise iceburgs that float in an other-worldly body of fresh and salt water. It is the deepest lake in Iceland, located on the edge of Vatnajökull National Park, and is our farthest-east destination before turning back. This cinematic landscape is the backdrop for many films such as "Batman Begins" and "Tomb Raider," "James Bond" and music videos including "Holoscene" by Bon Iver. We'll take a sail among the huge icebergs on an amphibious boat, get to taste the 1000-year-old ice, and if we're lucky, get to see seals bobbing in the lagoon.

Jökursálón Glaciel Lagoon

4: 30 pm ~ Return to Vik. Our drive home is just as beautiful as our drive there. Throughout our scenic drives we will curate a selection of some of Iceland's finest music to complement the breathtaking scenery.

DAY 7, FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 13th | VIK

8:30 am ~ Breakfast at the house. This morning we will split up into smaller groups according to your preferences to experience various wonders of Iceland's southern coast.

9:30 am ~ F-Road to Thagkill. We'll take a secret backroad that traverses through some of the world's most stunning volcanic valleys winding back to a remote encampment.

12:30 pm ~ Lunch at Halldorskaffi. We recommend the sandwich with fresh marinated lamb meat in pepper sauce with a salad and French fries.

2:30 pm ~ Horseback riding under the Eyjafjallajokull Volcano. Optional horseback riding under the Eyjafjallajokull Volcano. Iceland has their own purebred horses that have two additional gaits that horses elsewhere don’t have. Plans this day may vary according to weather.

Icelandic horses

4:00 pm ~ Glacier Walk on Sólheimajökull Glacier. Sólheimajökull is an outlet glacier from the magnificent Mýrdalsjökull. We will find blue ice, crevasses and amazing ice formations that will leave you in awe. This is a fun and easy glacier hike suitable for most people.

7:30 pm ~ Final Dinner at Sudur Restaurant in Vik. Have dinner at one of our favorite cottage restaurants in Iceland. This is country cuisine as good as it gets.

DAY 8, SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 14th

8:00 am ~ Breakfast at the house and check out.

9:00 am ~ Depart Vik. This morning we will return West to Grindavik visiting different natural and cultural sites of interest along the way.

10:30 am ~ Visit Eyrarbakki. Eyrarbakki is an interesting old fishing village on the south coast of Iceland. For centuries, its harbor was the main trading center for the southern region. Only original Icelandic architecture other than Reykjavik.

11:00 am ~ Continue to Grindavik. Along the way we’ll explore the coastline and discover the stunning cliffs of Krýsuvíkurbjarg—an area renowned for the thousands of seabirds that nest in the rugged hillside beside the crashing surf of the Atlantic Ocean. Observe kittiwakes, guillemots, razorbills, and other birds as they dive into the sea to feed or frolic with their flock.

12:00 pm ~ Stop at the Krysuvik Geothermal Area. Walk through the remarkable solfatara fields of Krýsuvík, where we'll discover an expanse of steaming volcanic vents and boiling hot springs, framed dramatically by a range of multi-colored hills. We'll find mud pools, sulphur deposits, and wildly colorful explosion crater lakes formed by volcanic eruptions that glow with a deep green hue from the thermal algae and crystals that absorb the sun's rays.

Krysuvik Geothermal Area

1:00 pm ~ Lunch and swim in the Blue Lagoon. Our final visit will be to the famous Blue Lagoon, a natural hot springs where we can relax before taking a flight home. The mineral water, which ranges from a warm 98-104 degrees Fehrenheit, contains large amounts of silica and algae which soften the skin. The lagoon’s mud bar features silica masks that soften the skin even more. Massages and other spa treatments are optional. https://www.bluelagoon.com/

Blue Lagoon geothermal pools

2:30 pm ~ Keflavik Airport. We will escort you to the KEF airport to catch your flights home. Most flights to North American depart at around 5:00 pm.

Credits:

Created with images by Sage Lewis, Brooks Walker, and René Goiffon. Lachlan Gowen - "Hallgrimskirkja" • Hans - "geyser strokkur geyser strokkur" • smaus - "gullfoss waterfall river" • redcharlie - "untitled image"

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