Whole Life Magazine

June/July 2013

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Page 27 of 43

VISIT ICELAND FOR THE S C E N E RY, B U T D O N ' T OVERLOOK THE ALLURE OF REYKJAVIK T houghts of Iceland conjure images of gorgeously austere icescapes and volcanoes, but these magnificent attributes are just the tip of the iceberg. This progressive country is as refreshing as the air is chilly, with a growing reputation as a cultural nexus. At first impression, the world's northernmost capital has the feel of a small village punctuated by blasts of modernity. Reykjavik's emerging arts, music and festival scenes are complemented by local architectural landmarks. The multicolored Harpa combines an opera house, conference center, restaurant and nightclub under one sparkling roof, and Perlan (the Pearl) is a visually stunning structure that uniquely houses both hot water storage tank systems and a worldrenowned restaurant. The annually projected Imagine Peace Tower of light, conceived by Yoko Ono to commemorate John Lennon and powered by geothermal energy, is built on a stone monument inscribed with the words "Imagine peace;" beneath it lie half a million written wishes from around the world, gathered by Ono for her Wish Tree project. Along the inviting waterfront, a predominantly arty and youthful crowd mingles on foot or bicycle among public art pieces constructed from recycled chains and industrial scraps, or browses at the Kolaportið. Located in a massive retooled warehouse, this weekend flea market encompasses a fresh fish market (try hákarl, a local delicacy made from fermented shark) and rows of stalls stocked with recycled clothing, handknit sweaters, antiques, and vintage books and records. Rockin' Reykjavik On our first day, my companion and I had enjoyed a substantial breakfast buffet at Slippbarinn of melt-in-your-mouth local smoked salmon, hearty homemade breads, roasted Icelandic potatoes and blueberry skyr, a fresh, acid-set dairy product with origins dating to the BY ELYSE GLICKMAN Middle Ages. But after a busy afternoon of Erró art at the Reykjavik Art Museum and vintage shopping (Rokk Ogr'osir and Sputnik on Laugavegur, the main shopping drag), we headed to Café Babalu to refuel. Known for its vegetarian chili, baked goods and art gallery, the café is owned by former L.A. resident and graphic artist Glenn Barkan. It's a popular hangout for students, artists and homegrown celebrities, such as singer Björk and post-rock band Sigur RÓs, but the proprietor is more inclined to wax eloquent about the scenery. "My friends visiting me from the States come for the nature and geography of Iceland, which is unlike anything else in the world," boasts Barkan. "Most of the people I know who come here want to reconnect with nature and see things they can't see anywhere else—the Northern Lights, geysers, waterfalls, glaciers and lava fields." All of this is just 20 minutes outside the city, making Reykjavik an ideal base camp for such outdoor activities as hiking, rock climbing, mountain biking and geological treks. Although we missed Gullfoss (Golden Falls) and Þingvellir National Park (where the American and Eurasian tectonic plates are pulling apart at a startling rate of a few centimeters per year), we enjoyed tantalizing glimpses of Iceland's natural beauty via a Luxury Adventure tour (www.lux.is) through the Reykjanes Peninsula, with a mix of history, geology and ooh-ah Kodak moments featuring geysers and lavacarved valleys. We tried to spot the fabled elves of Nordic mythology, said continued on page 30 28 wholelifetimesmagazine.com FINAL REDESIGN WLT-5-27-11pm.indd 28 5/28/13 11:12 AM

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