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Place of the week - Nauthólsvík in Reykjavík

Nauthólsvík is a very popular geothermal beach in Reykjavík.

Sea-swimming is surprisingly popular all year round, with people enjoying the use of the hot-tubs, steam-bath, and changing facilities and showers.

Cold-water swimming might sound crazy, especially in a country like Iceland, however this extreme activity dates all the way back to the age of settlement.

The sea temperature varies from around -1,9°C during the coldest months and around 17°C in the summertime. The temperature of the sea inside the lagoon itself is higher in the summer, averaging at between 15°- 19°C, due to the geothermal heating.

Merry Christmas & a Happy New Year

The Iceland Road Guide wish you a Merry Christmas & a Happy New Year.

Our Christmas photo this year is from the church in Norðfjörður East Iceland. The Church was built in 1896.

Photograph Óttar Sveinsson.

Place of the week - Dimmuborgir home of the Icelandic Yule Lads

The Icelandic Yule Lads are the 13 sons of Grýla and Leppalúði, vicious trolls that live in in the Mývatn area in north Iceland.

Grýla is ancient - her name is even mentioned in Snorri Sturluson´s thirteenth century Edda.Grýla and Leppalúði brought up their thirteen sons, the Yule Lads by Lake Myvatn. As the lads grew up they wanted a place of their own and Dimmuborgir was the perfect place for them to settle down.

An old legend in Iceland is, that 13 days prior to Christmas the Yule Lads start coming down from the mountain, one each night.

Children in Iceland place their best shoe on their windowsill before going to bed and each night a little gift is left in it from the Yule Lad that came down from the mountain that night. If the child has been misbehaving, there might be a raw potato left instead.

In December the Icelandic Yule Lads welcome guests to visit them in Dimmuborgir in Mývatn everyday between 1 pm and 3 pm. Every year the Yule Lads go in their annual bath in the Mývatn Naturebath where guests can join them and have some fun. Some of the Yule Lads are not happy with this tradition, because they don´t like the water. The bath takes place two weeks before Christmas.

More information about the Yule Lads can be found on the webpage visitmyvatn.is

Place of the week - Akureyri North Iceland

Icelanders decorate their houses for Christmas with colourful ligts to brighten the darkness. They start decorating by the end of November and usually a big Christmas tree is lit up in the centre of every town and willage with a big ceremony on a Saturday or a Sunday, four weeks before Christmas. That´s the starting of the Christmas preparation.

Akureyri in the north is a lovely town to visit in December. Walking around the town enjoying the colourful Cristmas decorations, listening to Christmas carols, hot chocolate and candlelight. Cosy atmosphere.

On the webpage visitakureyri.is you can find more information about Akureyri.

Place of the week - Reyðarfjörður in East Iceland

Reyðarfjörður is the longest and widest of Iceland’s eastern fjords; more than 30 km. long. Norwegians used to operate whaling stations along the fjord and fishing was frequented along the coastline.

During World War II, Reyðarfjörður was occupied by British forces. The remains of the occupation are fairly visible, ranging from an airport to old barracks. In 1995 a War Time Museum was founded in an empty Freezing Plant extending to some of the old barracks. An interesting museum in a country that was never at war.

In January 1942 a platoon of British soldiers on winter exercises were caught in a very bad blizzard on the mountain above Eskifjörður. The family at Veturhús farm rescued and housed 48 of them but unfortunately another nineperished.

Place of the week - The Settlement Centre in Borgarnes

The Icelandic Settlement Centre in Borgarnes, West Iceland, is the place of the week. The centre reveals Egils Saga and the Settlement Saga in an entertaining and simple way by leading the visitor into the adventure world of the sagas by audio guides in 14 different languages.

The Egils Saga exhibition describes one of the most colourful of all the saga characters, Egill the son of Skalla-Grimur. Egill was a great poet but also a viking and ribald abroad. The story intertwines battles and love affairs, sorcery and pagan lore.

The Settlement exhibition portrays the first men who set foot in Iceland and how the country was settled up until the Althingi parliament was founded in the year 930. By using the modern technology of multi-media and theatre an attempt is made to give the visitor a sense of how it must have been to set foot in unsettled territory.

The Icelandic Settlement Centre is open all year, for further information see settlementcentre.is

Place of the week - Dverghamrar South Iceland

Dverghamrar (Dwarf Cliff) are peculiar twin columnar basalt cliffs forming a horseshoe shape, just east of the farm Foss down from the Ring Road, 55 km west from Skaftafell.

The Dverghamrar landscape was formed by wave action when the sea level was higher at the end of the Ice Age. Such columns are often found where lava has flowed into water and been abruptly cooled.

The cliffs are a protected natural site.

Photo Regína Hrönn Ragnarsdóttir

Place of the week - Iceland Airwaves in Reykjavík

The music festival Iceland Airwaves will take place in Reykjavík November 2 - 6. It was first held in 1999 and has become one of the premier annual showcases for new music – Icelandic and otherwise – in the world. Some of the world’s most exciting artists have performed there, too. The Shins, The Rapture, TV On The Radio, Florence and the Machine and Fatboy Slim. Including Icelandic bands such as Sigur Rós, FM Belfast, GusGus, múm, Of Monsters and Men.

Special guest this year is Björk, she will perform an exclusive show in Eldborg, Harpa on Saturday November 5th.

Iceland Airwaves is more than just music. Reykjavík is quite possibly the perfect festival city – small enough to be welcoming, sophisticated enough to offer cultural, historical and nightlife diversions to rival cities ten times its size. Maybe twenty.

For further information see their web, icelandairwaves.is.

Place of the week - Hvítserkur in North Iceland

Hvítserkur is a 15 m high basalt stack along the eastern shore of the Vatnsnes peninsula, in northwest Iceland, by road no 711.

The rock has two holes at the base, which give it the appearance of a dragon who is drinking. The base of the stack has been reinforced with concrete to protect its foundations from the sea.

Several species of birds, such as gulls and fulmars, live on at Hvítserkur and its name ("white shirt" in Icelandic) comes from the color of the guano deposited on its rocks.

Photo Bjarki Björgúlfsson

Place of the week - The Imagine Peace Tower on Viðey Island

The Imagine Peace Tower is a memorial to John Lennon from his widow, Yoko Ono, located on Viðey Island near Reykjavík.

It consists of a tall tower of light, projected from a white stone monument that has the words "Imagine Peace" carved into it in 24 languages. These words, and the name of the tower, are a reference to Lennon's peace anthem Imagine.

Buried underneath the light tower are upward of 500,000 written wishes that Ono gathered over the years in another project, called "Wish Trees".

The tower lit every year from October 9th, Lennon's birthday, through December 8th, the date he died.

Photo Ragnar Th Sigurðsson

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