IT'S SIMPLY AN EXTRAORDINARY MEETING OF ICE, WIND AND FIRE
alternative city break. untainted by commercialism and tourist tat.
Thursday 1 0.30pm
('afli List is the first watering hole of the night (glass of
wine £6. bottle of Budvar £5). Jazz. aficionado Thomas R tops the bill. The clientele are beautiful (in a refreshingly understated way: the fashion stylish but plain). the scene unpretentiously cool. Later we discover this is true of all the bars we frequent.
Arrive Grand Rokk. Think Barfly meets King Tut's with a £3 entrance fee. The guitarist from (ius (ius is propping up the bar. and as linsimi take the stage. an excitable Jan Mayen (made up of lovely lads Sigursteinu. Valgeir. Viddi. Agust) make themselves comfy on cola crates backstage. We talk about toxic homebrew. and the Month of the llusband that begins
the next day. Slightly unfair. I suggest? No: the Month of
the Wife starts the month after. No gifts are given — it's a just time to celebrate love.
Public transport in Reykjavik proves difficult unless you hire a car or go on an organised tour (Iceland lixcursions or Reykjavik lixcursions) during the winter months. But the Blue Lagoon — Iceland's most famous hot spa -- is a must. It's like a leisure ride into the underworld: a unique geothermal spa surroumled by a magical lava field and black sandy beaches. which allows guests to relax in 36—39 degree seawater warmth throughout the year. The water is led directly to the Blue Lagoon from the surrounding wells. which are as deep as 2(l()()m. while an indoor blue lagoon and sauna are on the site. Bliss. As a wintry hail pounds down on my face. my
body is bathed in a blanket of warmth from the water
covering it. The natural active ingredients — mineral salts. silica and blue green algae — help you relax and the
white silica mud gently cleanses and exfoliates the skin. Locals suggest that two hours is time enough to luxuriate. Don't believe them. They're used to such surreal decadence. we're not. And if you can ignore the ovenvhelming smell of egg. it's strangely addictive. Saturday 9am
A sleepy start as we head outside Reykjavik. The capital is in total darkness. with sunrise calling at around l().3()—l lam this time of year. leaving everything in a strange half-light. As natural phenomena go. the Geysir- (iullfoss-Pingvellir ten-hour day trip is utterly unmissable. As we head into the countryside. we check out the beautiful National Park. Today the volcanic rocks are smothered in snow and mist envelops the mini bus. Iiveryone is silent. in awe of the surroundings. The (ieysir and the ('iullfoss Waterfall follow. as well as a visit to an old implosion crater. It's an extraordinary meeting of ice. wind and lire. Our initial hopes of seeing the Northern Lights are frustrated by a suddenly clouded sky. We return to the hotel elated. nonetheless. and spend the evening in a local gay bar ('afli 22.
Homctime. As the sun rises. the plane starts its descent to Scotland. and Jan .Vlayen's drummer Viddi's views on the music scene seem compelling. ‘lt's average but strong. you know. (iive it live years and it'll be great. We're in limbo in Iceland right now.‘ In 2002. the number of visitors matched Iceland's population head for head. Ten years l'rom now annual tourism figures could escalate to 3 million. (io now. (‘lean air. geothermal heating and natural surroundings that are quite possibly incomparable to anywhere else in the world. Limbo is under-rated.
The List flew to Iceland courtesy of Icelandair. Book at Student Flights on 0870 499 0040 or log on to www.ﬂightcentre.co.uk
You can 't afford to miss. . .
I Hotel Bjork is a great choice if you are looking for something at a reasonable price that’s centrally located. Having recently undergone some tip top renovations, the hotel now hosts a funky, contemporary look both inside and out. All the rooms are equipped with private bathroom, hair- dryer, telephone, satellite TV and radio. The in-house restaurant Potturinn 8: Pannan offers a versatile menu all day and the service is impeccable. Try its haddock/scallops! shrimp extravaganza. Email for a reservation to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
I Founded in 1968. Reykjavik Excursions is the leading organiser of day trips from the capital. The tours focus on nature, history, culture and modern living in Iceland. See www.re.is or email email@example.com
I Let your appetite run free with the Hereford Steakhouse on the main strip. It boasts a range of culinary delights from pork tenderloin to grilled catch of the day. The staff are laid back and you get a complimentary champagne cocktail on arrival, which always works a treat. TWO main courses, two salads, a litre of house red and two liqueur cocktails came in at around £80. No real bargain but worth it.
I By night check out Cafﬁ 22. Hip and popular and located on the corner of Klappartsigur. this is the city's unofﬁcial gay bar but frequented by punters of all persuasions. Alternatively. smallish and unassuming, Grand Rokk literally rocks the party with live music every night and minimal entry fee.
5') ii) l (El) 7004 THE LIST 1 15