Fast Track: Mountain Biking in the Reykjadalur Valley

Guide and biker Magne Kvam

Mountain biker and cycling guide Magne Kvam is an energetic guy with a grey beard and a sleek scalp. When he smiles, one of his cuspids protrudes endearingly. He describes himself as something of an oddball.

“I’m probably very, very strange,” he confesses, while inspecting the ground below us prior to our descent. I had joined Magne in Reykjadalur to watch him fix the trails before summer. “I like to be alone in the mountains,” he observes. “I’m an old soul.”

We head out to the mountains near Hveragerði to speak with Magne and learn more about this unique area.

Read the whole story here.

Deep North Episode 74: Chasing Ghosts

icelandic musician laufey

Every once in a while, an Icelandic musician or band will be picked up by foreign audiences in a big way. Björk and Sigur Rós made waves in establishing Iceland as a major music exporter, and Of Monsters and Men continues to be played worldwide. But one artist has the potential to go even bigger than any of these artists: Laufey. And certainly a bit too big for us. We reflect on Icelandic society and the nature of fame on our small island home.

Read the article here.

Deep North Episode 72: Searching for Grettir

fagraskógarfjall william morris

William Morris, the Victorian poet perhaps known best for his interest in traditional crafts and revolutionary socialism, was also a keen scholar of the medieval north. He was also, in some sense, one of Iceland’s first tourists. In the latest episode of Deep North, we talk about the sagas, language, and what drove a 19th-century Englishman to travel by horse and foot over high heaths and steep mountains.

Note: We apologize for the poor audio quality of today’s episode.

Read the article here.

Deep North Episode 71: Goodbye to the Grind

kaffi valeria snæfellsnes kirkjufell

The oldest known evidence of coffee in Iceland is a letter that Lárus Gottrup, a lawyer in Þingeyri, wrote to Árni Magnússon, a professor and manuscript collector, on November 16, 1703. They had spoken at the Alþingi (national Parliament meeting) that summer, and Árni was upset that his friend had forgotten to send him the coffee he had requested by spring ship from Copenhagen. To avoid leaving Árni stimulant-free, Gottrup sent 114 g of coffee beans (about a quarter of a pound) and noted that he himself did not like coffee: “After all, I’m not a fan of it.”

Nowadays, cafés dot the Icelandic landscape, from the bustling streets of Reykjavík to the most remote rural villages, each with its own character and charm, yet all sharing the same commitment to keep the community buzzing. And in one small West Iceland town, a fresh brew is bubbling: Kaffi Valeria, a specialty café steeping tradition and innovation in a country with a caffeine history as deep and intriguing as a cup of its finest roast.

Read the story here.

To Thrive in Chaos: A Conversation with Joanna Pawlowska

Iceland’s art scene is vast, diverse, and thriving. One such artist is Joanna Pawlowska who, apart from their provocative and intriguing installation pieces, also curates the Hamraborg Art Festival. This festival not only strives to provide a platform for Iceland’s more marginalised artists, but also to bring art directly to the general public.

In this episode of Deep North, we sit down with Joanna Pawlowska to talk about art, queerness, horses, and the Hamraborg Art Festival.

You can read a full-length article about the artist here.

Deep North Episode 69: Melting Hearts

Ice Guys boyband

Jón Jónsson had the idea for Ice Guys in early 2023.

It all began as a kind of a joke.

He was, after all, 38 years old and probably a bit too long in the tooth to start a boy band.

But, despite his advanced age – in boy-band years, that is – he still had his boyish good looks and those teeth, no matter how long, would become the focal point of a Colgate Christmas campaign later that year.

Besides, Jón had a slew of popular singles to his name and years of experience in the Icelandic music business.

So why not?

Read the article here.

Deep North Episode 68: White Sahara

kerlingarfjöll highland base

Kerlingarfjöll is one of the gems of the Icelandic highland. Even in the summer, the rugged highland roads leading out to these mountains are difficult to navigate. And in the winter, it’s nearly inaccessible. We went on an exclusive winter expedition to this amazing area to learn more about it, and pick up some cross-country skiing as well.

Read the article here.

Watch our short documentary on Kerlingarfjöll here.