A record number of participants

“When we started the event in 2005 no one had a clue what we were doing and for a long time people did not understand what this was all about and why we were doing this.”

Frosti

It’s bear season. Meaning that this coming Thursday sees the opening of BEARS ON ICE, Icealand´s only Bear event. Over one hundred guys from all over the world are heading this way to celebrate, mingle, make friends, explore the country and have fun, making it a record in number of participants. We met one of the organizers, Frosti Jónsson, who not only told us a little bit about the annual event, which is steadily becoming very popular, but also gave us insight into the Icelandic bear scene and what it really means to be a bear. Or a cub.

The most common definition of a bear is a gay man who is hairy, has facial hair and a cuddly body. However, the word “bear” means many things to different people, even within the bear movement, according to Frosti Jónsson, one of the organizers of BEARS ON ICE. “A Bear is often defined as more of an attitude than anything else – a sense of comfort with our natural masculinity and bodies and not being slaves to the fashion industry that is so common in gay circles and the culture at large,” he explains to us in a calm manner.

But then you have Bears and Cubs. What’s the difference. Is it say, like top and bottom?
“Cubs are usually simply younger bear-ish guys who may eventually grow into a big bears but also those who would not be described as “big bears”.
Frosti says that personally says he’s not much into labels and adds that in no way do these labels indicate any preferences in the bedroom. “We don’t care which way you go. Friendship, affiliation and inclusiveness are much more important.”

Why do gay men see the need to categorize themselves as such?
“I think this is not something that only gay men do, it’s something people do, sometimes for better, sometimes for worse. But I think there is nothing wrong with doing that. We all want to find a common ground to identify ourselves with and that’s what this is all about. For us it’s about enjoying the company of likeminded guys of all ages, sizes and shapes and enjoy life as much as possible.”

Since beards, long hair and hairy chests are currently popular in Iceland, don’t you think its going to be hard for the guests to spot the difference between bears and cubs from the rest of the population?
Frosti shakes his head. “Gay men don’t necessarily look any different than other men so we appreciate beauty wherever we find it.”

Another silly question we feel inclined to ask. Do bears and cubs mainly dig similiar types of men?
“Again, the bear scene is not about the way you look,” Frostie patiently explains. “It´s about the way you think. And bears are not necessarily only attracted to other bears. Love knows no boundaries and we welcome all.”

The bear culture originates in the US and can be traced back to the late 70’s and 80’s. Frosti says that in a way the bear culture stems from a rebellion against the mainstream gay culture with gay men feeling alienated because they did not fit in for various reasons. “This grew into something bigger as more and more men realized they were not alone feeling that way and eventually the bear scene came to existence.”

Bears seem like a fairly new concept to us in Iceland. Why did it take us such a long time to pick up?
“Iceland’s gay scene is small and for that simple reason there hasn’t been much demand or room for thriving subcultures such as a bear scene,” Frosti states. “It took us a while to be heard, taken seriously or even approved.”
According to him a lot of gay guys imagined this event to be something it wasn’t. Mostly because they didn’t show up to the events to see what it was all about before making assumptions. “When we started the event in 2005 no one had a clue what we were doing and for a long time people did not understand what this was all about and why we were doing this.”

So for those still unsure, BEARS ON ICE is a social event he explans. “It’s a platform for men to meet other likeminded men, socialize, mingle and have fun. We try very hard to make this a very welcoming event and I think the number of guys attending speaks for itself.”
BEARS ON ICE has grown from a small party with 20 people to an event where 130 guys from all over the world come to enjoy the company of each other. “And we’re very happy to see the number of Icelanders showing up for our events growing as well which is fantastic.”

What’s the Icelandic bear scene like the rest of the year? What to you guys do together – well apart from the obvious?
“Like other men we are social creatures, we like to hang out, grab a beer at a local bar or throw dinner parties for each other,” he answers adding with a sarcastic smile: “Is that obvious?”

How did you figure out you were a bear/cub?
“I’ve never been obsessed with defining myself as a bear or a cub or whatever label you can come up with,” he says. “The best aspect of the bear scene is the simple fact that I find it friendly and I fit in socially.”
Frosti also points out that you don’t need to be a bear or a cub, have beard or whatever to be part of the bear scene. “Just be yourself and respect everyone else for who they are. Simple as that. It’s just a bunch of likable guys and a lot of them happen to be damn cute too!”

Does it feel like coming out of the closet for a second time?
Frosti ponders. “No, I’ve never felt that way, but I know for some it has been like that.”
He says it makes him sad when gay men as with everyone else are afraid to show their affection openly towards someone they love because they’re afraid of being judged, or rejected by their friends, society or whomever.
“If you like chubby guys, then that’s who you are and you should be proud of it, no excuses needed. If your friends can’t take it, they’re not your friends. They’re fake. If we are able to change the way people see themselves and make them more confident, happy and proud then we are happy.”

After our talk with Frosti we feel a lot safer to show up for BEARS ON ICEWe are safe to assume that, right?
Frosti starts by diminishing our hopes of going. “Actually both the package deals, Complete Pass and Simple Pass, which include a trip to The Blue Lagoon and The Golden are completely sold out,” he says, which only shows how popular the event has become.

But mind you, Frosti says there’s no need to despair. A big part of the program is still available to all gay men.
“You have a chance to come to the Welcome party at Iðusalir (Lækjargata 2) and Top-Off party at Club Kiki (Laugavegur 22) on Friday night which both are free. Then a Men Only Dance at Haarlem/Volta (Tryggvagata 22) on Saturday Night which you buy tickets for at the entrance.” There The Dream Bears from London will not only put on a show but DJ Coling Gaff (Australia) and DJ John Eltong (Copenhagen, Denmark) will also make sure everybody has a great time.
“My advice is not to miss this, it’s going to be a fantastic weekend. Show up, mingle and make friends. Take pride in who you are. It all comes down to this: Friendship, love and lots of hugs,” Frosti finally says and gives us a big smile.

The Hamburger Factory
- gourmet burgers

Ok. You’re in Iceland. Most likely for the first time.

You will probably bathe in the Blue Lagoon and take a road trip to Gullfoss and
Geysir. That’s all well and good. But neither Geysir’s nor waterfalls are
something you eat. That’s why we have 15 brilliant and creative hamburgers at
The Hamburger Factory. And they are all perfectly square. Don’t miss out on
Iceland’s most beloved hamburgers.

The Hamburger Factory is Iceland’s most innovative gourmet burger chain.
Packed with burger-craving customers since it’s opening in 2010, among the
regulars is Iceland’s best known fisherman, Eric Clapton. In our restaurants we
welcome tourists with our newspaper like menu and smiley service. They are
packed with fun items and memorable connections to Icelandic pop culture.

Locations:

Omnom Chocolate
- award-winning chocolate maker

    Omnom Chocolate is an Icelandic craft chocolate company based in Reykjavík. We produce handcrafted chocolate from organic cacao beans sourced ethically and sustainably. We’ve developed direct relationships to create premium chocolate with fine flavor cacao beans.

    Our creative flavors are carefully crafted by meticulous chocolate makers. The cacao beans are roasted, winnowed, ground, and refined into melty-smooth chocolate.

    Omnom’s process is one of constant exploration, invention, and experimentation. If it doesn’t please us, if something isn’t absolutely delicious, there’s no reason to be doing it. So, we always start with our taste buds and follow our instincts. Our team searches for the finest ingredients in the world and new ways to improve chocolate. This obsession with knowing where our ingredients come from has led us around the corner to dairy farms in the Icelandic countryside and all the way to rainforest cacao farms of Nicaragua.

    In only a few short years, we’ve grown from our 50 sq. m. petrol station space and become an award-winning chocolate maker. Now, with our headquarters in 101 Reykjavík, our chocolate is sent out around Iceland and all over the world.

    At the end of the day, our goal is to make chocolate.

     

    Alfred’s Apartments
    - gay owned an operated

      Alfred’s Apartments and Alfred’s Studios is a gay operated and owned accommodation in the heart of Reykjavik.

      Alfred’s Apartments offers spacious apartments at a good price located just around the corner from Laugavegur shopping street. You can choose the apartment starting from a Small Studio for 2 persons to a large One-bedroom Apartment with balcony for 5 persons.

      Their staff will ensure your comfort during the stay and provide the most updated information about the city, gay and night life in Reykjavik.

      Each apartment has a private bathroom with a shower, fully equipped kitchen and free Wi-Fi. Guests can buy groceries at the local grocery store 50 meters from the apartments. Because of their very central location, numerous shops, restaurants and cafés are available in the surrounding area. The Church of Hallgrimur is located 350 m from the apartments, a tourist agency is just 50 m away and the nearest gay bar is less than 5 minutes walking distance.

      Laekur hostel
      In the hostel we have dorms for 4-8 persons with shared kitchen and bathroom facilities. The rooms are furnished with free internet, lockers, and a USB charger by each bed. The beds have linen provided and you can rent a towel in the cafe on the ground floor for 5 EUR.

      All the dorms are mixed with both genders. You can also book a whole room with 4-8 bunker beds.

      Blue Lagoon
      - a world of wonder

      Named by National Geographic as one of the 25 Wonders of the World, the Blue Lagoon is a shimmering expanse of warmth, relaxation, and rejuvenation. Its unique geothermal seawater comes from 2000 meters within the earth where sea and fresh water converge in a tectonic frontier of porous lava and searing heat. Propelled by extreme pressure, the water ascends to the earth’s surface, emerging enriched with silica, algae, and minerals: the elements that endow Blue Lagoon geothermal seawater with its radiant, healing properties.

      From its humble beginnings in the shadows of a geothermal power plant, Blue Lagoon has evolved into a world of wonder, now encompassing a hotel, a restaurant, a luxury lounge, a renowned line of skin care, a research center, in-water massage, and a wealth of spa and refreshment facilities.

      Achieving harmony with the volcanic landscape of Iceland’s Reykjanes lava plain, the lagoon and its surrounding architecture embody the unification of the man-made and the natural, and adhere to the highest principles of sustainability.

      Blue Lagoon. A wonder of the world. A world of wonder.

      Whales of Iceland
      - larger than life

      Whales of Iceland is the largest whale exhibition in Europe (and perhaps even the world), where guests can learn about the giants of the sea in a calm and modern environment. The permanent exhibition features whales like guests have never seen them before. It is truly a giant experience.

      Landsbankinn
      - leading financial institution

      Landsbankinn is a leading Icelandic financial institution. It offers a full range of financial services and is the market leader in the Icelandic financial service sector with the largest branch network.

      The present bank was established on 7 October 2008 but the history of its predecessor dates back to 1886. The bank is owned by the National Treasury of Iceland, which holds 98.2% of its share capital, and other shareholders who own 1.8%.

      Landsbankinn’s strategy is to provide comprehensive financial services that meet customer’s needs. It emphasizes providing exemplary service to customers, developing e-banking for their convenience, increasing the efficiency of support functions, modernizing its technology and ensuring effective utilization of its balance sheet.

      The bank’s vision is to be exemplary and its role is to be a trusted financial partner.

      Special emphasis is placed on promoting a performance-oriented culture in the bank. To follow up on the implementation of this strategy, the bank has defined key goals which are measured regularly to determine progress. These goals include, for example, customer satisfaction and loyalty, profitability, cost efficiency and the correlation between risk appetite and employee satisfaction.

      Landsbankinn wishes to lead the development of a sustainable society in Iceland by integrating economic, social and environmental concerns in its operations. The Bank aims to ensure that both its owners and society at large benefit from its activities.

      It intends to achieve this aim by building solid infrastructure and a strong team of 1.100 employees, by listening to its customers and by respecting and encouraging its employees to actively participate in their community. Landsbankinn was a founding member of Festa, a Centre for Corporate Social Responsibility, and is a member of the UN Global Compact.

      Landsbankinn has been a proud sponsor of the Reykjavik Pride since it was first celebrated in Iceland.

      Dohop
      - get inspired

      Dohop allows people to find the cheapest flights available with just one click. Founded in Reykjavik in 2004, it is the only Icelandic company of its kind and quickly became the go-to tool for finding cheap flights among the locals. Dohop finds the best deals among hundreds of different airlines and online travel agencies, to make sure that the user is getting the cheapest price. Dohop also offers hotel and car rental search engines, so users can make all of their travel bookings from a single website.

      Dohop‘s specialty is finding so-called “self-connect” flight options, which can save travelers money by booking a ticket through two or more different airlines. The ability to look for these self-connect option is what sets Dohop apart from its competition, as it can save people hundreds of dollars on certain routes.

      More recently, Dohop has developed a unique product called Dohop Go!, which allows users to check for the cheapest available flights from their home airport. This tool is perfect for those who are looking for travel inspiration but are not willing to overpay for their flight ticket. Dohop Go! is now available in the Dohop Flights App, both for Android and iOS, along with its traditional flight, hotel, and car search engines. “

      Macland
      - for all your Apple needs

      From starting out as a proper startup with only a good idea and the need to change things, to becoming an established company with 6 employees. Starting from scratch and expanding organically has allowed us to love our expansion and take our customers on the ride with us.

      Macland is located at Laugavegur 23 (101, Downtown Reykjavik)
      For all your Apple needs. We are here.

      Aurora Reykjavik
      - northern lights center

        Aurora Reykjavik is a Northern Lights Center situated in downtown Reykjavík at the Old Harbor next to Icelandair Hotel Marina and Vikin Maritime Museum.

        Aurora Reykjavík is Iceland’s first educational and recreational Northern Lights Center where multimedia is used to explain when, why and how the Northern Lights work, with the highlights being large HD projection of the Aurora’s. We also share myths and legends about what our ancestor thought about those mystical lights.

        The Northern Lights Center is for all ages. Children are our favorite guests and we created the exhibition in a way that children can have a look freely and parents don’t have to worry about things being broken.

        Aurora Reykjavik offers a great selection of souvenirs that are designed and made by Icelanders along with nice little coffee corner, where you can enjoy free coffee and tea while browsing through the souvenirs or just planning your next step.

        Contact Aurora

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        Ísey skyr
        - once tasted never forgotten

        Our Story
        Once upon a time, 1,100 years ago in fact, Nordic settlers began arriving in Iceland. They brought with them the skills and knowledge for producing skyr. As time passed, the know-how and recipe for this nutritious food slowly faded out elsewhere in the Nordic region. Luckily, the Icelandic skyr-making tradition continued.

        For centuries, Icelandic skyr formed a cornerstone of the national diet, helping to keep people strong in living conditions that were often harsh. On family farms countrywide, it was the women who nurtured this dairy and passing on both the recipe and the original Icelandic skyr cultures from mother to daughter.

        Ísey skyr builds on this remarkable legacy. It was some of those very same women, the recipients of their mothers’ expertise, who, around 90 years ago, taught Icelandic dairy scientists the art of skyr-making. The production process is more high-tech these days, and the quality standards more rigorous. However, the basic recipe and the use of original cultures to ferment the skimmed milk remain the same. Protein rich, fat-free, creamy and delicious – Ísey skyr is as relevant to consumers now as it was all those centuries ago.
        This is our secret and you are in on it

        You can read more about Ísey skyr on our website.

        Núðluskálin
        - noodle bar

        Núðluskálin is a small gay owned and operated fusion noodle bar.

        All of our courses are individually made from fresh ingredients and therefore highly customisable.
        We offer fully Vegan versions of all courses.
        Though originally a take-away we now seat over 30 people.

        Núðluskálin is located right in the heart of Reykjavík on Skólavörðustígur 8 (street leading up to the big Church) near the junction with Laugavegur (main street).

        Seatours
        - adventure cruise

        Ferry Baldur – the gate to the West fjords
        and VikingSushi Adventure – Bird & Nature watching Tour for everyone all year around

        The “VikingSushi Adventure” is the right boat tour for travelers who are adventurous and want to experience something new – close up to the nature seafood simply doesn’t come fresher than this! The archipelago area of the Breidafjordur Bay always surprises her visitors during winter or summer with spectacular sights. Where else you get to try delicious fresh scallops and sea urchin roe straight from the ocean served with soy sauce, wasabi and ginger.

        600x400-seatours-tasting

        This old volcanic area, characterized by the typical basalt formations of the islands, is the home of countless birds. Here you will also find the strongest currents in Iceland. The VikingSushi Tour takes roughly two hours and our captain is also the tour guide.

        600x400-seatours

        The VikingSushi Tour is a true adventure through incredible nature which should not be missed by any traveler to West Iceland.

        Birds, possible to spot:
        -puffins (from the middle of April until the middle of August)
        -eider ducks
        -shags
        -kittiwakes
        -fulmars
        -white-tailed eagle

        The car ferry Baldur is the bridge to the West fjords via the island Flatey
        Ferry Baldur crosses Breidafjordur Bay daily from Stykkisholmur on the Snæfellsnes peninsula to Brjanslaekur in the north. A ferry ride considerably shortens the route between the south and mid-west of the country and the West Fjords region. It also gives you the opportunity to experience a floating restaurant.

        Take a stopover at the charming island Flatey when you are crossing the bay or go to a day tour to Flatey and back to Stykkishólmur. At Flatey are no cars allowed and between the houses of the 18th century you get the feeling of a journey back in time.

        Contact Us


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