Dealing with differences is part of being human

In a meeting tonight, Samtökin ’78 the National Queer Organisation of Iceland, presented an action plan that aims to increase transparency and get more people to take part in an open conversation about where the organisation is heading.

María Helga Guðmundsdóttir, the newly elected president of the organisation, says that after the tumultous times within the organisation, it‘s the priority of the new board to get as many people as possible active in drawing up the future.

María Helga Guðmundsdóttir, the newly elected president of the organisation,
María Helga Guðmundsdóttir, the newly elected president of Samtökin ’78. The National Queer Organisation has introduced an action plan that aims to make the administration more transparent.

“The key aspects of our action plan are to keep the elementary factors of our work going, start an active conversation with our members, hold frequent meetings for all members, update our member registry and send out a survey to all members,” María Helga explains.

“We also intend to prepare a national gathering of queer people which will be held at the end of this winter. Last time a meeting like that was held was four years ago and we aim to look at how things have progressed since then and open up a discussion about what we will focus on for the next few years,“ says María Helga when asked what the forementioned action plan is all about.

She emphasizes that the board is only elected for a six-month term, so obviously the things they can accomplish will be limited by that time frame. “We have to stay focused,” she says. “We plan to emphasize the inner workings of the organisation and try to improve them as best we can. This first month in office we have been talking to all our volunteers and paid employees about what they would like to improve, what their needs and wishes are. We will also keep talking to the representatives of the various associations affiliated with the organisation and try to keep all lines of communication open.”

“The key aspects of our action plan are to keep the elementary factors of our work going, start an active conversation with our members, hold frequent meetings for all members, update our member registry and send out a survey to all members.”

What about the battle for legal rights of trans people, adoption rights, etc.? Will you put that on hold?
“There is a general election for Parliament in a month’s time, so legal discussions are largely on hold for now. Of course we aim to engage with the political candidates before the election, and when a new Parliament starts working we aim to keep the conversation going. We will have to wait and see how that conversation develops.”

According to María Helga, the new board will stand for any drastic changes in the way the National Queer Organisation functions, but of course there are lots of tasks that need to be undertaken. “To be honest these last six months have been difficult and the organisation has been consumed by unforeseen matters that have taken up a lot of time, money and other resources. So at the moment our main task is to keep going and stay the course while we work to resolve these conflicts.“

There has been a heated discussion within the organisation following the general meeting that was held last spring.

Is the main purpose of this action plan to make the administration more transparent?
“Yes, totally. That has been the direction of the board for the past few years but, as has become apparent over the past six months, there has been a shortfall in trust and communication between elected officials and some parts of the organisation’s membership. In our opinion, an essential element of building that trust is to make the administration more transparent and make all information easily available for the members. I am here for two hours every week to talk to people and I urge every member to come and talk to me.“

Does that include the people who were against the changes and fought against the new board?
“Yes, of course! Maybe especially them. That‘s when the discussion gets fruitful. I have had lots of conversations with people who are against the new direction the organisation is taking, for instance by establishing formal ties with the BDSM association, and that has often been enlightening and fruitful. All the members of the National Queer Organization have to have the same access to the members of the board. That‘s essential. Regardless of the type of office you hold, you have to keep the conversation with the electorate open.“

Do you think the new board will be successful in bringing on some kind of reconciliation between the opposing forces within the organisation?
“I hope so. We within the new board are determined to do our best to make all members feel at home within the organisation and meet their needs through its work.“

“… I have had lots of conversations with people who are against the new direction the organisation is taking … and that has often been enlightening and fruitful.“

Is it not a possibility that the people who left the organisation in this last fight will form their own organisation and not come to work with Samtökin ’78 again?

“I can not speak for them, obviously, but we have already been in contact with people who disagreed with us in these matters to try to find ways of working together. We will keep doing that and hopefully some of them, at least, will continue to work with us.“

How many people have left the organisation since last March?
“The numbers have fluctuated considerably. Between 80 and 100 people left the organisation last spring, but many rejoined to be able to vote at the general meeting in September. Since the general meeting, about 20 people have left the organization. As of October 1st, 2016, we have 718 registered, paying members; for comparison, a total of 501 person paid dues to the organization in 2015.”

This fight has been rather vicious at times. Did that surprise you?
“In a way it did, yes. But one has to keep in mind that everything that has to do with the National Queer Organisation revolves around deeply personal aspects of people’s identity and that means that big emotions are quick to come to the surface. It has to be expected that people can get really hurt and angry when arguments arise about matters that people have poured their hearts into. That

“I hope so. We within the new board are determined to do our best to make all members feel at home within the organisation and meet their needs through its work.“
“We within the new board are determined to do our best to make all members feel at home within the organisation and meet their needs through its work,“ says María Helga.

“… people can get really hurt and angry when arguments arise about matters that people have poured their hearts into. That applies both to those of us who are most active now and the people who gave the organisation their all ten, twenty or thirty years ago.“

applies both to those of us who are most active now and the people who gave the orginisation their all ten, twenty or thirty years ago. It‘s very important that we who hold elected office within the organisation realize that these feelings are strong and natural. Even though we will sometimes be on the receiving end of anger and hostility, we are ill-advised to take it too personally. All we can do is be considerate of each other’s feelings, as in all communication with other people. Dealing with differences is part of being human and we just have to handle that with dignity and respect.”

It‘s a safe assumption that you will have a rather rough time as the president of the organisation in these times. Did you never hesitate to run for office?
“Oh, yes, I did hesitate. This is not how I pictured that things would go when I ran for a seat on the board last spring. I never pictured myself as a candidate for president, and maybe I still don‘t. But someone had to keep the work going. Those of us who’ve been on the board since last spring work well together and have forged strong bonds during these tumultuous times, so I decided to give it a go and do my best for the organisation. The task now is to do my job with an open mind and total dedication.”

María Helga was elected president with 55% of the votes. She admits that the group that did not vote for the new board is large and that it will be a challenge to bring opposing parties together again. But she is optimistic that the new board will make good progress towards that goal, even if the time is limited.
“I don‘t think it‘s wise to consider it a short-term project to achieve reconciliation in an organisation like ours. I seriously doubt that we will have achieved eternal harmony by the next general meeting. Working through disagreements like these takes a long time and much work. It has sometimes been said that Samtökin ’78 is like a family to its members, and we all know that conflicts within families can be hard to solve. But I am optimistic that we will be in a better place six months from now and an even better place a year from now.”

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.


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.

      - 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.

      - 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. “

      - 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.

        - 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).

        - 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.


        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.


        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
        -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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