“It does not matter if you‘re gay, lesbian, trans or whatever, it‘s just about feelings“

The Icelandic film Heartstone has won the hearts of critics and audiences around the world since it had it‘s premier at the Venice film festival in September. It has been screened at 16 film festivals around the world, winning in total 17 awards including best actors for it‘s young stars, Baldur Einarsson and Blær Hinriksson, at the Marrakech International Film Festival in Morocco last month.

Now it has finally premiered in Iceland and Baldur and Blær are a bit nervous about how their peers will react to the movie, but mostly they are excited.

“I always wanted to be an actor. But I never dreamed it would be so amazing,“ says Baldur who plays Þór in the film.

The two young men entering the café do not look like movie stars. They‘ve come straight from school and look like any other 14 and 15-year-old schoolboys on a cold winter‘s day in Iceland; bundled up in parkas with their schoolbags on their back. But looks can deceive and underneath the plain attire they are in fact stars of one of the most well received Icelandic film ever. Having walked the red carpet in Venice and Marrakech to the cheering of adoring crowds how do they feel about Heartstone finally reaching Icelandic movie theatres and thereby becoming available to everyone who knows them?

“It‘s gonna be different,“ Blær admits. „Everyone who knows us is going to have an opinion on the film and tell it straight out and as these are the people that one cares about it‘s gonna matter more than what others think. But hopefully they will like it.“

“I‘m not so sure,“ Baldur says. “I don‘t look upon our characters in the film as Baldur and Blær, they are just Kristján and Þór and have nothing to do with who we are in real live.“

Has the experience of acting in a movie changed their lives?

“Oh, yes! It has changed everything,“ Baldur exclaims. „We‘ve made lots of new friends, gotten to know a lot of people and it has been a great experience over all.“

“It didn‘t happen before that people came up to you and asked for an autograph,“ Blær adds with a smile. “It‘s a bit weird, but also great fun.“

“I never thought about playing Kristján any differently because he might be gay. He‘s a boy like every other boy whether he is attracted to boys or girls. That really is not an issue.“

How did it feel to get the award as best actors at a big festival like the one in Marrakech?

“It was an amazing experience,“ says Blær. “It was like being in a weird dream that you didn‘t want to wake from.“

“It was great,“ Baldur adds. “But I‘m sure that this first award will not be our last!“

So you are determined to become actors ‘when you grow up’?

“Definetily,“ Baldur exclaims. “I could not imagine doing anything else.“

„It can be emotionally exhausting and sometimes one almost gets depressed after filming a difficult scene, but mostly it was great fun,“ says Blær, about the experience of working on the film.

“I don’t know for sure,“ says Blær. “Everyone in my father’s family is an actor so it‘s always been assumed that I would become one too, but I play handball too and I would not mind becoming a professional handballer. We will see.“

“I always wanted to be an actor,“ says Baldur. “But I never dreamed it would be so amazing. I‘m extremely happy to have gotten this experience. It exceeded my wildest hopes.“

Hearstone (Hjartasteinn) deals with coming of age in a remote village in Iceland in an unspecified time in the past and one of the things it deals with is Blær’s character, Kristján, realizing that he is gay. Was it hard to put oneself in that situation?

“Only to begin with,“ says Baldur. “But we had become very good friends by then and trusted each other completely, so it soon became easy.“

“The film is not about being gay,“ says Blær. “It‘s about the friendship of two boys. When Kristján realizes that his feelings for Þór are more than friendship it makes their relationship more complicated, but friendship prevails.“

It‘s obvious that to them the gay aspect of the film is of no importance. “It‘s just about feelings,“ Blær explains. “It does not matter if you are gay, lesbian, trans or whatever, the feelings are always the same. It‘s just being human. I never thought about playing Kristján any differently because he might be gay. He‘s a boy like every other boy whether he is attracted to boys or girls. That really is not an issue.“

Heartstone is set in the beautiful but yet harsh nature of Iceland and portrays the journey of friendship and love between two young friends. As one tries to win the heart of a girl, the other discovers new feelings toward his best friend. Pictured: Director Guðmundur Arnar Guðmundsson on set with Blær and Baldur

Heartstone was shot on location in a remote village in the east of Iceland, Borgarfjörður eystri, where the wi-fi could not be relied upon and everything was totally different from what the boys are used to. And they admit that it was a strange experience to be so far from everything they know for two months.

“It was hard at times,“ Baldur admits. “But I would do it again in a heartbeat!“

“Yes, I don‘t think people realise how hard it is,“ Blær adds. “It can be emotionally exhausting and sometimes one almost gets depressed after filming a difficult scene, but mostly it was great fun. Everyone who worked on the film was really amazing and the people at Borgarfjörður eystri are wonderful!“

“It was like being in a weird dream that you didn‘t want to wake from,“ says Blær when asked what it felt like when he and Baldur got awards as best actors at The Marrakech International Film Festival.

But has the fame gone to their heads? Do they feel in any way different from the other kids at school now?

„No, not at all,“ they exclaim in unison. “We are no different from the others!“

“One tries to stay grounded in reality,“ says Baldur. “ It‘s the only approach that makes sense. It‘s not like we are international movie stars or something! We are the same boys we always were.“

What is the biggest learning you‘ve drawn from working on that movie?

“Mostly I learned to work with others and show everyone who I worked with the same respect,“ says Blær.

“It taught me a lot about making movies,“ says Baldur. “And the subject matter of Heartstone opened some doors into understanding human nature. I learned a lot from this film and I would gladly do it all over again.“

“It teaches you a lot to have to put yourself in the situation of the character you are playing,“ says Blær. “Usually you don‘t think a lot about how people different from yourself are feeling, but Kristján is very different from me so I had to push my self hard to really feel what he was feeling. It is a rewarding experience.“

“It sometimes took me a long time to snap out of Þór and into Baldur again. I owe my mother an apology for how I behaved the last two months of making Heartstone. Sorry, mom, it was not me, it was Þór!“

“Yes,“ Baldur agrees. “You are forced to put your own life on hold and really live the life of the character. It sometimes took me a long time to snap out of Þór and into Baldur again. I owe my mother an apology for how I behaved the last two months of making Heartstone. Sorry, mom, it was not me, it was Þór!“

„We‘ve made lots of new friends, gotten to know a lot of people and it has been a great experience over all,“ says Baldur, here pictured alongside Blær and actor Jason Clark, who they met at the film festival in Marrakech.

Having been a part of the international film star world since September is it not hard to adjust to normal life again?

“It‘s a bummer,“ Blær says with a grin. “Having to do the dishes, take the bus to school and all this boring everyday things. It‘s a downer. No, I‘m joking, it‘s fine. It‘s just life.“

Have people in Iceland started recognizing you on the street?

“No, not yet,“ Baldur admits. “I went to Smárabíó to buy a ticket for Heartstone the other day and the girl in the ticket booth didn‘t recognise me even if she had a huge poster of my face right before her eyes all day. But that‘s all gonna change now, I guess.“

Heartstone is being shown at Smárabíó, Laugarásbíó and Háskólabíó in Reykjavík, at Selfossbíó, at Borgarbíó in Akureyri and at Bíóhöllin Akranesi (and will be shown in more cinemas in the countryside) and judging from the reactions it has gotten abroad we must assume that these two will soar right to the heart of the Icelandic nation.

And I think it‘s save to say that they deserve it. We have not seen the last of them, that‘s for sure.

Note: In relation to the films premier in Iceland the producers have released videos where Icelandic celebrities talk about their first love. The public is encouraged to share their stories under the hashtag #hjartasteinn

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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