Todd Kulczyk is an American counselor who recently moved to Iceland and has joined the team of councilors at national queer organization Samtökin ’78 where one of his fields of speciality will be counseling HIV-positive people, their families and loved ones. He wants to reignite the awareness of HIV and not least the plight of those who got a death sentence in their twenties but are now facing retirement age.

I have never met Todd Kulczyk before, but entering a café in downtown Reykjavík on a rainy afternoon there can be no doubt about which one of the people sitting there is him. He radiates self-confidence and his face is one of the most expressive I have come across. An American in Reykjavík is not a rare sight, but this one stands out. A man with a purpose.

Todd has long experience counseling HIV-positive people in The States and now Icelanders can benefit from his experience.

Todd worked in theatres before he became a counselor and it´s obvious that he’s quite a performer, which comes in handy in his recent job. Having lived in Seattle for the last thirteen years, he claims the weather in Iceland – endless rain – is quite familiar to him. Asked how he ended up in Iceland his face literally lights up. “Oh, it’s such a romantic story!” he exclaims. “I had a stopover in Iceland on my way back to Seattle from a trip to Europe and this beautiful man was seated next to me. We got talking and in these seven hours that the flight lasted we fell in love. It’s like destiny!”

Last year the two flight passengers got married and last December Todd moved to Reykjavík, where his husband lived. He had been working as a counselor in Seattle and not being one who hangs around he contacted The National Queer Organization and has now joined their team. He admits he does not know much about the situation of HIV-positive people in Iceland but he is eager to learn and besides the difficulties facing them are universal.

“Being diagnosed HIV-positive is always a huge shock,” he explains. “And people are facing so many tough questions; when to tell their partner and families, for example, and if you’re single do you have a duty to tell eventual sexual partners that you are positive, or is it the responsibility of them to ask? Do you tell your employer and workmates, or is it too personal information? How people choose to tackle these questions depends on the individual, of course, but it’s the role of the counselor to help them clarify all these issues, as best he/she/they can.”

According to a new report more people in Iceland were diagnosed with HIV last year than the years before and Todd says that it is worrying that the discussion in society seems to have dwindled. “It’s no longer a death sentence, of course, but it’s still worrying how little attention this rise in diagnosis is getting,” he says. “I don’t have all the information on how these things are handled here, but it’s my feeling that very few people are even thinking about the risk of getting HIV anymore. That’s worrying. Even if it can now be controlled with medication it’s still a very serious disease and has a huge impact on those that are diagnosed and all around them. We absolutely have to get the discussion going again.”

“… it’s worrying how little attention this rise in diagnosis is getting. … it’s my feeling that very few people are even thinking about the risk of getting HIV anymore. That’s worrying.”

Talking about a death sentence Todd takes a small detour and starts talking about the plight of those who were diagnosed 30-40 years ago when it still meant a certain death. “These people are facing big difficulties. If you got a death sentence in your twenties you did not make any plans for the future. You didn’t pursue a carrier, plan a family or save for your retirement. You didn’t expect to live that long. Now many of those people are facing retirement age, and they have no idea how they can manage that. Many of my clients in the States were in this position and I am assuming that the same goes for HIV positive people in Iceland. So that’s one of the issues I hope to help people with as a counselor at The National Queer Organization.”

So far Todd has not had any HIV-positive clients in his new job, but he is eager to let people know he is there and that everyone that is HIV-positive, or who loves someone who is, is welcome. But how should people who want to get in touch with him go about it?

“Oh, that’s easy. Just contact The National Queer Organization’s office and order an appointment,” he says and smiles from ear to ear. “

Todd and his husband met on a plane and fell in love 30.000 feet in the air.

But is the counseling different for those who have just been diagnosed and their loved ones?

“Yes and no. The main purpose of a good counselor is to be a good listener and that applies to every client no matter what the stage of the disease he/she/they is in. But of course newly diagnosed people face other difficulties than those who have been positive for many years.

In Seattle I worked for a while at a clinic where people came to get tested and helped those who got diagnosed positive to deal with the initial shock. It’s important to realise that when you are diagnosed you go through the same grief progress as if you lose something that is dear to you. You go through the shock, the denial, the anger, etc. And it’s healthy and completely natural. How or when or if you decide to tell your nearest and dearest is completely up to you. There are no rules about how to deal with this kind of news. So I always urge people to take their time to decide how to go about it.

Some people worry that if they go to a counselor he/she/they will tell their loved ones about the diagnosis, but of course we have client counselor confidiality and never do that. The decisions about what to do, how and when always lie with the client. I have witnessed a newly diagnosed guy tell his partner that the results had been negative and there was absolutely nothing I could do to correct that. I had advised him to come clear, of course, but it was totally his decision and I had to respect that. So people who are worried about the counselor speaking out of terms can rest assured that could never happen.

“It’s important to realise that when you are diagnosed you go through the same grief progress as if you lose something that is dear to you. You go through the shock, the denial, the anger, etc. And it’s healthy and completely natural.”

You may rely on me to maintain confidentiality regarding work with clients. However, there are a few exceptions. If a client is going to do harm to themselves or another, ethically it is a counsellor’s duty to inform. The story above was a specific situation in the early 1990’s in a clinic that held client’s anonymity.”

But are you never pressed to step in if you see a client take a completely wrong approach in your opinion? “Of course a counselor is human and has his own opinions, but he/she/they has to leave them at the door. It is never acceptable to try to make people do something that they don’t want to do. A counselor like that is going against his own purpose. We are all biased, one way or another, but that may never be allowed to affect your work with the clients. Never!”

This is my cue to turn off the phone recording and thank Todd for his time. Those who want to see more of him can go to his Facebook Group Site Therapy Cooperative – Iceland and see him in action. And, as he pointed out, the counselors at national queer organization Samtökin ’78 are only a phone-call or an email away.

“People are facing so many tough questions; when to tell their partner and families, for example,” says Todd, when asked how people react to the news of being diagnosed with HIV.

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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