He is often called the most charming man of the thousands that participate in the Reykjavik Pride parade every year. He lights up peoples´ spirits and his grace goes above and beyond. He sure knows how to live life to the fullest and is surrounded by friends wherever he goes. Those who know him don´t ever want to cut him loose.

Þórir was born in 1926 so he was brought up during the Great depression years.

He never noticed me as there are thousands participating in the Reykjavík Pride parade, and I was just one of the admiring faces in the crowd. He, however, got all of my attention. Þórir Björnsson is probably the oldest man to participate in the parade. He is now 92 years old and told me on the phone when I contacted him that he had been at the rehabilitation center all morning, has recently gotten a pacemaker and was planning a trip to Edinburgh in Scotland. His voice is like that of a much younger man. He has this youngish, musical voice and every now and then he thanked me for calling him. An extremely polite Þórir was born in 1926 so he was brought up during the Great depression years. He still remembers the day the British army arrived in Iceland.

“We should never put people in specified groups or boxes. It doesn´t matter what gender you find attractive. We are all human beings.”

“That´s when my interest in men in uniforms started,” he says and smiles at the memory, the day when we meet at his home. “When I was 15 years old, I met the first love of my life; a man from Scotland wearing a Scottish kilt. We were drawn to each other like magnets. I didn‘t understand what the attraction was, but I just played along.

At first I had a guilty conscience when it came to my feelings for this man. I worried that everybody would know about it, but the guilt soon surpassed and has never troubled me since. We had great times together, but soon after he left Iceland I got a letter from his mother telling me that he had died in the war. I felt really, really sad, but didn´t shed a tear.”

In love for the second time

Þórir found a new love. An American doctor who worked for the army. Inside the doctor´s office was another room where they made love and the doctor gave Þórir lots of presents.
“But I couldn´t bring them home, as I could not explain where I had gotten them. Where could I have been able to get American outfit? The relationship between me and the doctor lasted for a year and a half. My mother and I never discussed the fact that I was gay, even though she knew long before I did,“ he says laughing cheerfully. “We never spoke about this; that was our silent agreement. My mother was one of those people you couldn´t argue with. She would use the silent treatment. My father and I would sometimes argue but when it was over, we were best friends again. But my mother was like the elephant, she remembered everything.“

Þórir in his younger years.

He tells me that the American doctor was a real gentleman and always sent a car to pick Þórir up and drive him to the hospital.
“But of course I could never stay overnight. Just imagine the mood during these times; in the middle of the war, when even nowadays people don´t dare to come out of this so-called “closet”. Many of my friends were homosexual and married to women, so their whole life was a secret. These men just wanted to have sex with other men, and those of us who knew, almost had to lay our hand on the Bible and swear never to tell. Many of them are still alive – amongst them is the greatest love of my life. He was one of those people who wouldn´t dare stand up for himself, be who he truly was. Instead he chose to marry a woman and have eight kids with her. Our love affair lasted for 20 years and it hurt me deeply when it ended. But as strange it may seem in a small city like Reykjavík, I have never met this man again; never even seen him on the street since.

Still, I´ve never had a truly broken heart over another man. I was born with a good temper and a nice one, and a long time ago I learnt that life just turnes out like you want it to. I´ve always lived alone and I like it. I have a great group of friends and frequently have people over. I did drink alcohol for a while – but I never abused it. I used to love going dancing or partying but since being diagnosed with diabetes, I don´t drink alcohol anymore. But just take a look at my bar,” he says and points to a fully stocked bar. “Many of my friends come by on weekends and I always offer them a glass of wine, but of course there is never any party noise here in a house for senior citizens.”

A lover at his grandmother´s friends´ house

Our conversation goes back to the war and Þórir tells me that during that time he knew many girls as well as men. “What we, the gay ones, had in common was looking for an escape from the narrow world we felt we lived in. Many of the men in the army were very cautious, most of them had wives waiting for them at home, so they kept their homosexuality a secret. I had gay friends who got married and lived in a lie all their lives. As I was not allowed to go out after dark, I figured out a trick so I could spend a night with a man I was really into. I invited one soldier I was dating to my grandmother´s friends´ place, because she lived in the countryside. No suspicion arose: Just two friends travelling!”

Þórir‘s appreciation for uniforms didn´t diminish. In 1953 he went to Canada were he attended preparation unit (boot camp) for the Canadian army and a year later he became part of the armed forces with a Canadian passport.
“I wasn´t escaping Iceland,” he says. “I wanted adventures and travelled with two of my friends. For a while I worked at the NATO offices in Germany, but I broke my ankle so badly that the foot has never regained its full strength. Therefore my commitment with the army was over, but I stayed in a hospital for six months, as the doctors couldn´t fix the ankle. They put a nail into it which was not removed until 1978 here in Iceland. I stayed in Germany until 1957. I almost got hooked a few times in Germany because when we left the station we took off our uniforms and dressed very nicely. That night however I failed in some way, but got away with it. We made sure to be extra careful so no one would realize we were gay. One of my friends got caught, and he was sentenced to six years in labour for homosexuality.”

MSC: A widespread misunderstanding

Þórir has travelled a lot and spent considerable amount of time in the United States, London as well as Germany. But Edinburgh is his all time favorite city.
“I went there after being in London and stayed with friends who ran a hotel I worked at their hotel as well. I still go to Edinburgh every year to attend the so-called “Burns evenings” dedicated to poet Robert Burns. I also like Brighton and more and more gay people have chosen to live there. There are maybe ten houses side by side on a quiet street, in one house live 2 women, in the next 2 men etc. Brighton is very gay friendly and I really like visiting it.”

Þórir Björnsson is probably the oldest man to participate in the parade.

Þórir is an honorary member of MSC in Scotland and England and he often visits the countries. He rented a house in London with a friend and that´s where he first heard of MSC.
“It´s been a widespread misunderstanding that this club stands for sex. We are a form of brotherhood. And we want men to be manly dressed. I have often been on the MSC car with my friends on Pride parade day, but few years ago we decided it was not wise to drive such big cars down Laugavegur, the main shopping road.”

He tells me many great stories and I ask him if it is correct that some gay people can give others bitchy remarks?
“I can tell you one good story about that,“ he says and smiles. ,,There was a tailor who had lived in Copenhagen for a long time and after he moved back to Iceland he was invited to a big party at an “upper class man´s” house. At the party, the host´s brother-in-law walks up to the tailor and says: “So, I´ve heard that you are a “sodo”.”

The tailor didn´t bat an eye and answered without a hitch: “Then we should shake hands because I´ve been told it takes one to know one.“

We both like this story, except we don´t like the word “sodo”. Þórir on the other hand says he is fine with being called homosexual, homo, same-sex or gay.
“We should never put people in specified groups or boxes. It doesn´t matter what gender you find attractive. We are all human beings. It makes me sad knowing that gay people had to flee Iceland because of their sexual orientation. One of them was Hörður Torfason, acclaimed singer and actor, but fortunately he came back to Iceland and, alongside of him, myself and a handful of other people founded the Samtökin ´78, a gay rights organization and a safe place for gay people. On the other hand I do not like it when gay men are called female names. It became a local trend and for a long time I was called Tótan, which is the female version for Þórir. This has always irritated me. I find it disrespectful towards people if they can´t be called the name they were given and even more disrespectful if they´re being changed for derogatory purposes.”

Unbelievably many gay men attractive and sexy

Tell me, who are the most attractive men in the world?
“My, oh my!” he says smiling. “This is a good question. I think there are attractive men all over the world. It just depends on who you meet. You can sit outside a café wherever in the world and see extremely handsome and macho men walking by. It´s also common to see a really handsome man with a not-so-attractive man, but you can see their happiness beaming. A few years ago I was at the Jumbo Center in the Canary Islands and I saw two men, a couple. They were in their eighties and nineties. They were holding hands and the love that surrounded them was like they were just teenagers. They were so happy they were glowing. Fortunately I was born that way and have always maintained that to me all people are equal. Be it their nationality, colour, gender, orientation – and I don´t know any racists. It has never been an issue for me whether my lovers are tall or short, slim or fat – it´s heir eyes I fall in love with.”

Wishes he had been born 30 years later

Þórir says he has been happy in his life. He is now 92 years old and has recently gotten a pacemaker.
“I have been heathy all my life. It was just the broken ankle and diabetes and now I´ve got a pacemaker. This is all very normal for a man of 92 years, I can tell you! I´ve always loved being surrounded by people and I often have friends and acquaintances over for a glass of wine on weekends. I worked until I was 70 years old for Loftleiðir (now Icelandair) on both of their ticket offices downtown. After that I worked for a wholesaler and my last years on the job market I worked for an undertaker. That job gave me great fulfillment.”

“It´s been a widespread misunderstanding that this club stands for sex. We are a form of brotherhood. And we want men to be manly dressed.”

As said before however, it is Þórir´s opinion that his life has been a good one.
“I have hundreds of friends now (106 guests came to his birthday party when he turned 85 years old) and I can easily say that I have been lucky in my life. For years I had a dream to spend my golden years in Scotland where I have many friends. I miss my old house in West Reykjavik and I find it to be too much light in these new houses. Not cozy at all. But I have decided against my old dream to move to Scotland. Home is the best place to be at.”

He says that if he could change anything about his life, he´d have chosen to be born in 1956 instead of 1926.
“In the sixties and seventies, few men were in their private demonstration; they stood up for themselves and did what they saw as the right thing to do. It´s always best if people don´t feel the need to live a lie and I´m really glad how much the gay community has grown and blossomed in the past years. My life changed a bit after I stopped drinking alcohol due to my diabetes. I don´t miss it at all as I always find drunk people boring when I´m sober! I´m constantly being invited to dinners and parties, and if I wanted to I could use my apartment only for sleep!“ he says with a big smile. “But I like also to be alone. I still read a lot like I´ve always done, even though I have only one good eye now. Fiction is my favorite read now but as a child and young man I mostly read poetry. When I was a child I used to frequent the City Library and I am sure that no children´s book published in Iceland wasn´t read by me!”

Asked if he has a life motto, something to live by, he answers:
“I have been very lucky with the good temper I was born with. However, I have been told that I sometimes have gotten angry after drinking alcohol, having said my piece about some topic but more often than not it wasn´t neccessary. Then I have other friends who tell me they don´t like me so mellow! I´ve always had my convictions, but it was not always the right time to argue them.”

Pop star Páll Óskar perfroming at Þórir’s 90th birthday.

Don’t bother please

At the time when this interview was conducted, Þórir was very busy. He was going to Edinburgh for three days. “I´m always doing things I enjoy. One Christmas and New Years Eve I spent with friends who own an apartment in Berlin. From there I went to Scotland for “Burns´ night“. I have taken part in London´s  Pride parade alongside millions of people, and I also went to the Brighton  Pride. And of course I take part in the Icelandic Pride parade, even though the MSC members no longer have their own float. This year I may just be a bystander, who knows?

Asked who will accompany him to Scotland on his trip  he bursts into laughter.
“Escort me?! I go on my own as I have always lived my life. I don´t have any assistance at my home since I don´t want anyone to worry about me or make a fuss. I´m glad I got the pacemaker so I can live longer and enjoy life. I´m not dead yet.“

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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