We’ve been sitting on a secret for long enough. In tonight’s episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars, two queens will be getting fulfilled the dream of many and winning a trip to the dark, cold gates of the Arctic, i.e. an adventure to Iceland. GayIceland spoke to Eva María-Glimmer, CEO of LGBT travel and events company Pink Iceland, and Gógó Starr, reigning drag queen of Iceland, about how this came about and how RuPaul fell in love with Iceland.

Pink Iceland’s CEO Eva María Þórarinsdóttir Lange says she’s looking forward to welcoming the queens.

“Well, the RuPaul herstory in Iceland began in 2014 when we got Willam to perform at Reykjavik Pride and shake up the audience, including our lesbian Prime Minister Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir and the Mayor of Reykjavík,” begins Eva María. “The year after, we hosted RuPaul’s Drag Race: Battle of the Seasons with Adore Delano, Alaska 5000, Ivy Winters, Jinkx Mon-soon, Pandora Boxx, Sharon Needles, and Michelle Visage. In 2015, the episodes were not available on Netflix so Icelanders were not very familiar with the show. Well… our queer family was, but it was not as commercial so to speak. This has changed a lot and now there are many more Icelanders who know what Drag Race is all about and live for it!”

Gógó Starr: “With the growing interest in all things drag, there was finally a market for a regular drag show, and thus the monthly Drag-Súgur show was born in 2015. Ever since then, the Icelandic drag scene has been steadily growing bigger, better and more diverse, being influenced by many things, including RuPaul’s Drag Race and the international drag visitors we’ve had perform here.

“After com-posing herself, Ru did comment that she had not been to Iceland yet, so I wouldn’t be surprised if she would end up using this prize trip for herself.”

As the Drag Queen of Iceland and CEO of Drag-Súgur, I myself have toured a bit through the US and Europe and performed with a lot of fabulous people, and met a whole bunch of drag queens from RuPaul’s Drag Race. I’ve performed twice at Heklina’s club, Oasis in San Francisco, first with the stunning Shea Couleé, and then with the amazing Alaska Thunderfuck 5000. It’s always a pleasure to work with superstars in the field, and the best of them tend to be the nicest people I meet on my travels. Alaska was quite in-trigued indeed by the growing Icelandic drag scene, and how we mix the different elements of drag queens, drag kings, gender fuckery and queer music into our shows.

I love how every time you introduce yourself as an Icelander, they always say that they want to visit – and now, thanks to our amazing local drag scene and avid supporters, we can expect a couple of familiar faces on our shores soon enough.”

Yes, two queens will soon get to feel this peculiar vibe firsthand. How did you come up with the idea of sponsoring a prize trip in the show?

Gógó Starr with the wonderful Michelle Visage.

Gógó Starr: “OK, so last year, Drag-Súgur decided to go to the biggest drag convention in the world; RuPaul’s DragCon LA. With support from Pink Iceland, WOW air, Omnom Chocolate, Landsbankinn, Hárvörur.is and our fabulous fans, we made it to Los Angeles. We came to DragCon with the simple task of making new connections, new admirers and entice the people with tales of our new and exciting Icelandic drag scene, free chocolate and a huge raffle prize consisting of a luxury trip for 2 to Iceland. One of these new admirers happened to be a producer of RuPaul’s Drag Race, and was really interested in getting some Icelandic flavor into the sponsorship prizes for queens on Drag Race. After some talk with Pink Iceland, Omnom Chocolate and WOW air, we all happily agreed to put together one of the biggest main challenge prizes in Drag Race herstory, the Icelandic trip of a lifetime!

“… Iceland, while not perfect, is a comparatively welcoming place for queer travelers.”

And did I mention that we met RuPaul, talked about this adventure and gave her an Omnom chocolate bar? She promptly opened it up and took a big bite, moaning in joy at the deliciousness. After com-posing herself, Ru did comment that she had not been to Iceland yet, so I wouldn’t be surprised if she would end up using this prize trip for herself.
But for real, Ru seemed very pleased that the show was having such effects overseas and seeing us ready to share our charisma, uniqueness, nerve and talent with the world.”

Talking aboyt the trip, can you tell us already what you have in store for the winners?

Founders and owners of Pink Iceland: Birna Hrönn Glimmer, Hannes and Eva María-Glimmer.

Eva María smiles: “Both of them get a luxurious all-inclusive trip to Iceland for 2, courtesy of Pink Iceland, WOW air, Hilton Canopy Reykjavik, Drag-Súgur, Omnom Chocolate and photographer Kristín María. This mas-sive prize consists of:
• Flights for 2 with WOW air
• Accommodation at Canopy by Hilton Reykjavik for 4 nights
• Private Day Tours with Pink Iceland:
◦ All the tours will be tailor-made for each queen, where they’ll get the chance to experi-ence Icelandic nature and culture with guidance from one of Pink Iceland’s wonderful (and queer of course!) guides.
• Culinary experiences in the country’s best restaurants
• Drag-Súgur drag show extravaganza
• Omnom Chocolate factory tour and chocolate goodies
• Complete photoshoot day with Kristín María:
◦ The queens will get a chance to dress up in their most fabulous drag and have their photos taken in nature
• Party with local people.”

Such exposure can be a springboard for queer tourism in Iceland. Would you say the country is a welcoming environment for an international queer clientele?

Eva María: “Tourism has grown dramatically in recent years and we think  – and hope – that we will see more specialization within the industry in the future with emphasis on quality rather than quantity.

We live in a bit of a bubble in Iceland, especially those of us who identify as white cis-gendered gays and lesbians. These days we thankfully face less intolerance and hate than we used to a mere 15 – 20 years ago. Where we maybe feel it the most is when proving our worth, as Pink Iceland is a company owned and run by two lesbians and a gay guy and when we started there weren’t many companies or financial institutions that would give us the time of day. We had no investors and no money but we worked extra hard and have earned respect within the travel and hospitality world in Iceland.

“We’d love to have more women and trans and gender non-binary guests …”

However Iceland, while not perfect, is a comparatively welcoming place for queer travelers. We’ve had very few, if any, issues with intolerance or less than exemplary behavior from our friends in the travel industry, not least because we work closely with our colleagues and edu-cate them where and when needed.

The only place where we feel we fall short is representation. We’d love to have more women, trans and gender non-binary guests but the fact is that we mostly cater to gay men who we love and adore and are the reason we’re still around after 7 years! This doesn’t change the fact that we’d love to be more inclusive of all the queer identities and have them represented more in our online and social media presence. Our policy of never creating false advertising and only using real photos of real people on real tours means these groups have less representation than we would like them to have.”

Thanks for that Eva, and finally one last question relating to RuPaul’s show: who’s your personal favorite for tonight’s competition?

Gógó Starr: “Since Valentina is no longer an option, I am hopeful that it’ll be Manila Luzon or Latrice Royale. The OGs all the way. But of course, it will be absolutely amazing to get any two of these six superstars.

And what? Don’t miss the show, with airing starting tonight in the US!”

Make sure to check out this event.

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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