Video Of The Day: Midnight Sun Shines In Iceland

The “midnight sun” is a natural phenomenon occurring north of the Arctic Circle and south of the Antarctic Circle when the sun never fully sets and remains visible 24 hours a day. Since there are no permanent human settlements south of the Antarctic Circle, countries and territories that experience the midnight sun are limited to those crossed by the Arctic Circle, including Canada, Denmark, Finland, Norway, Russia and Iceland, plus Alaska in the United States.

Filmmaker and photographer Joe Capra sought out capturing the midnight sun in Iceland. To make the above film, he traveled solo around the country for 17 days, shooting both day and night. He slept in his car, hiked in the middle of the night and ate whenever he had a moment of free time. When he returned to Los Angeles, he brought with him 38,000 images in total from the trip.

In an interview about the film, Capra told photographer Michael Levy he chose to travel to Iceland in June because the month is a little early for the tourist season, giving him a chance to film when some popular locations are less crowded. More importantly, at this time of year the midnight sun allowed him six or so hours of fantastic “golden light.”

“I am the type of person who does not want to go on vacation and just walk around cities or just lay on the beach all day long,” Capra said. “I like to get out and see and experience the countries I visit. Going alone also allowed me to go where I wanted, when I wanted, and stay at locations as long as I wanted without having to worry about the needs of another person with me,” he continued.

On his Vimeo page, Capra encourages everyone – photographer or not – to visit Iceland. Although Capra is not sure where he’ll go on his next trip, he relayed that he’s researching Patagonia.

For These Ladies, Paragliders Offered The Ultimate View Of Iceland. (Video)

Paragliding pilots have the ultimate perch to get out and see the world. For two Icelandic women, a planned camping trip to the highlands of their country turned into one of the most mesmerizing videos I’ve come across.

In July 2011 two girls borrowed a 4×4, filled it with camping gear and paragliders and drove up to the Highlands of Iceland.

They experienced a new side of their own country, found some extreme flying spots and quaint people, learned how to drive across rivers, up mountains and how to read maps.

4 weeks later, having killed the vehicle, they returned and made this film:

I can think of no better excuse to travel than to take up paragliding and meet other pilots around the world. In fact, I plan to do just that. Stay tuned.

Want to learn to really fly? If you live in the U.S. look up a paragliding school close to you. It’s less expensive than you think.

Five Exciting Things About Iceland’s Second City

Akureyri is Iceland’s second city. It’s not Iceland’s second largest city in terms of population – that honor goes to Kópavogur just south of Reyjkavík – but it is the country’s second city in cultural terms. Akureyri may have just 18,000 residents but with its range of tourist facilities, restaurants, hotels, guesthouses and cultural institutions, it possesses a certain urban atmosphere.

Akureyri makes an easy base for nearby sites of interest, too. The tiny island of Grímsey, which bisects the Arctic Circle, is about 60 miles north of Akureyri. Lake Mývatn, a major summer tourist attraction, is about 55 miles to the east of Akureyri.

Akureyri itself is worth some time. Mountains frame the city and the air is incredibly crisp. Once you’re done just taking in the physical environment, there are things to do. Here are five of them – five exciting Akureyri activities.

1. The city’s core – Akureyri Church, designed by Icelandic state architect Guðjón Samúelsson, is an imposing structure with art deco elements. It bears some stylistic similarity to the architect’s much better known Hallgríms Church in Reyjkavík. Across the street is the visit-worthy Center for Visual Arts (Kaupvangsstræti 12). And on Hafnarstræti at the epicenter of town there is Blaá Kannan Cafe, a bustling place to socialize and eat cake.

2. Hof – This culture, conference and performance center also houses a tourist information center, a shop selling lots of nice items (many of them Icelandic) and a cafe. Architecturally, Hof is pretty impressive. The hockey puck-shaped building is round, squat and graced by enormous windows to maximize light. Hof opened in late 2010.

3. Northern lights – Your chance of sighting the aurora borealis from November through April is quite good, assuming clear night skies. Saga Travel offers a night’s excursion for 9000 ISK ($71), including hot chocolate. They’ll take you out the following night if you don’t see the Northern lights on your first trip out.4. Kjarnaskógur Forest – Iceland doesn’t have many forests to speak of. This one, just south of Akureyri, is one of the best loved in the country. The forest features several walking trails, some accessible at night as well as a dedicated bicycle path. A river runs through the forest.

5. Flóra – This amazing shop, open Thursday through Saturday, sells both new and vintage items, mostly of Icelandic provenance. Notable wares include foodstuffs (tea, honey, syrups), clothes, yarn and artwork. The emphasis is on sustainability across various product lines, and the aesthetic (see above) is homespun yet stylish. Flóra also features exhibitions and occasional talks.

10 best places to live for avoiding world conflict asked the question, “Where would you be the safest if World War III broke out tomorrow?” The answers arrived in a post titled “10 Best Places to Live for Avoiding World Conflict.” Irrelevant as it may seem to you, the claws of conflict affect a revolving roster of nations. The knowledge of where not to go because of conflict, or better yet, where to go to avoid it, can be useful if you’re planning to live, or even just spend some time, abroad. According to this article, countries that make the safety cut are: Switzerland, Costa Rica, Papua New Guinea, Canada, Seychelles, Finland, Tuvalu, Iceland, Bhutan, and New Zealand. Most of these choices make sense to me, based on what I know, but the undeniably gorgeous Seychelles seems like a somewhat uncertain choice. News stories covering the Somali pirates swarming the Seychelles area are prevalent. To be fair, I’m not convinced Somali pirates are a current threat for World War III. What are your thoughts? Where would you move in order to be as far removed from world conflict as possible?

Explore More Options with These Art Maps for the Home


Correspond with Iceland on Tumblr

Have you ever wished that specific places around the world had a voice of their own that could be used to tell tales, answer questions, and the like? We sort of have that now, thanks to a Tumblr user who has taken on the entirety of the voice of Iceland (Iceland on Tumblr). Judging by a link on the Icelandic Tourist Board to the corresponding Iceland Facebook page for this Tumblr, the Tumblr appears to be managed by someone working with the Icelandic Tourist Board. Iceland on Tumblr’s welcome message reads:

“Halló, I am Iceland and this is my Tumblr. I am an island and I want to be your friend. I am also on the Twitter, the Face-book, the Vimeo. (You can also visit me one day, if you are not too busy and important.)”

The page includes responses to questions that visitors to the site post, photos, videos, informative tips like How to Celebrate a Birthday in Iceland, and Tweets like “I am still here, in the middle of the ocean”. Perhaps most importantly, everything on this page is written in what I want to call First-country narrative. Iceland is speaking for itself in these posts and this Tumblr is nothing if not cute.