Image by: Getty Source: Elle Canada
It's all the rage for a reason.
The word “stopover” generally does not elicit excitement. That’s because they typically involve trudging, jet-lagged and crumpled, through the airport of a city you are not visiting, standing in yet another customs queue and then killing time by buying coffee and overpriced snacks before the scrum to get back on a plane, score some space in the overhead bins and squeeze into your economy seat.
Not so with Icelandair. I’ve had what could be referred to as the opposite of aversion therapy. Conversion therapy? Yes, I’m a convert to stopovers. Especially when they involve magical landscapes, quirky customs and good food.
The airline offers free stopovers for up to seven nights to customers flying between North America and Europe. Seems like a no-brainer for those of us (and we are many) who’ve long had Iceland on the travel wish list but kept demoting it in favour of more cosmopolitan cities or multi-destination European tours. Plus, Iceland is having a moment, so you should probably get on it. Here’s why.
1. You can get a “Stopover Buddy”
Icelandair offers a free “buddy” service – a local who can act as your personal host for a day. The buddies are all airline employees and offer insider intel on where to eat, drink and frolic. I had the pleasure of hanging out with five of them. Touring Iceland with an Icelander is a game changer (and a privilege – there are only 332,529 of them). My buddies were the best dates at the super-cool Airwaves music fest in Reykjavik, where between a Björk concert (#legend) and an intimate Of Monsters and Men gig (ah-mazing), they filled me in on the local music scene. If only I could have stayed long enough to take in some “barn music” – fast-paced acoustic tunes that everyone there knows the words to. (The Stopover Buddy service is available until March 31, 3017; find out more here.)
2. It is highly Instagrammable
Iceland is beautiful in a dramatic and varied way. Where it’s not fairy-tale-like, with vivid green landscapes and frothy rivers and waterfalls, it’s dark and brooding and rough. And when you see the moss-covered lava fields and columns of steam and gas rising from fumaroles (holes in the earth’s crust), it’s easy to see why some Icelanders still believe in elves.
The perfect setting for an insta. Credits: Ciara Rickard
3. You’ll eat really well
Although some Icelandic delicacies are not so appealing to Western palates (I wimped out on tasting their much-loved hákarl (fermented raw shark) after one whiff; think pungent, fishy Windex), most of the food I had in Reykjavik was up to the standard of that of any world capital. A meal at Fiskfélagi (Fish Company) was so good I hit “full” and kept going – which is saying something for someone who doesn’t usually love fish. Other great restos: Slippbarinn (one course here was a mini frying pan filled with melted cheese topped with honey and pine nuts – a bold move but oh so good) and Friðheimar, a tomato farm that serves tomato-themed food, from soup to cheesecake and ice cream.
4. “Swimming” is more fun here
When Icelanders talk about “going for a swim,” they often mean taking a dip in one of the country’s many outdoor geo-thermal pools – basically giant natural hot tubs. The famous Blue Lagoon is a beautiful example, but if you’re not into hoards of tourists (and, really, who is), there are plenty of quieter, more remote options. I had a restorative soak, Icelandic beer in hand, in the Secret Lagoon, which is about an hour and a half away from Reykjavik. Surrounded by bright-green fields and the hollowed-out remnants of the old stone-walled changing house, you literally feel like you’re in a secluded steamy pond full of just-the-right-temperature water. Hot tip: Get a drink at the little bar inside, and take your beer or wine into the pool for extra heavenliness.
Taking a dip in one of the country's many outdoor geo-thermal pools is a must. Credits: Ciara Rickard
5. Their music game is strong
For a tiny country, Iceland has produced an impressive number of international acts – from Björk to Of Monsters and Men. One expat told me that almost everyone she met while living in Reykjavik either played an instrument or had friends and family members who did. Live music – in bars, living rooms, campsites – is part of the fabric of life here, while various music fests throughout the year attract fans from all over the world.
The new trailer for the Baywatch reboot is here!
You know what your Thursday needs? This teaser trailer for the Baywatch reboot, that's what.
Now, we could extoll the virtues of this clip—The Rock! Zac Efron's abs! The Rock and Zac Efron's abs on a moped together!—but that would deprive you of the joy of experiencing this surprisingly funny clip with fresh eyes yourself.
The revived Baywatch hits theatres in May 2017.
Estee Lalonde visits the ELLE Canada closet. Image by: Danielle Campbell
A few weeks back we had Youtube sensation Estee Lalonde into the ELLE Canada Closet to play a little game of Fishbowl Frenzy! Don't forget to pick up our January 2017 issue to see an exclusive portrait of the Internet star...and now IRL author of a new memoir / life advice book, Bloom.
Cotton t-shirt and sequined beret (Chanel) and white-bronze cuff (Quarry, at Ewanika). Source: Max Abadian
Canadian model (and star of our January fashion story) Crista Cober has been working in the industry for 12 years, but she’s still wrapping her head around the public’s desire to know about her inner life. “I’m a professional model, so I think, wait, ‘you also want to know about me?” explains the Wellesley, Ont. native over the phone, having just returned from a lookbook shot in Milan.
Lucky for us, Toronto-based Cober offers a glimpse at her day-to-day on her largely unfiltered, just-as-I-am Instagram feed, where the model’s nine-month old daughter Lou makes the odd (adorable) appearance. Over the course of our chat, Cober opened up about motherhood, rebellion and yes, modelling.
Tell me about your day shooting for the cover of ELLE Canada's January issue.
“It was the quintessential Canadian vibe—a true collaboration. The location [Crown Flora Studio] was beautiful; it was like breathing in the tropics. I shot with [the photographer] Max Abadian 12 years ago. It was my very first shoot. So that was a very special moment. And I got to have my daughter on set.”
Wool top and trousers (Christopher Kane), mohair sweater (Miu Miu), brass and hematite earrings and white-bronze earrings and ring (Quarry, at Ewanika), 24-karat-gold-plated-metal and string bracelets and 24-karat-gold-plated-metal cuffs (Gas Bijoux, at Nordstrom), sterling-silver and paper ring (Patricia Wong), coated-brass ring (Ming Yu Wang, at Ewanika)l leather bag (Versace) and cotton slides (Chanel). Photo: Max Abadian
Has motherhood changed modelling for you?
“Yes. I’m less inclined to say yes to some amazing projects. It’s much harder; I used to go from one job to the next, to the next. And now I have to be a lot more selective.”
Other than your schedule, what factors make you say yes?
“The people. I value my time, and to be away from someone I think is the greatest person on the planet, I want to make sure that I’m working with the right people. After 12 years, I have a better judge of things,”
How else have you evolved as a model in 12 years?
“I feel like I can collaborate a bit more with the people running the ship. I can be a bit more involved. I think now there’s a bit more of an interest in who I am as a person, rather than just what I look like. I’m not sure I like that yet.”
So how do you feel about that? It sounds like it plays into today’s phenomenon of the Insta-model.
“I’m in my 30s now, so I feel like I kind of skipped it. I like to use Instagram to post the pictures of what I want to show, as opposed to letting it have anything to do with work. Once I did a fragrance shoot, I understood that ‘now you’re the face!’ There was a lot of PR, a lot of hype. I had a moment of feeling like I wanted to keep my business and my life separate.
Would you say you’re shy?
“I had an amazing agent when I started in Toronto. I learned that this is a business and you’re self-employed. At the end of the day, you run you. There are a lot of beautiful faces out there, but there are less kind people. I approached going into my agency as my biggest casting. I wouldn’t say I’m shy, but I’m professional.”
Do you feel like this isn’t what you singed up for when you started?
“I was lucky to be able to stop modelling and come back. When I first started skateboarding, everyone thought that was really cool and wanted to incorporate it [into shoots]. And I was like, ‘this is just my mode of transportation because my bike got stolen! ‘I’m not a skater!”
Do you still skateboard?
What’s your advice to young models?
“Just love yourself so much for you! The business is always changing; something that doesn’t fit one day will fit another day.”
How did you start modelling?
“I was scouted by an incredible model scout, Anthony Gordon. He was an amazing ballet dancer and he had an eye for faces. He wasn’t a scout at the time, but we went to the same high school, 10 years apart. He found my picture in a yearbook. 5 days later he bumped into me at a shopping mall and when I told him my name, he said, ‘you will not believe this!’ and told me the story and took me to Elmer Olsen. Then I did my first editorial and that was the start."
Poplin dress, cotton hat, gold-tone-brass earrings and lambskin-leather and slippers (Balenciaga) and rose-gold-plated sterling-silver and paper ring (Patricia Wong). Photo: Max Abadian
Was there a point when you thought to yourself “wow, I’m a model. This is my career now.”
“No, I think that took a couple of years. I remember [the agency] showing me Daria on the cover of Vogue and explaining that that was my potential, then I went straight to New York, and from there to Paris.”
What made you stop modelling for a while?
“I came from an athletic background and I was a swimmer. The agency in Paris sent me back immediately because they said I was too big. I came back to Canada, and I thought, ‘this is my body.’ It was the size of my hands and my wrists [that they talked about].”
How did it feel to hear that?
“It made me stronger, more rebellious. But it gave me the opportunity to stop, and start again. When I was 21 I stopped for four months and I went to South America.”
Do you have any hopes or goals for your career?
“An amazing beauty contract or something that sets up 6o days of the year. Before I didn’t want to know what was coming up the next month. Now I love the idea of having more of a set schedule.”
So what does life look like right now?
“For now, I’m just enjoying. My daughter travels so well, and my husband works from home. So on the days we have nothing, we’re just exploring Toronto.”
Your daughter will start walking soon, right?
You’ll be chasing after her.
“I’m hoping for a fine balance. I’ll chase her and she’ll chase me. Lead, follow.”