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Iceland Beckons Beyond the Bars

Iceland Beckons Beyond the Bars (Forimmediaterelease.net) Visit Iceland's Rock Around the Clock

It's during the summer months that Iceland really shines. With July's sunset ranging from about 10:30 p.m. to midnight, it's almost like getting two days for the price of one. After having fun all day river rafting, fly-fishing, horseback riding or visiting museums, when midnight rolls around there simply is no reason to go to bed (other than your over-stimulated brain is begging for mercy). There are no real visual clues telling you to get to sleep. That's why Icelandic parents have trouble getting their kids to bed at night. You'll be having so much fun in the 24-hour light, you'll find it hard to take the time to sleep. Our advice? Sleep when you get back home.

Millions are fans of Reykjavik's late night bar and music scene, but here are four little-known experiences that are one of a kind.

o Raft Under the Midnight Sun - HestaSport in North Iceland, near the town of Varmahlid, offers a midnight rafting expedition down the West Glacier river. Experienced river guides imported from Nepal help you dress in full drysuits, booties, gloves and helmet, then provide instruction in English before a rip-roaring trip through the rapids. Not unique enough for you? Well midway into the trip, the rafts stop along the shore where you can enjoy traditional sweet Icelandic pancakes and hot chocolate and rum made from piping hot fresh water that bubbles up from a thermal spring. (For more information: www.riding.is).

o Go on a Puffin Cruise in a Hydrogen-Powered Boat - Just a short walk from some of the hottest nightclubs in Europe is the Reykjavik harbor ticket stand for Elding where you can take a guided one-hour puffin tour now through mid-August. Warm overalls or raincoats are provided free of charge in case you experience a dose of Iceland's famous quirky weather (which if you don't like, just wait five minutes). The tour guide will lead you to a small island teeming with the funny-beaked creatures. As an added bonus, the trip is on one of the world's first hydrogen-powered passenger boats. (For more information: www.elding.is).

o Visit a Water Library - You won't find many of these places around the world: a two-hour drive from Reykjavik will take you to the Vatnasafn Library of Water in Stykkisholmur. The American artist Roni Horn, in collaboration with the London-based arts organization Artangel, has created a permanent sculpture installation and community center that includes glass columns containing glacial water gathered from around Iceland. Natural light shining through water columns is refracted and reflected onto Icelandic and English words on the floor, absorbing visitors in a world of weather, water and light. (For more information: www.libraryofwater.is).

o Tour a Secret Cave - When you stay at the nine-room Hotel Reykjahlid (pronounced “Reyka-leeth”) in North Iceland's Lake Myvatn region, general manager Petur Gislason, 40, will size you up. Not everyone can fit into the cave he offers as a sidetrip for guests. For about $138, the package includes a 4WD Jeep trip to the secret Lofthellir Cave, lights, helmets, gloves and boots, and an expert guide. The five-hour tour is not for the weight-challenged and requires some crawling.

As far as his hotel with the drop-dead gorgeous view of Lake Myvatn is concerned, he says, “We're small, personal and friendly. We're not looking to attract the jet set. Don't come if you plan to watch sports all day on a flat panel TV in your room.” (For more information: www.reykjahlid.is).

To learn more about vacationing in Iceland, visit icelandtouristboard.com.

For special Iceland travel packages timed to coincide with Hollywood's big screen premiere of the remake of the Jules Verne classic, Journey To The Center Of The Earth starring Brendan Fraser, visit Icelandair.com. Roundtrip airfare, a bus tour, two nights lodging and some meals start at $1,065 pp double occupancy.

Einar Gustavsson Iceland Tourist Board 212 885 9786; iceinar@goiceland.org Jamie Gribbon Blumenfeld and Assoc. PR 203 655 1600; jamie@blumenfeldpr.com

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