TIME celebrities

Jay Z and Beyoncé Vacation in Iceland for the Rapper’s 45th Birthday

"Charles James: Beyond Fashion" Costume Institute Gala - Candids
Jay-Z and Beyonce attend the "Charles James: Beyond Fashion" Costume Institute Gala at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 5, 2014 in New York City. Mike Coppola—Getty Images

The couple stayed at a "private luxury resort and spa" that is "fit for a king"

Before they mingled with English royalty, musical royalty Beyoncé and Jay Z enjoyed a getaway for the rapper’s birthday.

According to local news outlets, the couple spent his 45th birthday (he was born Dec. 4) at Iceland’s ritzy The Trophy Lodge. On its sparse site, the property touts itself as a “private luxury resort and spa” that is “fit for a king.”

Per the Nordic outlet Nútíminn, the couple arrived with bodyguards in tow via helicopter Dec. 1, with guests joining later for a party at the hotel.

Their location of choice – nestled in the mountains and beneath Langjokull glacier – may not be a household name, but it’s definitely known in high-flying circles. According to the paper, the entire Lodge has recently been rented out by “rich Russians and other tycoons.”

The couple jetted out over the weekend, just in time to hit Sunday’s New York City premiere of Annie with daughter Blue Ivy, 2, in tow.

This article originally appeared on People.com

TIME photography

Kingdom of Iceland: Vintage Photos From a Long-Ago Island

Photos -- most of which never ran in LIFE magazine -- shot in 1938 by a photographer whose name, alas, is lost to history

With a population of just over 300,000 people and an alternately forbidding and breathtaking landscape of lava fields, geysers, seascapes and majestic waterfalls, Iceland has always been something of a curiosity to the rest of the globe. Small in stature, the island nation can seem, at times, like a land outside of time.

In recent years, Iceland has been in the news more frequently than usual, for reasons as varied as the major disruption of European and North American air traffic during the Eyjafjallajökull volcano eruption in 2010 to its swift economic near-collapse — and rapid recovery — a few years ago, while the 17-nation eurozone (of which Iceland is not a member) remains convulsed by incessant predictions of financial collapse.

In July of 1941, Iceland was in the news as American troops landed on the island to protect a critical North Atlantic seaway — replacing British and Canadian troops who had served there while the Second World War raged in Europe. (The U.S. Navy would maintain a post in Iceland until 2006.)

In the July 21, 1941, issue of LIFE, the magazine touched on preconceived notions that Americans may have harbored about the Nordic land a mere 2,600 miles from New York City:

The U.S. sailors and marines who landed in Iceland last week could reasonably be pardoned if they expected to meet Eskimos, for Americans have never taken much interest in this Kentucky-sized island which they considered far off the beaten paths. Actually, Icelanders are a highly civilized nation of mixed Norwegian and Irish descent, with world’s oldest parliament (founded in 930), a literature which rates 7.5 pages in the Encyclopedia Britannica, and a capital (Reykjavik) which looks not unlike the better sections of Brooklyn, N.Y.

Here, LIFE.com offers a series of images — most of which never ran in that 1941 issue of LIFE — shot in 1938 (when Iceland was a constitutional monarchy) by a photographer whose name, alas, is lost to history. The only details included on the prints from which these digital images were made suggest the photos were made by someone likely based “in Germany.” But whoever the photographer might have been, one aspect of the shoot is perfectly clear: he or she was fortunate enough, more than 75 years ago, to experience a striking beauty and a singular, distinguished culture in a way that will not feel all that unfamiliar to anyone lucky enough to visit Iceland today.

Liz Ronk is the Photo Editor for LIFE.com. Follow her on Twitter at @LizabethRonk.

MONEY Airlines

WOW Indeed! Budget Airline Launches $99 Flights to Europe

WOW Iceland airplane
WOW

A low-fare airline called WOW just introduced new routes between the U.S. and Europe, with fares that are cheaper than what passengers are used to paying just for taxes and fees on transatlantic flights.

WOW Air is a small, low-cost carrier based in Iceland that just made a power move that could disrupt the lucrative—some say absurdly overpriced—transatlantic flight market in a big way. This week, the airline’s U.S. site went live, advertising specials as low as $99 each way, taxes and fees included, on routes between the U.S. and Europe.

Initial transatlantic service connects capital city Reykjavik to Boston-Logan and Baltimore-Washington (BWI) airports. Flights to and from Boston launch in March 2015, and BWI follows in June. WOW offers service from Reykavik-Keflavik onward to London (Gatwick) and Copenhagen as well, so passengers aren’t limited to visiting Iceland.

As of Friday, the lowest fare advertised on the site was for flights from Boston to Reykjavik. Availability is limited at the cheapest prices, but we were able to (theoretically) book a round trip in April 2015 for $246 ($99 going, $147 on the return), all taxes and fees included. For the sake of comparison, a round trip on Icelandair with the same route and dates was running $675 at last check.

Earlier this week the travel blog Jaunted was able to secure an April flight on WOW from Boston to Copenhagen (by way of Reykjavik) for $99, but it looks like such insanely cheap fares are already sold out. Even so, without too much hassle we were able to find flights next spring on the route that are bargains compared to the competition. For instance, you could conceivably book a round trip Boston-Copenhagen flight in May for around $450—roughly half the price of what you’d find for the same itinerary at any major travel search engine.

WOW’s fares from Washington (BWI) to Reykjavik start at $146 each way, while flights from BWI to London are currently being advertised from $195. Even if the cheapest fares sell out quickly, the (higher-priced) seats on WOW that are still available are likely to be much less expensive than flights with major airlines.

As you’d guess, WOW customers don’t get many extras with the rock-bottom prices they’re paying. Passengers must pay for both checked and carryon luggage, and services like food, beverages, and extra legroom are available only to customers who pay above and beyond the base ticket price.

WOW’s venture into the transatlantic market comes a little over a year after another northern European upstart, Norwegian Air, emerged on the scene with sub-$500 flights between the U.S. and Europe. The world’s largest airlines seem to have successfully thwarted Norwegian Air’s plans to expand its transatlantic presence, but the carrier is still flying a handful of U.S.-Europe routes and is still advertising fares far cheaper than any of the industry’s big players—as low as $169 each way between New York-JFK and Oslo and $189 for nonstop flights all the way from Oakland, Calif., to Stockholm, Sweden.

Like WOW, Norwegian Air lists fares with all mandatory taxes and fees included. That—as well as the long-awaited rise of low-cost competitors on transatlantic flights in general—is music to budget travelers’ ears.

Read next: The Secret to Getting a Ridiculously Cheap Thanksgiving Flight

TIME energy

The World’s 10 Biggest Energy Gluttons

Reykjanes power station in Iceland, seen in 2013.
Reykjanes power station in Iceland, seen in 2013. Halldor Kolbeins—AFP/Getty Images

See where the United States falls on the list

This post originally appeared on OilPrice.com.

Next time you get into your car and drive to the supermarket, think about how much energy you consume on an annual basis. It is widely assumed that Westerners are some of the world’s worst energy pigs. While Americans make up just 5 percent of the global population, they use 20 percent of its energy, eat 15 percent of its meat, and produce 40 percent of the earth’s garbage.

Europeans and people in the Middle East, it turns out, aren’t winning any awards for energy conservation, either.

Oilprice.com set out to discover which countries use the most energy and why.

Related: Why Energy Efficiency Is The Most Important Fuel We Didn’t Know We Had

While some of the guilty parties are obvious, others may surprise you. A note about the figures: we used kilograms of oil equivalent (koe) per capita, which refers to the amount of energy that can be extracted from one kilogram of crude oil. “Koe per capita” can be used to compare energy from different sources, including fossil fuels and renewables, and does here. The numbers represent the most recent data available from the World Bank.
World Development Indicators

1. Iceland – 18,774 kg. Yes, that’s right, Iceland. Of all the countries in the world, including the richest and largest oil producers, Iceland consumes the most energy per person. How can that be? The reason is basically overabundance. With most of Iceland’s energy coming from hydroelectric and geothermal power, Icelanders are some of the planet’s least energy-conscious. Click here for a fascinating video of why the Nordic nation uses so much energy.

2. Qatar – 17,418 kg. Qataris are addicted to oil. According to National Geographic, the population is provided with free electricity and water, which has been described as “liquid electricity” because it is often produced through desalination, a very energy-intensive process. Qatar’s per capita emissions are the highest in the world, and three times that of the United States.

3. Trinidad and Tobago – 15,691 kg. Trinidad and Tobago is one of the richest countries in the Caribbean, and the region’s leading producer of oil and gas; it houses one of the largest natural gas processing facilities in the Western Hemisphere. T&T is the largest LNG exporter to the United States. Its electricity sector is entirely fueled by natural gas.

4. Kuwait – 10,408 kg. Despite holding the sixth-largest oil reserves in the world, and an estimated 63 trillion cubic feet of natural gas reserves, the demand for electricity in Kuwait often outstrips supply. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), Kuwait is perpetually in electricity supply shortage and experiences frequent blackouts each summer. The country has become a net importer of natural gas to address the imbalance.

5. Brunei – 9,427 kg. The tiny sultanate on the island of Borneo, apart from being a substantial producer and exporter of oil and natural gas to Asia, is also a habitual power hog. The nation of roughly half a million has the region’s highest number of cars per capita. Brunei also subsidizes both vehicle fuel and electricity, which is sold to the public at below-market prices.

6. Luxembourg – 7,684 kg. Landlocked Luxembourg is almost totally dependent on energy imports, mostly oil and gas. Energy consumption has increased 32 percent since 1990, with transportation responsible for 60 percent of the intake, according to an EU fact sheet.

7. United Arab Emirates – 7,407 kg. Nothing says conspicuous energy consumption like Ski Dubai. The indoor resort featuring an 85-meter-high mountain of man-made snow burns the equivalent of 3,500 barrels of oil a day. The World Resource Institute estimates the UAE uses 481 tonnes of oil equivalent to produce $1 million of GDP, compared to Norway’s 172 tonnes.

Related: Africa and Belgium Generate the Same Amount of Electricity – But That’s Changing

8. Canada – 7,333 kg. Oh, Canada. Kind, peace-loving Canadians certainly love their cars, along with space heaters, hot tubs and other energy-sucking toys. But while many equate Canada’s energy sector with the oil sands, it is, in fact, other forms of energy that account for the lion’s share of consumption. EcoSpark published a pie chart showing over half (57.6 percent) of Canada’s electricity comes from hydro, with coal the second most popular choice at 18 percent. Nuclear is third (14.6 percent), with oil and gas comprising just 6.3 percent and 1.5 percent, respectively.

9. United States – 6,793 kg. As the world’s largest economy and richest nation, the U.S. should obviously be included as a top 10 energy glutton. However, one puzzling fact is that despite annual economic growth, per-capita U.S. energy consumption has remained around the same level since the 1970s. According to the EIA, one explanation is that the U.S. has simply shifted the energy required to satisfy greater consumption to manufacturing centers offshore.

10. Finland – 6,183 kg. With over a third of its territory above the Arctic Circle, a cold climate, sparse population and a highly industrialized economy, it is no wonder that Finland is among the highest per-capita energy users in Europe. However, according to the International Energy Agency, Finland plans to diversify its economy away from carbon-based fuels, through a shift to renewables, including biomass, and has approved construction of two new nuclear plants.

More Top Reads From Oilprice.com:

TIME Iceland

Iceland Is Running a Gender-Equality Conference Without Any Women

Iceland's Foreign Minister Sveinsson addresses the 68th session of the U.N. General Assembly in New York
Gunnar Bragi Sveinsson, minister for foreign affairs of Iceland, addresses the 68th session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York Sept. 30, 2013. Adrees Latif—Reuters

The "Barbershop" conference aims to encourage men to talk about gender equality among themselves

Iceland is organizing a gender-equality conference that won’t have any female attendees.

In a speech to the U.N. General Assembly on Monday, Icelandic Minister for Foreign Affairs and External Trade Gunnar Bragi Sveinsson said the “Barbershop” conference aims to bring together a group of men discussing gender equality among themselves, focusing particularly on violence against women.

“For our part, we want to bring men and boys to the table on gender equality in a positive way,” he said, describing the first-of-its-kind conference as an “exceptional contribution to the Beijing+20 and #HeforShe campaigns.”

The event will take place in January and will be co-hosted by the South American nation of Suriname, according to Sveinsson.

TIME Pictures of the Week

Pictures of the Week: Sept. 12 – Sept. 19

From the result of the Scottish referendum and children returning to bombed out classrooms in Gaza to the Pope marrying 20 couples and NASA's next exploration spacecraft, TIME presents the best pictures of the week.

TIME Iceland

Watch Iceland’s Bardarbunga Volcano Spew Lava Into the Air

Bardarbunga has been erupting since Aug. 31

These beautiful images, filmed by Nature Explorer, capture the moment Iceland’s Bardarbunga volcano shoots lava into the air.

Bardarbunga has been spewing out fountains of molten magma over the Holuhraun lava field since it started erupting on Aug. 31.

But the volcano is also emitting noxious gases, like sulfur dioxide, which are putting the health of scientists working at the site at risk, reports the Wall Street Journal.

Residents living in the region have reported a stench in the air.

“It smelled like old redfish,” 68-year-old Unni Johansen, told the Journal.

Children and those with respiratory problems are being advised by Iceland’s health authorities to stay indoors, as scientists have traced the volcano’s toxic gases as far afield as Norway and Finland.

[WSJ]

TIME Iceland

See Iceland’s Volcano Raging Under the Northern Lights In 1 Amazing Image

The Bardarbunga volcano erupts under the aurora borealis in the Holuhraun lava field in the east highlands of Iceland near Snæfell on Sept. 2, 2014.
The Bardarbunga volcano erupts under the aurora borealis in the Holuhraun lava field in the east highlands of Iceland near Snæfell on Sept. 2, 2014. Gísli Dúa Hjörleifsson

Since the Aug. 31 eruption of Iceland’s Bardarbunga volcano, the world has watched in awe as it spews glowing red lava into the desolate landscape. Bardarbunga has stemmed a series of earthquakes through the country, but the eruption has also become the subject of some incredible photographs, videos, and satellite images.

Icelandic photographer Gísli Dúa Hjörleifsson, who is also a ranger in the area, may have captured the most epic images of all: the hot glow of the volcanic eruption underneath cool and ethereal haze of the northern lights, or the aurora borealis.

The Bardarbunga volcano erupts under the aurora borealis in the Holuhraun lava field in the east highlands of Iceland near Snæfell on Sept. 2, 2014. Gísli Dúa Hjörleifsson

“In my many years of working in the highland of Iceland both as a photographer and ranger, I . . . have a knowledge of the nature and especially the way the light has an huge influence in the landscape,” Hjörleifsson told TIME. “Knowing the current situation of the volcano I wanted to capture this unique situation. I drove up in the area surrounding the volcano and watched the the sky until I could see the northern lights taking shape. That interaction with the heat and color from the volcano created a completely new color palette I have never seen [before].”

TIME Iceland

Look at These Incredible Close-Ups of a Volcanic Eruption in Iceland

Among the first scenes from Bardarbunga's latest activity

Update: Sept. 3, 1:56 p.m.

Ragnar Th. Sigurdsson has been photographing volcanoes in Iceland for four decades, so it makes sense that he’s keeping a close eye on the latest activity at Bardarbunga, which rests on the northwestern edge of the Vatnajokull ice cap.

Bardarbunga, which is classified by Iceland’s meteorological office as its second highest mountain, is topped with glacial ice. Officials say the current bout of seismic activity began on Aug. 16 after a gradual intensification over the past seven years.

While this volcano has not yet led to the same transportation mayhem that the Eyjafjallajokull eruption did in 2010, when more than 100,000 flights were canceled and Europe’s airspace was closed for six days over fears that billowing ash could harm aircraft engines, travel warnings have been elevated to “orange,” which means the volcano “shows heightened or escalating unrest with increased potential of eruption.”

Sigurdsson, 56, of Arctic Images, is based near the Icelandic capital, Reykjavík. He and a friend traveled an hour and a half in a two-seater plane from Akureyri, in the north, to Bardarbunga and the nearby Holuhraun lava field. No one lives at this barren location, but heavy seismic activity to the north has led to closed roads and the evacuation of tourists.

“We flew as close as we possibly could — and legally permitted,” Sigurdsson tells TIME. Officials had briefly raised the warning to “red” after a fresh lava eruption, which barred their aircraft from descending lower than 6,000 ft.

Sigurdsson seated himself behind the pilot and opened a window to shoot. Heavy turbulence made for a rough session, though. “I was strapped down into my seat and was still thrown up to the ceiling,” he says. In terms of gear, Sigurdsson used a Canon 5D Mark III with a 70-200mm lens, as well as two Sony cameras with a 24-70mm lens.

“We would stay upwind at all times,” he says, adding that the plane could only spend just less than an hour at the site. “We did some circles around the volcano, and then we had to leave because the weather was getting so much worse.”

Sigurdsson knows the scenes look intense but relishes working in such extreme environments. “It looks like we are daredevils or Indiana Jones or something,” he says, “but we were playing it safe. We knew exactly what we were doing.” Still, with thousands of earthquakes over the past few weeks, there are concerns that a big one could open up another fissure, which could lead to a large eruption.

He returned the next day under better weather conditions.

TIME will be publishing more exclusive images from Sigurdsson as events progress.

TIME Iceland

Eruption Causes Iceland to Temporarily Close Airspace

Warning sign blocks  road to Bardarbunga volcano in north-west region of Vatnajokull glacier
A warning sign blocks the road to Bardarbunga volcano in the north-west region of the Vatnajokull glacier, Iceland on Aug. 19, 2014. Reuters

Following thousands of earthquakes, Iceland has been watching a volcanic site for more than a week.

Iceland closed airspace near an erupting volcano Friday, according to its Department of Civil Protection and Emergency Management. Initially, the department closed airspace up to 18,000 feet near the Bardarbunga volcano, but it later reduced that ceiling to 5,000 feet after an investigation found the eruption produced little of the airborne ash that’s dangerous to aircraft.

Icelandic scientists have been watching the Bardarbunga area closely over the last week after thousands of earthquakes rocked the area, indicating the potential for the kind of ash-producing eruption that could seriously impact global air travel. Back in 2010, thousands of flights were delayed following the eruption of Iceland’s Eyjafjallajokull volcano.

Iceland has recently raised its aviation alert level to red at least twice, only to later reduce it after ash clouds were found to be minimal. The Ministry of Civil protection has been posting regular updates about Iceland’s seismic and volcanic activity on its social media pages:

All Icelandic airports are currently operating as normal.

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