Series one of Zac Efron's new travel series - Down to Earth with Zac Efron - landed on Netflix recently, and it sees the movie star tour the world along with wellness expert Darin Olien in search of healthy and sustainable ways to live. Think of it as a light-heated travel documentary mashed with a dose of environmentalism and wellbeing.
In the first episode, Zac and Darin travel to Iceland to explore the country's renewable energy industry. In an enlightening episode on the land of fire and ice, the pair explore how the country has harnessed the power of geothermal energy for its electricity, heat, cookery, and wellbeing needs.
Seductive, lingering shots of this beautiful Nordic country, together with genuine insight, make this a very enjoyable programme to watch. I found myself making a "must visit" list throughout the episode, and I plan to walk in Zac Efron's footsteps as soon as the world heals from - or adequately deals with - Coronavirus (COVID-19).
The episode takes in a selection of Icelandic visitor attractions, such as the stunningly beautiful Gullfoss waterfall, and the Laugarvatn Fontana spa, where rye bread is cooked in the boiling black sands. Brú Milli Heimsálfa is the bridge that spans the continents of Europe and North America. The Geothermal Exhibition at Hellisheiði Power Station looks interesting and is something I think my son would find as fascinating as I would do. Similarly, the Ljósafoss Power Station also opens its doors to tourists educating on their use of hydroelectric power, geothermal energy, and wind energy.
Zac and Darin go on to meet with Albert Albertsson, the concept creator of the Resource Park, a region where businesses - including an energy company, a utility company, food processors, a hotel, a biotechnology company, and a sea farm - work together to minimise waste. One company's waste energy is used in some form by another. One of these companies is one of Iceland's most popular tourist attractions, the Blue Lagoon Spa and Clinic, which uses water from the nearby Svartsengi Geothermal Power Plant to fill its expansive pools. The power station uses superheated water from the earth to power its turbines, and this silica-, algae-, and mineral-rich water is then used by the spa to fill the man-made lagoons.
Back in Reykjavík, the Hallgrimskirkja church briefly makes an appearance as the pair go on to enjoy a fire and ice massage at the Hilton Reykjavík Spa.
The segment I was most interested in though is when Zac and Darin toured Reykjavík's Omnom Chocolate factory with owner Kjartan Gíslason. Zac explains that the "milk and sea salt are locally sourced" and the "cacao beans are fair trade and sustainably sourced". The beans are roasted on-site, and transformed into a mesmerising collection of chocolate bar flavours.
From the choice of dark chocolate, liquorice white chocolate, and black 'n burnt white chocolate for creating a bespoke bar, Zac opts for the dark chocolate and tries his hand at tempering. The pair then top their custom bars, choosing from a selection of popped organic Icelandic barley, sea salted almonds, cocoa nibs, rum and green raisins from Spain, liquorice, birch smoked salt, and arctic thyme - or in Zac's case, adding them all! It turns out, Zac's "everything bar" isn't the smartest idea.
While their bars set solid, Zac and Darin go on to sample my own favourite, Omnom's Coffee and Milk bar, which uses coffee beans in place of cocoa beans.
Visit: When you fly from the UK you'll typically spend around 3 hours in the air and will likely land at Keflavík Airport (KEF). Iceland's largest international airport is around a 40-minute drive from Reykjavík, with bus transfers or care hire options available. Flights depart from London most frequently, but seasonal routes are often available from Bristol, Manchester, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen, and Belfast.
Tour: Should you wish to visit the Omnom Chocolate factory during a trip to Iceland, you can (subject to availability). It's currently the 6th best foodie thing to do in Reykjavík according to Tripadvisor reviewers. Discover how their chocolate is made, and enjoy a few samples at their factory, which is located in the down-town harbour area of the city. Tours take place at 2pm on weekdays in groups of up to 10 people, and the sessions last an hour or so, depending on the group size.
The tour costs 3,000 ISK (around £17.30) per person over 12, and children under 12 are free. Bear in mind this tour is geared towards adults and involves a classroom-based session. Tours are given in Icelandic but English tours are available upon request. More details here.
Watch: Netflix subscribers can watch series one of Down to Earth with Zac Efron here. There's a trailer available too on the site.
Have you visited Iceland? What's top on your "must see" list? Let me know in the comments below.