Today we are going back to the beginning, not the beginning of the trip but the beginning of Iceland and the Vikings. The Vikings were the first settlers to Iceland. There is some evidence to suggest some Irish monks spent some time in the country before the Vikings arrived, but they never stayed. The Vikings began arriving around 870 and for 60 years they settled Iceland. The Vikings remained the 'rulers' of Iceland until around 1200 when other Scandinavian countries kings began to rule. Iceland only became an independent republic in 1944.
Interesting aside: When the Vikings came to Iceland they brought their Celtic slaves. Of all the Scandinavian countries today's Icelanders are the least genetically Scandinavian. They are a good mix of Scandinavian and Celtic.
Icelanders began to record the history of the early settlement period in the 10th and/or 11th century in what is called the Sagas. When listening to them at museums and reading about them, I could see these stories are a mix historical fact and "embellishments." I for one, have trouble believe a character in the Sagas grandfather was really a werewolf. It is my plan download the Sagas to my kindle and read them because they are so interesting!
One of our first stops was the Hotel Viking, home to the biggest Viking festival in the world. What is a Viking festival you ask? To us it seemed to be a place where people from all over the world dressed up as Vikings and had a market to sell Viking inspired arts and crafts.
|Odin, the Norse God|
While we didn't dress up at the Viking festival, we did have fun at the national museum.
On my birthday, we took a pit stop to the Viking Cafe.
Here we indulged in $8 hot chocolate (the best I have ever had to be honest).
And we got to visit a movie set that was a replica Viking village.
The Norse mythology lives on, not only with 60% of Icelanders believing in fairies but in other ways, like your friendly street trolls!
The Vikings were the first Europeans to visit North America. Around 1004 Snorri Thorfinnsson became the first "white" person born in North America. His mother Gudrid was a great explore and gave birth in 'Vinland' (either Newfoundland or New England). Gudrid was an amazing woman who outlived several husbands, is credited with completing 22 voyages and apparently met the Pope. When Columbus was preparing for his trip to the new world, the legend says he went to Iceland to learn about the Vikings. He was shocked to find out that women had been exploring!
The Viking/Norse influence is everywhere in Iceland. This is just a sample of it. Thanks again for sharing my adventure! Please feel free to leave questions, I will answer them!