We did it. We did “The Voyage of the Vikings”, 10,638 Miles! Again, I won’t bore you very patient readers (both of you who have made it this far) with a long list of superlatives, but consider them said. I’d like to summarize the places we’ve been and give you my feelings about them:
Boston - Who needs to summarize Boston? A great city.
Bar Harbor, Maine - This town was a little too touristy for me, not as bad as say, Las Vegas, but it’s a good place to go to see Acadia National Park, which is a beautiful place. Was it a Viking site? No, I don’t think so.
Sydney, Nova Scotia, Canada - It’s a sort of a cute little town, although it’s not a really great tourist destination, except it’s close to some interesting places, like Louisbourg and the Alexander Graham Bell site.
Corner Brook, Newfoundland, Canada - This one I thought the least interesting of all the places we went to. I’m not even sure why it was on the itinerary. Sorry, Corner Brook. I really doubt that the Vikings came here.
Red Bay, Labrador, Canada - Despite my jokes at its expense, Red Bay, the smallest town we visited, had some charm and it was interesting to see how the people managed to live in such a small, isolated, rugged place. Were the Vikings here? It’s hard to say.
Qaqortoq, Greenland - Was it a pretty place? No. Did it have a lot of attractions? No. Was it worth going there? Absolutely. A small town on the edge of Greenland, who wouldn’t want to go there? It had more than I would have expected, and it was a really unique experience. Were the Vikings here? Probably. They settled Greenland, after the Inuit had been there for a long time, of course.
Prince Christian Sound - This wasn’t really a port of call. When we were investigating this cruise, we didn’t even understand what it was. We thought it was just another day at sea. This was probably the major highlight of the trip. I won’t describe it again or launch into superlatives. If you ever have a chance to sail through it, go. Did the Vikings go there? I sure hope not for their sake. Icebergs.
Reykjavik, Iceland - This was another big surprise for me. I didn’t really know what to expect. It was marvelous. A very nice, clean, modern and yet attractive city, with everything you could want in a city, except mild winters. The Vikings were here without a doubt. I’d like to go back.
Alesund, Norway - This was a very pretty town, in a beautiful place. I like Norway in general, and this town just increased my liking. Yup, the Vikings were here. They probably came from here.
Bergen, Norway - Bergen is a very popular place, with good reason. Yes, the downtown area is very touristy, but in a nice, Norwegian way. Not only is this fairly large city a great place to visit, but it is the best place to anchor yourselves and venture out to see many other wonderful sights in Norway. Would I go back? You bet. I think I would spend a week there and in the vicinity this time. Vikings? Sure.
Eidfjord, Norway - This was another big surprise. It was a very small, incredibly beautiful place. The scenery was indescribable. I sort of joked earlier that I didn’t want to leave. Would I really live there if I could? I don’t know. It must be very hard in the winter. Would I go back? It’s very hard to get there. I might. Vikings? Obviously yes.
Rotterdam, The Netherlands - This was yet another surprise. We had read that Rotterdam was a major shipping port and very industrial, and that’s what we had seen of it on previous trips. This time we saw the nicer parts, and they were very nice. Would I go back? Yes, I would like to see more of it. Would I live there? No. Why? I would love to live in Holland, but if I did, it would be in Amsterdam, one of the loveliest cities I have been in. Were the Vikings here? Again, hard to say. They were in most of Northern Europe, so it’s likely.
Dublin, Ireland - This was a much bigger, busier, more cosmopolitan city that I had imagined. Still, it was fun to go here. Would I go back? Yes, probably, on a trip through Ireland. Did the Vikings get here? I assume so.
Liverpool, England - We didn’t get to see much of Liverpool because we took an excursion out of town. What we did see looked like any good-sized city. Would I go back? I don’t think so. I think there are more interesting and prettier places in England I would rather go to. Did the Vikings get here? Again, probably.
Douglas, Isle of Man - It had to be a surprise since I had no idea what to expect. It was an interesting place, and sort of attractive. Would I go back? Probably not. Douglas was just a small city on the water, with not a lot that distinguished it. The other small towns on the island were nice, but again not very different from small towns elsewhere. The scenery was pretty, but again, not in a way that called you back. Yes, I would guess that the Vikings visited.
Portree, Isle of Skye, Scotland - This was another really pretty fishing village, which now is a tourist destination, but a very attractive one with minimal tourist junk. We had been there before, and I would go again. The Vikings probably did too.
Djupivogur, Iceland - Just visiting so remote and unique place was worthwhile. Again, the Vikings probably settled this place.
Akureyri, Iceland - Yet another interesting town in this fascinating country. We didn’t see a lot of town, but we saw the out-of-this-world countryside. The Vikings no doubt saw more countryside than we did.
Isafjordur, Iceland - This was another pretty little town in another beautiful setting. I would probably go back via a car trip around the ring road that circles Iceland. The Vikings didn’t need a car.
St. Anthony, Newfoundland, Canada - This was another place that didn’t impress me much. It was just another fishing town, too big and spread out and modern to be called a village. The only Viking connection was way out of town, but there was one.
St. John's, Newfoundland, Canada - This was a fun experience. The town has a unique look and a unique culture. As our tour guide said, the people are not afraid of speaking their mind and have a wild sense of humor. Would I go back? I’m not sure. Did the Vikings go here? I’m not sure of that either.
Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. - We didn’t get there this time, but we had been there before, although only briefly. It’s a large city, with probably a lot to see, but I can’t really comment because we didn’t see it. Would I go back? If I’m ever in Nova Scotia again, sure. Is it a Viking site? Again, I don’t know. I suspect nobody does.
That’s my quick summary of the places we’ve been. Now that I’ve done it, I’m still overwhelmed that I did. This trip won’t be easily forgotten, maybe just the details. Where was Djupivogur again?
Just the other night I was thinking about how we made this trip in a very big, steel vessel, with state-of-the-art technology: modern thrusters and stabilizers, GPS and radar and Loran and all kinds of super-high-tech navigational devices, an immense quantity of food and drink, and a very hard working staff to cater to our every need. And yet, there were a couple of times when the weather and the seas and the mountains and the icebergs showed us how very, very small and insignificant we were.
And then I thought about the real Vikings. They made many voyages similar to ours, in tiny wooden boats. They didn’t have engines, or GPS, or even a sextant or a compass, or a roof over their heads. If it rained, they got wet. If the wind blew they could capsize, or at best be blown to who-knew-where. In fact, they probably never knew exactly where they were or where they were going. They found themselves sometimes in very inhospitable places, like Iceland and Greenland, and yet they went back home and got some others to join them and went back to these places, settled, raised families and started a country. They may have been warlike and violent, but they were also very, very brave and steadfast.
And then I realized that we had seen some real Vikings, in a way. The people of Scandinavia: Norway, Iceland, Greenland are all real descendants of the Vikings. The Vikings, as I said, were probably violent and warlike, and maybe not nice to know. Their descendants are the exact opposite. They are warm and friendly and have things like government social programs that try to take care of everybody.
I was thinking that the current question that drives America is “What’s in it for me?” and the question that drives the Viking descendants is “How can we help each other?”
Copyright © 2017 by Jeff K. Kravitz