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January 03, 2006

Traces of the Vikings

One of the most famous Vikings is doubtless Erik den Røde (Erik the Red), father of Leif Erikson who discovered the North American coast (Vinland) around 1000 A.C. Erik den Røde was born in Norway but soon ran into trouble there and was sent to Iceland in 950. There was trouble again in 982 when Erik was charged with manslaughter and had to leave Iceland. As he couldn't go back East to Norway he sailed West and eventually found a new home in the South West of Greenland. He died there about 1007.

Around the year 1000 the climate was a bit warmer in Greenland and the settlers were able to keep even cattle there. It must have been a hard job, though, keeping the animals alive during the winter. Nowadays only sheep "thrive" in the South West.


Greenland sheep

They are hardy little beasts who look after themselves most of the time they are out in the open. They spend the winter indoors of course. They strongly reminded me of European mountain goats because they are very good climbers. I've was told that their wool is not very good quality, not to be compared with wool from Iceland anyway, but their meat is quite nice.

While hiking through the Vatnaverfi, a beautiful part in the South West of Greenland consisting mainly of hills and lakes, we would occasionally come across ruins of the Vikings' settlements there. As at the time when we were looking forward to a day of rest in a little village. You'll probably be able to spot some buildings on the photo below.


The little village is only five hundred meters away - straight down the hill.

We came to the village after having walked through the rain all day. It is not easy to find shelter from the rain, e. g. during your lunch break, because in Greenland the trees are smaller than the mushrooms. Having watched puddles forming in our margarine pot at noon and feeling thoroughly drenched by the end of the day we were very much looking forward to a bit of rest.

Luckily enough, the next day was warm and dry and we wandered around the village exploring.


Ruins of a Viking settlement in the foreground

There was also time to visit the little village church.


Inside the village church

The day ended with a scrumptious meal: rainbow trout, freshly caught in the morning by a member of our group, fresh rolls, and the best leg of lamb I have ever eaten. I think Danish people are naturally born cooks and we had six of them in our group of eight!

Posted by Mausi at January 3, 2006 06:28 PM

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