Yesterday was certainly a day to remember, not only was it my birthday but I also hiked up to the top of Mount Esja.
We started the day off with a language class followed by a history lecture. Things I learnt:
the Vikings didn’t just sail because they were explorers, it was because they had been banished.
Eirīkr rauði was born around 950 and he sailed to Greenland because he was banished from Iceland for 3 years. He called it Greenland to try and convince people to come with him. He led a group of 100-150 people to Greenland and in its prime, there were around 3000-4000 people living in Greenland.
Leifur Eiríksson settled in Vinland (North America, Newfoundland area) in 1000.
Learnt that the word skrælingjar is a very bad word not used anymore (only grandparents would know this word now). It was used to explain Natives in Vinland… it translates to something like screamers. I guess in the saga’s the natives are explained as screaming a lot… something like that.
We also learnt about Guðríður Þorbjarnardóttir who moved to Vinland with 160 others and gave birth to the first person born in North America, Snorri. She is claimed to be the most travelled women at the time, Iceland, Vinland, Europe, Greenland, but she disappears from history because she is a woman and is only seen as a mother.
After class we went to the National Museum of Iceland and checked out the sights. I was quite impressed by all the exhibits, its so fascinating how people have been able to find and preserve such old artifacts. After the museum I walked back towards the guesthouse with one of my roommates and we stumbled upon a cemetery which we obviously had to explore. It was one of the most beautiful cemeteries I have ever seen.
At 5:30 we headed out to Mount Esja for a leisurely hike… or that’s what we thought. As it turns out it was quite the hike and pretty exhausting but I had my mind set on reaching the top of the mountain so I made sure that happened. Once we got to this one large rock it was only supposed to be 10-20 minutes to the top with a chain rope. I along with 3 other girls followed our guide who led us up the rocks and turned the hike into a little bit of rock climbing. We got to a certain spot where we weren’t exactly sure how to get up so he went one direction and told us to follow, but we didn’t know where he was. I started to climb up to try and see if I could find him but there was no luck and it wasn’t looking the safest. One of the other girls decided to walk a little bit and see if she could find anything and then shouted that there was a chain rope! The chain rope we had been looking for! Once we got there it was much easier and much safer getting up. We made it to the top and my birthday goal was complete and to top it all off I had no blisters! When we got back to the guesthouse a couple of us who weren’t too tired went for a couple drinks to celebrate my birthday which was really rather nice.
Today we had two language classes followed by a trip to the Landsbanki and heard all about the Icelandic economy and what the national bank has been doing to figure stuff out. After I was chatting with one of the women who works in the marketing department about the new marketing plan to get people back and invested with the bank. It was pretty interesting stuff and I mentioned that I am studying PR so she invited me to come back and check out the marketing department and what they are working on. Pretty keen on that! Afterwards I went to get groceries for dinner and lunch tomorrow. Very different being in a grocery store when you aren’t really sure what everything is.
Anyways! We are heading out tonight and off to do some rafting tomorrow! Exciting stuff!