Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Rain, screech, and Vikings!

We have just entered St. Anthony, on the north end of the Northern Peninsula. We spent the last two days in the L'Anse aux Meadows area, site of the first authenticated Viking settlement in 1000 C.E. We toured the actual settlement location (a UNESCO World Heritage site), walking on the turf which has been placed on top of the archeological dig when exploration ceased in the late 1970s, and visiting some of the recreated structures on display there. We also went to Norstead, a completely fake Norse settlement that aims to capture, complete with play actors (who, alas, speak English), how the Norse may have lived at the time. It was all good fun and informative. Vikings rule! They made the cold, wet journey on the North Atlantic from Norway through Greenland in small wooden ships, never losing sight of shore, trying to settle new lands.

We've been having a cold, wet journey of our own, as the weather this week has been rainy and cool. This made for less-than-comfortable biking, and we've been staying in B&Bs the past three nights just so we wouldn't have to deal with the frigid, windy rain that's here at the moment. Much as I enjoy camping, a warm mattress and a full meal are welcome comforts!

Last night, we became honorary Newfoundlanders (with certificates and everything!) when we were "screeched in." This is a tradition that involves drinking a shot of screech (a form of rum) and kissing a cod (literally). We did this at The Norseman Restaurant in the town of L'Anse aux Meadows as part of the dinner theater (silly skits, local stories, and folk music) they put on several times a week. The food there was awesome, by the way, among the best we've had here.

Today we intend to explore the legacy of Dr. Grenfell, a missionary who settled in St. Anthony and helped the locals become more self-sufficient. Tomorrow we take the bus south to Port aux Basques, where we'll just do a day bike trip before catching the ferry to Nova Scotia. Our Newfoundland adventure is coming to an end! Luckily, I'll have a chance to ramp down from vacation mode over the several days it will take me to organize my notes and pictures and complete my blog.


At 8/25/2005 07:39:00 AM, Blogger k said...

Vikings were pretty tough guys. I sailed in a replica ship in Norway and though it was fine in the fjord I wouldn't want to be in the open sea in one of those things. One of the early norse kings issued a law requiring that every town keep their ship seaworthy, the definition of which is:

"Any ship which has to be bailed three times in two days is good enough to sail"

Oy gewalt!


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