How you too can become a terror of the frozen north and still keep your day job
06/16/2008 - 06/16/2008
First and foremost my deepest thanks go out to Peter Daams at Travellerspoint.com, who made some trail magic happen for me this morning regarding my site trip photos. Thank you Peter! Trail magic still happens - believe!
On this day I made the resolution to try and talk to people more. I am naturally shy, at least initially, and I am really working to overcome that. As I waited to board the train at the Landskrona station, I got into a conversation with Sarah, a social worker from Malmo who works cases in Landskrona. Although I had really seen very little of it myself, I had heard that there is a bit of a problem with gangs in the area. I asked her about it. She told me that several of the local factories closed in the 1970's and early 80's, and many people moved away. Apartments became very cheap, and when Landskrona became one of the few cities in Sweden to open up to immigrants, many poured in to live. The unemployment problem persisted, however, leading to some dissatisfaction among the youth lasting to this day. Sarah works cases in the area, doing her best to help in a difficult situation. She helped me find my way through the Malmo station, and then disappeared into the crowd.
After the train stopped at Malmo, I had to find the correct regional bus to Hollviken from there on my own. Finding the right bus outside a busy train station is not an easy task to begin with, much less when you are dealing with a foreign language. I kept asking and looking, and finally made it to the shelter across the canal for the 100 bus. Also waiting were Camila and Matilda, who were on their way to attend church camp. They told me about a new youth church in Malmo that they now travelled to on their own from out of town to attend. They were very excited about it. The church was now putting on a short four-day summer camp where there would be climbing, paintball, and all kinds of other youth activities. It was refreshing to see young people actually excited about church, and I wished them well.
I got off the bus at Hollviken, home of the Fonteviken Viking Reserve. Walking the 2 miles from the bus stop a cold rain began with lightning, and I stopped into a gas station to buy a sandwich for lunch. The rain let up a bit (it really is amazing how quickly the weather changes in this part of the world) and I continued on, stopping some time later to look at a strange, twisting, tailing cloud high up under the dark thunderheads. It took me a few seconds for it to register - it was a tornado! I watched it for a few seconds, mesmerized and hardly believing. It was small and thin, staying way above the ground, but a tornado it was. I suddenly thought to lunge for my video camera, but by the time I got it on, the mini twister was gone. Sorry guys - no feature on the Weather Channel this time.
I finally made it on foot to Fontevikens Viking Reserve!
This was a great sign on a maintenance door.
Entering the settlement.
When I walked into the Viking Reserve, I practically had the place to myself for about an hour. I began speaking to one of the Vikings, Per, who very kindly filled me in on the mission of the settlement.
Make no mistake, these houses are no recreations and the Vikings are not actors and are not doing a mere reinactment. The residents actually consider themselves Vikings, and they actually live in the Viking homes in the settlement, following the old traditions and laws even after the reserve is closed to visitors. They even follow Viking religious beliefs, although the settlement is officially Christian due to the proclaimation of King Harold Bluetooth around the year 980. Here is Per demonstrating a Viking wood lathe, which ingeniously uses the springiness of tree branches to power the turning of the wood, which can then be carved into round objects such as chair legs.
Per considers himself a professional Viking fighter, and is the Jarl, who runs the village in the King's absence. He considers himself Viking "100%" and wears his period clothing even when flying through the Atlanta airport on his way to the big Viking show in Waco Texas every year. Per has been doing this for 15 years, and was formerly a chef and cared for the elderly. He is also a diver, and once was called in to do a dive on a Viking ship. It was then that he became involved in the Viking world.
The last weekend of June is Midsummer's Day, a holy day for the Vikings as well as very important time for most of Northern Europe. Huge gatherings take place all over celebrating fertility and the green of nature. At Fonteviken, they are expecting over 700 Vikings to show up for this year's celebration from 22 countries! Some of the celebrations and feasting are held in the Viking Great Hall, shown here.
And what would a Viking Great Hall be without a set of crazy giant antlers!
I asked Per how does one actually become a Viking. He said that the requirements include that you become "100% Viking," pay 150 Swedish Kroners to become a member, and wear your Viking clothing from at least 10am to 4pm every single day, weather at the reserve or not. Because they are "Modern Vikings," some leave the reserve for extended periods of time for things such as work. During that time, however, the clothing must still be worn whether at work, at home, or wherever else you go. Even though he lives at the reserve much of the time, Per still maintains a modern home and returns to it from time to time for various reasons. All Vikings, however, have free access to the homes on the reserve. A telling point is that they have decided to call their settlement a "reservation" instead of a "village." Per compared this distinction to the reservations of Native Americans in the U.S. The Vikings at Fonteviken want their settlement to be one in which people actually live, and not merely a place to put on a show for tourists.
Per was extremely earnest, very intelligent, and I really liked him. When we stood for this picture he put his arm around me and then said in his thick Swedish accent, "You're HUGE! You have blue eyes. You would make a good Viking!!" "Yeah," I laughed, "I can just see it now. A Georgia Viking. 'Skol, yall!'"
Here are some more pictures of the reserve.
These are three rune stones, on which someone "left their mark" for others to see. They can be highly symbolic and often contain important messages.
Here is a Viking house, which is actually occupied. They are held together only with wooden pegs, just like in the old times. That way the homes and other buildings can be taken down completely and transported to a new place for easy reconstruction by hammering the pegs back into place.
The long axe was very effective at cutting off opponents' legs in battle. One good swing could take off 5 or 6 legs at once!
This is Odin, Father of all. He was the most important of the Viking gods. Odin is always portrayed with one eye. He gave away the other to see into the Well of Wisdom to see what happened to his brother, Ve (pronounced "Vey"). What he saw was so horrible that he never spoke of it again. Per said that this is the origin of the Jewish saying "Oy vey!"
Viking helmets did not have horns on them, despite popular belief. Horns would get in the way of swinging weapons in battle.
Here is a Viking woman consulting the gods using stones painted with the runic alphabet.
A house roof, covered with sod.
Here is a tent in the settlement, where some visitors stay when the houses are full.
Here is the interior of one of the houses.
Here is the lookout tower and the view from the top.
Scott and Sven the Viking!
Hans the Viking.
Ironically, right off the coast where the Viking settlement is, and visible from it, it a giant new wind farm out in the ocean. These windmills are everywhere here, and this region of the world generates a huge portion of the world's wind power. I think they are beautiful.
On my way back that evening I stopped in Malmo to eat. I ended up having Thai food in a square in Malmo Sweden in a place called the Moose Head Pub! Internationalism at its best! Some pics from around Malmo.
This is an automatic air machine with settings for bicycles, baby carriages and wheel chairs!
One of the main squares.
A cool fountain in the square.
Two girls from the University in Lund.
A cool griffin.
A statue forever leading a parade through the streets of beautiful Malmo!