Saturday, July 26, 2008

the site, the people

i could have named this post 'and then it rained...', but i'm not going to (even though this one week is the only vacation we'll have this whole summer, and even though this one particular week was the wettest, coldest ever. but, it did get better during the last 3 days. so.)
the site was the rather famous, small valley of gudvangen, a much visited tourist attraction and listed on unescos world heritage list. it's dramatic, the fjord can hardly get narrower and the mountains hardly steeper. it's beautiful. and i've done a lousy job photographing it, but that's ok.
there's hardly a more appropriate place for arranging a viking market/festival, as the name gudvangen itself is old norse and refers to a place of worship (of the old gods).
we arrived tuesday night, and had been driving for 3 hours when we realised we had forgotten our sleeping bags... we continued, set up the tent, and my husband went back home to get them. meantime, i borrowed some sheep skins for the kids to sleep on and under. and then we were cold and wet, wet and cold, for two days while we set up our viking stall/tent in the viking area.
the official opening was on friday morning, where this lady led a parade of vikings to the entrance space.

and these guys entertained with excellent music! they were just great, one of the two highlights of the entire festival.

and what better thing to do to some groovy folk music, than fight?

the opening consisted of small bits of what was going on every day, such as concerts, lectures, archery, sword fighting, poetry and wrestling (among other things). what you see here is glima, the budo of the viking age. described as 'history class with bruises', glima is an ancient wrestling form with deeply philosophical and spiritual elements to it. the guy in blue (below) is judge of the fight, former nordic champion and teacher of glima; swedish runeologist lars magnar enoksen. and he was the other highlight of the festival.

i had actually never heard of him, but when a friend of mine read in the paper that he was coming, she immediately left home, jumped on a bus and came all the way just to talk to him for a couple of hours. runeology is a subdivision of old norse philology (the study of texts and linguistics), and deals with, not surprisingly, the runes. this guy is an expert on runes and old norse magic. we loved him. we actually drilled holes in his head, put straws in and sucked the knowledge out. unfortunately, we didn't have enough time, so he remains the expert on the subject.
my daughter loved the band the most. she attended every daily concert they played, and placed herself as close to them as she could get. one meter away seemed to be the best position.

(she loved them more than the flame eater guy, and even more than the storyteller, and man - he was GOOD).
the storyteller:

the tattoist

the embroidery lady

the old couple

the bed (some people have been doing this long enough to get tired of the uncomfortableness of camping....)

the fighter (i tell you, it's all about dress)

the smokin' hot viking woman (my friend, who attended a women's rowing thing, and of course jumped off the boat in some valkyrie madness. here she's drying her wet dress and pregnant body over the fireplace)

the daughter

we were about 200 vikings from 13 nations, of all ages, but surprisingly many elderly people. there were 1500 visitors during the weekend. more later on what we were doing during these days!


Anonymous said...

Oh my stars that sounds so absolutely wonderful. I love how everything is so authentic. Not a Nike to be seen. At least, not in your photography.

Coincidentally, I am reading the book "Collapse" by Jared Diamond, where he discusses reasons for the collapse of certain previously successful civilizations. In the book now he is discussing the Vikings. Unfortunately, it seems that one of the major reasons for their demise was the deforestation of their lands. Not having big logs to build their fast ships did them in. It's a very interesting book.

I just love this; I wish I were there!

Anonymous said...

Of course I mean the Vikings in Greenland and North America; he also mentions in great detail why other communities survived. Don't want to sound like I think all the Vikings are gone! Ha ha!


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