In about the year 900 some Vikings grabbed a bunch of Irish lasses and emigrated to the island of Iceland, where they started an unusual country on a big lava rock.
We stopped there recently on our way to an international rug conference in Stockholm, about which we will write later.
The Icelanders kept their Viking language to this day, which is very strange. Icelandic is so similar to what those Vikings spoke that most of their ancient literature can be read by modern people. It’s fun to check out the interesting long street names, such as Skólavör∂ustígur Street.
The country is about the size of Kentucky, with a population of only 300,000. About 160,00 people live in the capital of Reykjavik, which has no buildings higher than four stories. It’s fun to walk the streets; with its colorful houses and friendly people, Reykjavik is like a big village.
In spite of Iceland being a very very small country, we were impressed by the creative and artistic ability of the Icelandic people. The local shops are full of great design, such as silver and lava jewelry, and unusual and beautiful clothing.
Iceland is one of the places where the earth’s crust is thinnest. In Iceland it can be just a few kilometers thick, while in most of Europe it is 40 to 60 km thick.
Volcano eruptions are common, although not usually as big as the one a year ago which paralyzed air traffic and stranded travelers all over Europe. There is an Icelandic word to describe the darkness after the eruption when ash blocks out the sun, stars and lights; it is “oskumyrkur” which translates to “ash darkness”.
There is too much to say about our impressions of Iceland in this one article, so the next will be: Things to See and Do in Iceland!