Wednesday, April 10, 2013

I is for Iceland; A to Z Blogging Challenge



Grab your passport, pack a bag, take a seat, sit back and join me on this virtual tour of Iceland!

Today's blog post is going to be FUN.  

I've decided to virtually travel the world this week, and today I'm taking you along.  Most of the places are either places my ancestors once lived or places that just interest me on some level. 


Grab a jacket and it's off to...
Destination One:  Iceland

Flag of Iceland

Capitol:  Reykjavik (The world's northernmost capital, which lies just a fraction below the Arctic Circle)
Population:  319,000 (approx est 2011)
Currency:  Icelandic kr√≥na

Here's your free Iceland Travel Guide.  Come along.

For this journey, I've chosen a dream vacation package from National Geographic, in combination with Lindblad Expeditions.  You can view it here:  Lindblad Expeditions to Iceland with NatGeo.

One reason I chose Iceland is because I have Nordic ancestory.  I love genealogy and during some of my more extensive research, I discovered a link to Northern Europe and Scandinavia.  I'm so happy because I always knew I had Viking blood in me and I LOVE winter.  People thought me odd (which is true BTW!) but now I can tell them I'm part Viking.  With the advent of the new show on History Channel, I hope that will make them rethink their next comment.  Anyway, I digress.

My ancestor is (Princess) Thurid Eyvindsdatter Olafsson, born in 847 AD in Amie, Sogn og Fjordane, Norway.  She married (Prince) Thorstein The Red Olafsson of Dala, Iceland, they had six children and she died in 887 AD in Hvammi, Iceland.  (Thorstein was the son of  Olof the White Hviti Ingjaldsson King of Ireland and Aud Unn Deep Minded Ketilsdatter Queen of Dublin.)

Let's talk about Thurid and Thorstein and what their lives would have been like in Iceland, circa 847 to 887 AD.  

It was during this time period in history that the Viking raids of England were well underway.  Ships, called Long ships,  were used to navigate the fjords and channels, allowing the Vikings to navigate deep into British territory via the rivers, specifically the Thames in England.

Viking Long Ship
Photo from
No copyright infringement intended.  Used for educational purposes only.
Here is a basic timeline of Viking history during which Thurid and Thorstein would have (approximately) lived:

(Notice the mention of Olaf The White.  That is Thorstein's father!  How cool is this?)

834 - Vikings approach the river Thames, England.
839 - Turgeis (Torgisl) and a big Viking fleet conquer Ireland and settle permanently.
841 - Vikings under the leadership of Turgeis found Dublin, Ireland.
841 - Vikings burn Lillebonne, Caudebec and Rouen and destroy the abbeys of Jumieges and St Wandrille.
843 - Vikings of Vestfold establish a power base at the isle Noirmountier (Loire) and raid Nates.
844 - A Viking raid on Seville is repulsed.
844 - Turgeis is killed by the Irish, drowned in Loch Nair.
845 - Viking chieftain Ragnar Lodbrok attacks Paris along a big fleet.
853 - Olaf the White conquers Ireland along a big Viking fleet.
857 - Vikings raid Paris again.
858 - Vikings capture the abbot of St Denis and claim ransome.
859 - Vikings raid in the Mediterranean for the first time.
860 - Rus (Sweds) Vikings attack Constantinople (Istanbul).
861- The third big attack on Paris by Vikings.
862 - Novgorod in Russia is founded by the Rus Viking, Ulrich.
863 - Xanten demolished by Vikings.
866 - Danish Vikings establish the kingdom of York, England.
870 - Harold Luva (Fairhair) starts his effort to gain full control in Norway.
871 - Alfred the Great becomes king of Wessex; the Danish advance is halted in England.
871 - Olaf the White returns to Norway, his brother Ivarr becoms ruler of Ireland.
874 - Ivarr the Boneless dies, his sons continues attacks on north-eastern England.

"Thus did the hero known to fame,
the leader of the shields, whose name
Strikes every heart with dire dismay,
Launch forth his war-ships to the fray.
Two kings he fought; but little strife
Was needed to cut short their life.
A clang of arms by the sea-shore,--
And the shields' sound was heard no more."

--from The Heimskringla; Or the Sagas of the Norse Kings from the Icelandic Snorre Sturlason vol 1, Google eBook
Get your free copy here.

This trip to Iceland wouldn't be complete without a few stunning photos.  Here you go:

Aurora Borealis, Iceland
Photo by
No copyright infringement intended.  Used for educational purposes only.

Icelandic Village
Photo by No copyright infringement intended.  Used for educational purposes only.

Convergence of Fire and Ice
Outdoor fun in Iceland
Photo by No copyright infringement intended.  Used for educational purposes only.

UPDATE:  As I am researching this subject, I make some AMAZING discoveries about my family  history. I did not know much about the ancient ancestors up to this point, other than their names.  I Googled them just for fun --and low and behold-- I get a plethora of rich historical information about famous and brave warriors and kings from which I can now say I am proudly descended!  It's amazing what you can learn about yourself and your family on a whim!  To say I am amazed and overwhelmed is putting it mildly.   I will exploring more about this part of my past on my own time and you can bet you shields that it will be part of my upcoming book this summer!

Thanks for travelling to Iceland with me!