On day 2 in Dublin, we simply went out to enjoy the sights, shopping and food. As we drove past a beach in Dublin, we talked about the start of this city as a Viking “longphort” (a fortification for the protection of the boats.) Was it on a beach such as this that the first buildings were erected? Well, no. The Viking fortification was near Dublin Castle along the Liffey River. So, with curiosity piqued, we wondered what a Viking marine fortification would look like. Back we went to the photos we had taken in Alesund, Norway at the Sunnmore Museum as well as those we had just taken at Guinness Lake in Glendalough a few miles outside of Dublin. After reviewing turf houses and boat-building sheds we concluded the stage sets for the TV series, Vikings, seemed to be right on. The longboats would easily sail up the Liffey. And the turf houses would be easy to erect.
Our curiosity satisfied, we turned our attention to modern-day Dublin. It is a beautiful and vibrant city with lots to see and do; all within easy walking distance.
Let me show you some photos!
After this, we are on our way to Greenock, Scotland.
The people we call Vikings came from the area we call Scandinavia. They were quite similar in culture, but geographically distinct. The Danes came from the Jutland peninsula and they tended to maraud in Europe and England and along the Mediterranean; the Swedes (also known as Rus) were on the North and East, they sailed the Baltic and traveled to Russia to plunder and loot; and the Norse were from the North and West so they tended to raid the coasts of Ireland, Scotland and settle in the North Atlantic Islands. No one knows for sure why the Vikings traveled to the ends of the earth. They sailed their longboats to the Arctic, through the Baltic, across the Mediterranean to Constantinople. They created settlements in Ireland, Scotland and England. They colonized Iceland, Greenland, and even the New World where they established Vinland in Newfoundland. But not a single one of them kept a journal or wrote a diary. There are no letters, no poems, no stories. These are a people whose history begins as pirates and raiders but in less than three centuries they faded from history as they not only assimilated, but augmented the economy, politics, and religions of every country they came in contact with.
As we visit Dublin, we learn that the Vikings actually created Ireland’s first true town. Dublin originated as a “longphort”, a fortified enclosure to protect the ships and function as a staging area for raids. By 840AD, Dublin had become a permanent settlement and was probably a slave-trading center also.
The Vikings had been raiding the coast of Ireland since 795 and had looted the Monastic City in Glendalough twice. Today, Glendalough and County Wicklow are the settings for the Canadian/Irish TV series, “Vikings”, now in its 5th season. The series is based on Neil Oliver’s book, Vikings (Weidenfield & Nicolson, 2012). Neil Oliver is an archaeologist, historian, writer and award-winning broadcaster.
These are the photos from our trip to Glendalough:
I must confess, day 2 in Rotterdam was consumed by all things SS Rotterdam and Holland America Cruise Lines. We had ended Day 1 coming aboard, checking-in, dinner & drinks, and a little wandering through the public rooms before settling down in the cabin. We had a comfortable room: sitting area, desk space, king-size bed, TV with some English language programming, and a really nice curved-glass enclosed shower. We slept well under feather duvets with the porthole windows open to catch the breeze. But we did find the mattress to be hard as a board! This has been a problem that pops up frequently in European hotels. Could it be we’ve grown old, soft and stiff?
We awoke on day 2 to a bright, warm, sunny day. After breakfast on the outside Lido deck, we took the Engine Room Tour and then followed it up with the Bridge Tour and Ship’s Tour. Roger, of course, loved all the mechanical details; I was more interested in the history and design aspects. It was all fascinating!
This is our first visit to Rotterdam. Long ago, we put “sailing the MS Rotterdam to Rotterdam to stay in the SS Rotterdam” on our bucket-list. This year: goal accomplished! We were delighted with the city itself. Very modern. Great architecture. All the result of necessary rebuilding after the total devastation of German bombing in 1940.
We spent day 1 just acquainting ourselves with the city. We were delighted to find a FREE Port Authority shuttle outside the terminal. It took us to the City Center area—near Blaak Station to be precise—where we took photos of quite a few famous local sights. The Historic Tram #10 departs daily (except Mondays) from Blaak Station every 1/2 hour from 11:00am-4:30pm. The loop ride through 14 stations takes about 1 hour. You can use this tram as a HOHO!
We shopped the Markthal, had lunch at the Very ITALIAN Restaurant, and hung out at the Hotel New York (former HAL Headquarters in Rotterdam) before taking the water taxi over to the SS Rotterdam for our overnight stay.
The whole point of going to Eidfjord, Norway is to cruise the Hardanger Fjord! The scenery is probably spectacular, but we were there on a cold, rainy, overcast day. We also traversed the fjord very early in the morning and mid-evening for the return to the North Sea so the light for photography wasn’t very good. Sorry about the dull photos.
The cruise port in Eidfjord is purpose built for tourism. There is a hotel, information center, super market, and large dock for a single cruise ship along with anchorage for another with a small tender dock conveniently located near everything. The town welcomes more than 500,000 visitors a year but has only 900 regular inhabitants! The main attractions are walks along the glaciers within the nearby Hardanger Mountain Plateau National Park, kayaking in the fjord, and the Voringsfossen Waterfall which towers 597 feet.
There is a little “Troll Train” that will take you on a 1-hour tour of the town including the Old Church and Viking gravesites from the Iron Age dating AD400 to 1000 ($11.00/pp outside the Information Center.)
Because the fjord cruising takes several hours itself, the time in town is pretty short (we were only there for 5 hours.)
We did our best to see a lot!
After returning down the fjord to the North Sea, we are, now, on our way to Rotterdam, Netherlands.
The city of Alesund is a very special place. It spans several islands linked by tunnels and bridges and casts a spell on visitors with its distinctive Art Nouveau style of architecture. The city was chartered in 1848, but it was on a dark and stormy night in 1904 that the entire city center was destroyed by fire. Over the next three years, the city was rebuilt, almost exclusively in the Art Nouveau style. Today, Alesund is an important fishing port, centrally located on the Norwegian Sea.
We have been here before and were enchanted by the charm of the architecture. The history of the area encompasses the Viking Age, but this was an agricultural area and settlements were separated by great distances. The Sunnmore Museum, just outside of town (9:00am-4:00pm daily, 7.50/pp for seniors) details the lifestyle of the early peoples along with their architecture, industry and community.
One “must do” activity in Alesund is a visit to the Fjellstua Lodge atop Mount Aksla. You can walk up the 418 steps if you are so inclined, but the little Alesund City Sightseeing train will take you there ($24.00/pp/rt with a stop at Sunnmore, too.) As will the HOHO for $38.00/pp. And as will taxis for about 100.00/hour!
Of course, there is nothing wrong in simply walking around the charming town, shopping the quaint shops and enjoying a lunch or libation in a lovely café. This is a fun, entertaining and interesting port!
Established in 874 AD by Norsemen, Reykjavik is believed to be the first permanent settlement in Iceland. It had a government and parliament by 930 AD. It remained an agricultural community until 1762 when it was chosen by the King of Norway to participate in the De Nye Indretninger (New Enterprises) project. These enterprises were meant to modernize the Icelandic economy by means of industrial development and improved craft skills. Fishing, sulphur mining, agriculture and shipbuilding were undertaken by the Indretninger. But the wool industry was the primary employer in Reykjavik for decades. In 1786, when Reykjavik was granted an exclusive trading charter, it was established as a city of importance. In 1874, Iceland was given a constitution and limited legislative power. Reykjavik was named the capital. Home Rule was granted in 1904. On December 1, 1918, Iceland became a sovereign country under the Crown of Denmark. Today, Reykjavik is a bustling, busy city. The tourist trade is booming, and construction is rampant. Volcanic activity provides Reykjavik with geothermal heating systems for both residential and industrial districts. By 2008, roughly 90% of all buildings in Iceland were heated with natural hot water.
We have been to Iceland before and spent many days touring in and around Reykjavik. The Golden Circle Tour (see description in the Corner Brook post) is quite comprehensive, the Blue Lagoon is an experience, and the puffins are just too cute for words! The local HOHO is very convenient and economical. But this time, we simply took a cab to the Kolaportid Flea Market on Sunday morning; walked the Old Harbor area; ate lunch at a local pizzeria; and rode to the top of the tower at Hallgrimskirkja for a fabulous view of the entire city. Then on Monday, we toured the Settlement House (free to all over 65 yrs old!), the oldest house in Reykjavik, and explored more neighborhoods. We find all of Iceland (but Reykjavik in particular) to be charming and engaging. We will, most certainly, return again and again.
We now have a couple of sea days as we make our way to Alesund, Norway.