Norway From the Land of Vikings
In the 9th Century Norsemen swept down from the Scandinavian peninsula to become the scourge of Europe. They sacked the city of Paris, founded the city of Dublin, Ireland, served the Byzantine Court of Iceland, and discovered America in the year 1000. With the coming of Christianity in the 11th Century they settled into their own lands, withdrew from the affairs of an emerging Europe and sank into obscurity for a few hundred years. Fishing and farming were the primary occupations.
Cod was once the main export of Norway, and it is still important. But today Norway is the second largest exporter of oil in the world. In the 19960''s oil was discovered in the North Sea off the coast of Norway. But how to get it? Norway launched one of the most audacious oil recovery efforts, designing and building the most massive offshore drilling platform on the Globe ... like the Vikings of old, they plunder the sea for oil.
Almost all Norwegians speak English, have a relative living in America, or have visited the U.S. themselves. But they still retain a unique culture and remain a vibrant, dynamic people, determined to make a satisfying and rewarding life for every citizen in their Country. How they accomplish it is a fascinating study of a success oriented people.
" Norway - From the Land of the Vikings" will cover the entire country from south to the North Cape, the most northern point in Europe. We will visit all the major cities starting with Oslo the Capital and Constitution Day celebration...the biggest holiday in Norway after Christmas.
Stavanger is the center of the oil industry which has transformed Norway into a relatively wealthy nation today. Modern technology has been applied to developing the most stupendous offshore drilling platforms anywhere. Norway is the second largest exporter of oil in the World (second only to Saudia Arabia). Even so, gasoline is near $5 a gallon.
Bergen is the second largest city, an old time fish market still exists along the waterfront, as well as part of the medieval city...wooden buildings which escaped the many times the city was destroyed by fire.
North, we journey over to the Lofoton Islands and some of the most surreal beauty of the Country. We see rows and rows of cod drying in the sun. This used to be the major export of Norway, but declining fish stocks have forced the Islanders to divert attention to tourism.
To that end, they have discovered and rebuilt the largest Viking communal house ever found. The Vikings turn out to be more than just brutal raiders...they had sophisticated housing with most advanced construction techniques, wove complex fabrics for clothing, were the first to develop sails that could sail into the wind, the first to develop a compass, the first Europeans to discover and land in North America (500 years before Columbus). They were such accomplished sailors they were able to take cattle and sheep from Norway to Iceland across the Atlantic Ocean! A thousand years ago!
In Alta, the midnight sun warms the air to 80º Fahrenheit, even though we are 300 miles north of the Arctic Circle. The Sami live here...people you''ve always called Lapplanders. They have been here 10,000 years, and still depend on reindeer to some extent, as they have for centuries.