Iceland Trip – part six

The harbor at Reykjavik

The Saga Circle. Today we learned more about Icelandic Sagas. I do have to say the Icelandic Settlement Centre in Borgarnes could have been left off the itinerary. While I enjoyed the artistic license taken by whoever made the scenes on the audio tour, the information was repetitive of what we’d already heard several times. And I don’t have any photos of the carved masks people made from bits and pieces of boards, and the wild-eyed berserk Egill, an Icelander who would have been titled a psychopath in this time period.

We moved on to Reykholt and the home of Snorri Sturluson, a significant chieftain, poet, and historian of the Middle Ages. Here Pastor Geir Waage told the group of Snorri’s life and how the Icelanders who were pagans slowly came around to becoming Christians, even if it was only in the public to keep the King of Norway from taking over the island. But eventually, the king did get the island when a civil war broke out and no one could come to a consensus. They asked the king to step in and help them straighten things out. This was in 1262. Snorri was dead. Killed at the hands of the king’s men after he’d befriended the king for years.

Pastor Waage was an interesting and eccentric man. He had a Hercule Poirot mustache, a dramatic flair, and when he pulled a small horn out of a pocket inside his jacket, I stared in awe as he unscrewed the top, poured two small mounds of black powder on his hand above where his thumb attached and continued talking. He replaced the horn, walked some more holding his hand in front of him with the small black mound. Then he paused, inhaled the powder into his nose, whipped out a colorful handkerchief and kept on talking as he wiped his nose and shoved the cloth back into his pocket. I’m naive enough I had to ask our guide what he’d sniffed. “Tobacco,” was his answer.

After the saga of Snorri, we drove further inland to Hraunfossar and Barnafossar waterfalls. (Fosser means falls) These were pretty, but there was a sad story that went along with the Branafosser falls. There was a land bridge across the river. A farm was on one side of the river and the church on the other. One day a mother and father left three children at the farm while they crossed the rocky precipice across the river to visit the church. When they returned the children were not home. They followed their tracks and discovered they ended at the rocky foot bridge. It was believed the children tried to follow their parents and ended up in the river. The parents knocked down the rocky foot bridge. But as I wandered around taking photos, I saw a smaller foot bridge low in the river bed. Could it have been that foot bridge?

After the waterfalls, we visited the most powerful hot spring in Europe, Deildartunguhver. There were Danger signs everywhere and our guide suggested we stay back unless one of the boiling spots should spit hot water. I noticed a young woman dressed in a flowing blue dress, posing. There was a photographer behind a bush. I call her my water nymph but I believe she was posing for an advertisement.

The event I’d been waiting for happened at the end of the day. We visited with Yrsa Siguroardottir crime fiction and children’s writer. I’d listened to the first two books of her Thora Gudmundsdottir series. It was fun hearing her talk about why she chose the occupation of lawyer for her character and how even though she’d made her character the opposite of herself, her life and moved in a direction that correlated with her character. Because I was the only member of the tour who wrote mystery, Yrsa and I started talking about writing mysteries. I was excited someone of her caliber was so open to talking with me. She said she looked forward to seeing me at Bouchercon.

Yrsa signing a book for one of my tour mates.

Later that night at dinner, one of the other members said she enjoyed listening to Yrsa and I talk about the genre we both loved. I went to bed Thursday night a very happy writer!

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