Arrival in Akureyri

The view from at least one living room in Akureyri

Arrived in the northern Icelandic port of Akureyri this afternoon, after a bus trip from Keflavik that passed through one spectacularly beautiful glacial river valley after another. Like Norway, Iceland is a country that, just when you think it can’t get any more beautiful, does. The valley where Gudrid’s farm site resides was perhaps the most compelling of all, with steep-sided valley walls reminiscent of Svalbard, yet with a river surrounded by carpets of brilliant yellow flowers. You can see why the sagas were written here: these valleys were almost designed to produce out-sized personalities and dramatic confrontations over love and property and competing visions for the future.

Akureyri is a small city of about 18,000 souls split by the Glerá River coursing down from the mountains of the Tröllaskagi peninsula. As soon as we arrived, I hiked over to the university and tracked down someone who could load my powerpoint talk onto the mainframe computer and give it a test run so it will be ready for tomorrow. I refuse to give a talk when I haven’t first checked out the venue and made sure all the bells and whistles on my powerpoints are working. There are always invariably technical glitches that need to be sorted, but today’s test run went perfectly. Tomorrow our session on the intellectual and material aspects of historic sites in the polar regions starts at 1300 (0900 est), and I’ll try to blog at least once after my talk.

On the ride from Reykjavik

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