A Swedish Viking Experience

We spent our last evening in Vasteras immersing ourselves in Bronze Age, Iron Age and Viking cultures.  At Anundshog, we climbed on ridges developed around 2500 BC when inland ice retreated.  We walked along an old trade route marked by a line of boulders and learned the meaning behind the village rune stone symbolizing fertility.  Women held an important role, with their power demonstrated in the rune stone illustration, since they stayed in the village while the men were often out hunting.  The area became a cultural center where people came together for “The Thing” (district court), an area still defined by large boulders forming two ovals, as well as worshipped and traded.  Burial mounds can still easily be seen jutting up from the landscape.  Our guide, dressed in traditional Iron Age clothing, helped us imagine life in the prehistoric village, amazingly well-preserved after so many years.  ImageAt the next stop on our visit back in time, we didn’t need to use our imagination quite as much.  We were able to command our own Viking boat on the lake!  After driving to what seemed like the middle of nowhere and finding a lake with docks and a fleet of Viking ships (along with a “Viking” playing a traditional instrument), we loaded into 3 boats, grabbed our oars and took off for an evening cruise.  Turns out that despite having a crew of 8-10 rowers, rowing a Viking boat is not easy.  It took us awhile to get into a rhythm and row at the same time as well as figure out the steering mechanism in the front of the boat.  However, being in the wooden boat in the middle of the isolated lake really helped transport us back in time and imagine settlements surrounding the lakeside.     

ImageAfter several failed attempts to back into our boat dock, we finally made it to shore and followed a marked trail through the woods to a log building up on the hill.  The log building turned out to be a first-class restaurant, Frösåkers Brygga, run by a Michelin chef from Stockholm who traded city life for his own restaurant in the country.  We were all treated to a delicious meal of veal, salad, potatoes and bread with an out-of-this world homemade ice cream dessert to finish it off.  We sat on long wooden benches, surrounded by Viking ship candle holders and other Viking artifacts and replicas.  

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After being serenaded with traditional music, we toured the second floor where special events are often held.  The area features an open floor plan and an impressive display of replicated Viking shields, paintings, armor, swords and helmets.  The night was complete after an all-class line dance in a circle to a traditional song!  We were lucky to have had the experience to have eaten at the amazing Viking Village – thank you to the city of Vasteras!

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We were sad to leave such an idyllic spot but looked forward to Stockholm the next day! … 

In Stockholm, a small group of us who hadn’t had our full dose of Viking decided to go to a Viking theme restaurant called Aifur Krog & Bar in Gamla Stan (old town) for dinner.  We ate with medieval utensils which reminded us how great of an invention the 3-prong fork was (eating with 2 prongs is not easy!) and tried food such as reindeer heart and moose steak.  Everything was absolutely delicious and the atmosphere couldn’t be beat.  We would recommend this to students in future CAP Sweden trips (reservations are needed)!

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reindeer heart is at the top right

Although we participated in quite a few Viking activities in a short amount of time, each experience was very different.  We explored ruins, rowed replica Viking boats, listened to traditional music, and ate unusual food in a fun Viking theme restaurant.  We saw the authentic as well as more modern-day interpretations of Vikings.   

 

 

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