Norway is the original land of the Vikings. Well, maybe the Danes wouldn't agree, but Eric the Red was born in Norway, and he sure was a big strong Viking. When he got kicked out of Norway for murdering somebody, he discovered Iceland and Greenland. His son, Leif Ericsson, was born in Iceland, and discovered America, and returned to organize and rule iceland. And they weren't the only Vikings to travel: Viking ships went all over the place - from the UK to Russia to Turkey to Spain.
Norway was full of rough, strong Vikings way back 1000 years ago. But Christianity tamed the Viking heart, and Norway was ruled by the Danes for 400 years, then by the Swedes for another 100. Finally in 1905, Norway regained its own rule. Since they had no ruler, they imported the second prince from Denmark, and made him their king (they even held an election so everybody had a chance to vote on the choice of a royal family - real democracy in action), and got so involved in peace that even Alfred Nobel recognized it, and made Oslo the place to go and get one of his prizes - the only one from a non-Swedish city - the Nobel Peace Prize.
Now Oslo Vikings have a new theme, sort of along the lines of "make love, not war". They're showing off their Viking anatomy: you can find cool naked sculpture all over Oslo. There's some naked Viking girls sunbathing (well, almost naked - one's wearing red shoes) down by the water at Akker Brigge, a huge naked Viking woman and little naked Viking man monument down at the castle, and a whole park dedicated to sculptures of nudie Vikings - men, women, and children, in many different poses. Lots of Vikings to see, and lots of each Viking to see.
The Viking ships are all over Oslo too. You can find them on signs, on the sides of buildings, and on flags and posters and jewelry and souveniers. A bunch of cool looking boats with Viking ship lines are moored in the marinas. Everywhere you look, you can see either a naked Viking or a Viking ship.
All these Viking ships were making Jonathan really excited. He, Alison, Holly and my parents are with me and Irina on this spring break trip to Norway, Denmark, Sweeden and Germany. Jonathan has been playing a lot of Age of Conquerors, and he loves playing as the Vikings, because they have really cool looking ships. These ships are pretty tough in the game, too: send a fleet of them and they'll sink most any other ships out there.
We were heading over to the Norgwegian Folk Museum, and Jonathan was again telling us about Viking ships, and how strong and fast they were. Nobody was paying much attention, because we've all heard his Viking ships descriptions before: "they're fast, Daddy. Viking ships are very fast. Super fast and strong, too. A million strong. Stronger than anything else."
So we were pretty much ignoring him, when he started telling us why they were so fast: "that's right, Viking ships are fast because they're full of vikes."
Alison said "no Jonathan, not vikes. Vikings. Viking ships are full of Vikings."
But Jonathan didn't agree. "No, Sissie: they go fast because they have lots of vikes in them."
Holly said "Jonathan - they're called Vikings - not vikes."
Jonathan said, "OK, Sissie. The Vikings are down inside the ship,
pedaling their vikes. That's why they go so fast."
So after his sisters finished reeducating their little brother on the differences between the sounds that "v" and "b" make, and the rest of us finished laughing at the image of a bunch of sweaty naked Vikings pedaling their way to victory across the oceans, we went and had a good day at the folk museum.
Now we're on a ship, travelling overnight from Oslo to Copenhagen. We just left the fjord and entered the North Sea, where the Vikings once ruled the waves. We haven't seen any Viking ships yet, but maybe they're just not pedaling fast enough.