Saga Land

I have been a long time admirer of Richard Fidler’s “Conversations” so was very interested to read this, his latest book about Iceland and its people.

My knowledge of Iceland has been sadly deficient apart from recent volcanic ash clouds, and I was quite unaware that in some quarters Icelandic sagas are believed to be some of the most important writings in history. Iceland’s sagas originally written on calf skin vellum and preserved by ordinary people as well as academics, provide not only a valuable history but are an important part of Icelandic culture and identity.

Fidler, together with Iceland-born co-author Kari Gislason take the reader on a journey; historic in terms of the island’s Viking history brought to life through medieval Icelandic sagas, and personal for Kari as he attempts to confirm his ancestry.

Other critics have rightly said that it is difficult to classify this book but it certainly did not disappoint, and I enjoyed learning about this very different part of the world and its history.


Cruising the Pacific

After leaving Kona we looked forward to five days at sea before reaching Pago Pago (pronounced Pango Pango). Five days at sea with nowhere to go and nothing to do – not really.

This cruise in the western half the Pacific Ocean starting in the northern hemisphere, at Hawaii, the most remote island group in the world, crossed the equator (and the International date line) heading generally southwest in the South Pacific to home.

With temperatures in the mid to high twenties (Celsius) it is easy to succumb to a routine of just relaxing next to one of the two pools, lying on a deck chair, catching a passing waiter for a cold Hawaiian beer in between eating, eating, Happy Hour and more eating.

But there is also a lot to do and while I do not like to subscribe to simplistic slogans, I would like to think that I could finish the cruise fitter not fatter even considering the many temptations.

Routine is always important, isn’t it? So starting the day with a visit the Fitness Centre each morning was good before deciding how best to enjoy the day. Among the available daily options chosen were: lectures by excellent speakers on a series of astronomy and relevant history/geography topics, Microsoft workshops with lessons on the various software, movies and variety shows in the large World Theatre, the string quartet plus piano at the Lincoln Center Theatre (in association with the New York Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts), and more.

We have a number of excursions ashore lined up during our stops at the various islands and we are presented with talks about each one so that we can make the most of our visits.

As I type, the string quartet is playing a series of movie classics including “Windmills of my Mind”, “The Good the Bad and the Ugly, and Star Wars themes. Next I will pick up Jenny from reading her good book before repairing to the back pool for a swim, possible drink or two, maybe more reading for a while and generally relaxing.

Cruising at sea is about relaxing but that doesn’t mean doing nothing all day…