Summer 2005 Travel Journal
Kent LŠrus BjŲrnsson
The first official trip of the summer was a circle trip around Iceland. This was the final project for the Tourist Guide School. We traveled as a group and shared the duties of the Tour Guide. Our instructor was with us as well as the Head of the Tour Guide School so it was what you would call a working trip. We spent 6 days and 5 nights exploring all around Iceland. I had been to most of the places but we were able to explain and/or learn more about each place we stopped. Some of the highlights were a cruise out from Stykkisholmur including shellfish and white wine, Hofsos of course, Myvatn, the East Coast and Jokulaslůn. It was a fantastic time and will remember the trip for a longtime. Our graduation was a couple days later and that went well.
The next trip was with the Hamrahliūakůr, The HamrahlŪū Choir to North America. We flew together to Toronto and spent a fabulous week there. It was a pretty grueling stay; they had to perform at many concerts. We were able to get to see Niagara Falls but did little other sightseeing. The weather didnít always agree with us, it was very hot and humid. When we did have a chance to go up the CN Tower it was so foggy we didnít see much. Some of the concerts were fantastic. We had a very good turnout in Hamilton and St. Paulís Cathedral in Toronto. The choir performed at many schools as well and it was great to see the children take in the music. My duty was to introduce the choir and in particular a song written for family in North America as I was speaking as a Canadian who was in that group, I also gave a little speech about Vikings coming to North America around the year 1000. From Toronto we headed to Manitoba, it was even more of a whirlwind tour. We stayed three nights in Gimli. June 17th, Icelandís Independence Day the choir performed at the opening of the new Logberg Heimskringla office. They then participated at the ceremony at the Legislature before a Gala Concert at the Winnipeg Art Gallery. The audience was great and I think everyone enjoyed the evening. I know the choir did. Saturday was a busy day in Gimli, there was a noon hour concert at the harbor then lunch at the Yacht Club. They held a short concert for the residents of the Betel Home before enjoying a few hours on the beach or exploring Gimli. The Lutheran Church Youth group held a fantastic supper for the group in the basement. From there we headed for the Viking Statue and they sang and danced around the statue. What a better way to end their Canadian visit that to sit around a bon fire and enjoy a warm summer evening outside. With only 1 hour sleep I had to drive 9 choir members to Fargo at 3 in the morning to catch a bus to Minneapolis at 8AM. We got there at 7:30, they were on their way at 8, and I turned around and headed back for Canada. I met the rest of the group at the airport where I had to drop off the van and we headed for the USA (for the second time that day for me) and had a very enjoyable visit in Mountain North Dakota. Their final performance was at the Mall of America. They had to cope with the usual noise in the mall but it went very well. This was my first official group of younger people so it was quite the experience.
I sent the last of the choir members back to Iceland and I went in the opposite direction to meet up with the next group. I flew from Minneapolis to Salt Lake City Utah. There I met up with a group at the airport, I arrived late the night before and spent the night at the airport. The Icelandic National League of Iceland had arranged a group to travel to Salt Lake, actually Spanish Fork Utah to participate in the 150 Anniversary Celebration of the migration of Icelanders to Utah to become Mormons in 1855. The events were fabulous and the people were fantastic. The President of Iceland, Olafur Ragnar Grimsson was in attendance as well as the President of the Church of the Latter Day Saints, Gordon B. Hinckley. It was fabulous meeting our cousins in Utah and I am sure I will return there sometime, possibly as a guide. We were kept busy touring and taking part in the festivities. As we left Utah we headed south to fantastic places like Bryce Canyon National Park, Zion National Park, Lake Powell Arizona, Monument Valley and the Grand Canyon. There was so much to see and many miles to travel so my only complaint was that we didnít have much time to sit back and leisurely enjoy the sights. We ended our trip in Las Vegas, spending a night on the Strip. The group was fantastic, a mixed group of young and old. Some of the people I had traveled with before so it was nice to see them again and it was also nice meeting new people. I returned to Manitoba through Minneapolis. I had a couple weeks off traveling, but spent my time making final arrangements for the groups coming at the end of July. I assisted a group from Hveragerūi with some of their arrangements. I met my group in Minneapolis on the 26th of July. Grundartangakůr, the Grundartanga Choir is a Menís Choir from Akranes and HvalfjŲrūur. We traveled north and had a nice visit in Mountain, ND on our way to Manitoba. Traveling, guiding and arranging concerts can be demanding but very exciting. We were well received in Winnipeg, Brandon, Selkirk, Lundar and of course Gimli. We took in the annual August the Deuce in Mountain and Islendingadagurinn in Gimli. The group had a fantastic time and really enjoyed the hospitality of the Prairies. We returned to Minneapolis and spent the required time at the Mall of America. I had an extra day in Minneapolis and it was nice to have some quiet time. I returned to Iceland and had one day off before starting work at the school again.
I would like to thank everyone for all their assistance and support with the tours that I was a part of this past summer. Without you the Icelanders would not enjoy visiting the Prairies and in particular the Icelandic settlements as much as they do. There is a great interest in visiting and I am sure the trips to North America will continue. I would like to see trips to other areas as well and would like to work with local people throughout North America in helping to arrange such journeys.