There really is no better introduction to a road trip around the magical land that is Iceland, than a friendly chat with two locals around a Christmas beer.

Luckily for these Road Trips, that is exactly what Icelanders Ásgeir and Hjalti offered graciously to these ukuleles and their carrier. That, and a Christmas beer!

Podcast guests Ásgeir (left) and Hjalti (right) enjoying a seasonal Icelandic ('err... Danish actually!') brew

Podcast guests Ásgeir (left) and Hjalti (right) enjoying a seasonal Icelandic ('err... Danish actually!') brew

 

As well as diving into their history and the mythology of the vikings, we discuss, in the Reykjavik Podcast, some practical and very useful information for the upcoming travels: don't die. And also, don't freeze to near death in your car. Noted.

Listen to the Reykjavik, Iceland Ukulele Road Trips Podcast

For more traveller insights and stunning Icelandic sights you can also view Ásgeir's stunning YouTube channel: Do More Ásgeir !

Possibly said that evening: Ásgeir (on the left):"we're about here, in the capital!". Hjalti :"Here I was born, up in the West Fjords! We have great fish there"

Possibly said that evening: Ásgeir (on the left):"we're about here, in the capital!". Hjalti :"Here I was born, up in the West Fjords! We have great fish there"

 

As a side note, it must be said that this podcast was recorded before I knew I was going around the island with a big robust Kuku Campers van, which is equipped with a big hot heater. And that, luckily, seriously bumps up the survival chances. Or at least, prevents freezing to almost-death. Something we can all agree, is a good thing.

I've got a ride !! And hence, will (probably) not die.

I've got a ride !! And hence, will (probably) not die.

 

The podcast was recorded in the Slippbarinn bar, in one of the separate meeting rooms. As you can see from the map above the article, it's part of the Icelandair Hotel by the Reykjavik Marina. Handily, this great place also has a big map of Iceland in the corridor, very practical to point at stuff. And there's a goat there too.

Spot the goat, and win a free lesson about Norse Mythology

Spot the goat, and win a free lesson about Norse Mythology

 

ODIN'S SONG

In the podcast, there is a song. And in this song there is information. And in this information, knowledge. All the knowledge you'll ever need about Odin, the 'All-Father' of Norse Gods. (The song by the way is a take on the melody of the "Gay Dean" song in Community, season 6 episode 4, itself a take on the song Jolene, by Dolly Parton. It's my favourite show. Just thought I should write this somewhere, at some point)

Odin, Odin, Odin, Odin, greatest God the North had ever seen, Odin, Odin, oh where've you been ? 
Odin's portrait, carved in the back of my tenor Ukulele while at the Reykjavik arts school

Odin's portrait, carved in the back of my tenor Ukulele while at the Reykjavik arts school

 
Inspiration to all Viking men, on the battle fields back when, Northerners spilled enemy blood

Odin, the mightiest of the Æsir Gods, is a war-God. Often depicted wearing armour, he inspires soldiers of the North preparing for battle.

On the land that your Dad did shape, you would freely roam and escape, for adventures with your eight-legged stud

Bor, son of Buri (who himself was licked out of salty blocs of ice by Audhumla, the primeval cow) has three sons: Odin, Vili, and Ve. The sons of Bor killed the giant Ymir, and from his blood and flesh created the universe. Bor shapes the world indirectly, through the actions of his offspring. In this world, Odin would go on many adventures, far from his kin, sometimes riding Sleipnir, his eight-legged horse.

Odin and Sleipnir, from a XVIIIth century Icelandic manuscript

Odin and Sleipnir, from a XVIIIth century Icelandic manuscript

 
Yes, two ravens and this trusted horse, for the invincible God of Norse, oh the good old times

On Odin's shoulders sit two ravens. They periodically leave him to go fly around the world and then tell all that they have seen and heard to the All-Father. These birds are Huginn and Muninn (thought, and memory)

Odin and the gang, from a vendel helmet (pre-viking, approx VIIIth c.)

Odin and the gang, from a vendel helmet (pre-viking, approx VIIIth c.)

 
When your one-eyed face searched the source of all wisdom and of course, of the Prose, of Edda and the Rhymes

Odin is not only out and about looking for adventures, he is seeking many noble treasures, none quite as much as wisdom itself. No sacrifice is too great to quench that thirst, and he took one of his own eyes out for the right to drink from the well of destiny (well of Urd). Thus giving Odin cosmic knowledge of the universe. And an important side note here, those waters hold the roots of the ash tree Yggdrasil, which is the whole cosmos. And also, one of Odin's eyes.

Surprisingly for a warrior, Odin is also a very inspired God. He only expresses himself in poems. Hence the rhymes and prose. The famous Edda is the XIIIth century compilation that is giving us most our Odin-knowledge. It is written in prose, integrating here and there extracts of old Norse poetry. And is fun to read while on an Icelandic road trip!

Odin, Odin, greatest God the North had ever seen. Odin, Odin, oh where've you been?
Muninn just told a funny joke about sparrows, Huginn and Odin laugh (also XVIIIth c. Iceland)

Muninn just told a funny joke about sparrows, Huginn and Odin laugh (also XVIIIth c. Iceland)

 
We miss your knowledge of the runes, your daring deeds set to tunes, never to be bested under the moons

Odin's accomplishments are so great, attempts at glory would pale in comparison throughout the millions of days and nights following his reign. His adventures, often set to music, include also his mastery of the runes: the viking writings are not only precious knowledge, they are drawn straight from the mysterious source of all things to exist, the waters of Urd, below the tree of Yggdrasil. But as you know, Odin drank some of that, so he knows his way around inspired discourse.

If you were a Danish artist in the 1800s, maybe this is how you'd draw Yggrasil

If you were a Danish artist in the 1800s, maybe this is how you'd draw Yggrasil

 
You managed to steal the poetic mead, and were quite the charmer for from your seed, are born Baldr, Valli and Thor

The Poetic mead. Bare with me here. To make peace, lots of Gods spat in a bowl, from which Kvasir, the wisest (ever!) human was formed. He was then killed by some dwarves and turned into some sort of honey beer (mead!), magical and imparting infinite wisdom. The dwarves killed a couple of giants, got killed by the giants' son, who hid the mead under a mountain. However, Odin loves wisdom as you know. So, he went to the place, made 9 servants kill each other, worked as a giant's servant for months, made him drill a whole, turned into a snake to get through it, slept three nights with a lady-giant guard (ouh là là), and then drank ALL of the mead, and flew back as an eagle to pour it back out in Asgard, the land of the Gods of Æsir. Some drops fell over the top, and graced the world under theirs, the land of men. So we can have a few poetic inspirations too thanks to messy regurgitating.

detail of the VIIIth c. Stora Hammars runestone. Odin as the bearded eagle on the left, probably his lady-giant girlfriend with the cup in the middle, and on the right, another giant. I guess.

detail of the VIIIth c. Stora Hammars runestone. Odin as the bearded eagle on the left, probably his lady-giant girlfriend with the cup in the middle, and on the right, another giant. I guess.

 

Odin charmed not only lady-giants, but also had a few children including Baldr, Vali and Thor, each son, with different women. Goddess or mortal, depends.

Though this last one is still around, where can you Odin be found, come forward as you came forth before !

Though Thor as thunder and lightning can still be seen in today's Iceland, where is the mighty All-Father Odin? Will he roam again through the land of man and grace them with his knowledge and divine inspirations? 

Odin, Odin, Odin, Odin, greatest God the North had ever seen, Odin, Odin, where've you been?
 
A scene of the Tjängvide runic stone, dedicated to the brother of the Viking who raised it more than a thousand years ago. Sleipnir (and his 8 legs) can be clearly seen on the right. The rest is up for debate, or at the very least, a caption competition

A scene of the Tjängvide runic stone, dedicated to the brother of the Viking who raised it more than a thousand years ago. Sleipnir (and his 8 legs) can be clearly seen on the right. The rest is up for debate, or at the very least, a caption competition

 

This musical cultural adventure that is Ukulele Road Trips is #GOINGNORTH with the handy contributions of Kuku Campers, and singing about all things Norse with the CloudMusic ukes, which you can check out here, after which you will also be able to carve Nordic Gods into their woody flesh.

Hopefully, two things will happen during this trip: you'll enjoy it (and even support it), and also, this:

 
Odin, bringing back the poetic mead for the Gods, spilling some onto backpacking bards in Iceland in the process

Odin, bringing back the poetic mead for the Gods, spilling some onto backpacking bards in Iceland in the process

 

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