We contacted the author, an artist from Duluth Minnesota, to get more perspective on what makes Reykjavík so romantic.
Grapevine: Is there Nordic Culture in Duluth?
Andy Saur: Yes, there is a quite the Nordic community here in Duluth. I would have to say that it is at least more than half the population are descendants from Norway, Sweden and Finland. It was mainly in the early 1900’s or so when the immigrants arrived from Scandinavia, looking for work and starting a new life. My great-grandfather emigrated from Norway, my wife’s great-grandparents emigrated from Finland, so that was the movement at that time. The landscape and climate is fairly similar to what they were used to, so that is why I think they chose Northern Minnesota as one of their destinations. The Nordic heritage is still reflected in today’s society here from everything from festivals, Sons of Norway community groups, Scandinavian influenced Lutheran churches, cuisine and other events in everyday life.
Grapevine: When did you first hear about Iceland?
Andy: I have always been interested in my Nordic heritage, so I first came across Iceland in books I read as a youngster. I was, and still am, fascinated by Viking explorers and Iceland. From the photos and descriptions that I read when I was little, I knew it was a place that I had to see for myself.
Grapevine: Few people in Iceland feel the city or the Leif Eiriksson statue is romantic. Can you explain the attraction?
Andy: I am not sure what the attraction of the Leif Eiriksson statue is, but it must have some mystical qualities. My wife and I designed and created our wedding bands. On our rings, we have an infinity symbol and a Viking ship. It symbolizes our never-ending journey together and our everlastingly love. Maybe that is the connection there, from where we were engaged and the time in Iceland and the Leif Eiriksson statue to the Leif Erickson Park we were married at in Duluth. Leif Erickson was an explorer and adventurer, and my wife and I feel that we have the same heart for exploration.
Grapevine: If Leifur Eiriksson didn’t land in America, would you still like Iceland?
Andy: Yes, if Leifur Eiriksson did not land in North America, I would still love Iceland. In grade school, we were taught that Christopher Columbus was the first European to land in North America. It wasn’t until a few years later that I started reading about the Vikings, Iceland and Leif Erickson, that I discovered the truth. Iceland is such a magical place to my wife and I that we stop in our tracks when we see the word ‘Iceland’ or hear ‘Iceland’ on the news. It is a place that we would love to stay for a longer period of time.
Grapevine: What would Icelanders think of Duluth?
Andy: Icelanders would think of Duluth as a familiar place. Duluth is on the tip of Lake Superior and has a feel of being on the ocean. The lake is so vast, one can not see the other side. Duluth has a harbour, and built on a hillside. The population is about half of Reykjavik, around 80,000 or so. We also experience long, dark winters and much daylight in the summer. The weather changes very quickly here, it just depends which way the wind is blowing! We have local cafes where local artist display their art and musicians play. It is a charming city that isn’t too big, or too little.
Andy Saur maintains regular correspondence with the Grapevine. He last wrote to us to remind us of Leif Eriksson Day, on October 9th, as dedicated by Lyndon Johnson in 1964.