In an effort to stay busy over the weekend so that I could adjust to the 9 hour time difference from California, a group of fellow astronomers and I headed out of Copenhagen to Roskilde, home of a large church, famous music festival (that is scheduled for this weekend), and the Viking Sailboat Museum. The result? Within 25 hours of arriving in Denmark I found myself on a modern Viking ship. The plans of the sailboat were taken from wreckage found in the Danish fjord, the ropes made from various animal parts (the large rope is made from seal skin), and the sail handwoven from sheep wool. We had to row the sailboat out into open water from the harbor using long thin oars that we failed to row in unison. The wind was strong and a couple times I was sure that the boat would tip over; the only thing that seemed to be keeping us upright was the layer of rocks at the bottom of the boat to lower the center of mass.
I didn’t realize you could have a seafaring people that were not proficient swimmers, but apparently the Vikings used round rocks in the bottom of their boats so that, if the boat flipped over, the rocks could roll out and they could use their boat as a flotation device.
I was pretty hopeless at staying in sync with the lead rower, although this was not entirely my fault: he appeared to being rowing at random, and when he wasn’t, the tweenage girl in front of me couldn’t keep up. My only real contribution was attempting to raise the sail. After 30 seconds I had the sail half raised before our guide got impatient and took over. I was very proud of myself, if only because I didn’t hit my head on anything (just ask my mother what happened last time she took me sailing).
The rest of Roskilde was a bit less exciting, but at least the $10 cappuccino came with a little square of dark chocolate. The chocoholic in me was also pleased to see that a hot chocolate also comes with a piece of dark chocolate, in case you need some chocolate with your chocolate (also known as an Anna trap).