National Geographic Explorer arrived at L'Anse aux Meadows on a mystical, foggy morning. As we headed ashore on our Zodiac, the fog started lifting and slowly revealed the island’s green coastline. This morning, we visited the UNESCO World Heritage Site of L'Anse aux Meadows National Historic Site. Remains of wood-framed, peat turf buildings, similar to those found in Norse Greenland and Iceland, were excavated here.

At the tip of the Great Northern Peninsula of the island of Newfoundland, the remains of an 11th-century Viking settlement are evidence of the first European presence in North America. The buildings include three dwellings, one forge and four workshops, on a narrow terrace overlooking a peat bog and small brook near the shore of Epaves Bay in the Strait of Belle Isle. We learned all about the site from the great Parks Canada guides during a visit to the archaeological site and by immersing ourselves in time with Norseman at the reconstruction site. We talked to the navigator, held their shields, swords, and arrows, and we even got to visit the blacksmith forge. It was a magnificent beginning to a beautiful day.

To gain a deeper insight into Norse culture, we visited Norstead, a reconstruction of a trade post and Norse settlement that is similar to what was found in Iceland. At this nonprofit site, we took part in history and learned all about the Viking’s voyages around the North Atlantic. All Vikings were Norsemen, but not all Norsemen were Vikings. At this site, visitors can learn about sea voyages, clothes, knitting, and everyday chores. They can also play Viking games and trade goods. Some of us went to a great seafood tasting at a local restaurant while another group went to a Viking feast.

After lunch, we visited Dr. Grenfell’s house and the museum focused on the doctor’s medical mission in Labrador and Newfoundland.

Today was a fun and enlightening day spent with the unique, caring, and lovely local people of Newfoundland. People like Bonnie, Wayne, Jamie, Mark, Stephany, and many others brought these great sites to life and created unique experiences for us! A great thank you to all.