Nelson's Scandinavia
Chicago, IL



Settled by the Vikings in the ninth century AD, Iceland is an island of nearly the same size as Kentucky. Approximately 11% of Iceland is covered by glaciers and the coastline is dotted with more than one hundred fjords and green, fertile valleys extend from many of them. Iceland also has more than 10,000 waterfalls and countless hot springs. Although Iceland has a population of 300,000 more than half live in the greater Reykjavik area, much of the country is technically uninhabitable, with moss covered rocks of ancient lava flows and tall treeless mountains. With Geothermal energy heating and many rivers being harnessed to produce hydroelectric power, Iceland is basically pollution free and energy independent. The native language spoken is Icelandic, also called Old Norse because it is from the same family as Swedish, Danish and Norwegian. Like most other Scandinavians, most Icelanders also speak fluent English, making it a perfect destination for you to visit this summer.

The Baltics

The first recorded use of the word Baltic was by 11th century German chronicler Adamus Bremen, who, writing in Latin, referred to Mare Balticum, the Baltic Sea. One version is that he got the term from the Danish word for belt, bælte—as in the belt-like shape of the sea itself.
The countries of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, bordering on the eastern coast of the Baltic Sea, was formed in 1918, they remained independent republics until their involuntary incorporation in 1940 into the USSR. They regained their independence in Sept. 1991.

Estonians have been living in this tiny portion of the Baltic lands since approximately 2,500 B.C., making them the longest settled of the European peoples. Due to Estonia’s strategic location as a link between East and West, it has been highly coveted through the ages by rapacious kings and conquerors.

Latvia is one of Europe's great "get-away-from-it-all" discoveries. In whichever direction you strike out from Riga, the capital, you will rapidly discover new facets of the country. Head north east and within an hour you're at the medieval town of Sigulda, a base for exploring the Gauja National Park, with a castle, hotels, restaurants and a host of sporting activities.

Traditional Lithuanian folk architecture constitutes a unique part of north-eastern European folk architecture. Not only did it influence architecture in other territories populated by Lithuanians such as Lithuania Minor, West Belarus and north-eastern Poland, but it also shares many common features with Latvian, Western Belorussian and Polish (Mazovian) folk architecture.