"Guarded by the goddess": now you can swim on an authentic Scandinavian boat on the Neman

"Guarded by the goddess": now you can swim on an authentic Scandinavian boat on the Neman

Now a new boat goes on the Neman – it is all entirely as in the stories about the Vikings and ancient times.

And this is not exclusively “an exhibit for tourist photos”: guests of the city and the Grodno residents themselves are able to sail along the Neman River on the most real Scandinavian boat. About a thousand years ago, severe Vikings on similar vessels sailed from the Scandinavian Peninsula to the local shores to trade with local residents. After 10 centuries already in modern Grodno, Andrei Blazhevich, a reconstructor from Grodno, is going to organize small excursions around the Nemunas water area near the old town and add a highlight to the main river of the region.

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The doctor who is a bit viking in soul

Andrew is a radiologist. Historical reconstruction for him is not just a hobby, but rather another vocation. To the predictable question, “How do you manage to combine the profession of a doctor and Scandinavian motives?”, he answered very succinctly: “Whoever wants, he is looking for an opportunity. The rest find the reasons for not doing this.”

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The rook, as if it sailed straight to us from the Early Middle Ages, is called “Inggert”, which means “guarded by the goddess”. The choice of the ship’s name, by the way, was incredibly important for the Normans: it was thought that the ship, like a man, had a soul, and the correct name would help mariners to choose from all the troubles with honor.

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It took two years for Andrey to build the rook, and already last summer it passed the first tests with Neman waters. Then the team went on the boat with the help of oars, but now the engine from the motorboat is mounted on the drakkar - the ship will simply stand on a shallow river without it. One of the like-minded reenactors, Nikita, explains this by the fact that recently the Neman has become very shallow:

- We went for a long time on the oars to realize that while this is not worth doing. Now the water level is low, sometimes you can even hook the bottom with a paddle. Yes, and physically it's pretty hard. There were several enthusiasts who tried to wave the oar for a few minutes, and then, exhausted, wondered why the rook sailed just a few meters.

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From the XV century to the era of Odin

Andrei has been engaged in military historical reconstruction for more than eight years. At first he gave preference to the XIII – XIV centuries, but then, having gained experience, he wanted to plunge into the unknown and became interested in the X – XI centuries, specifically the Viking Age. At first he recreated the life of that time, and then he swung at the bold project: to recreate a medieval Scandinavian rook.

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-I viewed the boat as a historical object with which you can take part in various thematic festivals and military historical reconstructions, Andrei says in detail. Subsequently, another option arose: to use the boat as a historical and tourist project, which not only attracts visitors to our city, but also in a certain sense popularizes the history of the Grodno region. Much is known about Grodno since the time of Prince Vitovt, the reign of Stefan Batory, or the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth Sejms, and what happened on our lands during the Early Middle Ages - few people know about it. I think that it is very important to open this mysterious and incredibly interesting page of our region for tourists and Grodno residents themselves.

Registration number on the Scandinavian boat and tourists from Lithuania

The implementation of this project was not easy: it was necessary to solve a lot of legal issues, and initially no one really believed in the success of the venture. Until the moment when they saw the rook with their own eyes. We are not sure that the inventory numbers were on the Viking boats, but on Andrei's Drakkar everything is official - the boat has a registration mark, and the city authorities have given the green light for boat trips.

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- My first guests were guys from Lithuania, who decided to visit and admire Grodno. For me, such a debut turned out to be a little exciting and even unexpected, since I could not even think that foreign tourists would sail with us for the first time. I didn’t want to lose face and somehow blunder, but everything went great, they were delighted!, shares Andrey his emotions.

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The boat departs from the pier of small vessels, which is located near the tavern "At the pier". True, such excursions are possible only in the summer, in the winter the Drakkar will be stored in a dry dock.

- Unfortunately, this is a seasonal attraction, it is associated with the warm season, it can catch the beginning of autumn. But I don’t intend to dwell on this, and in a year the boat will be moored at

the same place, ready to sail. Perhaps there will be some kind of new excursion or some interesting moments, because in search of a new one I communicate with local historians, historians and archaeologists in order to learn more. If next year it will not be so dry and the water level will be higher, then you can take a chance and make a tourist cruise to Prival.

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The cost of such a “cruise” for an adult is 8 rubles, a children's ticket costs 5 rubles, while those who are not yet seven years old will get on the boat for free. Tour time about 20-25 minutes.