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The signage at the head of the boardwalk leading to the steaming mud-crater of Gunnuhver explained that the area is named for the ghost of Guðrun Önundardóttir. Nicknamed Gunna, she was a dirt poor crofter deeply in debt to her landlord. When Gunna failed to pay her rent, he took away her only property — a cooking pot. Furious, Gunna cursed the landlord, and promptly dropped dead. On the way to the cemetery, the men carrying her coffin noticed that it became suspiciously lighter. As they were digging her grave, they heard a voice saying, “No need to dig deep; don’t plan to lie long.” It was the vengeful ghost of Gunna speaking. The next night, the landlord’s body was found on the heath, all bruised and broken — Gunna had exacted her revenge. Soon, the whole peninsula was being haunted by her ghost. The locals sought help from the pastor at Vogsósar, who was a known sorcerer. He gave them a ball of yarn and told them to lay it down. Gunna would pick up the end of the yarn and follow the rolling ball to a place from which she could no longer do harm. Thus, Gunna fell into a big mud spring — today known as Gunnuhver.
Europe is generally agreed to be the birthplace of western culture, including such legendary innovations as the democratic nation-state, football and tomato sauce.The word Europe comes from the Greek goddess Europa, who was kidnapped by Zeus and plunked down on the island of Crete. Europa gradually changed from referring to mainland Greece until it extended finally to include Norway and Russia.Don't be confused that Europe is called a continent without looking like an island, the way the other continents do. It's okay. The Ural mountains have steadily been there to divide Europe from Asia for the last 250 million years. Russia technically inhabits "Eurasia".Europe is presently uniting into one political and economic zone with a common currency called the Euro. The European Union originated in 1993 and is now composed of 27 member states. Its headquarters is in Brussels, Belgium.Do not confuse the EU with the Council of Europe, which has 47 member states and dates to 1949. These two bodies share the same flag, national anthem, and mission of integrating Europe. The headquarters of the Council are located in Strasbourg, France, and it is most famous for its European Court of Human Rights. In spite of these two bodies, there is still no single Constitution or set of laws applying to all the countries of Europe. Debate rages over the role of the EU in regards to national sovereignty. As of January 2009, the Lisbon Treaty is the closest thing to a European Constitution, yet it has not been approved by all the EU states. Text by Steve Smith.