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Europe Travel

Greenland – Visit to the land of ice


Even now, after so many years of traveling, Greenland is in my eyes still the most exciting place I have ever been to. I have seen so little of it yet when I look back at it, it is a memory I talk so vividly about. I am still trilled with the images that remained in my head and camera from my visit to the Island of Ice.

Sailing through Greenland was a part of our transatlantic cruise starting in Germany and ending in New York City. It was my second contract on a cruise ship but the biggest adventure yet. My first time in Canada and USA, winter in the Caribbean, all the wonderful things ahead. Greenland was an adventure you can just add on the top, but also something you shouldn’t completely count on.

What if the Prince Christian Sound Passage is closed?
What if we have bad weather and cannot sail through?
What if our tender boats cannot safely reach the coast?
What if I won’t even be allowed to go on land?

Many before us have failed.

I haven’t felt the drama at all. I knew that everything will somehow work out for the best.

We entered the waterway Prince Christian Sound Passage on 27 October, around 11 a.m. We had a quick lunch and found out the most wonderful news from our manager- we got an afternoon OFF.

No work! Put your jacket on and straight to the open deck!

Pooldeck was quite empty until the later afternoon when most crew has a lunch break

I put on two of the warmest sweaters, two jackets, a warm cap, mittens and boots and headed to the crew part of the pool deck.

My two jackets both happened to be red so I disguised them well

We spent the whole afternoon out on the open deck, taking photos of the passage. At times, the weather was too cold even for my camera, so I would run inside for 10 min to warm up and then ran back outside.

The view was oh-so incredible!
We had a sunny day all day long, yet you can guess the temperatures when you see the broken pieces of a glacier floating around. Real life Titanic, feels like at least.

Passing the narrow parts of the passage looked like the ship could barely fit through, as though you could touch the sides of the mountains on both port and starboard side.

It only looks like we are stuck. This was the narrowest part of the passage.

The air was so polar fresh and crisp that it burned our rosy cheeks. The snow and ice around us were so white it was blinding.

I was lucky to have brought my telephoto lens, so I was able to take some amazing photos of the villages in between the mountains.. in the middle of literally nowhere.

I am still in awe of people that can live so isolated and quiet.

As a special tradition on board, our nautical officers went out to the glaciers to bring a piece of glacier ice on board. In this way, we were able to enjoy a glass of whisky / vodka / whatever drink you wished for – with a piece of glacier ice.

Ice is coming!!
The glacier blues
The line for the drink on glacier ice was so long we were lucky we even got one

After such an eventful day, it was time we get back to work and prepare for the day ahead. The following day we were in for some tender action.

Whenever we are in a port that is not fit to accept a cruise ship of our size, we use our tender boats (also used as emergency safety boats) to bring our guests to the coast. That’s exactly what we did in Greenland too. 

On our way to Qaqortoq
Our lovely ship in the distance and the tender boats coming and going to it

The port that we were anchoring next to was Qaqortoq, a little colorful village in the south of Greenland. So we, as a Shore Excursion Team, were the ones handing the tender boat operation. Meaning – I spent most of my day sailing there and back on a little yellow boat, telling all the guests to stay seated and arranging their embarkation and disembarkation. Exciting, right?

Wearing a smile, full winter equipment, two jackets and freezing my … off in a tender boat

That also meant I have not touched the ground of Greenland with my feet yet, and by almost 4 p.m. I started getting my worries if I even will.

I contacted my boss per walkie-talkie and told her I am still the only one that hasn’t been on land. Half an hour later I got the good news – I was finally ready to touch that Greenland ground.

I didn’t have more than an hour on land but I was on a mission. In that short time, this is what I got to do…

1. A walk through the village of Qaqortoq

Fish and clothes drying in the winter sun
The idyllic, cozy little dock of Qaqortoq

It is officially called a town, but with a population of around 2000 people, Qaqortoq is more of a village, splattered with houses on the hills around the port. Taking a walk around, you will see a lot of those houses drying the fish on their balconies, which seems to be an actual local delicacy and a way of coping with these harsh living conditions.

2. Visit one of the local supermarkets to try their legendary hot dog

With my two colleagues, testing the local delicacy- hot dogs.

You wouldn’t  believe, but there is more than one supermarket in the town. I heard stories of the shop in the center serving the “must try” hot dogs. We are in a way in Denmark anyways and when in Denmark, you must have a hot dog. I will admit, the dog in the bun tasted just regular, but in the moment when it was the only “local” meal you can try, it was that much more special. The Greenland hot dog.

3. Discovering the (not so) ancient stone art

During the walk, it is hard to miss the stone wall above the dock holding some type of ancient carvings. It is actually a rock sculpture, part of the Stone & Man collection made by a local artist Aka Høegh and not very ancient at all, made in 1993.  She decided to turn her town into an open air gallery and by now Qaqortoq is home to over 40 sculptures and carvings spread around town.
So it is like a little treasure hunt to walk the streets and look for them all.

4. Shopping for souvenirs at a little open market

The locals knew that tourists are coming, so they welcomed us with open hand, open shops and souvenir markets. Most of the souvenirs have actually been handmade, but the necessary magnets were actually “China made”.  No, you won’t hear us complaining, we took what we could get. Cause, seriously, when will be the next time I may ever go here?!?

Looking for Polar Bears

Longer walks in the mountains are not advised without a local guide, due to the danger of polar bears that are at home in these areas. If you don’t believe me, just take a look at the inside of the lovely supermarket, where I got my hot dog. Next to the hot dogs, knitting yarn and chewing gum, you will find an item you should consider taking to your walk on the wild side – a line of brand new rifles.

I have not had a chance to see a bear of any kind, so my Greenland adventure turned out safe and fun altogether. Traveling further north through Greenland to explore the northern cities of Nuuk, Ilulisat and the legendary sail through the narrow, crackling glaciers of Disco Bay until this day still remains my biggest unfulfilled wish yet.
So you could say – I still have something to dream of.




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