Images by Phil... and June
North of the Arctic Circle
by June's Views on August 3rd, 2013

My travel buddy, Carolyn, and I flew into Greenland from Iceland.  From our small plane, in amazement we watched this unique landscape unfold.  A world of ice was below, accented with large and small openings revealing the bluest of blue water. 

We came in July, to 24 hours of day light; a very strange condition to me indeed. Our hotel, the Arctic, is perfectly placed on the water with views of icebergs: small, large, larger and huge!

We stayed in Ilulissat (I was told Ilulissat means “icebergs” in Greenlandic), with a population of 4,500 making it the third largest town in Greenland.   After getting settled at the hotel we took the hotel bus to town to see the sights.  No sidewalks, traffic lights or street signs.  Pedestrians, beware!  
A wild flower, white and cotton-like, was everywhere and looked like tiny blobs of snow on green stems.  There is a hospital with a fantastic view.  We saw an old sod house, moved from its original location and now located on museum property.  I thought about what life on Greenland must have been like before modernization took hold.  I think I’m too spoiled to survive such a life.

The sight of the small wooden Zion church, established in 1779, with the icebergs in the background made a really striking photo.
At a small restaurant we enjoyed one of the best meals of salmon I’ve ever tasted.  Of course we visited every gift shop we could identify.  Examples of Inuit culture and imports from Denmark were plentiful. 

Sled (they say “sledge”) dogs are a big part of Greenland’s culture.  Many tourists want to visit with and pet the dogs, which are all over town.  However, these dogs are working dogs, and not social at all.  We were advised to stay clear of them.  The Arctic Hotel had several pups for us to pet and take pictures of, and we took advantage of the privilege.  

At 10:00 that night we began a midnight cruise to see some huge icebergs up close.  Perfect decision!  I put on several layers of warm clothes and carried a windbreaker suit from my biker days just in case. 

The weather was perfect and the scenery was spectacular.  These icebergs had broken off of the Ilulissat Glacier, a UNESCO World Heritage site, and floated into the fjord.    If you have any interest in glaciers, this is a good one to read about.   The low sun illuminates the icebergs and reflects beautiful colors and shadows.  

Back at our hotel, I took a walk just because I thought it was such fun to be taking pictures after 1:00 AM with the sun still shining! 
The following day Carolyn and I visited with an Inuit couple,  Jonas and Mete, in their home.
      We heard about their very interesting lives in this beautiful yet harsh environment. 
        How do they endure Greenland winters?  They explained that they enjoy the winters and have no seasonal preference.    I really doubt they could tolerate our summers in Austin, Texas!   Their stories of dog sledding and whale hunting were exciting to hear.  
        Mete served us three homemade desserts – I felt obligated (ha) to try all three, and can attest she is a great cook.  I’m so grateful to them for inviting us into their comfortable home, and sharing some of their time with us.    

Our last day in Greenland we went on a larger boat to visit the Eqi, the so called “calving glacier”. 
The trip to the glacier took around 5 hours, and the ride was splendid. 

       We motored past beautiful ice works of art by the Master Sculptor.   To reach this glacier our capable boat captain navigated through a remarkable ice field. 

The Eqi calves many times an hour, but deposits much smaller chunks of ice into the water than the Illusiat Glacier; therefore we could get within a half-mile of the giant.  We watched for 45 minutes or so, with everyone trying to have their cameras poised at just the right split second to record the calving.

Our boat continued to the Glacier Lodge Eqi.  About half of our fellow-passengers got off to stay overnight (they have a fantastic view of the glacier), and we picked up about the same amount of folks returning to Illusliat from their camping experience.

The trip back to IIlusliat was not nearly as exciting and fun as the 5 hours going to the glacier.  Clouds overcame the sun and there was a bit of rain.  It was five long hours, punctuated with a few nice photos and several cups of steaming coffee. 

I had read about the mosquito situation in Greenland and went well prepared:  a net for my face and neck and high-powered spray and lotion.  Although there certainly are a lot of them and they were a nuisance (they are no problem out on the water), I didn't receive a single bite.  I never felt compelled to put the net on, but I did use the cream on my face and neck.  Our guides said the mozzies are pretty much done in by the middle of June. 

After purchasing the prerequisite souvenir (a pretty green box decorated with butterflies, from Denmark), it was time to go.   Everyone we met was so nice to us and the scenery left me speechless.   I loved Greenland and heartily recommend a visit to all.  

                                                               See the rest of my Greenland photos

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