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Greenland PDF Print E-mail
Written by Debra C, Argen   

Greenland - Dramatic IcebergsImagine a place with icebergs larger than 15-storey buildings, sled dogs outnumber people, and ruggedly magnificent natural beauty, and you have visualized Greenland.

 

Greenlandic Sled DogsVisiting Greenland, the world's northernmost region and largest island with 810,810 square miles, was a most memorable, exhilarating, and truly a Luxury Experience. If you seek the thrill of outdoor adventures and discovering natural beauty in a part of the world that is not yet overly traveled, Greenland should definitely be on your list of "must visit" places.

In May 2007, Air Greenland made its United States debut by adding twice-weekly direct flights from Baltimore, Maryland, to Kangerlussuaq, Greenland making air travel from the United States easily accessible. Edward F. Nesta traveled on Air Greenland in August 2007, (the last flight of the season from Baltimore was on August 30, 2007, and will resume in Spring 2008), and arrived in Kangerlussuaq in 4 hours 24 minutes, of which we spent the last hour or so with our faces and cameras pressed to the airplane's windows watching the sensational scenery unfolding and changing before our eyes.

Ice Caps as seen from the planeGreenland's ice cap covers 85% of the landmass, and we were mesmerized as we gazed out the window and had our first glimpse of the breathtaking vista of the ice cap, which gradually melded into a dark grey rocky landscape, then gave way to azure waters, before evolving into silt that resembled elephant's skin or a salt-flour bas-relief map. Usually we start photographing when we land at a destination, however with Greenland, by the time that we had landed in Kangerlussaq, we had taken over a hundred aerial photographs in an attempt to capture its unique magnificence.

According to the sign at the airport, Santa Claus lives in Greenland and his large red sleigh waits at the airport ready for his quick getaway. Since Santa was not using his sleigh when we arrived, we decided to climb into his large red sleigh and see what it must feel like, before boarding a signature red Air Greenland plane with its distinct white snowflake pattern on the tail departing for Sisimut en route to our final destination of Nuuk.

Ed and Debra checking out Santa's Sleigh
Ed and Debra in Santa's Sleigh

Nuuk, located in the southwestern part of Greenland and south of the Polar Circle, founded in 1728 by Missionary Hans Egede, is the capital, has a population of approximately 15,000, and is the oldest and largest town in Greenland.

We stayed at the conveniently located 140 room and suite Hotel Hans Egede, which has two restaurants: their gourmet restaurant Gertrud Rask Spisehus, and their steakhouse, Hereford Beefstouw, as well as a bar with live piano music appropriately named the Sky Line Bar offering panoramic views of the town.

Evening sky in Nuuk, GreenlandDinners at the hotel's gourmet restaurant, Gertrud Rask Spisehus, were an unexpected delight with the imaginative culinary menu of Chef de Cuisine Jeppe Ejvind Nielsen. Located on the top floor of the Hotel Hans Egede, the restaurant provided the perfect location to watch the last long days of summer sunset.

Gertrud Rask Spisehuse - musk ox A few highlights from our dinners included hot smoked salmon rolled in Japanese noodles served with pickled local rhubarb with mussels foam and thyme; local snow crab cake with corn on a fennel salad topped with baby watercress and a pool of thyme oil; and musk ox with potato soaked in local beer and topped with a whipped potato and goat cheese quenelle accompanied with braised chanterelles and beef with a parsley crust. We also had our first experience with Greenlandic Coffee expertly prepared by Lasse Christiansen.

Read about Gertrud Rask Spisehuse in the Restaurants section, and also in Chefs' Recipes where Chef Jeppe Ejvind Nielsen shares a few of his innovation recipes in English and in Danish. Read about the Hotel Hans Egede in the Hotels and Resorts section.

Hotel Hans Egede
Hotel Hans Egede

Aqqusinersuaq 1-5
3900 Nuuk, Greenland
Telephone:      +1-299-32-4222
Email:            
This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it    
www.hhe.gl   

Boat Captain in Nuuk Despite the chilly weather, (8° C, 46° F), we went on a whale watch along the Nuuk Fjord, (Godthåbsfjord) which is the second largest fjord in the world; the largest fjord is on the East Coast of Greenland. Nuuk can be very rainy, and the day of our boat trip was no exception with heavy fog and misting rain, yet we braved the elements for the opportunity to have a glimpse of whales. Fisherman with Catch-of-the-dayAlas, whale watching is not like visiting an aquarium, and despite our earnest vigilance in searching for whales, we did not see a single whale, but we did see a few seals bobbing their heads briefly out of the water to take a closer look at us. In a serendipitous moment, we passed a fisherman's boat just as he was hauling in a very large catch.

Our captain took us past the Island of Hope where Hans Egede arrived in 1721, and remained for eight years, before moving to Nuuk in 1728. The fjord was impressive, and despite the weather and lack of whale sightings, it was an interesting trip.

We took a walking tour with our Guide, Bjørn Bjørnskov of Nuuk Travel A/S through the town and saw the University of Nuuk, which is the only university in Greenland.

Nuuk University
Nuuk University

We also visited a cemetery where we learned a few cultural differences between the Inuit and Danish people. The Inuit people use white wooden crosses to mark their graves, whereas the Danish people use both white wooden crosses and marker stones. According to folklore, the cemeteries always face the sea, so that the fishermen will have a view of the sea and remain in their graves.

FIsh and Meat Market, Nuuk, GreenlandVisiting the local open-air Fish and Meat Market (Kalaaliaraq) was quite an experience, as we watched the men prepare and butcher the fish, reindeer, meat, and blubber for sale, and watching the locals coming to purchase the daily offerings. Although Edward had the opportunity to sample raw blubber, he decided that this was one delicacy that he could pass on.

Of particular interest was The Greenland National Museum and Archives, which provides a historical perspective of over 4,500 years of Greenlandic culture. Exhibitions include clothing and costumes, tools, art, and most importantly four mummies (three women ranging in age from 20-50 years, and a six-month old infant) from around 1470 A.D. found in Qilakitsoq near Uummannaq, by Hans and Jokum Grønvold in 1972. The mummies are especially well preserved and provide visitors with a look at the clothing, and inspire the imagination as to how they might have died.

The museum is open June 1 - September 30, Tuesday - Sunday from 10:00 am - 4:00 pm, and October 1 - May 31, Tuesday - Sunday from 1:00 pm - 4:00 pm. Admission is charged.

The Greenland National Museum and Archives
Hans Egedevej 8
P.O. Box 145
3900 Nuuk, Greenland
Telephone:      +1-299-32-2611
Fax:                 +1-299-32-2622
Email:            
This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it    
www.natmus.gl/en  

Greenland receives all of its fresh food from Denmark via containers on ships, which was the inspiration for the art exhibition, Moving Art - containerini eqqumittsuliat. Royal Arctic Line A/S containers were the art media for six artists, who painted the containers in front of Katuaq, the cultural center, from August 17-19, 2007. The finished "Moving Art" containers will have their "exhibition" traveling on the ships from Greenland to Denmark. We had the opportunity to meet with artists Maria Panínguak' Kjærulff, and Naja Rosing-Asvid, and watch their work develop over the course of our stay in Nuuk. Other artists involved in the project included Butti Pedersen, Camilla Nielsen, Niels Motzfeldt, and Peter "Kujoog" Kristiansen.

Naja Rosing-Asvid      aria Paninguak Kjaeruiff
Naja Rosing-Asvid                           Maria Panínguak' Kjærulff

Santa's Mailbox - Largest Mailbox in the worldVisiting the Public Library provided us with a look at the library, and well as the opportunity to use the Internet to catch up our email. We strolled through town browsing in the shops, and stopped to look at Santa's Post Office and the largest mailbox in the world.

We discovered Nuuk nightlife at the Sky Line Bar where they have live piano music at the Hotel Hans Egede, as well as at Daddy's bar, where we had our first experience watching the somewhat complicated variation of a five-pin carom billiards game called "Shoemaker," played with two white balls, a red ball, and five Daddy's Bar in Nuuk, Greenlandthin wooden pins. A friendly Inuit gentleman tried explaining the game to us in Greenlandic, which was actually quite hilarious since we only know a handful of words, but somehow we understood each other, and we cheered appropriately when his team won.

The next day we flew Air Greenland to Ilulissat, also known as Jakobshavn, located on the west coast and 300 miles (482 kilometers) north of the Polar Circle, and is the third largest town with a population of 5,000, and over 5,000 sled dogs. Ilulissat means icebergs in Greenlandic, and we had our first view of the spectacular icebergs from the window of the airplane. UNESCO named Ilulissat Ice Fjord a world heritage site in 2004, and Kangia in Ilulissat is one of the world's largest glaciers.

Traditional ClothesTaking a tour of the town with our Guide, Finn Siegstad of World of Greenland was an enlightening experience as he infused our walk with history, folklore, and myths. We visited the Ilulissat Museum located in the home of Polar Explorer Knud Rasmussen (1879-1933) where there was an excellent exhibit of Greenlandic life through photographs, paintings, clothing, and tools, and also visited a small replica turf house, and had a unique look into Greenlandic life and culture.

The museum is open March 1 - October 31, everyday from 10:00 am - 5:00 pm, and November 1 - February 28, Monday-Friday from 12:00 pm - 4:00 pm. Admission is charged.

Ilulissat Museum, Nuuk, GreenlandIlulissat Museum
Nuisariannguaq 9
P.O. Box 99
3952 Ilulissat, Greenland
Telephone:      +1-299-94-3643
Email:                         ilumus.gl
www.ilumus.gl  

 

Debra at Happy Hout in Ilulissat, GreenlandWe visited the church with a baptismal font that was a gift from the King of Denmark in 1779, and walked down to the edge of the Ilulissat Fjord where the water lapped the rocky coast of Disko Bay bringing small icebergs to shore. Always prepared, when Finn reached in the water and offered us a large piece of ice to experience, I immediately opened up a bottle of Grand Marnier, poured shots over the ice that he estimated to be around 125,000 years old, and Edward and I took turns experiencing the ultimate "cocktail" at Happy Hour.

Finn Siegstad Tour Guide, Ilulissat, GreenlandFinn told us that the glaciers produce 40 million tons of ice per day, which is enough to supply 15 million people with water for one year. As we were walking away from Disko Bay, Finn pointed out a whale in the distance, which was our first whale sighting in Greenland.  

Jon Jakobsen Sabering the Champagne, Hotel Arctic, Ilulissat, GreenlandThere are two main hotels in Ilulissat, the Hotel Arctic and the Hotel Hvide Falk where guests are rewarded with scenic views of the icebergs and the harbor from the hotels. We had a barbecue dinner at the Restaurant Ulo at the Hotel Arctic, where Managing Director Erik Bjerregaard had prepared a surprise for us on the wooden deck overlooking the icebergs. We began our evening with Jon Jakobsen dramatically opening our bottle of champagne with a saber creating a very memorable evening for us in Ilulissat.

We dined on a buffet of grilled vegetables, pesto potatoes, pesto pasta, sliced tomatoes with Feta cheese, and whale meat, BBQ chicken, filet of beef, lamb, and fish fantasy which was cod and local shrimp cooked in aluminum foil by the two chefs manning the grills set up on the deck.

Hotel Arctic BBQ
Hotel Arctic Barbecue

Seated inside the restaurant at a table dressed with a white tablecloth and white napkins, we watched the iceberg scenery from the two glass walls of windows, as well as the changing evening sky.

After dinner, we sat in front of the attractive open fireplace, the only one in Greenland, featuring handcrafted tiles designed by the artist Lin Utzon, as Jon Jakobsen prepared Greenlandic Coffee for us, and kindly gave us the recipe so that we could prepare them at home to remember our stay in Greenland.

Jon Jakobsen Making Greenlandic CoffeeGreenlandic Coffee

Recipe for 1 person

1 part Whiskey (Irish Whiskey is best)
1 part Kahlua (Coffee liqueur)
1 part Grand Marnier
Approximately 1 dl. (3.38 ounces) Coffee
Approximately 2 tablespoons Whipped Cream

Method: Pour the Whiskey and Kahlua into a large red wine glass and heat over a gas flame or the burner of a Fondue, and then add the coffee. Gently top the coffee with the whipped cream. Pour the Grand Marnier in the bowl of a small ladle and light with a match. The Grand Marnier will flame, which is then poured in a long stream onto the whipped cream, creating the "Northern Lights."

Although the day before had been sunny and bright, when we awoke the next morning, the weather had changed to a very overcast sky with thick fog. The weather in Greenland can be very changeable, and it seemed that whenever we took a boat cruise, the sun was nowhere in sight.

Captain Ed Navigating the Iceberg WatersDressed in multiple layers to brave the weather, we boarded the boat, Katak, to take a closer look at the icebergs. With heavy mist and thick fog, the day was almost surreal as we could barely make out the icebergs until we were almost on top of them. On a sunny day it must be spectacular to see the icebergs at a distance, but somehow, the fog added another element, reminding us of the movie Titanic, and had our hearts racing as our captain, Edward, deftly maneuvered the boat through the icebergs where the water temperatures hovered around 1 - 2° C (34 - 36° F).

Inuit Couple from Ilimanaq SettlementWe stopped at Ilimanaq, and with our Guide Velhelmine Nathanielsen of World of Greenland acting as our interpreter, took a tour of the settlement with a local man showing us the highlights, followed by lunch with him and his wife who had made us a delicious meal of fresh codfish, rice, and mixed vegetables, with a béarnaise sauce.

Bog Blueberries in Ilulissat, GreenlandOn the return trip to Ilulissat, we once again watched for icebergs never ceasing to be amazed as these giant mountains floated by the boat. We returned to our hotel and decided to take a hike to the prehistoric settlement of Sermermiut. We walked along the wooden path, eventually giving way to dirt and rocks that required us to walk carefully and keep our eyes down so that we would not trip, which rewarded us with the opportunity to see the pretty Greenlandic bluebells, and pick and eat wild bog blueberries along the way.

Edward at Ice Fjord Ilulissat, GreenlandVelhelmine pointed out the rocks that marked the settlement before we continued our walk towards the Ilulissat fjord and where we were rewarded with a "wow" moment when we spotted the icebergs. We savored the moment before continuing our climb to the top where there were wall-to-wall icebergs. Read about our iceberg adventures in the Adventures section.

Greenlandic Coffee at Hotel Hvide FalkWe had dinner at Hotel Hvide Falk on our last night in Ilulissat, and our waiter surprised us and prepared Greenlandic Coffee for us when he heard how much we had enjoyed them during our stay.

The next afternoon we flew from Ilulissat to Kangerlussuaq a United States Air Force Base known as Sondrestrom Air Base from 1941 until 1992. Today Kangerlussuaq is the international airport for Greenland, has a population of 500 people who reside at the airport, boasts the only bowling center in Greenland, an indoor swimming pool, the most northern 18-hole internationally approved golf course (think sand instead of green fairways), a musk ox herd of approximately 10,000, and is located 25 kilometers from the edge of the ice cap.

Going off Road in Kangerlussuaq, Geenland  to Ice CapWe made the most of every minute while waiting for our return flight to Baltimore, by going on a Musk Ox Safari with Kangerlussuaq Tourism A/S. Our Guide, Jørgen Larsen, took us on a rollicking off-road adventure in search of the elusive musk ox before we finally saw males with their distinct brown shaggy fur, fighting for the attention of a female, and what a sight it was, as we watched these powerful animals that are related to the goat family and can weigh up to 880 pounds (400 kilos), backing up and then charging full-speed at each other butting heads. The fighting continued for about 10 minutes before the defeated musk ox went off on his way, leaving the victor to bask in the attention of the female. After our initial sighting, we later saw other small herds of musk ox calmly grazing in the distance.  

Debra at Ice Cap in Kangerlussuaq, GreenlandWhat we really wanted to see in Greenland though was the ice cap, and Jørgen was not about to disappoint us, and he drove us to see the icecap for a quick look before we had run out of time. We boarded the plane en route for Baltimore and reflected on our time in Greenland, a truly remarkable experience filled with vivid memories that we are not soon to forget. If you enjoy nature and are looking for a unique experience, make Greenland your next destination; you will not be disappointed.

Dramatic Icebergs of GreenlandImportant information for Greenland:

Greenland is part of the Danish community, and as such the currency is the Danish Kroner (DKK). As of August 2007, the exchange rate was 1 US Dollar (USD) to 5.39 Danish Kroner (DKK), and 1 Euro (EUR) to 7.44 Danish Kroner (DKK).  Danish Kroner is available in 1, 2, 5, 10 and 20 coins. Banknotes are available in denominations of 50, 100, 200, 500, and 1,000 Kroner.

The electric current in Greenland is 220 volts, and uses European 2-pin plugs, so it is advisable to bring your own adapter. Time in Greenland is Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) - 3 hours, during Daylight Savings Time is GMT - 2 hours, and is +2 hours EST in the United States.

Greenlandic FlagProper footwear and clothing is most important for an enjoyable experience in Greenland. Be sure to bring sunglasses, sturdy molded bottom walking shoes or boots, as well as clothing that you can layer. I visited Greenland in August, and I brought a wool hat, ski gloves, a fleece jacket, leather coat, scarf, and multiple layers of clothing, all of which I used throughout the trip, especially on the boat trips.

The official language of Greenland is Kalaallisut (Greenlandic) an Eskimo-Aleut language, which is a polysynthetic, descriptive language, with four dialects: South Greenlandic, East Greenlandic (Tunu), Thule, and West Greenlandic (Kitaa) the official language. Although many people also speak Danish and English, to help you learn a bit of Greenlandic, I have included some basic vocabulary.

Pronunciation Guide

q is pronounced as kr
ll is pronounced as sl
rl is pronounced as sl

English

Greenlandic

 

 

Airplane

Timmisartoq

Boat

Umiaq

Blubber

Orsoq

Cheers

Kasuutta

Church

Oqaluffik

Dog

Qimmeq

Goodbye

Baaj, Takuss

Good Morning

Kumoorn

Helicopter

Helikopterit, Qulimiguulik

Hello

Aluu

Help

Ikiunnga

House (Houses)

Illu (Illut)

Icebergs

Ilulissat

Kayak (Kayaks)

Qajaq, (Qaannaq)

Knife (Knives)

Savik (Saviit)

Man (Men)

Inuk (Inuit)

Musk Ox

Umimmak

Post Office

Allakkerivik

Reindeer (Reindeers)

Tuttu (Tuttut)

Seal

Puisi

Sled

Qamutit

Snowflake

Qunik

Tent

Tupeq

Thank you

Qujanaq

Thank you very much

Qujanarsuaq

That is good

Ajunngilaq

Ticket

Billettit

Today

Ullumi

Toilet

Anartarfik

Tomorrow

Aqagu

Welcome!

Tikilluarit!

What is your name?

Qanoq ategarpit?

Yes (No)

Aap (Naagga, Naamik)

Sunday

Sapaat

Monday

Ataasinngorneq

Tuesday

Marlunngorneq

Wednesday

Pingasunngorneq

Thursday

Sisamanngorneq

Friday

Tallimanngorneq

Saturday

Arfininngorneq

Please read other articles on Greenland in the Hotels and Resorts, Restaurants, Chefs' Recipes, and Adventures sections.

For information on Greenland, please visit the websites: Greenland Tourism and Business Council, www.Greenland.com, Nuuk Tourism, www.Nuuk-Tourism.gl, Visit Ilulissat, www.VisitIlulissat.com, and Kangerlussuaq Tourism, www.Kangtour.gl.

For information on Air Greenland, please visit the website: Air Greenland, www.AirGreenland.gl.  

© September 2007. Luxury Experience. www.LuxuryExperience.com All rights reserved.

 
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