Sunday, December 10, 2017

Why you should put Nuuk, Greenland on your travel bucket list

Despite weather that is often foggy and gloomy, Greenland can also be stunning in its simple Arctic beauty. As a visitor, expect to have experiences you'll find nowhere else in the world.
Icebergs are common year-round in Greenland's fjords.
Our first stop exploring the world’s largest island was at Nuuk, capital and largest city of this rugged land. Nuuk, a name given to the town in 1979, means “cape,” which reflects the its position at the end of the Nuup Kangertua fjord, At nearly 100 miles, this is the longest fjord in Greenland.  Adding to the impressive setting is Saddle Mountain which forms an 4,000 foot high backdrop for the town’s buildings.
Traditional wooden homes lie in the shadow of new, modern buildings.
Arriving there in July, we were surprised by how green and colorful the landscape was. Yellow, purple, and white flowers bloomed street side and in open fields. And the houses you see in photos of Greenland really are picturesque:.Most are painted red, blue, or green—bright enough to counter the dreariness of winter, we were told.

Tendering from our cruise ship, we docked at the historic colonial harbor with its quaint wooden buildings. Modern high rise buildings guarded multi-story coastal houses, and we walked by the  newly renovated market where local fishermen sell their daily catch.

Beautiful scenery includes hanging clouds over
Saddle Mountain in Greenland.
From that dock we boarded a small boat and cruised north through Davis Strait and into the beautiful Nuup Kangertua fjord. Hanging clouds caressed towering mountains, while sparkling white icebergs cast deep reflections in the ocean water. Shifting with the waves, the icebergs created blue-streaked whimsical sculptures floating along this unpopulated section of the fjord. Multiple streams of icy water flowed down the mountains into the fjord in a majestic display of wild nature.
Summer waterfalls flow from melting winter snow and ice.
And then there were whales. Once the boat captain spotted a particular humpback, he followed it around the fjord, giving us multiple opportunities for spectacular photos as it breached again and again. Known for a variety of wildlife including seals, reindeer, arctic foxes and hares, and ravens, Greenland attracts visitors looking for adventure on land and water. Whether you travel by boat, car, or on foot, you’ll see some of the most breathtaking scenery in the world.

Whales are an important part of Greenland's economy and culture.
After that excursion ended, Larry and I walked around town on our own, stopping to visit the famous red church and then walking up a hill to see the statue of Hans Egede, a missionary called the Apostle of Greenland.
Just imagine snow up to the windows
of Pauline's house!
Later in the day we enjoyed a visit with a local lady named Pauline. This 70-year-old former school teacher welcomed us into her bright blue house and offered our group a large spread of delicious homemade pastries, cake, biscuits, cookies, and other desserts along with coffee and tea.

Although her home was at the top of a hill, Pauline said snow gets as high as the windows in winter. But she embraced the darkness by appreciating light reflecting on snow, stars shining in the sky, and an outstanding view of the glistening ocean from her window. You can’t get more positive than that!

We enjoyed an assortment of delicious pastries that Pauline prepared.
We also enjoyed her stories about living in Greenland.
The world’s northernmost capital, Nuuk is the center for Greenland’s fishing industry and also provides good employment opportunities because it is the cultural, educational, historical, and economic center for Greenland. Yet the area is still remote, and travel to other parts of Greenland requires a very expensive trip by boat or airplane. So people don’t travel far from home but instead have adapted to the remoteness of their surroundings.
Settled by Danes, Greenland is recognized as a Danish sovereignty, yet the citizens still depend on annual subsidies from Denmark. As you can imagine, living in Greenland is very expensive, and conditions are challenging. About a quarter of Greenland’s indigenous population live in Nuuk, so perhaps that’s why most people have learned to accept hardships as their chosen way of life.

There’s a lot to admire about the hardy folks who live among the mountains and fjords of this dramatic land. Not the least of which is their appreciation for nature’s majesty.
Photos by Larry and Beverly Burmeier






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