Monday, October 5, 2009

Nuuk, Greenland--Sept. 16

This is Greenland's! In June 2009, Greenland took another step towards self-rule after 300 years under Danish authority.

Greenland is the world’s largest island, but only 15% of it is not frozen year-round. The centre of the island is covered with a blanket of ice that is two miles thick! If this mass melted, the world’s oceans would rise by 20 feet.

Nuuk is on the west coast and is Greenland’s capital. It is the largest city at about 16,000 people.

Here we are arriving in the early morning.

We are being led into port by a Danish naval ship, either on purpose or by chance, we weren’t sure!

The tenders are out and circling, ready to do their job. Unfortunately, the tendering operation became a bit of a nightmare. There was only a small dock, and with more than 3000 passengers and crew getting off the ship at 100 people per tender, it proved to be a frustrating operation for all involved.

We decided to hold off on going to shore until the majority of people had disembarked. Here is the pretty town of Nuuk. There are no organized tours, so everyone is just getting off and wandering about the town.

We are anchored quite far off-shore. Here’s the ship with a “berger bit” beside it.

Lots of people already wandering about as we arrive. We eventually climbed to the top of the hill to visit the statue of Hans Egede.

Jim is handing out Canada pins to the kids. The kids are so friendly!

First stop is at the tourism office…

After that, a stop at the Santa Clause Post House, a tourist stop where you can buy Greenlandic items that you supposedly cannot buy elsewhere. Lots of people pop letters in there, but they aren’t going anywhere!

Yikes! This Santa is looking a little jaundiced!

The kids might not totally understand what you are saying, but they totally understand posing for pictures!

Washroom facilities…they weren’t as primitive as they looked. They each had a toilet and sink inside. Some tourists were exclaiming “Oh look! An outhouse!” Not really what we would classify as an outhouse!

And then there are roads that you can’t drive on…

A statue of Jonathan Petersen, a Danish songwriter, who composed the Greenland national anthem and died in 1961.

Isn’t this the prettiest place?

The apartment buildings on the right are from the 1950s and are “an unfortunate attempt at modernization resulting in a series of large, unattractive housing blocks made of poured concrete.” They did sort of spoil the look of the city.

Look at the line-up of people waiting to get back on the tenders. The line snakes all the way around the buildings on the right and you can see people going down the gangplank by the dock.

At the top of the hill stands a statue of Hans Egede, a Lutheran missionary who came from Denmark in 1728. He came hoping to find remnants of the old Norse community but they were long gone. The Inuit people welcomed him and a long-standing relationship began. He built a trading post, Lutheran mission, and opened the doors for a steady integration between the Inuit and European people. Today he overlooks the city.

Here we are at the top of the hill. It was a beautiful sunny day.

Not sure why there are so few crosses in the cemetery, unless they have another way of burying the dead. The mountain provides a lovely backdrop.

Lots of beautiful Inuit statues around the town…

The local bookstore…

This was the movie theatre, as well as what appeared to be the local coffee shop. All the carriages were outside complete with babies still in them. Can you imagine if we did that at home!

Another interesting sculpture…

The school bus dropping kids off. We met a group of girls on their way home. One spoke very good English which she said they learn in school. The interesting part is that all the girls looked very different. The one that spoke English looked more Scandanavian, while some looked more Asian, and some fully Inuit. I wish I had taken their picture!

There were several nice shops selling carvings and beautiful woollen wares…but the guys hawking t-shirts to people waiting in line to get back on the tenders still did a booming business!

Kids zooming around on their bikes…

These vats, presses and tubs were used in the production of oil for lamps, soap-making and lubricating oil. The extraction of the oil involved boiling the blubber of whales, walruses, seals and the livers of sharks. Production continued until 1963 when more readily available vegetable oil made it obsolete.

Local boys, one of them holding a very modern cell phone…

The line up for the tenders continued…

Leaving Nuuk…such a beautiful day. It would have been a very different experience if it had been raining. Standing and waiting for a tender for an hour in the sunshine is not a bad thing. In the rain…

Back at the ship…another great day on shore!

A sea day tomorrow and then onto our next port in Greenland...Nanortalik.

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