Friday, September 1, 2023

The great trip -- Greenland

In this summer of terrible weather, we accomplished our goal of escaping the traditional misery of July and August in the upper South: heat, humidity, air pollution, thunderstorms, power outages.  And it worked, as we took a cruise to Canada, Greenland, Iceland, Scotland, Ireland and back again.  The weather there was great, with the occasional cloudy or drizzly day but mostly sunny and cool.  One day, as we sailed through the scenic fjords, waterfalls and glaciers at the tip of Greenland, I sat on our balcony for several hours, periodically adding more and more clothing until I was wearing every outer garment I  had brought along, plus a blanket.  Heaven!!

one of many glaciers in Prins Christian Sund
This cruise took us mostly to smaller towns (which is pretty much all there is in the countries we visited) so our days ashore didn't include a lot of excitement.  We don't like to spend hours on a bus going on the very expensive shore excursions, and our ambitious hiking days are decades in the past, so our typical routine was to get off the ship, walk around town for a while, find a place to have a beer, and return to the ship.  Usually Ken went back first, leaving me to wander about and take photos at leisure.


The towns in Greenland all have bright and cheery color schemes, the better to show up against snow and clouds, but they are small, isolated and minimal.  None are connected by road to anywhere else.  I was simultaneously exhilarated by the beautiful surroundings and the depressing realization of how limited life must be, especially for the young people.  Yes, the coming of the internet has opened up the world virtually, but physically how many of those kids will ever be able to get anywhere else?  Parts of these villages had the same forlorn vibe as Indian reservations we have driven through in the US -- but maybe we're projecting our emotions onto people who don't feel the same way we do.

a boatful of people from Aappilattoq

As we cruised past a tiny village, population about 100, a little armada of boats came out to say hello.  People loaded up their kids and zipped around the big ship, waving and hollering.  Two boats pulled up together so a couple of children could climb over to join their pals, with all the nonchalance of our kids going from one parked car to another.  (Nobody wore life jackets and I held my breath while they made the transfer.)  Certainly the best entertainment of the day for the locals, and I wondered if they do this every time a cruise ship passes.


I felt twinges of guilt as I wandered about and snapped the boats, fishing equipment and containers, the older and more weatherbeaten the better -- was I being a rude tourist/voyeur?  Yes, there were shiny new boats by the docks, but the beat-up old ones make much better pictures.  Yes, I examined my guilt but then I took more pictures.  Mea culpa.



As you can see from the photos, there is junk lying around, as in any working environment, but the streets are clean, the houses are bright, the little kids are happy, flowers are everywhere, there is little graffiti to be seen,  and the air is probably purer than I've ever breathed at home.  


We've been in Greenland once before, many years ago, and I fell in love with it.  It was such a thrill to go back again, this trip blessed with far better weather than we had the first time.  Perhaps it's within the realm of possibility that I could even go there again....


  1. I loved reading about this trip--getting to see real people and how they live, so different from most tourist destinations.