Reykjavik, Iceland to Ilulissat, Greenland.

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August 12th 2012
Published: August 14th 2012
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We spend the morning walking around central Reykjavik in the rain. It is really just a big village; maybe 200,000 people live in the metropolitan area but the inner city/down town area is tiny and very walk able. More on Iceland later when we return after 3 days in Ilulissat.

We have a 12.45 flight to Greenland, which departs from the domestic (little) airport, which is literally on the edge of the CBD. Maybe a five minute bus trip? Possibly the most disorganized airport in the world! Arriving in Ilulissat mid-afternoon and the clouds clear for the first time since Oslo over a week ago. The plane is flying over the Ilulissat ice fjord – 100km of icebergs discharged from a huge glacier, that get trapped at the mouth of the fjord for years because it is shallow and they can’t get past. It is so staggeringly beautiful and is easily the best hotel room view on the planet.

We did a tour of the town; it’s the third largest town in Greenland with a population of 5,500. 15% Danes, 85% Greenlanders. Greenland is a modern country, but the harsh landscape it is in forces locals to follow traditional hunting practices. Westerners might be mortified that Greenlanders eat seal and whale, but what is the option if steak is $100 a kilo? Or if steak is non-existent?

We saw the fishing co-op where catches are shared and traded. We saw the teams of Greenlandic dogs that go out over the ice hunting seals in the winter. And tonight there will be local delicacies on the menu…..halibut whale, musk ox and maybe reindeer. The whale was not caught just so that we could eat it; it was caught so that the person catching it could afford to feed his kids (either with the whale or with something it was traded for).

After dinner we were shuttled to the harbour to jump on a couple of cruising boats for a two hour cruise amongst the icebergs. It doesn’t matter how many times you have seen them it is impossible to stop watching (until the sea sickness takes hold). Some of them are little bergy bits that you could pick up in your hand; others are hundreds of metres in length, with complex shapes on top, tens of metres high. They are stuck at the shallow end of the fjord and the big ones take years to pass the bank. The smaller ones are moving, so every day the scenery is changing. Some days the bay is full and boats can’t move in and out; other days the bay is relatively clear.

We returned to the hotel at 11.30. It is still light. By about 1.30am the streetlights have come on but it is by no means dark, and the sunrise starts at about 4am, still it is not really dark.

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