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Old Sep 10, 17, 10:56 pm
  #2950  
Pausanias
 
Join Date: Jan 2013
Location: UK
Posts: 1,129
Greenland was extraordinary but not for reasons which might encourage people here to book a trip tomorrow. I went on a Regent cruise ship with nearly 500 passengers, so fairly small in cruise ship terms but not an expedition ship with zodiac landing craft. I would definitely classify the whole Regent product as 'luxury.'

The scenery everywhere was spectacular - high snow-capped mountains, deep fjords, icebergs and so on. Wildlife everywhere we went was deeply disappointing - a brief glimpse of a seal and that was it. Not a single whale. Lots of seabirds, though.

We made three stops in towns on the west coast - the capital, Nuuk, then Paamiut and Qaqortoq. It was the towns that I felt were the most interesting thing about Greenland. You have this sort of image of what life might be like. It isn't. Yes, there are a few cute little houses with brightly painted wood climbing up a hillside. But most people live in vast Soviet-style blocks built on the solid rock. They are built on stilts to provide a horizontal base. And they are shocking, in various stages of dereliction. The people sit around with nothing to do as fishing and whaling has all but dried up. There's a bit of trade in seals. But mostly this is all about survival and living on hand-outs from Denmark. Everyone had a cigarette going, even children, who had lost most of their teeth. Nuuk and, especially, Paamiut were like Romania in the 1970s - I know, I went there. One of the apartments blocks was called Siberia and stood alongside Canada and Alaska. You might rename this place Grimland.

Qaqortoq was more affluent and in every way smarter. Perhaps it was more Danish and less Inuit. They are building an airport. There is a hotel with a steakhouse. There are yachts and pleasure craft. A lovely 100 year-old church. Shops. People seemed to walk with a purpose. They even said hello.

From Qaqortoq we privately hired a small boat just for the two of us and went up a fabulously beautiful fjord to see the ruins of a 14th century church called Hvalsey. It has recently been awarded UNESCO World Heritage Status. The setting was unbelievably beautiful and the weather an unbelievable 65 degrees. We had the place to ourselves.

Our last day in Greenland was a 6-hour transit of Prince Kristian Sound which cuts a corner off the southern tip of the island. It was just one of those perfect days - bright sun, blue skies and the sort of scenery that needs to be applauded, geology at its most dramatic and frenzied. This was probably the best cruise day of my life, even surpassing French Polynesia and the Marovo Lagoon in the Solomon Islands.

Yes, Greenland was amazing but for unexpected reasons.

Last edited by Pausanias; Sep 10, 17 at 11:47 pm
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