Greenland has been at the top of my bucket list for as long as I can remember. Though I want to visit everywhere, places that are wild and remote intrigue me on another level. If these remote places are freezing cold and filled with ice and snow? Well that’s even better.
Greenland is considered by many to be one of the worlds final frontiers for travellers. Infrequent and expensive flights, minimal infrastructure and few tourist companies mean that for now, much of Greenland remains untouched, unexplored and wild. However, for better or for worse, this is quickly changing. If you want to experience authentic inuit culture, untouched arctic wonders and avoid crowds; go to Greenland NOW. I’d bet my left kidney that in the next few years Greenland will become much more of a tourist hotspot and many of the things that make it so appealing will fade away.
I had decided that the town of Ilulissat (Ill-oohl-iss-at) with its ice fjords and icebergs held the most appeal to me, but it seemed that the easiest way to get there would involve first flying from Reykjavik to Nuuk (Noohk); the capital of Greenland and the most northerly capital city on the planet. This flight with Air Iceland is a short three hours and was one of the more pleasant flights I’d ever been on. However it did set me back around 340€ ($525 AUD) which is a significant sum of money for such a short flight.
I had no plans for my time in Nuuk, other than to walk around and see what I could stumble across. People often think of Greenland and Iceland as being similar countries but they couldn’t be more different. Once stepping off of the plane this became glaringly apparent. In Iceland you’d be hard pressed to find someone who did not speak English; in Greenland I found it almost impossible to find a local who spoke even broken English. In Nuuk, most of the locals speak fluent Danish, but in the smaller cities and towns people tend to speak fluent Greenlandic and a small amount of Danish.
Despite the fact that Nuuk is the capital city of Greenland and the largest city in the country, it only has a population of approximately 17,000 people! It is a tiny city and as a result, it is super walkable. After dropping my backpack at the Nuuk Seamens Home (and having a totally inappropriate giggle at the name) I had my camera in one hand and a smile on my face, ready and raring to go!
This red building is Nuuk Cathedral, a Lutheran church. It was built in 1849 and is one of few churches in Greenland. The doors to these churches are usually locked and only opened for church services. As a result, I was unable to see inside, but even from the outside this church is beautiful, and unlike any other church I’d ever seen.
Looking out to sea just a stones throw from the church is the statue of Hans Egede. Hans Egede was a Dano-Norwegian missionary who after launching missionary efforts in Greenland, became known as the Apostle of Greenland. He founded the capital of Nuuk and as such, a statue of him overlooking the capital seems pretty fitting.
The statue itself isn’t overly impressive, but the views from of Nuuk from the bottom of Hans Egede are absolutely astonishingly beautiful.
I spent the rest of my afternoon in Nuuk admiring the colourful houses, pondering the street art and wandering through the numerous ‘Bloks’ – huge buildings housing the majority of Nuuk’s inhabitants.
This little harbour was tucked just behind my hotel and was a gorgeous place to sit and watch for a while. It is a working harbour, and at the end of the day as the sun began to set, lots of fishing boats were arriving back in and unloading their haul. The sights, smells and sounds were lovely and when I think back on my time in Nuuk, that is what I will remember.
T H E L O W D O W N
Getting to Nuuk: Air Iceland flights between Reykjavik and Nuuk run twice per week in the summer season; expect to pay between 300€ and 400€
Sleeping: The Nuuk Seameans Home is clean, comfortable and serves great food; expect to pay $250 per night
Camera: Olympus OM-D E-M1 with 12-40mm lens
Language: If you can speak any Danish it will come in handy, otherwise expect to have most people not understand you
Remember: Greenland is an expensive place to get to and stay in, but if you have the money, it is worth parting with to visit such an amazing country