Lazy days at sea, an interesting day in Nuuk

Saturday, June 27: After three days at sea, due to the revised itinerary, we finally arrived in Nuuk, Greenland today. This capital city of Greenland is on the southwest coast of the largest island in the world. We had nice weather for our passage past southern Greenland on Thursday and did see quite a few large icebergs, although not nearly as many as Antarctica. Yesterday, we saw more spectacular scenery, with rugged mountains, but did enter a big fog bank last evening for several hours (thank you, inventors of RADAR). The seas were like glass as we transited the Labrador Sea between Greenland and northern Canada.

A few shore excursions were offered for Nuuk and we signed up for a fjord tour with possible whale encounters. At least there wasn’t whole-scale bedlam to turn these tour requests in and get tickets, and we also received confirmation of our Super 4X4 tour in Iceland.

Our fjord tour was at 10:45 am, so we were grabbing some morning z’s when they started lowering the tenders, which was very noisy. Last night, because of the itinerary changes, they had free drinks for two hours and some of the sedate types on board got drunker than a surfeit of skunks. This is an inside joke: our great cruise director, Ray, usually asks about the names for groups of animals during team trivia, so I looked that one up for skunks. There are a bunch of University of Wisconsin alumni on board, so I’m sure before this is all said and done we will have to regurgitate the name of a rowdy group of those obstinate badgers (it’s a Cete, by the way).

After I showered and dressed this morning, I opened the curtains and beheld a beautiful sunlit vista of Nuuk, with jagged snow-covered peaks. I went out on the veranda — it was downright warm — and got a few photos. Our tour boat came right up to the ship (they had tender operations today) and off we went down the fjord. There were only 12 of us on our Taga boat, which was very comfortable and modern and is the boat of choice in this part of the world. We settled into comfy chairs inside, while our Danish Captain took us north in the fjord. His assistant was a lovely young lady from Nuuk, who went to secondary school in Denmark and also on an exchange program to New Zealand. They both spoke almost perfect English.

The scenery was very dramatic as we traveled north of Nuuk. We did not spot any whales, but we did have a lot of interesting experiences. The rock formations at the base of Greenland are among the oldest on Earth, around 3.8 billion years in age, and we saw them up close. There is little or no seismic activity and, of course, Greenland is covered by a massive ice sheet in the interior. Apparently, many of the glaciers are retreating, but since this cycle has happened time and time again over the course of the geologic history of the Earth, I am extremely dubious that the cause is anything other than normal climate variations, as we are coming out of the last major ice age (our Captain today would likely agree with that and in the museum later today we saw confirmation that there were warming periods of greater magnitude in the past). Editorial warning: I hate that science has been distorted into a political tool to control the masses because of “AGW”, but (I admit, cynically) one thing that I know after the dreadful news cycle this week is that the political and tyrannical overlords anywhere will use anything to destroy individual freedom and liberty, given a chance. It is our travel blog and freedom of speech is still not banned (yet), so I will occasionally post my opinion. We’ll see what happens; the internet is hard to shut down in its entirety, including trivial, unnoticed blogs like our personal travel blog.

Ok, bloviating over: Other things that were done today on our tour included a tasting of fresh sea urchins that our hostess caught. Steve ate one and loved it (I passed, with my love/hate relationship that continues to be problematic with seafood). We also got close to a glacial waterfall and two exquisite icebergs. I did try a sample of iceberg ice, which dates back about 50,000 years. Our hostess also told us that they had a very difficult winter and usually there is not as much snow on the mountains this time of year than what we observed today. Our captain took us to the tender dock (rather than back to the ship) and we walked a short distance in the old town. Steve went up on a hill with a statue commemorating someone-or-other (actually Danish missionary Hans Egede) in the founding of Nuuk, which is Godthab, in Danish. The Inuit were excluded from governing for a long time and suffered poverty and horrendous diseases. The movement incorporating their culture began in earnest after WWII and they now share responsibility for local governance.

Everyone was enjoying the glorious and surprisingly warm sunshine today, including local children plunging into the frigid waters. Near the tender dock was the Greenland National museum, which also included some of the historic buildings in the area. We opted for the two exhibit areas on past Inuit cultures and the combination of Danish and Inuit influences. The museum was excellent, with lots of beautiful artifacts and even a strange exhibit of mummified bodies unearthed from graves north of Nuuk. We bought some local souvenirs and made our way back to the ship for a late lunch, trivia and our departure from Nuuk. I may never get back to Greenland, but at least I can say we have been here and the landscape is beautiful and quite fascinating (completely different from seeing it so often from 35,000 feet).

Now we get two days at sea (again) heading back to Reykjavik and we lose an hour tonight in the time zone change. More later!!

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