The National History Museum in Nuuk

After exploring most of the outdoors in close proximity to Nuuk, we decided to also get wiser on the history of Greenland.

We visited at the same time as a huge cruise ship was docking, and as the national history museum is right by the docks, it got quite crowded. 

The history of Greenland, or the “northerners” as they were called are quite long and go back many hundred years. The interesting part is that even though it’s history, this is still very much customs in todays Greenland. For example these national outfits are still made and worn today during high holidays or special life events. Furthermore they are still made the same way and with the same materials.

I’m sure that most of national outfits will be inspirational to the international fashion scene in the coming years.

The museum itself is quite big and hold comparatively many artifacts in relation  to the population. Also the museum hold a lot of information, both for the younger generation but also for the more technical crowd, whom would visit. 

We spend almost three hours there and we didn’t absorb all the information possible. I would definitely go again as it was only something like 50 DKK (9 dollars). 

If you are ever in Nuuk as a visitor, expat or local citizen it’s definitely worth a visit. 

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Boat as the primary means of transportation 

So here in Greenland there is more boats than cars. And up until a few years ago there  was only 100 kilometer of paved road.

Now, at least in Nuuk, there is plenty of paved road. But the main means of transportation is still boat.

Nuuk is secluded and you cannot go to another city except by trekking. Maybe snow mobil during winter, but I haven’t heard about anyone doing it.

When we were wanted to go on a hike we hired a water taxi to sail us behind Big Malene and drop us off. The picture is of us sailing. I’ve sailed quite a few times with the same company, but this time it was a new boat and it had seats that were placed 2 and 2, as in a rib boat. While we had some problems finding out how to put on the life vest, the people who was going in the same boat quickly helped us so we could start the adventure.

In Greenland all sailing is about speed. This boat was equipped with two high-powered engines which could make sure we were not traveling with less than 30 knots. 

It was on the middel of summer, but it still felt like minus 15 degrees Celsius when we were skipping across the water in a rib boat. Now this boat trip was only 20-25 minutes so we could last the short cold period.

Another time, my girlfriend and I took a seven hour trip to the ice fjord and the glacier close to nuuk. This time we had to wear survival suits, which had GPS, a floating device and everything. Now this was three hours one way and three hours back, in the middel of summer. However even so only our faces were left bare it was cold as hell. Within the first 5 minutes of sailing, the boat guide sped along with 35 knots across the ripple of the boat in front of us. This shook the boat in a way that my girlfriend, Michael (my colleague) and I almost fell overboard. This was quite a shock. Coupled with the limited move ability while wearing a survival suit. 

The only warm part was when we arrived at the ice fjord and were laying still in the boat. Our guide told us the ice fjord was always sunny, which let me to understand which this was where the glacier was breaking off huge icebergs, which slowly make their way out the fjord, past nuuk. 

At around 1 o’clock we had our lunch in the middle of an ice fjord with the glacier a kilometer or so away. We expected to see the some seals, whales or maybe a reindeer as the season had just started for reindeer. But unfortunately we didn’t see any, except for one curious seal who wanted to know what all the noise (the boat going 40 knots) was about.

After finishing our lunch pack the guide said that we should probably start moving back, because we don’t want to get caught in the pack of ice bergs when the tide changes. On our way into the ice fjord we had pushed a few icebergs with the boat to allow ourself access. If caught we would have to spend at least 6 hours in there. 

On our way back we slowly sail by the bird cliff where ‘lomvier’ was having the nests and it was almost like watching planet earth 2 with all the birds gathered at one place. It was both disgusting (with all the white poop on the walls) but also magical to see and hear them sing I choir.

It was a long trip back. Almost three hours by boat, and our face/cheeks were freezing. Our guide asked us if we wanted to stop in a nearby small vacation city, where people this weekend were preparing and cleaning their vacation homes.

We kindly said no, as it had been 6 hours on the move and now all we actually wanted to do was to go home and get the warmth.

The the last 10 minutes of the trip took place in a slow pace out side of Nuuk. We were able to catch a couple of great photos and enjoy the trip. Along with everyone else also returning from their vacation or fishing trip we were sailing in convoy into the Marine Harbour past the indoor swimming pool, Malik. 

Sailing is magical. But sailing in Greenland is both a necessity and magical. 

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Hiking and mosquitoes 

So my girlfriend and I had arranged to travel by boat to the copper fjord behind the mountain store Malene ‘big Malene’. Here the boat would drop us off and we would have to hike back to our apartment in Nuuk. As far as I was told this was approximately a 15 km trip with an altitude of upwards of 800 meters.

Now I’m in no way a professional hiker, or possess the equipment for it. My girlfriend is an advanced hiker and know much more about it than me. 

Aproximately 25 minutes of sailing later and we got dropped off at the foot of big malene and kinda in a valley with the only instructions to look for a road about half way up. Now this was at around 10 am. A few hours go by and we slowly move forwards and explore at the same time. We hit the ridge of the valley and I conclude that we should continue to walk straight as we couldn’t possible have to cross the mountain there. It was simply too steep! 

We hit the other side of the ridge and can immediately see that there is nowhere to walk between the waterline and the mountain. 

Now this is a place where very few people has ever walked and Is not normally accessible. 9 months a year it’s covered in snow and ice, and accessible only to snow mobiles. This is Greenland and during summer it’s covered in some sort of bushes laying on top of rugged rocks and cliffs. This makes it extremely exhausting to walk through, it’s almost like sand. On top of this, and you probably wouldnt think this, but Greenland is during summer inhabited by Gajillions of mosquitoes. As you can see in the picture we are wearing mosquitonets. If not we would inhale swarms of mosquitoes. 

The previous week we had climbed ‘little malene’ without mosquitonets and it was absolutely horrible. So we immediately bought nets for our planned trip!

Anyways, I’m slowly realizing I should have listened a bit better to the boat driver, when he explained where this visible path was located. I took out my phone and tried to look on Google maps if a path was visible, but it wasn’t. At around 2 pm we decided to eat our lunch packs and would meanwhile hatch a plan to get home.

I suggested that we go up a bit and see if we can get a better visual. It doesn’t help! I start panicking a bit,  as I honestly doesn’t know what to do if we cannot find our way back.

My girlfriend takes point walking up the slope of store Malene. After approximately 25 minutes of climbing steep Rock formations she says “look” and points in the direction of a yellow marking on a stone. I think this is just some dried out moss, but it could also be a dot marked with a spray paint can. We take a short breather and look around and see a stick held up by a pyramid of smaller stones and take it as  a clear sign that there is some kind of path. 

At this point we are discussing on which way we should take the path. As we just stumbled upon it we don’t know which direction to go. My girlfriend luckily picks the right way and we start climbing equally steep hils, but at this point we gained some motivation as we know now have a marked path to follow.

We go up, up and up. It just continues, I think we are at least climbing for one hour. Until we reach a kind of plateau, and we spot a shelter. This shelter is used by the snowmobile club during winter in case of emergencies. 

At this plateau there is also a somewhat dried out lake. I don’t think it’s a lake but more a place for melting water during spring when the snow from the mountain melts. 

The melting water lake has an outlet which at this time of year was dried out or at least running beneath the huge rocks. Imagine that we could walk through on eof these riverbeds where you normally go riverrafting, but without any water. It was a very surreal feeling.

We finally felt like we had hit the top and now we were only descending. After about an hours walk in the exposed riverbed we reached a lower plateau with an even larger lake. This lake was surrounded by mossy or grassy fields and mountains enclosing it.

We slowly paced forward along this massive shallow lake. At several places we had to balance on a slim edge between the lake and the cliffs. With every step we took we had to be very cautious as the snow was still melting and most rocks were wet from slowly descending melting water.

At the outlet of the lake was a gushing river, with waterfalls up to 30-40 meters. All this time we were following small yellow dots on the ground or single rocks. We quickly realized that we were maybe only half way home, but at least now we were downwards instead of up. As everyone know it’s much more dangerous, and you have to be much more cautious when  you walk down hill. I felt we spend much more energy on walking down than up. There and then we were very tries and hungry, so I asked my girlfriend I’d she wants some dessert to our lunch, it was around 4 pm. I had brought some Swedish knækbrød which my girlfriend recently fell in love with. It has the flavor of sweet cinnamon and I buttered it up and made a sandwich. This was the energy bomb that we needed! 

After finishing our dessert,  we had the energy to resume our descent. Along the way we met some professionel hikers from the Nuuk hiking club, however these people were going up. From what it looked like, they were going to the top of store Malene to enjoy a brought dinner.

This ensures us that we were on the right track and couldn’t be far away from civilization. Approximately an hour went by of us walking next to waterfalls and huge streams before we could see the melting water running into the ocean/fiord.

However this caused one problem. We were on the wrong side of the river. Now as I said before, this river was flowing with incredible speed and force, and even though it was clearly marked where the most narrow part was, it was still going to take two or three jumps into some skipping stones that were kinda beaches, but still overflowed with water.

We take a few moments to examine the situation and feel how slippery these rocks are and if they rocking or not. My girlfriend takes the first jump, skips on to the next and then onto safe land. My girlfriend is cool, she likes to just jump into things, whether in life or while hiking! 

I hesitate a bit, but follows straight behind her. There were two parts which we had to jump, and we both made it with reasonably dry feet. Now we are walking along the water line in a huge green field, and it started to go upwards a bit. We are completely drained of energy, and we still have no idea of how far away we are. 

Our goal is to reach the building of the new penitentiary in Nuuk, as it was laying close to the water and on that side of the mountain. And from there on it would be connected with roads. 

The green field is shaped so its difficult to see what’s on the next top. When we reach the top, we expect to see the penitentiary within reasonable reach, but what we see is just another green field with another top. Three time this happens us, and my girlfriend is keeping up my spirits as I’m so exhausted from the walking.

Unfortunately my girlfriend steps in a wrong place and fall through the vegetation that is covering the rocks we are skipping over, and her foot/leg gets soaked in the water laying there. It’s not the worst thing that could happen but it’s just another tick into the demotion of our spirits. 

We kinda loose track of the path as every thing is green and the previous yellow dots had switch to the color green (how stupid) as we now went from the  yellow path (medium difficulty) and on to the green path (easy difficulty). As the whole place was flooded and small puddles were surrounding all the rocks we had to kind of skip from rock to rock. 

Finally we reach the top of the last green field and we can see the penitentiary and also other people collecting mushrooms or berries. Now the spirits are back up and it’s only one more kilometer before we are at a road. We start increasing the pace as it’s now 8 pm and we’ve been ‘off-road’ for almost 10 hours. 

We are so relieved to arrive at the unfinished penitentiary, and there are some carpenters working there, but we quickly make our way back to the city and find a pizza place! 

Now imagine us, two people Completely drenched in sweat, as this was not a cold day. Probably around 18 degrees with high sun. We have muddy boots and even a wet one at that. 

We find a table at the pizza place, now this is a Thursday and prime time for families to eat pizza, and here comes two smelly and mud covered people to eat among well dressed families. We couldn’t care less. All we could care about was the food and for my girlfriend to have her feet dry.

We eat the most amazing pizza in the world (it’s was probably only decent, but you always connect tastyness of food with event or mood) and make our way home for some well-deserved rest. 

Best hiking trip with my girlfriend ever! 

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Hiking in the outskirts of Nuuk

Not long after my girlfriend arrived in Greenland, we went on our first beginner-level hike in the outskirts of Nuuk. Right behind the university of Greenland is an old cemetery. The cemetery is right next to the water, and next to it there is a beautiful place for walking/hiking/fishing.

Everything is possible there. We went for a walk just to feel out the terrain and how it was to walk on this special surface. We quickly found out that it’s very bouncey, but could also be slippery. Plus at some places where it was overlapping the crevices between the rocks it was very dangerous. It was almost as nature had set out a trap.

The picture is taken right next to the water line overlooking the mountain Sermitsiaq. It’s  very well known mountain around Nuuk as on its western side it has an almost straight edge. It’s also famous for its rich fishing spots right next to the waterfall going next to Sermitsiaq. 

While taking the picture, we met a fisherman whom was fishing from the shore. Unfortunately his line had gotten stuck on the bottom and he was trying to untangle it.

On our walk in the beginning of August we were almost choked by the amount of mosquitoes. Next time we will definitely get a mosquito net to cover our face, and mouth!

Just go to the university and you will immediately be able to get this spectacular view. 

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