Post cards – something personal and oldschool

During my year(s) abroad I always made a deed out of writing postcards to my loved ones or my close friends.

I find that tagging people on pictures on Facebook just isn’t the same. Or showing the pictures to my father. 

Postcards are personal to two people, the one sending it and the one receiving it. When I write I always pick a specific postcard with a motif that the receiver would appreciate. So I can sometimes spend plenty of time choosing one. I always write a personal kind of logbook of what I’ve been doing or how the atmosphere is, and then what’s on the photography on the postcard. 

For the receiver it’s always a nice surprise to see something else in the mail besides bills and advertisements. But it also shows them that even though I’m far far away, I’m still thinking of them.

It’s also always nice to see the speed of the local post office(or lack off).

The feeling of having something from another country which was stamped and then moved through plenty of different hands to get to its destination. 

The last thing is that you just know that if any post office employees get their hands onto the post cards they will have read the post card and smiled.

Please send more snail mail postcards and not just snapchats, Facebook posts etc. 

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Visiting Iceland and their sheep

During a work trip to Iceland, my girlfriend and I was fortunate enough to have time to see some sights of west Iceland, around Reykjavík.

We flew with air Greenland from Nuuk to keflavik Airport, it was about 3/4 hours of fly time, with no service other than water and coffee. Now this was not Ryan air tickets, so we paid 4000 DKK (600 dollars) for a one way ticket. I at least expected a sandwich of sorts. 

After waiting 5 hours in line at avis/budget car, to get our rental car we could finally go to our hotel. We actually had reserved and paid to go to the blue lagoon, but because of the hold up in the airport we didn’t make it. But who needs to visit the most touristic spot of Iceland anyways, right? 

We had a reservation at Hotel midgardur centrum, which was absolutely amazing, except for the fact that our room had a big panoramic windows right next to the pedestrian path, and it was located on the ground floor. So the curtain was constantly drawn. Great atmosphere, right? 

First thing Sunday morning we got the car from the free parking spot and started driving an alternate version of the Golden circle. The Golden  circle is the 3 most famous tourist things to see in Iceland and can all be seen in a day. We decided to extend this with a trip on the old ancient main road. 

Most of the way of the Golden circle we were driving in a kind of convoy with all the other tourists. But when we entered the ancient road we were alone and could stop the car as we deemed necessary. At this time we could get out and take more photographs of the beautiful nature, without other meddelling tourists. 

The extended trip took about 10 hours and we decided to find the taco bell, which we had been looking for the day before. The reason was that I had never had taco bell and my girlfriend had tried it when she visited her aunt in San Francisco. 

We found the place and tried it. It couldn’t live up to my expectations and my girlfriend said it didn’t taste as she had remembered. 

On the last day we toured the city of Reykjavík, mostly for museums, churches and the opera house. But we were also looking for post cards and I wanted to buy an Iceland sweater or scarf. 

I had read good things about the Icelandic hand knitting association and wanted to get a sweater from them! We found the local store and after some testing and deciding on color combination and size I got one. Mind you, these are not cheap. One sweater is around 200-300 dollars. But I’m sure it will last 20-30 years. And it will only get nicer with age, as it has to set in on the person wearing it.

As I was staying for business, for the remainder of the time there my girlfriend went back to Budapest to study. So after we finished writing postcards in the beautifully lit opera house,(and having a coffee of course) we took the rental car and drove to keflavik Airport where she would catch a flight back to Budapest. This time avis/budget car was a much nicer experience. It was only 2 minutes to inspect the car and register it and they provided a shuttle the 500 meters into the airport.

Now without of a car I took the excellent shuttle service from the airport to the city center. At the same evening I had a networking arrangement for the following workshop on nuclear material in Greenland.

During the workshop I had found out that my dear friend Kristian, whom is in the Danish navy, was stationed on a ship which was docked in reykjavik. So after the mandatory dinner and drinks after the workshop one of the days, I found his ship and came aboard. We went out for a beer in reykjavik and we both went home early as we both had work in the morning.

It was purely by accident that we were both in reykjavik at the same time, but it was a nice surprise and showed once again how small the world really is. 

Thursday was the last day and I had to fly back to Greenland Air Iceland connect. This time we were flying from Reykjavik Airport. Now this is a small,  kinda domestic Airport, really close to the city.

When you live in Greenland you kinda get used to flying on a delayed schedule as the planes are almost always late because of the weather. This day wasn’t any different. as from when we get to the airport we are informed its delayed for 1 hour. Which is nothing for Greenlandic conditions. When you’ve spent 48 hours stuck in and airport with nothing but seats, you tried to be delayed.

Anyways we make our way to the terminal, and is allowed to do some tax free shopping. This the tax free shop is small but has a nice selection. Everything is crazy expensive in Greenland so you always buy something duty free on your way back. I got a bottle of alcohol (bison grass) and some different sweets. 

We board the plane and it’s a small plane but we are also only 15 people aboard. After around 2 hours of flight they inform us that the weather in Nuuk is too bad to land, and we will fly to kangerlussuaq to land and refuel and await the situation. 

We land in kangerlussuaq and have to wait three hours, but at least it’s a nice place to get some fast food. The flight from kangerlussuaq to Nuuk is 55 minutes and in no time we land in Nuuk. 

My girlfriend and I agreed that we will return to Iceland, and take more time to see natur and sheep. 

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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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