Day 6…Greenland Cruise…Amazing scenery in Greenland…

This iceberg was much more enormous than it appears in this photo.

We are in Greenland! Wow! What a place! Late yesterday afternoon, we arrived at a magical wonderland known as Prins Christian Sund, named for Prince Christian VIII of Denmark. The area is a dramatic fjord separating the southernmost islands of the rest of South Greenland, a land of jagged mountains and green pastures where sheep farms border icy fjords and Norse history intersects with modern communities.

Prins Christian Sund presents exquisite scenery for cruising, with mountains reaching nearly 4,000 feet, glaciers inching toward the sea, and tidal currents that limit ice formation.

What an interesting iceberg floating by this glacier.

From the ship’s brochure:

“At approximately 4:00 pm, Celebrity Summit will be reaching Prins Christian Sund. The duration of viewing will be influenced by prevailing weather conditions. Our Celebrity Activities Speaker, Brent Nixon will provide updates to our navigation to Prins Christian Sund and some narrations about the history and importance of this symbolic place. 

Announcements can be heard in public venues as well as open decks around the ship and on your stateroom TVs on Channel 1. Please turn the volume up. If weather permits, we will open the helipad in order to enhance your scenic cruising/viewing experience. Please listen for announcements via the PA system to advise you accordingly.”

We encountered one amazing glacier after another.

Here are some essential facts about Greenland from this site:

1. World’s Largest Island

Let’s start with the basics. Greenland is actually the world’s biggest island – by area – that is not a continent. The total area of Greenland is 2.16 million square kilometers (836,330 square miles), including other offshore islands. Almost 80 percent of the land mass is covered by an ice cap. The ice-free area may be a minority, but it’s still around the size of Sweden. With a population of 56,480 (2017 estimate), it is one of the least densely populated countries in the world.

2. Greenland Was Green

The Arctic nation is mostly white since most of Greenland is covered in ice, snow, and glaciers. So how did it get its name “Greenland” when it’s not really green? It actually got its name from Erik The Red, an Icelandic murderer who was exiled to the island. He called it “Greenland” in hopes that the name would attract settlers. However, scientists say Greenland was quite green more than 2.5 million years ago. A new study reveals that ancient dirt was cryogenically frozen for millions of years underneath about 2 miles of ice.

They couldn’t have been more awe-inspiring!

3. Greenland is an Autonomous country

Greenland is an autonomous country within the Kingdom of Denmark. Although Greenland is geographically a part of the North American continent, it has been politically and culturally associated with Europe for about a millennium. Since 1721, Denmark has held colonies in Greenland, but the country was made part of Denmark in 1953. In 1979, Denmark granted Home Rule to Greenland, and in 2009, expanded Self Rule was inaugurated, transferring more decision-making power and responsibilities to the Greenlandic government. Under the new structure, gradually Greenland can assume more and more responsibilities from Denmark when it is ready for it.

4. 4,500 Years of History

According to historians, the first humans were thought to have arrived in Greenland around 2500 BC. The group of migrants apparently died out and were succeeded by several other groups who migrated from North America. At the beginning of the 10th century, Norsemen from Iceland settled in the uninhabited southern part of Greenland, but they disappeared in the late 15th century. The Inuit migrated here from Asia in the 13th century, and their bloodline survived to this day. Most Inuit Greenlanders are their direct descendants and continue to practice some of the centuries-old traditions.

“Humans have inhabited Greenland for more than 4,500 years.”

Deep-sea sediment cores from northeast Greenland, the Fram Strait, and the south of Greenland suggest that the Greenland Ice Sheet has continuously existed since 18 million years ago.

5. Inuit Culture

Today, 88% of Greenland’s population are Inuit (predominantly Kalaallit) or mixed Danish and Inuit. The remaining 12% are of European descent, mainly Danish. Truth be told, Greenlanders actually don’t appreciate being called ‘Eskimos’; the proper name for them is Inuit or Kalaallit, which actually means ‘Greenlander’ in the native Inuit language, Kalaallisut. The Inuit Greenlanders identify strongly with Inuits in other parts of the world, like Canada and Alaska, and they actually share some similarities in their languages as well.

6. A Multilingual Nation

The majority of the population in Greenland speaks both Greenlandic (mainly Kalaallisut) and Danish. The two languages have been used in public affairs since the establishment of home rule in 1979. Today, the young generation learns both languages, as well as English, in school. The Greenlandic language is an interesting language with a long history, and it’s closely related to the Inuit languages in Canada, such as Inuktitut. “Kayak” and “igloo” are Greenlandic words that have been adopted directly by other languages.

Another interesting iceberg.

7. No Roads In Greenland

Despite having a land size of 2.16 million square kilometers, there are no roads or railway systems that connect settlements to one another. There are roads within the towns, but they end at the outskirts. All travel between towns is done by plane, boat, helicopter, snowmobile or dogsled. Boats are by far the most popular mode of transportation, and you’ll often see locals out cruising the fjords every summer.

8. Whaling & Fishing

Fishing is a major industry in Greenland. The country imports almost everything except for fish, seafood, and other animals hunted in Greenland, such as whales and seals. Each administrative area has a certain quota of whales, seals, and fish assigned to it, ensuring that there’s no overfishing. Certain species, like the blue whale, are protected and thus cannot be fished. No export of whale and seal meat is allowed — they are only consumed locally.

Another interesting iceberg.

9. A Vibrant Capital City

Almost one-quarter of Greenland’s population lives in the capital city of Nuuk. Vibrant and funky, the city is the biggest, most cosmopolitan town on the island and it packs in quite a lot of museums, hip cafes and fashion boutiques for its small size. To get an introduction to the country, be sure to visit the National Museum of Greenland, the Katuaq Cultural House as well as Nuuk Art Museum. Backed by a panorama of mountains, the city is perched at the mouth of a giant fiord system, making for easy day trips into the fiords and surrounding nature.

10. Midnight Sun

Every year, the sun does not set from May 25th to July 25th, and it stays visible throughout the entire day and night. The midnight sun, as it is called, is a pretty cool natural phenomenon that everyone needs to experience at least once in their lifetime. June 21, the longest day of the year, is the summer solstice and a national holiday in Greenland. You’ll find locals out basking in the sun or enjoying a barbecue out in nature.”

More views of a glacier.

We had such a fantastic time yesterday afternoon, taking photos and commiserating with passengers over the wonder before our eyes. The captain did a great job rotating the ship to accommodate our viewing. We took tons of photos. In many ways, it was similar to being in Alaska, which we did in 2017, and then to a much more expansive experience, Antarctica, in 2018.

Check out the amazing ice formations where the glacier meets the sea.

Seeing glaciers and icebergs was exciting again, and we loved every moment. Finally, when we moved along, we headed to dinner in the main dining room at another shared table and dined with three lovely women with great stories.

Stunning scenery.

After dinner, we headed to the Rendezvous Bar for live music and to visit with our new friends, Tracy and Sean, whom we’ve had much fun with since the cruise began. They are newlyweds, 30 years younger than us, and quite a fun couple.

Glaciers running toward the sea.

Soon, we’ll be heading to a tender to go ashore to the small town of Nanortalik, Greenland, with less than 1200 residents. Tomorrow, we’ll share photos from that experience.

Be well.

.Photo from ten years ago today, August 23, 2013:

We sure have plenty of tomatoes (Pomodoro) to last through our remaining eight days of cooking before we travel to Africa. Yesterday, I had none, and we have more than we can use today. After Santina left this morning, I discovered this glass bowl filled with tomatoes in the kitchen. We’re well stocked with tomatoes with the substantial batch Lisa picked for us yesterday in the steep yard. For more photos, please click here.

Antarctica – February 4, 2018…A rare opportunity for travelers…We’re in the Polar Circle..Paradise Bay nd Pleneau…

This is where we are now, the Polar Circle. The ship hosted an outdoor barbecue today. It was outstanding! Soon, we’ll be boarding the Zodiacs again to explore this area.

What can we say? There are no words to describe the joy we felt this morning as we crossed into the Polar Circle, heading as far south as this ship is allowed in these waters as the sea heaved up and down congested in ice. This incredible experience has left us reeling in awe and love with this mysterious place, Antarctica.

The deep blue in the iceberg is due to crevices in the ice.

There are no hotels, no restaurants, no tourist traps, and no roads or highways. There is ice, ocean, and wildlife only accessible by sea or air, with only a handful of visitors allowed to enter each year (around 37,000) and a mere 30,000 worldwide allowed to step onto its islands and glaciers to partake of its majestic beauty, Antarctica.

We’d never have been satisfied to embark on one of the “cruising only,” non-expedition type cruises that the other 30,000 passengers experience. These numbers aren’t exact but estimated since the records we could find online don’t break it down for “cruising only.
Pristine landscape in Antarctica.

It wouldn’t have been enough for us to “cruise by.” Getting up close and personal with the wildlife and the terrain has changed us, as we’ve changed in many ways over these past 5¼ years since we began our journey.

Each iceberg has its distinct shape and design, a product of nature.

Do we feel lucky? Ah, we’re beyond such a flippant perception of good fortune befalling upon one’s head. We worked hard for this.  We sacrificed a lot to be here. We scrimped. We saved. We lived frugally. 

Two years ago, we booked this cruise knowing it wasn’t within the realm of our usual budget, and we’d have to tighten our belts to make it happen. 
Many icebergs create spectacular shapes, portals, and openings.

And, we did. Living a life of perpetual travel requires us to pick and choose what matters most to us carefully. Our decisions may not appeal to the average traveler. 

A closer view of the above photo.

Many travelers seek to fulfill their objectives of visiting specific sites when they arrive at their preferred destination. Often, they have only one or two weeks to accomplish this. And, once they do, they’re content and satisfied. We get this. 

During each maneuver in the Zodiac, the scene becomes more unique.

Had I traveled more in our old lives, we’d have felt the same way…see and do as much as possible, in a limited period, going home from the vacation/holiday to face a precise routine. 

They have to unpack, do laundry, clean the refrigerator, and head to the market, the health club, and ultimately, if applicable, the office or another place of employment. 

At times, we all talked about how unreal it is to be in this magical place.

On the few occasions we were able to travel, we experienced all of these. But, now, it’s different. We feel no sense of urgency other than to catch a flight, board a cruise and get ourselves to or from the following location. 

At times, the water was calm and almost still.

Instead, we embrace the moment, longing for nothing, remembering everything emblazoned in our hearts and minds, or from the simple task of checking one of our previous posts now numbering at 2015 posts as of today. 

How we got here baffles us. It baffles us in the same way as this morning at 6:40 am when our captain announced over the loudspeaker in our cabin that we’d all better look outside “where the big show was going on.”

When we spotted this massive ten-story circle, we all squealed with delight, knowing we’d be able to get closer.

We’re in the Polar Circle, for an ice show one can only imagine.  We grabbed the two cameras and began taking photos of the spectacular display. Oh, Mother Nature, what glorious gifts you have bestowed upon us. 

Today, we share only a handful of photos from a stockpile into the 1000’s that in itself has kept us busy trying to determine which we can use to share with you here, based on the limitations of the Wi-Fi connection in this remote part of the world.
Tom, who’s always seen images in clouds, did the same with the icebergs, seeing a face here.
Our main photo was taken this morning standing on our veranda.  The remaining images are from yesterday morning and afternoon visits to Paradise Bay on foot and Pleneau when we were on a Zodiac boat with friends Marg and Steve as the four of us toured together with a fabulous naturalist, Marie, who drove the boat and explained details to us as to the sightings we encountered.
We’ll continue to do our best to keep it all sorted out based on our previous day’s location and the current day. Thank you for sharing this experience with us.
We had to keep our distance from this delicate structure which would be a disaster for us in the small boat, where it to collapse near us.

P.S. As I prepare this post today, we can hear the roar of the ship cutting through the ice as we head toward the Drake Passage on our way back to civilization. Wow!

              Photo from one year ago today, February 4, 2017:
At first glance at the Huon Valley Visitors Centre, we thought these were baguettes, big and small, when in fact, they were rolling pins. For more photos, please click here.