Today we were in Nuuk, capital of Greenland and the biggest town on the island as well. The ship was in port from 9 am until 6 pm. as there was more than enough to do for a full day stop. Nuuk has basically 3 parts. The old town, the new town, and the new new town. The old town is the area where the Vikings landed 1000 years ago and where the first Danish trading post was located in more recent history. The new town is fairly new and is dominated by a number of flats or apartments buildings. Most of them do not look maintained too well. The new new town is basically an extension of the new town, it is just further away from the central area, and construction only started in the 1990â€™s.
Apart from seeing the old and the new town, there are sightseeing trips with fishing boats to see the whales and icebergs and tours to the new cultural centre for a cultural show. The port consists of three parts, the fishing port, the cargo port and the old steamer port. The latter is the dock where the regular mail steamer used to come. Nowadays it is a container ship from the Royal Artic Line who brings supplies and takes away everything for the export. Passenger traffic is now mainly with the airplane, or helicopter. The Ocean Majesty docked at the old steamer dock. The other option is to anchor in the old town but it is a very exposed anchorage and if the wind picks up, a very cold wind Northerly wind normally, then it is not pleasant to be there at all.
I spent the morning, walking around the town after uploading my blogs of the last few days on the computer of the tourist information centre. It takes a good 30 minutes to walk from the steamer dock over the hill into the town and the company had put on (for nominal charge) shuttle buses to take those into town who did not want to climb the hill.
The peculiar thing with Nuuk is, and for that matter all the Greenland towns, that because of the sever winter weather the shops do not look like shops. They do not stand out from the regular houses apart from a tentative sign over a door. It confused the guests on board, expecting a regular shopping street and finding no open inviting doors with large window displays. No, all is closed up, and you have to feel the doors to find out that the shops are indeed there and open for business. As most of the time the weather is inclement, it makes no sense to change your commercial ways for the few days a year that the sun shines, as it did today. We had once again glorious weather.
What does stand out is Santa Claus mailbox. In Europe every child is told that Santa Claus lives in Lapland, which is a northerly region of Scandinavia. In the States, Santa Claus comes from the North Pole but in Denmark the children are taught that Santa Claus lives in Greenland and has a mailbox in Nuuk. And yes he has, the thing is 17 feet high, and the mail slot is about 12 feet above the ground. It is standing right in the middle of the old town and behind it is a building that houses Santaâ€™s Grotto. This mailbox is the most photographed object in Nuuk and is a most peculiar sight amongst the red houses of old Nuuk.
Another peculiar sight was the bar/restaurant called Crazy Daisy. Which is of course a very Greenlandic name. Just the name encouraged me to explore the place, as a landlord who gives his/her place a name like that, cannot be a bad person. Indeed a very friendly atmosphere was encountered upon entering but as I object to pay $7 for a bottle of beer, I made a hasty exit. However the locals seem to think that it must have been reasonable, as they were having a great time. Some of them deeply focused on studying the carpentry of the undersides of the tables and chairs.
In the afternoon, my help was needed to escort the tour to the Cultural Centre. A brand new and very modernistic building located right in the middle of the new town. The building was opened a few years ago and looks in the summer like a vertical wave of brown wood. In the winter, when covered with snow, it looks like an iceberg and that was the effect that the architect tried to achieve. As if there are not enough icebergs and glaciers in the surrounding area. It acts as community centre, cinema and during the summer season, local groups give performances for the tourists. Today it featured, three accordionists, the instrument having been made popular here by Dutch Whalers. There was Inuit/Eskimo singing and dancing, a classical recital by very talented teachers from the local school of music, and two ladies who performed a masked dance, which mainly consisted of climbing over the audience and scaring the wits out of them. The quality of performance was not always that great, apart from the classical stuff, but as it was pure, local and very native, it was fascinating to watch.
Tomorrow we are at sea, which is a good thing, as the beautiful weather and the very clean air makes everybody very tired.