Post 284: 6 August 2018 (PM): Narsarsuaq
Having survived hitting an iceberg at 3.15am, we arrived in Narsarsuaq at 7.00am. In 2010 it had a population of 158 and in 2015 only 145.
We passed Qassiarsuk where, according to Icelandic sagas, Greenland was discovered in 982 AD by Eirikr Porvaldsson (Eric the Red). He had been exiled from first Norway and then Iceland. According to legend Erik’s father was also exiled from Norway in 960 AD as a result of ‘a number of killings’, and Erik’s entire family thus settled in Iceland. Here Erik the Red married Tjodhilde, but history repeated itself and his father’s fate also befell Erik. In 982 he was sentenced to exile from Iceland for three years for murder. He came to and named Greenland. The settlement at Qassiarsuk has been reconstructed.
This saga had particular interest for me as on 21st January 2017, as a birthday present consisting of a DNA test, I discovered, whilst on a ship to Norway, that I was 32% Viking.
I have yet to discover which 32% of me is Viking?! The remainder being mainly GB 38%, Ireland 25%, Europe West 4%. I have been following the Viking routes from Scandinavia to Dublin, Iceland and Greenland, hopefully eventually ending up in Newfoundland, Canada.
Like a true Viking I wished to explore the area and walk towards a glacier.Our route took us past the small airport.
To the Blue Ice Cafe, which has tourist information and maps of the area as well as wifi and refreshments.Adjoining is a museum recording the period of the USA and Danish development and use of the airport since the Second World War
The bus service and petrol station are interesting! The bus takes people from the airport to a nearby hotel. My bus-pass wouldn’t get me far in Greenland! I think the petrol station was self-service, with only two choices!
There is also interesting art work on one of the buildings.
As we left town we saw that old airforce buildings had been put to other uses.
One possible walk is to ascend Signal Hill, which gives beautiful views over the fjord
Suprisingly there is also an arboretum and unique ‘botanical garden of the Arctic‘. The aim is to establish a live collection of trees and bushes heralding from both the arctic and alpine tree-lines of the entire Northern Hemisphere. There are 110 plant species and over 50,000 trees of various provinces. We decided to press onto the glacier on an increasingly hot day and with an increasingly higher number of mosquitos. We passed an interesting structure, which looked like a fireplace. Behind it was a dam for hydro-electric power. We enjoyed seeing the plant life in the area.
Fed by water from the glacier.
A cairn indicated the variety of rocks in the area.We then passed an interesting snow fence experiment. Before climbing to a viewpoint.However, the glacier had retreated and we had insuffient time to reach it. I later got a peep of it and a photograph from the ship.In a day that had begun at 3.15am with the ship colliding with an iceberg, followed by a stunning trip to icebergs/ice flows in the morning (see previous blog) and then a 12.6 mile walk towards a glacier, I thought it only fitting to finish with icebergs and mountains photographed from the ship after we departed the port at 18.00 hours.
Mountains, glaciers and icebergs are intertwined and give life to each other. There is a strength to the glacier as it pushes forward in a creative but destructive way. It carves the mountains, valleys, rivers and ridges in a way that humans can only watch in awe.
A sleeping giant
And in these remote and poor areas man can only struggle to dispose of his waste and rubbish by burning it. Or just leaving it to ‘soil’ the earth. In the wealthier countries with re-cycling facilities he often does worse, throwing it out of the car or throwing it on the floor or leaving it in a plastic bag to ‘stain’ the countryside for years to come.