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Shazza's Escapades Light hearted look at my travel escapades

Freezing in Greenland 2013

GREENLAND | Monday, 18 February 2013 | Views [460]

Greenland in February, what was I thinking. Definitely the coldest place I have been to. First I had to get to Copenhagen and I had to use Gatwick airport. I was stopped by security at the scanning area and was asked about what’s in my bag etc. I really thought they were going to take one of my batteries or charges but they took away my Dairylea cheese triangles. Security said I was not allowed to carry any creams with me and Dairylea cheese is classed as a cream. I think he needed it for his sandwich.

Then we had a two hour delay because of fog which meant I was going to be late meeting my TV show guide in Copenhagen. We finally took off and I was late meeting the guide, so only managed to get an hours’ worth of walking around the famous places from The Killing and Borgen. That same evening as I was walking to my hotel I was stopped by a lady and asked if I spoke English. She then pointed to her sign about a free stress test and as I had nothing better to do followed her into a shop. I suddenly noticed all the books and posters on Scientology. Large photo frames of the founder L Ron Hubbard and his quotes were everywhere which sent alarm bells ringing in my head. I tried to get away but was convinced to do the stress test which I failed. Then the hard sell began as they assured me that Scientology would take all my stress away. I left after 15 minutes without buying anything or accepting anything but they were persistent and gave me 2 free dvds. I still have them in their packaging scared to open it and watch it just in case I am subliminally brain washed.

I got onto Greenland Air with no hassle and we took off on time. It takes nearly 5 hours to get there from Copenhagen. I noticed I could hear dogs barking and realised the plane was also transporting husky dogs. I arrived in Kangerlussuaq mid-morning to a very cold -25 degrees Celsius. I was staying in the Polar Lodge and luckily for me it was just 100 metres from the airport. There aren’t many places to stay here, there’s the old camp which is 2km away and the airport hotel which was out of my price range. That is it and their population is only 500, everything you need is relatively close to the airport. My first day and I was taken on a city tour in large tundra. I joined a group of Danish tourists on the Polar Rejser tour. The guide put me in the front seat with him as he said he needed me closer to translate. It was quite hard getting up this big truck and the seat suspension was really bad which made me wobble about all over the place.

Kangerlussuaq used to be an old US Airbase and they only left in 1992. Every building around town was used as part of the airbase is now the supermarket, school, bar and even a night club. The place is so small but it still took 3 hours to go around looking at everything. There are no traffic lights and they have only one road built by Volkswagen to test their cars which is now being used to take tourists to see the Ice Cap and Russell Glacier. I picked this town because it is a very small town. It’s not even in the top 10 largest towns in Greenland. The capital, Nuuk only has 15000 people and the whole of Greenland only has 50000 people.

The next day I took a tour to the Ice Cap. It took a while to get there on the big tundra but we got to see more of Kangerlussuaq. It was all mainly white because of the snow but we saw an old US plane crash site with bits of the plane still lying where it crashed all those years ago. Why they don’t clear it away is beyond me but I guess it’s a tourist hot spot. As we reached the Ice Cap you can see the vast white landscape and we were about to walk on it. We walked for 1 km around it looking at the giant ice cubes sticking out. Walking on ice albeit 2 km deep is very scary. You can hear the movements of the ice and as you step on it you can feel the hollowness which made me go very slowly indeed. I kept feeling that at any moment I would fall into the abyss and be lost forever. I did not have ice grips on my boots which made it slippery as well. The sun was shining and the wind was bitter but it was a lovely walk and we ended it with a hot chocolate. Some of the Danish guys brought some booze and then after drinking it decided to take their clothes off and take pictures while frolicking in the snow. I kept my clothes on.

The same night I went to see if I could spot the northern Lights. I missed it the night before as I fell asleep. This time I joined a tour and they took us out in the middle of nowhere and were told to look out into the sky. Well I did this for nearly an hour freezing my bits off. When were the Northern Lights going to appear I thought to myself as I couldn’t take the cold anymore. Suddenly I saw a lighter greyish vapour appear and snake around the tiny mountain and stay above us. The enthusiasts with the big cameras were clicking away; my camera is rubbish so I didn’t even bother. What I don’t get is how their photos show a green vapour in the sky but when I am looking at it, it’s only a paler shade of grey. It wasn’t as spectacular as I would have liked it. It actually looked better from the balcony of the bar we ended up in. The King Kong bar serves as a mini museum showing photos and artefacts upstairs. We watched a documentary about Northern Lights and its explanations and then had Greenlandic coffee which had very little coffee in it but lots of whisky, Kahlua, Grand Marnier and whipped cream. After standing in -23 degrees Celsius for an hour I had three of them.

The next tour was to Russell Glacier which I thought was more awesome than the Ice Cap. We walked to the wall of the glacier, an enormous sight. You can hear the ice move but unfortunately no ice fell from the shelf. The giant blocks of ice just strewn about the place made you feel like a tiny person in a freezer. On the way we saw reindeers. They are so cute but I didn’t know that they fed them to the husky dogs.

Next trip was my husky dog sled which I was so excited about. First we had to go and get our seal gear. I was given a pair of trousers, coat and gloves made out of seal fur/skin. It took a while to get into them as you had to wear in over your own coat. The guide looked at me and said extra-large…happens every time. After putting everything on I couldn’t move. I had so many layers on but it did feel warm which made me think of how cold it was going to be for the guide to make us wear all this warm gear. Then we were driven to the edge of the frozen lake and from afar I saw the dog sledges coming in to pick us up. It looked so cool and they looked pretty fast. The ledge was just a long flat wooden plank, no seats or back rest. So I sat in between two of the Danish guys and was able to lie back onto one of them and use them as my back rest. The lady was a little on the big side so this made it very comfortable for me. The views were magnificent and even the little bumps along the way when the sledge hits the ice where it’s cracked up to the surface was exciting. I did feel for the dogs especially the ones who kept looking back at me. They seem to say to me to get off my fat arse and walk. They worked really hard. My only complaint about them is that they smelled really bad. Plus as they run they poop and pee as well. This did not make for a very nice sight and luckily for me as I was in between the Danish guys and had no splash back coming my way. It was definitely a memorable last day.

The next morning after finishing my third jar of Nutella for breakfast I said my goodbyes to the lodge staff and headed for the airport. As I left they said its -35 degrees Celsius today and boy did I feel it. The 2 minute walk to the airport left be breathless. The air felt so thin I could hardly breathe especially while lugging my very large suitcase. There was another delay to get to Copenhagen as we had to wait for the plane from Nuuk first. Finally landed in Copenhagen at 8pm thinking I would definitely go back to Greenland but next time it will be during their summer.


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