(From Saturday 30 June 2012)
With Taste of Greenland done and wanting to take a day of relaxation in the beautiful Disko Bay area, today I did a full outdoors day with friends of a friend. There were four of us in total, and we were lucky enough to get a lift (via boat) up to Oqaatsut to eat at H8 Restaurant before walking back to Ilulissat.
This settlement is home to approximately 40 people, and it has tried to make an economic comeback with both a seaweed production factory and also with a little bit of tourism. A German couple started a restaurant there called H8, and there is also the Hotel Nordlys and a small youth hostel where tourists can stay overnight. There are no roads whatsoever, and I think there are not even designated pathways – it is all just natural rocky and grassy terrain. There is one supermarket, Pilersuisoq, and a church that also doubles as a schoolhouse. And then aside from the restaurant and two lodgings, all other buildings are residences.
It was eerily yet peacefully quiet in the settlement with virtually nobody walking around. No motorboats in the water making noise, no planes or helicopters overhead, no cars, and no music even… just the sounds of nature. In the beginning, I kept having a weird feeling that I couldn’t put my finger on, but I finally figured out what it was. It felt so strange to be at an inhabited place but not see or hear things common to a habitation like vehicles, loud noise, or hustle and bustle. It really was people just living.
We walked around the settlement for a little bit before eating lunch at H8. There was a nice bench at the top of a small hill, so we headed for it. Along the way, an adolescent Greenlandic dog (that did not yet have to be chained) took quite an interest in us. He nibbled my fingers and was very interested in the strap to my camera! Then he accompanied us the short way to the bench – it was as if he had been designated our Canine Guide! He actually stayed with us the entire 15 minutes or so that we sat there and took in the view, and then when we got up to head to lunch, he got up, too!
The restaurant was really quite cozy! It was big enough for perhaps six farm tables; there were exposed wooden beams and a few very small windows in the walls that faced the water. The windowsills were filled with small Greenlandic handicrafts, and the tables were decorated with country-style placemats and napkins. There were also simple little flower arrangements in bud vases on the tables – fresh cotton grass and Niviarsiaq.
Lunch was a fantastic spread of breads and delicious foods from the sea! There was shrimp, saarullik (cod), kapisilik (salmon), qaleralik (halibut), breaded and pickled ammassak (capelin), cod liver, mattak (whale skin & blubber), and whale meat.
Once our bellies were full, we started on our walk. It was a distance of 22 km/14 miles, and some people had told us it would take around 7 hours to get back to town. Good thing the sun is out 24 hours a day at this time of year 😉 One never has to worry about beating the clock to get home before dark! We found the orange trail and at half past 12 we were officially on our way! The time passed by effortlessly. The girls kept saying that their English was rusty and that they were having to think really hard before they said anything, but I thought they spoke perfectly!
In the end, the 22 km hike only took us 5 hours. I think we must have sped through it faster than anticipated so to keep the mosquitos away! But I still had the chance to snap these photos along the way!
Once we returned to town, we celebrated our day with a hard-earned latte and dinner at Hotel Arctic! So it ended up being an entire day of good company, great conversation, and stunning views. Just another day in Greenland 🙂