Portrait of a Greenlander: The Greenlandic Food Lover, Anne Nivíka Grødem

Billede af Anne Nivíka Grødem Photo by: Ivìnguak Stork Høegh, via Greenlandic Food Lover Facebook page

A creative and beautiful soul

Anne Nivíka Grødem is an inspiring and creative soul through and through. She is an illustrator under the pen name by Nivíka, creating the sweetest drawings of Greenlandic motifs and animals, one of which hangs above my very own desk. She is an author, creating a trilingual activity book (in Greenlandic, Danish, and English) called Arctic Circus to help develop children’s inner creative spirit, connection with language, appreciation for diversity, and desire to learn. And she is a home chef of professional caliber, manning her @greenlandic_foodlover Instagram account for years and most recently developing it into a full suite of Greenlandic Food Lover resources – a print recipe book, Facebook page, and blog.

In Anne’s own words (translated from Danish to English):

“I am a foodie, and I love to experiment with recipes and to get inspired by food I eat and see. This blog is an expression of what I eat regularly, which is an easy and accessible starting point! I’m not religious or fanatic – but I am driven by visually outstanding beauty. I love when food appeals to all the senses!”

A vegetarian recipe book for the country with no vegetables

Anne is running wild with her Greenlandic Food Lover passion this year. In September she released a recipe book, Naatitanik Qerisunik Nerisassiornermut Najoqqutassiaq / Grønne Opskrifter med Frosne Grøntsager (Vegetarian Recipes with Frozen Vegetables, in English) to give Greenlanders a tool for how to be creative within the frames available in Greenland.

The Greenlandic diet never really had vegetables written into the game plan – only land and sea mammals, fish, and the tiniest bit of foraged foliage. Today, local agriculture is confined to a very short growing season in South Greenland, and imported goods come from the most expensive countries in the world. Needless to say, Greenland’s vegetable game remains a challenge. The price of fresh lettuces and cucumbers can soar to 6-7 USD or more, leaving frozen foods as the only economically reasonable possibility for many. For more discussion on food in Greenland, see here.

Thus, in classic Greenlandic pioneering spirit, Anne embraces this ‘limitation’ and makes it a strength. Use her recipes to spiff up ordinary green beans and your guests will swear the veggies came right from your own greenhouse.

Greenlandic Food Lover_Advertisement Photo credit: Greenlandic Food Lover Facebook page

Ambassador for healthy & happy lifestyle

Anne strives not only to educate Greenlanders about easy ways to add variety, nutrition, and flavor to their diets through recipes but also to inspire them to adopt the same style of relationship she has with food – a holistic one.

She knows that health goes further than eating food with high nutritional value; it includes an all-around balance in every corner of one’s life. Taking the clean lifestyle initiative to new heights, Anne focuses on health, happiness, and inspiration via the kitchen.

Here are a few of her cardinal rules for food:

  • It must be easy.
  • It must be healthy.
  • It must be available locally, either from Greenland’s own resources or the town’s grocery store.

Greenlandic deliciousness 

So what will Anne have us eat?

Italian meatballs over vegetable ribbons, Crowberry coconut popsicles, Green juice of cabbage & cucumber & avocado & mint & spinach, Date bars, Ginger-lemon shooters, Homemade almond milk and almond flour, and so much more!

Photo credits: Left – Emilie Binzer, Top Right & Bottom Right – Anne Nivíka Grødem

Is your mouth watering yet? Get more Greenlandic food inspiration at www.greenlandicfoodlover.gl.

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Greenland named a ‘Best of the World’ destination!

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Greenland is hot for 2016

This morning National Geographic Traveler published its annual Best of the World list, full of 20 destinations that can’t be missed for the coming year.

As Greenland hosts more big events (like the Arctic Winter Games in March 2016) and adds new international flight routes (like from Keflavik, Iceland to Kangerlussuaq, Greenland), the image of Greenland as an adventurous and accessible destination comes clearer.

Will you do as the travel gods say; will you come to Greenland in ’16?

A Surreal Serenade in Greenland

14136803876_ec1ca05fd9_k.jpg Photo credit: Mads Pihl – Visit Greenland

Ever been moved to tears due to an absolutely unbelievable combination of music and nature? It happens all the time at AirZafari!

Music Therapy

Music is an incredible tool to highlight an experience, and often, if the association is strong enough, the memory is seared into your mind and comes through as clear as if it was just yesterday, upon hearing that same music again somewhere down the road.

Listening to music while flying is something that always transports me to another place mentally. The right tune paired with the right scene out the little window can be downright epic.

For about 2 years there I had a small compulsion to listen to ‘Kids’ by MGMT upon takeoff.

Or try listening to Adele’s new ‘Hello’ on repeat while landing over the national monuments of Washington, D.C. (Which I may or may not have just done.) It gets you.

A Surreal Serenade in Greenland

AirZafari knows all about the surreal experience of listening to beautiful music while looking to even more beautiful nature. They often play classical melodies through the headsets for travelers while they gaze down at the sheer vastness of Greenland’s landscape.

Check THIS VIDEO created from a flightseeing tour in Kangerlussuaq, Greenland with AirZafari.

There are no words.

Fly WOW air

IMG_3378My latest rec for getting to Greenland cheap so you can spend the money where it counts!

Greenland is expensive. Let’s just go ahead and get that out of the way.

Short of some pretty astronomic miracles, the Air Greenland and Air Iceland prices won’t be decreasing much.

But what if I told you the solution could be WOW air?

No, WOW air does not fly to Greenland yet, but traveling with this newcomer budget airline from Europe or North America into Reykjavík (a major connection hub for Greenland) could at least make one leg of your journey much cheaper.

Not long ago I flew on WOW air for the first time and I’d like to give it the Polarphile seal of approval (I just made that up) along with an honest pledge that I would seriously consider flying with them again in the future. High marks for service, price, and personality; low marks for convenience (as someone traveling to/fro the DC Metro Area).

Post-script note: I already booked my second flight with WOW air just two months after this first trip. Despite having a free points ticket with the competitor, black out dates prohibited me from using it when I needed to. Since I was forced to use real money, booking with WOW air helped me save over 500 USD versus booking with the competitor.

~

The motivation: As someone booking their ticket just 11 days before departure, I was what you call ‘price-motivated’ – exactly WOW air‘s target market.

The bottom line: 11 days before departure I bought a transatlantic flight between continental Europe and North America for 294 USD, which did include some extra purchases of mine like seat selection, cancellation protection, and 1 piece of heavy hand luggage.

Regarding the seat selection fee, this applies to choose any seat in the aircraft, not just priority seating with extra leg room, like on other airlines (I don’t think those seats even exist on WOW air’s machines). I really didn’t want to get stuck with a middle seat in front of the exit row, and truth be told, I wanted to see out the window to Greenland when flying overhead. It’s a little ritual of mine.

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Regarding the luggage fee, 5 kg of hand luggage is included in the ticket price. One can elect to purchase an additional 7 kg allowance for a fee, or else check a bag for a fee.

The Experience: 

So what had me saying “Wow“? Plenty!

* Hand-luggage only travelers are the new Business Class. WOW air offers a separate check-in line for those traveling with hand-luggage only. Therefore, I got to bypass a line of around 50 people when I arrived to the airport, which I found to be a so lovely surprise!

* There are electrical outlets under each seat. This was maybe my biggest WOW moment, in fact. Not even Icelandair offers this in economy class!

* The planes are perfectly fine, just like all other Airbus machines. Maybe I was expecting a matchbox for some reason, but the economy seats are just like any others I’ve been in, and the seats themselves are very comfortable. I flew in their new Airbus.

* They’re funny! Anybody whose business model includes launching a gigantic purple people eater into the sky has to have a sense of humor, right? And, a la Southwest Airlines out of the United States, when you take away in one department (think: the free sodas and snacks) you have to add in another. Check the Vomit-meter on their Sick Bag in the seat pocket!

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The Critique:
There’s literally only one thing that made the experience a drag – WOW air does not service IAD (Dulles International Airport) outside Washington, D.C.! If WOW air flew out of IAD I would be hooked. Hands down.

Instead, flying into/out of BWI (Baltimore-Washington International Airport) creates some logistical nightmares for anyone trying to connect with D.C. or Northern Virginia, like me. After 9 hours of flying, this is the absolute last thing you want, especially in this area. Not to mention, there’s no TSA Pre-Check line at BWI security. Huh?!

45 minutes on the B30 Metro Bus from BWI to the Greenbelt Metro Station before riding 1 hour on the Metro from Greenbelt to Vienna, plus an Uber, to reach my destination in Northern Virginia, which otherwise would have been just a 22 minute Uber ride from IAD. That’s what it took for me to get home after landing at BWI.

And I’m a lucky one with a Global Entry status. I don’t even want to think about how much time I would have used if I had had to wait in the standard customs line.

These public transportations cost just an additional 21 USD, so clearly the pricing still makes a compelling economic case, but somewhere on the Metro I found myself wondering if crashing on my bed still fully clothed and dead tired due to an extra 2 hours of transit was worth saving approximately 275 USD. What do you think?

Aside from that big ticket item, there are a few things that could polish up the experience to match the competition in terms of value proposition, but nothing that’s a huge game-changer for me.

* It would be fantastic to have wi-fi onboard. I would gladly pre-purchase it along with the laundry list of other add-ons. What’s another 10 USD?

* A self check-in kiosk would be great!

The Facts:
WOW air flies to Reykjavík from Montreal, Toronto, Boston, and Baltimore in North America (and soon from Los Angeles and San Francisco, too) and from 17 European cities including London, Paris, Barcelona, Rome, Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Berlin, and others.

WOW air advertises their base fares and then offers a whole host of optional fees and charges, plus various taxes. For example, at first glance my 294 USD ticket looked like it was going to cost just 129 USD. And really, many of the “electives” are virtually unavoidable so you have to pay extra no matter what. Is it really realistic to travel across the Atlantic with only a purse?

WOW air offers a wide selection of food and beverages on board for 250-1500 ISK (2-11 USD, or 2-11 EUR). Note that even non-alcoholic beverages like water, soda, and coffee/tea must also be purchased for 300-350 ISK (2-2.50 USD, or 2-2.5 EUR). The pricing is nearly exactly the same as you’ll find in the airport stores, at least it was for the wine, water, sandwich, and yoghurt I bought, so no need to nearly miss your boarding call to try to save some pocket change on refreshments.

All in all, given the late notice of booking and the distance traveled, I would say the 294 USD on Wow air is well spent. But given the circus involved in getting between BWI and the DC Metro Area, I would say there’s definitely grounds to think long and hard whether the cheaper airfare is worth the extra transit steps.

COMING SOON: ‘Inussuk: Culture Crossing’, a New Book About Living in Greenland (English)

inussuk photo  Photo credit: Inussuk.info 

Read my quick review of the upcoming book Inussuk: Culture Crossing by Lena Lauridsen, my evaluation of Danes as the ‘quintessential’ foreigner in Greenland, and a presentation of statistics that show the picture of internationals in Greenland today.

A SNAP REVIEW

Inussuk: Culture Crossing by Lena Lauridsen is a new book in English for non-Danish internationals that are seriously considering or planning on moving to Greenland to live and work. It should be hitting the proverbial bookshelves in December 2015!

(Note: I specify ‘Non-Danish’ here as there is also a Danish language version of the book specifically for a Danish audience, called Inussuk: Pejling mod Grønland. See further below for a discussion of Danes in Greenland.)

I can warmly recommend Inussuk: Culture Crossing. The book covers every topic imaginable from the big picture elements like workplace atmosphere in Greenland and how to manage feeling different to some more technical issues like what paperwork and permits you need to file and how to stockpile hot commodities in winter. The book also poses questions throughout asking you to evaluate the information you have just read and to think honestly with yourself whether this is a lifestyle you can handle.

The primary reason I stand behind this book is because it aims to set internationals up for success in Greenland, and by success I mean: positive experiences, noticeable cultural integration, and perhaps most importantly, cultivation of the desire to stay in Greenland for an extended period of time, and perhaps forever. The more prepared you are for the realities of living and working in Greenland, the more socially and economically beneficial your presence in Greenland will be.

A shameless plug goes out to The Fourth Continent and myself, who contributed to the chapters on culture shock and language, respectively.

WHY SO MUCH DANISH?

Historically, Danes were the only nationality emigrating to Greenland, and the present concentration of Danish internationals in Greenland is due to the political and economic relationship that ties Greenland to Denmark.

Young Danes looking for a new experience yet still wanting the comforts of the same language and currency find Greenland to be a land of adventure, a veritable playground for their gap year. Others are driven by the professional prospect to be a big fish in a little pond, as Danes are typically paid more than Greenlanders and can often walk directly into managerial positions. Some are merely along for the ride while their international significant others chase dreams in the great north. And still others fall in love with Greenlanders, typically while they are studying down in Denmark, and return to their homeland together with them.

With the political ties and the linguistic and economic similarities facilitating the moving process, it should be a piece of cake for Danes to move to Greenland, right? Wrong!

Speaking Danish and holding a Danish passport is not at all a golden ticket to making it in Greenland. The truth of the matter is: while the politics, linguistics, and economics make the process of moving to Greenland easy for Danes on paper, they are just as likely as anyone to misunderstand the culture and to have unrealistic expectations. Therefore, having a good base knowledge of the culture and customs of daily life are what make the move successful in practice.

A successful transition, or ‘making it,’ is necessary if someone should have half a chance of staying in Greenland for a long period of time – which is, of course, the most sustainable labor model for Greenland as a country.

And hence why Lauridsen originally wrote this book. As a Danish international in Greenland herself, I can only imagine this book came out of a need for information that Lauridsen herself missed when moving to Greenland with her own family just a few years ago.

WHAT’S CHANGING?

The demographics of internationals in Greenland are changing and can be seen in the larger places like Nuuk (the capital), Sisimiut, and Ilulissat. Here you find small contingencies of Thai, Americans, Germans, Icelanders, Australians, Faroese, French, Brits, and even a New Zealander or two, plus other nationalities that I know I’m missing.

I am personally very glad that Lauridsen saw the trend that Danes are not the only ones moving to Greenland anymore and thus that there is a demand for an English version of this book. Perhaps it is part of a much larger sociopolitical trend that points toward a diversification from all things Danish in terms of immigration, importation, foreign investment, politics, language, and so on.

SHOW ME THE NUMBERS

Statistics Greenland tells us that, on 1 January 2015, 11% of Greenland’s population is foreign-born, which amounts to a whopping 6009 people who have decided to make Greenland their new home.

There are some places in Greenland that attract internationals more than others, but whether this pattern is driven by the employers or the internationals themselves cannot be determined here, although, naturally, it is directly related to the availability of employment and level of industry and infrastructure. The top three most populated towns in Greenland – Nuuk, Sisimiut, and Ilulissat – get nearly three-quarters of all the internationals.

  • 61% of internationals (3636 people) live in Nuuk.
  • 7% of internationals (433 people) live in Sisimiut.
  • 6% of internationals (370 people) live in Ilulissat.

But that’s not to say that internationals don’t branch out further. Out of 87 inhabited places in Greenland, 62 of them have at least 1 international living there, although the small settlements have, quite literally, just the one.

Despite being surrounded by hundreds or even thousands of fellow internationals and even having a strong network like the Internationals in Nuuk group, it does not mean you will be in the majority. No matter where you are in Greenland, as an international you will be in the minority.

  • In Nuuk, the 3636 internationals still account for only 21% of the city population.
  • In Sisimiut, the 433 internationals account for 8% of the town population.
  • In Ilulissat, the 370 internationals account for 8% of the town population.

If living somewhere with a high international-to-Greenland-born ratio is of great importance then, aside from Nuuk, you would fare better in Kangerlussuaq (21% international) or Narsarsuaq (17% international) than in Sisimiut or Ilulissat. However, the tradeoff is that Kangerlussuaq and Narsarsuaq are both small settlements with populations of 510 and 145, respectively, and with an infrastructure centered entirely on operating an international airport and the tourism it facilitates.

LET’S CHAT

Are you seriously considering or planning to move to Greenland? Are you already an international in Greenland? If so, leave a reply below or write to me at sarah@greenland.com. I’d love to hear from you!

A Snapshot of Internationals in Greenland (2015)

IMG_3390  Photo credit: The Fourth ContinentTaken at Hotel Hans Egede in Nuuk, Greenland at an Internationals in Nuuk gathering in October, when Fernando Ugarte, an international from Mexico working at Pinngortitaleriffik (the Greenland Institute of Natural Resources), spoke.

SHOW ME THE NUMBERS

Statistics Greenland tells us that, on 1 January 2015, 11% of Greenland’s population is foreign-born, which amounts to a whopping 6009 people who have decided to make Greenland their new home.

There are some places in Greenland that attract internationals more than others, but whether this pattern is driven by the employers or the internationals themselves cannot be determined here, although, naturally, it is directly related to the availability of employment and level of industry and infrastructure. The top three most populated towns in Greenland – Nuuk, Sisimiut, and Ilulissat – get nearly three-quarters of all the internationals.

  • 61% of internationals (3636 people) live in Nuuk.
  • 7% of internationals (433 people) live in Sisimiut.
  • 6% of internationals (370 people) live in Ilulissat.

But that’s not to say that internationals don’t branch out further. Out of 87 inhabited places in Greenland, 62 of them have at least 1 international living there, although the small settlements have, quite literally, just the one.

Despite being surrounded by hundreds or even thousands of fellow internationals, it does not mean you will be in the majority. No matter where you are in Greenland, as an international you will be in the minority.

  • In Nuuk, the 3636 internationals still account for only 21% of the city population.
  • In Sisimiut, the 433 internationals account for 8% of the town population.
  • In Ilulissat, the 370 internationals account for 8% of the town population.

If living somewhere with a high international-to-Greenland-born ratio is of greatest importance to you, then, aside from Nuuk, you would fare better in Kangerlussuaq (21% international) or Narsarsuaq (17% international) than in Sisimiut or Ilulissat. However, the tradeoff is that Kangerlussuaq and Narsarsuaq are both small settlements with populations of 510 and 145, respectively, and with an infrastructure centered entirely on operating an international airport and the tourism it facilitates.

Are you soon going to be an international in Greenland? There’s a book for you!

Where Can I See Northern Lights in Greenland?

8485463860_4dfd8e13a0_k Photo credit: Mads Pihl – Visit Greenland

The short answer is: everywhere.

It’s firmly into the autumn season – snow has come to stay in most places and the mornings stay dark longer each day. Time to hibernate? Think again. Here’s one reason to welcome the darkness – it makes seeing Northern Lights easier!

Read here about Northern Lights Hot Spots in Greenland.

This article was originally published in the Visit Greenland monthly newsletter. To receive articles like this straight to your inbox, sign up for the newsletter here.