My Greenland Sailing Staycation

IMG_1262

Staycation (n): a trip in which one uses his or her time off to remain home and, in fact, go nowhere. A play on the American English word “vacation”.

Okay, so I’m using a bit of poetic license with this one since I did not actually stay home for my summer holiday, but I did stay in the country as opposed to the vast majority of friends I know who travel to Denmark for summer holiday, plus another handful or two who venture further to places like Bali or Los Angeles. Plus, it is alliterative with “sailing” and “swordfish”, which made for catchy and unique hashtags.

I’m fresh back from a nearly three-week summer holiday in which I sailed along the west coast of Greenland between Nuuk (64*N) and Disko Bay (69*N) in my own private boat. By the way, when we say sailing here, 8 times out of 10 it is actually with a boat with an engine instead of with a true sailing vessel. I guess I’m not really sure what to call sailing with a motorized boat otherwise? Anyway…

To put it simply, my sailing staycation was one of the greatest experiences I have ever had! Of course I have been sailing before, and I’ve even been sailing along most of the west coast before, but when it is your own boat, and when it is YOU yourself as captain some of the time, it is an experience on a whole other level!

I’m nowhere close to being able to compose a concise post about my holiday, so for now I give a few teaser thumbnail photos and a suggestion to follow the trip in short-story form via my in-trip Instagram posts on @polarphile.

Winter Getaways in Greenland – a must do!

 

img_5825

I am telling you – the Christmas season in Greenland simply does not get any cosier! There are orange Christmas stars in every house and office window, the days are getting shorter each day, there are always candles lit, and there are a ton of Christmas trees all over town. Oh yeah, and there is a ton of snow and northern lights!

I have personally been in the absolute highest of holiday spirits this year – baking up a storm nearly every other day with warm fruit compotes or cranberry something-or-others, and decorating the house with festive candles and a Greenlandic mobile. Cultivating cosy has been such an enjoyment!

Here are three ways and places you, too, can get filled with the winter spirit in Greenland!

Celebrate Christmas and New Year’s in Nuuk

Bid the sun welcome back in Ilulissat in mid-January

Have fun in the snow in Sisimiut and Kangerlussuaq

ARCTIC WINTER GAMES 2016 – Nuuk, Greenland

Arctic Winter Games 2016 is in Nuuk, Greenland right now!

The Opening Ceremony on Sunday, 6 March 2016 kicked off this traveling sports and cultural event that celebrates youth from 9 delegations around the Arctic – Alaska, Alberta North, Greenland, Northwest Territories, Nunavik-Quebec, Yamal, Sapmi, Nunavut, and Yukon. The games take place every two years in a different delegation, although this is the first time Greenland has been sole host.

445A2154-2 Photo: Dida G. Heilmann445A2280-2 Photo: Dida G. Heilmann

ARCTIC WEATHER FOR ARCTIC EVENTS

The weather gods dumped plenty of snow and high winds (reaching 126 kmh / 78 mph) on Nuuk to celebrate Arctic Winter Games. Pretty ironic considering the warmer-than-average temperatures earlier in winter caused a bit of worry that there wouldn’t be enough snow!

The storm hit on Saturday 5 March – the same day Air Greenland had planned to carry out it’s biggest air traffic feat to date, so they got one more day to prepare! On Sunday 6 March, Air Greenland got underway with an air bridge unseen in Greenlandic history to get participants into Nuuk in good time – 31 flights between Kangerlussuaq and Nuuk in 11 hours and 5 minutes.

One Air Greenland employee wrote this (translated to English):

I am just SO proud of all my colleagues at Air Greenland. The AWG flight bridge was, on paper, a nearly impossible feat which was today carried out to perfection. That’s the way! Also huge congratulations go to Mittarfeqarfiit [Greenland Airport Authority] and AWG, as well as to all of the volunteers. We can do so much when we work together here in Greenland.

445A1426-2 Photo: Dida G. Heilmann

THE SPORTS DISCIPLINES

The sports competitions started Monday evening and continue until tomorrow, Friday 11 March, culminating with the Closing Ceremony.

There are 15 possible sports disciplines that athletes compete in, including alpine skiing and snowshoeing, biathalon by ski or snowshoe, wrestling, and the popular Arctic Sports and Dene Games, both traditional indigenous disciplines.

Greenland is really good at Arctic Sports! Last night (Wednesday 9 March) Tonny Fisker got both a Gold medal in the Head Pull and a Bronze medal in the Triple Jump, Bent Jakobsen got a Gold medal in the Alaskan High Kick, Ittukusuk Heilmann got a Bronze in the Head Pull, and Nadja Olesen got Gold medal in the Arm Pull.

Screen Shot 2016-03-10 at 12.30.26 Photo: @inooraqScreen Shot 2016-03-10 at 12.30.41 Photo: @inooraq

FOLLOW THE GAMES

Search Instagram hashtags #AWG2016 and #JoinFeelJump and follow the official Instagram account @awg2016

Visit the official website www.awg2016.org

Browse professional photos at https://awg.smugmug.com/browse

Follow the Arctic Winter Games Nuuk 2016 Facebook page

Watch the AWG Daily roundup show online at KNR’s YouTube channel

8 ways to have a cosy time in Greenland

Greenlanders love to cultivate cosiness – whether that’s by completely enjoying your own company by curling up with the cat, a heavy blanket, and a good book… by feng-shuiing your living room on a Saturday morning… or by inviting friends over for a dinner party. 

I think every culture can recognise the concept of a true comfort activity. Think about gathering to watch American football games on Saturday afternoons in USA with chips, dips and beer. Think about shinrin-yoku / forest bathing in Japan to destress and reconnect with nature. Think about knitting in the Faroe Islands.

Here’s how I ‘do cosy’ in Greenland!

1. Go to Kaffemik (or host your own) – Kaffemik is a get-together of one’s family, friends, colleagues, and acquaintances to celebrate exciting life events like a new baby, a baby’s christening, a child’s first day of school, birthdays, confirmations, weddings, a new house, etc. As host, you spend days baking and cooking in advance to fill your table with oodles of cakes, biscuits, coffee, tea, and all sorts of good things on the big day. The entire day is exciting and joyful with a constant flow of people coming and going. As guest, you bring a small gift for the honorary person. People often make Facebook groups to spread the news about kaffemik, but word of mouth is also just as effective, especially in the small settlements.

IMG_6085

 

2. Make arts & crafts – Of course, stretching your artistic legs requires that you have artistic legs to begin with, but for me, I have always loved putting energy toward drawing and painting and making beautiful things. The hours just fly by! Here is a card I made one evening for my friend out of plain old sequins, card stock, needle & thread, and a little inspiration from the Greenlandic women’s national costume, plus a few beaded necklaces I’ve made which also pay homage to the colourful patterned nuilarmiut, or pearl collar from the costume.

 

3. Make sealskin crafts – There’s no shortage of sealskin in Greenland, and using it is not only fashionable but functional. I love to make things for others, and what a luxurious gift sealskin is! I once made a vibrant red sealskin belt for my friend to wear at her wedding, and I’ve even made cell phone pouches out of the same. When the temperatures are very cold, sealskin works as a perfect insulator to keep your phone warm – and on! ‘Sewing clubs’ are a common thing in Greenland, but I’ll admit that all the ones I have experienced end up being much more about socialising than sewing – not necessarily a bad thing. Read here about my creations.

 

4. Relax with cosy candles and hot teaSelf-hygge is not always my strongest point. I admit, it can be a challenge for me to make myself stay in because I’m constantly wanting to be active, socialise, and take advantage of the fun events that happen in Nuuk. But when I do finally take that evening to relax with candlelight and a big pot of tea on a cold night, it feels oh so good!

Screen Shot 2016-02-29 at 09.39.15

 

5. Bake delicious treats – Even if there’s no kaffemik on the immediate horizon, practice makes perfect, right? I don’t think there ever needs to be a ‘good reason’ to make something tasty!!

 

6. Make homemade soap – Okay, this one isn’t my own hobby, and I don’t think it’s that common anyway, but I have assisted my friend with soap-making twice now. It’s pretty fun! We tried a simple and gentle baby soap recipe with light lavender and bergamot scents. There’s something satisfying about seeing your hard work (1.5 hours of stirring with an electric mixer definitely counts as hard work!) come to something useful in a few weeks’ time. PS – the goggles and gloves are just a safety precaution when preparing the first step. The rest of the process is more fun and less mad-scientist! Photo credit: The Fourth Continent.

 

7. Eat meals together with others – Food is a universal language, and people bond when sitting to a shared table, no matter what. Whether it’s Friday morning breakfast at the office (a common thing in Greenland) or a burger night with friends or a little bit fancy dinner, meals are typically a super cosy time with tables full of delicious food, good conversation, and laughter.

 

8. Sunbathe on the terrace – Nearly every single town and village in Greenland is built on the coastline, so that means nearly every flat and house has some sort of fjord- or ocean-view and a terrace to take it in. Summers in Greenland can get quite warm, so shorts and t-shirts suit perfect for outdoor time. But when the view is that perfect, sometimes you also need a terrace day in the middle of winter. Here’s The Fourth Continent and I on her terrace out in Qinngorput on 14 February this year. With a thermos of good tea and some snacks, we stayed out there and chit-chatted for almost two hours!

Luckily for us, it does eventually get warm enough to sit outside without the winter jacket 🙂

IMG_6070IMG_6062

Screen Shot 2016-07-18 at 12.39.14

Greenland named a ‘Best of the World’ destination!

DSCN1929

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?