Town walk in Qaqortoq: to the top of the hill

Qaqortoq has so many surprising stone sculptures, little nooks and aesthetic touches – it really is one of the most charming towns in Greenland to walk around in.

There are several recommendable walking tour loops, but a definite must-do is to the top of the hill to get the eagle-eye view over the whole town, the lake and out to the open ocean. Consider this one a heart-healthy workout; it is a good 15-20 minutes up, and from personal experience, you won’t want to be overdressed. But just take a look at what awaits you up there! This view never, ever gets old.

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Here’s a visual guide for how to get up to the top of the hill using shortcuts instead of following the road with several switchbacks. Note: I don’t use street names because, to be honest, locals never use street names – only landmarks 🙂

There are two main accommodations in town, Hotel Qaqortoq and Siniffik Inn (plus a handful of private AirBnB properties), so I’ll give you a head start from both. They’re very close to each other anyway.

From Siniffik Inn, you will walk down the hill of your road and come to the main intersection with the red municipality building, white church and blue grocery store (Brugseni) directly ahead of you. Turn left. (Then, you will soon pass the hotel on your right.)

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From Hotel Qaqortoq, you will go out the front door and turn right at the red Tele Post post office building. Now everyone is on the same track anyway.

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After passing the Tele Post post office on the right, continue toward the intersection. The big red complex (RockHouse bar) will be on the right. Cross the road veering right, and then turn left. The green Police Station and the blue Pisiffik Elia grocery store will soon come up on the left, and after that, the Ajarsivasik retirement home on the left.

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The Ajarsivasik retirement home will be the final commercial landmark on this route. From here on up, it’s completely residential.

The first shortcut you will take will come on the left, at just about the middle of the curve. Look for this yellow house, and turn left up the hill.

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When you reach the road, veer right to find the beautiful stone stairway that continues upward. There is a bus stop sign at its foot.

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At the top of the stone stairway, cross a small little side street and then immediately after that cross the main road, turning into a little cluster of houses. If you feel like you’re encroaching on someone’s property, don’t worry; this is the normal route all the locals take! Not to mention, there is no private land property in Greenland. People own the houses themselves, but not the ground they stand on.

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After entering the cluster of houses, again, veer right and find a wooden stairway to the left. Up, up, up. Don’t forget to stop and look behind you to check how the view improves along the way!

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At the top of the wooden stairway, walk up the small driveway toward the main road and find the final wooden stairway (green) of this endless hike to heaven!

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At the top of the stairs, you will see a white house with a mural of a polar bear. Here, turn left if you want to reach the very end of the road in Qaqortoq, or weave between the houses a bit to climb the last little portion on terrain to get to the very tip top of the hill.

The view is worth the workout, trust me.

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And if you go a bit before sunset, you just might capture something like this. Enjoy!

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Happy New Year, from South Greenland!

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One year since my last blog post… well, that’s embarrassing. But as I have informed before, these days I am SO much more active on Instagram. Instagram is just much easier with little blurbs and a picture, and stories – voila. Follow me: @polarphile. That being said, I will *try* to be a little more active here where a full length story is necessary.

The greetings come from South Greenland because we moved!! More on that below…

Well, I cannot and will not go through an entire year’s worth of events (that can be seen ad nauseam in Insta), but suffice it to say that 2018 was pretty much 300% focused on Nakuak’, the ship my boyfriend and I bought in connection with the sailing company we started last January. We are above water (pun intended) but still in upstart phase, thanks for asking.

I spent all spring, summer and early autumn in work overalls getting down and dirty with rust removal, motor room tasks and painting projects. When I look back, that is ALL I can remember. At least she sparkles reallllllllll pretty now 🙂 Our last day onboard before the winter freeze over was 6 October. As in, it began snowing on the 7th.

 

 

 

But I did a little exercise on Instagram (mostly to remind myself) of making a Year in Review picture collage that accurately represents the year in its totality. There were four trips to Ilulissat (one of which was sailing with photo tourists with my boyfriend’s father) plus a few private sailing trips/weekend fjord getaways of our own around Nuuk; we spent a month in Qaqortoq getting our official Boat Captain licenses complete with courses on navigation, long-range radio operation, elementary firefighting, safety at sea and first aid; we took a jaunt to Sweden; the normal dinners with relatives and coffees with friends; plus there were three additional quick trips to Qaqortoq and last but not least the big finale to the year was… we MOVED to Qaqortoq permanently, in mid-November.

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So it’s therefore this New Year’s greeting comes from South Greenland! It has been amazing to compare this region to the Capital and the North that I know so well. Qaqortoq lies at 60* north latitude, which is about 670 km / 400 mi south of the Arctic Circle. And in relation to Nuuk, we are now 440 km / 270 mi further south. It’s quite a ways! It’s also much smaller. There are 3015 residents here (as opposed to 17.000 something) and only about 5-7% of the residents are foreign-born (compared to nearly 30% in Nuuk, the capital).

Most noticeably for me, the temperature here was like summer (ok, “this year’s Nuuk summer”) until not that long ago – hovering at just about 0* Celsius or a few degrees above / 32-40* Fahrenheit. In fact, I was in serious crisis wondering if we were going to have a white Christmas or not!! It really affected my mood, to be honest. And some days, it was hard for me to remember that we were actually still in Greenland. Thankfully, it did begin snowing on Christmas Day (25 Dec) itself. And this week we’ve had many days in a row with consistent snow all day long.

Here’s a visual depiction of the big impressions from our first couple of months at South Greenlanders…

 

TREES & HUGE NATURE! South Greenland has two whole forests, actually. This one is in Narsarsuaq, and there’s another in Tasermiut Fjord. It’s fun to walk through the Narsarsuaq arboretum during a layover, and even more fun if you get a delicious to-go coffee drink from Cafe Polar-tut and enjoy it amongst the colourful trees. And those snowy peaks of the mountains toward the southernmost part of South Greenland – I was blown away by how gorgeous it was in autumn!

 

THAT VIEW! THOSE SUNSETS! Life at the top of the town’s hill certainly has its perks, namely a fantastic view over the whole town and out to the sea. That was really important to me. One’s biggest inspiration can also be one’s biggest distraction. You have no idea how hard it is to not just stare out the window all day long! And when sunset time comes (in the 15.00 / 3:00 PM hour in late autumn/early winter), you can definitely count on not being able to do anything other than stand on the terrace and take photos for an hour.

 

A BEAUTIFUL PLACE TO LIVE! The town is filled with little gems like cobblestone stairways, little benches to stop for a spell, old houses in the town center whose structure clearly takes from the German missionaries and artwork carved out of rock walls at every turn. One day I will do the full art walk throughout every street in the whole town.

I hope to write again soon. Until then, see you in Instagram 😉 

 

Through the Airplane Window: Videos of Flying in Greenland

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Come fly with me!

Do you like flight videos? Are you the kind of person that likes to visualize what it looks like to land in a country before you travel there? Are you just daydreaming of Greenland?

Well, if you can look past the foggy windows (figuratively, that is) and, at times, shaky filming, then these videos of landing and taking off from various airports and heliports around Greenland (and at different times of the year) can give you the right impression that Greenland is the most majestic place on this earth!

Disclaimer: Every time I shoot one of these videos, I have the highest and most earnest hopes to edit them, add great music, etc. but it just never happens. So I’m abandoning those dreams and simply putting the videos here in their rawest form – take it or leave it! 🙂

The videos are ordered alphabetically by town name.

Illorsuit

Late Spring arrival to Illorsuit, Greenland via Air Greenland (settlement in North Greenland)

Ilulissat

Late Spring departure from Ilulissat, Greenland via Air Greenland (town in North Greenland, International Airport)

Kangerlussuaq

Late Spring arrival to Kangerlussuaq, Greenland via Air Greenland (settlement in Destination Arctic Circle, International Airport)

Kulusuk

Late Winter arrival to Kulusuk, Greenland via Air Iceland (settlement in East Greenland, International Airport)

Mid Spring departure from Kulusuk, Greenland via Air Iceland (settlement in East Greenland, International Airport)

Early Summer departure from Kulusuk, Greenland via Air Iceland (settlement in East Greenland, International Airport)

Narsaq

Late Winter arrival to Narsaq, Greenland via Air Greenland (settlement in South Greenland)

Narsarsuaq

Late Winter arrival to Narsarsuaq, Greenland via Air Greenland (settlement in South Greenland, International Airport)

Nugaatsiaq

Late Spring arrival to Nugaatsiaq, Greenland via Air Greenland (settlement in North Greenland)

Nuuk

Mid Winter departure from Nuuk, Greenland via Air Iceland (capital city, International Airport)

Late Spring arrival to Nuuk, Greenland via Air Greenland (capital city, International Airport)

Qaarsut

Late Spring departure from Qaarsut, Greenland via Air Greenland (settlement in North Greenland)

Qaqortoq

Late Winter arrival to Qaqortoq, Greenland via Air Greenland (town in South Greenland)

Tasiilaq

Early summer departure from Tasiilaq, Greenland via Air Greenland (town in East Greenland)

Uummannaq

Late Spring arrival to Uummannaq, Greenland via Air Greenland (town in North Greenland)

Greenland Ice Sheet

Mid Winter flying over East Greenland and Greenland Ice Sheet via Icelandair (no landing)

Early Spring flying over Greenland Ice Sheet and West Greenland via Icelandair (no landing)

Early Summer flying over West Greenland via Icelandair (no landing)

PHOTO GALLERY: Colourful Greenland

Erik the Red should have called Greenland “Rainbowland” instead 🙂 Reds, oranges, yellows, greens, blues, indigos, violets, whites and everything in between – it all exists in the nature here!

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Qaqortoq, January 2014 (Photo credit: Pilu Nielsen via Facebook)

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Nuuk, September 2013

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Ilulissat, April 2013

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Ilulissat, April 2013

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Somewhere between Nuuk and Maniitsoq, August 2012

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Nuuk, December 2013

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Uummannaq, June 2013

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Nuuk, August 2012

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Ilulissat, August 2013

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Sisimiut, August 2013

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Kangerlussuaq, August 2013

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Nuuk (Ilulialik), August 2012

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Nuuk, September 2012

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Somewhere between Sisimiut and Ilulissat, August 2012

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Ilulissat Ice Fjord, UNESCO World Heritage Site, June 2012

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Kangerlussuaq, March 2013

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Nuuk, August 2012

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Uummannaq, June 2012

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Ilulissat Ice Fjord, UNESCO World Heritage Site, April 2013

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Sisimiut, August 2013

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Ilulissat, August 2013

PHOTO GALLERY: Greenland Towns & Settlements

Here is a one stop shop for town photos of every town and settlement I have visited, plus some quick facts! The order is clockwise, starting with East Greenland and finishing with North Greenland.

Sources: Wikipedia for coordinates… bank.stat.gl for population statistics 

Greenland // 2012 Population: 56,749 (Combined Greenland-born and other)

Greenland // 2022 Projected Population: 56,755 (Combined Greenland-born and other) // 2032 Projected Population: 56,184 (” “) // 2040 Projected Population: 55,386 (” “)

Tasiilaq // 65*N 37*W // 2012 Population: 2,004 (Town) // Photos date: 24-26 April 2013

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Kulusuk // 65*N 37*W // 2012 Population: 280 (Settlement) // Photo date: 28 April 2013

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Qaqortoq // 60*N 46*W // 2012 Population: 3,297 (Town) // Photo date: No Photo

Narsaq // 60*N 46*W // 2012 Population: 1,581 (Town) // Photo date: 15 August 2012

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Arsuk // 61*N 48*W // 2012 Population: 128 (Settlement) // Photo date: 15-16 August 2012

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Paamiut // 61*N 49*W // 2012 Population: 1,568 (Town) // Photo date: 16 August 2012

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Qeqertarsuatsiaat // 63*N 50*W // 2012 Population: 196 (Settlement) // Photo date: 14-17 August 2012

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Kangeq // 64*N 52*W // 2012 Population: 0 (Ruins) // Photo date: 21 April 2013

See here for summer pictures and a fun story about my friend’s afternoon in Kangeq. Her summer trip there was considerably more pleasant than mine!

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Nuuk // 64*N 51*W // 2012 Population: 16,181 (Town) // Photo date: 1 June-12 August 2012, 11 June 2013

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Qoornoq // 64*N 51*W // 2012 Population: 0 (Summer settlement) // Photo date: 3 July 2012

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Maniitsoq // 65*N 52*W // 2012 Population: 2,715 (Town) // Photo date: 18 August 2012

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Kangaamiut // 65*N 53*W // 2012 Population: 351 (Settlement) // Photo date: 20 August 2012

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Sisimiut // 66*N 53*W // 2012 Population: 5,571 (Town) // Photo date: 18 August 2012

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Kangerlussuaq // 67*N 50*W // 2012 Population: 513 (Settlement) // Photo date: 8-13 March 2013

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Aasiaat // 68*N 52*W // 2012 Population: 3,146 (Town) // Photo date: 19 August 2012

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Ilimanaq // 69*N 51*W // 2012 Population: 61 (Settlement) // Photo date: 8 April 2013, 11 June 2013

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Ilulissat // 69*N 51*W // 2012 Population: 4,621 (Town) // Photo date: 27 June 2012, 26 March-10 April 2013

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Oqaatsut // 69*N 51*W // 2012 Population: 50 (Settlement) // Photo date: 30 June 2012, 11 June 2013

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Qullissat // 70*N 53*W // 2012 Population: 0 (Abandoned) // Photo date: 24 June 2012

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Qaarsut // 70*N 52*W // 2012 Population: 171 (Settlement) // Photo date: No Photo

Uummannaq // 70*N 52*W // 2012 Population: 1,280 (Town) // Photo date: 22 June 2012, 5-6 June 2013

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