Monday, 28 August 2017

Tasiilaq Eastern Greenland ... #2 Cruise Diary

Cruising Iceland, Greenland, and Norway #2

Greetings from Tasiilaq- Greenland!

Tasiilaq is the largest town in East Greenland with a population of around 2,000. Surrounded by jagged mountain peaks the town nestles above a small bay which houses the small harbour. A pontoon/floating jetty provides landing facilities for cruise ships like the one I am currently on and larger vessels.

The slow approach to Tasiilaq before 05.00 hours was in heavily overcast skies (I’m not sure exactly when since I was asleep till though the Captain’s daily update at noon over the system generally contains such information). The occasional small iceberg dotted the fjord outside my balcony window and tempted me to have a quick photo opportunity. Pyjama clad, it was surprisingly not too cold as I snapped a few quick shots though any longer would have been a different story.

In that early morning mist some of the colourful buildings closer to the shore peeked in and out of the shifting haar. Most buildings aren’t large, the bigger ones being warehousing, hospital, public buildings, school, sports centre. They have a very pretty Scandinavian appeal with many of them picked out with white rooftop edges.

During my short walk around Tasiilaq the people were very friendly, ready to smile to the hundreds of cruise ship tourists who landed on their shore in small batches from The Black Watch tenders. Impromptu entertainment was provided for us by young girls singing local songs as they sat near the Post Office, overseen by an older woman. I say local songs because at least one of them included the word Tasiilaq- though what the rest of the song meant I’ve no clue. Their first language is Greenlandic followed by Danish. Not knowing how to say thank you in Danish I tried it in Dutch and my ‘Haartelijk Danke’ was greeted with large smiles so it must have been similar enough.

The town used to be reliant on hunting but has in recent years diversified to include fishing and tourism to gain more economic benefits. The small Tourist Shop was crowded when I tried to have a look at the wares so I reluctantly gave that visit a miss. Some 20 -25 of the cruise ships tourists completely fills the small space to capacity. One of the shop windows had been opened for fresh air so I was able to glimpse some of the bone carvings that are a popular tourist buy.

Instead of queuing to get in to the shop and missing some valuable time on shore, I continued my hike up the road to get the best view of the area. Each new step on the sharp ascent took me into the low mist that was hovering. I’m used to Scottish haar descending so there was no use in blaming the local ‘god of the weather’ for not sending me sunshine. And for the locals it's clear that the washing gets hung outside in all weathers!

There's a tiny museum that started off life as a church but again it was very busy when I reached it, ours being the third tender to go ashore. However, finding out more about the traditional Inuit historical and religious history will have to wait for an internet connection that works more reliably. Our tour guide quite rightly advised all of us not to enter the small church if the flag was flying at half mast as that would indicate a wedding, funeral or some such event was taking place. The flag was flying high but as I saw some locals emerging I continued to seek new vistas to take more photos of the tiny harbour below.

My visit was short but I’m so very glad to say I have actually stepped foot on the terrain of Greenland!


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