Icebergs, sled dogs, glaciers, Inuit culture - even in summer this place screams arctic. It was a joy to experience life at the top of the world.
We arrived in Ilulissat after a two-hour flight from the capital city of Nuuk. It was our first time being above the Arctic Circle where during winter, the sun doesn't rise for a month and a half and the average temperature is -5 degrees Fahrenheit. Fortunately, we were there during the mild summer days of July when the sun shines 24 hours per day.
Flying into Ilulissat made me think about how much of a trick Erik The Red played on his fellow Vikings in 982 AD when he named the island Greenland to get them to come there. From the airplane window, I saw nothing but brown mountains, blue water, and white ice.
It was a pleasantly mild summer day when we arrived. We boarded the complimentary hotel shuttle with a retired couple from Montana. They had been met at the airport by a representative of one of the local tour companies. The tour guide told us that the four of us were the most Americans he had ever had on the shuttle. The main topic of discussion during the ride to the hotel was the cancellation of the Baltimore to Greenland flight.
Our hotel accommodation for our 4-night stay in Ilulissat was the Hotel Arctic. It's a nice hotel that sits on a hill located about a mile from the center of town. From our room, we could see the harbor, the colorful town, and the famous Disko Bay.
Ilulissat is the Greenlandic word for icebergs and taking one look at Disko Bay you immediately know how the town got its name. The bay is constantly filled with icebergs of all shapes and sizes. I've never seen another town whose scenery changes from day to day like in Ilulissat.
Our double room consisted of two twin beds but this time they were pushed together. As in Nuuk, we had to use our key to turn on the electricity in the room. This also meant I had to reset the alarm clock every evening before going to sleep. The curtains were not very good at blocking out the 24-hour sunlight. I always felt we were just laying down for an afternoon nap when we turned in for the day. There was a flat screen television but there was not much of a channel selection. There was one Danish channel and a closed circuit channel on which the hotel showed two American or British movies per day over and over. There was one channel that showed a very informative program about Greenland culture and history over and over. It was very nicely done and highly recommended for at least one viewing. The hotel has a free internet terminal in its lobby.
There is a boardwalk behind the hotel that leads to some metal igloos that overlook the iceberg-filled Disko Bay. These cost a little more to stay in but Traci and I had no desire to stay there - especially after the hotel let us take a look inside one. For one, the sun shines into these metal pods all day (the sun does not set at this time of the year). This makes the interior as hot as if you left your car windows closed during a hot summer day. Secondly, although there is a bed, bathroom, and television inside, there is no shower - only a hose attached to the sink. I was a little confused over the appeal of these metal igloos - especially since the Greenlanders never lived in igloos.
sled dogs, boardwalk, and icebergs out back
our cozy room
view from our room at 2 AM!!!
viewing icebergs behind our hotel
alternative lodging - metal igloos. No thanks.