IBJOpinion

BASILE: Greenland has little dramatic history ... or greenery

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share
Frank Basile

The “Lonely Planet Destination Guide” for Greenland begins with, “Greenland’s history reads something like this: Nothing much happened. A couple of blokes arrived but left pretty much straight away. Several decades went past and nothing much happened and then another bloke with red hair arrived and stayed a bit longer but then after that, for about four centuries, things got really quiet and nothing much happened.”

And, at the risk of turning you away from the rest of this column, I have to say I agree with that writer. If you stick with me for the next few paragraphs, don’t expect shocking revelations or travel excitement. This one in no way rivals the heart-stopping excitement of our trip to Paraguay, which I wrote about in my last article.

Katrina and I flew from Copenhagen, Denmark, to the town of Kangerlussuaq, a remote commercial airport in the western part of Greenland, where the hotel was located in the terminal. In fact, I checked into the hotel before the bags were unloaded.

There are no roads in the country. To travel from one place to another, you must either fly or take a boat or ferry. The interior of the country is about 85 percent ice. The whole population lives on the west, east and south coasts. Life in Greenland is very different from any other place we have ever visited.

Kangerlussuaq is the third-largest city in Greenland, with a population of around 5,000 people. Plus 7,000 dogs. Greenland is about one-fourth the size of the United States but with a total population of only 60,000. The one supermarket in town has open hours from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and long lines to get in and to pay on the way out. We saw taxis everywhere in this small town but none would stop, even when it was raining (as it did frequently while we were there). When we inquired, we learned there is a tax advantage to registering your car as a taxi and displaying the appropriate signage—even if the driver doesn’t intend to pick up passengers.

Erik the Red, the legendary Viking, used Greenland as a home-away-from-home during his exile. It was Erik who called the country Greenland, but the naming proved to be more lyrical than factual; most of the time, Greenland is anything but. Though there are no trees or other greenery—except for a few wild flowers—the town is very scenic, with stunning vistas of icebergs and glaciers in the background and multicolored houses, which look like monopoly houses, all around the harbor.

Beauty, as we know, is in the eyes of the beholder. Greenland-born expeditionist, the legendary Knud Rasmussen, said, “Give me winter, give me dogs and you can have the rest.”

Though technically it was summer (which lasts about three weeks), it was very cold. There was light practically 24 hours a day, which is why they call it the land of the midnight sun. We missed the Northern Lights, though, since the best time to see them is in the winter. The downside: In the winter, you would see little else since it’s dark most of the time.

The tourist season, such as it is, lasts from mid-June to early September. Most of the people who service the tourists return home, principally Denmark, after the season. Only the die-hard locals remain. To do what, we wondered? Well, the captain of our boat said he paints the interiors of houses during the long, cold, dark winter.

One of our favorite spots was Disko Bay, set in a landscape of gigantic icebergs and sprawling mountains. We had hoped to see a humpback whale, but none appeared. The highlight of the trip was the inspiring ice fields of Ilulissat, where icebergs jostle for position at the mouth of the Ilulissat Is fjord, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

You would think television would be big there with the lack of outdoor activity during most of the year, but the TV in our hotel room could receive only three channels, two of which had the same programming.

The better views are outdoors. As we departed, we saw towering icebergs set in clear icy waters of majestic fjords. There is a natural raw beauty in the entire area and the bays and coasts abound with traditional fishing communities, marine life and soaring seabirds.

Excited yet? If, like us, you don’t require non-stop excitement as part of your travels, the best time to go is July and August. Not only is it the warmest, relatively speaking, but there are more scheduled flights and they are more dependable with fewer delays and cancellations. It’s not advisable to travel there during the Christmas holidays because the hotel and other services are generally shut down.

The “Lonely Planet” introduction to Greenland concluded with, “As an historical entity, Greenland lacks the Grand Narratives: It’s light when it comes to all-out bloody wars, pukka colonels with mutton-chop whiskers, tin-pot dictators, throne-wrestling and other Shakespearian dramas. This can be put down to two things: a minuscule population spread over a vast area, and the effort of surviving under hostile conditions that left precious little time for politicking.”

We found the country refreshing. While not at the top of anyone’s must-visit list, Greenland is as interesting and different as any destination we have visited and definitely worth a trip after you have seen the more frequently visited countries.•

__________

Basile is an author, professional speaker, philanthropist, community volunteer and retired executive of the Gene B. Glick Co. His column appears whenever there’s a fifth Monday in the month. Basile can be reached at Frank_Basile@sbcglobal.net.

ADVERTISEMENT

  • features of BASIL
    BASIL Greenland covered 81% by Greenland Ice Sheet.Greenlanders are very religious in contrast to other people 96.6% are Christians. both Greenlandic and danish spoken by public area and also football is favourite game of BASIL Greenland
  • features of BASIL
    BASIL Greenland covered 81% by Greenland Ice Sheet.Greenlanders are very religious in contrast to other people 96.6% are Christians. both Greenlandic and danish spoken by public area and also football is favourite game of BASIL Greenland
  • correction
    Dear Malik, You are correct. We flew into Kangerlussuaq, spent the night and then went to Ilulissat, which is the town I wrote about in the article. Thanks for catching my error. Greenland is a wonderful place to visit. Regards, Frank

  • Great article, wrong town
    As a Greenlander, I can tell you with certainty that the town the author is writing about is not Kangerlussuaq, but Ilulissat. Kangerlussuaq has a population of 500 people and absolutely no icebergs, but a relatively easy access to the icecap (20 miles) by SUV or bus. Has Mr. Basile even been to Greenland?

    Post a comment to this story

    COMMENTS POLICY
    We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
     
    You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
     
    Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
     
    No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
     
    We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
     

    Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

    Sponsored by
    ADVERTISEMENT

    facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

    Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ on Facebook:
    Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ's Tweets on these topics:
     
    Subscribe to IBJ
    1. Good Day I am Mr (Victoria Wright) from United state of America, i stayed in NEW YORK, and i have a broke up business, until i found this company email who help me to gain a loan for business,, and now i want to used this short medium to congratulate the below company for the fast and safe money they loan to me without any form of collateral, i loan 500,000USD from the company to save my business and lots more, i saw their mail on the internet, everyone always give testimony for what they did, so i quickly contacted them and they all did everything for me without stress and my money was sent to my account just 3 days later, i was surprise and i feel so glad, now i have a standard business control agent who help me, now i will advice those who need urgent loan to contact him at the bellow email:zenithfirm12@gmail.com

    2. NOTICE:This is to inform the general public that Vampires are real. My name is James Franklyn.,am an agent of vampire,am here to introduce our new world trend to you,a world of vampire where life get easier,we have made so many persons vampires and have turned them rich,you will be assured long life and prosperity,you shall be made to be very sensitive to mental alertness,stronger and also very fast,you will not be restricted to walking at night only even at the very middle of broad day light you will be made to walk.In case you are wildly oppressed by some unscrupulous persons we can still help you fight them.Your protection is assured immediately you join.Just contact the bellow email if you are interested we are here to attend to you anytime you want us. Contact the bellow email for more details. Email:vampirescreed@hotmail.com Sincerely: James Franklyn.

    3. Bravo! Someone else that is willing to speak the truth! Bravo!_____NBCSN is available in almost 2 MILLION more homes than just a few years ago, but Indycar STILL gets less total viewers than it did just a few years ago when NBC took over Versus. Attendance and ratings cratered with the end of season races (just when the title battle got "interesting" HAH!__________And now...new race in Basilia, where Miles celebrated the "rich history" of Indycar racing there. Rich history? What, 7 events in the 100 years of AOW? Yep, some history. Well, at least its an oval. It's not??? Are you kidding me??? Gosh darn road racin furriners.

    4. PURITY RAY LOAN OFFER........ Have you been denied by your banks,or are you in need of of an urgent loan to pay of your bills we are capable of giving loans @ cheaper rate to interested individuals, student, companies and members of the public in need of finance to settle bills, we do offer considerable loans which you can count on. For more information on our various types of loan,then you will have to contact PURITY RAY LOAN FIRM, to help you achieve your desire LOAN APPLICATION FORM TO BE FILLED BORROWERS INFORMATION * Full name:………………………. * SEX * ……………………………. * Country………………………….. * State:……………………………. * Land:…………………………….. * Occupation:…………………….. * phone number:…………………. * Telephone: ………………………….. * Age:………………………………. * Amount needed as loan:……… * Loan Duration:………………….. * Propose of Loan:……………….. * Annual revenue:………………… * Monthly Income:……………….. * Guarantee:………………………. * Payment: monthly or annually Email.....purityrayloanfirm@gmail.com Thank you and God bless Mr Purity Ray PURITY RAY LOAN FIRM we tend to serve you better

    5. Problem: most of the people responding to this article don't know about this service AT ALL! Why? Lack of awareness. This isn't IndyGo. This is CIRTA: might as well be the mattress company because they are asleep at the wheel - something like 3 directors over the last year? Playing with federal grant money is great! This "region" wants commuter rail service, has spent MILLIONS on Transportation studies yet can't even support a commuter bus line? This is largely for suburban riders to get to downtown - not for "service people to work in our hotels and restaurants" ! Get your head out of your backside!! These are professionals, students etc. that don't want to fight traffic, save some money on parking, gas, stress.... if CIRTA would put their federal money into widely promoting the sevive to Greenwood, Fishers & Carmel instead of finding directors and studies - this would be a successful service. Our family uses(d) it daily for the last several years - but the recent uncertainty & now unreliability due to cuts from Carmel has been a problem. Now, costs us an additional $350/month for gas & parking ( $4200/year) plus vehicle wear, service, environmental impact ... YES - this REGION needs this this type of service in order to keep growing and getting the people it needs to fill skilled positions in downtown Indianapolis. Think outside of your own car !!!

    ADVERTISEMENT