Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Prince Christian Sound

This Prins Christian Sund region is a maze of a complex network of extraordinary channels and fjords.  This is truly a wonderland of steep granite mountains, glaciers, waterfalls and icebergs.  It is a channel that is between the mainland of Greenland and the island called Sanmisoq.  It means “the long channel.”   At the southern tip of Greenland is Cape Farewell and the Greenland name means “the lands end.”  Instead of sailing past Cape Farewell it is possible to make a shortcut through the channels.  This is, however, only possible from midsummer until late autumn because the sea is blocked with pack ice at other times.  It is truly a privilege that few people get to enjoy.  The rugged landscape that we are able to see was formed by carving glaciers during the Ice Age.

The mountains on each side of this channel rise up to 5,000 feet.  The channel is about 35 miles long and at is narrowest point is only 1,100 feet wide.  Our ship is 930 feet long.  There is but one small settlement of 130 people within this channel.  It is called Aappilattoq or “the read place”.  It is the most remote village in all of Greenland.  We stopped there and sent out a couple of tenders to take some “fun” supplies to the villagers - we sent out coloring books and crayons for the kids, and pizza for all of the villagers - they LOVE it!  Along with the pizza, we also sent other food items, things like Snickers bars and stuff.  Their diet consists mostly of fish and vegetables that they grow during the summer months.

We spent the entire day cruising very slowly through this gorgeous waterway.  I took a zillion photographs - everywhere you turn, there is a waterfall, or an iceberg, or towering mountain walls.  Simply hard to explain.  I hope my photos do it a little bit of justice.  We entered the Sound at about 8 AM and exited it a little bit after 5:30 PM.  It was a lovely and relaxing day.  One of those days where you just want to sit out on your balcony and take it all in and not miss a thing.

Greenland - Nanortalik and Qaqortoq

Greenland is the world’s largest island with a population of just 56,000 people.  The first Inuits arrived about 4,000 years ago.  Their home has the largest glacier in the northern hemisphere and the world’s largest national park.

On a small island at the very southern tip of Greenland, lies Nanortalik, which means “place of polar bears.”  Norsemen first settled here in the late 1700’s.  The area’s main industries are crab fishing, seal hunting, fishing and gold mining.  There are only 1,300 residents here so you can imagine what a ship like ours, with 2,000 passengers must do to the town on a foggy Saturday morning!  Most townspeople seemed to stay in their homes, but a few ventured out to say hello as we wandered through their few streets and bombarded their one grocery store and tourist shop.  The cost of food is really high - I found a bottle of Chilean wine that we enjoy at home for $8.99 a bottle, yet in Nanortalik I was surprised to find it there, and more surprised to see that it sells for $25 a bottle!

Nanortalik is picturesque, and one of their more interesting sites in town is an open air museum, with about 12 different structures all housing the town’s history - there was a medical clinic, radio house, boat house with several wonderful old kayaks and uniaks on display, an old sod house, fish house, and a whale blubber processing house.  There was also a cool little lookout in the center where you could climb up a very steep set of stairs to gaze out across the little town and out into the harbor.  

Our next day was spent in another small town, this one, however, twice as large as Nanortalik, with 3,200 residents:  Qatortoq.  This name means “the white place.”

This town is the heart of the area in Greenland where Nordic Vikings settled in the 10th century.  Erik the Red set up a farm here in a fjord just north of town.  

Both Nanortalik and Qaqortoq, along with all of Greenland are part of Denmark, with the Danish Kroner their main currency, although the stores accepted Kroners, British Sterling, U.S. dollars and Euros.  The people are very friendly and kind, and seemed a bit overwhelmed by all of us showing up at once.

As we left Qaqortoq last night, we were warned/advised by the captain that we were going to experience some more rough seas, as there was quite a strong storm front in our way.  This part of the North Atlantic is often a bit rough, and last night was no exception.  We were in the dining room eating our dinner, and many people either didn’t show up or had to get up and leave, as the rocking and listing got to even the best of them.  Dishes were crashing all around us, and the captain came on to let us know things were going to be rough, but not to worry, he was adjusting the ballast to help reduce the listing and improve our safety and comfort.  It was also the start of a full moon, and a few hours later, close to midnight, as we came into the eye of the storm, things suddenly calmed, cleared and this gorgeous moon appeared from out of nowhere, casting a brilliant sheen across the water, straight through into our cabin windows.  I hollered at Adrienne to get up and “OMG see the gorgeous moon!” and we oohed and ached and I took pictures.  Then we went back to sleep after giggling for awhile.  Soon enough, the ship moved back into the other side of the storm and the seas became rough again, tossing us up and down and from side to side for the rest of the night and well into today.

Today, even with the rough seas, we had a very relaxing day.  We spent about 2 hours in the hydro pool and thermal suite.  The hydro pool is a very large, pool-sized jacuzzi, with a powerful swirling water feature in the middle, and 2 large “shower nozzle” type streams that you can stand under and enjoy strong water massages on your head, or shoulders or back.  There’s also a curved metal platform that you can lie back on and enjoy the jets and bubbles.  The thermal suite is a collection of dry sauna rooms, aromatherapy steam rooms and a large room with 6 tiled cement curved beds, heated to comfort.  The beds face floor to ceiling windows so you can lie there on these warm beds, covered in warm towels and just enjoy the ocean view.  Sublime!

Last night, there was a reception for 3+ and higher star Mariners, and Adrienne received her 100 cruise day medallion, and enjoyed a photo with the captain and the hotel manager.  That was fun!  And today, we had a Mariner brunch, which we really enjoyed.  

Next stop will be Newfoundland, with visits to St. Anthony and St. Johns.

Here's some pics from Prins Christian Sound and Greenland, in no particular order.

Inside Prins Christian Sund

Varied landscape in PCS

Near the end of the day in PCS



Waterfalls below the glacier in PCS

I loved these peaks in PCS


I'm obsessed with icebergs!

Adi and I at the Pinnacle Grill for her Birthday Dinner

Happy 60th you old fart!

Typical female Greenland attire.  Those boots are made from seal skin

On top of the world!!  Nanortalik

Typical Nanortalik home

View of Nanortalik, pop 1,300 from ship
Local artists in Qaqortoq


Harbor at Qaqortoq

Solar panels in Greenland!!!

Iceberg!  Huge!
View from ship of Qaqortoq

Lasso the iceberg - YEE HAW!

Who's bed is decorated for her big b-d?

Full moon!

Relaxing in the thermal spa - ahhh
Look how gorgeous this room is

Way to relax on a sea day!

Mango cloud dessert

Good morning Newfoundland, Tim Horton's

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

More pictures from Iceland

blue lagoon

tectonic plates collide north america and eurasian

pretty coast

Pictures from Iceland

Our tour group for the 3 days in Iceland

Geysers and mineral pools

Closeup of a bubbling hot spring

More hot springs

Hot springs.  Boy they stink of sulphur!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

More pretty waterfalls Iceland South Coast

Glacier South Coast

Glacier up close


Yet another pretty waterfall

Adrienne at the glacier

Black Sand Beach near the 3 Trolls

Basalt columns South Iceland

In front of E15, the volcano that erupted in 2010

Waterfalls that you can walk behind