(5th July) Nuuk
Despite being the capital of Greenland, like every other settlement we have visited on this trip, its urban sprawl is limited to a narrow, barely sufficient strip of sloping terrain between mountainside and sea. Blocks of community buildings clinging onto the rocky face of some unpronounceable range surrounding the port, served by roads busy with early morning traffic welcomed the Ambience as she moored alongside the jetty at 7 am. It was looking like another glorious sunny day.
By 8.30 am, Sue and I were on one of the first shuttle buses into the Old Port area. The first task was to climb a small hillock situated above a small inlet near a pretty red and white church. On top was a rather grand statue of a past Greenlandic dignatory, he looked Danish and didn’t look at all perturbed by having to gaze continually out to sea as if scanning the waves for whale or dolphin.
Descending onto the rocky shoreline, there were more photos to take, this time of a group containing two scantily clad females and several sea creatures. Probably depicts an old Norse saga, but we couldn’t read the text to verify. Moving on just a few steps away we made our way to the National Greenlandic Museum, however, it didn’t open until 10 am. Spotting a wooden coastal walkway (Greenlanders are fond of building these) we decided to while away the time exploring its delights.
To our left was row after row of long, red, five-story blocks of apartments rising up the hillside, to the right of our winding, wooden trail lay the rocky sea, groups of large fish could be seen clearly as they swam lazily over huge submerged boulders. We watched fascinated as small groups of snow buntings, tweeting beautifully, chased each other from rock to handrail and back to rock. Though late in the season for birds in the UK, we guessed they were occupied with a mating ritual. For a while, we were accompanied by birds resembling black crows, but their noisy call was slightly different, probably through a heavy Grennlandic accent.
After around a kilometre we eventually reached the end of the walkway, ending on a platform above a gravelled road leading to a few single houses. A mist descended, the views disappeared and the air became damp and chilly. Wrapping ourselves tightly against the cold, we stretched our legs back to the museum.
Paying the 100 krone entry fee we entered the first of four buildings that contained the exhibits and artefacts. Though the rooms were far too poorly lit for our liking, if you want to know about Greenland’s history, its people, and culture, this is the
place to go. The displayed relics, reconstructions, and photos tell the island’s story well and there are a few interactive sections for those who want to ‘experience’. I found the three graves containing a small Innuit family, who succumbed to this harsh climate, quite moving.
We left the museum in warm bright sunshine. Making our way to the main shopping centre of the city we found the steps of the library and sat with a dozen or so others and logged onto the free Wifi. I have the internet on the ship, but at £9.95 an hour, a bit of free download doesn’t go amiss.
The shops here were very busy doing business with passengers from the Ambience and a Norwegian Cruise ship that had berthed a couple of hours after we had. We perused the contents of several establishments, nearly purchasing a few unnecessary items, but on each occasion, the length of queues at the tills was the deal-breaker. Life and this cruise are too short to waste it shuffling along getting increasingly annoyed at those in front, to possess something we don’t need.
Leaving retail woes behind we made our way to the city’s highest point and a white block of a church, built by the same architect who was responsible for a similar, smaller version at our first port of call. It is supposed to look like an iceberg but fails miserably. It is also not very special inside.
Returning to retail land, we found a supermarket in the appropriately named Nuuk Centre and because it was a Tuesday and not a Sunday, I bought five different bottles of Greenlandic ale. Hurrah!
We were back on board the ship in time for a late lunch and then unusually for us, spent the rest of the afternoon soaking up the sun on the pool deck with the other beached whales.
The evening show in the theatre was a classical concert performed by identical twins, Alina and Marina from Kazakhstan on piano and violin. They were due to perform daily, each evening in the Botanical Lounge, but after two days they became ill (C0vid-19?) and were not seen again until tonight. As expected, they proved to be very accomplished musicians and well worth seeing them again in what is left of our cruise.
(6th July) Sea Day
Onboard the clocks went forward one hour which meant we had one less hour in our snug little bed. On sea days we try to be in breakfast for around 8 am so that our cabin steward has time to make the beds, clean the toilet and change the towels, but today it was gone 9 am before we emerged. It was a cold, miserable morning, the sea conditions weren’t great, but thanks to the ship’s stabilisers we felt little of its growing temper.
On a day when Tory MP’s were resigning their cabinet positions en-masse and backbenchers were calling for the Prime Minister to stand down, a comparison of ‘rats leaving a sinking ship’, sprang to mind. Boris needs to stabilise the chaos around him and quietly go. Ships that head into a storm, run the risk of sinking without trace, those that run to port, seldom do.
The routine of a sea day began after breakfast with an invigorating couple of laps around the deck, fighting a gale on the upward leg to the bow and resisting a sprint on the return. Following was a very disappointing presentation on Kirkwall from our Destination Experience Director, who, thinking that it was the following day turned up 15 minutes late.
Before lunch, Sue chose to join a backstage tour of the Palladium Theatre and I watched an entertaining acting vignette in the Centre Court. It was a ‘Who dunnit?’ A period crime thriller set on board with a bungling detective and female cabin steward solving the case.
After lunch, we kicked off the afternoon with Ann Daniels, the Guinness Book Of Records polar explorer giving a second lecture on her many escapades in the Arctic, followed by more deck walking into a strengthening wind. Sue completed the afternoon with naturalist, writer, and broadcaster, Chris Baines, who gave a lecture on climate changes affecting the frozen planet. I chose to chill out in the cabin, sample the first of my Greenlandic beer and watch the debacle in the UK parliament unfold on SKY NEWS.
Despite being well below the Arctic Circle we were surprised to still see icebergs still floating by our dining room window. The evening show was a performance inspired by ‘The Picture of Dorian Gray’, very enjoyable and had a clever twist at the end.
As the day started, it finished in a similar vein, wet, windy and miserable, with Boris still in office. We hope for a brighter day tomorrow for both the Ambience and the UK.