Day 7 |
Sep 13, 2010

Brattahlid and Itilleq (Igaliko), Greenland

By Ha-Jo Spitzenberger, Biologist

Co-ordinates: Brattahlid 61° 09.023’ N; 045° 31.287’ W
Itilleq 61° 00.162’ N; 045° 28.513’ W
Weather: Sunny 9.4° - 13.0° C

After a night with some ship’s movement caused by gusting winds, the Prince Albert II arrived at 07.00 am at Brattahlid or, as is it named by the Greenlanders, Qassiarsuq in the Eriksfjord. It is a bright day with much sunshine and nearly without wind.

After sending a scout boat ashore to establish the shore party we were brought to the small floating jetty in Qassiarsuq. Only 30 people are living in the small village but there are several sheep farms around where another about 200 people live.

A bunch of Ravens performed wonderful flights in the blue sky and Common Redpolls were hopping on the ground looking for seeds.

Four local guides awaited us at the landing site to guide us to the remnants of the first Viking settlement in Greenland founded by Erik the Red in the late 10th century. But not only the ruins are to be seen there, also reconstructions of the first church in Greenland initiated by Thjodhild, Erik the Red’s wife, and a longhouse where they had lived. It was a short way to the former Viking settlement. Passing the monument that was established in memorial of the 1000 anniversary of the foundation of Brattalhid we arrived at this historical place. Colleen and Christian gave further information to the history and way of living of the Vikings.

On the way back we could visit the small but fine museum of Brattalhid where the history of the place is presented. In the nearby cafeteria tea, coffee, excellent cookies and wonderful Greenlandic handicrafts were offered.

At 12.00 the last Zodiac went back to the ship and the Prince Albert II set sail for our next destination Itilleq, a place also in the Eriksfjord only 11 km south to Brattalhid, where we arrived short time later.

Again in bright sunshine we went ashore on a gravel beach and had to hike on a gravel road about 3 km to the small village of Igaliko. During the Viking times the village was named Garder and has been the residence of the bishop. Thus it was the centre of power in Greenland. A stone-built cathedral and a big farming complex with large houses, barns, stables and storehouses must have been impressive as even the ruins are up till now.

At 06.00 pm all guests and crew were back on board and 45 minutes later the Recap & Briefing started in The Theatre. Northern lights, geography and geology of Greenland and, of course, the Vikings were subjects to discuss. Meanwhile we were already heading to Qaqortoq, our destination for the next day.

We arrived at Qaqortoq at about 10.30 pm. Only one hour later our Expedition Leader Robin gave good news via the PA system. Magnificent northern lights were flickering over the sky. Those who were still awake immediately went to the outer decks to see this spectacle. But also some of them who had already gone to bed appeared in pajamas, bathrobes and slippers on the scene. A better ending of the day was not possible.