Day 6 |
Sep 13, 2013

Nuuk, Greenland

By Claudia Holgate, Climatologist & Ornithologist

Co-ordinates: 64˚10’10 N, 051˚43’ 15 W
Weather: Overcast with snow
Air Temperature: 0.6°C, 33°F
Pressure: 1007 hPa
Wind: 15 knots

We arrived at the pier at Nuuk, the Capital of Greenland, at 7am this morning. When I looked out it was snowing heavily and was colder than I expected, with a temperature around 1 degree Celsius. I then decided to add extra layers to my clothing as I knew we would be out in the open a fair amount.

This morning’s activity was a bus tour of the city with numerous stops along the way. We had an excellent guide who gave us great information on the city. Our first stop was at a lookout point where we could look over the marina and as our guide told us, “Everyone in Greenland has a boat, just as other people have cars,” and it must be true as the marina was filled with row upon row of small ski boats. The city, which is the smallest capital city in the world, has a mere 15,000 inhabitants, but has modern infrastructure and beautifully coloured buildings.

We then went past the University which can accommodate 150 students in 4 faculties: IT, Theology, Education and Finance. Next to it was the Natural Resources Institute, which does the research to determine quotas for fish and animal stocks. Nuuk is the only settlement in Greenland to have an indoor swimming centre, called the wave, and the building is designed to look like a wave. We also went past the cultural centre and the Parliament building.

The highlight for the day was the parade of the Members of Parliament who were dressed in traditional Greenlandic dress for the first day of Parliament. They walked from Hans Egede’s house (a missionary who brought the Lutheran religion to Greenland) to the old Church for a service before walking to the Parliament building. The men wear a very simple white tunic with black trousers and seal skin boots, while the women wear a beautiful costume with brightly coloured beads on their top, with seal skin shorts and seal skin boots.

We finished off at the National Museum, which is a small but well organized museum and perhaps one of the best small museums I have been to. It displays all sorts of clothing and instruments used by the Greenlanders, with really well thought-out display boards. The main attraction, though, is the Qilakitsoq mummies found just North of Saqqaq where we were a few days ago. There were originally eight mummies, all women except for a child and baby. Three of the women and the six-month-old baby are displayed at the museum. The bodies were buried around 1475 and are all family relations of 3 generations. They were found under a rock overhang and covered with stones, which allowed the cold wind to blow through the burial site and effectively freeze dry the bodies. It is possible to see tattoos on some of the women’s faces and the fur clothing is still extremely well preserved. This is truly an exceptional exhibit and a reason in itself to visit Nuuk.

Most guests came back to the ship for lunch and then headed out in the afternoon, either on their own exploration using the shuttle bus or they joined some of the expedition staff for a long hike in the hills just outside of Nuuk.

Eventually, everyone was back on board and had a chance to warm up and relax a little before dinner was served in the restaurant. Another busy and interesting day onboard Silver Explorer.