A Place Called Kangerlussuaq

In the valleys of the ice were clear blue lakes. Not the turquoise blue of a Greek island, but a truly clear blue, lighting up its surroundings. Melting water was creating rivers and water falls as well as holes deep into the ice sheet.

We have left behind the wonders of the Disko Bay and the Ice Fjord. On the small Dash 8, we’ve flown south to Kangerlussuaq, meaning Big Fjord. As so many other names in Greenland, the name Kangerlussuaq is used many places around the country. But this must be the best known. Kangerlussuaq in the Qeqqata municipality of Western Greenland is an old American Airbase, which today functions as Greenland’s international airport. This is where the flight from Copenhagen lands twice a day.

While it is possible to travel directly to Nuuk or Ilulissat from Reykjavik in Iceland, most people will find their way to Greenland on the Copenhagen flight to Kangerlussuaq. It is the entrance way to this beautiful country.

But Kangerlussuaq is more than that. The fjord from which the small community and airbase received its name is 190 kilometres long and at its widest 8 kilometres. With these measures it is the second largest fjord in Greenland, and the fifth largest in the world. The fjord waters come from Russell Glacier and the Ice Cap through Qinnguata Kuusua, in English known as Watson River, and spills into the Davis Strait.

Following the fjord and river inland, Greenland’s longest road leads directly to the Ice Cap. At Point 660, the very end of the 37 kilometres long road, only a small hill separates you from the Ice Cap. From here the Ice Cap extends 600 kilometres to the East. For the foolhardy, it would take approximately 25 days to cross the Ice Cap from here to the small settlement of Isortoq on the East Coast.

I have no desire to attempt a crossing.

What I did want however was to get an idea of this massive ice sheet, and we had therefore planned for an excursion to the Ice Cap, getting a small taste of walking on it.

Kangerlussuaq facts

It takes two hours to drive the 25 kilometres to the Ice Cap and point 660. Included in this was several stops and a lunch overlooking Reindeer Glacier, which is a small branch off from Russell Glacier.

This is the land of reindeer and musk oxen and on our way to the Ice Cap, we were lucky to catch sight of a young female reindeer walking close to our truck. Prior to 1941, when the area was used for an American Airbase, the original Inuit population never actually settled down here. but there are excavations showing that the area was used as hunting grounds by Inuits.

It was because of the stable climate that the Americans chose this place as a fuel stop on the way to Europe during WW2. The region is under an inland climate with 300 days of clear weather a year. It is an arctic desert, however difficult it is to imagine this.

The glacier grinds tonnes of rocks into silt, which is just as fine cut as the sand of Sahara. With the dry climate and the massive prevalence of silt, not much can grow in this area.

This however did not stop s couple of extreme entrepreneurs of the 1980’s to build a golf course. It is a desolate and sandy stretch of land as we drive by. The most northern 18 hole golf course in the world. A proof that the 80’s was an entrepreneurial time with lots of optimism and crazy ideas. I was later told that the golf club did a count a few years back of their membership archive and found that they had two active members. I guess that means no waiting around.

Apart from the golf course, the Americans used Kangerlussuaq as a radar station during the Cold War and made scientific investigations of northern light from 1971 to 1987 though the results were far from impressive.

In 1992, after the end of the Cold War, the US sold Kangerlussuaq to Denmark for one dollar. This agreement however stipulated that the airport should for all time have 4 months worth of fuel ready as well as allow the scientific research of the climate by US scientists.

By selling the area to Denmark, the US also left behind a testing ground for explosives. It was swiped once during the initial take over, but due to lack of funds the place was never swiped for unexploded bombs a second time around.

After the discovery by a school class of unexploded grenades in the late 90’s, the area has been off limits, closed as a mine field. It is very odd to drive by signs warning against a mine field in a country such as Greenland. But then there are also signs warning you from flight engine jet blasts and quick sand.

Walking on the Ice Cap

When we reached Point 660, we were given steel frames for our hiking shoes, so that we walked on steel picks. We each carried a walking stick and thus were ready to conquer the vast inland ice.

It was an odd experience to walk in a landscape only made from snow and ice. Everywhere you looked were hills and valleys cut from the melting water and created by the pressure between the ice further inland and the bedrock of the coastal region. We were told that travelling further inland, the ice cape would even out, but here it seemed a crumpled fabric.

In the valleys of the ice were clear blue lakes. Not the turquoise blue of a Greek island, but a truly clear blue, lighting up its surroundings. Melting water was creating rivers and water falls as well as holes deep into the ice sheet.

The ice is a mysterious and dangerous place, and one wrong foot could have dire consequences. Some off these holes made from melting water had been measured to more than 200 meters in depth. At one point we all had to jump over a narrow crevice of which I could not see the bottom.

But apart from a few scrapes from falling with the steel picks, we returned to Point 660 in safe condition. Having walked on the ice cap for four hours, it is even harder for me to understand why anyone would attempt to cross it.


We had booked a table for the weekly Greenlandic buffet at Restaurant Roklubben a little outside Kangerlussuaq. It was a weird experience. A shuttle bus picked us and most of the towns tourists up at 19.00 to drive us the five kilometres to Lake Fergusson. The old bus was darkened by steams of mosquitoes, making it almost impossible to see out the window. I truly felt for the guy on the seat in front of us, who had only shown up in a t-shirt and bare arms. We were covered from head to toe in clothes and mosquito nets, but still managed to get eaten alive. Thankfully we gave as good as we got.

The buffet was supposed to be a culinary experience, but felt more like the buffet at a chain café in provincial Denmark. It wasn’t particularly bad, but it was not particularly good either, and it seemed as if this was what they had dished up with every Saturday for the last 30 years.

I did buy a grouse schnapps made from the food stored in the gizzard of a grouse. It is quite a Greenlandic way to make schnapps, and I look forward to tasting it this Christmas.

Day trip to Russell Glacier

On our final day in Greenland, we’d booked a day trip to Russell Glacier. It was only us the guide and a middle-aged Danish woman, who had been to Greenland several times before.

It was a perfect way to say goodbye. The temperature was reaching 17 °C and the sun was shining. We were going off road to the front of the glacier. The van drove up and down steep hills covered in silt, and at some times it felt as if we would tip over. But it was fun and definitely worth it to almost fall off our seats.

Russell Glacier is approximate 700 meters wide and move 25 meters a year. Al Gore filmed parts of An Inconvenient Truth at Russell Glacier in 2006 and returned last year to show the effect of climate change through the massive changes to the glacier, which had shrunk much further back in the 10 years since.

Whatever the size was before, the glacier is beautiful. It does not have the same romantic appearance as Eqi Glacier, but it feels so much closer.

We spent our last day drinking coffee and eating biscuits at one of the true wonders of this world, a glacier in all its glory.

The only thing we seemed to be missing after two weeks in Greenland was a couple of musk oxen. Having tasted them and having seen so many other of Greenland’s wild life, it was a bit disappointing to not get a glimpse of the musk oxen, we knew were usually grassing across from the glacier.

But as it happens, on our way back our guide stopped the van to point out three dots moving around in the far distance.

And there they were, a family of three. Two grown musk oxen and one calf, which should actually be a kid since musk oxen are related to goats, but who cares. Here they were. We could family tick off the last remaining thing on our list of things to experience in Greenland, and with a few grainy pictures, it was documented.

The rest of the day, we walked around Kangerlussuaq and waited in the airport canteen for our midnight flight. We were going home from one of the most amazing travels of my life, in a world so different from anything we ever saw before. I would not be surprised, if we found ourselves on the Copenhagen flight to Greenland again some day.



Ilimanaq and the Humpback Whales

While in Denmark people hunt for trophies, in Greenland they hunt for food and because it is such an integrated part of their culture to live off the wildlife.

Not long before we arrived to Ilulissat one of the massive ice bergs blocking the entrance to the Ice Fjord and the Jakobshavn Glacier had come loose from its position leaving an opening for tonnes and tonnes of ice to pass from the Ice Fjord and into Disko Bay before another massive ice berg would block the entrance again.

The Ice Fjord

Jakobshavn Glacier, or Sermeq Kujalleq as it is called in Greenlandic, is one of the most productive glaciers in the world. It moves around 25 meters a day sending 20 billion tonnes of ice into the Ice Fjord each year, which is 70 to 86 million tonnes a day. In other measurements, it is 35 km3 each year. It is 680 meters high and 7.5 kilometres wide. It opens up and deposits its ice in the Ice Fjord just south of Ilulissat.

The Ice Fjord runs 40 kilometres West from the ice sheet to Disko Bay transporting the massive amounts of ice. But since the water at the entrance to the fjord are shallower than further in many of the large ice bergs, which can reach a kilometre in height get stuck in the 300 meter deep entrance over the summer and sometimes for years. Here they block the fjord until they are broken into pieces are pressured out from the forces of continuous ice from the glacier.

Scientists are certain that it was an ice berg from this glacier which caused the 1912 sinking of Titanic. Later data has shown that some of the largest ice bergs can reach as far down as 40-45 degrees north, which is level with New York.

Day trip to Ilimanaq

Because one of the ice bergs had wrestled free from the the shallow waters, Disko Bay was full of ice around the entrance to the Ice Fjord. Some said they had never seen so much ice in the bay before.

This however also had the effect that any trips to Ilimanaq were cancelled since it was impossible for many to sail through the ice. Ilulissat lies to the north of the fjord, while Ilimanaq lies to the south, why one has to sail past the fjord entrance into Disko Bay.

I had been slightly nervous that our trip to Ilimanaq would also be cancelled, but after a week the ice was slowly spreading out allowing for boats to sail to Ilimanaq without having to make a large detour around the ice.

We had seen Qeqertarsuaq and Oqaatsut, and I was looking forward to comparing them to Ilimanaq.

Ilimanaq is slightly bigger than Oqaatsut, and is in Danish known as Claushavn. It lies 15 kilometres south of Ilulissat, but where the people of Oqaatsut can travel by land, the Ice Fjord makes it impossible to get from Ilimanaq to Ilulissat unless by boat. Winters here are therefore very isolated and the transport of goods to the settlement happens by boat in the summer months. During the winter, it is not possible to reach the settlement or with helicopter operated by government contract by Air Greenland.

As with Oqaatsut, the settlement originates from Dutch whalers who were active in the region from 1719 to 1732. The settlement itself is from 1741 and founded by Danes though named after the Dutch whaler Klacs Pieterz Torp.

What makes Ilimanaq interesting in Danish eyes is the missionary work of Poul Egede, one of the first Europeans to grow up in Greenland. Though born in Norway, he moved with his family to Greenland at the age of two, and therefore spoke Greenlandic from childhood. His mission as a Lutheran missionary in Greenland was to find and convert the lost colony of Norsemen. Greenland had been settled by Vikings at the turn of the first millennium, and at a time when Scandinavia was slowly converting to Christianity. Christianity had also reached the Norse settlers in Greenland, but this had been long before the Danish Reformation and break with the Catholic Church. It was therefore paramount to find the colony which it was believed still existed in Greenland and convert them to Lutheran Protestantism.

The colony had long since perished, but while searching for it, Poul Egede and others sent by the Danish king spent their time converting the Inuit population. And for Poul Egede it was a success as he had the advantage of speaking the language and knowing the culture.

In 2014, Realdania beautifully renovated two old colonial houses in Ilimanaq – the old shop and Poul Egedes house.

Lunch in the school teacher’s home

Ilimanaq sees a great many tourists in comparison to other settlements due to its close proximity to Ilulissat as well as its colonial history. Unlike in Oqaatsut, we were far from alone on our visit. But the group we were with was small, and our guide – the owner of Arctic Friend, was well acquainted with the locals of Ilimanaq. Thus, he had arranged for us a local lunch.

There are eight students in the school in Ilimanaq, all of them different ages and all of them requiring to be taught in at different levels within a wide spectre of topics. One school teacher provides the primary education for the children in these first years before they are sent off to the larger cities to continue their secondary high school years.

14 % of Greenlandic children leave their home at around 14 years old, because the settlements where they grew up are not big enough to support more than 7 years of education. Not only that, but these children who have grown up in a settlement of maybe around 50 people, suddenly have to become accustomed to being one amongst 1500 or so school children in a large city such as Nuuk, Sisimiut or Aassiaat.

We got the chance to visit the local school teacher in Ilimanaq, and hear about the life and school in the settlement. She treated us to a local curry fish soup and a Danish layer cake.

We were not the first visitors she and her husband invited into their home. There were a thank you note hanging on the wall from the Danish Prime Minister, thanking the family for inviting him and the EU President Donald Tusk to their home.

Moreover, our guide seemed to be intimately acquainted with the family and could tell us that the husband had received the price for catching most halibut in Greenland during the summer 2016. Outside the house were a pile of what others would consider hunting trophies, but what is merely everyday in Ilimanaq. Whale bards, musk oxen horns, reindeer antlers and much more from the husband’s hunting.

While in Denmark people hunt for trophies, in Greenland they hunt for food and because it is such an integrated part of their culture to live off the wildlife.

The visit gave this day an added feeling of being not merely a tourist, but a guest in this beautiful country and welcomed in the midst of the locals.

The journey of the humpback whales

But we had not merely come to see Ilimanaq. The boat trip south was also shadowing as a whale safari. We had already seen whales up close on our first day, but since then our luck had not been great. Therefore, it was quite surprising how many humpback whales we saw swimming north past Ilimanaq. Small families of whales were slowly making their way up the coast.

We were fortunate to have the company of a Spanish guy, who was an enthusiastic drone pilot.

While I am not very keen on the idea of drones due to their noise and the spying factor, I must admit that it was pretty cool to have the drone spy on the whales. While we only saw a fin or a tail fin, the drone caught the whales playing and feeding.

The below video was made by Joaquin Romera, who was so kind to let me post it here.

Ilimanaq was definitely worth a visit, and the fact that we came with a small and well integrated tour agency with close contacts in the area made the day even more special.


Sailing to Oqaatsut – Walking to Ilulissat

They articulated and made understood by their translation app that as Chinese they had sensitive tummies.

I wont even attempt to pronounce the name of this small bygd (Danish name for small Greenlandic village) north of Ilulissat. rust me I have tried with several people looking at me confused. Oqaatsut is within an easy half an hour by boat if the icebergs are not in the way and two hours in the winter by dog sled. Here live 45 people in a small cluster of colourful houses.

History of Oqaatsut

The settlement was as Godhavn originally a whaling station of Dutch origin. The Dutch called it Rodebay, meaning Red Bay and named from how red the waters of the bay became during whaling season. Even today most whales in the Ilulissat area are drawn to land at Oqaatsut due to the natural harbour of the bay.

The place was used as far back as the 17th century by Dutch whalers at which time it got its name Rode Bay, but it was only in the 18th century that it became settled by both Inuit settlers and Dutch whalers. However, in 1876 the Danish King asserted the Danish claim to Greenland, monopolising Greenlandic trade, and in 1877, Oqaatsut was made into a Danish colonial outpost operated by the Royal Greenland Trading Department. Denmark held the monopoly on Greenlandic trade up until 1950 and some might claim that we still de facto are monopolising the Greenlandic import and export of goods.

The slow pace of life in a Greenlandic settlement

My reason for visiting and staying the night in Oqaatsut has been twofold. Partly, I wanted for us to have a chance to relax a bit and simply enjoy the quiet of this vast island. In addition, I wanted a chance to experience the life in a small and remote settlement in Greenland. In Greenlandic terms, Oqaatsut is relatively close to civilization, but for two city dwellers like us it seems hard to imagine something further away from everything than this place.

The settlement is situated 22 kilometres north of Ilulissat, and our plan is to walk back on what should be an easy hike. I’ve been told that it should take us slightly more than three times the time of a dog sled – around 7 hours. But the walk is not until tomorrow morning. For now, we simply have to enjoy the magical peace of this place.

Watch out for the Chinese invasion

While to us this small settlement seems far away it must have felt like a different planet for the two middle-aged Chinese gentlemen sailing with us to the settlement this morning. Knowing no English it seemed a daring adventure for them to travel to Oqaatsut without a Chinese speaking guide.

Our captain on the small open boat admitted that he probably had to keep an eye out for them since they seemed constantly confused and out of place. Communication was difficult, but was helped along by a translation app with which the Chinese could make themselves understood – though barely. The sentences that came out in English were to say the least ridiculously hilarious, but it worked to an extend.

The Royal Greenland Trading Department left behind four buildings, which in the days of the Danish monopoly were storage, cooperage, the settlement’s old shop and the old H8 warehouse. Today, the latter houses Restaurant H8 and upon our arrival I’d arranged with the friendly hostess Charlotte for us to eat there both for lunch and dinner.

We dropped by at 12.30 for our lunch, but soon realised that Charlotte as well as her husband Julien were busy attempting to understand the requirements of the two Chinese gentlemen from the boat.

After a long conversation through the computerised voice of the Chinese translation app, it became apparent that the two Chinese gentlemen were convinced that they could only eat food that was cooked, or as they demonstrated by the way of a candle – boiled. They articulated and made understood by the app that as Chinese they had sensitive tummies. It was hard to keep my face straight with the weird translations and ridiculousness of the situation. I might be insensitive, but it was impossible for me or Charlotte to explain to them that the traditionally smoked and dried fish which was on the menu was quite safe even for sensitive tummies.

To be fair, I would be extremely cautious with food in China considering the food scandals that have come forth in recent years, but the safety regulations of Greenlandic food are higher than in most places.  In the end the Chinese handed over their translation app which politely requested if it was possible to cancel their order. I felt sorry for them, as I enjoyed my own massive Atlantic Salmon Sandwich on home-made ciabatta – and even more so when we caught up with them at the hotel enjoying two pieces of dried toast and a slice of that American burger cheese which comes in plastic wrapping. Poor guys, but at least they got fed.

We spent the day relaxing, and for my boyfriend to get past his illness. While he enjoyed the view from our hotel room, I went on a walk up the hill north of the settlement from where I was blown away by a beautiful view of Disko Bay and the Paakitsup Nunaa highland to the east. Oqaatsut is most favourably located in this eastern corner of Disko Bay.

Walking, walking and then walking some more…

We set out from Oqaatsut later than planned and the clock was near 10 AM as we reached the first orange dot indicating the route we were to follow. I wanted to set a good pace, worrying that 20 kilometres might prove too much for us. But the landscape begged us to slow down and enjoy the wide horizon.

The Green line: Oqaatsut - Ilulissat Walking Route
The Green line: Oqaatsut – Ilulissat Walking Route

For the first stretch we followed the coastline south with the Disko Bay to our right. It was a beautiful vista and I felt as if we were alone travelling through the landscape from the ice ages. It soon occurred to me that that was exactly what we were doing. Greenland succumbs under an ice age and the fauna is Arctic and makes inhabitation difficult. Thus, we were alone in a remote plain with views of massive ice bergs close to an Ice Cap taking up 7% of the world’s fresh water reserve. Apart from my outfit and camera, I could almost imagine myself as Ayla travelling across the tundra of the Euroasian continent at the time of the last big ice age.

As we moved inland and to the east we found the small peninsula closing off the Kangerluarsuk – in English Broad Bay. Here we walked down to the waters edge to look for capelins, known as ammasat in Greenlandic. The shoreline was dotted with fishing shacks and as we moved east along the shores of Broad Bay, we saw locals fishing in the fresh waters of the bay.

It was already late when we reached the small pass between BroadBay and an inner lake feeding into the bay. It became the first of many crossings on rocks over water. As we followed the path south, we had a beautiful view of the bay to our right and the Iviangernarsuit highlands to the left. Reaching the southern shores of Broad Bay, we crossed several rivers, one of which offered us a shackled bridge and another giving me a wet foot. But we made it past and at around 6 PM, we had reached the cape at the southern entrance to Broad Bay called Nuuluk.

We were deadbeat tired and wishing for each bend in the route to give us a view of what we wanted to see the most – namely Ilulissat Airport. When we finally reached it, we had another kilometre to go as we followed a track beside the landing strip. We reached the airport entrance around 7 PM and had the woman at the Air Greenland office call us a taxi. It seemed she was pretty used to meeting odd hikers covered in mosquito bites and dead on their feet. We’d walked the route much slower than average, but we did it, and looking back, I wouldn’t have missed it for the world. That evening, I bought an internet connection at the hostel and found the Children of the Earth series by Jean M. Auel on the the Danish library app.


Eqip Sermia – the Calving Glacier

It had cleared up from a dull grey cover of clouds in the morning and we were met with a clear blue sky and calm waters which made the reflection in the icy water almost as sharp as the glacier itself.

I have wanted to visit Greenland for years, and I have for almost as long wanted to sleep overnight with a view of Eqi Glacier, one of Greenland’s most stunning glaciers.

In fact, it was close to not succeeding. When I contacted Arctic Friend in January, I was informed that the cabins at Eqi had been booked since October. By some fortune of good luck, it seemed there was only one available cabin left during the entire summer period.

I wanted that cabin, and therefore from I first called Arctic Friend to inquire about a trip to Greenland to having planned and booked the entire vacation only one week passed. Our entire trip was booked around this one availability. But I do not regret this for an instance. On the contrary, it has proven a perfect time to visit Disko Bay.

Disko Island and the view from the Lyngmark Glacier had been stunning and it was weird to imagine anything could surpass this, and it couldn’t – simply because the two cannot be compared. Everything in Disko Bay is so stunningly beautiful that making a ranking would be a ridiculous waste of effort.

But Eqi Glacier is still undoubtedly one of the most beautiful vistas, I have ever enjoyed.

Sailing to Eqi

We were picked up at the office of World of Greenland and taken by bus to the small dock on the other side of Ilulissat Harbour. Here we went onboard alongside thirty lively Chinese tourists. It was the beginning of quite the cultural exploration.

It was a beautiful route up the coast and for large parts of the journey, I was outside taking pictures. Inside the Chinese were having a field day and the cabin soon smelled of strong liquor from their savouring of Gammel Dansk.

When lunch came about, it was a traditional Danish lunch with open sandwiches (smørrebrød), which the guests had to make themselves. It was difficult for the Chinese and French guests onboard to figure out how the lunch buffet items of sliced halibut, fresh shrimps, eggs and much more were to be placed on top a buttered slice of rye bread.

One Chinese guest decided to take the bowl of mayonnaise and started eating from it with a spoon. I suppose that is another way to do it, though it left the rest of us without any mayo for our egg and shrimp open sandwich.

I imagine I would seem just as lost in the Chinese country side, if I was asked to figure out on my own how to prepare my own lunch of traditional dishes.

Close up of Eqi Glacier

After a few hours of sailing we reached the glacier front. It had cleared up from a dull grey cover of clouds in the morning and we were met with a clear blue sky and calm waters which made the reflection in the icy water almost as sharp as the glacier itself.

It is close to impossible to describe the beauty of a place such as Eqi Glacier and the mere fact that we had this view nearly to ourselves overnight was thrilling. But first we sailed close to the glacier front, absorbing the intricate pattern of the icy front. It was clear that large parts would soon fall into the water, but for the hour and a half that we stayed on the boat near the glacier nothing major happened.

A night in the cabin at Eqi

We were only eight people getting off the boat, and it quickly became evident that several of the cabins stood empty without guests. I later discovered that some of the large tourist agencies reserve many of the cabins, making it difficult to book without them. It pissed me off royally, and I must admit that the entire World of Greenland setup is making me extremely sad. They are creating a monopoly on tourism in Greenland, which does not benefit the locals and with the use of inexperienced and underpaid youth workers from Denmark. Of all that we have experienced so far, the only thing that has truly bothered me is the role and presence of World of Greenland.

Eqi Glacier Lodge is owned by World of Greenland, and the area around Eqi Glacier is the only place in Greenland, where it is not allowed to camp out. Simply because World of Greenland has received a monopoly from the Greenlandic state on this slice of heaven.

The place is run by youth workers and their knowledge of Greenland and the area is limited to whatever two hours intensive course they received on their arrival. It feels like a summer camp for children, more than a hotel experience.

But all of this did not minimise the absolute beauty of the place, and though my money went for a tourist agency, I do not wish to support, I do not regret for a moment that we paid the big bucks to sleep overnight at this stunning glacier at the end of the world.


After a night with sunshine over Eqi Glacier we woke to a grey dust of clouds. Though I prefer the blue sky, the clouds enhance the blue colours in the ice, making the the glacier more dramatic.

We did not join in on the shared walk to the moraine. We were weary from the days on Disko Island and preferred to enjoy a late morning and a shorter walk West towards the delta. This we got all to ourselves.

Reaching the delta, I couldn’t help wonder at how insignificant I am as a single human being. Being out here far away from everything disconnected from the rest of society even for just the briefest of moments, it became apparent how small I am in comparison to the nature that surrounded me. It truly feels like standing at the end of the world gazing into the unknown.

After our walk and a lunch at the restaurant Café Victor, we prepared to get the boat back to Ilulissat. We could see the boat as a small dot infront of the massive glacier, and were ready at the dock to board as soon as it came. But Eqi had been talking loudly all morning and massive calvings inside the glacier had sounded in the landscape for hours. It therefore came as no surprise when a massive amount of ice fell of the glacier side and into the water.

I was fortunate enough to catch it on film.

We were quickly pushed back up the hill by the guides before a tsunami of waves swept over the dock. It took half an hour for the waters to calm down again and for the boat to dock.

I cannot imagine a more dramatic  farewell from the beautiful Eqi glacier.


Dog Sledding on Disko Island

I can serve you nachos, but you will have to wait a bit for the chicken. It is coming by boat in five days. Nachos without chicken it is then.

Dog sledding is a winter adventure in Greenland reserved for when the snow is new and deep. But there is one place which offers the experience of dog sledding during the Greenlandic summer. That is at Uunartuarsuup Sermia, also known as the Lyngmark Glacier. That this particular glacier allows dog sledding all year is because it is situated approximately 700 meters above sea level on Disko Island 80 km by boat from Ilulissat.

Since there is no knowing when we might return to this beautiful country, I had arranged for a two nights stay at Disko Island, including a dog sledding ride on the Lyngmark Glacier. What we got was so much more.

Disko Island

Disko Island in itself is pretty interesting. Apart from Greenland itself, it is the largest island in Greenland and one of the 100 largest in the world – slightly bigger than Zealand, the capital island of Denmark. It is in geological terms much younger than the mainland and was established some 25-65 million years ago through volcanic activity. Therefore, much of the island consist of steep basaltic mountains. Created from volcanic activity, the island offers a lot of hot springs and a plethora of plants and flowers. It is possible to find more than half of the 500 species of flora which Greenland has to offer on Disko Island, despite its northern position.

The island was first named in the Icelandic Sagas which chronicle Eric the Red’s visit to the island sometime between 982 and 985.

The main town on the island is in Greenlandic named Qeqertarsuaq, which means big island and is the same name as the island. In Danish, the town is known as Godhavn from its good natural harbour, which for centuries offered great whaling opportunities. It lies on the southern tip of Disko Island surrounded by Apostelfjeldet, Lyngmarksfjeldet and Skarvefjellet (Innap Qaqqaa) to the north.

While it has been possible to find traces of paleo-eskimo settlements around Qegertarsuaq dating back 5-6,000 years, the town itself was founded by Danish whaler Svend Sandgreen in 1773. It was the capital of North Greenland from 1782 to 1950

Apart from Qeqertarsuaq, only one small settlement remains on the island, namely Kangerluk situated 35 kilometres northwest of Qeqertarsuaq within Disko Fjord. Here 20 or so people live from hunting and fishing.

From 1924 to 1972, a coal mining town was situated on the north-eastern part of Disko Island. It was established by the Danish state and one of Greenlands largest communities, but after WW2 it was considered unprofitable and in 1968 the Danish Parliament and the Greenland Provincial Council decided to shut down the town. It was definitely closed down in 1972 and the remaining inhabitants forcefully removed. Some argue that the closing of the town was not due to the expensive mining of coal, but because of the strong workers union established there.

Our time in Qeqertarsuaq

Arriving in Qeqertarsuaq on Disko Island, one is welcomed by an entrance port created by large jaw bones of a massive whale. It is a stark reminder of the past as well as present focus on whaling in the town. The town itself is quiet and relaxing, but not particularly pretty though the colourful houses make a wonderful contrast to the mountains behind.

One of the central buildings in town is called Vorherres Blækhus, or in English Our Lord’s Ink House, and is the local church. Though I did not get the chance to go inside, the church to me was akin to a Game of Thrones tour in Dubrovnik. This is the church used in Nissebanden in Greenland for the wedding between Gemyse and Skipper – and yes if your not Danish this reference will mean nothing to you whatsoever, but if you are you’ll instantly start singing Det er risengrød…

We had not had lunch prior to leaving Ilulissat, which was mostly due to me stressing over finding the tourist port in Ilulissat, which to be honest did seem slightly confusing as there are absolutely no signs indicating that you’ve found it.

But for this reason, getting something to eat became a top priority when reaching Qeqertarsuaq, and we quickly made it to the only restaurant in town Restaurant Tamassa, where we got a cheeseburger without cheese and tomato. In the evening we’d booked a table for the same desolate restaurant and was offered a dismal meal of trout in a classic 80s sauce with watery potatoes and carrots. Fortunately, we decided to enjoy a walk through town and made it to the newly opened Blue Café, where we got a very cosmopolitan Chai Latte in the pleasant atmosphere, while a couple at the table beside us enjoyed a game of chess. little did I know that they would be our guides on the following day.

Hiking to the Lyngmark Glacier

We’d been informed on the day of our arrival as we visited the small local agency SikuAput that we would be alone for the trip to Lyngmark Glacier, which weirded us out a little. To be the only reason for a guide to make the hike and stay overnight seemed excessive. As we arrived in the morning we discovered that not only were we alone, but we would be joined by two guides as well as the dog sled owner for our trip. It also worried me that three people would have to wait for my slow ascend for several hours.

But my concerns were soon put to rest and our hike became a fantastic experience both in regards to the natural beauty of the place as well as the possibility of spending time alone with three locals, who not only told us of the island, but also freely told stories of their own childhood as well as shared their opinions and hopes and dreams for Greenland.

Though we are only a few days into our vacation, I have already come to truly value the Greenlandic openness and hospitality. Rarely have I met so friendly and engaging people as the locals in Greenland.

The hike up to the Lyngmark Glacier was rough, and more so than advertised. Sometimes it ascended very steeply, while in some places the snow had yet to melt, so that we had to cross deep rivers of snow. I put my foot and leg through several times, getting snow in my boots.

But it was all worth it. The view was stunning despite a coverage of thin clouds. After three to four hours we reached the glacier where a snow scooter was waiting to take us the last part to one of the two small cabins on top.

Here we were treated to a light and very Danish lunch before a bit of free time. The wind was howling outside so much so that I was almost blown over several times but inside the wooden  cabin it was cosy.

Say hello to Gaddafi

After a Greenlandic dinner of trout and carry sauce, the wind had settled giving way to a clear evening. It was time for meeting the dogs. Dressed all in sealskin we left the cabin to join Atip, the dog sled owner, setting off across the Lyngmark Glacier. It was a rough journey up hill as the snow was too soft but the slow tempo left ample opportunity for taking pictures and enjoying the mountainous landscape encircling us. On top of the hill was a stunning view of the beautiful mountains further inland on Disko Island.

It was absolutely amazing and with the wind gone we could enjoy a break in the massive silence only broken by the happy yelps of the dogs. The nine dogs were beautiful and much more healthy looking than those in the dog areas of Ilulissat and Qeqertarsuaq.

Particularly the nine year old lead dog with the surprising name Gaddafi was in high hoops. Sled dogs are not pets and one should never approach them unless given a green light by their owner. But with Atip’s okay, we got a chance to get close to a very friendly Gaddafi.

The return journey went much faster since it was downhill. The dogs ran quickly across the snow, some of them trying to sneak their way under the ropes in an internal battle for a better position. It was fascinating watching the movement of their behinds with tails straight in the air as they flew across the deep snow.

In March, we rode a camel through the Sahara. To think that only three months later we would be crossing the Greenland snow on a dog sled. To experience two cultures in such different climates, both of them closely connected to the nature that surrounds them, both originating in a nomadic culture where very different animals become a necessity for living.

Comfort-wise and for speed, I definitely preferred the dog sled. It is a trip I will never forget.

Returning to Qeqertarsuaq

On the following morning, the amazing view of Disko Bay and Baffin Bay was gone and instead we looked into a sheet of white as snow fell atop the Lyngmark Glacier. I will admit that I was terrified of the idea that we had to return down during a snowfall, which would only make everything wet and slippery.

However, the return journey was not as scary as I had imagined. Only at the very edge of the Lyngmark Glacier where we walked close to the edge of the mountain with a direct fall was I nervous for a glance. But as soon as we had cleared that section, it was one step at a time slowly moving down, cutting across the sections of snow and finding paths down the side of the mountain. Soon we reached the more comfortable part of the hike while the snow turned into rain and then cleared off, indicating a blue sky over Qeqertarsuaq.

Before we knew it, we were back in town making our way to the Blue Café for a bit of lunch. We were keen to avoid another sad burger at Restaurant Tamassa and we’d noticed previously that the Blue Café offered a plate of nachos with chicken.

You’ll have to wait long for the chicken…

We must have looked pretty weary and dirty entering the Blue Café. My boyfriends feet were wet, and I had mud up the inside of my pants. All we knew to think about was lunch. We asked the waitress for a nachos with chicken – in need of something that wasn’t fish.

“I can serve you nachos, but you will have to wait a bit for the chicken. It is coming by boat in five days” said the smiling waitress to us, showing us a dry sense of humour. Well then, nachos without chicken it is. We ordered our nachos, and spent the next 15 minutes watching the waitress organising for someone to bring the cheese. It seemed they’d run out of cheese too, but this at least could be provided in the town. First a young boy came running with half a bag of shredded mozzarella, and a little later a young man came in with a package of 20 bags of shredded mozzarella. This was when it occurred to me that in the cheddar cheese hasn’t made it to Greenland yet.

We got our nachos with mozzarella and no chicken as well as a toast each and enjoyed the relaxed and local atmosphere of the small café.

After finishing, we made our way to the beach taking a walk a long the shore line. The sand was black and in stark contrast to the small ice pieces which had rolled up unto the beach from the fjord. It was so very different from any beach I’d seen before and the smell of the ocean so much more potent than back home. In Greenland you can really smell the life beneath the surface.

Hours later we caught the boat back to Ilulissat tired and ready to drop, pleased that tomorrow would be a quiet walk around Ilulissat. In the back of the boat an old Greenlandic woman said something to the captain pointing to something in between the icebergs. She’d seen a wounded seal. Without further ado the captain set sail for the iceberg, and true enough a slim seal was lying on the ice flake, colouring it red. The captain took out his massive hunting knife and jumped on to the ice flake in an attempt to kill the seal and end its sufferings, but apparently it was not ready to go yet, and gracefully slipped into the cold deep sea below.

I can’t imagine that a Danish bus driver would stop the bus if he found a wounded animal on the side of the road, much less bring out a massive hunting knife to kill it off. We are so decidedly in Greenland, a land where nature is so much closer than back home.


Good-bye New York

If Brooklyn was still a city in its own right rather than a borough of New York City, it would be the fourth largest city of the United States in terms of population. As such, a short day would never do the place justice. But, I can proudly state that we did what we could.

Returning to New York after a wonderful few days in Vermont and New Hampshire, we were moving in to a hotel in the Upper West Side. That is the Upper Upper West Side, at 107th street.

I was pretty much ready to return home after two weeks full of adventure and amazing memories, but we had a weekend to explore the Upper West Side and Brooklyn. In addition we’d bought tickets for a pre-season Knicks game which my boyfriend was pretty excited about and we planned to visit The Natural History Museum after our failed attempt last Saturday.

Even in Chinatown they have better hotels…

We arrived late Friday after a bit of traffic jam on our way into Manhattan. Reaching our hotel we were met with a pretty hallway and a receptionist who seemed to wish himself anywhere else than in the reception. As we checked in, we noticed a notice in the reception with information of an upcoming visit by the exterminator. What a pleasant bit of info to get. And the polite but disinterested receptionist could not tell us if it was rats, cockroaches, bedbugs or gremlins.

Our room and the hallway were dismal with a dirty brown carpet which covered up holes in the floorboards, a disgusting shared bathroom where no one but the initiated knew how to turn off the shower. While the place was pretty much run down they did offer cable and breakfast, and I can’t help wondering if perhaps the money for the cable could have been used better to repair the floor. To think that we were to spend two nights here.

I missed our clean and simple Chinatown hotel.

A quick day in Brooklyn

Unlike last Saturday when we had originally planned to visit Brooklyn, today offered a beautifully clear blue sky and high temperatures considering we were halfway through October.

With the Knicks game in the evening we only had limited time in Brooklyn and planned to get out of the hotel as soon as humanly possible. Despite having slept well, I was far from happy with the place. Before leaving we decided to try out the breakfast. We were shown down to a dirty basement where massive amounts of four different types of cookies were set out along with coffee. Now as much as I like cookies, in my book they do not count as breakfast, but as desert or candy – perhaps a snack. But not breakfast. However, I stockpiled my pockets with cookies before we got the hell out of there.

We wanted to cross the Brooklyn Bridge by foot, wherefore we took the subway to City Hall. Last time we’d been here it had been cloudy and cold and it was great to get a chance to see it with a blue sky.

The Brooklyn Bridge is iconic and I can’t count the number of crime shows I’ve seen where someone threw themselves off the bridge or was killed on it. And it is a very beautiful bridge. I can definitely understand the hype. However it is also completely blocked by other tourists and some of them are very ignorant of the separation between the bike lane and the walking lane. This in turn makes a lot of bikers both native New Yorkers and tourists yell out. There is very little room for error on the Brooklyn Bridge.

But despite the competition with hundreds of other tourists and the angry salutes by bikers, it was an amazing walk across to Brooklyn. Many of the walkers passing us were covered in pink, all of them walking to raise money and awareness of breast cancer. I liked it. I liked all the pink and that so many where out spending there weekend walking through the streets of New York for a good cause.

Brownstones, Orthodox Jews and Korean food

If Brooklyn was still a city in its own right rather than a borough of New York City, it would be the fourth largest city of the United States in terms of population. As such, a short day would never do the place justice. But, I can proudly state that we did what we could.

We began by walking through the beautiful streets of Brooklyn Heights following the pink ladies, before we found a path which allowed us to cross to the waterfront, where we enjoyed the promenade and the beautiful views of Manhattan. I will never understand why Americans build motorways along the waterfront, destroying the access and hiding the view of the sea from the neighbourhood. I hope that in the years to come and as the Brooklyn Promenade is developed Brooklynites will find a way to redirect the motorway or build it into the ground – and yes I know that is utopia, but they did something similar in Portland, Oregon.

After finally finding a way to cross the motorway at Joralemon Street we zig-zagged Montague Street enjoying more of the charming Brooklyn Heights. We were slowly heading in the direction of Fort Greene Brooklyn Flea, hoping to find a funny little gem to memorise our visit.

When we finally arrived, the flea market wasn’t anything special and quickly left again. I think the dream of returning home with something fun and unique will have to wait until next time we are in the area.

Next up was Williamsburg – that neighbourhood that everyone keeps talking about. But there is a long way from Fort Greene to Williamsburg, much longer than what it looks like on the map.

It was Saturday -Shabbat and before long we’d entered a very Jewish Orthodox neighbourhood, which was obvious from the countless well dressed families out for their Shabbat stroll. The men wore large brimmed and very tall black hats and had magnificently dressed curls and beards. The women were classical yet conservative in their dressing and I’d say even the Parisian women would have to look out for these women looked chic.

The area was as many others we’d seen so far, but it stood out in one major way. All balconies were boarded up with cardboards or wooden planks. In most places it looked like a homemade solution. It is not difficult to figure out that Orthodox Jews are not to keen on showing parts of their private life to the public such as by sun bathing or drinking a cup of coffee on the balcony. In fact it is very hard to see anything through their windows. Not that I tried.

However, it makes the neighbourhood look ruffled and dirty which is quite sad. Moreover, I personally find balconies an absolute plus and the idea that people willingly close off their homes to natural light is impossible for me to comprehend. Where I come from light is a commodity in high demands, because half the year we have nearly none.

By the time we reached Broadway, I was ready to crawl on my knees. My feet were messed up and I felt like I was walking on bare bone. But walking up Broadway with the elevated subway tracks had me quickly forget my feet. This is how I imagined New York. Very similar to how the loop circles Chicago, the elevated subway gives off a futuristic feel. I immediately started looking for Harrison Ford because it seems like we’ve reached the not-so-far-away future of 2019, where blade runners kill off replicants. We’d reached the über hip Williamsburg.

With pained feet we entered the first and best eatery we could find. A small Korean Take-Away which allowed for a few seats at the windows. Oh my, never have I had such great Korean food and never have I been so happy to sit down.

After enjoying our food and resting our feet, we went out to explore the streets of Williamsburg. We got to the waterfront with magnificent views of Midtown Manhattan, and passed community gardens with more hipsters than I saw in my life.

Turning from the waterfront we walked down Bedford Avenue stopping for a coffee at one of those über hip coffee shops – this one with a Swedish touch. I think we both agreed that we would have liked more time to explore Williamsburg, but we had tickets for Madison Square Garden, where the New York Knicks were meeting The Boston Celtics.

Go Knicks!

Before coming, I’d spent a good amount of time securing tickets for a basket ball game at Madison Square Garden. I’d researched everything from sites for procuring tickets to seating arrangements.

I must say my research paid out. We had magnificent seats up at 210, row 2. Though we were too far away – as were most – to catch one of the t-shirts being shot off during some of the many breaks. Half the fun was all the in-between events. Cheerleaders, hip dancing groups for kids and the close up on the screens of some of the celebrities placed on the row facing the field. I have no idea who any of them were and it seemed like D-celebrities to me with some guy having a secondary role on Teen Wolf. But they were amazingly self-conscious and playing it off smart. I guess this is the closest they’ll ever come to feeling important.

The game itself did not go well for the Knicks, who were behind most of the match and ended up loosing, but to me it was an amazing experience – apart from having to endure yet another boring hotdog.

Before the match started we had stocked up on Knicks merchandise and both of us in Knicks t-shirts and with a foam finger we felt the part. However, we were far from the only tourists there and more than once did we come across a Danish family. I guess this weekend is the start off of the Autumn holiday back home. Thank goodness we are returning as the rest of Denmark is taking over Manhattan.

A dance good-bye

On our last night in New York and after having watched our first off season NBA game we walked through Hell’s Kitchen towards Columbus Circle from where we took the subway North. We’d not been able to make it to Hell’s Kitchen previously because of that one rainy day which screwed with my tight schedule. So here was our chance. Not that I feel I can say much more than “we walked through”.

I was by all definitions weary and tired after a long but wonderful day in Brooklyn and an evening at Madison Square Garden. I was so absolutely ready to return home.

At Columbus Circle Subway Station, I imagine I was not alone at feeling that the train never came. However, as many others I was caught up in the dramatic dancing of a thin boy dressed in white pants and a red satin shirt. He was literally dancing the night away. It seemed that he’d just stepped off Broadways rendition of Fame.

Around him stood tired New Yorkers, some had placed themselves on the stairs, all of them caught up in the energetic dancing of this thin boy. He seemed a little break from the long haul home, a welcome distraction from the train that didn’t come.

He dazzled me, and I can’t stop thinking about him and his courage to stand on that platform acting out his Michael Jackson fantasies. Who is he? Where does he come from? And why is he here performing to strangers?

As the train drove into the platform, I added my couple of dollars to his basket, hoping that he didn’t need them too much.

Last day

I cannot get out of this hotel fast enough. The entire Upper West Side is crawling with rats and we literally saw a girl yesterday who had to scare them away from her front door. They are everywhere! Adding to that we just left our luggage for safe keeping at the hotel in a room with dead cockroaches.

As we walked from the hotel we saw a guy killing something which was moving inside a plastic bag by dropping a brick to it. I say it was a cockroach. My boyfriend says rat. It could have been either.

A Day at the Museum

We’d planned to spend the morning at The Natural History Museum today. We were psyched about the exhibition “Dinosaurs Among Us” as well as the large collection of dinosaur skeletons. But when we arrived and after a short break in line, my boyfriend quickly convinced me that we should buy a ticket for all the exhibitions. We’ve ended up spending the entire day at the museum.

Not only did we see countless dinosaur bones in the permanent Fossil Halls, but we also had a look at the exhibition Dinosaurs Among Us, which explored the evolution of dinosaurs to birds. We explored the Crocs exhibition, with real life crocodiles – though of the smaller variant got lost in the beautiful Human Origins and Cultural Halls as well as the powerful Mammals Halls. Moreover, we got to see a movie about the Arctic as well as search the universe through a showing in the Hayden Planetarium.. And then we ate our last American meal at the award winning food court at the museum. Americans sure know how to create an atmosphere at natural history museums.

After hours of discovery, we returned to the hotel before departing for the airport.

Now having returned, I can’t figure out whether I regret having taken the trip, because while we experienced so much and was so very awed, I feel as if Manhattan is no longer the mysterious place in my mind, but rather a real place with pros and cons, with everyday people and places and streets. All the movies and tv-shows and books loose their mystery and instead become reality.

But I liked New York, and for the vacation itself I am very happy we went.



I have always known that should I go to New York City I would want to combine it with something more. I’d want to explore more of the east coast. That is why we went south to Philadelphia and Washington DC. It is also why we’ve planned a small vacation to Vermont.

I don’t know if it was the intro in Gilmore Girls that had me dream of experiencing Autumn in New England or if my fascination came with my high school studies of the 13 colonies, or perhaps it was when I in 9th grade watched The Cider House Rules in English Class. No matter what, I have had a long standing dream of exploring New England in the fall. In fact my dream is the reason that our trip to New York takes place in the first two weeks of October.

Back in July, I’d spent a lot of time figuring out how we might get to see the 2016 peak. Neither of us have a driver’s license, and on TripAdvisor we were warned against any attempt at reaching the New England states without a car. This is not a part of the world where public transport has made any advancement. I found so many beautiful little hamlets to explore or trails to walk, but all of them demanded that we drive there by car.

I was close to giving up when I finally made a break through. And for all you European city dwellers out there who are dreaming of seeing a piece of New England, here is what we did.

Online I’d found VT Trans Lines as probably the only public bus line through Vermont. It has two routes, one north- south and one east – west. Then I compared all the stops to lists of beautiful New England towns and quickly came across Woodstock, VT. Apart from being a beautiful town, Woodstock also offered a small national park with walking trails close to the centre. In addition, I’d found an AirBnb listing smack down in the middle of town. From there I’d found all the long distance bus lines I could and discovered that to the east of Woodstock and also on the VT line lies the larger town of Hanover, New Hampshire. The town which lies at the Connecticut River on the border of New Hampshire and Vermont is home to the private Ivy League University Dartmouth. This offered a few more transportation options than for the rest of the area and I quickly found that the daily east-west bus line of VT Trans Lines matched perfectly with the daily Dartmouth Coach from New York City to Hanover. I’d found a way to reach Woodstock through Hanover. Hanover itself sounded like an interesting town and after an AirBnb search I came up with a listing in Norwich, Vermont – a small village one mile from Hanover on the Vermont side of Connecticut River. The great thing here was that Hanover and the surrounding area offered free transportation through Advanced Transit which also drove to Norwich. Take that pessimistic TripAdvisors!

Now all that was left was worrying about how one bus being late might get us stuck somewhere.

On the road again…

On Tuesday morning we arrived early for the Dartmouth Coach stop at 42nd street. As we needed to load up on cash in case we needed it in the New England outback, I send my boyfriend to find an ATM. Not 30 seconds after he’d run off, several women in the line started telling me different scary stories about how the bus waited for no one and that it would leave at exactly 8.30. It didn’t help when the bus arrived making the women even more anxious on my behalf. Fortunately, I’ve learned that my boyfriend always makes it on time, but their fretting really didn’t help on my already fragile nerves.

But as I knew he would he made it back in plenty of time. And we could enter a little piece of bus heaven together. Now unlike Greyhound or for that sake Norwegian Air Shuttle, the Dartmouth Coach line from New York to Hanover is absolute luxury. I think they called it executive seating, but whatever it was called, there was space for even the tallest biggest person in these seats. My problem was that it was almost to large a seat, making me slowly disappear. The bus offered Wi-Fi and the option of a movie, but what really blew me apart from the great seating was the coffee and snack bar in the back of the bus. We really hadn’t needed to buy breakfast before departure.

It took us two hours to get out of New York City, but as soon as we’d left New Haven in the rear view mirror, the driver quickly caught up, while we enjoyed the beautiful landscape we passed by. Reaching Hanover, we spent an hour and a half soaking in the autumn sun in front of Hanover Inn while waiting for the VT Trans Lines bus. When it came it was merely a minivan and we had to stuff our bags in to the seats in the back.

Half an hour later as it was turning late afternoon the bus dropped us off at a parking lot just outside Woodstock.

We soon found our accommodation and the local tourist information where we were advised on visiting Billings Farm and the joining National Park. With plans for the following day, we walked through the very charming town of Woodstock Vermont. And it was everything I’d imagined. A covered wooden bridge, a green, wood churches, lots of trees and cute little stores catering to locals and visitors, alike. We walked around for a bit as the sun slowly disappeared. We managed a few visits to local shops including the very charming FH Gillingham and sons general Store with old wooden planks on the floor and an atmosphere as if we’d stepped back in time to the 19th centuries wild west.

I couldn’t help drawing comparisons to Stars Hollow while we enjoyed Woodstock. I imagined that Woodstock would have its own Taylor Doosey who’d bring up demands for Halloween decoration at the mandatory town meetings. The decorations in town and in front of the shops was simply too well maintained that only a perfectionist like Taylor would be behind it. At least he would love Woodstock.

The only thing that seemed to be missing in town was a Luke’s Diner. Instead we were recommended Bentley’s Restaurant where once again we were treated to Butternuts’ Cup Squash. We ordered lamb chops but were a bit disappointed when it didn’t include bones with marrow. But it tasted great nonetheless.

A Day in Marsh – Billings – Rockefeller National Historical Park

Early the next day we set out to Billings Farm and the National Park. Before leaving town, we went to the General Store for sandwiches, but quickly discovered that they offered nothing in terms of plastic wrapped industrial sandwiches. Rather they suggested us to visit The Village Butcher next door.

And once again we were greeted with another perfect example of Taylor Doosey’s dream town. The Village Butcher sold much more than merely meet, including maple syrup, cakes and fudge as well as some really great sandwiches, which we got wrapped up for our trip into the wild.

We decided to focus on the National Park rather than the farm and a tour of the Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller mansion. We have enough old houses back home. We’d come for the nature. Before setting off we were informed that at 2 o’clock there would be the option for joining a ranger for a tour of the park. It is a small park and at 13.30 we’d been through most of the main trails apart from the northern and southern summits because we’d somehow missed the entry to the trails.

It is a very beautiful and peaceful place and just what the doctor ordered after a week in New York. However it was far from as red as I’d imagined even though we’d hit peak.

We managed to return in time for a tour with a ranger and decided to join if by chance the tour would go by the northern or southern summits. It soon became apparent that we were the only visitors who wanted to join a guided ranger tour that day. Our ranger guide was an elder and very kind woman who originally heralded from Wales, but had lived 28 years in the US. Despite having planned a less trying tour that day she agreed to take us to the Southern Summit. It was pretty cool to have our own ranger with us. She told us about places that animals might hide, or which had been used by the natives as sleeping spaces in olden days. She told us that the reason the red colour was not more dominant was the deforestation of the area back in the 19th century after which the Billings, Marsh and Rockefeller families planted a variety of trees including Norwegian Spruce. This meant that the maple tree was not as widely represented here as in other parts of New England.

She also read us a few poems on our trip all of which perfectly matched the warm autumn day.

The Road Not Taken

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I —
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Robert Frost, Mountain Interval, 1916

By the time we reached the summit it was late afternoon. Here we were joined by a British family as our ranger told us the story of why leaves turn red in the autumn. She ended our tour with the beautiful view from the Southern Summit with another Robert Frost poem.

After thanking the ranger, we headed off to a few more areas of interest, enjoying the late afternoon. Though it might not have been as red as I had dreamt it to be, it was still beautiful and I am still thrilled that we were so lucky with the weather.

We walked back to town by a trail which zigzagged for ages ending up in Faulkner Park. We only managed to reach town after dark and completely spent. But we’d managed to get a complete day from walking around the beautiful Marsh – Billings – Rockefeller National Historical Park. So far I’ve been mighty pleased with my visit to New England though I have also already decided to return one day to explore other parts of the region.

Goodbye Woodstock, I hope to see you again some day

I take it back. There is a Luke’s Diner in Woodstock Vermont. It is a bit more frazzled and unkempt and instead of Luke you’ll find a group of grey haired waitresses running the morning crowd, but it is definitely worthy to be categorised as a Luke’s Diner. Mountain Creamery is placed on Central Street along with pretty much everything. The place is packed full with middle-aged American couples touring autumn coloured Vermont as well as locals at the bar chatting with the waitresses about everyday stuff.

Coffee and waffles at Mountain Creamery was the perfect ending to an amazing stay in Woodstock Vermont.

By 11.30 we were standing with our luggage at the parking area outside of town waiting for our drive back to Hanover.

Hello Norwich

We arrived in Norwich early afternoon and had plans to see Hannover. Unfortunately, the rain arrived at the same time as us, and the “short” mile into Hannover turned into a shower. We ended up checking out all the various items one could buy with the Dartmouth logo. It is truly a business of its own with several major stores in town selling everything from t-shirts and jumpers to key-chains, notebooks and cups – and that is only the more standardised items. There were Halloween and Christmas ornaments and cushions and throws. This is so far from the one lousy t-shirt you can buy from a university in Denmark. In fact, Danish universities only produce such t-shirts because overseas exchange students have requested them. I suppose the very fact that you pay immense amounts to go to university in the US already makes it a very commercial institution, whereas in Denmark the universities up until a few years ago never thought about branding themselves.

Our visit to Hannover was brief and it seemed to take us longer to find our way home since we ended up on the brown line as it went all the way to the other end, paused for fifteen minutes before making its way back to Hannover and onwards to Norwich.

And off course as we drove in to Norwich the sky cleared and the sun showed itself. but we were tired and wet, so we headed to the general store to shop a few sandwiches before returning to our host’s house. The general store in Norwich is called Dan and Whit’s and is something of a local celebrity. partly because it is massive and seems to stock everything, and partly because it has one of the best slogans in the business:

If we don’t have it, you don’t need it!

After perusing for ages, we bought a few sandwiches and sodas and made our way home.

Sightseeing Norwich

We were headed back to New York in the early afternoon, and had planned to spend the first couple of hours of the day exploring Norwich. Fortunately, the day offered a clear blue sky. We set out to find a bit of breakfast first, and ended up asking for directions to The Square Café at Norwich Inn. As they assisted us in finding our way around the very small hamlet, we grabbed a brochure about historic sites in Norwich. An absolutely brilliant brochure.

Norwich is a tiny place. Nothing more than a main street with houses on each side. The place has likely never had any significant impact on world or US history, but the history-loving locals had made a small brochure which told the history of every house on the street – many of which were from the 18th and 19th century. So after a muffin and a coffee at The Square Café which itself was in one of the historical buildings, we walked up and down the main street, pointing out and reading about each house. We passed the village green where the local school was out for recess and had another stop at Dan and Whit’s, on this overall charming walk.

While Norwich might just be one in a million small towns in rural US, I am very happy that we got to see it and that the weather was so great.

By midday we took the brown line back to Hannover catching the luxury bus back to New York and our visit to the Upper West Side and Brooklyn.



Days in New York: The UN and the Upper East Side

Americans seem to adore parades. They have the Mardi Gras, the Thanksgiving Parades, massive Halloween parades and Saint Patrick’s Day Parades which equals anything in Ireland.

One parade which I’d never heard of before is the Columbus Day Parade, but during my research I discovered that we would be in New York around the Columbus Day weekend and what better way to experience the Upper East Side than with a long line of parade floats down 5th Avenue.

The United Nations

But before heading towards the Columbus Day Parade, we’d planned to visit the UN headquarters. Unlike yesterday, the sun was shining brightly today and it was almost sad to have to enter the UN building for a guided tour with such pleasurable weather outside.

However, one cannot regret to enter the halls of this place. The architecture is stunning and the fact that this organisation attempts to gather the nations of the world in peace makes a visit here worth your while – no matter the weather outside.

Our guide was a charming young African man with a particular interest in the work against landmines. He took us through the different meeting rooms ending with the impressive General Assembly Hall. We were lucky that not too many meetings were taking place that day, but from a Danish perspective we were unfortunate that of all the rooms it was the Trusteeship Council Chamber which was occupied.

This particular chamber was first designed by Danish furniture designer Finn Juhl in 1952 and renovated with new furniture by Danish design duo Salto and Sigsgaard in 2013. Thus the chamber is an icon in Danish design history as well as in the architectural history of the UN. It is very likely also the main reason for most Danes to visit the UN Headquarters in New York.

But despite missing out on this symbol of Danish design history, we had a marvellous walk through the UN. However, I was pleased once we got outside and were able to once again enjoy the sun. After yesterdays heavy and cold rain I was enjoying the sun to the fullest.

Columbus Day

I wont be exaggerating when I say that the parade was a let down. It seemed a very small affair in comparison to how I imagined American parades and nothing near the spectacle I’d experienced at the 2012 Vancouver Pride.

Here we were standing around most of the time waiting for the next float to arrive. The floats themselves were often just a truck with no decoration but a sad advertisement or brand. There were some marching bands in between which I enjoyed, but for the most part it was boringly dressed people walking down 5th avenue.

It seemed to be mainly the Italian community which was celebrating this day and I assume that the rest of the New York population was off enjoying the fall foliage on an extended weekend in New England. That at least was where I’d much rather be than standing around for this.

I apologise for being negative, but in a land where we have come to expect that everything is always supersized the thin parade stood in sharp contrast to the rest of our trip.

However, with the brilliant weather our decision to see the parade offered an excellent opportunity to zigzag some of the streets and neighbourhoods of the Upper East Side as well as enjoy a walk through Central Park.

On our walk through the Upper East Side, I found the following description of the neighbourhood from the New York Landmarks Preservation Foundation:

The Upper East Side, today one of the most elegant residential and shopping districts, was first built up following the creation of nearby Central Park between 1857 and 1877. It has gone through several development phases, each of them distinctive and still represented today. Middle-class brownstones in the Italianate and Neo-Grec mode of the 1860’s to the 1880’s exists on some side streets. The Beaux Arts palaces and Neo-French Chateaux of the period, designed by McKim, Mead & White and other architects for the Vanderbilts, Astors, Loebs, and Whitneys, recall the days when those names were synonymous with American industrial and economic power. The Neo-Classical revival facades from the early 20th century show a change in taste from 19th century eclectic opulence; and the luxury apartment houses of the 1910-1930 period sought to retain the high style of private residences, while accommodating a basic change in lifestyle.

The Upper East Side seems a dream for the historically interested architect and full of some of the best of American architecture through the ages. At the same time it seems a land closed off to the commoner, where only the elite of American society has any chance of living.

Central Park in comparison seems a breathing hole shared by all New Yorkers and offered a marvellous walk across the Great Lawn and down along the Lake.

We ended the day under the neon lights and large billboards at Times Square along side the many cartoon characters and fellow tourists.


Days in New York: Harlem and the Met

Whatever sun we’ve experienced is gone from Manhattan and instead we are left with a grey blanket of clouds and heavy doses of rain.

We wanted to walk across the Brooklyn Bridge today and explore the different neighbourhoods of Brooklyn as well as a few flea markets, but with the cold rain slapping our faces we gave up on that idea and found our way to Grand Central Station to check out the Great Northern Food Hall, which the media in Denmark have been buzzing and fussing about for the last few months.

Third Ave Subway Station
Third Ave Subway Station
The Great Northern Food Hall

Now I’ve never really been a fan of Claus Meyer though I remember him as a television chef from when I grew up. He is the personification of the over hyped Nordic Food which has made my home town into a food Mecca for the elite. But he has always turned my hairs the wrong way.

Central Station
Central Station

However, proud of particularly the Danish breakfast treats (the real Danish pastry) and well aware that Danes are leagues ahead of New Yorkers in the appreciation of a real and good tasting hot dog, I was curious to see Meyer’s attempt at educating the Americans in regards to some of these essential food items.

Great Northern Food Hall
Great Northern Food Hall

I had read ahead of time that Meyer had been way to artistic with his hot dog stand and instead of offering actual Danish hot dogs to the masses he’d gone ahead and made a real classic Meyer by attempting to dose it up with all kinds of weird stuff. Thus, since it was early in the morning we kept ourselves to the Vanderbilt Hall where we got a treat of Danish tebirkes and porridge.

Hall to the Subway at Central Station
Hall to the Subway at Central Station

The first was just as it is back home and gets an A+ from this tebirkes aficionada. The porridge might have been good, but apart from the main chef at the stand bad mouthing the entrepreneur – that is Meyer –  we were also served the porridge nearly cold. In comparison to what I know of American service by now that guy should be out on his ass. Even in Denmark where we prefer a more cold service that guy wouldn’t have kept his job long.

I might not like Claus Meyer, but no one bitches about him but me!

Pershing Square
Pershing Square

After getting cosy and comfortable at Grand Central Station we took the chance to see if we might possibly get a tour of the inside of the UN Headquarters.

Central Station and the Chrysler building in the rain
Central Station and the Chrysler building in the rain

Inside being the keyword as rain started pouring down. But we were out of luck and had to wait a day for the next tour on site.

Warning Rodent Bait!
Warning Rodent Bait!

At this point I was ready to just get home and under the sheets, but despite having changed rooms at the hotel the idea of spending the day there was far from pleasant.

NYPD barricades
NYPD barricades
The Met – Temples and Eggs

We ended up taking a bus into the Upper East Side where we visited the Metropolitan Museum of Arts. The Met is one of largest museums in the world offering a permanent collection of more than 2 million pieces.

Temple of Dendur
Temple of Dendur

Amongst these is the entire Temple of Dendur, which the Egyptian government gifted to the US in 1965 after it had become obvious that the temple’s original location would be flooded by the building of a nearby dam.

Figures and hieroglyphs on the side of the Temple of Dendur
Figures and hieroglyphs on the side of the Temple of Dendur

The temple is reconstructed in the Sackler Wing where it lies with a beautiful panorama view of Central Park. The very idea that the museum houses an ancient temple helps to comprehend the sheer size of this place.


We could have spent hours walking around and studying the many exceptional exhibitions on show from all over the world.

Drinking horn from Nuremberg, Germany 1436
Drinking horn from Nuremberg, Germany 1436
Funerary mask from 10th-12th century, north coast of Peru
Funerary mask from 10th-12th century, north coast of Peru
A Hypocrite and a Slanderer by Franz Xavier Messerschmidt
A Hypocrite and a Slanderer by Franz Xavier Messerschmidt
Crucifixion (Corpus Hypercubus) by Salvador Dalí, 1954
Crucifixion (Corpus Hypercubus) by Salvador Dalí, 1954
The Charles Engelhard Court of the American Wing
The Charles Engelhard Court of the American Wing
Gold beakers, precolumbian art
Gold beakers, precolumbian art
Saint Michael from France, ca 1475
Saint Michael from France, ca 1475
Interior from the Classical Galleries, 1810–1845
Interior from the Classical Galleries, 1810–1845
The exhibition 'Body Language'
The exhibition ‘Body Language’

To me the most interesting find in the vast collection were the Fabergé eggs on show in the European section. In particular, the beautiful pale pink egg bearing the title Imperial Danish Palaces Egg. The egg was presented to the czarina Maria Feodorovna on Easter 1890 by her husband Czar Alexander III.

European Sculpture Collection 1700-1900
European Sculpture Collection 1700-1900

Maria Feodorovna was born Princess Marie Sophie Frederikke Dagmar daughter of King Christian IX of Denmark. Most Danes know her as Dagmar.

The Imperial Danish Palaces Egg
The Imperial Danish Palaces Egg

Her older brother became King Frederik VIII of Denmark, her older sister Alexandra married the later Edward VII  King of the United Kingdom and the British Dominions and Emperor of India, while her older brother was elected King George I of the Hellenes (Greece). Not without reason her father was known as the Father-in-Law of Europe, and many royal houses can trace their history back to him.

Early cast for the Statue of Liberty by Frédéric-Auguste Bartholdi
Early cast for the Statue of Liberty by Frédéric-Auguste Bartholdi

Dagmar herself saw her son and grandchildren killed during the Russian Revolution of 1917, and as such ended as the last remaining crowned person of Russia. But before these events she lived a life at the utmost top of society in Russia and Europe.

Head of Satyr playing the double flute, 1 centurt A.D.
Head of Satyr playing the double flute, 1 centurt A.D.

The Fabergé egg which caught my attention has hidden a folding ten-panel gold screen which shows some of Dagmar’s favourite Danish and Russian retreats. The thought of finding – among such treasures at the Met a tiny but priceless piece of ornament showcasing miniature pictures of Danish royal palaces seemed so surreal.

Small folding screen inside of the Imperial Danish Palaces Egg
Small folding screen inside of the Imperial Danish Palaces Egg
Harlem tour

We waited out the heavy rain in the large halls of the Met and as the weather seemed to stabilise and only the grey cloud remained, we decided to shake up our schedule and take the subway to Harlem.

Brownstone-homes on Striver's Row
Brownstone-homes on Striver’s Row

I had planned a Harlem tour full of Harlem history facts. Thus we started at 135th street station and St. Nicolas’ Park walking towards Strivers’ Row, which is a three-row radius of spacious town houses, known as brownstone-homes. According to the information I’d found beforehand some of the key players in the Harlem Renaissance and civil rights movement lived here.

Victory Tabernacle Seventh Day Christian Church on 138th Street
Victory Tabernacle Seventh Day Christian Church on 138th Street

Built in 1891, most of these homes remained empty until affluent African Americans (Strivers) bought them in the 1920s as Harlem became the centre of a ‘literary, artistic, and intellectual movement that kindled a new black cultural identity’ (History.com).

Private Road between 138th and 139th Street
Private Road between 138th and 139th Street

The movement has later been known as the Harlem Renaissance and was caused by a mass migration of black Americans from the South to Northern industrial cities during and after WWI. They came to the north and Harlem in search of jobs within the war-time industry and brought with them an artistic and cultural explosion as ‘strivers’ for a better future.

Private Road - Walk Your Horses
Private Road – Walk Your Horses

History.com offers a short introductory video on the Harlem Renaissance which is really nice: The Harlem Renaissance.

Houses on 138th street
Houses on 138th street

We continued from Strivers’ Row down to Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd and the Abyssinian Baptist Church, which dates back to 1823. The congregation was started in 1808 as a way for black Americans to avoid the segregation in church and is one of the first and most influential African-American congregations.

Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd
Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd

Continuing down Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd I must admit that I was surprised at how pleasant Harlem is and all the lovely brownstone houses. This is definitely a wonderful part of Manhattan and much more attractive than Midtown.

Harlem Nights
Harlem Nights
Brownstone houses
Brownstone houses
Behind the facade in Harlem
Behind the facade in Harlem
The Universal Temple of Spiritual Truth and Funerals by Design
The Universal Temple of Spiritual Truth and Funerals by Design
Fire exits
Fire exits
YMCA - Young Men's Christian Association
YMCA – Young Men’s Christian Association
Corner of Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd and 135th Street
Corner of Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd and 135th Street
135th Street
135th Street
Floral Expressions Harlem
Floral Expressions Harlem
Shrine Live Music
Shrine Live Music
Bethlehem Moriah Baptist Church
Bethlehem Moriah Baptist Church
Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd and 132nd Street
Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd and 132nd Street
Just Lorraine's Place
Just Lorraine’s Place
Shiloh Baptist Church
Shiloh Baptist Church

We ended up where everyone ends up on a tour of Harlem at 125th street – the commercial centre and beating heart of the neighbourhood.

125th Street
125th Street

Enjoying the atmosphere and the crowds of people who had overcome the grey weather we did a bit of shopping on 125th. I was particularly pleased with the GAP outlet store, which offered enormous discounts on clothes.

Monument to Adam Clayton Powell
Monument to Adam Clayton Powell

After having seen the shop assistant add discounts of up to 75% on all the items I’d grabbed I was pretty much whistling and exclaiming that this couldn’t get any cheaper.

Shopping in the GAP
Shopping in the GAP

To this our shop assistant grinned at us and added ‘We haven’t counted in the 25% off on all items yet’. What! I walked out of there feeling like I wasn’t spending money, but earning them. This place is definitely on my to do list if we return to New York.

Apollo Theatre on 125th Street
Apollo Theatre on 125th Street

We ended our day in Harlem with a late lunch at Sylvia’s, which is known for serving Soul Food. The late Sylvia Wood who ran the restaurant for more than 50 years was known as the Queen of Soul Food, so I’d figured a visit to her restaurant was the proper way to eat in Harlem.


The term Soul Food comes from Alex Haley’s recordings of Malcolm X and is used to describe the food which the Great Migration of African-Americans from WWI and up until the 1960s brought with them from the South to their new homes in the northern industrial cities. Sylvia’s and many similar black-owned restaurants have served as meeting places and social spots for the black community in for instance Harlem, serving up traditional dishes of the black south.

At Sylvia's
At Sylvia’s

Strangely enough the cuisine originates not in the African roots of slaves in the South, but with the indigenous and native people of North America.

Sylvia's Restaurant Soul Food
Sylvia’s Restaurant Soul Food

It is heavy food and probably not all that healthy to eat all the time, but it tastes amazing and Sylvia’s was a marvellous place to end our Harlem adventure.

Zofka (now dressed in GAP)

Gallery: Chelsea Flea Market

Though I did not find anything, I was in particular need of, I could not help myself taking pictures of all the odities that were available at Chelsea Flea Market.

Danish garders by Kaj Bojesen
Danish garders by Kaj Bojesen
A pilgrim cup
A pilgrim cup
If only this chair could fit in a suitcase
If only this chair could fit in a suitcase
Shelves of porcelain
Shelves of porcelain
Dracula in a frame
Dracula in a frame
Abraham Lincoln and Stars and Stripes
Abraham Lincoln and Stars and Stripes
Colonial wood carved African American men
Colonial wood carved African American men
Colonial wood carved African American men
Colonial wood carved African American men
Can you find Tintin?
Can you find Tintin?
The lady and the glass slipper
The lady and the glass slipper
Books $5
Books $5
A bulldog
A bulldog
African masks
African masks
African figurines
African figurines
Another chair for the suitcase
Another chair for the suitcase
Chelsea Flea Market
Chelsea Flea Market
Barber sign
Barber sign
A doll on the shoe shelf
A doll on the shoe shelf