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    Posted July 23, 2015 by
    London, United Kingdom

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    Greenland blows your mind away, starting with Nuuk!


    Mike, can you see down there? That’s our first sight of Greenland up close, the Ice Cap. So amazing to think that this has been a childhood dream and it is now before our eyes! Flying over the Ice Cap was dramatic enough, but nothing could have prepared us for the approach to Nuuk where the Air Iceland plane flies through the Fjord literally! And the mountain walls are so close that you can almost scrape them! Arriving at Nuuk (Population 17, 000 as of 2013), the capital of Greenland, for the first time filled both of us with untold emotion. Somehow, we both knew that this trip would be like no other.


    In our minds, Nuuk consisted of lots ice, snow, colourless and unremarkable architecture, unapproachable people, limited supermarket supplies and certainly mainly local produce with some imports. Above all, we expected a sort of wild place where the term of “Last Frontier on earth” may be more appropriate. You see, we had done some homework on Greenland but unfortunately there isn’t much written about it in English so for the most part, we were left to our imagination and the odd Hollywood film.


    Our pre-conceptions seemed to be dispelling as soon as we landed and headed to the place where we would stay, the “Inuk Hostels”, ahh the sound of that reinforced in us the romantic view we had of this frontier place. As we started driving towards town, we noticed that there were proper paved roads, people walking down the street going about their daily life, kids playing outside, colourful houses, some painted in crimson, others in bright red, others in blue. This was not exactly our expectation. Nuuk was crushing every one of our myths, right from the outset.


    Nevertheless, there was one that was not dispelled, and that was that of having impressive nature surrounding the city. We were not disappointed on this, for nature is an integral part of Nuuk and wherever you are, there will always be a reminder of the awesomeness of nature in this place. The views of the mountains and fjords were simply majestic! We just couldn’t get over how colourful and contrasting this place really is! The air is so pure that the clarity by which you see things is remarkable; it actually creates the illusion of things appearing closer than they really are.


    As we started to explore Nuuk by foot, our Greenlandic myths continued to crushed at every step, there were modern buildings, super markets fully stocked, hell we even found “Mexican Tortillas"! And of course, we found whale meat, reindeer and seal meat. This is Greenland what do you expect?


    The Royal Governor Clauss Paarss ,under the Dano-Norwegian crown, founded Nuuk in 1728, but there have been human settlements in this area since about 2200 BC so it is not by any means a new city. There is definitely a lot of history here.


    Walking around, we could not help but to notice the contrast of old and new architecture and the general laid back atmosphere of this place. There was so much colour around, it seemed so similar to other Scandinavian countries. People seemed to be relaxing at the local Café Pascucci where you find more than your cappuccino and lattes; you can find burgers, nachos and beer. Wait a second, did you say Nachos? You could see groups of friends passing time and laughing, sharing stories, passers by could see that we were clearly foreigners and many would wave at us or simply smile as they passed by. It seemed a sort of Camelot experience. There were plenty of restaurants, cafes, bars, even a main street, taxis, and buses. Not at all the Nuuk we had envisaged. This was a proper European capital, simply in a smaller scale.


    In coming to Nuuk in the month of June, you cannot help but be completely astonished by the 24 hours of light where the sun does set, but it never really gets dark and the sun rises at about 3:00 am. It is so easy to get disconcerted. People here simply go about their daily life, children playing out in the streets, many playing football. As an outside observer, you just can’t get over it. During the months of June and July Nuuk gets about 20 hours of sunlight. Temperature during our stay averaged 12C. T-shirt weather. Another misconception crushed.


    One of the most remarkable experiences was our decision to watch the sunrise from our room. Nothing had prepared us for the real event we were about to witness for when sunrise happened, it was the most spectacular shout from nature, it is as if the iconic Sermitsiaq Mountain and the sun were playing a sweet ensemble announcing the new day. It was simply breathtaking! This sight was like no other we’ve seen and I know that it will stay with us all our lives.


    On one morning and with the tide down, we decided to walk across to the small island in front of us. We wanted to take closer shots of the Sermitsiaq Mountain; it was a bit of a challenge, slippery, full of unstable rocks, and varying depth. The task was made more difficult when you consider that we were carrying heavy camera equipment, tripod and extras. We felt like true explorers! As we made our way to the side facing the mountain and away from direct sight of the crossing point, we began to capture images and tried all kinds of settings, filters and compositions. We must have been there for about three hours and upon returning to our crossing Mike exclaimed: “Dan, the tide’s gone up and it’s rising!” What do we do? stay and wait all day without food and water till the tide goes down? Call for rescue? The water was extremely cold, and we could not risk damaging the camera equipment. We decided to go across come what may! “One of our two trekking poles broke! With the tide continuing to rise, we decided to use the other pole to help us measure the depth of the water and started crossing keeping all equipment above the water and safe. The depth continued to deepen, and rose to our waistline and suddenly started to recede. We finally made it across safely.


    Next stop, meeting local people. Our preconception was that people are closed, distant, and a rather homogeneous society. It didn’t take long to dispel all our myths. We met so many amazing people. We met this wonderful woman who was a lead singer of global Nordic singer, had travelled the world over on tour and finally decided to come back home. She told us “Inuit people have something spiritual about them, I am proud of my culture, we are completely sustainable and have adapted to nature, rather than the other way around”. At another occasion, we met some local artists who engaged with us in fascinating conversation. I was also struck by the affection and passion that Inuit people display whether joining a sing-along at a local bar or whether on the streets where I witnessed mother and child, father and son, lovers, holding hands displaying affection. The pre-conception of cold and isolated people was simply not true. In terms of demographics, and although according to Greenland Statistics (2013) 89% are born in Greenland, the largest number of non-Greenlandic people are Danes but then you have Thais, Filipinos, and others, interestingly north of the Artic Circle met up with three Spaniards residing in Greenland. Remarkable!


    How was my Nuuk experience, do you remember when you had the butterflies in your stomach at the sight of that person you liked back in high school? Well, this is exactly how Mike and I felt at being in Nuuk, except; it was like that non-stop all the time! As our stay ensued, Greenland began to grow inside of us! And that’s what Nuuk does to you. It grows on you!


    Daniel Gurrola is currently posting his perspective on Nuuk on his instagram page @racas04. He travelled to Greenland with his friend Michael Bustos

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