The Faroe Islands, Villages, 19th August 2012

The next part of our drive into the Faroese countryside took us to some small villages.  In some , there were newer houses with an updated modern colour scheme, but a turf roof is still very popular – it provides good insulation.

A small village  (P1010710  © DY of jtdytravels)


Sod roofed church (P1010699 © DY of jtdytravels)

The main religion in the Faroes is Lutheran and many churches dot the landscape.

Simple wooden church interior. (P1010702 © DY of jtdytravels)


Another church, this time, isolated at the head of a fjord  (P1010712 © DY of jtdytravels)


A tiny, isolated churchyard (P1010730 © DY of jtdytravels)


Bog asphodel [Narthecium ossifragum] (P1010737 © DY of jtdytravels )

Again, wandering around these sites usually results in a flower or two to photograph and enjoy.

A small farm building clings to a steep edge (P1010723 © DY of jtdytravels)


Coastline scene  (P1010739 © DY of jtdytravels)

These rocks are known as the Giant and the Hag at Eidi.

View from Gjaargadur Guesthouse, Gjogv, Eysturoy Island, The Faroes  (P1010754 © DY of jtdytravels)


Cliffs at Gjogv  (P1010758 © DY of jtdytravels)


Village at the head of the fjord. (P1010763 © DY of jtdytravels)


The road to Saksun   (P1010760 © DY of jtdytravels)


Hay drying racks at Saksun (P1010762 © DY of jtdytravels)

And in this area, I found some more delightful flowers.

(  P1010761  © DY of jtdytravels )


(P1010765  © DY of jtdytravels )


(P1010766 © DY of jtdytravels)

And  as we come to the end of this spectacular drive through some of the Faroese countryside, our adventure to the viking Islands must, unfortunately, come to an end. I hope you have enjoyed joining me for the journey!   D

All Photography © DY of jtdytravels


The Faroe Islands, Countryside, 19th August 2012

Dagfinn, our driver/guide, was mostly right about where to find the best weather. Not once did we have to abort an activity due to poor weather and our drive along the Faroese coastline and through small villages was very pleasant.

Dramatic coastline views  P1010658


The highest point of our drive – 882 m – near Slaettartindur (P1010669


Thymus praecox  Creeping Thyme   P1010670  ©  DY of jtdytravels

There were some small flowers to enjoy too.

A tiny eyebright. You could easily miss this one!(P1010663



Most Faroese plants are Arctic-alpine – made up of low growing wildflowers, mosses, lichens and grasses.  The upper slopes of the craggy peaks are usually barren.

Sea-birds dominate the bird population along with those who prefer open ground. There’s no woodland here.  The Pied Raven has become extinct while many other birds have developed distinct Faroese sub-species.  Puffins are very common and are still part of the Faroese diet.

There are only three species of wild land mammals to be found on the Faroe Islands.  All three; the Mountain Hare, Brown Rat and House mouse, were introduced by man.

Over the last 1200 years common animals such as the pony, cow, sheep, goose and duck have been domesticated.

View down a fjord  (P1010673

Again, we passed through quaint villages with their brightly painted houses but didn’t stop. We just continued to drive further up-country through beautiful, beautiful scenery.

Old whaling station buildings (P1010689

One place we stopped at was an abandoned whaling station called, Vid Ai.

Abandoned buildings and equipment   (P1010678


An old boiler and storage tank  (P1010676


At the whaling station jetty   (P1010682

Angellica  (P1010692

Abandoned building sites are great places to find plants that like a disturbed environment.  Many are weeds.

A lovely buttercup  (P1010698

It was good to wander around this old, abandoned site but we had more to see on this drive – and that’s for next time. D

The Faroe Islands, Tórshavn, 19th August, 2012

The view from my window at the Hotel Føroyar was quite spectacular – when the fog lifted.  The city was laid out below me with a pale blue mother ship lying at anchor in the bay.  Because there’s not enough permanent cold-storage available in the city for all the fish caught in the surrounding seas,  the Phoenix lies at anchor to take up the slack.

View from my bedroom window  (P1010621 ©  DY of jtdytravels)

We started our day with a walking tour of the old centre of Tórshavn.  This part of the city is called Tinganes.

Traditional black and white house with sod roof   (P1010625  ©  DY of jtdytravels )

Traditionally, only two colours were used for the houses: black and white.  The walls of the buildings were painted black while the window frames were white.  The black, I believe, came from the use of creosote, a preservative.  This was necessary to protect the wood from the elements, particularly due the ever-present salt-laden air.  Nowadays, black paint is the chosen material as it is not so injurious to health as creosote.  Sod, or turf, was the traditional roof covering with the practice still continuing today on some buildings.

More traditional houses and paving stones ( P1010627 © DY of jtdytravels)

A stone and timber dwelling   (P1010633  ©  DY of jtdytravels )

We walked on to the small harbour which is surrounded by old and new buildings.

Tórshavn Harbour  ( P1010640  ©  DY of jtdytravels )


Reflected boats and some new buildings   (P1010642  ©  DY of jtdytravels )


Old wooden boats    (P1010644  ©  DY of jtdytravels )


An Arctic Tern    (P1010638  ©  DY of jtdytravels )

The port was protected by the Skansin fortification which was built on a small hill.  Today, this is the location of a lighthouse.

The lighthouse and old cannon  (P1010650  ©  DY of jtdytravels )


The fort from the harbour   (P1010657  ©  DY of jtdytravels )


On old cannon with the mothership Phoenix in its sights!   (P1010653  ©  DY of jtdytravels )

After this walk,  Dagfinn, our driver/guide, decided to head for what he believed would be a sunnier part of this island. And we’ll go there in my next musings.  D



The Faroe Islands, Kirkjubour, 18th August 2012

After visiting those mighty coastal Faroese cliffs, our next stop was at the tiny settlement of Kirkjubour on the west coast of Streymoy Island. This is the southern most village of The Faroes and the country’s most important historical site.

Stone, timber and sod roofed private home (P1010593 © DY of jtdytravels)

In the Middle Ages, this village was the spiritual centre of the Faroe Islands. At that time, it is said to have had about 50 houses but the majority of these were washed away by a fierce storm in the 16th century. Now there is just a huddle of stone, timber and sod roofed private homes like the one above. Red is the common door and window colour here.

Kirkjubøur settlment (P1010576 © DY of jtdytravels)

There are three main historic buildings to visit here. From left to right: the oldest still inhabited wooden house in the world; the ruins of the Magnus Cathedral, now a world heritage site; and the oldest still in use church in the Faroes.

Let’s begin with the house. Some of you may have seen the episode of the English TV program called ‘Coast’  in which the team visited a very old Faroese farm house in Kirkjubour called ‘Roykstovan’ – the King’s Farm. This is it!

Part of this house dates back to 1550 and has been lived in continuously for no less than eighteen generations of the one family… and still is lived in today, part home, part museum. I had been intrigued by the documentary and now I had the wonderful privilege of not only visiting the house but also of meeting the mother of the present owner.

The oldest continuously lived-in house in the world   (P1010583 © DY of jtdytravels)

This charming old building dates back to the 11th century. It’s made of timber which is said to have come drifting, quite unintentionally, across the seas from Norway.  The ship that was carrying it to some other long forgotten destination sank, and the cargo of timber was washed up by the Gulf Stream to this natural ‘collection point’ in the fiord.

Sod roof above the entry to the house.  (P1010590 © DY of jtdytravels)

The turfed roof is an ancient form of building in the Faroes, and is designed both to provide insulation and to withstand Atlantic storms and, judging by the fact that houses have been washed away in storms, those storms must be very fierce.

Solva Patursson , our delightful hostess.  (P1010605 © DY of jtdytravels)

We had the decided pleasure of being entertained by Solva Patursson, the mother of the present owner of the house.

Solva with the King’s Yeoman’s staff of office  (P1010616 © DY of jtdytravels)

The head of the Patursson family (now Solva’s son since the death of her husband) is the King’s Yeoman on The Faroes and this beautifully carved pole is his staff of office.

The living room (P1010597 © DY of jtdytravels)

Solva told us stories of her family and the house as we were served coffee and biscuits in the living room. It is decorated with period furniture and portraits of previous generations of the family. The bureau(above) is 17th century. There’s also a piano built in 1858. I expect, and hope, that it was much used to entertain the family during the long dark winters experienced in the Faroes. I was glad to be there in the summer – I don’t relish the thought of winters spent here.

The long wooden table  (P1010595 © DY of jtdytravels)

Many objects in the house are made from timber salvaged from ships which came to grief on the nearby rocks.  The top of the long wooden table in the kitchen / living area was once a cargo hatch upon which Anders, a shipwrecked German, drifted ashore in 1895.

This room, called the Roykstovan, dates back to around 1100. It has a smoke opening in the ceiling.  This was the original smoke house, the centre of much of the activity of the farm.

The kitchen / living area (P1010607 © DY of jtdytravels)


Old pots and other implements on the wood burning stove  (P1010613 © DY of jtdytravels)

One can only wonder at the number of cups of tea that have been produced by this old kettle over the years – and the number and content of the stories told whilst those cups of tea were enjoyed. And what about that flat iron!  Makes one grateful for modern appliances!

Worn treads on stairways that were built to last! (P1010598 © DY of jtdytravels)


An old door in the house    (P1010619  © DY of jtdytravels)


The red door with lion adornment  (P1010588  © DY of jtdytravels)

This red door with carvings of a Norwegian lion, is a replica, carved by Joannes Patursson in 1907. It now adorns the front of the old house.  The original red door, was formerly inside between the Log Room and the Ball Room.  It was destroyed by officials in 1833.

A very old carving of Bishop Erlender  (P1010612  © DY of jtdytravels) 

On one wall of this house, which was originally the bishop’s house, is a very old representation of Bishop Erlender who was responsible for the building of Magnus Cathedral, Magnuskatedralurin, in around 1300. That building, just below the house, is now World Heritage listed. It probably served as the official cathedral of the Faroes until the reformation.

Magnus Cathedral and St Olav Church   (P1010577 © DY of jtdytravels)

The whitewashed  St Olav’s Church (‘Olavskirkjan’) was built in the 12th century and is the only church from the middle ages still used in the Faroe Islands.

The Magnus Cathedral is set between the house and the church. Referred to as ‘Mururin’ (the wall), it was built around year 1300. It’s not known if the building was ever actually completed.  Today there is only the 1½-meter thick wall remaining covered by a temporary roof, put there to protect the building until there’s money enough to restore the building properly.

Model of Magnus Cathedral (P1010597 2  © DY of jtdytravels)

There’s a model of the Magnus Cathedral (kept in the house) showing how it once looked with it’s stain glass windows.

Interior of St Olav’s Church  (P1010580  © DY of jtdytravels)

St Olav’s is till used as the village Parish Church. Between 1962 and 1967 it was restored and it smelled of an even more recent repaint when we were there!  The altar piece is modern – a painting of Christ watching over a boat full of men painted in 1967 by a Faroese artist, S J Mikines.

Another art work in the very simply decorated church. (P1010581 © DY of jtdytravels)


King Sverre of Norway  (P1010610 © DY of jtdytravels)

On a wall of  the house is this likeness of Sverri Kongur. The story goes that in the year 1151 a little boy was born in a cave above Kirkjubøur. He would grow to be  King Sverre of Norway – but before that he was educated here and became a clergyman in this church.  His name has been carried on by others in this village – like Solva’s late husband.

The burial ground beside St Olav’s Church (P1010582 © DY of jtdytravels)

Over the centuries, the people who have inhabited this village have been buried in this area. The stone, centre front of this photo, is for Solva’s husband, Pall Sverri Patursson, who lived from 1944 to 2004. His son is now the head of the Patursson family and he proudly continues the traditions and keeps this place a special place in the Faroe’s history.  D


The Faroe Islands, 18th August, 2012


The day began with an opportunity to explore by boat some of  the impressive bird cliffs and caves that we had seen from the plane. We would begin this trip from Vestmanna, the largest village on Streymoy Island.

Village of Vestmanna from boat dock. ( P1010445 © DY of jtdytravels)

Vestmanna was the port of call for the ferry from Vágar and the airport to the main island of Streymoy and the Capital. In those days, all the traffic to and from the airport passed through Vestmanna. But now a submerged tunnel connects the two islands, replacing the old ferry, and Vestmanna is bypassed by most traffic.  The main employment here is the fishing-industry with a fillet-factory in the village taking fish from the modern fishing-fleet. Theres also some fish farming in the inlet.

In a place where it rains a lot, hydroelectricity makes a lot of sense and, since 1953, Vestmanna has provided electric power to the islands from its its three power stations. Water is provided from dams in the hills high above the village.

Massive cliffs  (P1010499 © DY of jtdytravels

Taking people like us on boat trips to explore the coast, when the weather is favourable, gives another form of income to this small community.

And we went right inside those caves!   (P1010510 © DY of jtdytravels)

This boat ride was really most impressive as we cruised right under some of those massive cliffs which I had seen from the plane.   So impressive were the cliffs that we had to don safety helmets to guard against falling rocks… or were they to protect us from bird poo from the many dozens of sea birds flying about?  I rather think the later as the helmets would have done little to stop any damage caused. Any rock falling from these cliffs would have caused more than a dint in the head – more likely it would sink the boat!

Inside a cave with a view! ( P1010501 © DY of jtdytravels )

At times, looking up was neck aching stuff ! (P1010525 © DY of jtdytravels )


Leaving the cliffs in our wake  (P1010528 © DY of jtdytravels )

It was not the best of weather but at least the seas were calm. It may not be so comfortable out here in rougher weather!

Back to Vestmanna  (P1010543 © DY of jtdytravels)

On the way back to Vestmanna, we heard some of the stories of this place. One was about pirates who frequented these waters in days of old. In the beginning of the 17th century the village was continually pestered by pirates. Then, in 1615 some Danish warships, in  Vestmanna at the time,surprised three Irish pirate-ships. Twenty seven Irish pirates were killed in the fight. Fifty five were drowned after the fight and eight pirate-officers were executed by hanging. That was quite a few pirates dealt with – I don’t know if others followed after that.

Another story was about the whaling industry. In the middle of the 19th century a steal-net was stretched across the mouth of the inlet during whaling.  This was done after the pilot whales had been driven into the inlet to prevent them from escaping.

Safely back at Vestmanna, we left our boat to begin a bit of land exploration.

Narrow roads, green fields.  (P1010556  © DY of jtdytravels )


A common sight – a sod roofed building  (P1010560 © DY of jtdytravels)


A typical village street  (P1010570 © DY of jtdytravels )

We drove through some picturesque villages. I wondered how often these chairs and the BBQ would be used in this incelement climate!

Village strung out along a stream  (P1010558 © DY of jtdytravels )


A bubbling stream courses through this village  (P1010569 © DY of jtdytravels )


Very mall village harbour  (P1010565 © DY of jtdytravels )

The tiny high walled harbour was a reminder that the seas here can become ferocious during storms. We had been very lucky to have a mild day with low seas and little wind.  In the afternoon, we would visit a very special family and their very old house – but that’s for my next next musings.   D


The Faroe Islands, 17th August 2012


After a night back in Iceland, reunited with the passengers left behind when we went to Greenland (Oh, what they had missed!), it was time to fly off to the last of our Viking Islands – The Faroe Islands.  We took off around lunch time in a BAe 146 (OY RCD), a Short Take-Off and Landing (STOL) type aircraft.  This meant that the runway on the islands was not going to be long enough for regular aircraft.

The green hills of The Faroes    (P1010434 © DY of jtdytravels)

Again from my ‘seat with a view’, high above land, I was able to take my first look at these small islands. And what I saw was GREEN! A change of colour. Not the white ice and bare brown mountains of Greenland – but lots of green.

The Faroe Islands, lie north west of Scotland in the North Atlantic at a latitude of 62°00’N. Lying in the heart of the Gulf Stream, they are half way between Iceland and Norway. This archipelago of eighteen islands forms roughly the shape of an arrowhead, 113km long and 75km wide.

An autonomous region of Denmark since 1948, the 50,000 Faroese people have their own flag, parliament and official national language.  With so much coastline and not much arable land, the economy is almost entirely dependent on fishing and fish farming.  Some petroleum products have been found nearby and this gives these islands some hope for sustained economic prosperity.

Rugged cliffs   (P1010478 © DY of jtdytravels)

The islands have towering cliffs and are quite rugged although the highest peak is just 882m above sea level.  The climate is categorised as Maritime Subarctic and is greatly influenced by the warm North Atlantic Current.  Winters are mild considering their location with a mean temperature of 3-4℃, while summers are cool with a mean temperature of 9.5-10-5℃. The islands are windy and cloudy with over 260 rainy days a year.  Sunny days are rare.

Close up of cliffs (P1010486 © DY of jtdytravels)

I liked these islands immediately, with their wonderful, rugged cliffs, clearly visible as the plane approached the airport and no less impressive, later on, up much closer by boat. This was a very scenic approach to the airport.

First sight of a Faroese village   (P1010435 © DY of jtdytravels)

A village, straggled out along the coast below us.  By far the greatest number of Faroese now live in Greater Tórshavn, the capital of the islands – the rest of the population live in scattered, tiny villages like this one.

A Faroese village    (P1010438 © DY of jtdytravels)

The island houses are very colourful indeed.  It appears that no-one would dare paint their house the same colour as their neighbour’s. And the style of church is quite distinctive in its architecture – and again colourful.

A closer view of Faroese houses   (P1010442 © DY of jtdytravels)

Our plane touched down at Sorevag on a small island that has enough flat land for a short runway.  There, we were met by a representative of Arctic Adventures, our Danish travel agents.  We were then transferred by road through a tunnel to Streymoy Island and the capital Torshavn. Our home away from home for the next three nights was the Hotel Foroyar. Our final Viking Islands adventure had begun.   D


Greenland, Helicopter Ride to the Glaciers, 16 August 2012


Finally – it was the day for the much anticipated helicopter ride to a glacier!  Some light cloud came in early in the morning which could have dampened the enjoyment somewhat, or even caused the cancellation of the flight.  Thankfully the cloud lifted mid-morning leaving us with another crystal-clear Greenland day.  The flight to the glacier was brilliant.  Toby said that our group was his first for the season that had been able to do everything on their itinerary without substantial changes due to the weather closing in.  Lucky us!  I was rugged up and ready to fly!

Yours truly – Tasiilaq in the background     (P1010355 © DY of jtdytravels)


How could one not enjoy this!      (P1010370 © DY of jtdytravels)


A mass of Crevasses criss-crossing glaciers      ( P1010369 © DY of jtdytravels)


One of the views from our landing spot     (P1010373 © DY of jtdytravels)

We landed on a gravelly knoll in the middle of a large ice cap which gave a great panorama of a number of glaciers and we looked down on the fjord we had travelled by boat on the 15th.

Float ice making its way down ‘our’ fjord    (P1010371 © DY of jtdytravels)


Our 1980 built Bell 212 Helicopter    (P1010374 © DY of jtdytravels)


On top of the world! (P1010385 © DY of jtdytravels)

Here I was, seemingly on top of the world, literally and figuratively. I was in ‘seventh heaven’! It was warm with not a skerrick of a breeze.  Just another perfect day in the natural paradise of Greenland.  We had 40 minutes to wander around and take in the breathtaking views before the return flight.

Stunning views    (P1010403 © DY of jtdytravels)

And as usual, I looked down as well as out and found some small plants surviving even up here on the ‘top of the world’.

Such tiny beauties! [Silene acaulis] (P1010377 © DY of jtdytravels)


Even the dried flowers of Silene are attractive  [Silene acaulis]  (P1010391 © DY of jtdytravels )


Tough conditions, tough plant!  (P1010402 © DY of jtdytravels)


Lichen and Birch (P1010395 © DY of jtdytravels)

Much too soon for me, it was time to get on board for the flight back. There’s never enough time to explore.

Pilots get ready to take off again    (P1010405  © DY of jtdytravels)


After takeoff – closer view of a glacier    (P1010408 © DY of jtdytravels)


Surface of a glacier    (P1010409 © DY of jtdytravels)

Skimming over a glacier’s surface, the world was suddenly all in black and white and greys – not a colour to be seen.

Back up to the sweeping big picture    (P1010411 © DY of jtdytravels)


An impressive last view    (P1010412 © DY of jtdytravels)


Out across the Fiords again    (P1010414 © DY of jtdytravels)

It was amazing to look down from on high onto the ice flows.  I looked down from the helicopter at small chunks of ice which, I knew from experience, were really large icebergs (some six stories high) when seen up close in a small boat.

Over the hills, back towards Tasiilaq  (P1010416 © DY of jtdytravels)

And so back to Tasiilaq and the end of another magical Greenland experience… I hope I have been able to give you a glimpse of just how spectacular it was.

Preparing to leave Greenland    (P1010423  © DY of jtdytravels)

In fact this was our last Greenland experience.  We had lunch at the hotel, picked up our gear and then had to wait for the helicopter to finish an emergency evacuation job.  Then it was free to take us to the airport for a mid afternoon flight back to Reykjavik in Iceland.  And from there, our next destination was  to be The Faroes.  More of that anon   D


Greenland, Fjord Cruise continued, 15th August 2012

It was time to continue our cruise along the fjords. We climbed back on board the boat, again having to scramble over rocks to do so.  Once on board we still had to risk life and limb as we manoeuvred along the side of the boat to the greater safety of the partially open deck at the stern of the craft.  We set off now for the real concentration of ice. So sit back, relax and enjoy the ride as I just let some of the passing scenes flow by – just as I saw them.

Reflections (P1010293 © DY of jtdytravels)


Reflections (P1010297 © DY of jtdytravels)


( P1010298 © DY of jtdytravels )


( P1010304 © DY of jtdytravels )


( P1010315 © DY of jtdytravels)

After successfully navigating the close ice flows, we had our lunch – lovely fresh white bread, a dark grainy rye bread, cheese and a couple of different meats.  Tea, coffee and soft drink washed it all down.  If there was still room, there were chocolate biscuits and a delicious marzipan infused cake to tempt us.  I gave in, just this once.  And I had seconds!

( P1010319 © DY of jtdytravels )

This translucent iceberg had done a ‘tumble turn’  and now looked like a modern abstract piece of crystal.

Ice arches! ( P1010323 © DY of jtdytravels )


Back into more open waters ( P1010337 © DY of jtdytravels )

It was marvellous being on the water in such good conditions.  For a tour based on islands, this was only the second time we had been on the water (except for the canal cruise in Copenhagen).  Islanders, everywhere, are so dependent on the water that surrounds them that I think more should be made of this on an island visiting tour.  Get out on a fishing boat or travel with the locals on an inter-island ferry and see and feel how the locals exist.  Still, this day was a magic experience and there were still more stunning views to come.

( P1010346 © DY of jtdytravels)


Yes – they are big! ( P1010347 © DY of jtdytravels )

It was most pleasant weaving in and out of drifting ice and getting up fairly close and personal with much, much larger icebergs that dwarfed us and our small boat – awe-inspiring is the word.

(P1010349 © DY of jtdytravels )


Tasiilaq – view from my room ( P1010351 © DY of jtdytravels )

I had mixed feelings when we arrived back in Tasiilaq. I didn’t want the magic to end but, although it had been such a fantastic, enjoyable day, it  had been somewhat tiring.  I was rather glad to get back to my room and THAT view – a shower, a meal and bed. And there was another thrilling day to come – a helicopter ride over and onto glaciers.    D


Greenland, Fjord Cruise 15th August 2012

I woke up in the delightful small town of Tasiilaq. Where was I? Greenland. And I was looking forward very much to the planned cruise through the icebergs along a couple of the Fjords.

For some reason, unknown even to me,  I’d had the idea that this cruise would be for just a couple of hours, at the most, in a Zodiac-type boat – shades of the same activity we had done when in the Antarctic.  But no. We were to go out again in the same cruiser that brought us to the hotel – and the cruise would last for eight hours.  One of our group decided she could not manage for so long on a boat, and so there were only the three of us plus the crew of two.

Looking back at the village of Tasiilaq   (P1010120 © DY of jtdytravels)

As we left the dock and looked back I was reminded of the colourful small houses in the north of Norway. These are all ‘flat-pack’ construction kit houses which have to brought in by boat. Similar houses, different colours.

One of the icebergs   (P1010130 © DY of jtdytravels)

On the way up the Fjord,we were entranced by the size and majesty of the icebergs.  This one estimated to be the equivalent of 6 stories high. And that was only a fraction, about a ninth,  of the iceberg that we could see – the rest, and by far the largest section, is under water.

Another iceberg, another shape!   (P1010129 © DY of jtdytravels)


Up close and personal! (P1010134 © DY of jtdytravels)

And up even closer, they were totally awesome.

Some were really weird and wonderful. (P1010136 © DY of jtdytravels)


Translucent green beneath pure white (P1010138 © DY of jtdytravels)


A very stark land/ice scape.   (P1010139 © DY of jtdytravels)

We had much further to go that day so we had to leave those icebergs with the promise of more to come.  Our next destination was totally unpronounceable – the tiny settlement of Qernertivartivit!

Houses in Qernertivartivit   (P1010273 © DY of jtdytravels)

The settlement of Qernertivartivit is a permanent home to only around 100 people. It must be a hard, hard life here – extremely hard!  We spent an hour wandering around the houses and the only small store, owned by the same company which owns the two shops in Tasiilaq.

Part of the settlement   (P1010131 © DY of jtdytravels)

The small houses were strung out a long the rocky shoreline.

Maybe another visitor, exploring the Fjord   (P1010269 © DY of jtdytravels)

We wondered if this sleek yacht belonged to someone in the village but thought maybe not – perhaps another visitor.

One of the locals (P1010274 © DY of jtdytravels)


A house with a view (P1010278 © DY of jtdytravels)

The sun’s out, the washing’s on the line but there’s still a lot of ice out there in the waters around this small island.

Fish drying (P1010290 © DY of jtdytravels)

Fish hung out to dry – maybe for a winter’s meal or two when the water is frozen over.

A sad sight! (P1010277 © DY of jtdytravels)

They say a picture tells a thousand words – there’s a story to be told about this house. I wonder what happened.

I hoped that people who owned this house hadn’t been burned or injured.  If they did, they would have had to use  the helicopter to be evacuated. There is a helipad marked out on a flat piece of ground at the far end of the village where some supplies are brought in during the winter and for emergency evacuations.

The cemetery at Qernertivartivit (P1010288 © DY of jtdytravels)

And if they had perished in the blaze, or for that matter, when any of the inhabitants dies, they have to be buried in a very rocky cemetery. The ground is so hard and rocky that it is impossible to bury a body under the ground, so rocks and sods of moss are used as a covering. When we visited the cemetery we saw the odd bone exposed.

View from the settlement   (P1010280 © DY of jtdytravels)

From this vantage point we saw across the bogs filled with cotton grass, across the ice filled waters, and look up the fjord to where all the ice was coming from.  There are a couple of glaciers here that empty into the head of the fjord.  The whole area was jam packed with bits of ice, some of the bigger ones we could hear creaking and crashing as they split apart.

An interesting low angle view   (P1010281 © DY of jtdytravels)

This ‘get-down-low’ view across the arctic cotton grass gives a different perspective to the ice flow.

From another view point on the island   (P1010282 © DY of jtdytravels)

No matter where we walked on this small island, the views were spectacular. We would have to make our way through those ice chunks when we returned to the boat to continue the cruise. That, I was looking forward to.

Ice reflections   (P1010284 © Dy of jtdytravels)

Climbing down over the rocks gave me the chance to photograph some of those reflections in the mirror still water.

Thrift  [Armeria maritima] (P1010289 © DY of jtdytravels)

Apart from the great drifts of snowy white cotton grass, there was the odd late summer plant still showing its colours like this pink sea-side Thrift.

All too soon, our hour on the island and in this small settlement was up and we made our way back to the boat for the next part of our fiord cruise – and that will be the subject of the next musings. D


Greenland, Tasiilaq, 14th August 2012

After our magic cruise amongst islands and icebergs, it was a smooth journey up the fjord to  the small settlement of Tasiilaq… our home for the next two nights.

The Court Boat in Tasiilaq Harbour ( P1010033  © DY of jtdytravels )

In the small harbour there was a largish, for this part of the world, orange-red boat.   This, we were told,was the Court Boat.  It visits once a year when anybody who has committed a crime is brought before a judge to answer for his, or her, misdemeanour(s).  There is a jail on the other side of the island in Nuuk, the capita, 900km away.  It would seem that September is the appropriate month to commit a crime as it will be 11 months before the ship calls again!  However, Tasiilaq only has a population of 1930 (in 2010) so everybody knows what everybody else is doing, therefore nobody is game to put a foot out of place.

View of Tesiilaq from my room (P1010060    © DY of jtdytravels)

We stayed in the Hotel Angmagssalik, a long low, deep blue-painted, wooden building which is stretched across one of the hills that back the all important port.  A hotel vehicle met us to take us, and our bags, up the steep hill to our lodgings.  We were given our room keys, and had time to dump our bags before there was a walking tour of the town.

The museum and old house   ( P1010045    © DY of jtdytravels)

Our first stop in Tasiilaq was up to the local museum – we only just made it as it closed within the half hour.  It’s a quaint place set up in the town’s first church.  Various artefacts, photos etc. make up the displays.

Out the front of the museum is a reconstructed semi-buried house of the kind that was in use up until around 30-40 years ago.  It is constructed of timber and has a sod roof.  This ‘display’ home is about 5-6m square and would accommodate around four families, maybe 25 individuals, in very primitive conditions.  Cooking, and the melting of snow for water, was done with whale oil, which also provided the lighting.  Each family group would have their own cooking place.  The whole family slept on a raised platform, the underneath being used for storage.  Seal skins were used for blankets.  There were sheets of newspaper stuck to the walls which was said to help with insulation.  Just how much benefit a sheet of newspaper would be in a frozen climate where the sea freezes over for around 6 months of the year beggars the imagination!  I’m afraid I enjoy our under-floor heating and other mod-cons.  Of course, now the locals here do to!  They live in well heated timber house that are brought in flat-packed from Denmark.

However, there is no sewerage system except for the ‘honey’ cart that comes around up to three times a week depending on how much you are prepared to pay and that perhaps also depends on, I guess, how big your family is!

Canon outside museum   ( P1010040  © DY of jtdytravels )

Also outside the museum are three small canon.  These still work and are fired on three occasions each year.  The first firing takes place when the first supply ship arrives after the long winter when the sea is frozen over, the second firing takes place on the National Day and the last firing for the year takes place as the last ship for the season leaves.

There are two supermarkets, both owned by the same company.  These sell everything, including rifles which were on display, albeit chained up, along side other household items.  A twelve year old is entitled to own a gun as they are such a necessary part of one’s existence in this land (there is a dead polar bear on the outskirts of town). There are no banks but there are ATM’s in the supermarkets, a hospital, school, new church and a pizza shop that was opened last year when the community brought a guy out from Sardinia to run it.  He’s since gone home, couldn’t stand the conditions (don’t blame him!), but the pizzas keep rolling out, made now by a local!  There is to all intents and purposes no employment in town.  Subsistence hunting, mainly seals, keeps the community going.  Tourism numbers are steadily growing.

Huskies in the cotton grass   ( P1010054   © DY of jtdytravels)

There are huskies everywhere, with all but the youngest chained up.  Appears that once a dog reaches six months old it must be chained up, or it is shot.  Every family needs numerous dogs as dog hauled sleighs are the usual way of getting around during the winter months.

There were a couple of covered up Skidoos.  Of course, they are pretty much useless during the summer months.  These can only be afforded by the wealthiest people in town, which includes in its ranks, the ‘honey’ cart man!

I had the horrible thought that these huskies would whine all night, but thankfully, it appears we are not near a full moon.  However last night the sun set at 20h01, with a long twilight that followed.  The blessed thing got back up at the ungodly hour of 03h04, and we are nearly 2 months passed the summer solstice.

Arctic Cottongrass [Eriophorum scheuchzeri]  (P1010051 © DY of jtdytravels)


A carpet of Harebells – what a sight. ( P1010067  © DY of jtdytravels)

A couple of the group joined me after dinner for a walk up the Valley of Flowers. And, yes, there were many flowers, especially harebells. I had never seen a carpet of harebells before . Usually we get excited when we see a small group. Here there were hundreds.

Common Harebells [ Campanula rotundifolia ] (P1010096 © DY of jtdytravels)


The small lake in late light ( P1010104 © DY of jtdytravels)

We walked for a couple of kilometres up the valley to a small lake, so still and peaceful in the evening light.

The cemetery at Tasiilaq ( P1010114 © DY of jtdytravels)

On our way we passed the town cemetery complete with plain white wooden crosses and loads of plastic flowers.  The degree of fading obviously indicated how long ago the dearly departed, departed.

???? ( P1010076  © DY of jtdytravels)

There were some nice patches of wild flowers as well.  These cheered me up somewhat even when I didn’t know what they were. Any suggestions welcome!

River Beauty [Chamerion latifolium] (P1010073 © DY of jtdytravels)

I did know this one – well named River Beauty as it is indeed a beautiful flower and I saw it growing near water. It’s other common name is Broad Leaved Willow Herb.

Alpine Lady’s Mantle [Alchemilla alpina] ( P1010072  © DY of jtdytravels)

J had asked me to look for this special northern Alchemilla with its deeply divided leaves and white leaf edges. I was pleased that I found it for her. She has a great affection for Alchemilla – this one a wild flower of northern climes.

Alpine Hawkweed [ Hieracium alpinum ] (P1010115  © DY of jtdytravels)


Common Harebells in late light (P1010116 © DY of jtdytravels)

The walk back to Tasiilaq (P1010109 © DY of jtdytravels)

After our walk, it was time to fully inspect the spartan, but adequate rooms. I removed the ‘stuffing’ from the doona cover, a process I need to go through in every hotel.  I opened the window as well, to make the room bearable. And then I explored the shower.  At first glance, the plumbing could have been a trial, but the taps to the shower turned out to be quite simple to operate and very adequate.  How nice that shower was, and sleep came quickly after a perfect day.  D