This summer, I found myself in Tasiilaq, Greenland. This metropole is the capitol of the east side of Greenland. Here are a few of my impressions.
This summer, I visited Greenland and one of the places we visited was the town of Tasiilaq. Located on the east coast of Greenland, it’s the district capital, and the biggest town on the east coast. Don’t let this fact fool you though, Tasiilaq is tiny. It crams all the stuff a decent town needs (hospital, schools, shops, etc.) into what elsewhere in the world would be considered a sleepy little village.
After spending ten days in the untouched wilderness of eastern Greenland, entering Tasiilaq can be a bit of a shock. This is definately a working town: no frills, just straightforward square houses and utilitarian buildings. Dogs were chained everywhere, waiting for winter when they would be needed for sledges again. Stuff people don’t need, gets discarded: dead boats, bits of sleds, rubbish — it’s everywhere. The local campsite was actually crammed between the heliport and the giant smoking garbage tip. So much for the great outdoors.
Still, it wasn’t all bad. The people were generally very friendly, and happy enough to see some outsiders. Being pretty far away from basicly everywhere else, a change of faces tends to be welcomed, I guess.
The one big redeeming quality of Tasiilaq is its surroundings. The fjords and mountains all around are spectacular. The emptiness is very impressive, especially to a group of western Europeans used to people, roads, houses, power lines (in short, civilization) all around.
You may think Greenland is nothing but snow and ice, but in summer it can be a pretty friendly place full of flowers and sunshine. There’s some very pleasant hiking to be done near Tasiilaq, along the fjords, to some lovely clear lakes where you can fish or look for polar foxes. And looking at icebergs floating by never gets old.
Dying to visit Tasiilaq? Well, you’ll have to travel via the town of Kulusuk, on a neighbouring island, where the international airport is located. Then you’ll either have to charter a boat or go by helicopter. The boat is a pleasant half-hour ride in good weather (as I experienced), or a two-hour hell ride in stormy weather (as a couple of French hikers I met experienced). The helicopter is only a ten minute ride, but ten extremely cool minutes (well, I thought so anyway, it was my first helicopter ride ever).
All in all, Tasiilaq may not have been the highlight of my vacation, I’m still glad I visited it.