Qaqortoq, Greenland

September 13, 2007

After leaving Prins Christian Sund we sailed for 134 miles to our destination of Qaqortoq. At 6:22am the ship began its final approach to the city. We arrived at 7:00am and began to depart the ship by tender to the shore for a walk around the town of Qaqortoq.

The town is located near the tip of a 44 mile long peninsula between the fjord Tunulliarfik and Igalikup Kangerlua. The Greenlandic name Qaqortoq means "t he white place." It is the largest town in Southern Greenland with a population of 3,100. Apart from the town two settlements and 13 sheep farms with a total of 280 inhabitants belong to  the Qaqortoq municipality.

Qaqortoq was originally founded in 1775 be a Norwegian trader Anders Olsen. The Danish name of the town was Julianehab named after the Danish Queen Juliane Marie (1729 - 1796). This became the main trading post on Southern Greenland and still is. The oldest standing house in Qaqortoq was assembled in 1797.

There is no road connecting to Qaqortoq and no airport. Helicopters and ferries are used for public transport. Interestingly, no two towns in Greenland are connected with a road.

In 1993 and 1994 the town transformed into an open-air gallery. Eighteen sculptors from Greenland, Iceland, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Aland and Finland were set free to create sculptures directly in the solid rock face or free-standing rock boulders. They created a total of 24 sculptures that can be found all around town. This unique project was initiated by Aka Hoegh, a sculptor who lives in Qaqortoq.

There are two "large" general stores in the town -- "KNI Pisiffik" supermarket at Storesovej and "Brrugsen" at Anders Olsensvej. The local currency is the Danish Krona -- 1 US$ equals 6DKr.


We arrive early in the morning. At 7:00am a tender departs to make ready at the dock for other tenders that will bring passengers ashore.


As we approach the town by tender we can see the colorful buildings that make up the town. The "helicopter airport" is at the top of the hill, next to the large white building, in the upper right photo.


We arrive at the dock and make our way into the town with a leisurely walk. It is quite windy and cold.


 The main body of the town lies to our left. Of course, the first thing one sees when departing a tender is a tourist trap.





We couldn't help but notice that this body shop owner had a sense of humor. The building on the right photo is their bank and contains an ATM machine. The primary industries in the town are fishing, service and administration, and as the center of education for South Greenland. Qaqortoq's streets are characterized by the many students living there.


Above left, Qaqortoq Kommune (apartment) and the town center featuring Greenland's oldest fountain.


One of the oldest homes in the town is shown in the upper right photo. We found the cannon in the yard to be interesting.



We always make it a point to visit a supermarket when we find one. These photos were taken in the largest supermarket in the town. To convert the prices to US dollare divide by 6.



Eventually we begin to make our way back to the dock for our return shuttle ride back to the ship. The people are very friendly and we were warmly greeted by a man and his dog as we pass by.


Near the dock is a massive stone wall onto which artists carved images in 1993 and 1994.



At 2:00pm all passengers are aboard and we begin our voyage to the North Atlantic Ocean. As we leave the sky clears for a moment and we once again see the colorful buildings of Qaqortoq.


Apparently any structure that can lend a plash of color is utilized including fuel storage tanks. As we enter the ocean we take our last look at the entrance / exit of the fjord to Qaqortoq.


The plan was to sail for a day and make a stop in St. John's, Newfoundland. However, Mother Nature had other plans. The next morning we looked out of our balcony window to see 20 foot seas and the stop had to be aborted due to high winds and seas. The next day the intensity of the storm had increased causing 40' - 50' seas. Some of our friends aboard who were on the 5th deck with a port hole told us that the waves were washing over their porthole.

We later learned that the captain decided to turn the ship south and sailed about 100 miles to get out of the path of a hurricane. On the 15th we had escaped the path and turned once again on a southwesterly course heading to New York passing about 80-90 miles off Nova Scotia.


Around 5:00 in the morning we begin to make our way into the harbor for our berth in New York.


The sun is barely rising when we are greeted by the Statue of Liberty.


 The people of New York are already going to work as we are passed by the Staten Island Ferry. Within a couple of hours we would be making the final leg of our journey to our home in Michigan.