The Prince Christian Sound (AKA in Danish as Prins Christian Sund) separates the mainland of Greenland from the islands of the Cape Farewell Archipelago. It is at the southern tip of Greenland and connects the Labrador Sea with the Irminger Sea. It is 60 miles long and very narrow–sometimes only 1600 ft wide. The only settlement along the sound is Aappilattoq with a population of about 150. This long fjord system is mostly surrounded by steep mountains—some reaching over 7,200 ft high. Many of the glaciers go straight into the water where they calve icebergs. However, strong tidal currents often limit the formation of ice.
This is a journey full of breathtaking glaciers and mountains and waterfalls. And the village of Aappilattoq is quite picturesque, also!
Qaqortoq is South Greenland’s most populous town and it may be “one of the most charming and attractive towns in all of Greenland!” So said “What’s in Port.com.” We found many things to be quite charming: the carved artwork in the stone cliffs along with the sculptures all around town; the pastel-colored buildings; sealskin gloves; the many hand-crafted wares in the souvenir shops. We shopped the supermarket and the local version of Ace Hardware. We walked the Tundra.
The colorful colonial buildings date back to 1775 when the town was founded. The church was built in 1832. Currently, there is a cultural project underway: “Stone and Man” consisting of 30 different motifs that are chiseled into the rocks and stones of the cliffs. They follow the path up the hill. Atop one of the cliffs is the Qaqortoq Hotel where we had a very tasty lunch accompanied by the local brew (Jack’s Ale).
I’m not going to say much about the Viking presence in Greenland until later in the cruise. The narrative flows better from Scandinavia to North America because that follows the timeline of the Viking age. We will follow the Viking progression when we leave Rotterdam and begin the homeward journey.
Once again, the weather conditions have forced a cancellation of our plans. Our port call in Paamiut, Greenland has been cancelled due to heavy winds and strong currents. We are actually sitting here, right off the coast of Greenland, but unable to go ashore. I can only show you what it looks like from the water:
We will hope for better luck tomorrow in Qaqortoq, Greenland!
We have never been to Red Bay, Labrador and were looking forward to seeing a town whose population would increase nearly 10-fold as soon as the ship’s passengers disembarked for the day! Alas, that was not to be. Patchy but worsening fog posed a danger to tender operation and threatened to delay our onward progress. The port-of-call was cancelled as we lay anchored off the coast and with the tenders already in the water.
Before focusing his attention on New Zealand and Australia, Captain James Cook was here and surveyed this area known as the Bay of Islands in 1767. Today, the Capt. James Cook Historic Site sits atop Crow Hill overlooking the city. We did not go there. We are here on a Sunday and the public transportation is a little sketchy. However, the Port Corporation provides school bus shuttles from the dock to City Hall. So, we hopped a ride.
Immediately next door to City Hall is the Corner Brook Museum and Archives (open Monday-Friday 9:00am-5:00pm.) A short walk across the Corner Brook Stream took us to the Valley Mall, which was open, for some shopping and a coffee at Tim Horton’s (the Canadian equivalent to Dunkin Donuts.) Out the back door of the Mall we found The Emporium, a local shop for all things Newfoundland! And it is open on Sundays from 9-5!!!!
But the point of coming to Corner Brook is to see Gros Morne National Park. In 1987, the park was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site for both its geological history and its exceptional scenery. The geology of the park illustrates the concept of plate tectonics and has shed important light on geological evolution and its processes. A unique rock massif rose from the earth’s mantle by means of tectonic upheaval. The rocks are toxic to most plant life and so, due to exposure, they are now weathered to a rusty brown color. This area, called Tablelands, provides a remarkable look at mantle rock rarely seen at the earth’s surface. This is why Gros Morne was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site. The park is a 1 ½ hour drive away and a taxi tour will run at least $250.00. The ships tour is 7 ½ hours departing at 8:45 am and costs $149.95/pp. We chose to forego the obvious because in 2013, we had actually walked along a 45-foot tectonic rift while on the Golden Circle Tour in Reykjavik, Iceland! Pingvellier is not only the site of the ancient Icelandic parliament, but also the convergence of the Eurasian and North American continental plates. This is precisely where the two tectonic plates are tearing away from each other at the rate of 1mm to 18mm per year. A path runs along the fault and it is possible to set your feet firmly in both Europe and North America!
There are two main reasons cruise ships dock in Sydney: The Fortress of Louisbourg with its restored “village” and re-enactors; and the charming village of Baddeck where Alexander Graham Bell spent the last 32 years of his life. Both attractions are about 45 minutes to an hour away. Ships tours are available in the morning to either and each takes about 4-5 hours. The cost runs $60.00 to $95.00/pp. We chose to skip that and simply walked through town viewing the charming buildings and stopping for lunch before returning to the ship along the Esplanade.
Nothing about Sydney mentions Marconi Towers or Guglielmo Marconi who built those towers to transmit his wireless messages across the Atlantic. It’s pretty far away and we didn’t want to hire a cab or spend the time to see the Marconi National Historic Site, this time. However, when we’re in St. Johns, Newfoundland later in this cruise, we’ll be near Marconi’s Towers on Signal Hill where he first received trans-Atlantic signals from Europe.
For now, we are on our way to Corner Brook, Newfoundland, Canada
Bar Harbor is located on Mount Desert Island in Frenchman Bay. This is the “Down East” area of Maine. It is also home to Acadia National Park including Cadillac Mountain, the highest point within 25 miles of the coastline of the Eastern United States.
This is an easily walkable city. The cruise ships anchor in Frenchman Bay and tender passengers to the Town Pier. From the pier, it’s only a short walk to Main Street and shopping; or the Shore Path with beautiful views of the bay, Porcupine Island and the fabulous “cottages” of the wealthy; or to the museums, tour companies and, most importantly, restaurants.
The history of Bar Harbor is rich and varied. The Native Americans lived here long before it was discovered by the French mapmaker, Samuel de Champlain in 1604. By the mid-1800s, the artists of the Hudson River School were painting landscapes of the area and selling them to wealthy and influential men and women in Boston, New York and Philadelphia. The popularity of these paintings that depicted the mountains and the sea lured many to come and stay for the summer. Eventually, the wealthy built “cottages” (most designed by architect William Ralph Emerson) in the classic shingle style. Because these folks were rich and powerful, they contributed much to the area. George B. Dorr was a tireless spokesman for conservation and devoted 43 years of his life, energy and family fortune to preserving the Acadian landscape. With others, Dorr established the Hancock County Trustees of Public Reservations in 1901. The sole purpose was to preserve land for the perpetual use of the public. By 1913, Dorr was able to offer 6,000 acres of land to the federal government. And in 1919, President Woodrow Wilson signed the act establishing Lafayette National Park (the first national park east of the Mississippi.) The name changed to Acadia National Park in 1929. John D. Rockefeller built and donated the roads. Today, the park encompasses 47,000 acres and includes sea, forests, lakes, and mountains. It is beautiful!
We had a lovely day in Bar Harbor. We began with a short walk through town, had lunch at Paddy’s Irish Pub, and took a 2 ½ hour tour to Acadia National Park on Oli’s Trolley. (We ordered the tickets on-line for 42.40/pp.)