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!