Breakfast today was the best. We checked out at 10am and took a taxi to the domestic airport. The taxi journey costed ISK1840. Greenland is the territory of Denmark. We thought flying from one country to another would take the flight out from the international airport. Surprisingly we started our journey in the domestic airport in Reykjavik. There are six boarding gates. Gate 1 is for flights to other cities in Iceland; Gate 2-6 are for cities in Greenland. Security checked is performed for flights to Greenland.
Anyway, we were soon on board a twin-propeller engine plan. There were three crew members: two pilots and one air-hostess. The plane was full with a total of 37 passengers. Normally the plane has 36 seats, but for this flight they added a temporary seat at the back of the plane! Today, we were flying with a group of researchers who have been monitoring the ice fjords for years. Flight time was slightly more than 2 hours. It was a smooth journey. Simple meals including drinks were provided.
The Ilulissat airport is properly one of the smallest international airports in the world. There is only one luggage claim belt! Buses from the three hotels in the town were already waiting for their customers. As soon as we stepped out of the airport, we saw a giant floating iceberg!
Ilulissat, founded in 1741, is the third biggest town in Greenland with more than 4500 inhabitants. It’s original name: Jakobshavn, was named after Joan Severin, a Danish grocer. Ilulissat literally means icebergs in Greenlandic.
From the airport to our hotel, it was a short 3km drive and yet an eye opening journey for us. We saw houses built on rocky land surfaces, countless floating icebergs, some more like an icy island, kids running on sandy roads….
Our hotel is located in one of the best locations in the town. It has a deck facing the sea so there is no lack of beautiful views of floating icebergs. All rooms offer a panoramic sea view too! We were greeted by two representatives from our travel agent and were told that our pre-booked 12 hours boat tour to Eqi Glacier (for the following day) has been cancelled because there were too many giants icebergs on the waterway! We were offered other alternatives.
After things were settled, we headed off for our DIY city tour. It was the fourth sunny day in a row according to the travel agent. In the city, construction sites are everywhere and you can expect tremendous changes in the near future. We were prepared to live a simple and basic life for these five days but we were very wrong. None of the information we read on the internet has prepared us for this! We thought there would be only a small grocery and a few small café like restaurants. Instead, we found two sizeable supermarkets, a number of restaurants and cafe, a cinema and even an optometrist. There is also a public housing estate with 3 storey height blocks here! The two big supermarkets sell nearly everything from household appliances to fresh fruits and meats. Prices are reasonable except for fresh products. Some even cheaper than those in Sydney! With nearly everything imported, you wonder why the goods are cheaper here. We can only suspect that lives in Greenland are substantially subsided by the Danish government.
After a short walk in the town, we decided to head back to our hotel. We felt suffocated because of the sand and dust on the roads and from the construction sites. This town may soon be overly developed! It is sad to see that such a natural place is gradually turning into another commercial tourist hotspot!