he real Santa Claus lives in Greenland. The Finns would
certainly disagree, but it is a matter of national policy for the world’s
largest island. Per the tourism bureau, St. Nick rocks a secret castle atop
Santa Claus Mountain near the town of Uummannaq. For the thousands of children
who write him each holiday, Santa also has a Victorian-style post house in Nuuk
featuring the world’s largest mailbox.
Surrounded by Arctic and Atlantic waters, Greenland is part
of the North American continent, but the autonomous nation is politically
affiliated with the Kingdom of Denmark. Most travelers fly into Nuuk or Kangerlussuaq
in the west or Narsarsuaq in the south, and boats and small planes take
travelers throughout the country. The official language is the Inuit dialect
Greenlandic, and phrases like “ullaakkoorsioneq
ilaareerpa” (“does it include breakfast”) make for some wicked spelling
bees. You can bring a phrasebook, but to quote Lonely Planet, “Good luck.” Most people also speak Danish, but
English is often limited to tourism businesses.
The top sightseeing activity is a visit to the UNESCO-crowned
Ilulissat Icefjord in the west. Picture a massive glacier (Sermeq Kujalleq)
connected to the sea by a fjord, and massive icebergs regularly breaking from
the glacier creating massive waves. From now until early April, the skies of
Greenland also host one of the greatest shows on earth, the Aurora Borealis, or
-Viking great, Erik the Red, founded the first Norse
colonies on Greenland, and his son Leif Eriksson is arguably the first European
to visit North America.
-Eighty percent of Greenland is under an icecap that is as
much as two-miles thick, an ice age remnant that would submerge London and Los
Angeles if melted.
-The national dish of Greenland is suaasat, a rich soup made
with seal, whale, reindeer or seabirds. Bon
IF YOU GO
Erik the Red did not, as one rumor actually suggests, name
the country after the gigantic cannabis fields he supposedly planted, but an
errant 2010 news story did announce a free cannabis giveaway in Nuuk, and a
Finnish paper once described the cannabis trade as one of Greenland’s largest
industries. Nearly eight percent of Greenlanders smoke, per 2011 United Nations
data, so cannabis is available, but always medicate in private, and prepare to
pay a premium.
Time to Go: Late Spring
Weather: Freakin’ freezing!
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