In the footsteps of the Greenland Vikings, Part 2 – The blue ice viewed from the air
Eirik Raude set a course due west in his ship and found Greenland. We followed in his wake, but chose to fly.
One morning in late July the year 2017 my son and I were waiting at the local airport just outside the centre of Reykjavik. It was blowing a gale and the sky was overcast.
I felt somewhat anxious about setting off in a small aircraft in bad weather. I wondered how conditions would be in Greenland when it was so windy in Iceland.
Then I felt ashamed. Eirik Raude and his company sailed due west, they forged a passage through turbulent seas, with no idea what they might discover.
While cowardly modern ‘Vikings’ (such as myself) were worried about a few gusts of wind – and we even know where we are going! Ridiculous!
Ready for take off
We eventually fastened our seatbelts aboard the little white 30-seater aircraft. Apart from ourselves, there were several older Danish tourists, a handful of (presumably) Greenlanders, and a few backpackers.
The flight to Narsarsuaq airport was estimated to take about three hours.
The airport, a former American airforce base, lies only a short boat trip away from the site where the ancient Viking chieftain Eirik Raude built his farm over a thousand years ago.
And I’d had no need to be concerned: this turned out to be the most wonderful flight I have ever taken.
We hardly noticed the wind. The further west we flew, the more the weather improved, and the service on board was excellent.
So we peered out of the windows of the aircraft. And suddenly we spied the sharp grey mountains rising up out of the sea. Around them small icebergs shimmered, ringed with turquoise, along the coast. We glimpsed emerald green waterfalls and massive glaciers. We were nearly there.
The plane swung left just above a fjord, and followed it inland. Here too small icebergs were scattered around. Suddenly we saw the landing strip ahead.
There was no doubt we were now flying over the former Eiriksfjord, now called Tunulliarfik.
Eirik Raude first sailed into this fjord over 1,000 years ago. I wonder whether he had such lovely weather. Foto: GMH
The aircraft swooped over the area one more time before making ready to land. This afforded us a view of the site where Eirik Raude established his family home around the year 980 – on the far side of the fjord from the airport.
At last, after a smooth landing, we rolled forward to the small terminal building at Narsarsuaq Airport – a disused American air base now converted into an airport for light aircraft.
A gentle breeze greeted us as we disembarked. The sun was shining from a virtually cloudless sky, welcoming us to Greenland.
(Photos: Gunhild Haugnes, Jon Stian Haukli)
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