I woke up today to a second sunny day in Reykjavik. As I had been awake for 48 hours without sleep yesterday, I slept in a bit. Eventually, Alice and I headed out in search of coffee and found a nice little spot to grab a pastry and some caffeine. Then, we hit the road in search of an eruption site. It was the perfect day to visit a volcano.
As we left Reykjavik, we drove fifty minute through a majestic landscape along the coast. Views of crystal blue water, wide open land, and sunshine made it a stunning morning drive.
We pulled up to a car park that had been installed for Iceland's newest attraction: an active volcanic eruption site. Back in March, a volcano in Geldingadalir Valley outside of Reykjavik started to erupt. Since then, it has erupted and gone dormant again a number of times, producing extensive lava flows and changing the landscape all around it. Its a bit hit or miss if you happen to be around when it is erupting. It was calm when we visited, but you can see puffs of smoke coming out and the landscape around it is just incredible. You have to hike pretty far up to get the spectacular views...but its well worth the effort!
The volcano itself was impressive but the lava was incredible too! Up close it had so much texture. You can see folds and crevices, evidence of the movement that recently brought it from the fissure where it first emerged.
We wrapped up our volcano tour and headed to the airport. We left plenty of time for delays. Alice had almost missed her flight in Scotland, held up in security after her 3D scanner set off all the explosive residue test alarms (turns out... she forgot about that historical museum rifle she recently scanned...). Arriving early turned out a good plan. We didn't have trouble in security but we did get into line right behind a well-known Icelandic singer and his band...and their 22 pieces of equipment that had to be checked. We made it to our flight in plenty of time however...proof that getting to the airport early is always a good idea (especially when the next flight to Greenland is three days away).
When it came time to board our flight, Alice and I were giddy. Both of us had dreamed of working in Greenland and had both spent the weeks leading up to today incredibly stressed about the things that could cancel this trip. When we stepped in front of that bright red plane, it felt like a huge win.
The flight was meant to be just over three hours long, but it wasn't long until we started to see the first glimpses of Greenland.
We were not going to arrive to Nuuk in three hours however. Somewhere over the ice sheet, the pilot received news that the weather in Nuuk was bad. We were informed that we couldn't land in Nuuk and were diverted to Kangerlussuaq, a town almost 200 miles north of the capital. The landing was...rough. One where you grip your armrests and feel your stomach in your throat. Everyone on the plane filed into Kangerlussuaq airport. Just when we were wondering what in the world to do to find accommodations so late in a town we knew nothing about, we were told to get back on the plane. A bit nervous about the weather but happy to be headed to Nuuk again, we took off. Another 55 minutes brought us into Greenland's capital. The landing here was even worse, as we watched the plane rock back and forth and take on some serious headwinds. I may have some new grey hairs. When we deplaned, we realized why it was such as tough landing...WIND. Incredible winds blasted us the second we left the plane. It was hard to stay standing. Greenland was giving us a dramatic welcome.
All of our luggage (and the band's) made it in one piece. We made a quick call to Hans (see the Team post if you need a refresher). He had assumed we would be stuck in Kangerlussuaq overnight when he saw online our flight had been diverted. Apparently if we had, a flight tomorrow would have been unlikely as well. So we were fortunate to be standing in Nuuk only two hours late. He scooped us from the airport and delivered us to our rental rooms where I am writing from. Both the darkness and the storm kept me from getting a good look at Nuuk. The morning will hold my real introduction to this city. For now, I can hear the wind howling outside (and I mean howling) and I am truly ready for sleep. A very full day for sure...but I'm finally here in Greenland, safe and sound.
I am an anthropology professor, writer, researcher and global traveler. This fall, I will be recording a research trip to Greenland as a virtual field trip for my students (and anyone else interested). Join us as we travel to the Arctic and learn about life in the far north.