Wrapping up Greenland

The final day in Greenland meant there was a lot to do. We took a beautiful boat ride, during which we were supposed to see whales. This was in early June, but whales don’t tend to come out until July. Nonetheless, the scenery was amazing. Can’t parallel it.

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That night for dinner we wrapped it up with a meal dinner at Restaurant Ulo, which is in Hotel Arctic. They were having one of their special dinners where it offers pretty much all local fare providing for a true taste of Greenland. What was missing were veggies (unless you grabbed lettuce from displays).

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I was able to get pictures of most of the stuff, some labeled, some not. Overall pretty darn good. There was reindeer, halibut, mussels, shrimp, whale skin, snowcrab, dried whale, and much more.

This last night in Greenland, we got to stay in an igloo! So, ok, we didn’t make a big pile of snow, but nonetheless, so much fun!

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The next day, we left this amazing island, with view of ice and snow below. I can’t wait to go back and explore other cities. While there, we found out their tourism is growing greatly and I have found/checked out their (very good) website. So much to explore on this island. Add it to your list, and let me know when you go and if you need a travel companion, I’m game!

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Greenland Beer

Of course, when vacationing, one must try the local brews. And, Greenland does have a brewery. One of them I tried was the Brewery Immiaq‘s Aasaq Juniper. A light body beer with a hint of juniper. Can’t go wrong with juniper. The other one from this brewery was out.

The other beer was the Tuborg Paskebryg, which had a nice medium body, golden color and tiny bit of spice and super mild hops. And this isn’t local brewed, but hey, it was consumed locally.

These were quite nice to sit outside and enjoy in the 30+ degree weather in the bright sun.

An evening & night in Ilulissat

As we continued exploring the city, more cuisine came about. On the 2nd night there, we dined at Inuit Cafe (they don’t have a true website and their Facebook page doesn’t have much, which is why I went with the Trip Advisor link). It was ranked very high among local restaurants and had two of the things I’d been wanted to try — Whale Steak and Reindeer.

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The restaurant was just a very local one and could get quite busy. It was one where if you don’t have a reservation you go order at the counter and they give you a number to put on your table. We had made a reservation so we could get special treatment, but I still had lots of questions about the menu, so went to the counter and just ordered there.

As mentioned, we ordered whale steak and reindeer and split each one. In Iceland we’d has a small serving of whale. It was quite tasty. This was definitely a different cut of whale and was quite tough and chewy. Not all that exciting. The reindeer was nice and lean, but a bit overcooked. Nonethless, a nice pleasant dinner of something you don’t get at home.

After dinner we had a night cruise. It started at 10:30pm, while the sun was still shining, and was just amazing. We finished around 12:00am in broad daylight. We saw amazing scenery, icebergs, sky, glaciers…words can’t describe it.

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This is not sunset, I was just playing with my camera on this one.

Tasting & Exploring Ilulissat

When we arrived in Ilulissat, there was the need for some quick food before exploring the town on Day 1. The most common thing we had for the few days we were there were the sandwiches at the hotel. They were absolutely delicious and revolved around 3 choices; smoked halibut, shrimp and reindeer. Just simple ingredients and amazing taste.

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After fueling, we headed into town. Most things were walkable, though there were quite the hills. If needed, there was a shuttle bus back to the hotel, but it only ran every 30 minutes, and you could likely get back to the hotel by then. There were also a ton of cabs there, for a small town. And, in this town you don’t go anywhere but the town because the only way in/out is by boat or plane.

Some of the scenery, with the video being my favorite:

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The houses & buildings aren’t so colorful because of the potentially dark winters. It’s historical and was to help residents identify buildings. The colors ID’ed the function of the building: Commercial houses were red; hospitals were yellow; police stations were black; the phone company was green and fish factories were blue. Those don’t necessarily apply now and residents can just paint their houses any color they like. It just makes the town vibrant!

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At one point, sled dogs were nearly equal in population to humans (3,500 to 4,500 humans). But in mid-2016, the was a distemper outbreak and this wiped out a good amount of the dogs. They are working the rebuild the population and this could take awhile, as this is recent.

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Welcome to Greenland

After Iceland, I traveled a bit West, and North, before returning to the US. I wanted to check out Greenland and visited Ilulissat, which is north of the Artic Circle. And, hey, even got to stay in a 4-star hotel!

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Being in the far north right around the summer equinox, the sun never set (see below). And 30 degrees wasn’t that bad for June! It got up to the upper 30s by mid day and the sun was pounding on us (side note, we didn’t see a drop of rain after having it pretty much the entire time in Iceland).

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The night we arrived in Greenland, we received a Welcome Dinner. This was with the other tourists, most of which happened to be on the same plane. It was a two-course meal with a quick bite before.

The bite was fish skin with an asian-like flavoring on it. Good to try but not going to add that to my list of favorites.

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The first course was halibut, or shall I say happiness. I was pretty much halibut carpaccio. Super thinly sliced with garnish. So nice to have this!

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The main dish was Muskox, served two ways. The one on the bottom right was a tenderloin and underneath the onion was some of the meat that just melted in your mouth. Almost BBQ-style. Very nice taste to all of it.

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Very nice intro to Greenland cuisine.

Skólabrú, Reykjavík, Iceland

On the last night in Iceland we were in Reykjavík. We strolled down the ‘main’ street and looked at various menus to see what might be a fun place to eat. I had been wanting to try puffin so was also looking for a restaurant that offered that. We finally decided on Skólabrú.

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We opted to split a first course, which offered the bird I was looking for. Villibráðar tvenna: Léttretyktur lundi með geitaosti; kryddjurtum og ferskum berjum og gæsa carpaccio með rauðlauk á salati, trufflum of sítrónu sósu, or in English, Wild-duo: Lightly smoked puffin with goat cheese, herbs and fresh berries and wild goose carpaccio with red onions, herb salad and truffle-lemon dressing. ISK 2,500.

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The smoked puffin (the one on the left) was nice – in addition to the magnificent presentation! Very tender, mild unique taste. This is what’s great about traveling, enjoying different food. The goose was also amazing. Very different – a bit chewier. Very glad I got to try this.

For the 2nd course we went with Steinbítur með mango, chili og engifersóso, grænmeti og hrísgrjónum or Seawolf with mango, chili and ginger sauce, roasted vegetables and rice. ISK 4,200.

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Had never had Seawolf which is what tempted me about this. It was a bit sweet of a fish, had some ‘body’ to it and just great taste. Another one that would be nice to find at the store at home.

The wait staff was excellent and attentive so check this place out if you are in Reykjavík.

Prior to all this, had a great time seeing some points of interest while driving down to Reykjavík that day.

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La Colina, Borgarnes, Iceland

On night 2 in Borgarnes we opted for La Colina Pizzeria. It was highly recommended (as another one of the few restaurants in the city). It’s a pizzeria and they pretty much stick to that.

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They had a large selection of pizzas and we opted for the De Campo – Sósa, ostur, parmaskinsa, klettasalat, parmesan ostur, oregano or Pizza sauce, cheese, prosciutto, rucola (arugula), parmagiano reggiano, oregano – 2,700 kr. – translation $30 for a thin crust, not huge pizza.

Two of us were splitting this, a lot of it because of the price. I requested half of it without the cheese, which took the waitress a couple seconds to understand but it was delivered. The pizza had a super thin, crisp crust, which was great. They were definitely very light on the pizza sauce (because of lack of veggies in Iceland). Good prosciutto and could have had more arugula, but by now had figured out the lack of veggies, as previously mentioned. But, was very pleased with everything. Pizza in Iceland, bring it on!

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That was before the rest of the fun for the evening – an 8:30pm-ish tee time in Iceland in broad daylight. Also, had I mentioned it was windy in Iceland? Notice the flag in the 3rd picture down — horizontal.

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From 6 pack to singles, Borgarnes, Iceland

After driving around all day in the wide Borgarnes vicinity, it was definitely time for happy hour. We didn’t really want to sit at the bar so I said let’s go check out the liquor store and grab something there and just come back to the hotel and enjoy. So we walked around the store and it’s quite interesting because you look at the prices. Right away you think that beer prices are tremendous in the liquor stores in Iceland. Something like $4-$6 for microbrew 6-packs.

Well, not so lucky. All the listed prices below a 6-pack are for the individual can or bottle. So, we’d see something like 440 kr or 390kr (which equated to about $4.50 or $4, respectively) and also a 6-pack with the paper ‘case’ torn apart or 1-2 cans missing. Very interesting. You can take a single or grab a 6 pack, whatever you want. This also makes a 6-pack come out to above $20.

Anyway, we opted to grab a  SÓLVEIG Hveitibjór NR.25 and ÚLFRÚN Session IPA NR.34 (could not find an English site for either of these). Both of these are brewed by Borg Brugghus.

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The first was 6% ABV, a wheat beer, unique citrus taste with some spice. The 2nd, the IPA, was 4.5%. It was great, not too hoppy (53 IBU) and pretty smooth.

To be very classy, we put these in water bottles because we didn’t want to sit in our room, and it was wet out and couldn’t just sit outside on our ‘patio.’ So we had our classy bottles with beer and sat in the lobby writing postcards.

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Ok Bistro, Borgarnes, Iceland

As my trip in Iceland continued, made it to Borgarnes.

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The first night there, checked out one of the few restaurants, Ok Bistro. The name comes from ‘Ok jökull in Borgarfjörður which through the centuries has been the smallest glacier in Iceland. In the last couple of decades it has retreated steadily and in 2014 Icelandic geologists removed the glacier status of Ok. The mountain Ok still stands tall at 1200 meters and it´s located to the west of way bigger Langjökull.’

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The restaurant was recommended by the hotel and has a high rating. Started dinner with an Einstök Icelandic White Ale. Very nice with a taste of coriander and orange. I was expecting a bit of a hefe-likeness/cloudimess to it but not at all.

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We ordered a bread basket (some places give bread free, some don’t). It was freshly baked bread with mixed pepper hummus 890 kr. Tasty.

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For a main course, started with the Minke Whale. Had heard about the whale and wanted to try it. Read about it, too, and the pros/cons. The minke is ok to eat. This was a small plate, which is what we wanted so as to just get a sample.

Grilled Steak of Minke Whale with blueberry and brennivín jam, bacon bits and birch syrup, smoked mushrooms in cream sauce (they kindly put the mushrooms in sauce on the side). 2890 kr

This was amazing. They were small pieces and everything else on the plate made it outstanding. Nice and tender and unique taste. Very glad I got to try it!

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We then wanted something else simple and the chef was able to made us a basic salad (yes, veggies). It was perfect. Just simple ingredients. And at this point, I didn’t care how much veggies cost.

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Great restaurant to check out and you looked right at mountains and water. Glad we went.

And some of the views in the area of Borgarnes include:

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Icelandic Chocolate

While on my trip, kept seeing these Traditional Icelandic Chocolate bars by Nói Síríus. There were several options, from Milk to Mint to Dark. Of course I opted for the Dark. What was interesting is that the Dark was only 45% Dark Chocolate. There was no dairy in it, fortunately. Finally broke down and bought one.

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It had a unique taste to it, and after reading over the ingredient list again, it has bourbon vanilla in it. It tasted similar to chicory to me though. Worth trying, not my favorite dark chocolate, however. Fairly sweet for dark chocolate. And still not sure what makes it Icelandic. And much prefer something that’s 73% dark.

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