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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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.

More Lunch on the Road

Progressing on the trip in Iceland, you don’t necessarily want to eat PBJ each day. Some food was also brought from home. So one day we enjoyed some great individual packs of Bumble Bee Light Tuna, Trader Joe’s Sun-Dried Tomatoes, Trader Joe’s Marinated Olives, and some of the bread we bought for the PBJs. We also had a bit of wine left to kill that we’d bought a couple days prior. So we had paper coffee cups from a hotel brunch and probably each got half a glass of Trapiche Malbec. Living the high life!

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This was also on a day that was sunny. Only reason we had to sit in the car was because of the million mile an hour winds we had (90% of the time we were in Iceland). Enjoyed this while visiting Þingvellir National Park (or Thingvellir in English) and seeing some other beautiful sites.

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We Love to … and it Shows

Well, I love to travel, and it shows. You can see my loads of pictures, hear my stories, look at my passport when it’s international (though it’s not stamped as much as many of my friends). And, sometimes see my wine rack (and the blog).

A lot of travel requires flying. Things happen. I don’t really have anything to say about what has happened in the flight world the past several weeks. When I have traveled recently a friend gave me drink coupons to receive free vino on my flights with the airline associated with the recent media…score! On my flight outbound, I had mentioned something to the flight attendant about wine and she said ‘I don’t want your drink ticket. Why should I take it, we both love wine?’ Don’t have to say that to me twice. She also gave the guy across the aisle a free beer because he had helped with something. Cool.

On my way back I asked what the premium wines were. The flight attendant said Malbec. And the premiums are twice as much as the ‘normal,’ so didn’t know if I would need to provide two tickets. He just handed me this split of wine, a nice plastic cup and pushed that cart on its merry way. And, note, the price might be twice as much but you also get twice the volume (a split vs a one-glass size).

I might be the lucky one, I don’t know if an airline is working hard to repair something. I have a friend who works for this company and don’t know how that person is doing. But, right then and there, I was loving enjoying my Malbec and it showed (don’t take that in some crazy inappropriate way) thanks to the service. Cheers!

Side note, as a bonus, the person I met for a getaway weekend was flying home to a different destination. We saw that at a gate next to mine there was a flight leaving to her destination two hours earlier than the flight she was slated to be on. I told her to go ask if she could get on that flight. Success with zero change fee! Simple things.

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Oh My Clydesdale!

As I’m traveling across the country, there was a stop in St. Louis. That meant a visit to the Anheuser-Busch brewery was due.

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But, the only thing I truly wanted to see was the horses. I have done much work for A-B and I told them I never needed money (I say that as though I was the one truly getting the pay, I know my employer wouldn’t be thrilled with this thought), all I wanted was to do was come see the Clydesdales and play with the Dalmatians and Labs. What more could one ask???

So, we arrived at the brewery and did indeed enjoy a cold brew first. I’m not a huge fan of macrobrews (and will say I’m disappointed in how InBev/A-B, and some other names are trying to take over the beer industry), so I did not have a Budweiser. I opted for Shock Top, the good ol’ original one. They had the seasonal (pumpkin) one on tap (which I’ve had in the past and it’s pretty good), as well as the apple brew. They also had the good non-Bud brews available, including Bass, Hoegaarden, Leffe, Kirin, Stella, Beck’s, Goose Island, which they now own.

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We were able to get a horse-tour only pass to go check out the great Bud icons.

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Off we went to get a history of the horses and what they do. There was one outside and the rest were in there rough digs inside. They have quite the life.

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We were also told about the farm where many more of the horses live, Warm Springs Ranch, and stopped by it the next day. Acres and acres of land where several hundreds of these majestic guys live. It was closed when were arrived (and tough to get a tour, anyway) but I was able to snap a couple pics.

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So, I got most of what I wanted to see. Now I just want to see the dogs, both the Dalmatians and Labs, and my A-B goal will be complete!

SA Winery Visit #4 — Muratie

We were very fortunate on our winery tour because there were only 3 people in the group (vs up to 16).  Our guide was also amazing.  Based on the great blend of people, the guide made sure that we fit 4 wineries into the day and finished the outing with an amazing vineyard.  The close the tour, we visited Muratie in the Stellenbosch.

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It’s one of the oldest estates in South Africa and that is evidenced by the amazing wine, stories and other things you see.

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IMG_0509They have not cleaned spider webs off some things to maintain ambiance…nice.

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At Muratie we were once again able to choose which wines we would like to sample, and shared amongst each other.

I started with the Melck’s Rose, which was made with Cab Franc.  Nice, crisp and refreshing.  And a steal at R45.

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Next I went to their Laurens Campher (Blended White).  It’s 46% Chenin Blanc, 25% Sauvignon Blanc, 19% Verdolho, 10% Viognier.  Buttery was my take on it. R95.

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Then I had a quick sip of their Lady Alice Methode Cap Classique.  Was this beer?  The reason I say that is that it tasty yeasty.  R120.

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Ok, red time!!!  Started with the Melck’s Red, a 50/50 Shiraz/Cab blend.  Just a nice, easy dinner wine.  R50.

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Moving down the line, next came the George Paul Canitz Pinot Noir.  It had a black pepper nose and for the taste — a bit of green pepper, chocolate and some berries.  Quite unique.  R165.

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Then came Shiraz time, Ronnie Melck Shiraz to be exact, from the family selection.  NICE!!!!!!  Normally it’s not available for tasting but we lucked out.  Smoke, tobacco, smooth…very similar to a pinotage.  Very worthy of the price of R350.

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To wrap up the tasting there was the fortified wine, Ben Prins Cape Vintage.  With 19.5% alcohol, it was a bit chewy with notes of chocolate and blackberry.  R170.

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This winery was great to just look around and see fun parts of.

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Amazing winery to wrap up an amazing day!  It’s tough to get these/their wine in the States but I am going to keep working on it to continue enjoying amazing vino.  Cheers!

SA Winery Visit #3 — Solms Delta

After the 2nd winery, we put the bikes away and took a long enough drive (as in too far to ride) to Solms Delta.

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Here we started with their Vastrap, a white which is a blend of Chenin Blanc and Semillon.  It was a dry white, nothing to write home about.  R50.

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Next we went to the Amalie, which is a blend of Viognier, Roussanne and Grenache.  Smells like chard, has some oak flavors, but I would characterize it as a ‘light’ chard.  R110.

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Third one presented was the Lekkerwijn, which means ‘nice’ or ‘yummy’ wine.  It’s a blend of Mourvedre, Grenache Noir and Viognier and is a Rose.  It was sweet and not great.  R55.

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Reds, finally reds!!!  Langarm, pronounced Long-arm, a blend of four varietals — Pinotage, Touriga Nacional, Shiraz and Mourvedre.  The nose had tobacco and was sweet.  The taste was light and peppery.  R55.

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Next red was one I look for a lot and can be hard to find — sparkling Shiraz.  This one is their Cape Jazz Shiraz.  Subtle, fruity, per them. Light, refreshing, 9.9% alcohol.  Yes, oh yes.  I left with a bottle.  R580.

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We then hit a fortified wine, the Gemoedsrus, made with a Shiraz grape.  The style ‘An entirely new concept in port-style wine; Shiraz desiccated on the vine, then fortified with Shiraz grappa.’  18.5% alcohol, NICE and SMOOTH.  R150.

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Finally we sampled an experimental wine, Perry, a lightly sparkling pear fermented beverage, 6% ABV.  Crisp and refreshing.  The problem here is that you could not taste any alcohol so you could easily just be sitting outside enjoying this on a beautiful summer day and that bottle would be gone quickly…and you would be too…without realizing it.  R50.

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Three down, and since we had such a small group, our guide made sure we hit one more winery before the day was done!

 

SA Winery Visit #2 — Franschhoek Cellar

To get to our 2nd winery, we only had to ride about 5K from the first.  Not too shabby.  Still very scenic!

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This next winery we visited was Franschhoek Cellar.

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For the tasting, we got to pick six to sample from the entire menu (versus being given specific wines).  That was great because between the entire three of us on the tour, we were able to taste almost everything!  And off we went.

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Statue de Femme Sauvignon Blanc — In the top 10 last year.  Light and crisp.  Another typical SA bargain at R50.

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La Cotte Mill Chenin Blanc — Tropical, pineapple taste.  R40!  Really, $4 for a bottle.  Love this place.  Note on the dates on the back labels, they write day/month, versus how we do month/day.

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Club Hose Rose – a blend of Pinotage, Shiraz and Cab.  The best way I can describe it would be powdery rose petals.  GREAT!!!!  R40.

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The Old Museum Merlot — Very berry-y.  NICE, for a Merlot.  There seemed to be quite a difference in SA Merlots.  I don’t normally like them but down there they are quite unique!  R50.

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Stone Bridge Pinotage — Nice, light and smoky, oh yes.  R50.

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The Churchyard Cabernet Sauvignon – Thick, chocolate, tobacco are the best notes to describe this one. R50.

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Last but not least was a limited release.  The Franschhoek Vineyards Shiraz, cellar door exclusive, no info about it anywhere except on the tasting sheet.  “The Shiraz grapes for this wine are from one of the highest most rugged vineyard sites in Franschhoek with singular personality and expression that compelled our winemaker Richard Duckitt to go to great lengths to preserve the tremendous concentration and purity of fruit in this exemplary Franschhoek wine.” — ‘sweet’, thick and smooth. R100.

Mid-way through this tasting after everything was poured, lunch was served and we were able to take our glasses outside to enjoy some great food and drink in the amazing weather.

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