Things to do in Tasiilaq, Greenland

Lucia Gaggero | Live the World

November 23, 2022

Tasiilaq is the biggest town on the South-East coast of Greenland and it counts about 2000 inhabitants. For us used to live in big cities, we can maybe think that there is not much here, because the town is only composed of cute coloured little wooden houses and small harbour, used by the inhabitants and by the only two big ships that, as soon as the ice break letting the sea becoming navigable again, they supply the only 2 shops of the city. What else can you find in the town? There is of course a city hall, a post office, a church, a tourist center a little museum and a hospital, the only one on the coast and used by all the other small settlements around. In Tasiilaq is impossible to get lost as there are only 2 roads, a bunch of cars (I think I counted max 20 in total), no traffic jam, no traffic lights, no noises.

Tasillaq is really a very charming town, I love to take a walk surrounded by the coloured wooden houses that contrast with the pieces of wrecked icebergs floating in the bay. Moreover, its inhabitants despite all the difficulties that they face, they are always smiling and let us feel so welcome into their town.

Inuits say that Greenland has only two days, one is the night and the other one the day. Indeed, since I arrived beginning of July I have not yet seen a single night. Summer here is the day. In the evening the sun goes down at more or less around midnight, but it does not really leaves, it hides behind a mountain letting some beams escaping from it, and it never become night, then it reappears again at around 2:00 am illuminating the mountains again with its golden rays.

My first night was kind of confusing, if I woke up in the middle of the night, my first reflex was to look out of the window to see more or less what time it could have been, as the sun was bright up in the sky I told myself "Ohhh, it's already morning. Time to get up! ", feeling still tired I sat on the bed, took my phone and looking at my watch I finally realised that it was only 3am .... However, after being in Tasiilaq for 3 weeks I was comfortable to sleep without a mask or curtains, and when it happened that I woke up, instead of looking out I directly took my watch and most of the time just turn on the other side and fall asleep again.

One of those nights where I woke up, it was 2:30 am and curious I looked out the window and magic was happening. Just before sunrise the few clouds that were in the sky had such pink shades that the landscape looked just like a painting. It was the first sunrise of such a beauty that I saw, obviously I could not resist, I grabbed my camera, put on a jacket over my pyjama, a pair of crocs and went out to shoot. I was out there taking photos for about 15 minutes under the doubtful eyes of the neighbour's dogs, when I realised that I had left the house keys in my bedroom and, if someone had shut the door I would have stayed outside for the rest of the night only with my pyjamas on. Hopefully, I ran back just in time, because on the entrance Viggo, the Inuit whom was sharing the house with me, was smoking, I waved at him and I could go back home lying in my warm bed with a smile painted on my face.

Summer here in Tasiilaq and in Greenland in general, it's not only a holiday season as we consider it in Europe. Here it is a real awakening. After spending long months in the cold darkness, you really feel that this light regenerates and recharges not only the people but also the nature in which they live. It is now possible to work, they can repair everything that winter with its very strong winds and the icy temperatures broke-down. They can hunt day and night, kids play while the dogs rest in the sun to be ready for the winter. This is what you see when you walk through the village during the summer months. The clothes dry in the sun at the same time as bear skins, fish and pieces of seal, kids have fun, elderly people wander around and talk, You can have an ice cream or a coffee at the tourist centre, visit the museum and learn about Inuit culture, sightseeing in town or do nice hikes in the Greenlandic valleys behind it, watch the icebergs carried in the fjord by the currents, go out on a boat for whale watching, or s[ailing around Iceberg and glaciers](, go fishing and hunting.

There are nevertheless days in which the wind comes or fog or it rains, in those days everything stop, work and all the other activities. We stay at home we drink a cup of tea or coffee, read a book, tell stories, laugh and wait for the weather to change. We do not get impatient, or nervous, What for? What can we do against mother nature, against a wind that can blow up to 300km / h? The gusts are so strong that they even displace waste that weighs up to 100kg, so the wisest and sure thing to do is stay at home and wait.

I only had two days of real bad weather and storm in my summer time in Tasiilaq, it was not such a strong wind as I described here above, because that one called Piterak, usually only comes in winter. I had a 180 km / h wind, however, for me it was already enough to see. From the house where I live, which is all up the hill (it is the very last house at the top of the village and by my window I can see the fjord and the city below) in the evening that the storm arrived, I could feel the wind whistling through the wood and pushing with all its strength against its walls like a wave breaking against a rock in the sea. Sometimes the whole house was trembling and I wondered if we were all going to fly away, but then looking at the other tenants who seemed so quiet, I abandoned this thought, went to bed and fell asleep rocked by the stories that the wind was carrying with him.

The next morning in the sunshine, the calm was present again and the town of Tasiilaq resumed the normal course of things, the children ran everywhere, the dogs worked, the adults worked and the tourists happy not to be locked in the hotel anymore were leaving it to go hike through the wonderful Greenland valleys.

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