Announcing – My First Book on Kids Travel

BIG NEWS!!! My first children’s book, Beato Goes To Greenland will be available in bookstores and online next week! Pre order your copy through Mascot Books by clicking here.

Beato Goes to Greenland cover

It has been a long process. I have started to write books, finished the chapter outlines, pitched to editors, and ditches the whole idea – about a half dozen times. I always knew I wanted to write a book, or two, and several of my well wishers (including readers, editors & publishers) have encouraged me to do so. However, I never quite believed in myself. Who would want to read this and why?

And I never found enough time to write, or perhaps made it a priority.

I have sort of dedicated my life to food, travel and community service, since I left corporate America to pursue my passion. I founded Go Eat Give in 2010 as a blog, and later into a nonprofit organization, with a mission to raise awareness of the diverse and beautiful world we live in. Finally, I discovered an audience, that is perhaps the most impressionable. Beato Goes To is a series of children’s illustrative books that takes young readers on a thrilling adventure across different countries. They learn about nature, culture, food, costume and much more.

I have no prior experience writing children’s books, but felt compelled enough to take this project on. After months of browsing through the little sections of Barnes and Nobles, and reading all the stories about bunnies, princesses, bees, elves, and what not, I realized that there were hardly any books that taught kids about travel or culture.

The main character of the book is my larger than life cat/ baby, Beato. He has been a great inspiration to me, while he lounges on my feet, at my desk, in the couch, and watches me write day after day, occasionally rising from his naps to give me a head nudge. Anyone who has met Beato can’t stop admiring his large size (he is a 20 pounder), handsome looks (yes he has his own Pinterest page), and friendly personality (aka life of the party). It just made sense that Beato took on my persona and started traveling the world!

Beato the cat

What I hope to accomplish from the series is not only to provide entertaining and educational material to kids, but inspire them to learn about each other and discover the world. We live in a interconnected community, where we have no other option but to expand our horizons. To do this at a young age will only give someone a head start.

So if you are reading this and know of any parent with young kids, send them a link to www.BeatoGoesTo.com. Perhaps you can recommend my book to your teacher friend or neighborhood preschool. Beato Goes To also makes a great gift for any young reader in your friends and family circle. Pre order your copy today!

 

Top 5 Meals of 2014

Reminiscing the best restaurant meals of the year has become a tradition for me. In fact, readers request me to share my culinary highlights if they don’t hear from me by January, so here you are, with my top 5 meals of 2015….

1. Restaurant Ulo at Hotel Arctic in Ilulissat, Greenland – Located 280 kilometers north of the Arctic Circle, this may not be the obvious choice for one of the best meals in the world, but it actually was! Fresh seafood caught from Disko Bay each morning, combined with the finess of award winning Chef Jeppe Ejvind Nielsen, at one of the finest kitchens in the country, results in the perfect 11-course wine paired dinner. The view was unforgettable from the restaurant, and the scallops carpaccio, smoked halibut, fresh crab salad and reindeer mousse – flavors I cannot find anywhere else. Read 5 reasons to visit Ilulissat

hotel arctic greenland

2. Gu’s Bistro, Atlanta – I reviewed this family-owned Szechaun restaurant for my column Ethnic.City in Creative Loafing newspaper. Buford Highway is a famous street in Atlanta, known for Asian and Latino restaurants, and I have managed to make my rounds through them. Unlike other Szechaun restaurants I have tried, I found the food at Gu’s to not hold back on authentic flavors, at the same time not scaring off the novice spice eater. While my tastebuds crave for Gu’s dumplings, Chengdu cold noodles, and crispy fried fish, there is hardly a dish here I won’t eat again.

Gu's Bistro Atlanta

3. Coco Bistro, Turks and Caicos – While most of the food on this heavenly island was very good, the cuisine focused on fresh seafood and international styles of cooking. The 24 year old Coco Bistro is a popular spot among locals and tourists, serving some of the best seafood in the world. My favorites were melt in your mouth Tuna Tataki served on a fried wanton with shredded cabbage salad and spicy mayo; as well as Lobster and Avocado Rolls with spicy duck sauce. Make sure to get reservations in advance and ask to be seated outdoors, as the gardens are elegant and romantic. Read more about my reviews in TCI.

coco bistro TCI

4. Palazzo Donati, Italy – This was a special meal prepared by a group of nine men, who call themselves Accademia del Padlot, meaning the academy of “a giant ladle that is used to pour wine.” The volunteer group came over to the renovated 18th century palace where I was staying and cooked an elaborate meal from scratch. On the menu was Charcuterie, Bruschetta, Torta pascuela, Coradella (lamb’s liver), Goletta con salvia e aceto o vino bianco (pig’s jowl), Spezzatino di Cinghiale (wild boar stew), Tagliatelle pasta, Radicchio rosso in graticola, Patate Sotto il Fuoco, Crostata, and endless bottles of wines. It was not just the delicious homemade Italian food, but the fact that we were eating it by a fireplace in an Italian home located in a tiny village, along with these local people, that made it even more memorable. Read more about eating and drinking with the Padlots in Italy

academia de padlots, italy

5. Rivea at Hotel Byblos, St Tropez – Critically acclaimed Chef Alain Ducasse, French Riviera charm, seasonal ingredients and Mediterranean style tapas – whats not to love about this place? I started with a French Rose at this elegantly decorated restaurant and made my way through marinated white fish, sardine toast, eggplant dip, arugula pizzetta, ratatouille, blue lobster, and the most amazing Tropézienne on the planet. No visit to St Tropez is justified without eating at Rivea! Read more about Hotel ByblosBook Hotel Byblos.

hotel byblos st tropez

Read my Top 5 meals in 2012

Read my Top 5 meals in 2011

5 Good Reasons to visit Ilulissat, Greenland

Ilulissat is a popular destination for those visiting Greenland, most of whom come from Nordic and Scandinavian countries. Direct flight on Iceland Air takes you from Revjivik, Iceland to Ilulissat, Greenland in a mere 3 hours. Once there, you hardly realize you have landed at a latitude of 69.2 degrees North, 280 kilometers above the Arctic circle. With about 5,000 residents, Ilulissat is the third largest city in Greenland, even though you won’t feel it by looking at the remote surroundings.

illulisat port

Here are 5 reasons you must visit this beautiful city…

1. Ilulissat Icefjord – A scenic backdrop to the entire township, the slow moving icebergs are a small reminder of what lies north of here – the world’s second largest glacier. At first glance, nothing is more captivating than watching these majestic white hills floating around in your backyard. Once you soak in its beauty from land, take an expedition on a sailboat or kayak. World of Greenland touring company offers spectacular sunset sails (with hot chocolate included) that are designed for those who want to admire the glaciers up close in comfort. Another option is to go kayaking in the ice fjord. The water is cold but still, while the memories are bound to freeze as long as you live.

sailing among glaciers

2. Hotel Arctic – Not just a place to rest for the night, this 4-star hotel offers uniquely designed igloos overlooking the Ilulissat Icefjord. Walk through the hotel’s hallway along a deck, observing the manager’s sled dogs, and make your way to your room/igloo. There is a comfortable double bed with 180 degrees view of the fjord, that lay only a few steps beyond. These dome shaped huts are designed with modern day amenities, including flat screen televisions and private bathrooms. Although the space is small, it fits 1-2 people and makes for a very secluded romantic getaway.

hotel arctic

If confined living is not your thing, rooms and suits at the hotel’s main building also have great views of the Icefjord. Hotel Arctic offers amenities such as wifi, bar, restaurant, lounge and conference rooms as well.

 3. Charming City – If there was a Portofino of Greenland, that would be Ilulissat. A small harbor packed with fishing and private boats marks the focal point of the city. Fishing is the main occupation of the residents, as Greenland is the largest supplier of halibut in the world. Cod, arctic char, shrimp, seal and whale also account for majority of the country’s exports.
The houses are brightly painted in different colors – red, yellow, black, blue – looking like containers of a ship from the outside. Exposed water pipes give sign that residents are dwelling inside. Every home includes a dog sled for winter and a boat for the summer.
ilulissat harbor
There is also a church painted black, a gymnasium, couple of grocery stores, and a few shops in the town. It is possible to walk the entire city in less than an hour, but photo opportunities are endless. The summer brings with it the midnight sun, almost 24 hours of daylight, so visitors can enjoy nonstop activities; but winter is the best time to go dog sledding.
4. History of the Inuit – Just on the city’s exterior, you will find Sermermiut, a 4000 year old Inuit settlement that was abounded in 1850. World of Greenland tours take visitors on a guided walk to the settlement and Ilulissat Icefjord World Heritage Site. Although the archeological site has very little remaining, it gives you a good idea of the circumstances under which different Inuit populations thrived. There is a replica of their summer home, where an entire family would sleep using lamps fueled by whale oil. The residents spent their days fishing and hunting by the glaciers, and moved inland during the winters.
Once you walk through the boardwalk, get to kællingekløften, where you can enjoy the magnificent view of the Icefiord, where there is nothing but white as far as your eyes can see. Makes you feel small and insignificant in its presence!

illulisat glacier walk

5. Dog Sledge with Huskies – The Greenland Husky is an ancient dog breed that is raised by residents throughout the country for hunting polar bear and seal, and sledding. Because of their stamina and warm coat, they can easily survive in the freezing arctic temperatures as working animals. Ilulissat is the biggest sledge district in Greenland and offers many great dog sledge experiences. An Inuit tradition, dating 2000 years back in time, this is still a viable means of transportation for many residents.
Walking around the  outskirts of city, you can see some 6,000 huskies kept in open fields. Packs of 8-16 dogs are maintained by each family, but the dogs live together in fenced areas. They often have a shed or wooden kennel for sleeping, but don’t seem to wind the cold winds. The dogs are fed fish heads and whatever protein is available.
Legislation prohibits Greenland Huskies from being moved south of the Arctic Circle and other dog breeds frombeing brought into the Arctic Circle, ensuring that Greenland huskies are the only dogs in the region. Do not approach the dogs as they are not raised to be pets. If you want to experience the local culture, take a dog sledding tour for 3 hours to 3 days with a professional company.
huskies

Agathe ́s apple and rhubarb cake

Agathe Devisme is an adventurers French lady married, who opened Ipiutaq Guest Farm at a remote location in South Greenland. She combines her French culinary heritage with farm grown ingredients, to create delicious homemade meals for her guests. Her passion for cooking and presentation is apparent on every plate she presents. The guest house sits on a sheep farm, with a backdrop of mountains and icebergs, and has only 2 rooms, so Agathe personally prepares all guest meals during their stay. While the scenery is breathtaking, the location remote, and the surroundings peaceful, Agathe’s food is enough reason to spend a few days in Ipiutaq!

agathe on her farm

Agathe has generously shared one of her recipes with us. This cake can be baked with apples and angelica sticks instead of rhubarb, depending on preference and availability. The recipe is below and you can see photos on her website.

Agathe’s Apple and Rhubarb Cake Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 2 or 3 apples
  • 250 grams rhubarb sticks (or angelica sticks)

First dough

  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 3  tablespoons sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 75 grams butter
  • 1 tablespoon milk or cream
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder

Second dough

  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 40 grams melted butter

Wash the rhubarb sticks and cut them into small pieces. Peel the apples and cut them into thin slices.

If you use angelica sticks, you have to slice them finely and boil them for approximatly 30 minutes, and then, cook them with sugar (half of angelica ́s weight) for approximatly 30 minutes.

Mix the egg, the butter and the milk or cream. Then add progressively the flour and baking powder until you get a smooth dough. Add the pieces of fruit to the mix.

Pour the dough in a round greased and floured cake tin and cook for 20 minutes in 225oC oven.

Take the cake out of the oven and pour the second dough on top. Bake for 10 minutes until golden.

Serve warm with vanilla custard or vanilla ice cream.

agate's cake recipe

~ Recipe courtesy of  Agathe Devisme, chef and proprietor of Ipiutaq Guest Farm in Greenland.

How to Pack for Your Trip to Greenland

“There is no such thing as bad weather, it’s only bad clothing.” This is what I heard over and over again before, and during my trip to Greenland. Most of the country lying in the Arctic circle, Greenland is not your typical pack up and go destination. You have to think about where you will be visiting, what time of the year it will be, and what activities you would participate in.

canada goose at 66N

I went to South Greenland (latitude between 60-69 degrees North) during August, which is towards the end of summer. The tempratures ranged from 30-50F, and other factors played a role as well. If the sky for clear and sunny, it felt pleasant, but if it was cloudy and windy, it felt a lot colder. Thankfully, I did some research ahead of time and was well prepared so I never felt uncomfortable.

Here are some tips that I highly recommend when packing for your trip to Greenland:

Dress in Layers – A shell of long sleeve t-shirt or thermal; sweater or fleece; parka or jacket – at least three so you have some way to adjust your comfort based on the dramatic changes in weather. I took a Canada Goose Camp Hooded Jacket and Canada Goose HyBridge Lite Jacket, based on guidance from their Thermal Experience Index. They were both stylish and fitting, available in vibrant colors. I found out that this Toronto based company provides official Parka for Air Greenland flight crew and pilots. Canada Goose is the official jacket of the UNESCO site Ilulissat Fjord and worn by the park rangers. In fact, Canada Goose sells more jackets per capita in Greenland than anywhere else in the world.

canada goose at sailing among glaciers

Layer dressing also applies to pants, hats and gloves. Because of strong winds, you must carry wind proof jacket with hoodie at all times.

Get Good Shoes – Don’t think about carrying a pair of fashionable boots for the day and sandals for the night. All you need is a super comfortable of all terrain hiking boots. Make sure that they are not a brand new pair and are already broken into. I walked on ice, snow, rocks, streets and grasslands – even though this was not an expedition. Of course, warm socks are a must.

Greenlanders dress very casual and even when you go to a restaurant or bar, hiking shoes or boots are perfectly ok. You may want to carry a pair of house slippers as you have to take your shoes off before entering a Greenlandic homes. This rule also applies at some of the hostels.

Pack Some Food – Even though I stayed at hotels and hostels located in somewhat urban areas, there were multiple times during my trip when I needed food and couldn’t find it. The grocery stores close at 6pm (some at 4pm), there may be a restaurant or two in town, no snack bars near tourist attractions, and no vending machines anywhere. I carried few granola bars and snacks with me for these times, and made a run to the grocery store to buy fruit, chips, chocolates, etc. (cost is at least 2-4 times than in US).

food in Greenland

Also, note that alcohol sales at stores ends at 6pm on weekdays, 1pm on Saturdays and not allowed on Sundays. If you are the kind of person who likes a glass of beer or wine in the evenings, make sure you plan ahead. Surely, you can find it at restaurants and bars (if there is one), but its not cheap.

Travel Light – The only way to get around Greenland is by air or water. I took helicopters, planes and boats to move from town to town. Although none of these had issues with luggage allowance, its easier to get in and out with one bag. The two Canada Goose jackets I took with me were super light, unlike any heavy wool, goose-down, or parka I have purchased before.

When we landed by boat at a sheep farm in Ipiutaq, there was no dock. We had to get off the boat and directly climb on to a wet rock with our bags. Then we landed in grass and carried ourselves into the farm house. It was quite an experience!

landing in sheep farm

Take Everything You Need – Greenland is still a remote destination where most of the products are imported from Europe. Only Nuuk (the capital city) has shopping centers and malls where you can find practically everything from backyards pools to hula hoops. In other towns, stores carry basic supplies like food, medicine, alcohol, electronics and household goods. Choice are limited and prices very high. It is better to prepare ahead of time and carry items you may need during your trip, for example enough medication, batteries, toiletries, etc. I also carried my laptop and DVD’s for the quiet evenings where there was no television (even if there was one, it rarely worked), and I didn’t want to pay for internet ($20/ hour standard rate).

Click here to read more about my experiences in Greenland.

What will you eat in Greenland? Part 2 – Seafood

In Part 1 of What will you eat in Greenland, I talked about common breakfast items you can expect to taste during your visit to Greenland. Moving on to seafood, one can find ingredients such as Greenland halibut, shrimp, cod, Arctic char, wolffish, mussels, sea urchins, redfish and much more on menu’s of restaurants and homes. Because the majority of Greenland is covered by permanent glaciers, the sea is the source for most food. Many residents hunt sea mammals and fish their own catch, which they share with their families. It is common for couples to go camping over the weekend, catch pounds of fish, bring it home, clean and process it. Then they begin the process of sun-drying, smoking, freezing and cooking, resulting in food that can last all through the winter. Along with the proteins, many homegrown herbs and vegetables in backyards or sunrooms, supplement the Greenlandic diet. Sheep sorrel, knot weed, mountain sorrel, lousewort, northern marsh yellowcress, common mouse ear, knotted pearlwort are commonly found here. Crowberries, blueberries, Labrador tea and thyme grow in the wild and anyone can go pick them from the shrubs.

With imports from Denmark, grocery stores are well stocked with pre packaged products, frozen foods, spices, sauces, etc. – everything you will find in a mainstream large grocery store in the US. However, the produce section can be limited and expensive. I didn’t find much of a different in Nuuk (the capital), but in Illulisat (north of Arctic), apples were $1 each and a head of lettuce costed $10.

Another thing to note is the internationalization of Greenlandic palate. Local ingredients are prepared using French, Thai and European styles of cooking, as seen below.

Greenlandic Seafood –

dried fish
Roseroot pickles, “gravad” salmon and dried whole Capelin at Ipiutaq Guest Farm
smoked fish
Smoked salmon on cheese and rye toast, cod skin chips, at private home in Qaqortoq
scallops
Lemon pickled scallops with angelica jelly, puffed rice, seaweed rice and seawater granita at Hotel Arctic
halibut burger
Halibut Disko burger at Hotel Arctic, Illulisat
fresh shrimp salad
Local peel & eat shrimp boiled in seawater
snow crab legs
Snow crab from Disko Island with angelica aioli
seal with bacon
Seal kebabs wrapped with bacon at Igassa Food Festival
fish platter
Fish platter at Qooqqut Nuan restaurant. Red curry with shrimp, cod with spinach, redfish with sweet and spicy hong kong style sauce, and redfish with mildly spicy red curry.
whale steak
Whale steak at private home in Qaqortoq

What will you eat in Greenland? Part 1

Research shows that 50% of travelers chose a destination based on the food. That may be true when you are planning a trip to countries that are globally renowned for their food – Italy, Spain, India, Mexico, Japan and many more. But Greenland may not make it to the list of foodies travels.

It was actually quite a challenge for me to research what I should expect to eat in Greenland before I headed there. A few wiki articles indicated towards the fishing and hunting bounties, warning me that availability of fruits and vegetables would be limited. Surprisingly, Greenland turned out to be a food paradise! Yes, supply is limited as many ingredients are imported from Europe, but there is also an abundance of local products. Greenland actually exports seafood such as shrimp, halibut, cod, redfish, seal. Hunting consists of reindeer and musk ox; and lots of vegetables are now being cultivated in south Greenland.

More on farming in Greenland…coming up.

Here are some of the dishes that you can expect to eat when touring around Greenland. The first of the two-part post focuses on breakfast, which always included lots of freshly baked bread, cheese, homemade jams, tea and coffee. Many different kinds of bread are made with rye, seeds, wheat, poppy seed, etc. Some are quite hearty in flavor.

Greenlandic Breakfast –

Greenlandic pastries for breakfast
Assorted savory pastries at Hotel Arctic
homemade jams served for breakfast
Homemade jams and jellies at Hotel Arctic
fresh cheese with slicer
Fresh slice your own cheese served at every restaurant
breakfast buffet at Hotel Arctic
Buffet breakfast at 4-star hotel
Greenlandic breads for breakfast
Different kinds of bread loves, served self slice style

bed and breakfast

at B&B Hansine
Breakfast at B&B Hansine (private home) in Nuuk

Read part 2 of What will you eat in Greenland?

Qooqqut with unforgettable dining

What crosses your mind when your tour is called “Qooqqut with unforgettable dining?” Certainly not orange overalls, open air high speed boats, and battling trade winds in search of a lone restaurant located 50 kilometers away from civilization! Apparently, this is what I had signed up for during my recent visit to Nuuk, Greenland.

We met at the harbor of this world’s northernmost capital city, and noticed parked sail boats, water taxis, even a small cruise ship at the dock. But my guide pointed to our ride for the evening – a 7 passenger open raft with a motor attached to the back. Given the windy cool Arctic temperatures we were about to be faced with, overalls were mandatory, to be worn on top of the layers of sweaters and parkas I was already laden with. John, our Danish tour guide, warned me that it will be cold “like riding on a motorcycle at zero degree Celsius for two hours.” That’s why I look like a baby Polar Bear in this picture!

overalls for boat trip

We started off slow as we left the city and sped soon enough reaching 50km/ hour in the little boat. At first, I enjoyed the scenery – we had a beautiful view of Nuuk’s colorful homes, the statues of Hans Egede, and backdrop of a few new buildings against rocky hills. We whiz passed emerald blue floating glaciers, and within 10 minutes had reached very secluded areas. There was nothing but open waters, mountains and ice as far as I could see. After that, it was cold, wet, windy and bumpy for a VERY long time. John, our guide, explained to the passengers that this is how the Vikings traveled to dinner and the areas we were traveling through were Viking territories. I’m not sure what kind of restaurants the Vikings favored.

blue ice glacier

The second phase of our experience was fishing for entree. We stopped near a mountain where the water was deep enough to fish for cod and redfish. Line hooks were pulled down and everyone caught something. The catch was just pulled into the boat and stored for the chef who was going to cook us dinner that night.

catching redfish in Greenland

Another 20 minutes ride to the island of Qooqqut. It was a very scenic small village surrounded by hills, some green shrubs and lush backgrounds. The water was calm here and reminded me of Scottish Highland or South New Zealand.

Qooqqut arrival

The lone Qooqqut Nuan restaurant is run by husband (Greenlandic chef) and Thai wife. They also have a restaurant in Nuuk (at the harbor) and use to work at another one on the island that burned down.

Qooqqut Nuan restaurant.

The restaurant serves upscale Thai food using local ingredients. Wine/ beer was reasonably charged $10 per drink, and dinner was included in our tour. I ordered the Fish Dinner which had a huge platter with many interesting creations – red curry with shrimp, cod with spinach, redfish with sweet and spicy hong kong style sauce, and redfish with mildly spicy red curry. It came with a big bowl of salad (rare in this part of the world) and steamed rice. I also tasted Penang reindeer, a Greenlandic Thai fusion, with gamy chewy sliced pieces of meat that were probably hunted on the island, cooked with sliced onions, red and green bell peppers. The flavor were divine and unfathomable how someone could run such an upscale kitchen in the middle of nowhere. For dessert, I opted for European style crepe pancakes with ice cream and fresh fruit (watermelon and orange).

Greenlandic shrimp with salad

fish platter

Penang reindeer

During the delicious dinner, John informed us that in case we can’t make it back, there were hostel rooms behind the restaurants that were pretty nice to spend the night at. He also kept some sleeping bags on the boat, just in case we ended up on another uninhabited island. His tours generally ended around 10pm, but with the midnight sun this was not a problem. Now that it was end of August, and it was already past 10,  and getting dark, but we still had an hour to go.

Its a pity that we weren’t able to enjoy the jaw-dropping natural beauty, the secluded surroundings of the lone restaurant, instead headed right back into the dark waters. An afternoon hiking around Qooqqut, soaking in its fresh air and relaxing with its views, would have been a good addition to the itinerary.

The ride back was not as bumpy, but felt much colder because of the darkness and slight rain. The memory of a fabulous dinner was rapidly overtaken by my head and neck pain and a frosty nose. It was 11pm when we returned to the harbor. The city looked dead. John called us a cab to take us back to Hansina’s Guest House.

I would definitely take this tour again, but during the day, in a covered boat, and spend some more time on the island.

Touring Greenland offers Qooqqut with unforgettable dining tour for DKK 895 ($179) per person, which includes 2 hours of sailing, some time for fishing, and a two-course dinner. Drinks are not included. Warning: if you have prior neck or back injury, you may not want to take the bumpy ride.

What does a B&B in Greenland actually mean?

Search for hotels in Nuuk (Godthåb in Danish) and TripAdvisor results in only two hotels and one Bed and Breakfast. Nuuk is the capital and the largest city in Greenland, with a population of 16,000. It is south enough that you don’t see snow, only a few glaciers floating around. It is very difficult to find a room, not only here, but practically in all of Greenland, which has led to the concept of hostels and guest houses.

city of Nuuk

When I was informed by Tupilak Travel, a Nuuk based travel agency, that my reservation had been made at Bed and Breakfast Hansine for two nights, I pictured a cozy cottage with a few rooms, a sitting area with Greenlandic style decorations, and perhaps the innkeepers serving fresh pastries and coffee for breakfast.

Read about my First Time at a Bed and Breakfast in Georgia.

Little did I know that the concept of B&B in Greenland is a little different than that in the US. As Tupilak explains, “Bed & Breakfast entails a stay with a Greenlandic family either in the city center, in the suburbs of Nuussuaq, or in the newest part of town Qinngorput with breakfast included” in the price. Basically you are inside someone’s private home, sort of like an AirBnB.

Bed and Breakfast Hansine really meant the house of Hansine, a charming 67 year old Danish lady, which she opened up to visitors to make extra income. From the outside, the metal building looked like a run-down housing project. There was graffiti on the walls and wooden walkways in need of repair. You had to buzz the resident to be let into the building and climb three floors of stairs (there weren’t any elevators) to get to her flat.

bed & breakfast hanse from outside

Upon arrival, we took off our shoes by the door as its customary in Greenlandic homes. Mrs Hansine greeted us with all smiles, gave us a quick tour of her two bedroom, 1 bath apartment, her cozy living room decorated entirely in purple, and a tiny kitchen with a balcony. It overlooked the harbor and had an amazing view of the Davis Strait.

Our room had a twin size bed, dresser and chairs. There were family photos and knick knacks all over, hinting that this was probably her own bedroom. There was another smaller room with a single bed, occupied by another American tourist at that moment. We had one bathroom for all four of us to share. A few rules were explained regarding opening of windows and doors. No internet was available.

Hansena wasted no time. She immediately took me to her living room and started showing my photo albums, guest books, family trees, certificates of descendants, and family pictures. She spoke some English, but her accent was hard to understand. She told me that her family was from Denmark and Sweden, she had grown up in Copenhagen and moved to Greenland over 30 years ago. She use to work at a reading glass store in Nuuk, but is now retired because she’s too old. Repeatedly, she informed me that today was her daughter’s 26th birthday, but she was away in Copenhagen, studying at a technical school.  Among many stories, many of which I only half understood, she referred to her Danish ex boyfriend several times.

hansine serving breakfast

We were given a key to the flat so we can go in and out as we please. The city of Nuuk is small and walkable. You can’t really get lost. In just an hour, I came to know where everything was – the harbor, museums, church, tourist office, shopping mall, two grocery stores and handful of restaurants. Buses and taxis take you to the new side of Nuuk, which has modern residence and taller buildings.

When we would return to Bed and Breakfast Hansine, we would often find her sipping tea in the living room, reading tarot cards or watching American TV shows. She would ask us about our day and repeat the ritual of story telling/ photo watching once again.

The following morning, Hansine prepared a big spread for us as well as the the other American guest. We sat by the window and enjoyed scrambled eggs with peas, carrots and crispy bacon, loaves of fresh bread with cheese, jam and butter, and coffee. This was a good opportunity to have a conversation with Hansine about the Greenlandic lifestyle, especially relating to her as a single elderly lady living by herself. She seemed pretty happy with her life, always smiling, sharing her memories and meeting friends.

Tupilak Travel arranges stay with host families for 500 DKK (US $100) per night for single room and 900 DKK (US $180) per night for double occupancy. The cost of a hotel is approx. $400 per night and is usually sold out during the peak season.