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What no one tells you about travelling to the remote town of Ilulissat. The former US military base is now used for mining and is as far removed from any common images of Greenland as possible. The eerie landscape with dusty dirt roads leading to landmarks with intriguing names like Sugar Loaf is in stark contrast to the iceberg cruise I should be on right now.
Apart from the tiny airport, there seems little else in the odd town. What no one tells you about travelling to Greenland. Forget fruit and veggies: none grow anywhere in Greenland and have to be imported from overseas. Although the airline supplies us with basic accommodation and meal vouchers while we wait, the thought of tucking into reindeer Bolognese is enough to curb my appetite completely.
Instead, I seek distraction by watching some local students who — realising they have an audience — come here to perform traditional Greenlandic songs and dances. Danish travellers who visit for business Greenland is an autonomous country of Denmark are familiar with our frustrations. One Dane tells me about some friends who flew here for a birthday getaway and had to celebrate at the airport. I think twice about opening my stash of biscuits just yet.
The weather is both extreme and extremely unpredictable. Azure-blue pools shimmer from Russell Glacier, which forms part of the Greenland ice sheet, a mammoth body of ice that covers 80 per cent of the country. Touching down in Ilulissat two days behind schedule no longer bothers me.
I lived off hot chips and salt and vinegar crisps while trapped at the airport. Most tourists who venture here inevitably embark on a day trip to Eqi glacier, 80km away and reachable only by boat. Which, in Ilulissat, is the chance to hike around the ice fjords with no one and nothing but a humpback whale for company and, later, witness the curious stare of a seal emerging from the icy depths.