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  • Writer's pictureSiv Harstad

WE are in Greenland!

Can you believe it, we are here in Illulissat Greenland? Look at the amazing view from the balcony of our hotel. The icebergs are floating by in the fjord here. A little over two weeks ago we still did not know if we even could go to Greenland. Here we are, just 2 days in till we are starting the expedition.

When our North pole expedition got postponed until next year we decided to go to Greenland. Ever since we decided, we have been in the blind, regarding if we could go or not.

This expedition is important for us, as a preparation for the upcoming Antarctica expedition in November.

Therefore we have all the time worked as if we were going and that it would work out. In addition, we have been through the “what if?” - what if we can not go this spring? What do we do? One option was to go in August/September if we could not make it happen in May. We are dependent on ice on the fjord where we end our expedition, so we can not go later in the spring.

Planning with uncertainty

When it was more than 4 weeks until we were supposed to go it was “easy” to think I would happen, then it became 3 weeks and they had still not opened up the country.

Then it was only 2 weeks left (!) still no answer, but we were expecting to know every day. In fact, I did almost jump and immediately checked my mail every time I got an email after the two week mark was passed.

The Friday when it was only 1,5 week left, we had a talk and decided to buy the plane tickets. The signals were good, and we just decided to go for it. Only that it was no longer any tickets on our planned leaving date. Little did we know that they had delayed opening up the country. We ended up, without knowing, booking our flight on the first commercial flight after the boarders had been closed for 4 months.

2-3 hours after we booked the tickets we got the message that it looked good, they were positive to open up for expeditions and that we should send in all our information to getting our permits to go. What a feeling! It was like Christmas and New Years Eve at the same time. Such a relief and joy at the same time.

Finally, we knew we were going. At the same time, our plane was in less than two weeks. It was a million things to organize, fix and buy. We had held back from buying things as we did not want so spend a lot of money at this point, if we could not go. Most people have no ide how much work it is to plan all the details of an expedition. Let alone to do so in less than two weeks. Especially to a location with no infrastructure. There are no shops, no power cables, no doctors that will arrive within 1hour and no wifi/teleco net to support you.

Planning for any scenario

Imagine you are planning your next 4 weeks holiday abroad. You have loads of new rules of travel to take into consideration, and plan around. In addition to all the “normal” stuff we have to plan for... to give you an idea: You have to get permits for the expedition, get your tickets, get permits for communications, get bonds in case of rescue, SAR insurance, normal travel insurance. All the food you eat for the net month, all the clothes you wear for the next month, any possible need for medications - you have to plan for not being able buy anything for the next month. How would you communicate with people without telephone coverage? what do you do in case of an emergency? What gear do you need? What can the weather and temperature be like?

You not only plan it, you buy it and you pack it - this time all within a 1,5 week. It is like a gazillion details.

Leaving date

Check out our the video with the chaos about 24h before we leave:

As you can see still loads to fix. We did sleep fast the night before. In fact I had not had much sleep the final week before we left, both because it was so many things to fix and also because I felt like a child the night before Christmas and woke up super early with so many things to fix on my mind.

We left early for the airport to be there in good time to be able to get a test “fit to travel” saying that we have a negative test result from the Covid 19 test. That went smooth.

Then Check in. First our sleds were too heavy (even though we are buying loads of things in Greenland). We had to re-pack. Then we had to pay an arm and a leg for the overweight. Due to how the travel agency had booked the ticket there was issue with it how to pay for it. It took us another 1,5 hours and a fortune, to pay ourselves out of that. Finally, we could go trough the security gate sit down at the only open restaurant. So ready for a proper meal. Unbelievably it was at that time only 1h left until boarding. We had arrived 4,5 hour before the flight.

The feeling when the plane left was incredible. We were on our way. I closed my eyes and could feel how tired I was, calm because I knew we had done all we had planned for, or at least had to do before we left, and we were on our way. The rest we would fix when in Greenland.

Arriving in Copenhagen our transfer destination was so surreal. Both of us have traveled trough here many times, like the normal traffic of 30 million travelers a year. I could almost not believe it. In the whole transfer area, we were 4 people who had to stay trough the night… all the shops and restaurants were closed.

We would have loved to go out and stay at the airport hotel… hoverer the travel restriction rules did so that we had to stay in the transit area. I have to say it was a unique experience I think hardly anyone will have again.

We found some seats and rested for a bit, before we laid down and had a bad night’s sleep on a bench. Sleeping in a tent on a glacier is a breeze compared to the airport with continuously messages on the loudspeakers and air conditioner noise. With the occasionally very early morning traveler/worker that talked loudly and woke us up.

Extra challenges

We got up pretty tired, had a bite and headed over to the gate. Waited a few minutes for the boarding. We noticed lots of people talking to the people at the gate, but did not think of it. Boarding started - Finally on our way. Or so we thought.

We got stopped at then gate. They checked our tests and told us they were no good. We had the same test that the airline website and the Greenland government had on their page, however they told us it was a small difference and that we would not get on the plane.

Honestly it did not make sense, we had the doc that the web page and the email from the Greenland government stated … it was soo #@*# frustrating. We followed the rules of Norway, and slept in the transit area to be able to keep following rules of travel travel from Norway to Greenland. However they had different rules in Denmark and even though we had been in transit all the time they and had not officially been in Denmark they wanted us to follow the Denmark rules. Without informing us in any way or form on forehand.

We had been there for hours and could have done something about it if we were told on forehand. Apparently, many people were in our situation, some were informed early and managed to get if fixed and get on the plane - others like us were not.

Long story short we had to collect our luggage, all of the 157kg of it…. take it with us and find a hotel, take a new test and find out where and when we were to check in the following day. Because the airport was more or less closed it took us the better of the day to do so.

When we had it all sorted out it as actually nice to wind down at a hotel after that week, especially the final day. So we decided to make “lemonade” from the lemons we were handed that morning, enjoy the day and take an early evening.

Final leg of the journey.

Friday morning, we were at it again. Extremely early rise, because when you travel with that amount of luggage and all of them being “odd size” it takes time. Not to mention we did not want to pay for it all again. So, we were early at the airport, that way we had time to handle any new potential issues without stress.

It all went really well, we were in flow and got trout it all smoothly this time. We first landed in Kangerlusak, the major airport in Greenland and after a few hours stop onwards to Illulisat.

Again with the amount of luggage it took us a bit of time to get to the hotel. The wait was so worth it - what a view. We have icebergs floating by here all day. So incredible to see.

We are so incredible grateful we are here!

That we dared to believe we could do it, that we did not give up on the dream of making it happen. We both also know that this is the start of an incredible journey, that we currently have no ide of how will turn out. Only that we know it will be life changing on some level.

Dare to dream Big and go for your dreams – as you can se it is not always easy and it does take a whole lot of persistence, mental strength, effort and as well as a strong belief that you can do it to make things happen at times.

We are still waiting for our permits to be ready, we are told they will be tomorrow and then we head out to the ice on Wednesday. A the same time our Walking Challenge start and we invite you all to take part of that so you can follow us inspirit and be a part of our journey. Join here

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