Locals greet us in Saqqaq. © 2015 Ralph Grizzle

Silver Explorer: Greenland, Day 5, Coming Ashore In Saqqaq & A Tour Of Our Suite

Coming ashore in Saqqaq. © 2015 Ralph Grizzle
Coming ashore in Saqqaq. © 2015 Ralph Grizzle

Sometimes the significance of a trip doesn’t truly register until days, weeks, months or perhaps even years later. I have experienced this phenomenon with my early travels — how India still affects me today even though I traveled there 30 years ago, for example. I sensed a similar outcome today in Greenland. I felt that my time here with my son would continue to live with me for years and decades to come.

As if she knew what I was thinking, an elderly Norwegian lady looked at 18-year-old Alex and said, “Your dad is giving you a trip that you’ll have for a lifetime.” We were sitting in the Panorama Lounge enjoying cocktails (and mocktails for Alex) while piano music played, just before dinner.

Saqqaq harbor. © 2015 Ralph Grizzle
Saqqaq harbor. © 2015 Ralph Grizzle

What greater gift could you give a child? My gift to Alex (and to both of my children) is exposure to the broader world. And while I’m uncertain that all travel has a profound impact on travelers, expedition cruising certainly does. This is particularly apparent on Silversea. While the company maintains continuity with its “classic” fleet, Silversea’s expedition voyages seem to have a bigger impact on my own intellect and emotion than do the classic ocean voyages. Each expedition proves to be life-changing to me in some regard — maybe not 180-degree life-changing — but there are moments of illumination, epiphanies, if you will. I am sure it is the same with Alex.

The church in Saqqaq. © 2015 Ralph Grizzle
The church in Saqqaq. © 2015 Ralph Grizzle

“Seeing the way that the people lived in Russia was eye-opening,” he told me a few days ago. We had been talking about another Silversea expedition, one of our best trips ever, sailing from Alaska to Siberia on Silver Discoverer.

On that trip, we saw droves of wildlife — punctuated on one of our last days by hundreds of killer whales one morning, a spectacle so out-of-the-ordinary that the captain stopped Silver Discoverer and maintained her position for a few hours. I could have sat and watched all day long.

We also met native people in small villages. At each port of call, we were warmly welcomed by locals, and I realized that we were a long, long way from Moscow and the politics there.

At the church in Saqqaq. © 2015 Ralph Grizzle
At the church in Saqqaq. © 2015 Ralph Grizzle

Today, we’d meet Greenlandic locals in a village called Saqqaq. Home to the culture by the same name, the Saggaq existed from about 2500 BCE until around 800 BCE. The frozen remains of a Saqqaq dubbed “Inuk” were found in western Greenland and were DNA sequenced to reveal that he had brown eyes, black hair and shovel-shaped teeth. He lived about 4,000 years ago and was related to native populations in northeastern Siberia, which coincidentally is the region I just referred to in the previous paragraph.

Saqqaq. © 2015 Ralph Grizzle
Saqqaq. © 2015 Ralph Grizzle

The Saqqaq culture lived in small tents and hunted seals, seabirds and other marine animals. They still hunt seal today, and we saw plenty skinned and hung out to dry.

Locals greet us in Saqqaq. © 2015 Ralph Grizzle
Locals greet us in Saqqaq. © 2015 Ralph Grizzle

Shortly after coming ashore, locals welcomed us with coffee and cakes. A lady dressed in a local costume showed us how she sewed her own clothing for her family, particularly her grandchildren. There were lots of kids out on what must have been a good day for them weatherwise. Overcast and gray, it wasn’t what I would call a pretty day, but the weather reflected the mood of the village in some ways — peaceful and relaxed is how I would describe it.

Sitting with the boys in Saqqaq. © 2015 Ralph Grizzle
Sitting with the boys in Saqqaq. © 2015 Ralph Grizzle

I was surprised at how much I enjoyed Saqqaq, because there really isn’t that much to do there. The locals were friendly, unaccustomed to tourists, all of us wrapped in our red Silversea parkas. Alex and I visited a small church and took a look at what Stefan, Silver Explorer’s Expedition Team Leader, thinks may just be the northernmost greenhouse in the world. Perhaps.

World's northernmost greenhouse? © 2015 Ralph Grizzle
World’s northernmost greenhouse? © 2015 Ralph Grizzle

A few more photos from our day in Saqqaq.

Drying seals. © 2015 Ralph Grizzle
Drying seals. © 2015 Ralph Grizzle
Kids in Saqqaq. © 2015 Ralph Grizzle
Kids in Saqqaq. © 2015 Ralph Grizzle
Kids in Saqqaq. © 2015 Ralph Grizzle
Kids in Saqqaq. © 2015 Ralph Grizzle
Hunter in Saqqaq. © 2015 Ralph Grizzle
Hunter in Saqqaq. © 2015 Ralph Grizzle

In the bay at Saqqaq were beautiful icebergs. We were getting closer to the source, which we would reach tomorrow. First, however, we’d do an evening zodiac cruise to Equip Sermia Glacier. It was misty, and I didn’t want to risk ruining my camera, but the glacier and ice-strewn waters were beautiful. We returned to Silver Explorer for a wonderful dinner.

I thought this might be a good time to show you a few photos of our suite. We are in 704, the Owner’s Suite. We have two rooms, a living room and a bedroom, with a large marbled bathroom and a walk-in closet. Our balcony is huge, and can be entered from either the living room or bedroom. It is wonderful to have such access to the elements. We step outside to photograph icebergs, whales and who knows, maybe the Northern Lights if the weather improves. It just may. We have three more nights to go, and our fingers are crossed.

Bedroom in suite 704 on Silver Explorer. © 2015 Ralph Grizzle
Bedroom in suite 704 on Silver Explorer. © 2015 Ralph Grizzle
Suite 704 bathroom with tub and rainforest showerhead on Silver Explorer. © 2015 Ralph Grizzle
Suite 704 bathroom with tub and rainforest showerhead on Silver Explorer. © 2015 Ralph Grizzle
Suite 704 on Silver Explorer. © 2015 Ralph Grizzle
Suite 704 on Silver Explorer. © 2015 Ralph Grizzle

Silver Explorer Greenland | Live Voyage Report

Day 1Silver Explorer: Greenland, Day 1, Boarding In Kangerlussuaq
Day 2Silver Explorer: Greenland, Day 2, Sisimiut, Sled Dogs & Room Service
Day 3Silver Explorer: Greenland, Day 3, Qeqertarsuaq & A Teen’s Hike To The Waterfalls
Day 4Silver Explorer: Greenland, Day 4, Qilakitsoq & Uummannaq, Mummies & A Rigorous Hike
Day 5Silver Explorer: Greenland, Day 5, Coming Ashore In Saqqaq & A Tour Of Our Suite
Day 6Silver Explorer: Greenland, Day 6, Ilulissat & Icebergs
Day 7Silver Explorer: Greenland, Day 7, A Surprise, And Then Something Amazing Happened
Silver Explorer: Greenland, Wrapping Up & Video Summary

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