Sunday, 16 February 2014

Paradise Bay, a stunning historic harbour in Antarctica

Paradise Harbor, also known as Paradise Bay for its beauty, is a wide bay and natural harbor on the West Antarctic Peninsula.

The name was first applied by whalers operating in the vicinity and was in use by 1920.

Coordinates: 64° 52' S, 62° 53' W

Glaciated mountains and ice cliffs surround and protect the harbour, and together with the icebergs, they help to make for a breathtaking panorama.

When the glaciers aren't calving, the waters in the bay are quite calm, as is true in the spectacular Lemaire Channel, and they reflect the mountains and ice cliffs beautifully.

It is one of the harbours used for cruise ships to stop on the continent. More and more visitor ships stop for the views here.

Almirante Brown Antarctic Base

Argentina's 'Almirante Brown Antarctic Base' stands on the coast of the bay.

The base was built in 1950 by the Argentinian government. It was meant to house around 15 researchers. From 1964 until its destruction, it was used mainly for biological research.

The base has now been partially rebuilt from ruins, but is occupied only in the summer season.

The Argentinian base became a noted tourist attraction, and a port of call for antarctic cruises.


Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Aasiaat, Greenland

Aasiaat ( danish name Egedesminde) is a town in western Greenland, located on an island in the outermost southern part of Disko Bay.

Population : ~ 4 800, the fourth largest in Greenland.
Coordinates : 68°42′ N, 52°52′ W,  some 200 km north of the arctic circle.

The settlement that would become Aasiaat was founded in 1759 by Niels Egede, a norwegian merchant and missionary, as a trading colony for furs, beluga whale, harp seal and narwhal. The traditional hunt was done in kayaks and umiaks, built by the natives.

Since the 1930s, the fishing village lived on cod catching, which had become an economically popular fish. The growing economy reached its peak in the 1950s, when a power plant and communications station were installed. Since then, catching cod, shrimp and crab, and its processing in the local fish industry, are the main economic activities; recently, the growing tourist trade, linked to Arctic cruise ships, is the second main source.

Fishing ships by the red 'Seaman's home'.

Many houses are reached only by a stairway network leading up and downhill.

Spread out over a rocky island, brightly painted houses and a fishing port make Aasiaat one of the most "greenlandic" settlements in the country.

Aasiaat is also North Greenland's main centre of education with, among others, an upper secondary school and a business school.

The school campus.

Young people in Aasiaat.

Attending the 'Midnigh Sun Marathon'

Today Asiaat is a modern greenlandic town, with Schools, a Hospital, a Museum, sports center, hotels, restaurants and a café. And even shops like Anuni.

The Seaman's Hotel

The Soemandshjem (The Seamen's Home) is located in a tranquil setting with views of the sea and the town in Disko Bay. The oldest buildings date from 1778 and 1826, and served as residences for the whaling station.

In summer it is possible to see whales from the rooms, and in winter the icebergs are a beautiful sight.

Café Puisi

Since 1996

Anuni shop

Clothes and sportswear.

There are even two supermarkets, Pisiffik and  Pilersuisoq

Aasiaat Museum

The Aasiaat Museum was first established in 1978 to house local artifacts.

Egesdesminde, 1879 - Aasiaat Museum

Today, permanent exhibitions include crafts from the local fishing and hunting industries, as well as traditional clothing and handicrafts from the area.

This is small but informative museum, showing how the styles of traditional Inuit clothing change as you move farther north. With focus on Inuit history and the town's past, but also a common hall that is decorated with paintings by Danish painter Per Kirkeby.

An interior wall displays the work of Per Kirkeby.

The old turf house

An outside extension of the museum - an old turf (or peat) house, the kind of huts that were built when Aasiaat was founded: low, rectangular, with walls made of stone and turf on top.

Insulated and robust, it was in use until around 1950.

In present day  Aasiaat, things are different; the harbour is visited by the Arctic Umiaq Line coastal ferry, and large merchant ships of the  Royal Arctic Line.

Sarfaq Ittuk, the coastal ferry, comes twice a week.

The airport connects to Ilulissat, Nuuk and other smaller towns.

Though small and isolated, Aasiaat found its way. At this latitude it's not easy to find a quality of life as high elsewhere.

Maximum temperature in July can reach over 8º C, the minimum  in January as low as -16º C.

Drying clothes in the midnight sun