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Pole to Pole

Day 2: Greenland to Ny Alesund

Michael Palin - Pole to PoleThe midnight sun is shining brightly when I climb into a bunk at 3.30 a.m., and equally brightly when I wake at half-past nine. From 15 October the sun will disappear below the horizon and not rise again until the end of February, but for now, in mid-May, day merges seamlessly into day.

Greenland is a part of the kingdom of Denmark - a massive, almost uninhabited ice-cap over fifty times the size of its mother country. The base at Nord is manned for the Danish government by five soldiers, but one of them is away, so Henny, Jack, Kent and Kenneth are running the place at the moment.

Two big supply planes come in each year bringing all they need - fresh videos, books, food and drink, and equipment. The only thing they don't like is that it means letters . . . 'Not receiving them, writing them,' they explain.

They're so friendly, open and hospitable that there is a great temptation to abandon the journey and stay here, drinking fresh coffee with rich Danish bread, half-listening to a rock-and-roll track by a Miss B. Haven entitled 'Making Love in the Snow', and gazing out to a view of icy fiords bathed in crisp bright sunshine. I ask Jack if the snow ever disappears.

'Oh yes,' he assures me, 'it melts in July. And starts snowing again in August.'
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  • Series: Pole to Pole
  • Day: 2
  • Country/sea: Greenland
  • Place: Nord Base
  • Book page no: 14

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