Porschist 76 - Greenland

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Magazine for Porsche enthusiasts • year 19 • quarterly • November / December 2023 • 76




The fragile beauty of

Greenland Text: Kathleen Van Bremdt - Photos: Sven Hoyaux Video: Graatje Weber, Juliette van Montfort

ur Greenland trip consists of two parts. The first part takes us to Nuuk, the capital of Greenland, where we meet two enthusiastic Porsche drivers. We then embark on the Scenic Eclipse II, a brand new cruise ship that takes us along the west coast of Greenland.


TRAVEL PORSCHIST Greenland - located between 59° and 83° north latitude and therefore largely above the magical Arctic Circle - is terra incognita for many, a large unknown area at the top of the globe. The island is located between the Arctic Ocean and the Atlantic Ocean. Greenland is a country of contrasts in all respects. No less than 80% of the island is covered by an impenetrable ice sheet, making only the narrow coastal strips habitable. With an area of over two million square kilometres (which is four times the size of France), Greenland is the largest island in the world. At the same time, with only 56,000 inhabitants, it is the least populated country in the world. Although Greenland is geographically part of North America, politically it is part of Europe. And also: Greenland is officially part of Denmark but has had self-government since 1979. In short: Greenland is an outsider. One that enchants every visitor thanks to its unreal landscape with endless ice fields, enormous glaciers and beautiful fjords.



You can only get to Greenland by plane from Denmark. Iceland is also possible, but there are no other options. We board an Air Greenland plane in Copenhagen, filled with great enthusiasm for a new adventure and an unbridled curiosity about the magic of the Far North. Five hours later the plane lands. From the airplane window, we see shiny drift ice on a blue ocean sheet and snow-covered coasts like an immense cream cake. We're already smitten. Kangerlussuaq Airport - built in WWII by the Americans to refuel planes - is Greenland's main airport, although it isn’t much: one runway, one terminal and an Air Greenland office. It immediately demonstrates how remote Greenland is. We make our way straight to Nuuk, the capital of the country.

Although Greenland belongs geographically to North America, politically it is part of Europe. DUTCH TRAVEL COMPANIONS What also makes this trip special is that a Dutch film team is traveling with us. We came across Graatje and Juliette by chance last year when we toured the Faroe Islands (Porschist number 73). Graatje is a passionate drone photographer and filmmaker, Juliette is a talented producer. We got on well immediately. They were there when we photographed a bright red Porsche 964 on the legendary Norðadalsskarð mountain pass, which Graatje afterwards made into a beautiful film montage. We agreed that we would certainly work together again if the opportunity arose. And that opportunity now presented itself, because the young couple lives in Iceland half the year. When we asked them if they were interested in accompanying us on our Greenland trip, they were immediately very enthusiastic. It's wonderful to see them again and they are just as motivated as we are to make it a fantastic story.

Graatje Weber and Juliette van Montfort, video producers.

7 The colourful houses in Nuuk, Greenland's capital.

NUUK: THE CAPITAL THAT LOOKS LIKE NO OTHER CAPITAL IN THE WORLD Nuuk is situated on the west coast of Greenland, 240 kilometres from the Arctic Circle. Approximately 18,000 inhabitants live there, which accounts for a third of the total Greenland population. Nuuk is the heart of Greenland. It is the only Greenlandic city with urban facilities such as shopping centres, fashion boutiques, restaurants and hotels, art galleries and museums. The colonial harbour is the oldest part of Nuuk. Here we see the typical colourful houses that we will also encounter in other towns in Greenland. In earlier times, the colours indicated the functions of the houses according to a coding system introduced by the Danes. Green buildings had to do with water and electricity, yellow ones with health care, blue ones with the fish factories and red ones with education, church affairs and trade. A practical system that remained in effect for a long time but is no longer relevant today. In addition to those lovely houses, we also see many apartment buildings in Nuuk. Nuuk has been facing a major demographic challenge for some time now. In recent decades, more and more people have been moving to the capital, creating an enormous need for living space. Nuuk is also home to Greenland's only major hospital. Medical facilities in Greenland are limited. Many villages and settlements still have to manage without doctors or nurses. In the event of an emergency, the patient is flown by helicopter to a local hospital or, if it is very serious, immediately to Iceland or Denmark.

The Danish Lene Klarlund is therefore the salvation of many women. She is a midwife and flies to all corners of Greenland to assist women during childbirth. 'The flying midwife' has already helped countless Greenlandic babies enter the world.

Lene Klarlund, 'the flying midwife' with a newborn baby.

TRAVEL PORSCHIST WITH MORTEN NORDAHL AND IB FALCK: TWO PASSIONATE PORSCHE OWNERS Nuuk's greatest asset is its ubiquitous natural beauty. In a few minutes you can walk from the city centre to the shores of the Nuuk Fjord or to the foot of the high mountains that form the entrance to a vast white interior. Morten Nordahl - proud owner of a Porsche Taycan - looks out directly on the grey-green water of the fjord from his living room. We wouldn’t mind such an impressive view ourselves. We talk to him about the special life in Greenland and his passion for Porsche. Taking beautiful photos of his car in these gorgeous surroundings isn’t difficult. Our other Porsche enthusiast is Ib Falck. He drives a Cayenne S and is a pilot for Air Greenland. We meet him at his second home, Nuuk airport, the ideal location for a photo shoot.


Morten Nordahl in his stunning Taycan Cross Turismo 4S, Nuuk.


Inuit hold strongly to their traditions and folklore.

About 8% of the population is Danish, the rest comes from other, mainly Scandinavian, countries. The word 'Eskimo' - which means 'eater of raw meat' - is a swearword to the Inuit. Today's Inuit are descended from brave ancestors. About 4,000 years ago they crossed the Bering Sea from present-day Canada in simple boats made of wood and skins to settle in the inhospitable and extremely cold Greenland, where they lived by hunting and fishing. Inuit have a strong respect for nature. Today, their traditional lives are under severe pressure due to climate change. Life as they knew it is often no longer possible. This means they find preserving their unique identity more important than ever. A reason why they strongly adhere to traditions and folklore.


Singer-songwriter Nive Nielsen in traditional costume, Nuuk.

TRAVEL PORSCHIST BEADS, TUPILAK AND SINGING A good example of this is the typical Greenlandic costume with animal skin trousers and long white furry boots. The women's outfit is especially spectacular with a wide shoulder collar of beads in all the colours of the rainbow. The costume is worn on all important days, from birthdays, weddings, confirmations in church to national holidays. The artful crafting of ivory from the teeth of walruses, whales and narwhals is also a craft that the Inuit master excellently. We saw some beautiful, very intricately detailed statues on Morten's windowsill. “All works by Kim Kleist-Eriksen, a local artist,” he told us. “His studio is here in Nuuk. If you want, you can visit him.” And so we do that. The man has hands like coal shovels, and we wonder how it is possible that he can make such delicate creations with them. But when we look around his studio, it seems to work wonderfully for him. His mythical figures refer to the tupilak, small statues to which the ancestral Inuit attributed magical powers.

And then there is Greenlandic music. It has developed in many different directions, although it still makes extensive use of the Greenlandic language, national themes and Inuit symbolism. Some artists have managed to break through internationally, such as the charming singer-songwriter Nive Nielsen and her band The Deer Children. We are lucky that she happens to be in Nuuk and that we can meet her. She shows up in traditional costume. “That will look nice in a photo,” she says with an irresistible smile. Back at the hotel we listen to her music. Nive has a beautiful, warm voice and her melodies are slow and wonderfully unaffected. Music to dream away to.


Kim Kleist-Eriksen crafts ivory from walruses and whales into beautiful works of art, Nuuk.

Handgemaakte ring in 18kt witgoud met een unieke Tanzaniet van uitzonderlijke kwaliteit en natuurlijke diamanten. Ieder stuk uit de SLAETS Atelier collectie is uniek en wordt artisanaal vervaardigd in Antwerpen.



TRAVEL PORSCHIST WHALE WATCHING “The whale safari is really worth doing”, Morten told us, so we book a boat trip and go looking for whales. The Arctic is home to 17 whale species: from sperm whales, narwhals and belugas to orcas and blue whales. Many whale species have a specific favourite habitat. The Nuuk fjord is especially popular with humpback whales. Year after year, they choose this fjord as their home base in the summer. We don't have to sail far before we see the first specimens. We clearly see how they arch their back so that their small dorsal fin emerges from the water. Humpback whales are said to be the happiest of all whales because of the spectacular tumbles they can make above water. Unfortunately, they are not in the mood today, but we are happy to just be near them. When we sail back, we see some tails slapping on the water. Is it a sign of farewell? We’re happy to believe it.

Global warming is a ticking time bomb for the Arctic ice sheet and the survival of our planet.


The fluke of a humpback whale in Nuuk's Fjord.


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A CRUISE: THE IDEAL WAY TO DISCOVER GREENLAND Because of the enormous ice sheet that dominates Greenland, the country has no road network. There are no connecting roads between the cities and villages, only dense mountain ranges and long fjords. Those who want to get from one city to another do so by plane or boat, and in winter with sled dogs or snowmobiles. It’s great therefore that we can discover the island on a cruise ship. We fly back to Kangerlussuaq where the Scenic Eclipse II is waiting for us, and we board her for a promising fourteen-day trip.

The imposing Scenic Eclipse II in Greenland waters.



In 2019, Australian shipping company Scenic made history with the launch of the Scenic Eclipse, the world's first 6-star expedition yacht. The ship marked a new standard in technology and luxury. Thanks to the latest safety features, long stabilisers and a reinforced hull, the ship can reach destinations that were previously inaccessible, such as the polar regions. In April 2023, the Scenic Eclipse’s sister came along: the Scenic Eclipse II. This is our floating hotel for the following days. The ship looks fantastic: a streamlined silhouette with 8 passenger decks and a grid pattern of cabins like permanent eyes on the water. Both inside and out, the ship has much more the allure of a mega yacht than of a standard cruise ship. Luxury clearly takes on a new meaning here. We are welcomed in the large central lounge where we meet some of the crew and the other guests. The ship can accommodate 228 passengers. There are a total of 209 crew members on board. Almost a ratio of 1 to 1 - a promising indicator of the service that awaits us. We get a tour so that we can quickly find our way around the many corridors. We pass a theatre hall, a wellness centre, a fitness room and various restaurants and bars.

The Scenic Eclipse is the world's first 6-star expedition yacht.

The observation lounge on deck 5 with floor to ceiling windows and comfortable seating areas will definitely be our favourite spot. Every room on the ship is elegantly and extremely tastefully decorated. Even the 'mudroom' looks luxurious with handy seats and individual storage compartments for the boots we take ashore with us. And our cabin? That really is the ultimate in luxury! The suite is exceptionally spacious for a ship, with a private balcony and separate seating area. The king-size bed has the finest linen and exclusive care products are available in the bathroom. Our 'Scenic' expedition parkas - both perfectly tailored - and life jackets are already hanging in the wardrobe.

Scenic Eclipse II's luxurious interior.

KANGERLUSSUAQ: ONE OF THE LONGEST FJORDS IN THE WORLD With a glass of champagne in hand, we stand on deck when the Scenic Eclipse II weighs anchor. Straightaway, we start the journey with a nice trip because to get to the open sea, we first have to sail out of the 190-kilometre-long Kangerlussuaq Fjord. Kangerlussuaq literally means 'big fjord' and it certainly lives up to its name. The fjord is flanked by low hills that become steeper as we progress. We sail into the midnight sun that glitters on the emerald green water. So close to the Arctic Circle, the sun never sets in summer. That means we get many hours of viewing pleasure in light that is soft and delicate.

SCULPTED BY THE OCEAN The next day, just before lunchtime, we receive a message from the bridge that the first iceberg can be seen. We will see many more during our journey, but that very first iceberg is like your very first real kiss, you will never forget it. We are immediately presented with a bit of surrealism. From the front the ice formation looks like a sphinx, from the side it looks like a lion's head. Once you have discovered a figure, you will never be able to let go of that image. Just like those ambiguous drawings in which the faces of a young and an old woman are incorporated. The ship keeps a safe distance from the iceberg. Three times the height of the mountain is usually the rule. Only 10 to 20% of an iceberg is above water. From a ship one can never have a correct picture of the total size and shape of an iceberg because the broad base is under water. The RMS Titanic knows all too well how badly a collision can end. The biggest surprise awaits us when we sail past the iceberg. It is open at the back, forming an amphitheatre with a small piece of ice just in front that keeps watch like the rook of a chess game. The steward on the bridge says it's just like a ship. We hear someone else say that it looks like a crown. You see? Everyone recognises a different figure in these miracles. The starting signal has been given. One mountain of ice after another appears.

Icebergs are surreal figures on water.



When the cruise ship is next to the iceberg, you can clearly see how big it is.

18 When a beauty in the shape of a table mountain appears, the captain decides it is time to lower the zodiacs. We would like to touch the ice for a moment, but Leonie, who controls the zodiac, has learnt her lesson and keeps her distance. The Scenic Eclipse repositions itself, disappears behind the wall of ice for a moment and reappears on the other side. A beautiful picture. Such a special moment requires something extra, and Leonie uncorks a bottle of champagne. We raise a glass to the beauty of this wonderful part of the world.

ILULISSAT FJORD: WHERE ICEBERGS ARE BORN Ilulissat is one of the highlights of the trip. The Ilulissat Fjord is the only ice fjord in the world. It is considered one of the greatest natural wonders and is on the UNESCO World Heritage List. The fjord, which is no less than 40 kilometres long and 7 kilometres wide, is fed by the mighty Sermeq Kujalleq glacier, the largest glacier in the Northern Hemisphere. Every year it pushes 35 cubic kilometres of ice into the fjord, straight from the Greenland ice sheet, cast in nature's mould in small, medium and large sizes. The icebergs float to the mouth of the fjord and then set course from Disko Bay to the North Atlantic Ocean. A zodiac takes us to the town of the same name; Ilulissat. There we board a small sightseeing boat that allows us to sail between the numerous icebergs. We glide through a breathtaking landscape full of imposing ice giants in the most beautiful shades of white and blue. The ancient ice hisses and groans and tells stories of times gone by.

19 EQIP SERMIA: THE CALVING GLACIER The ice of the Eqip Sermia - also called the 'Calving Iceberg Glacier' - also makes a noise, but of a completely different order. With claps of thunder, tons of ice break from the wall and land with a gigantic splash in the ocean. The massive glacier is almost 4 kilometres wide and towers just over 200 meters above the water. Watching a glacier calve is truly fascinating. Primal forces are at work here. Temperature that wins over mass. After the ice has thundered into the water, a growling echo follows. Then there is absolute silence. Until the next lump of ice gives way.

Ilulissat Fjord is the only ice fjord in the world and is on the UNESCO World Heritage List.



Spectacular helicopter flight with Air Greenland over the immense Sermeq Kujalleq glacier.


TRAVEL PORSCHIST THE BEAUTY OF THE ARCTIC TUNDRA As soon as possible we take walks on land. It's always nice to get the legs moving. The Arctic tundra lies in a beautiful rocky landscape with millions of year old basalt mountains in the background. The permafrost prevents trees from growing, but small crops such as grasses, mosses and dwarf shrubs do very well here. Bright purple saxifrage, wild poppies and arctic buttercups provide colourful carpets. The flora attracts insects, which in turn provide food for birds and other animals. There is a lot more life on the tundra than we thought. The members of the expedition team who accompany us are happy to share their knowledge and we learn a lot this way. In the distance we see an arctic fox prancing and near the puddles the pink-footed geese honk to their hearts’ content. The most impressive animal of the tundra is undoubtedly the prehistoric-looking musk ox, the only large grazer that manages to survive in the cold Arctic.


The prehistoric-looking musk ox is the only large grazer that manages to survive in the cold Arctic.

TRAVEL PORSCHIST A POLAR BEAR IN SIGHT We are woken up by the intercom at 6 am. Early, but it's for a good reason. A polar bear has been spotted and you shouldn't miss this opportunity because you don't know whether you will get the chance to see one later. So we jump out of bed, quickly put on something warm and rush to the observation deck, camera and binoculars in hand. After some hints from the explorer team, we spot the animal. The polar bear walks calmly on the ice, perhaps unaware that a little further away a number of people are following its movements with interest and awe. Of all marine mammals, it remains the most special, the king of the Arctic.


Lonely polar bear on a frozen sea.

From the helicopter, the view of the ice cap and the beauties of glaciers branching off from it is nothing short of breathtaking.


Kathleen Van Bremdt and Pascal Fischer.

HIGH IN THE AIR The Scenic Eclipse II has two helicopters that literally take excursions to an even higher level. It is highly recommended, because the view from above of the ice cap and the beautiful glaciers that branch out from it is simply breathtaking. It looks like a white canyon landscape. From the air, you can also see the icebergs in a different perspective. Some are flat at the top with idyllic lakes on their roof, others have many spindly protrusions and still others form arches and bridges. Where the grains of ice are most compressed, they turn azure, aquamarine, turquoise or even Prussian blue. Brown sand veins run here and there. However, the helicopter flight is also a wakeup call. The danger of the climate crisis is suddenly clearly visible. That gigantic ice sheet - 1,710,000 km² in size and an average of 3 km thick - seems so untouchable, so unyielding, but nothing could be further from the truth. Because it is melting. And much faster than scientists had calculated. Global warming is a ticking time bomb for the Arctic ice sheet and the survival of our planet.

TRAVEL PORSCHIST LIFE ON BOARD Today the weather is downright bad with rain, a chilly wind of about 6 on the Beaufort scale and waves of 2 metres high. And fog. Lots of fog. The ship sails, as it were, into thin air. The Scenic Eclipse II has an 'open bridge policy' which means that the ship's command centre, 'the bridge', is always accessible to passengers (with some exceptions such as during manoeuvres or extremely dangerous situations). We often visit it because we like to watch the activities of the crew. Chief officer Iryna is in command, and we hear her give an update to the captain: 'visibility zero'. There are five crew members with binoculars on the lookout. The more eyes, the better. Today's excursions are cancelled, but no one minds that. There is plenty to do on board. Some immerse themselves in a book, others are pampered in the wellness centre or put on sports clothes to lose the extra kilos gained from extensive dining. And of course there are the countless lectures and presentations on the most diverse topics that the members of the 'Discovery Team', which consists of biologists, botanists, geologists and historians, present every day. There is no such thing as boredom on board.


There is also one Belgian among the catering staff: Björn Pattijn. He has worked in starred restaurants such as Hertog Jan in Zedelgem and The Jane in Antwerp and made the switch to the cruise world a few months ago. “It's a completely new experience that I wouldn't miss for anything,” he confides.

HAUTE CUISINE We alluded to it earlier: the food on board is truly sublime. We have breakfast and lunch in the relaxed setting of the Yacht Club. In the evening we can go to various restaurants depending on our preference. Lumière stands for French fine dining, in Elements the food has an Italian twist, in Koko's Asian Fusion Asian cuisine is central and if we fancy sushi then we have come to the right place at Sushi @ Koko's. The common denominator is that all meals are of sublime quality and the service is impeccable. Night Market is very original, a kind of teppanyaki experience where the chef prepares street food-inspired dishes à la minute. A bit like wandering through the streets of Manila or Bangkok and ordering something from a stall here and there. After 8 dishes we are completely replete. To conclude, we are offered a cup of ginger tea with honey, ideal for good digestion. The top experience on board is Chef's Table, a dining feast that takes place behind closed doors for a select audience of ten guests for which you cannot make a reservation but have to be invited. Chef Ashish Dabre gives us the coveted ticket and we are spoiled with an 11-course tasting menu with matched wines of a level that you only find in the very best restaurants in the world. The dinner features molecular techniques common in culinary cooking shows, but unseen on a cruise ship. How about cotton candy that melts into a foie gras lollipop by adding balsamic vinegar?

Chef Ashish and his team.

Björn Pattijn, the only Belgian among the cruise staff.



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ON THIN ICE It keeps getting colder. At the start of the cruise it was still about 10 degrees C at the warmest time of the day. Now we have to make do with a temperature of around 2 degrees. The Arctic wind makes it feel even colder. But we're not complaining because in winter the temperature here drops to -50 degrees. The expedition element of the trip now comes to the fore. For example, controlling the zodiac is a lot more difficult. The ice is everywhere and it's all about finding a stretch where it only forms into a small layer. “The zodiac cannot handle thick sections,” explains Spencer, who steers the boat. “The zodiac won't move. Rather, the opposite can happen: the floe can grab the zodiac and knock it over.” The ice is constantly moving, and we have to choose a different route each time to avoid getting stuck. It's exciting and fascinating at the same time. The ice cracks like the Frisco’s in the Magnum commercials.

Icebergs are surreal sculptures on water.


TRAVEL PORSCHIST THULE: THE END OF THE WORLD And then we are there; at the northernmost point of our journey. Thule is an unapproachable place in an endless landscape where the sun doesn’t rise above the horizon for four months a year and never sets for five months of the year. The Inuit who live there still hunt with dog sleds, kayaks and harpoons. It is a place only for strong, resilient people. Dog sledding also means huskies. The animals are beautiful, but not really cuddly. The Greenland husky has the power to pull twice its own weight at a speed of eight to 12 km per hour. They are real working dogs. Thule is closely linked to the Danish explorer Knud Rasmussen (1879-1933), who established a small base there in 1910 that served as a starting point for his polar expeditions. Rasmussen named the settlement 'Thule' after the Greek mythological expression 'ultima thule', which means 'the northernmost inhabited area'.

Thule refers to the Greek mythological expression 'ultima thule', meaning 'the northernmost inhabited area'.


However, on current maps the location of the town of Thule no longer corresponds to the original one. This is because the Americans established a military air base, Thule Air Base, there in 1953. That piece of land is now owned by the United States. The 130 Inuit who lived there at the time were unceremoniously relocated to 'New Thule' or Qanaaq, a town that the Americans had built for them, 100 kilometres further north. This mandatory move has still not been accepted by the old generation of Inuit. And then there is what is known as the 'Thule incident'. On 21st January 1968, an American B-52 bomber carrying nuclear weapons crashed near the Thule base. Fortunately, the bombs did not explode, but they did cause extensive radioactive pollution. It has now been cleared, although the danger has not yet passed because one of the four hydrogen bombs is still missing. A bizarre story, surrounded by military secrecy that has already given rise to a lot of speculation.

Thule: the northernmost point of our journey.

WHAT’S IN A NAME? It has been keeping us busy throughout the journey: how on earth did this land of ice and snow get its name? Green is really not the colour that comes to mind when we explore the island. A certain Erik Thorvaldsson might be involved, we learn from Victoria, the historian on board. The Viking lived in Iceland but had behaved so badly there (committed just a few too many murders) that he was exiled. In 985 he ended up on an unknown island where he lay low for three years. When his exile was over, he returned to Iceland with the intention of recruiting some settlers to take with him to his new homeland. So he talked expansively about how beautiful the country he had discovered was. He called it 'Greenland’, a name that conjured up an image of a country with succulent, fertile lands, favourable living conditions and abundant food. His PR plan worked and about 100 colonists went with him. Erik certainly exaggerated, but there are indications that Greenland was indeed greener in Erik's time than it is today. Greenland is said to have experienced a small ice age from the 15th to the 19th century, which means that there is now much more ice on the island. There are also other theories as to why Greenland is called Greenland. One of those theories is that 'green' is a translation error of 'grunt' and that the island should have been called Groundland. Conclusion: we will never know the real story.

A BONUS The cruise has come to an end, but there is still something unexpected ahead. Coincidentally, we hear that the Scenic will dock in Nuuk four days after our departure. Morten, our man with the Taycan, lives there. That of course makes us dream. How fantastic it would be to have an image of his Taycan next to the Scenic Eclipse II! Both the captain and Morten are immediately enthusiastic. We involve Rune, the drone photographer on board, with our idea and ask if he would like to take the photo. A week later we find the coveted photo in our mailbox.

Taycan-owner Morten Nordahl and captain Erwan le Rouzic, Nuuk.




AFTERTHOUGHT Greenland made an overwhelming impression on us. It is a place where nature reigns and man is nothing more than spectator of its grandeur. The remote Greenland - more white than green, more ice than land and much more land than people - did not leave us unmoved. The silent landscapes, the icebergs like cathedrals, the cold as a companion... as the captain put it so beautifully in his farewell speech, we will from now on be ambassadors of this special country. Naturally, we are aware that the country faces major challenges in the search for a balance between tradition and adaptation to the modern world, but we trust that the coming generations will find an appropriate answer. ♦

Thanks to : - Idrissia Thestrup en Tanny Por, visitgreenland.com - Katja Vahl, Marketing and Communication Manager Air Greenland - Hotel Aurora Nuuk, hotel-aurora.gl - Hotel Arctic Ilulissat, hotelarctic.com/en/ - Ivan, Founder and Lead Guide, Greenland Backcountry, greenlandbackcountry.com - Graatje Weber and Juliette van Montfort, Video Producers - Eric Morren, Marketeer, cruizy.eu - Kay Sion, Head of Sales Continental Europe, Scenic Group - Erwan le Rouzic, Captain Scenic Eclipse II - Nathalie Wouters, Travel Designer at Brasschaat Travel, brasschaattravel.be - Morten Nordahl and Ib Falck, Porsche-owners Note: The best time to take a cruise is from May to September. We were on board in August 2023.

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Interview Morten Nordahl:

a daredevil and a go-getter.

orten Nordahl is a man of many talents. First a chef, then an educator, now a manager... his professional path is interesting to say the least. The fifty-something from Norway lives in Nuuk, the capital of Greenland, and is having a great time there. There's a good chance that the beautiful Taycan Cross Turismo 4S standing outside his door also has something to do with it. Text: Kathleen Van Bremdt - Photos: Sven Hoyaux

“For me, a Porsche is the realisation of ultimate luxury.” Morten Nordahl

Morten, how did you end up in Greenland? Through Susanne, my wife. She is from Greenland. I met her in Denmark when she was studying to become a dentist. I fell in love with her immediately and knew from the beginning that she wanted to return to Greenland as soon as possible after her studies. She made that very clear to me.

35 Even so, that did not happen immediately. No, it took a while. I had studied to be a chef in Norway and first worked in the catering industry there for a while until I wanted to broaden my horizons and moved to Denmark. I ended up in Aarhus, the second largest city in Denmark. It is there that I met Susanne. Because I couldn't find a job that I really liked as a chef in Denmark, I decided to change course and become a social educator, a sector that had always fascinated me. When I completed my studies, I received an offer to work in Nuuk in a home for children with behavioural problems. That was of course a godsend. I didn't hesitate, took the job and, much to my wife's delight, we moved to Greenland. That was in 2006. That must have been quite a transition. Not really. I felt at home in Greenland almost immediately. That may also have had to do with the fact that I really enjoyed my job. The children who stayed at the home mainly suffered from aggressive behaviour. The home worked with a project to offer them an outlet through extreme sports. I trained the kids for marathons, took them on long cross-country ski trips where we slept in tents for three nights, took them on week-long hikes in the mountains, and so on. I love sporting challenges and enjoy being out in nature, so I can say that the job was really tailor-made for me.

And yet you are currently doing something completely different. Well, life has its twists and turns. At one point I was asked if I wanted to start a home for children with autism and ADHD, a challenge that I was up for. I threw my all into creating something that I can look back on with satisfaction. However, the position of director itself did not fit me so well. This involved a lot of administration and that is exactly what I really hate. So when a friend of mine - who was recently divorced and wanted to return to Denmark asked me if I wanted to take over his clothing store, I saw a new opportunity. I looked for a successor for my position as director of the home and accepted my friend's offer. Another big change. That's how I’m made. I never look back, always forward. I seize new opportunities with both hands.

INTERVIEW PORSCHIST In the meantime, the clothing store is a great success. Now it is, but the start in 2009 was difficult. It took three years before the business showed a profit. The store was on the edge of the city and that was not a good location. From the moment I transferred the business to the centre of Nuuk, things went in the right direction. I bought a large building of 170 square metres, expanded the range with good brands and started a men's department in addition to the women's department. That approach caught on. In Greenland you need to have a store with a wide range that suits both women and men, young and old. What is life like for you in Greenland? Fine. The weather is obviously an important factor. Temperatures can drop to -30°C in Nuuk in winter. In the summer months it is about 8 to 9 degrees in Nuuk. Very occasionally it can reach 15 degrees on a day when there is no wind, but that is really exceptional. But Norway does not exactly have a tropical climate. So it wasn't difficult for me to adapt to the Greenland climate.


“I never look back, always forward. I seize new opportunities with both hands.”

How expensive is life in Greenland? Many products have to be imported, making them a lot more expensive than on the mainland. Fresh fruit, vegetables, alcohol and tobacco are especially expensive. Internet and mobile phone traffic are also very expensive. Local products such as fish and meat are cheap. What is also cheap is petrol. We currently pay 4.40 DKK per litre, which is less than 0.6 euros. The price is so low because we only pay the net price. Polaroil – the Greenland oil company that supplies all inhabited places in Greenland with liquid fuels – is obliged by the government to ensure stable prices on the Greenland fuel market and the lowest possible cost level. That is to give the fishing industry a helping hand. Many people in Greenland make their living from fishing. They take to the water in small motorboats. They wouldn't survive if petrol were expensive. Is Greenland heading for independence? Many Greenlanders would be in favour of it.

Morten Nordahl

Not even those dark winter months when there is hardly any daylight? No. I always make the comparison with Denmark. In Denmark it is grey, wet, and gloomy in winter. When you go to work in the morning it is still dark and when you come home around 6 p.m. in the evening it is dark again. It is also dark here in Greenland, but the snow makes it seem lighter. That's why I find it more pleasant here in winter than in Denmark. I don't like the winter storms. It can really storm in Nuuk. When the wind comes straight from the sea, you can barely walk upright. Given the weather, you probably only sell winter clothing. Of course, most clothing is suitable for cold outside temperatures, but I also sell a lot of T-shirts. These are worn indoors. What I don't sell at all are shorts or summer dresses. There is no demand for that. So I never buy summer collections, only winter and autumn collections.

But is it even possible? Can Greenland stand on its own two feet without financial support from Denmark? It would be difficult, I think. The fishing industry is the main source of income for Greenland. There is also some mining, and some money is made from tourism, but they are not large sources of income. For fifty years, Greenland has had the ambition to become an oil-producing country, but the government decided two years ago to suspend the search for oil indefinitely and to no longer grant exploration permits. Since the 1970s, large companies such as Shell, Chevron, ExxonMobil and Eni have been exploring for oil, but the drillings yielded nothing. Neither for the oil companies, nor for Greenland, because nothing was found, so nothing was paid to Greenland. The government now believes that the drilling has too much impact on the environ-

ment. The search for other raw materials such as gold and copper continues as usual. It remains to be seen whether anything will come of that. On the other hand, global warming can cause many changes. If the ice continues to melt as predicted, many minerals will be released. Then the situation would be different again. Despite the fact that petrol is so cheap, you have an electric Porsche. Yes, but this is not my first Porsche. The first was a Cayenne S that I bought from a friend. Because we don't have to pay taxes on hybrid and electric cars in Greenland, I quite quickly exchanged it for a plug-in version. I was crazy about that car. What made it so special for you? The connection you feel with the car when you sit behind the wheel. All your steering movements result in smooth manoeuvres. And the comfort inside, the softness of the leather, the fantastic execution of all the details... for me, a Porsche is the realisation of ultimate luxury. In the meantime you have switched to a Taycan Cross Turismo 4S. Does that car also meet your expectations? Absolutely. It's a dream car. Greenland is the country par excellence for electric cars. Because all cities and villages are far apart, there are no connecting roads. You can only get there by boat, plane or helicopter. This means that you can only drive around where you live. The distances are therefore always short. Ideal for those who drive electric. And there are more than enough charging stations. But the fact that petrol is so cheap is of course not a good incentive for the sale of electric cars. In addition, despite the fact that you don’t have to pay tax on it, an electric car is usually twice as expensive as a regular car. So it is not surprising that most people still opt for a car that runs on fossil fuel. ♦


Thanks for the chat, Morten

Morten Nordahl and his family.


Interview Ib Falck:

pilot at Air Greenland.


b Falck is a pilot at Air Greenland, operating domestic flights on a daily basis. Not your average pilot's job, as flying in inhospitable Greenland cannot be compared to a European flight from Brussels to Berlin, for one thing. In addition, Ib is a big fan of Porsche. When not in the air, he adores to be behind the wheel of his Cayenne S E-Hybrid. Text: Kathleen Van Bremdt - Photos: Sven Hoyaux

38 Was becoming a pilot a childhood dream? Absolutely. Although I had to wait a while before I could start my training. In Greenland, you cannot apply for pilot training until you are 27. So I first worked as a police officer for a few years. I did the theoretical part of the pilot studies in Denmark. For the practical lessons, I went to Arizona. There, the weather is good and stable so you get your flight hours faster. After four months, I returned to Greenland and started to work for Air Greenland. Were you immediately allowed to enter the cockpit as captain? No. Once you have successfully completed your training and hold a CPL (Commercial Pilot Licence) you will receive further training organized by the airline you will be working for. Line training involves flying with an experienced pilot so you get to know the different aircrafts, landing pads and flying conditions. It took several years before I became a captain. Air Greenland is a small airline and I had to wait until a position became available. How important is Air Greenland to Greenland? Very important. Air Greenland is really the country's lifeline and our only connection to the mainland. Air Greenland provides cargo and passenger transport. The government-owned airline operates a fleet of 28 aircraft, including 1 Airbus A330-800 used for international flights, 7 Dash-8 planes that mainly operate domestic flights, a Beechcraft B200 used as an ambulance and 19 helicopters that are deployed to take passengers to smaller settlements or scientific research centres, as well as a whole range of other assignments. All of Air Greenland's aircrafts are red. This is for two reasons: red and white are the colours of the Greenlandic flag and, in the event of a crash, a red aircraft is easier to spot in the snow.

Isn't flying in Greenland incredibly difficult? Domestic flights are indeed challenging. The weather conditions are often very difficult with frost, blizzards and dark weather. Wind is also a major factor. We can still take off at wind speeds of 50 knots, but for landing, 40 knots is the absolute maximum. If the wind blows harder, we don't fly. The nice thing about flying in Greenland, is that it is still real pilot's work. It is never boring. We don't fly on autopilot. Who decides whether to fly or not? This is done in consultation between air traffic control and the captain. A whole list of factors is taken into account: visibility, the strength of crosswinds, the slipperiness of the runway, the type of aircraft being flown, the route, and so on. How many airports are there in Greenland? There are 18, of which Kangerlussuaq Airport is the largest. Usually, a country's international airport is located in or near the capital, but that is not the case in Greenland. Although Nuuk airport is currently being expanded. When that work is finished, Nuuk Airport will take over the role of international airport from Kangerlussuaq Airport.

'The nice thing about flying in Greenland is that it is still real pilot work. It's never boring.' Ib Falck

Sven Hoyaux and Ib Falck.


40 Air travel is often the only option to get from one city to another. Can Greenland residents fly at a more favourable rate than foreigners? No, unfortunately not. Prices are the same for everyone. Greenland is simply an expensive country. You are a big Porsche fan. What attracts you so much to the brand? Porsche is an exclusive brand. I don't know of any other car brand that can match Porsche. I love the way Porsche manages to combine safety, design and comfort.

'In Greenland, you need a car you can count on in all weather conditions.' Ib Falck

Which model has caught your eye? I drive a 2017 Porsche Cayenne S E-hybrid Platinum. I bought the car at Porsche Prestige in Montreal. It's a joy every time I get behind the wheel. The car is roadworthy, smooth and very reliable. In Greenland, you need a car you can count on in all weather conditions. The Platinum trim gives just that extra touch with special body elements in silk-gloss platinum and an interior with accents in brushed aluminium. What do you think of the electric Porsche, the Taycan? I'm a big fan of electric cars and the Taycan is a wonderful model. Especially the Taycan Turbo S. If at all possible, that will be my next Porsche. ♦ Thanks, Ib. Keep it safe in the air!


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Meet Erwan le Rouzic:

captain of the SCENIC ECLIPSE II.

aptain Erwan Le Rouzic has been at the helm of luxurious expedition ships for 17 years and shares his passion for the sea and the wonders of the world with his passengers every day. Since 2019, he has been captain of the only 6-star cruise ship in the world. A task with a lot of responsibility that fits him like a glove. Text: Kathleen Van Bremdt - Photos: Sven Hoyaux

Where did it all start for you? I was born in Brittany and have always had a strong bond with the sea. I sailed with my parents and grandparents and spent a lot of time on the water. The choice to go to the Maritime Academy was an obvious one. Once I started sailing, I made a career quite quickly. I sailed on a variety of ships - from tankers to car ferries - until I discovered my true calling was on cruise and expedition ships. I love to travel - the world is my home - and on board a cruise ship I can combine my two passions. In 2006, I started work at a French shipping company with exclusively high-end cruise ships. From that time on, I have been leading cruises and expeditions to all continents.

PORSCHIST INTERVIEW How did you end up at the Australian cruise line Scenic? About ten years ago, Scenic chartered a cruise ship to sail to Antarctica, a route they had not yet sailed. I was lucky enough to be captain on that ship. For me it was also the first time that I came south of the Arctic Circle. It became one of my most beautiful trips ever. I was instantly very impressed by the professional way of working of my Australian colleagues. After the trip, they came up with a list of elements that they felt could be improved: larger cabins, more restaurants, even more exclusive excursions, and so on. It was clear that Scenic's management wanted to go one step further in the cruise world. When I heard that the shipping company was going to launch the world's first 6-star cruise ship in 2019, I immediately applied. Because they knew me, I made sure to be part of this amazing project. I was excited because I knew I was moving to something really special. Scenic Eclipse was the next level.

"The Scenic Eclipse ships are real game changers in the world of expedition cruises. Never before has expedition cruising been so successfully linked to ultra-luxury." Erwan Le Rouzic

43 What is it that makes the Scenic Eclipse so special? The Scenic Eclipse ships – the first Eclipse was launched in 2019, the Eclipse II in April 2023 – are real game changers in the world of expedition cruises. Never before has expedition cruising been so successfully linked to ultra-luxury. They are essentially mega yachts, looking much more like yachts than a traditional cruise ship. Technologically they are among the most advanced ships in the world today. They have state-of-the-art safety features and stabilisers that are 50% larger than on other ships. The reinforced hull and rather small size allow the ships to sail on difficult-to-navigate waters such as at the North Pole and Antarctica and to reach places that larger ships cannot reach. For our guests, cruising with the Scenic Eclipse means top service from start to finish. The number of guests on these expedition ships is limited to a maximum of 200 people. Almost the same number of crew members are at their service. The service is very personal and impeccable. The suites on board are much more spacious than on other luxury ships and extremely elegantly furnished. Scenic is also the right place for those who enjoy culinary excellence. Guests can choose from ten restaurants, each with their own characteristics ranging from classic French cuisine to authentic Japanese. And then there are the fantastic outdoor activities that are of course just as important as life on board. A team of 20 experts guides guests during walks, zodiac trips and kayaking. The ships also have two helicopters and a small submarine which is very unique. They guarantee unparalleled experiences. You are extremely passionate about the polar regions. Why the fascination? Initially, my preference was for warm and sunny destinations: Central America, the Caribbean, tropical islands... Until I made my first trip to Spitsbergen and Greenland in 2005. It was a revelation. The incomparable beauty and immense expanse of nature struck me deeply and I instantly fell in love with this fantastic part of the world. Greenland has so much to offer: spectacular fjords, enormous icebergs, fantastic animals and villages where the Inuit still largely live in the same way their ancestors did.



What is your most memorable experience on the Scenic Eclipse? That is a difficult question. Naturally, every trip is an accumulation of many special memories. It isn’t easy to choose one specific moment, but if I have to, I will choose the day when we sailed close to the ice cap. That was two years ago in Antarctica. It was an exceptionally beautiful day: a steel blue sky, radiant sun and ideal ice conditions. We felt that we could sail very close to the edge of the ice mass. We sent the helicopter ahead to assess the situation from above and found the perfect spot to position the ship right on the edge of the ice. It was one of those moments when the champagne bottles were uncorked for the guests. We were all assembled on deck when the hotel director said: “Not here, we're going on the ice.” And so we did. That photo is now on the cover of the Scenic brochure. Something like that is of course only possible in exceptionally ideal circumstances, but that is precisely why it is an experience that made such an impression. It must be an enormous challenge for you as a captain to sail in an area that is still relatively unknown. Yes, that makes it very interesting. Not everything has been documented yet. When you sail around the Mediterranean, every centimetre is marked on the map. That is not the case in the polar regions. Greenland has countless fjords. Only 200 of these have names and many remain unmapped. And then there are the icebergs. Of course, the ship has sophisticated radar and GPS systems, but icebergs are unpredictable. Three officers with binoculars are constantly on the lookout. In foggy conditions, like at the beginning of this week, there will be five. You can't have too many eyes out. We only encountered one other ship on this trip, the National Geographic one. We must be flexible and regularly adjust our sailing route. The comfort of our passengers is important. If there is a lot of swell and waves, it is not pleasant for them. Then we make adjustments. The condition of the ice also determines whether or not we can reach a planned destination. But, as we always say in Polar regionas, there is never any plan B or plan C but only a new plan A.

When we saw the polar bear, we noticed that the ship kept quite some distance from the animal. Couldn't we have come closer? We came to within a distance of 800 meters. Because of the ice on the water it was impossible to sail there with the zodiacs and the ice was also starting to become quite thick in front of the ship itself. Also, we didn’t come closer out of respect for the animal. This is his territory. We are the uninvited visitors. We know the bear can smell us. The expedition team closely monitored the animal's behaviour. At first, he sat quietly on the ice, but after a while he (or maybe it was a she) started walking back and forth a bit restlessly. That was our signal to leave. Look, when the animal sits on the ice and scratches its back, you know it's relaxed. But the moment its behaviour changes, we stop. We're not here to disturb things. The same goes for whales or dolphins. We sail as close as the animals allow. If you see them moving away, we won't chase them. However, if they come closer themselves then it's okay. It is the animals that determine what is and isn’t allowed. I learn a lot from the scientists on board. The more you know, the more respect you have for the environment. That is an enormous enrichment. It is an element that lies outside my work domain as captain, but it makes my job even more interesting. From previous conversations we had with you, we have noticed that you are very concerned about the environment. Absolutely. I visit so many places in the world and observe what climate change is causing everywhere. I am a big advocate of solar energy. I was part of the team on the PlanetSolar, the first ship to travel around the world powered purely by solar energy. One of the goals of the project was to raise public awareness of the importance of renewable energy for environmental protection. The ship departed from Monaco on 27th September 2010. Via the Atlantic Ocean, the Panama Canal, the Pacific Ocean, the Indian Ocean and the Suez Canal, it arrived back in the Mediterranean Sea in May 2012. In total, it took the ship 584 days to complete the long route of 50,000 km, at an average speed of 8 knots. I was captain on the second leg of the voyage, from Nouméa to Monaco, which was a great honour. By the way, the ship looked very futuristic. The PlanetSolar was a kind of catamaran with a length of 35 metres, a width of 26 metres and an area of 536 km² covered with 38,000 solar cells.

"I learn a lot from the scientists on board. The more you know, the more respect you have for the environment." Erwan Le Rouzic

Is there such a thing as a next challenge for you? You are already sailing on the best cruise ship in the world. There is indeed no better cruise ship at the moment. What is still a new challenge for me is the trip to Antarctica from Australia instead of Patagonia. So along the east coast instead of the west side. That is on the programme for next year. That's something I've never done before. There, you are at sea for four full days, far away from everything and completely dependent on yourself. The Ross Sea can be unforgiving, and it is also in many aspects still very much unknown. It is exciting. The scenery will be spectacular with enormous ice masses and fantastic wildlife. I'm looking forward to it. ♦ The future welcomes you, captain.



Julie Brown:

the strong woman behind the late Dixie Dansercoer.

ulie Brown is the wife of the famous Belgian polar explorer Dixie Dansercoer who died on June 7, 2021 during an expedition in Greenland. Julie has participated in polar expeditions herself, mainly as a project manager, and founded the company Polar Circles/Polar Experience with her husband. She also writes and gives lectures. Now that the love of her life is gone, she is looking for ways to honor his legacy in a meaningful way.

46 Julie Brown

“Adventure and discovery make us grow as human beings. Society needs that.” Julie Brown

We head to hilly Huldenberg for an encounter that will always stay with us. Julie is disarming in all her openness. During the conversation she switches between Dutch and English. Her Dutch is excellent, but she is someone who weighs her words and chooses the language that best expresses her thoughts and feelings.

Text: Kathleen Van Bremdt Photos: Henk Van Rensbergen Herman Vanaerschot Polar Circles

You are an American, but you have lived in Belgium for a long time. I have lived in Huldenberg for 26 years and now have dual nationality. I was born in Detroit in 1964, but lived in Perrysburg, Ohio since I was 9 years old. For me, that is my hometown. We were a typical, traditional American family: my father sold car parts and my mother managed a household of five children. I studied to be a teacher and stood in front of the classroom for three years. I taught English and history to first-year secondary students. I loved teaching and the children, but I couldn't get used to the system. Through a friend who worked at Delta Airlines, I got a job as a flight attendant, something that suited me much better. I worked at Delta Airlines for ten years and then at Sabena for three years.

47 Dixie Dansercoer and Julie Brown

At Sabena, you met Dixie. That’s right. He was a steward. We first met in 1997 during a briefing. We got on well immediately. He was recently divorced, I was recently divorced, so we were kind of in the same boat. Love grew from that friendship. A month and a half after our first meeting, we were a couple. I didn't know at the time that Dixie was such an adventurer. He had told me casually that he was going to take a trip to Antarctica, but I didn't really realize what that entailed exactly. It wasn't until I saw him and Alain Hubert give a press conference and heard them talk about their South through the Pole Expedition that I realized that it was a lot more than just a little trip. The two of them were instantly famous. From then on it became clear that Dixie would continue to focus on expeditions. He took a five-year career break starting September 1, 2001. I went on maternity leave the same day. Two months later Sabena was bankrupt. A shame, but it gave us the space to further shape the expedition story. So his adventurous spirit didn't scare you? No, on the contrary. I admired him for his enthusiasm, his courage, his pure zest for life and his boundless energy. We were both very curious about life, albeit in slightly different ways. With Dixie it was of course much more extreme. In 1999, I accompanied him on an expedition to Antarctica. I wanted to get to know that white world of his. That trip was life changing for me. It was the challenge of my life, for Dixie it was just a vacation. (laughs) That pretty much indicates how things were between us in that area. The trip was also important to me because I wanted to find a way to assist Dixie, to add value to his life. Just being 'the wife of'... that's not my thing. I had more ambition than that. I was very proud of him, but we were partners. I discovered that I had a natural ability to explain to others that Dixie's expeditions had added value for society as a whole. Adventure and discovery make

INTERVIEW PORSCHIST us grow as people. We need that. Not everyone is cut out to explore unknown territory in harsh conditions and continually push the boundaries. But Dixie had that passion and that talent. You have to let someone like that do their thing. Together we looked for sponsors to finance his exploration trips. You also started a company together. Yes, Polar Circles. We focused on two elements: the organization of expeditions, both those of Dixie himself and those in which Dixie took clients along, of course after they had been properly trained and were ready for it, both mentally and physically. In addition we gave lectures and led interactive workshops. We were mainly asked by the business world to come and talk about themes such as motivation, perseverance and mental resilience.


because it wasn't right. Anyone who knew him knew how well prepared he always was and that this was an accident, the way accidents happen. This was no one's fault. I really tried not to let those words hurt me. On the other hand, I have also received thousands of messages from people all over the world mourning his passing and writing to me about what Dixie had meant to them. The boxes are still here. I can't possibly answer all the messages, but they have helped me a great deal.

“Dixie always said, “It’s the days when it was hard that led to the success of the expedition.” Those words are now a kind of mantra for me.” Julie Brown

And then the tragedy that no one had seen coming happened. On Monday, June 7, 2021, the satellite phone rang around half past eight in the evening. A completely devastated Seb Audy, Dixie's partner at the time, told me that Dixie had fallen into a crack in a glacier, a so-called crevasse. That is a deep cavity in a glacier hidden under a thin layer of ice. I never thought for a moment that things would end badly, because Dixie was trained to get out of those. That first night I monitored the rescue operation. A few hours later I was told that rescuers had found pieces of Dixie's sled about 150 feet deep, but that he himself had fallen even deeper. The gorge was estimated to be 300 to 900 feet deep, and it was impossible for them to descend any further without endangering themselves as the passage became increasingly narrow. International rescue teams suggested we try again the next day, but I knew they had already gone as far as they could and there was no hope. Nobody could grasp it. It was so unreal. The hardest part was having to tell the kids and Dixie's parents. (Dixie had three children from his first marriage and a daughter with Julie, ed.) Dixie seemed invincible, someone who would live forever. It was a bolt from the blue for everyone. The press and some people said harsh things such as: 'Yes, but it had to happen eventually' or 'He sought it himself'. That hurt me enormously

Dixie was known for always preparing his trips very well. Absolutely! Down to the smallest detail. He trained in summer and winter and was always in top condition. Sometimes he would go and sit in a large freezer somewhere to get used to a temperature of -25 degrees. This meticulous preparation also included his materials. They always had to be perfect, and he came up with systems that others hadn’t thought of. Sometimes people called him MacGyver. MacGyver was an American television series from the 1990s featuring a man who could fix and solve anything. Dixie was one of those people too. He always had all kinds of things with him, so that expedition members wondered: where on earth did that come from? What he could conjure up from his pockets was unbelievable. Dixie had an infectious laugh, a kind of giggle. I loved that. That was such a contrast to his deep, masculine voice. And that giggle kept appearing when people called him MacGyver. Wasn't there always the fear that something would go wrong? No fear, just awareness. Dixie had a deep respect for the forces of nature. He felt fortunate that he had been able to gain so many experiences, but he also knew that every trip carried a certain risk. He never sought danger. In some ways, Dixie was always prepared for death, and he was not afraid to die. Everything had been discussed between us. But even so... (Julie lifts her shoulders slightly). Dixie loved life in all its facets so much. He was so looking forward to becoming a grandfather, he still had so many plans and still wanted to experience so much and share it with us. Dixie's achievements aroused so much awe in many people that they considered him a hero. That's true, but Dixie didn't like that word. He didn't see himself that way. I think mentor suits him much better. Because that's what he was to many people. An example of when you really want it, you can make your dreams come true.


INTERVIEW PORSCHIST What do you think has been his greatest achievement? (Thinks for a moment) In the past I would have said: his Arctic expedition in 2007, when he and Alain Hubert walked from Siberia across the North Pole to Greenland, a journey of more than 1,100 miles that they completed in 106 days. But now that I know the impact he has had on other people, I think his incredible ability to be authentic and genuinely care about others is his greatest achievement. He really touched and inspired so many people just by being who he was. He wasn't perfect, no one is, but he was always himself: pure, generous and always positive. I think that's great. How have you been coping with the sudden loss of Dixie up to this point? It has been a long and intense process. I'm actually just now coming back to life. The first two years after Dixie's death I was in survival mode. Literally surviving. During the first few weeks I rarely went outside. For the first few months I didn't even do any shopping around here. I avoided places where people knew me. Until one day I realized that was absurd. I was also hyper-aware of my responsibility to the children. I had to be there for them. I couldn't hide, I had to keep going. It was like being on an expedition: waking up in a cold tent, knowing you have to open that zip and head out into the unknown. Every day is unknown anyway. I never realized that so clearly in the past, but now I do. Of course I have days when things are difficult, when sadness weighs on me, but then I think of Dixie. During his expeditions he also had days when things did not progress, and everything went wrong. But Dixie always said, “It’s the days when it was hard that led to the success of the expedition.” Those words are now a kind of mantra for me.


“If I'm lucky and stay healthy, I'll have the rest of my life to do Dixie justice.” Julie Brown

Is Dixie still here for you? Definitely. He is still in our lives every day. Both with me and the children and his parents. Physically he is gone, but I feel his energy is still here. I am not religious, but I am spiritual. People talk so categorically about life and death, but I don't think a person's energy can just disappear. There is a continuity of energy that we as humans cannot yet grasp and I believe love is the key. It sounds so beautiful in Dutch: ‘de liefde blijft’ (love remains). That was on some cards I received after Dixie's death, and I thought that message was very poignant. What are you working on now? I am continuing Polar Circles/Polar Experience. I am able to count on a fantastic team of talented and experienced guides. It feels good to organize trips and expeditions again. I also work with Expeditions Unlimited. This is a French company that also specializes in polar travel and expeditions in the high mountains. I also still give lectures. I notice that there is a need for positivity more than ever at the moment and that people are very interested in resilience, bouncing back, how do you move on after a setback? For the last two years I have worked for an insurance company that provided training to their employees in dealing with people who had to deal with trauma. Isn't that very personal? Doesn't everyone deal with trauma differently? Yes, but I can tell my own story in the most authentic way possible. It's not that I'm selling my soul, some things remain private, but there is a general trend in the lives of all people. Everyone lives, loves and loses. I realized immediately after Dixie's accident: we are not the only ones affected by tragedy. A lot of people have to go through that. I said that to the children too. Not to disguise what had happened, but to put it in a broader perspective. 'This is terrible, but there are still so many good things around us that will help us get

through it. We have shelter, food and incredibly nice people around us.' Much of what happens to us is so overwhelming, but in the end, it is just part of life. You have to move on, and you have to keep dreaming, have goals and bring some adventure into your life because what is that life if you don't? You find it very important to shape Dixie's legacy in everything you do now. Keeping Dixies legacy going is in my opinion something that the world needs. It is important to experience that Dixie has not been forgotten and that his life has been inspiring. There are some great projects in the pipeline. There will be a television program 'The Expedition' in which 8 well-known Flemish people undertake the Arctic Circle Trail, a 100-mile journey in Greenland from Kangerlussuaq to Sissimut. It is not a competition or a game show, but it is really about exploration that challenges both body and mind. The children and I agreed with that concept. I never decide anything without consulting the children and Dixie's parents. There has also been some brainstorming around a documentary about Dixie. But I think I can give myself time for those things. It really shouldn't be done in haste. It has to be relevant. I bear a great responsibility in this because Dixie himself can no longer say what he likes and dislikes. If I'm lucky and stay healthy, I'll have the rest of my life to do Dixie justice. This is how I'm going to approach it. ♦ That is a wonderful thought. Thanks for this conversation, Julie. www.polarexperience.com • www.expeditions-unlimited.com

Dixie Dansercoer

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