Polar Bear Hunt 2015 - Day 5

Flying off to Tromsø and Longyearbyen

Today we headed off to Oslo Airport for our flight to Longyearbyen on Svalbard. The flight went through Tromsø, which was an experience in itself. Svalbard is a self-governing region with its own laws and tax structure (almost no tax in fact). For these reasons, travellers to/from Longyearbyen are deemed to be leaving/entering Norway so you must go through immigration and Customs. makes sense when you know, but try explaing that to a bunch of American travellers ("We don't have to go through immigration to get to Hawaii...". Enough said!)

At Longyearbyen we were taken to the hotel by bus, where we met up with Ron and Janine from Canberra who had talked us into this Arctic adventure in the first place. We walked around the town, with its frozen-frontier appearance. It was late at night but the sun was still high in the sky.

Approaching Tromsø
Note the bridge in the distance.
Our plane. Air bridges were good, but they take you straight onto the tarmac.
The bridge overshadows the terminal.
An hour on the ground and we were off to Longyearbyen.
Descending into Longyearbyen...
you get the first glimpse of rocks and snow
And not much else.
Longyearbyen Airport.
Landing here was a novelty even for the aircraft crew....
Coming into Longyearbyen you pass the university...
And lots of warning signs - Polar Bears...
Scooters - snowmobiles....
And angry birds....
Snowmobiles are everywhere.
And so were families of birds, but this lot did not attack us.
The airport in the distance.
And a view out to the open ocean.
Triffids - the old coal mine cableway still marches across the hill.
The town - a collection of buildings all in "Governor-approved" earthy colours.
Longyearbyen's main street.
The odd miner still walks the streets.
Heading up-town to the supermarket and the bar.
The old coal mine on the hill.
The church on the hill.
Hostel and snowmobiles.
Little boxes all in a row. "There's a green one, And a yellow one, And they all look just the same."
The church and coal mine.
The former resting place of older citizens. The frost pushed the coffins out of the ground...
Looking up the valley - plenty of snow even at Midsummer.
The coal mine...
The red soil resulted from a mine fire that lasted over 3 years.
One of the triffids, where coal would spill from the buckets as they passed over the pulleys.
A local cabin.
And finally a pub....
Complete with bear at the bar.
Longyearbyen is full of bears.
And warnings about bears.
More snowmobiles - no wonder the Governor wants to set up designated parking places.
The most exclusive hotel in town - also the most isolated.
Hotel - looks more like a power station.
But we found it full of locals celebrating a wedding - this was the bride and one of the men was the groom, bu they were not sure which one...
So back along the road we strode...
Coal train - this is the local mining museum.
Work this out - "Barne" looks like "Bairn" in Scottish, and "Hage" could be "home" - yes, the local school.
The sturdy fence around the school - not to keep them in but the polar bears out!
The church - outside.
And inside.
More coal triffids.
Meltwater in the local stream.
Our Hotel
Immortalised in stainless steel.
Santa's Post Box and our cruise ship entering the port.
The MS Expedition tied up at the wharf.
Other ships in the harbour.


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Last updated: 08/10/2015