It took 3 years for us to get here, and it’s finally time to explore Longyearbyen. FYI, if you missed it from yesterday’s post when we first arrived, they DO stamp in and out your passport when arriving from Norway to Svalbard, even if Svalbard is considered a part of Norway. I guess that counts as another country to add to the list!
Yesterday while on our way back from Pyramiden, we got a close look at the Doomsday Vault:
Not sure what it is? It’s known as the world’s coldest bank and the seed vault in case the world needs to be rebuilt after World War 3.
After sleeping in for nearly 10 hours thanks to wonderful blackout curtains at Coal Miners’ Cabin, we began exploring Svalbard.
Day or night, don’t mind what it looks like outside even in the dead of night if you’re around at this time of year. These are true “white nights”:
And whatever the time of day you may bump into reindeer; however, it’s not advisable to leave the town center without a rifle because of polar bears!
From our cabins we hiked 30 minutes to visit the ruins of the old town before it was destroyed by a fire:
Right up the hill is the northernmost church in the world, Svalbard Church:
They make you take off your shoes to visit inside like a mosque, but once you head up the stairs you’ll find a really nice café vibe! Just like the church cafés we visited back in London only 3 weeks ago.
The church also enjoys a great view of the rest of Longyearbyen:
We then weaved around the port to pass by the “northerenmost gas station” in the world. Mom, I made it!
Turning back into town, we then paid $10 for a 30 minute visit at the Svalbard Museum which delves deep into the human history and rich natural history of the archipelago.
In the afternoon we made sure we stocked up on all our provisions for the voyage in the town center supermarket:
And if you passing the time and in need of a drink, say you grabbed one at Barentz Bar, aka the world’s northernmost bar. Fortunately being tax-free (no VAT, etc.; none of it goes to Norway proper — they only charge enough of a tax that will go 100% towards the region of Svalbard), a pint in Svalbard is way cheaper than the Norwegian mainland!
By early evening we boarded my old home of 8 years past on the m/v Ortelius moored off of Isfjorden. We saw our first glimpse of it from the church:
8 years ago it looked like this to me:
Today it shows no signs of wear and tear since:
Once on board we settled in our free $3000/person upgrades from quad porthole to twin rooms:
We then slogged through another safety briefing and fire drill:
The hospitality group hired by Oceanwide Expeditions have always been reliable. Our first dinner and drinks on the ship! Cheers!
On a side story, Jeanette had lost her luggage after some incident at the LYR airport after arriving earlier this morning at 1am. It was bittersweet news because while it sucked her luggage was nowhere to be found in the middle of nowhere, it would finally be an excuse for her to get a backpack and let go of this thing called wheels when it comes to monsooning.
So she did just that in town today…only to be reunited with her luggage again when somehow the ship staff were able to retrieve it for her. Foiled again! (but also happy for you)
- At time of posting in Longyearbyen, it was 4 °C - Humidity: 76% | Wind Speed: 40km/hr | Cloud Cover: drizzle and windy