The approach to Spitsbergen the night before gave a foretaste of the day to come. Our ship approached the archipelago to views in the midnight sun of towering snow covered mountains dropping into the sea.
From my initial research wondered just what we would do here for a whole day. No excursions were listed on the itinerary although there was an indication of the limited features there. However this is a place that you walk at your own pace, mine being slow, and just take in the awesome splendour of this artic landscape.
We walked the p shaped road stopping to view artic terns nesting just a few feet away and revelling in the antics of their mates dive bombing all who came close to ward off danger. A good had is recommended not only for warmth but also protection from attack.
Moving on we spot white coated reindeer, still in winter coats waiting to turn brown for the summer. Further around is the the huskie pound serving the 35 or so scientific personnel living here. It is feeding time so they are quite vocal and active.
Near the north end of the settlement is the bust of Roald Amundsen who spent time here launching airship expeditions into the artic plus his own expedition by foot. Nearby is the Norsk Polar Institute.
Moving on we come to the worlds most northerly post office where a resident offers to photograph us. Inside she is behind the counter selling cards and souvenirs
As we head south a train stands to the side as a reminder of the coal mining origins of the settlement whilst houses from previous settlements and the current scientific settlement abound. The small museum is worth a visit.
So we head back towards the jetties to pick up the tender back to our ship. Three hours has elapsed and this time probably ranks as one of the most memorable in all the travelling that I have ever done.
One word of advice the roadways are there for a purpose. Areas of the road are delicate artic tundra. Advice is given not to walk on the tundra. Regrettably some fellow passengers and crew failed to heed the advice. Only by respecting the environment will future tourists be granted landing rights in this delicate and sensitive environment
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