Leknes, Norway to Longyearbyen, Norway: 706 Nautical Miles
It is a foggy, chilly (actually warm by local standards) in Longyearbyen. Many of the surrounding mountains are shrouded in low clouds. The forecast is for the clouds to lift and for the sun to make an appearance later in the day.
Ellen on deck – Fjord in the background
Longyearbyen is the northernmost city in the world (located at 78 degrees North Latitude). It is located on the island of Spitsbergen in the Svalbard Archipelago. The city, located on the Adventfjorden, has a population just over 2000 people. Because of its unique geographic status, it deserves a map (below).
Although the ship is docked, the town of Longyearbyen is relatively distant from the pier so the cruise line is supplying transfers to and from. The trip takes about 10 minutes and the busses run frequently. The bus dropped us off in the center of town.
Longyearbyen was a coal producing town and some of the equipment used in the mining are still visible – coal cars that travel on rails and on cables.
We were told not to wander outside the city limits because of possible polar bear attacks. We saw several men with rifles – they are most likely guides for tours that venture into the surrounding countryside. Polar bears are not as cute as you think.
I took a shot of Longyearbyen as we approached the city center. I believe that the center of the photo shows a glacier.
Longyearbyen (Glacier in the Distance)
The mountains surrounding Longyearbyen are magnificent – some with snow and some barren. There are no trees since we are in an “Arctic Tundra” environment.
View of Mountains from City Center
Our plan in the City Center is to shop a little (if we can find some reasonable items) and to locate some WiFi to check in. The town is relatively simple with several red wood houses. The city center contains several shops (geared for both tourists and arctic adventurists), a library, and some eateries. We were told that the Library in town has free WiFi. We were able to connect while standing outside the Library and catch up on everything.
City Center – Longyearbyen
The main street in town has two main photo attractions. The first is a stuffed Polar Bear (the only kind you can get close to safely). All the passengers wanted a shot with the bear – including us.
Don’t worry - He won’t bite
The second photo op is the statue of the coal miner, who represents the history of this town. We got some quality time with him as well.
The Coal Miner and Us
Remember that thing about Polar Bears and armed guides. Some stores are nervous about armed individuals in their establishment so they have taken steps to keep their stores weapon free.
No Weapons (our reflection in the door)
We checked out all of the stores including the supermarket (pretty nice for a small town). To get some steps in, we walked to the end of the town. There is a Radisson Hotel in Longyearbyen (The Radisson Blu Polar Hotel) on the outskirts of town. From there, we made our way back to the bus pickup spot. A short time later, we were back on the ship.
As the day wore on, the clouds began to lift and the sun came out revealing the picturesque countryside. That red tanker in the picture below did not move all day.
The mountains make an appearance
The remainder of the day was spent in the Solarium reading and relaxing (I should mention at this point, that we did go into the salt water pool in the Solarium – it is great. Bubbles, very warm, and salt water soothing).
We were told by the captain that the sail away would be very scenic. We watched it from the Sea View Cafe.
As we passed through the fjord, it became cloudy again. The sail away pictures below show several mountain ranges and glaciers.
Above – Sail Away – Through the Fjord
My prize shot during the sail away was the accidental capture of a seabird against the Arctic Terrain.
The show tonight was Variety Show Time featuring Niels Duinker, Lorraine Brown, and the Aerial Duo from France.
We caught both of Perry Grant’s shows in Michaels Club .
Pedometer: 5102 steps;2.42 miles; 250 calories