Sunday, July 1, 2012

Monday, June 18, 2012 – Longyearbyen, Norway – Partly Cloudy – 42 F

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.

E on Deck in Longyearbyen (Small)

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 Town and Glacier (Small)

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.

Longyearbyen Hotel and Mountain (Small) (2)

Longyearbyen and Mountain 1 (Small)

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.

Longyearbyen Norway (Small)

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.

With Polar Bear in Longyearbyen (Small)

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.

H and E with Miner in Longyearbyen (Small)

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.

Safe Place for Polar Bears (Small)

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.

Fjords and Clouds 1 (Small)

The Fjord and Mountains (Small) 

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. 

Longyearbyen Sailaway (Small)  

Longyear Sailaway and Town (Small)

Leaving Longyearbyen

As we passed through the fjord, it became cloudy again.  The sail away pictures below show several mountain ranges and glaciers.  

 Longyearbyen Sailaway 2 (Small)     Longyearbyen Sailaway 3 (Small)  Longyearbyen Sailaway 6 (Small) Longyearbyen Sailaway 7 (Small)   Longyearbyen glaciers sail away (Small) Longyearbyen glaciers sail away 1 (Small) Longyearbyen glaciers sail away 2 (Small)  Longyearbyen glaciers sail away 4 (Small)

Above – Sail Away – Through the Fjord

My prize shot during the sail away was the accidental capture of a seabird against the Arctic Terrain.

Longyearbyen glaciers and bird (Small)

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

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