Part 3, Svalbard
Longyearbyen Travel Blog› entry 3 of 10 › view all entries
August 27th, 2009 – by: IvanR
I still had some SAS bonus left, so at the end I traveled almost for free. I got accommodation at Svalbard Guesthouse, which is nice hostel 2 km from downtown Longyearbyen. I did not mind staying in the room with other people, I expected that such a distant and cold place only attracts nice people and I was right.
The island has almost no vegetation. The only green grass on the island is lying on the cliffs below birds nests getting enough fertilizer in form of bird crap ;) The place is heaven for geologist, they can see every layer uncovered.
I again have been very lucky with weather, it was sunny and +6 degrees. I booked a boat trip to glacier and russian settlement called Barentsburg. The scenery was amazing, hard to describe or capture on photos. The whole place is very special, certainly the most distant place I will ever get.
Barentsburg made huge impression on me. The place looks like Soviet Union in 70ties, but it has very special atmosphere different from ultra-modern Norwegian Longyearbyen. Our Russian guide spoke excellent English and told us many interesting stories. One was about the plane crash which happened in 1996. All people on board died, many of them children. They all were from Russian communities on the island. The people in Barentsburg build a chapel for their memories, visiting it makes you really feel with these people.
Next day I reserved for museums downtown and on the the evening I went for fossil hunting to nearby glacier. We've got accompanied by two guides with rifles and two dogs. This was a security precaution, because the place is sometimes visited by polar bears for whom people are food. Some years ago one girl got unlucky and was attacked and killed by polar bear just few hundred meters from town. On my last day I made a trip to the mountain above the town where it happened, scared because I did not have weapon, but there was quite many people walking, so I hoped the bear will pick some easier prey. On the way up I saw a polar fox, luckily no polar bears.
Svalbard islands are beautiful place. Maybe not for everyone, but I found it very interesting.
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