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Published: July 26th 2019
Cruise day 10
Pyramiden, a blue fox, a smurf factory and possibly the best guide in the world July 24th 2019
Today we saw the most northernmost piano and drum kit in the world, the latter of which Robert Plant had a bash on just three weeks ago. And they weren’t the highlights of the day!
Imagine a day that good that the most northernmost piano and drum kits aren’t the highlights....go on....try.... You can’t can you?
So, after breakfast our tour gathered in the Neptune Lounge before being shepherded downstairs to our tender. The weather was warm (for here!) but it was quite nippy on the boat so I went mad and zipped my coat up. Crazy days.
Not too far away was Pyramiden, named after the pyramid shaped mountain behind it. It was established by Sweden, then sold to the Russians and was a mining town until it was abandoned in 1998.
After a short bus ride we were met by our Russian guide Anna. You know when you see someone and wish they were your guide? As soon as we saw and heard Anna that is how we felt and
we were lucky in having her show us round. She had bundles of energy, was funny, interesting, bubbly and if you could bottle her enthusiasm the people in the suites on the ship would pay a million pounds for it. Guides stick in your mind if they are good and Anna is on a short (very short) list of guides I will always remember.
Anyway, when we woke this morning and Iooked out of the porthole I must admit that I was disappointed. Every picture I have seen of Pyramiden has shown it covered in snow and that was what I had been looking forward to. I know it’s Summer but we’re only 650 miles from the North pole.
The town really didn’t disappoint though and I have loved today. Abandoned buildings, Russian symbols, derelict interiors and guards to ward off polar bears....what’s not to like! We went into the kitchen and canteen, the swimming pool, the post office, watched a film in the newly refurbished cultural hall, took pictures of the most northernmost bust of Lenin, saw the gymnasium and walked a way to the bottle house which is made almost entirely of bottles and cement.
Outside we took pictures of the buildings and vehicles and heard about life in Pyramiden in the past and now. Our tour ended with coffee and cakes, the former being of better quality than that on the ship. We thanked Anna and told her how goood she had been, visited the gift shop and were then free to wander round as long as we kept within the guarded zone.
As we left that building someone told us there were Arctic foxes around so we headed there. A guard was sat and a fox was hovering round him and trying to nip at his foot. We got some shots and the guard asked us to email him some pictures of the occurrence. Luckily I have one in focus! He told us that this was a blue fox and it stays the same colour all year round whereas the Arctic fox is brown in Summer and white in Winter. The blue fox is rarer so we were pretty smug.
We wandered amongst (and under!) the buildings and had a fine old time; my shot count has certainly shot up on my camera! We didn’t see any of the common foxes
but hey, we’ve seen a rarer one. We walked back to the tender as there was more to take in and photograph, popping our heads into any building we could and snapping abandoned vehicles.
The security guard had told us there was a polar bear in the area who may appear after all the tender boats had stopped. Some people were stopped from walking towards the glacier as a different guard thought (or knew) the polar bear was close. As we didn’t have our long lenses we took a tender back to the boat (ship!!) and sat out on deck writing blogs and staring at the glacier and mountains.
The polar bear didn’t appear despite the ship going really close to the glacier but it was all good fun. We sat out on deck for hours apart from a quick meal break. A number of our gang joined us and we had a good laugh. We passed Barretsburg which was next to some snowy mountains and the ship slowed down and did a spin.
Not many others could drag themselves away from their cards or napping so they missed the smurf factory. Painted in smurf blue, what
else could it be? We were soon singing and dancing to smurf songs and getting some very strange looks from the few other people outside.
Oh and I saw a fin whale.
A pilot boat came alongside and we later asked what that was all about. Apparently our captain is a bit crap and, for trickier bits, he gets a pilot aboard to steer the ship for him! So, navigating the fjords, docking, spinning the ship, approaching a glacier etc is done by someone else!! He just does the easy bits, has his photo taken with the guests and helps himself to some food. He was in the buffet place earlier and I thought he was slumming it but maybe it’s where he belongs!!
A cruise ship called Silver Cloud passed us. It is 6 star luxury apparently with every room having its own butler. Prices start at about £800 per night. I definitely wouldn’t find anyone I liked on there! And even if I won the lottery I still wouldn’t go on it.
People filtered away and, as we ran out of land alongside us, we decided to rest our weary heads. It had been
a long and amazing day and one I will remember until senility snaps away my last few remaining brain cells.
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