Blogs from Spitsbergen, Svalbard, Europe


Europe » Svalbard » Spitsbergen July 19th 2008

The Svalbard archipelago lies in the Arctic Ocean, about midway between Norway and the North Pole, and belongs to Norway. It comprises all lands between latitude 74° North and latitude 81° North and between longitude 10° East and longitude 35° East. The principal islands are Spitsbergen, Nordaustlandet, Barentsøya, Edgeøya, Kong Karls Land, Prins Karls Forland, and Bjørnøya. Longyearbyen with nearly 2000 inhabitants is the largest populated area on the territory of Svalbard and lies at the southern side of Adventfjorden, stretched out along the Longyearelva River. It is named after American entrepreneur John Munro Longyear (1860-1922), who as head of the Arctic Coal Company founded the town and the neighboring coal mine, the first large mine on Svalbard. Mining is still big business, with the roadsides and mountainsides littered with mines and their equipment, but tourism ... read more
Expedition Map

Europe » Svalbard » Spitsbergen July 16th 2008

Hello to you all from Svalbard where I have been having a bit of an adventure trying to find my elusive cousins from the north. First it was a visit to a museum to get some directions and then onto a boat from Longyearbyen (halfway between mainland Norway and the North Pole) to head out into the ice. There are many beautiful fjords here as well as lots of birds, seals, walruses and other wildlife. There was lots of ice and our boat had to help another smaller boat through the ice by crashing through first. I got to stand on the bow of the boat and watch. Very exciting...but very cold at the same time. Anyhoo, we found my big scary polar relatives...well probably not really relatives as Koalas aren't bears and Polar bears look ... read more
These fellas were less help....
This guy too scary looking to ask.

Europe » Svalbard » Spitsbergen May 22nd 2008

"Come, watch the tones of changing light From starlit days to sun-filled nights. Refreshed from Polar Night's calm sleep, With gentle sunrays, time I keep!" So reads the 24-hour sundial in Longyearbyen, Svalbard, a land of extremes. Located at 79 degrees north, Longyearbyen is well past the Arctic circle and holds claim to several 'northernmost' records. The town of 2000 formerly was dedicated to coal mining and research but tourism is quickly grabbing hold, with several hotels and restaurants opening the past few years. Svalbard is a Norwegian territory and may also be known by the name of Spitsbergen, Svalbard being the name for the archipelago and Spitsbergen the main island. Located only 900 miles from the North Pole, it is used as a staging point for polar expeditions. Although owned by Norway, there is a ... read more
Polar Bear roadsign
World's northernmost church
24-hour sundial

Europe » Svalbard » Spitsbergen November 26th 2007

Longyearbyen has been anything but a damp squib. The flight alone was riveting, and I spent an hour and a half with my nose pressed against the window of the plane. There wasn't much to see, but that was part of the interest. It was 45 minutes after leaving Tromso that I spotted the first piece of land. Bear Island (Björnoya) sits roughly in the middle between Tromso and Spitsbergen. Before we spotted that I saw a solitary fishing ship sitting in the middle of nowhere, probably a day away from the nearest port. From the looks of Bear Island I hope he wasn't going there to dock. The place lacked even a solitary light from what I saw, so god knows where you'd go if you docked there. It was entirely snow covered from top ... read more
Polar bears

Europe » Svalbard » Spitsbergen August 15th 2007

After our departure (Viola and myself) the crew of Dawnbreaker were as follows: Lars - Captain Uno, Urban and Thomas - First mate Eva, Sanna and Pontus - deck hands For the first time since our journey started, Dawnbreaker had a full crew + extras. Dawnbreaker has 5 places to sleep with extra if need be (3 extra), then it's the floor for the rest of the crew. So, I left Lars to look after so many members that to cook and keep everyone happy must of been some kind of miracle. 15th August Sunday Longyearbyn to Pyramiden Everyone on board decides, after getting sleeping arrangements sorted, that it would be nice to go somewhere before the Wedding arrangements which starts tomorrow (Monday) with a rehearsal at the Church for the Bride and Groom. A short ... read more
What is left of the Russian Mining Town
The Coalminers Memorial
As it is after everyone left "Pyraminden"

Europe » Svalbard » Spitsbergen July 18th 2007

So we continue Dawnbreakers trip to the Ice Pack with a crew of seven. Lars, Uno, Urban, Thomas, Eva, Sanna and Pontus. I've just noticed that I've been putting the wrong dates to my last Travelblog. It should say July and not August. Sorry about that little mistake. Wednesday 18th July 2007 Longyearbyn - Selvaagen After a wonderful few days in Longyearbyn, what with a Wedding,Dinner etc, today starts slowly. Everyone feels good after yesterdays adventures and on board are a new married couple Thomas and Eva. Congrats from everyone reading our blog. Urban has taken over my job (Caroline)with the Log Book. It's in Swedish so everything I wrote in the last blog and the continuation is a translation of what Urban has written until his departure in August. Thank you Urban. 12:40 pm Today ... read more
Whales sighted
Cramped, too many boats
Floating ice bergs

Europe » Svalbard » Spitsbergen July 14th 2007

7th July Saturday Mariaholmen/Bellsund - Longyearbyn Today everyone is up early. We want to visit the Hermit on the Island not far from us. Six in our dinght must look very strange. It’s a fair size boat but six audults is a bit much. We took a short cut to the Hunter/Hermits home. We only just made it, the tide was going out. We knocked on jis door but there was no answer, it wa also bolted so today we were unlucky. We believe he collects feathers from the nests of the Eider ducks who have their young around his area. 11:30 am It’s going to be a long day as we’re going the rest of the way to Longyearbyn. At first we have no wind so sailing turns to motoring. Later in the day ... read more

Europe » Svalbard » Spitsbergen June 28th 2007

A bleak landscape appears outside our balcony. Voyager has arrived in Longyearbyen located on the island of Spitsbergen, part of the Svalbard archipelago. We are halfway between the North Pole and the Norwegian mainland. Once a mining area, oil-drilling drives today’s economy. With four months of midnight sun and four months of polar night, it takes a hardy soul to live here. Alan and I join a group of hikers to begin our ascent of Plateau Mountain. The group is divided into four levels. We choose the next to the slowest group, which means we will probably not have time to reach the top. The problem isn’t going up but I can already tell that my fear of heights will hamper the return down the mountain. The steep path levels out at several spots giving ... read more
Donna and Ellyn chat on Plateau Mountain
We sign the hike register at the rock cairn
Hiking up Plateau Mountain

Europe » Svalbard » Spitsbergen June 27th 2007

27th June Wednesday Valvaagen - Tromsoe 10:00 am Not much for Gerd and Jonas to do but gather their belongings and start packing. Tomorrow will be their last hours with us. 8:00 am is their departure time. Everyone was quite relaxed thoughout the journey to Tromsoe. Lunch was fish cakes, all the leftovers from the last couple of days. Tonight everyone wants a bloody steak. It’s been cloudy all day and it’s starting to rain hard just outside of Tromsoe. 17:45 pm On our arrival we see that “Joyant” (Tom and Dorothy) are already here. They arrived around mid-day. First we moored on “Lupus” a large pilot boat. Just as we finished the Harbour Master arrived and said the “Lupus” was on call all today/night, so it was not wise to stay. We moved over ... read more

Europe » Svalbard » Spitsbergen March 21st 2007

This trip was solo for Mark, well with a friend Martin. I had entered into Fjällrävens Polar husky competion 2 years earlier and got to the last 80 out of several thousand. Unfortanately I did not make it to the final 5, despite doing the unthinkable for a skiny little guy like me who feels the cold: yes swimming in a hole in the ice during the 1 day selections. So having failed to make it on a free trip to Northern Sweden, I had to find something better, Svalbard and an arctic experience. Here are the photos from one of the most exhilerating places on earth. The weather varied from 20 m/s storm and temperatures just below freezing in a snowstorm, to minus 20 and 40m/s gusts in clear blue sky. Thank God for the ... read more
no guns in the bank

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