Blogs from Spitsbergen, Svalbard, Europe


Europe » Svalbard » Spitsbergen July 25th 2019

Today is a sea day which is an opportunity to relax.... unless you are whale spotting. Then you get to stand in the cold looking for spurts (or ‘blows’) in the hope of the spurter appearing out of the water, albeit brief. We spent sometime outdoors and Glyn saw a blue whale spurt (the Orca gang confirmed this due to spurt shape and size). We also saw two large pods of humpbacked whales - one time we were surrounded by so many spurts, it was practically an ambush! Christine was chuffed to bits to get a mother and calf photo. Today is a deep water day, so there was a lot of anticipation of some big beasts. Time was also spent in the observation deck to get warm and still view possible whales through the large ... read more
whale, Barents Sea
Dolphin, Barents Sea
Dolphin, Barents Sea

Europe » Svalbard » Spitsbergen July 24th 2019

The plan last night was to stay awake so I could gaze at the passing landscape as we cruised from the Tuna glacier to Pyramiden between 11pm and 1am. But I gave up at 10.30pm. All the clean, cold and crisp air was making me sleepy; my body is missing some good old Stokey pollution. Plus the constant daylight is extremely disorientating too. Yes I have been sleeping with the port hole cover open (just because the sun not setting is so bizarre and I don’t want to miss it) so that doesn’t help. We woke up around 7am, Pyramiden visible through the portholes, set like everything is set here: at the base of brown, arid hills with little to no vegetation, plus ugly and rusty industrial stuff. Pyramiden is now a ghost town, populated mostly ... read more
blue fox

Europe » Svalbard » Spitsbergen July 23rd 2019

So the good news there are cats in Svalbard, the bad news is that I didn’t see any. Apparently they were smuggled illegally into the Russian communities and have become a little feral. One ginger cat has managed to get itself registered as an Arctic Fox, which is cunning because the latter are indigenous and therefore allowed. Despite being white in the winter, the foxes are red in summer, so it’s a very clever disguise for a ginger cat. Svalbard is an archipelago of a few islands, most of which are uninhabited by humans and Spitsbergen being the largest where Longyearbyen is the capital with a steady population of 2000. It was originally inhabited by whaling communities until after a hundred years or so, when they almost hunted the whales into extinction. Then came the coal ... read more

Europe » Svalbard » Spitsbergen July 22nd 2019

Ever since I’d heard of Svalbard, I’ve dreamed of going. The whole point of this cruise was to see Svalbard, with everything else being a bonus. So even after the build up, it was mind blowingly magical to see the coast from the sea. I’m fortunate to have seen some awesome places, but none have made me feel so awestruck as this. I’m not sure why - could be the knowing that so much of the land before me is untouched by humans or because it is so inaccessible. Perhaps it’s the snowy, blue beauty or the fact that as far as I know, people hadn’t roamed there until quite recently in human history. Whatever it was, despite the cold, I stood staring at the coast for a very long time. Despite it being full on ... read more
Fin whale
Fin whale
.Fin whale

Europe » Svalbard » Spitsbergen March 20th 2019

Na de vrij zware sneeuwscootertocht zijn we deze ochtend vrij. In de middag lopen we de weg af naar Longyearbyen, ongeveer een half uur lopen. De stad is vernoemd naar een Amerikaan, die in 1906 een mijnoperatie begon met 500 mensen. Opmerkelijk is dat de stad geen straatnamen heeft. Katten worden niet toegelaten op het eiland om de vogelpopulatie te beschermen. En je mag er niet begraven worden, de laatste begrafenis was 70 jaar geleden. Aangezien de stad op permafrost gebouwd is kunnen lichamen niet ontbinden. Vier maanden per jaar gaat de zon niet op. Tot zover wat over de stad. Het is zondag en er zijn niet veel winkels geopend. We eten een stoofpotje in het Raddisson Hotel en worden om 15.00 uur opgehaald voor onze tocht met de sledehonden. We rijden over een van ... read more
Oude kolenmijn
Zicht over de baai bij Longyearbyen

Europe » Svalbard » Spitsbergen March 17th 2019

Dit jaar gaan we naar het hoge noorden en zoeken we de kou op in Spitsbergen en het noorden van Noorwegen. Het wordt letterlijk een reis met Planes, Trains en Automobiles (en de boot). Al hopen we wat meer geluk te hebben dan Steve Martin en John Candy. Het stormt vandaag en mijn vermoeden komt helaas uit. Om 9 uur krijgen we een sms van de KLM dat onze vlucht is geannuleerd en we zo spoedig mogelijk worden geïnformeerd over een nieuwe vlucht. Ik kijk gelijk op internet wat er nog beschikbaar is en bel de KLM. Het duurt heel lang voordat ik iemand aan de lijn krijg en worden we op een vlucht van 20.35 uur geboekt. We zouden eerst om 14.45 uur vertrekken, dus dat is jammer. Een paar uur later kijk ik nog ... read more
Thon Hotel Oslo Airport
Ook in Oslo veel sneeuw
Vertrekhal Gardermoen

Europe » Svalbard » Spitsbergen April 17th 2018

“On Earth’s part all days start beautifully. Patiently it revolves and revolves with its trees and oceans and lakes and deserts and volcanoes. The two of us, the rest of you, and all of the animals.” Petur Gunnarsson. One… Whilst staring at the walls of Keflavik Airport, Iceland… The Phone Call Theresa and I had just driven halfway across a continent! From Canada's easternmost province of Newfoundland & Labrador on the wild shore of the Atlantic to the central prairies of Manitoba. Ten hours a day for six days! We'd been back in Winnipeg for less than an hour when my cell phone rang... "Got plans for the weekend?" Said the operations manager. "Nothing planned. What's up?" My curiosity raced, as I knew this could be only one of a couple of things. There was a ... read more
Lonely Road
Bears at Night?
The Road to the Mine

Europe » Svalbard » Spitsbergen August 26th 2015

As i had another day to fill in before my Polar Bear Special Cruise commences tomorrow on m/v Plancius i decided to fill the day in by taking a tour. The coach swoops around the various hotels picking up passengers, including me at 8:30am for the 9-10 hour cruise. Once the coach delivered us to the vessel "Polargirl" we were given the usual safety talk by the young female guide (name now forgotten) and everyone rushed on board to get the "best position". How they knew what was best I don't know as there seemed to be beauty all around. It was however overcast and foggy when we commenced but brightened the further we sailed up the Billefjorden and by time we reached our first destination of Pryamiden the sun was shining. As we pulled into ... read more
Sweden originally owned the coal mine and sold it to the Soviet Union in 1927.
On the 31 March 1998 the last ton of coal was removed form the mine.
The monument of Pyramiden, with the last ton of coal extracted from the mine behind it

Europe » Svalbard » Spitsbergen September 24th 2009

The ringing of the ship bell jolted us out of our slumber. The bell was reserved for letting us know when it was time to eat and when there was something amazing to see, so we all rushed on deck. The sky was blue and cloudy and there were amazing, jagged mountains rising up all around us. On the shore we spotted two large polar bears milling about. One of the bears had a dead seal in its mouth and was enjoying its morning feast. The landscape was breathtaking and I was torn between watching the bears and scanning the Arctic expanses. There wasn’t any ice in the sea around us, which made me wonder how far we had gone during the night. After about an hour watching the bears the bell rang again to tell ... read more
Sailing in Liefdefjord 5
Climbing Zeeuwse Uitkijk 2
A Beautiful Sunset in Magdalene Fjord 3

Europe » Svalbard » Spitsbergen September 13th 2009

I have always been an insatiable dreamer. When I was young I would devour the pages of National Geographic Magazine as I accompanied the authors on grand adventures all over the world. In school, I was the kid that sat in the back of class blankly staring forward with a thousand mile gaze, daydreaming about being an explorer and sailing across the ocean to an unknown land. As the other kids studied English and math, or slept soundly at their desks I could be found in Antarctica, or the jungles of South America, or in Africa on some grand, but fictitious adventure. I often found myself plying the deck of a tall ship in the icy waters of the Arctic Ocean, surrounded by a boundless seascape of floating ice and strange animals. In my dreams I ... read more
Snowy Vistas
Exploring Longyearbyn 10
Exploring Longyearbyn 4

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