Arctic - Spitsbergen and Cruise with Polar Bears, Northern Lights and Blue and Humpback whales

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September 6th 2010
Published: September 6th 2010
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Sorry about so many photos, but hey, they are probably much better than my ramblings anyway......

Monday, 23 August 2010 Spitsbergen Guesthouse, Svalbard
Woke ok at 4.30am and even got a bit of leftover bread brekky and was about to have cereal but taxi was early. Got to lift before I realized my wallet and money belt was still under the pillow! Lucky. Was bit over ½ hour to the airport and a long way so worth the $30 odd each we paid I suppose. Joanne tried to check me in online last night and it didn’t work, and when I tried to checkin it didn’t either, the lady had to do it. Then got to leave my luggage 4 hours early which was great - hopefully it won’t go walkabout in the meantime. Then we headed to Joanne’s gate. It got me wondering, why are there always gates very close that noone must use - at least I never get them. Same as hotel rooms and floors for that matter. Are they all just there to emphasize how far I have to go? Anyway, I then nearly realized because after a bit of kip while Joanne was still here, I went to find my gate - it was right back near the start - oh no, just a tease again, it was way out on another arm of the terminal! Oh it was cool to see a lady airport worker in her lovely little a-line skirt on a scooter - it worked though because she was fairly moving. Played computer games waiting for my flight. Then was lucky with window seat because initially I sat way down back in aisle, but was another girls seat so checked my ticket and seats for both flights were marked so went up front to my real seat in the aisle but noone at window so helped myself to it. Flying out of Stockholm was nice with greenery and lakes but flying into Tromso was beautiful with snow capped mountains and lakes and a rather huge town. Had to get my luggage to move onto local flight and meet up with Joanne. Couldn’t find departures, or exchange place so had to ask. Departures was upstairs - no signs, and there was no exchange place but only an ATM. I figured I would wait and went to check in after Joanne was taking too long. Had to skull water again to keep my bottle and beeped at security and had to get frisked by a man and he actually even touched my boobies. I was going to go back through again! Joanne still didn’t show and when the queue for boarding had died down I finally asked the girl if the flight had come from Oslo and if some passengers stayed on and she said yes, so luckily it all worked out. Flying into Longyearbyen was absolutely stunning, the dark mountains were very sharp peaks like the right texture of pavlova all snow covered with awesome contrast. Could also pick out a few glaciers which looked magnificent. Was sad neither Joanne or I had window seat to take photos though. Couldn’t find exchange again so asked and the lady said there is none, nor ATM. I asked how do we get cash to pay for transfer and she said we could line up to go to departures and buy something at shop and ask for change. Ended up asking driver if he took Euro or USD and he did. Think it was really bad rate though NOK50 was EUR8 or USD10 which I’ll have to check. Anyway, it was really sucky because it was only about 5km and he dropped us at the wrong hotel which was about 1.5km short, uphill! Joanne confirmed with him it was the right place too. Was not fun dragging luggage up there, especially seeing as I had a huge neckache nearly causing migraine. We could’ve caught a taxi but that would be another NOK80 so we walked. Was supposed to be 9 degree at Tromso as I had to walk across airport apron and wasn’t too bad, then 5 degree at Longyearbyen again across the apron which was chilly but not too bad. Dragging luggage uphill I got down to t-shirt! Got to our place which I then overshot by 50m and our dog sledding for tomorrow they wanted to do tomorrow ave. I said we could this ave but not tomorrow. They said ok, so I had to take a couple of panadeine forte to get going, especially then because we had to carry luggage up couple of flights of stairs as well. Oh, and you have to take your boots off going into buildings, so by now I have had the off and on about 6
Spitsbergen dog sled tour - keen dogs.Spitsbergen dog sled tour - keen dogs.Spitsbergen dog sled tour - keen dogs.

This was obviously before they lugged mine and Joannes butts uphill!
times. Got sorted and headed out for dog sledding adventure. Saw the University, which was weird because the town is only about 2km long. It has been based on coal mining over the years, with 6 disused mines and the active mine 7 only has 20 men working there. 60% of what they pull out supplies the town energy and the rest exported. We saw Opera Mountain which was pretty stunning, but it was sad that in 1996 about 150 Russian mine workers and family were killed in a plane crash there. So to the dogs. They have 69 dogs at this place and Frederic knew all of them by name and nature and he’s only been there 3 years. They are working dogs but friendly so we got to pat them. They are kept on chains in their ‘lines’ which is the order they are used in the sleds. We then got shown how to harness them up and got to do it ourselves and hook them onto the sleds aka wheeled buggies because there was no snow. Joanne drove our buggy first which was quite scary and quick downhill. The dogs were going crazy before we took off and then went quiet as soon as we were off. It reminded me of my first time sailing that you are moving quite fast but quietly. Met Walter who is on our cruise tomorrow too and let him know we’d booked a taxi for 3.30pm if he wanted to share with us. We stopped to give the dogs a drink because they can’t just eat snow all the time and a couple shit which was very runny and very putrid. They only get fed 400g of dry food in summer and that plus 400g meat in winter because they are doing twice as many trips. We swapped drivers at this stage which left me to do the uphill bit. Lucky the tablets had kicked in because the poor dogs needed assistance, ie me pushing like a scooter. Then coming down we were still going slow and Frederic realized the brakes were a bit stuck on - poor buggers, carrying out weight with brakes! Joanne took over again for last uphill which she gave back to me after I got out to help push because she was boy like and couldn’t do two things at one, ie push and steer. Then I ended up running uphill holding onto steering to help dogs. Joanne walked half way as well. Oh, there was discussion about polar bears, because Frederic took his gun. Apparently up to last year you could just walk into a shop and hire a gun with not even having to prove you were able to use it. Now at least they ask you to do that. But there was talk about only 3 or 4 weeks ago where a couple of adventurers were going to kayak all the way around Svalbard. They were camped near the shore and one guy woke up to see the other guy being dragged away by the head by a polar bear. He shot the bear and the guy lived. Got Frederic to drop us in town for dinner and he left us at only ATM in town first. Had a nice lamb burger and chips at Svalbar which has a large and awesome LP collection. Then had to walk home uphill again, twice as far as this morning but no luggage. Apart from the fact my headache was back with a vengeance and the sun had gone behind mountains, it was quite nice. Think
Cruise practice for lifeboats.....Cruise practice for lifeboats.....Cruise practice for lifeboats.....

Do we still get to use the lifeboats first. When the ship is going down, do we get what we deserve?
I got to bed at 9pm after 40m walk. Today was last day of the midnight sun as well, it will set and rise quickly tomorrow. I didn’t stay up, but saw it was very light at 2am.

Tuesday, 24 August 2010 Antarctic Dream, Spitsbergen and Northeast Greenland
Woke after 12 hour sleep that I didn’t even have to do my 5am pee that has become custom! Straight to brekky which was nice with crispbread things. Then back to have a nice hot shower that loosened my neck and pack to get out of room. Then lounged around and did computer all day and internet before taxi pickup. Got to talk to mum and dad to wish them a good cruise and mum happy birthday, then tried Raelene to talk to kids but they were asleep. Chatted for ages and got cut off from running out of money on skype. Taxi was only 108 which Walter paid and we sorted him out later. Were ½ hour early to board boat but took some piccies and froze in the shade. Onboard was nice and warm though and settled into room before welcome brief etc. Did the life jacket thing and got a couple of photos taken, then went up to bridge to see who I knew and there was only Ernesto the Captain. A couple of others by sight but not name. Mauricio and Juan are on holidays. Had dinner with Brad and Jen and Nynke and Eric. Was tired but stayed up and took some awesome photos of the birds reflecting in the glassy waters with beautiful sunlight on them and saw dolphin just as we were heading to bed. Went to ask bridge to wake us up for anything exciting and he said it was up to tour director. Tried to watch sunset but was 11.30pm and couldn’t tell if it was coming up again so gave up.

Wednesday, 25 August 2010 Antarctic Dream, Spitsbergen and Northeast Greenland
Woken at 7.30am over intercom and fell back asleep after hearing it and got up at 8.10am. Had to rush then for breakfast. Eric asked if I had seen the whale and I thought he was joking but apparently they did see a spout. Slept quite well but things were banging during the night and it was relatively calm ride. Found all the hinge locks that worked and used them! Sea sickness patches were €5 each per couple of days so I am convincing myself that I am being rocked to sleep when my belly starts to go with the waves. Neck was still sore so back to bed before morning briefing Phillip gave on Glaciers and how they are formed and the different types. There are river glaciers, pool type ones, and calving ones that run into the water. They surge every now and then which is every 50-130 years after the ice build up is too heavy and then slow down again, not because of global warming! Max, the onboard doc asked me if I was ok and offered drugs if I needed. Then lunch, sat at doctor table. Two couples of doctors and nurses Dave and Jenny and Dave and Rea, and Max and Jade who is working on board with something. We saw a cool complete rainbow through all the fog at lunch which was cool, and another sleep and then talk by Troels on the Northern Lights which is basically because of solar winds. It was cool to know that it is mirrored in north and south as well, not because of what we
Reflective birds.Reflective birds.Reflective birds.

Look how glassy the sea is looking.
see, but actually a mirrored lights. And that the electricity produced is way more powerful than lightning and Canada had a blackout a few years ago because the lights got the power station. The Inuit though they were a good sign whereas Europe who occasionally see them think they are a bad sign… maybe they are worried about blackouts. Japan has somehow come up with babies conceived under Northern Lights is good fortune so lots of Japs come over in winter…. Not necessarily to watch the northern lights  The lights do happen a lot of the time and you basically only need the dark and clear skies to get lucky. Then was only ½ hour to Pauline’s lecture on North East Greenland cultures. We are getting lucky this trip because she can allow us to see some places that are normally barred which is quite cool, including a German WWII radio base where they were undetected for 6 months and then bombed by Germany and they burnt their buildings as well. There have been 3 main cultures living in North East Greenland, from 2500bc to 1960s I think. The first for about 700 years, then noone for about the same length, then the 2nd crew for a couple hundred years and then the trappers for less than 100 years. There was only one boat captain who ever saw the Inuit living here in 1823. That talk took us to our talk about tomorrows plan and then dinner so no more sleep  But while waiting we kept seeing these little heads stick out of the water. They kind of look like seasnakes, or diving birds, but they never fly, so Brad and Jen agreed with me that they were penguins, but we’ve been told penguins don’t live in the Arctic. Yes I know, another lesson, no polar bears in Antarctic and no penguins in the Arctic - adds up to hungry polar bears if you ask me. Anyway, I think these little things are a new species so they are now to be known as Northerly Chrissy Penguins! Then Germans we were sitting with spotted an iceberg on other side of the boat that we couldn’t see because it fogged over again, and then I spotted a small white boat on the horizon. Lucky Brad spotted it or I’d think I was going mad, so we made up that
Reflective birds.Reflective birds.Reflective birds.

This is not a great photo but cool how the reflection is coming 3D out of the water!
it was a whale spout. Then we saw it again and someone finally said iceberg. Now who would ever think that something white and floating in Arctic waters would be an iceberg…. Apparently not us! We had an awesome steak for dinner, finally my turn to pay back Joanne for all the veges and salad leftovers. Is now 7.50pm or 8.50pm until 2am tomorrow so am confused which 11.30pm sunset is at. We have 3 hours to make up our own time which is pretty cool, based on the sunset and sunrise times. How cool is that - time really doesn’t matter. Just had a rather squishy shower but nice and warm which has made my neck good and will maybe go to bed in case northern lights start tonight 

Thursday, 26 August 2010 Antarctic Dream, Spitsbergen and Northeast Greenland
Woke during the night to noises of ice crashing alongside of boat as we were going through an ice minefield. Wake up call was -1 degree. Then had brekky myself as Joanne slept in and saw a seal bob its head up. Asked Adrian what the penguin things were and he said in Canada they call them Auk.
Polar Bear 1Polar Bear 1Polar Bear 1

Sorry about the amount of polar bear photos but do you know how hard it was to cull them from 117 or something of the first bear alone!
Oh, the ship is mixed staff this time, Chilean crew still, Philippino waiting staff, Argentinean Chef, Austrian Swedish Canadian and Danish guides, but at least the common language is English. Finally starting to feel human again with my neck easing up, still not 100% but no panadeine yet and able to start stretching. We had a quick brekky so that we could do mandatory briefings on AECO and zodiacs. At lunch sat with Pauline who is here from West Greenland and can get us to places not normally accessible like the German Radio Base. We saw seal and she said some people had seen polar bear footprints 10 mins ago. That was exciting. After lunch was packing to get ready for landings that were now postponed when we heard polar bear so drop everything bar camera and ran upstairs. Couldn’t see so went up to bridge and saw him. Got a photo before I really saw him and that was after snapping a couple of 1 o’clock or 10 o’clock shots in case he showed in the photo. He came very close to boat and around the stern and off to a seal skeleton he had a feed on which was absolutely awesome! Then was upstairs watching guys work which is amazing yelling out bearings and repeating for confirmation and then confirming when bearing is achieved. And another bear was spotted, it was a little one that was quite skinny which was sad. How cool, we were not expected to see any but because of all this pack ice around which started slowing us down we got lucky. Then not 5 minutes later there were another 2 polar bears ahead a mother and baby and they had a swim to get away from us so we didn’t see them for long. Then off again. Had a briefing on bird and land animals we might see which was really exciting as well, including arctic fox and hare, lemmings (that don’t jump off cliffs it was some Disney thing where they were herded off cliffs by people), ox and lots of pretty birds. Then up for dinner which was awesome pork. Sat with Brad and Jen again and Alex and Max and Dutch couple celebrating their 41st wedding anniversary. Chatted for ages and came home via the bridge to say thanks to Ernesto who has been awake and running the ship for 24 hours now through all the ice. It cleared up while I was there and asked if he could finally go to bed, but it is only an hour before we anchor and he basically has to do that too. He is still in great spirits for not much sleep! Wow, now 11.30pm and we have a 6.30am wake up. Unless Northern Lights are out, which we probably can’t see through fog anyway, better get some sleep. Managed to cull hundreds of photos from today down to 200 which is good, I initially had 114 of the first polar bear alone, but he was moving or jumping or against a difference iceberg background and then having a feed…. And the excuses go on!

Friday, 27 August 2010 Antarctic Dream, Spitsbergen and Northeast Greenland
Woken early and told it was 2 degree and real struggle to get up early for zodiac landing at Germanic Haven. Was freezing too and my poor little tootsies were super cold in my QLD wellingtons made for wet. Made some adjustments returning home putting sandshoe liners in which helped a bit. Was nice little wander and we got to see Arctic Hare and lots of pretty little plants like only an inch wide or tall but cute. Was sinking tundra area which was hard to walk let alone uphill, but a patch at the bottom a guy sunk to his knees and then I saw Joanne with a guide who was digging her boot out from under the mud  Photo time! It was funny to see the guide turn the boot upside down and empty all the runny mud out. We saw musk ox skeleton which was pretty cool as well. The landing was at Germanic Havn, we had to ditch the stop at the German radio post but this was still good. We got told at the next stop that the island near here was the most settled by Thule which I think is the 3rd lot of Inuit settlers. Then for drive to next stop we had lunch and 1 ½ hour sleep in lounges. Dead Mans Bay had a little Trappers House built about 1920s which started conflict between Danes I think built it but Norwegians who had used it the next year. There were some whale bones scattered around here as well as lots of empty rounds. Some the same size as the guys are carrying for polar bears, which are still big, I think they said 303, but some maybe 50 caliber that Troels said was from machine gun in WWII when Germans were bombed by the US they had the guns to fight back. There were 23 Thule houses here that were semi dug underground and driftwood and skin and earth tops. And lots of meat caches as well. There are some graves as well that only the 3rd lot of settlers started burying bodies, and they did it aboveground covered in rocks because you can’t bury anything in the permafrost and it comes back up. We got back aboard and I was starving again, but it was 6pm. I’d dared have salmon because it was cooked and it was ok but a bit strong. Jemma went mad at me for not swapping for veges but it wasn’t that bad, and the avocado entrée was awesome even though hot. After dinner chatted again for ages and had good laughs and went to passenger bridge to watch sunset and some awesome icebergs with beautiful light. Watched a weird bright iceberg on the horizon that seemed to be going faster than everything else and was truly weird, and that was rated weird by a few of us. Lost another hour today I think but we have sunrise tomorrow wake up at 4.45am??? I am confused, I thought we were using the hours for us not against us. Anyway, staff are great so I’m sure they know what is going on.

Saturday, 28 August 2010 Antarctic Dream, Spitsbergen and Northeast Greenland
Got the call at 4.40am. Good morning everybody good morning. It is early because there are already colours on the mountain and it is a warm 6 degrees. Got out there and spent an hour awake to get a few good photos. Then back to bed for an hour and half before breakfast. Struggle at breakfast and then straight into zodiacs where I opted for medium walk which turned out to be quite hard - so much so that I realized that there are some muscles in my butt that I am squeezing into my jeans every morning, only because I felt them burning! Was nice though because we got to the top of this hill and we sat for 5 minutes quiet time, no zips, no cameras no
Polar Bear 1Polar Bear 1Polar Bear 1

Unusually comfortably having a feed with us watching.
moving which was very nice even though everyone couldn’t quite achieve silence and I was on a rock that had piles written all over it. We saw a musk ox way up high on mountain and then another three musk ox moving up the mountain. Saw some red throated divers, one with huge fish in his mouth. Got a nice shot of Greenland’s National Flower but can’t remember it’s name. Got back and had lunch straight away which was quite small pizza because everyone was starving. Plenty of snacks though and then a couple of hours sleep before afternoon zodiac. Woken up for a Danish Air Patrol fly by but figured I’d miss it by the time I got upstairs. Was also stunning fjord scenery but couldn’t stay awake and have had a crook neck and now my ankle is seizing up as well so better not push the old body. Calves are nice and worked out again today and finally arms are getting better, it must be from all the steps on the boat and using your hands to hold on. Afternoon walk I opted for the leisurely which was very good, we left after the others and head
Polar Bear 2Polar Bear 2Polar Bear 2

This poor guy was a bit skinny and will probably be last photos taken of him :(
a thunderclap which was an iceberg probably rolling just out of sight. There were two mountains we could see which were made about 500 million years apart which was quite awesome. The scenery was amazingly stunning everywhere. We had a nice little stroll up a hill that ended the same height as the medium walk anyway but nowhere near as far. Finally got a half decent shot of a seal which was cute and saw a raven which is apparently pretty special in this area and ate a berry that Adrian wasn’t quite sure whether was poisonous or not but didn’t stop us trying, the Doc went first so we were all in trouble anyway  Started starving throughout walk and had another little quiet time looking at the beautiful lofty clouds in the beautiful blue sky. We waited on beach for a while and after zodiacs found us on the beach we came back to boat via huge icebergs, I was a bit concerned especially after hearing that one just before and then radio call came through as well to be careful, meanwhile we were in the middle of 3 huge icebergs that were about 10 times the size of our boat each! Straight in for a shower - it is hard to plan to wash your hair because I don’t want to go to bed with it wet, don’t want to go out on zodiacs with it wet and that seems to be the two places I spend all my time. Dinner was great too, sweet potato entrée and steak main with chocolate cake for dessert. Took some pretty awesome sunset photos and is already after 11pm so better get some sleep waiting for the Northern Light and sunrise wake up calls.

Sunday, 29 August 2010 Antarctic Dream, Spitsbergen and Northeast Greenland
Woken for sunrise again but slept in, Joanne got up and said it wasn’t that brilliant. Then up a bit later for breakfast because they allow an hour and then another hour before first trip which was a 3 hour zodiac cruise. Visited bridge beforehand and they said it was cold outside so luckily got some nice pics before going into Alpefjord. I layered up with only thermal pants, jeans and water pants, then 2 thermal shirts, t-shirt, fleece and water jacket, scarf, beanie, big gloves, two socks and thin wellies. Was going ok until my feet started to freeze, then got sprayed hell west and crooked with waves. They came in other side of boat and splashed front of me, then they came from behind me far enough back to soak the back of me. Was ok if someone had to be unlucky, but then Rea thanked Phillip for keeping us dry and Janine looked at me and said “I don’t think she thinks that!”, all I could do is smile. And then Rea says, oh well that’s what you come for or all part of the fun. I kept my mouth shut then for fear of something coming out that would upset everyone, it is allright to say that when you are all dry! Anyway, then had to hair dry my toes to defrost them, then realized at lunch my pants were wet so had to blow dry my bum as well. Barely finished lunch and hadn’t finished chatting when they called us for afternoon walk. Packed some snacks after last time starving and got half dressed up compared to this morning and it was beautiful day. Troels talked it up so much I was worried I’d be disappointed but it was awesome! All the pretty colours you see in rock walls was right under our feet. Kind of reminded me of the Bungle Bungles but way more varied so probably better. It is only this team who know about the place as well which makes it more exciting, probably one of first couple of hundred people to be here - apart from the dinosaurs and animals. Then walked further up to a lake where we stalked a little or actually quite big Arctic Hare and we got within about five metres. Nice walk back over the geological stuff and barely time to download photos and bit of diary before dinner. Was busy because our talk was late so ended up sitting at new table, with Mauricio, Rodrigo, Martin and Kevin which was very funny as well. Mauricio bought us a Pisco Sour made with fresh glacier ice they got that morning so I had to drink Joannes as well. Then had a quick chat after dinner and checked out some of Martins photos and still only got to bed about 11pm.

Monday, 30 August 2010 Antarctic Dream, Spitsbergen and Northeast Greenland
Wake up call was too hard this morning so only got up at start of breakky and then leisurely breakfast. Neck has tightened considerably. Then got call at breakky that we won’t be landing now because they sighted 3 polar bears, mum and two babies, sustained on the land from a whale carcass that Chris had seen last season on a different trip. Nothing like bears to perk up your day! Was heading up to bridge to check them out but Rea said they were gone or something but headed up anyway and Captain Ernesto gave me binoculars and saw them which was cute. Then maybe another one on our other landing spot. Geared up for just a zodiac cruise and was awesome to see a flotilla of 6 zodiacs all heading to shore, was like we were going to a bear hunt  We ended up landing on Antarctic Havn with a bear watch, because of the hut there that is significant in the Danish Norwegian claim for Greenland. Norwegians planted a flag here and read a statement but then Danes took it to Hague and won. This hut was rebuilt but destroyed by avalanche in 2002 and is now historical site. Checked out whale carcass as well which didn’t smell too bad thankfully, and lots of bear footprints which was cool. Took my frozen toes back to boat and just sat down to download photos when they spotted bears from bridge again. Got a photo this time, but can barely make them out, so I am taking the count to 7, maybe 8 but photographic proof of 7! Is now and hour till lunch and not really tired, even after the slow morning. Went up for lunch which was awesome broccoli and cheese soup and pork and pasta. Tonight is not smoked eel entrée, we opted out of fish so vege surprise, but curried lamb - yum, not even finished lunch and asking when is dinner? Out nearly straight away for landing at Fleming Fjord which is quite young - only a couple of hundred million years old! When we landed the medium walk was going uphill so chickened out for the leisurely walk again which was very nice, relaxing and even uphill but awesome getting to chat to a few different people which was good. Nice awesome hot shower to ease my neck again and might have to go and find a nice corner to massage myself on. Is more than 1 ½ hours till dinner, I think that is the most time we’ve had spare all cruise bar the initial crossing when you are too excited to rest anyway.

Tuesday, 31 August 2010 Antarctic Dream, Spitsbergen and Northeast Greenland
Slept awesome last night and didn’t feel any rocking or rolling at all in the open sea area. Was still a bit tired of course. First up was zodiac cruise to Vikingebugt which is basalt hexagons like Giants Causeway only better. They are at all different angles and covering heaps of area, and huge! Photo with a mini zodiac at the bottom of the cliff is awesome. Was in a great mood and had a great zodiac of all people I like, Jade, Joanne, Alex, Brad & Jen, Martin, Rodrigo (number 22), Mauricio and Kevin, oh and Chris driving who is awesome. We had a ball with absolutely gorgeous weather, beautiful sun, staying dry, and joking about the whole time of course with the beautiful basalt wall above us and cool icebergs. Was a bit exciting as well because we got a call from Captain warning us that weather was closing in (we have been doing a couple of hours here and there through thick fog but then it clears again and comes as quick as it cleared). Then a short while later you could hear the tone in his voice of Captain here again, Come Back To The Ship NOW! It was like in the makoro’s in Africa with an elephant charging. Sit quite and perfectly still and let the guides do their stuff. Pretty soon, cameras were out again though taking photos of the ghost ship and an awesome iceberg that made it look like a break in the fog with the sun shining on it lighting it up. All morning I was in such a great mood and singing Good Friends and Good Times from Tracy Killeen so had to play it when we got back to ship to get more than that one line in my head. Have smashed it now about 20 times already and still not sick of it. Again, barely time for lunch (which I HAD to eat most of Joannes again), and then did a deal with Eric to have his ice cream desert, then got another one as well because I finished mine by the time the rest of the table got theirs. It was funny because we hid the dish amongst drink bottles and empty glasses, the waitress remembered she had already fed me and skipped me and when she saw the dish hiding she grinned and gave me another one  Had a little nap in the couch because afternoon landing was postponed and then nearly settled on the lazy walk again but went on the medium walk which was awesome as well. Great views and rock hopping, albeit uphill, on beautiful rocks smoothed by glaciers. Amazing scenery and then all of a sudden the next hill was weathered and rough looking. Someone joked that it was boring and needed colours, and then the next rock we saw all by itself as though placed there, had beautiful coloured lines through it. Doc got me some more berries that he wanted to use me as guinea pig again, blueberries this time that tasted great. I think I would die of cold before starvation here! Walked across squishy tundra again which I thought would make a comfy bed, so used lying down to take a photo as an excuse to try it. I ended up with wet
Greenland Germania Havn landingGreenland Germania Havn landingGreenland Germania Havn landing

Joanne got gobbled up by the tundra! Not enough practice in the muddy creeks with Dad I should imagine?
knees through my waterproof pants, but not my top that wasn’t waterproofed? If someone can explain that, please email me! Lucky it was such an awesome day because, my camera started playing up a few days ago, but today I could’ve thrown it at a rock to see how many pieces I could get it into. It wouldn’t turn on, when it did it wouldn’t take a photo. Totally painful. Then we got back to beach just in time to watch the swimmers take a dip in near freezing water and I ran out of memory, didn’t erase the card and only got one before my camera played up again anyway. Terribly disappointed, not only to miss the photos of the swimmers but just the feel as well trying to sort my camera out! Then twice as happy when I was trying to download photos, and play my song again to cheer me up and stoopid media player wouldn’t play my song! How hard is it - a computer program with one job to play music and it couldn’t do it! Finally got it half played before having to rush off for briefing and dinner. Sat with Nynke and Eric again so I could complete the ice cream deal letting him have my king prawn entrée, but they were little ones so he let me off  Then shortly after dinner, Rodrigo was giving a talk on his Mt Everest and other climbs. Went for just over an hour and was amazing and awesome. He is so down to earth funny bloke who has the right to be up himself if he wanted to be! I feel privileged to be on the boat with so many famous and powerful people! A few books written here and there, photos is a big one, websites everything! Ok, last play of Good Friends and Good Times and better get some sleep. Oh and I keep forgetting to mention that after 3 games NQ Fury are 2nd on the ladder! Go boys! And since Spitsbergen I have had them as my screensaver. Am going to sacrifice them now maybe for my moon and iceberg.

Wednesday, 1 September 2010 Antarctic Dream, Spitsbergen and Northeast Greenland
Well to top off an awesome day yesterday, we were woken just before 1am this morning! But it was a good thing - northern lights! I only heard the
Greenland Germania Havn landingGreenland Germania Havn landingGreenland Germania Havn landing

One of few plants I remember name of Spider plant.
bing bong, rolled over barely opening one eye and noticed it was dark so bounced out of bed and was dressed and up at the bridge before Troels finished whatever it was that he said. Asked which was to look and he pointed to sky and I asked near that cloud and he just said, “yeah, well it isn’t a cloud”. First thing I thought of is our milky way. Got some awesome photos which turned out probably better than the naked eye. The Captain had some better ones and even with people in them which is awesome. I did feel pretty bad though giving him a pat on the back in the middle of one of his long exposures. Finally went back to bed 45 mins later after chatting to crew on shift and when I closed my eyes all I could see was northern lights, like they had burned in my retina. Ordinarily I’d think that was awesome, but I was trying to get some sleep. Breakfast call I think I didn’t hear other than the bing bong as well. It is the first morning that I haven’t tried to convert 70 degrees in my semi conscious state simply because I didn’t even hear it. I am always too late to realize that the 70 degrees he is talking is north. I was sad to hear some people saying the northern lights were not that good and they came out better in photos. Quick rest before our zodiac cruise through Rode Island, which is pronounced red island which it is. Our zodiac broke down, well slowed down as it was starved of fuel, so we headed back to the mother lode to get a mechanic on board. He did a little tune up and it was much better. We saw awesome geology again and an iceberg alley which comes off a glacier up north that produces the most icebergs anywhere. We saw a couple of carvings today as well which is awesome and heard plenty more. My bloody camera though wouldn’t turn on again or stay on again half the time. Anyway, back to boat, fairly cold again and excited to check out my lights photos on the puter. Yep the awesome one is awesome. Can only hope we get woken again tonight for something more awesome‘er  Wow, had lunch which was huge spaghetti. Others had had toilet problems not for us until today and of course at the most inconvenient time. Was slightly embarrassing thinking of how I was going to call maintenance and explain that iceberg. Then had a little lie down…. From 2.30pm to 6.45pm, totally missing the afternoon excursion. Lots of people did apparently. Could barely get up for dinner which was the BBQ on deck. Saw a sundog which is rainbow thing on either side of the sun, and you could even make out the whole 180 degree if you looked hard. How cool is that, having a bbq in the middle of icebergs, then a dance party on deck. I managed to stay toasty by the bbq for ages before being dragged out to dance by Frank. Was good though even though I can’t dance. Deck was slightly slippery even though I couldn’t blame that. Then! At 11.30pm! I had a lean over deck and thought I saw northern lights. That was my ultimate plan… dance party with northern lights disco lights. I was making the call but Jemma said it was too light and cloudy, which it was, but I hoped it was just a strong burst that shone through all that. Packed up soon after and went home via bridge and Captain said he had just seen the lights. Yay - one I saw all by myself. Got to bed after midnight and then was hyped from party and sleeping all day so didn’t get to sleep until about 2am.

Thursday, 2 September 2010 Antarctic Dream, Spitsbergen and Northeast Greenland
Wake up call 5.40am for sunrise which I managed to ignore, then Joanne got up and turned on tv which was good. It was kind of like camping then, I lay in bed watching the sunrise, all warm and all. Dragged my butt out of bed for breakfast which was another struggle and apparently we are in for a big day. Morning landing was beautiful but nothing exciting to report, other than Greenland’s biggest mushroom Phillip claimed as our excuse to scramble up a hill. Then my new diet is no seconds but didn’t even finish my dessert. Afternoon landing was after a sleep in couch, not game to go to bed after yesterday’s effort. Nice flat island that we all walked in a huge group until splitting up. We saw fresh bear prints (since last high tide and calving tides) on the beach and fox prints as well. We heard many a thunderous crash of icebergs carving but never saw the dust or a ripple on the waves from any. I think today is a photo record day for least photos. Well kind of, after nice dinner, singing happy birthday to mum with “Will you still need me, will you still feed me, when I’m 64!”. Handed in passport to get stamped tomorrow from Greenland and Iceland soon, we watched movie. Said to everyone see you at Northern Lights and sussed out direction to be looking. Headed to bed after 11pm and checked out window every ¼ or ½ hour because I was so excited I couldn’t sleep. 12.15pm I woke up Joanne and ran upstairs but took photo and it looked white so didn’t even check with bridge but came back and tried to lie down but couldn’t so checked again and this time I was sure. Ran upstairs and driver in charge was just on phone to Captain. By then I already had a few awesome photos. This thing is ALIVE! First really exciting bit was a big oil slick as big as half the
Greenland Dead Mans Bay landingGreenland Dead Mans Bay landingGreenland Dead Mans Bay landing

Whale vertebrae in front of trapper's hut.
sky moving from the moon right over the ship. At first I was too mesmerized to even take a photo and then when I tried a photo then tried video, neither will ever remind me of this awesome thing! I can only hope I don’t forget. Then there was a thick line that ran, no danced (and that would be a tango or some other dramatic fast dance because it was definitely no waltz), across the sky from the other direction. It was awesome as well and so beautiful. I could pick colours out in real life but only saw a bit of red and purple in photos which is cool. It was awesome to see some of the lights kind of lasered into the sky from above, or can I describe the old movies projecting or sunrays, no I’ll go back to lasered. I was so excited and the Captain was so excited as well which is always awesome when staff who see these things all the time are excited. I can totally appreciate how the Inuit respect them. I hope you appreciate that I am typing this part of the diary at 2.30am because I have got to
Arctic MoonArctic MoonArctic Moon

Someone once told me that nature doesn't have shapes naturally occuring!
get this out of my head in case I forget the details in the morning. At some stage I did remember again that it was mum’s birthday too - what a present 

Friday, 3 September 2010 Antarctic Dream, Spitsbergen and Northeast Greenland
First up - did I mention I saw an awesome display of northern lights this morning. OK. Just checking. Landing Kap Stewart which was a big struggle when I opted for medium walk straight uphill. Was second last but with only 3 hours sleep not good. Nearly quit, but then had a good walk, through the sinking tundra again, just to remind us of our first boggy day. Saw a huge flock of birds as we were waiting to leave which was pretty awesome and one lonely little red throat diver about 1000km away. Was a nice walk in the end. After lunch we had our only village stop of the tour to Ittoqqortoormiit. Don’t ask me to say it, I will be copying and pasting it from here in. There are only about 500 people in town but they have mobile phone service and only shared public showers. At one stage I was going to
Blomsterdalem Musk OxBlomsterdalem Musk OxBlomsterdalem Musk Ox

Again, not a great photo but this is only one I got with horns!
go cache hunting with Alex but then they stumbled across it when I went with Brad Jen and Joanne sightseeing. She then gave me GPS to find it but we didn’t go down the sidetrack because I got sidetracked with little kids on the basketball court. I tried to ask another kid to play soccer but he didn’t understand (or did and we left him when he went home to get ball?) Played bounce and finally got them to kick the ball a couple of times, but geez this girl of about 7 could catch. I realized why when the boy of about 6 threw his ball at a little tiger of about 18 months, maybe 2. It was sad to see the amount of rubbish as we were walking around. Saw tourism office before that and was busy so didn’t shop but saw kayak outside and a lady in traditional seal skin dress in the church. Oh, tried musk ox as well which just tasted like fresh beef at the cattle stations. Last stop was dog feeding at Jenny’s. Missed half of the talk but was cool to see. Then more boys at the beach helping us load the boat and push off which was fun. Sad toast on the deck to say goodbye to Greenland which sunk in we were coming to end of our cruise and towards end of my whole trip. It was weird, that at 9pm it was getting dark so after dinner, went to bed pretty early figuring it was too rough to take photos of lights and fairly cloudy anyway.

Saturday, 4 September 2010 Antarctic Dream, Spitsbergen and Northeast Greenland
Pulled off nearly a 12 hour sleep then lazed around all morning other than our lecture on Musk Ox. They are actually part of sheep and goat family and their wool is the warmest in the world. We were trying to come up with the female name of a goat and the best we could come up with was Nanny Goat? Sounds a bit un-scientific. The female weighs only 180kg and male 300kg which is quite light for the size of them, being mostly hair. Then sat on computer sharing photos until lunch which was nice and now again, computer afternoon. Well that went quick! It is now more than 48 hours later, it has been all action since now. First, we
Blomsterdalem Chr1s setting fox trapBlomsterdalem Chr1s setting fox trapBlomsterdalem Chr1s setting fox trap

Well not really, but works similar to my box trap I used to catch some doves once. Apparently though the 5-7kg of rocks crushes the fox to death immediately.
get called up to check out a humpback whale. Got some great photos of it fluking all the time which was pretty awesome. Then our afternoon lecture was Adrian talking about how global warming is affecting the Arctic. Basically everything has that flow on effect - no pun intended! Smaller/receding ice caps means less hunting grounds for polar bears and birds. Plants evolving quicker and changing their flowering time which animals who feed on them with young haven’t caught up with. Musk Ox having trouble feeding through thin, refrozen ice layers. Lemmings, nearly the important factor affecting the whole food change, having longer summers to try and survive predators through. It all seems to be revolving like a 20c in the MacDonald’s House donation spiral, I can envisage it getting faster and faster the longer it goes. There were a couple of bing bong announcements that got us a bit excited during lecture, then we got called up for a ‘big’ whale sighting. Was way out on horizon but could see the huge water spout every so often. While we were still approaching a pod of dolphins swam across our bow, not bothering to stop for a ride . Then
Blomsterdalem musk oxBlomsterdalem musk oxBlomsterdalem musk ox

Still not really good photo but I had to show you musk ox hey?
a basking shark played around the boat for a bit, and it might have been it that made a fair splash at the back of the boat. Then Troels was finally confident enough to make the call that it was a Blue Whale, the biggest creature ever to inhabit the planet. How cool is that. I knew he was biggest now but wow! The Captains Dinner (ironically on his birthday as well) was put back because of the whale delay but that really made me realize it was nearly all over. Eric got us a spare meal at dinner which was awesome lamb rack. Like we haven’t eaten enough all trip, but jeez it was nice. Packed and got ready and then headed back up to see if anyone was going out but everyone was going to bed. Lucky chatted to Patricia for a while watching the lights of Akureyri. It looked huge. Ended up going out with her and Jemma. That was about 1am, after having to do a washing load of about 30 bags between us, funnily enough, a male passenger followed us but it looked like too much hard work so left without even taking one bag.
Part of cruisePart of cruisePart of cruise

Awesome geological stuff, (after animals and northern lights) was the best part of the trip!
Went for wander and ran into Juan from my previous trip at first club. Was €15 to go in though so we went for a wander after chatting to boys for a bit. Chatted to Iceland guy who was bit funny but very drunk. I had to take a photo of him as the Statue of Liberty. Was nice to see a loveheart lighted above the boat. Then past next club that looked way more rowdy bordering on scary, with a drunk taking side steps into traffic of about 5 metres. Then an ambulance flew past and the next club we were looking at was were it stopped. Traffic was patiently waiting until a guy was taken away on a stretcher. We figured it wasn’t worth queuing to get into a club that possibly just had a guy stabbed so wandered back to pay our 15 euro. Drinks were as dear as well. Live band came on though so I suppose that is half the cost. Chilean crew was great fun though so we stayed until about 3.20am. Now how to I put it nicely that I think Icelanders are a very weird bunch of people. It is like a
Maria Island finally a seal photoMaria Island finally a seal photoMaria Island finally a seal photo

They were sticking their little heads up everywhere but not long enough to get a shot.
redneck village. One of crew asked a girl to dance and in hand signals, got that they were not allowed to dance with her with drinks in case they ruined her dress. After 2 seconds with one guy she brought him back and grabbed another though which was very funny. Weird guys would come up behind you and just stare - I wasn’t game to look anywhere in case I made eye contact. Then a business suit looking guy spilled his drink all over Jemma - we are sure it was an introduction line. Then others are so drunk they just bump into you - and it wasn’t that busy. Personal space, well there is none, people excused themselves to walk between us with about a 10cm gap when there is a 2 metre gap the other side of me? Weird but funny once I got used to it. Those who know me know I am not a nightclub type of person, but this turned into one of the most culturally enlightening nightclub experiences of my life!

Sunday, 5 September 2010 Reykjavik City Hostel, Iceland
Got up with bing bong and finalized packing then up for breakfast. With only
Maria Island me eating berry hopefully not poisonousMaria Island me eating berry hopefully not poisonousMaria Island me eating berry hopefully not poisonous

It is true guides didn't know if this was not poisonous but I figured they would've stopped me if they thought it was?
4 hours sleep I wasn’t very hungry, started to get dry phlegmy throat which made me happy and then started saying goodbye to everyone which was sad again and final goodbyes to Wim and Jeanette and Nynke and Eric and Martin. Wandered into town with Alex and was not lucky finding a cache near the port. Nice pedestrian street, but being Sunday morning, the only people we ran into were from our boat. Saw Nynke and Eric at Hotel and ran into Juan again there as well. Met up with Brad and Jen as well and checked out tourist office, museum was closed so went to botanical gardens, Alex had another cache to check for which she didn’t find. We did find one though so I know it works. Had pizza lunch and then did a bit of internet at free place before wandering back to port for 3pm bus, which turned into 4.30pm because driver needed a break. Slept on pier for that bit and again on the bus. Scenery was quite nice rolling hills with bits we are sure were volcanic dust everywhere. Got to Reykjavik and had bus swap for hotel drop off. Said last goodbyes and
Maria Island berry bushMaria Island berry bushMaria Island berry bush

Picture they could use to identify poisonous berry if I died!
got to our hotel last about 10.30pm. Straight to bed! Well after taking panadeine and digging around for more cough lollies.

Additional photos below
Photos: 111, Displayed: 58


Alpefjord - another Arctic Moon.Alpefjord - another Arctic Moon.
Alpefjord - another Arctic Moon.

I can't wait to get home to the pokies now!
Alpefjord - glacier frontAlpefjord - glacier front
Alpefjord - glacier front

By now, I was soaked and freezing and ready to go back to ship - we still had a couple of hours to go!

This shot makes me wonder how we stay upright with only 4 metres in the water!
Segelsallskapet - amazing geology!Segelsallskapet - amazing geology!
Segelsallskapet - amazing geology!

This place was only found by one of our guides a couple of years ago!
Segelsallskapet - amazing geology!Segelsallskapet - amazing geology!
Segelsallskapet - amazing geology!

When one of our guides went last year for first time it was snowed under, so they took shovels and brooms and cleared an area about 5m square.
Segelsallskapet - arctic hare.Segelsallskapet - arctic hare.
Segelsallskapet - arctic hare.

Friendly guy - we got within about 5 metres.
Segelsallskapet - arctic hare.Segelsallskapet - arctic hare.
Segelsallskapet - arctic hare.

Whats up doc? Who are you calling a wabbit?
Antarctic Havn search flotillaAntarctic Havn search flotilla
Antarctic Havn search flotilla

Shhhh - we're hunting polar bears!

9th September 2010

this is where we are living for..
beautyfull Christ, my compliments ! And so quick ! Jeannette and I haven't start copying yet. Yes indeed.... it was an incredible trip. even for us when we were there for so often. It's different each time after time and more beautifull. Let's keep in touch and thanks for your "sharing" kind regards, also from Jeannette wim also see
30th May 2011

Just found your comment Wim - thanks - it means a lot from someone as great a photographer as you.
16th July 2011

I second Wim's comments!
Just doing a search on Maria Island for my own website and found your berries at the same date as I was there... and then realised I was beside you when you were about to die (or luckily not!). Greenland. Ahhhhh - we must return. Lovely to revisit through your pictures for the time being...
26th November 2012
Segelsallskapet - arctic hare.

Arctic Hare Animals
Lepus arcticus, or arctic hare, also known as polar rabbit, are a kind or specie of hare that is most likely to find in mountainous and polar habitat. Thick fur coat is the reason of survival of this animal in such harsh environment. -

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