A Travellerspoint blog

20: Transit

sunny 11 °C
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Nothing really to report today as today has been our transit day! Had a very leisurely start to the day and then bought a couple of souvenirs in Longyearbyen before boarding the plane for Tromso.

Tromso is a really interesting town, all of the buildings look to be quite old and are the colourful, timber type. Really nice to look at. We spent the afternoon trying to find the Europcar rental place (where we need to go first thing tomorrow to pick up our car). Couldn’t find it and eventually had to call the company to ask if they could pick us up in the morning.

Our looking for Europcar took us down and along the waterfront which is an interesting mix of Ikea-esk Scandinavian modern architecture with old type buildings.. Quite nice.. We spent the evening shopping at the local supermarket and cooking dinner as the prices here in Norway are absolutely ridiculous (assume aussie prices and then at least triple the cost and you’ll be close to the Norwegian price)… Only come to Norway after you’ve won lotto as any normal human being cannot afford to stay here for extended periods!

After dinner we spent the evening (well conductor did anyway) doing our laundry downstairs.. I think conductor had finally finished the laundry at just before 1am! To say that he wasn’t super excited is probably an understatement (bookie and I managed to fall asleep during the process so it was all left up to conductor).

Posted by weary_feet 02:22 Archived in Norway Comments (0)

19: Blogging, blogging and more blogging

overcast 5 °C
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V Early start this morning as we had to have our bags packed and waiting outside of the door by 7am. Considering I didn’t make it to bed til after 2pm I was feeling pretty tired this morning! We had disembarked the boat by 8.30am and were in the hotel by 9am.

Unfortunately the hotel was full so we weren’t able to get in our room til after lunch so we had to kill the morning. Another complication was the fact that a huge cruise boat had also docked in the morning (probably 2000 people or so) so the little town of Longyearbyen was absolutely packed! You had to wait to get into the shops it was that busy!!! Knowing that we had plenty of time to kill we decided to find a warm spot in the lobby of the hotel and do some emailing/ reading.. Pls remind me next time that I go away for extended time without internet how long it takes to upload these blogs!! I swear I’ve spent >6hrs today uploading and still have some to go!!!!

Anyway the ship left at lunch time so we went for a walk after lunch to check out the shops we hadn’t seen. Longyearbyen is just one long street so it didn’t take us long to “do the strip” and so we returned to the hotel to do more blogging (in my case) and watched the Wimbledon final in conductor’s case.. you all know what bookie was doing 

The highlight of our day was dinner at this Norwegian hunting lodge-esk restaurant where we caught up with some of our other fellow trippers and had some yummy pizza. Tomorrow we are off for Tromso and part 2 of our arctic exploration trip!

Posted by weary_feet 02:20 Archived in Svalbard Comments (0)

18: Walruses and Reindeer

overcast 6 °C

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Our final day on board the MS Expedition started off gloriously, almost no wind and a temp of 7 deg!! Hopped into the zodiacs and zoomed on to shore to see a pack of walruses! About 7 walruses were sleeping on the beach and it was so great to finally see such a large animal up so close! We were lucky because the animals got a little active so we were able to see them roll around, waddle down to the water and swim around! We probably spent a good hour just watching the walruses do their thing! Just great! The other things that made this morning so special was that we were able to see Minki whales swimming just a little way back from the shore and the surrounding fjord was absolutely spectacular! I could have spent hours just drinking in the landscape.. Gosh Svalbard is one really pretty landscape!

After lunch we jumped back in our zodiacs and headed to a place near to Longyearbyen where we were able to walk around and see reindeer. I was really lucky as I was in the first group which meant we were able to get really close to the reindeer. In fact, the reindeer came right up to us to see what these weird looking rocks were that had suddenly sprouted out of the ground!

Our last day was potentially the highlight of the whole trip.. walruses and reindeer just amazing! We finished off the day by partying on until the wee hours of the morning whilst we were anchored off Longyearbyen. Awesome ending to an absolutely incredible holiday! Off the boat first thing tomorrow morning back for Longyearbyen.

Posted by weary_feet 02:04 Archived in Svalbard Comments (0)

17: Puffins!

overcast 1 °C
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Weather was still fairly ordinary when we woke up this morning. Windy, raining and overcast. Temp itself was quite warm though (probably about 5) so not too bad a morning to be out in zodiacs. The morning zodiac cruise was to see a big glacier and to see a bird sanctuary.

The zodiac cruise itself was really peaceful, no splash and just 8 people and the wilderness! The trip started really well with us seeing a lone puffin swimming along (gosh they are cute birds). We eventually wound our way through the ice bergs to make it to the glacier (14th July). It still impresses me to see such a huge chunk of ice up so close. We were fortunate that there wasn’t any fast ice in front of the glacier so we were able to get really close in the zodiac. No carving ice this time though (and probably was a good thing because we were pretty close!)

On the return trip to the boat we passed by this huge granite cliff that is home to thousands of birds. The main highlight of the cliff is the home of the puffins.. They normally nest in burrows but here on Spitsbergen they nest inside this cliff (no foxes on the cliff!). We were really fortunate as we would have seen at least 30 puffins doing their thing on the cliffs! Puffins are the cutest birds.. they look quite a lot like penguins but with a very vivid red and orange beak (not that dissimilar to a macaw), they are small, fat and they waddle when the walk around! Just adorable!

After lunch we stopped off at Ny-Alesund. Ny-Alesund is the other town here on Spitsbergen and is famous at is one of the key settlements used for all of the polar exploration. It is also the northern most town in Norway (and probably most of the world) at 79 degrees north. Amundsen (the famous Norwegian polar explorer) flew his zeppelin from this town to try and discover the “great north pole landmass”. He was successful at crossing the pole but obviously not successful at discovering the missing land mass! The town itself is really small (fishing village sized) but is the main town for polar research and so some of the countries of the world have research bases here for arctic research. We weren’t able to spend time talking to the researches (and apparently they aren’t interested in spending time with us) so we wandered around the town and saw the relics left over from polar expeditions.

Finished off the day blogging and having a well-deserved early night (long nights and long days is making for a very weary traveller!)

Posted by weary_feet 01:51 Archived in Svalbard Comments (0)

16: Swamp

overcast 2 °C

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Bit better weather today (still overcast but not too bad) so at 8.30 we had our usual announcement “deck 2 to the mud room” (although mud room is pronounced mar-room) and we then zoomed off in our zodiac for “reindeer flat” (the plan being to see plenty of reindeer).

The walk itself was quite nice from the view point that we were outside and able to wander around. The downside was that reindeer flat has only recently had the snow melt and so was largely one big swamp with very few reindeer!

Pretty funny because on our way back to the zodiac two people from the other group got stuck in the mud in a really big way and ended up to their waist in mud! In fact, one lady actually fell into the mud and was covered in mud all over her back and also from her waist down! I really felt for them! The ground was pretty slippery and really boggy so unfortunatley we spent the whole 3 miles (or whatever the distance was) mainly focussing on where to put our feet and not really on the scenery. Other big downer was the fact that we really only saw 3 reindeer that were all pretty far away.

Our day hotted up after lunch. One of the expedition team on the bridge saw a polar bear and we spent the afternoon watching the bear. We were fortunate that the bear came relatively close to the boat (maybe 200m away) which meant for me, the best polar bear shots so far!

Dinner was really lovely as the restaruant staff had set up our dinner on the back deck of the boat! We all donned our polar gear to sit outside for about an hour eating our dinner. Pretty awesome to eat your dinner in the heart of the polar region! The only draw back to eating in temps just above zero is the fact that your glass of water is pretty damn cold and you have to eat your hot food immediately or it becomes luke warm v quickly and it isn’t easy to juggle a knife and fork with gloves on! But I do have to say, that it is pretty special though to have your dinner in broad daylight in temps just above zero with mountains, glaciers and an ice field all around. Great way to finish a pretty great day!

Posted by weary_feet 07:44 Archived in Svalbard Comments (0)

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