Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Krossfjord/ Kongsfjord and Ny-Alesund

June 21- the longest day of the year! And by now most passengers are really tired- because you just can not get yourself into bed! The sun is up all night long, it has a soft, yellowish light reflecting over the sea, great mirror images of the mountains can be seen in the calm water. We have been extremely blessed on this trip with the weather!

Krossfjord is approx. 30km long and 5km wide and shares its entrance with Kongsfjord. The entire area is situated in the Northwest Spitsbergen National Park. The name derives from „Cross bay“due to a wooden cross that was erected by the English whaler Jonas Poole in 1610. The land here rises steeply from the fjords. We used our good weather fortune to launch the Polar Cirkle boats in Kongsfjord and cruise along the glacier front at the head of the fjord.

Ny-Ålesund was named after the Norwegian town Ålesund, where the company that founded the mine was based. Coal mining stopped here in the 1960s and since then it has developed into an international research village. The settlement is without a doubt one of the most important sites in the history of the North Pole exploration! It was from Ny-Ålesund that Amundsen and Umberto Nobile started to fly towards the North Pole in the air ship NORGE in 1926. They were the first once to do so! Amundsen, having already been the first man to the South Pole, received most of the media attention. The dispute was also if the fame should go to Norway or Italy where Nobile was from. The result was an all- Italian expedition and in 1928 Umberto Nobile took his airship ITALIA to cross the North Pole again. The airship crashed on the ice after a successful crossing on the way back. Amundsen also took part in the rescue operation but his plane vanished with him. One has to imagine Nobile- after being rescued, the world saw him more or less as the „man who killed Amundsen“- not an easy weight one ones shoulder...
We could roam within the city limits freely and could follow the road around the settlement. Most ended up sooner or later in the souvenir shop and of course in the post office. The „main square“ is marked with the Amundsen monument.

You just can not go to sleep! After this expedition everyone needs a week of rest, I assume!! Today it was not only the good weather that prevented us from a good nights sleep- but also the fantastic and fun crew show on board MV Fram!