Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Welcome to Longyearbyen- June 16, 2010

Most passengers arrived today rather early with a direct charter flight from Germany. And even though it meant not much sleep along the way- it was so much worth it! Imagine flying over Svalbard at 1am- you can see the mountain tops, all is snow covered, the light is very soft and the clouds prevent the view into the fjords. And suddenly you are there- Longyearbyen appears in the Midnight sun.

During the day we had a chance to learn more about this small, but very active community! Longyearbyen- the unofficial capital of Svalbard- offers an interesting local history as traces from mining are visible at many places. In the late afternoon we boarded MV Fram but the day was not over! Barentsburg, situated in Groenfjord, the „green harbor“ was our destination for the evening where we went to pier. The mining town is somehow very different from what you were expecting- the most heard comment in the beginning of the landing was that it really needs a clean-up. There is still mining going on with Russian and Ukrainian workers. And one finds a small school for 11 children. But when you have talked to the locals, listened to the enthusiastic guiding and have been to the folkoreshow that was presented in the evening- only then you truly understand the beauty of Barentsburg.

It was a day full of impressions- but it is hard to go to bed! Let me tell you- the midnight sun is best around 2am- and that is something you do not want to miss. What you are going to miss is a daily report of this voyage- this is a true expedition without internet connection.