Sunday 7 August 2011

The Luxury of Being At The Pier

At the pier in Ny-Ålesund

In Ny-Ålesund we have the luxury of being at the pier.  You can just walk on or off the ship as you wish.  Starting at 09:00 the Expedition Team guided small groups through the tiny community. We learned all about the history of Ny-Ålesund.  It is a fascinating story of tragedy, victory, commerce, exploration and science with real heroes, villains and victims.  Coal mining started here way back in 1917.  A legacy of terrible accidents eventually resulted in the closing of the mines in 1962. Subsequently a decision was made to establish a permanent Arctic research station here starting in 1964.  There are now ten different nations here with permanent facilities working cooperatively with the Norwegian Polar Institute. 

Atmospheric monitoring station high on Mount Zeppelin in Ny-Ålesund
It was from Ny-Ålesund that Admiral Byrd, Roald Amundsen and Umberto Umbile all flew to the north pole in separate attempts. The Expedition Team wove a tail
of mystery, intrigue and even possible murder in the conquest of the pole by air as they lead us through town.
The tour took about an hour which left enough time for a quick shopping excursion in the most northern boutique in the world..
Bird cliffs at Cadiopynten
In the afternoon we enjoyed some ship cruising along some really great bird colonies at Cadiopynten.  At times the sir seemed full of birds which included everyone’s favourite, Puffins!  There were also lots of Northern Fulmars, Little Auks (Dovekies), Kittiwakes and Black Guillemots.
Our lecture series continued throughout the afternoon with 5 different lectures on the wildlife, history and Geology of Svalbard.
In the evening we enjoyed films on some of the early explorers of the Arctic.