Thursday, 30 August 2012

Last round.

It is pretty dark when FRAM goes to pier in Longyearbyen long after midnight. This is quite a statement, telling us that the Polar Night is drawing near and our time up North is slowly coming to an end. 

Our last circumnavigation, even our last trip to Svalbard is about to start today. This should leave nobody with the impression of jumping on the last train or taking what’s left - just the opposite: This is the time when the light is perfect for photography, when the feeling gets truly Arctic and everything seems to be more private, belonging more to us with each single day. So the incoming crowd is fairly excited as they board and go through the necessary formalities with a patient smile. And to our great pleasure there is a whole bunch of familiar faces arriving; sometimes it feels rather like a family reunion than the official reception…so let me slip into our guest’s shoes for the rest of the narration! … 

On time we cast the lines, and with the last announcements of the safety drill we head into Isfjorden, for the first short leg to Barentsburg. The morbid charm of this place feels oddly out of place, here where we expect a wildlife paradise, but the inviting hospitality of the Russians feels good, especially if spiced with one of their self-made vodkas. So, here we are, almost at the northern end of the world, we walk under a bust of Vladimir Ilyitsh Lenin - and they are singing “Kalinka”…hm. But they sing it with enthusiasm, so somehow it is touching and tells the positive part of the story about the strange life in the otherwise grim surroundings of this village. Well, time to ponder this over a drink in the luxurious Bar Lounge, but the eyes are getting heavy. A long, long journey comes to an end, and ahead of us lie seven days of - how Captain HÃ¥rvik put it - “real experiences in unique waters”. Good night then, tomorrow we start exploring!