Thursday, 1 August 2013

A New Adventure

Before 16:00 practically all of the ship's complement were ready and eagerly waiting the arrival of our new passengers.  Promptly at 16:00 the first motor coaches arrived at the pier which is located just on the outskirts of Longyearbyen.  A light rain was falling as the first guests went through the check in process.  It was a rather speedy and very efficient process as 240 people were checked in within an hour!

Once we were shown to our cabins we went to the Framheim lecture room where we were issued our light blue expedition jackets.  Shortly after that we attended a mandatory safety drill on deck five.  It was interesting to watch.  I am sure that more than one person wondered what it would be like to don a thermal protection suit and life vest should an emergency situation occur.

Right after the drill we departed Longyearbyen and set a course for the Russian coal mining community of Barentsburg.  Barentsburg has a population of 500 people, the majority of which are from Ukrania and Russia.  Upon arrival we disembarked the ship by boat group and headed up the obligatory 242 steps leading into the centre of the community.  A light rain was falling which added to the bleak atmosphere of Barentsburg but our young and cheery Russian guide indicated that life in Barentsburg was anything but bleak.  She loved it there and described how problems were few and that living there was like being with a large extended family.  Everyone cared for one another.  Judging by her smile and cheery demeanour, I readily believed it.

At the top we met our Russian guides and the Expedition Team.  We headed off in four large groups;  two German language groups, one Scandinavian and one English group.  The tour took a little more than thirty minutes after which we headed to a beautiful old theatre where the locals put on an excellent show of Russian folk dancing and music.  At 22:45 the show was over and by 23:00 everyone was back on board.