Friday, 30 August 2013

A sunny, sunny day in the high North

The morning of our second cruise day we should spend in Ny-Ålesund. The little settlement lies in the “Kong fjord”. Its surroundings belong to the nicest areas in Spitsbergen and we saw it in the best weather you can imagine. Clear blue sky and sunshine already in the early morning hours. The glaciers in the bay were shining in the morning light. Northern Fulmars, some Glaucous Gulls and Black-legged Kittiwakes greeted us in the harbour. There was no wind and the world looked a bit surreal.

The area around Ny-Ålesund was already well known during the whaling time in the 17th century.  In 1917 a private mine company from Ålesund in Norway founded the city Ny-Ålesund as a mining town. Today it is a huge research “Station” town where Scientifics from all over the world find best possibilities for their modern projects of arctic and climate research.

Ny-Ålesund is very famous for the historical arctic research too. Names like Amundsen, Ellsworth and Nobile are strongly connected to this place. On our walk through the town we got all the stories about these arctic heroes.   Full of new impressions we went back to the ship. Lunch was already waiting for us.

The next landings of our circumnavigation of Spitsbergen would be in the nature only, no town or settlement during the next days. In the early afternoon we learned in a special so-called “AECO” - briefing how to behave in this sensitive landscape. Directly after we could rent the “Muck” boots from the ship so that we could start our landing in Magdalene Fjord very well prepared, mentally and with the right equipment.

In Magdalene Fjord passengers have been divided in groups by different interests. We had fast hikers, slow hikers, those they wanted to enjoy more or less themselves, than we had kayakers and even swimmers and at the end we had a small of group of passengers which went on a very extraordinary 1 ½ hour PolarCircleBoat cruise to the very special historical place of Virgohamna.  We saw a lot of wildlife on our way like hunting Arctic skuas, Puffins, Walruses and Harbor Seals. The sunset over the glacier panorama we will never forget. In Virgohamna you still find remains from the whaling time, and from the time when Andree tried to fly with a balloon over the pol. Our expedition team member Stephan did not become tiered to chair all his historical knowledge with us.

As the day was filled up with so many activities most went to bed early. Everybody wanted to be fit for the next upcoming day.