Svalbard – Norway

Maybe not the best place to start a blog, but this trip motivated me to do so. I just came back from a too brief visit to Svalbard, which I must say, that place impressed me! Before I flew over, just as a paranoid trip planner does, I tried to learn as much as I could about the place. Look at pictures at our good-old google images, no preparation got me for what I was about to see.

It was a long 24 hour journey on the way over, with landing on hold over Tromsø, which was very welcome! This was my first trip to a “proper” cold place. Any other trip I’ve made so far to a cold place involved a couple of centimeters of snow in Ireland or New York and temperatures of around -5°C, nothing colder than that. Admiring the beauty of the Fjords around the airport, which I would not get to see otherwise, was a trip bonus and well worth the delay.

Finally arrived in Svalbard. I stayed at the Nybyen area, an old mining community, which now most hosts UNIS students accommodation. What a great bunch of people! I felt right at home! Could not have asked for a better welcome! A few drinks, cooking, baking, just to get things started. I was tired, so an evening in, getting to know my hosts was the best idea. On the second day, we took a snowmobile trip to the Tunabreen Glacier. That was probably the highlight of the trip! I had never ridden a snowmobile before, let alone drive one! It was a bumpy ride at the passenger seat, but much smoother at the driver seat. Once we reached the frozen river, a couple of kilometers before the glacier, no more bumps, just one smooth ride. Accelerating that thing as much as I possibly could was one of the best feelings of my life… it was brilliant! That cold air trying to creep in through any opening of my helmet, feeling warm and cold at the same time… something I had never experienced before in my life. I guess I have very courageous friends, going with me on this ride!

One of my main faults is not sleeping enough. After many hours awake and having a few scoops, I always woke up earlier than anyone by at least 3 hours. As I had nothing else to do, first I went for a walk to see the frozen surroundings and take a few photos! Then came back and got cooking! Probably my second main passion. Baked bread, scones, meringue for the evening pavlova desert… brilliant! Then onto the Longyearbyen ice cave. Also an amazing experience. I have visited a few ice caves in my time, in Austria mainly, but never I felt warmer inside a cave than outside. During my visit to Dachstein Ice Caves in Austria, the outside temperature was around 35°C, this time is was around -15°C. I never thought I would perspire inside an ice cave! I couldn’t wait to go outside for a bit of fresh air and feel cold again! We returned home and had a massive feast of beef a parmegiana, rice with vegetables, pavlova and many caipirinhas, which went past way too quickly……. well, so many great experiences… a simple blog post can hardly capture it all!

To be honest, I can’t wait to go back again!