Svalbard

Star Travel Rating

4/5

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Date of travel

August, 2016

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We visited Longyearbyen for a day during a cruise. Longyearbyen in just 800 miles from the North Pole and we were told that it is the world’s most northerly town which is inhabited all year round.

The ship docked about a 15 minute walk from the town centre which was easily walkable.

We picked up a private tour (http://www.taxiguiden.no/sightseeing.html) at the dockside and set off on a 2 hour tour of the area.

Our guide was very interesting and explained about the way of life there. There are a multitude of nationalities living there as people come there to work very hard and earn lots of money. If anyone wants to retire there, then they have to move back to the Norwegian mainland. There is a school and children and, also, a university.
All the houses are prefabricated and have to built/assembled in one season whilst there is lots of daylight and clement weather (for the area).

No one is allowed outside the city limits without a gun due to the danger of polar bears.

Our tour took us out along one of the only roads into the hillside past the coal mines, which is the main industry there.

We were lucky enough to see several wild reindeer and then several teams of dog sleds go past. The huskies were adorable and love pulling the sleds.

The road changed from tarmac to gravel track and we drove up the windy hill to a satellite station where we had an amazing view back towards the town. Sadly, the weather wasn’t clear but there was some sunshine. I just loved the barrenness of the place and the desolation.

Our tour took us back to the town for a tour past the old cemetery and the old church and then on to the other side of the town where we saw the Global Seed Vault where millions of seeds of different varieties are stored for posterity. It is only viewed from the outside but is a good viewing point towards the airport.

Back to the town and our tour was over so we spent a couple of hours having a look around the town itself. To be honest, there is not a lot to see there but I found it interesting to see how people live there. I would really love to go back there and stay for a few days to get a tour out to the glacier and go fossil hunting!!

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