Our flight to Tromso and on to Svalbard went smoothly. Got some photo ops on the way – out the window.
Once we landed in Tromso we had to deplane to clear customs ??? So I did finally get my passport stamp 😀. Then we took a circuitous route back to the plane. One passenger never did get back to the plane – we left without her – hope she enjoys her time in Tromso.
During my visits to Norway as a child we saw a lot of incredible scenery on the side trips into the mountains that we made but nothing like this place where we just landed. Svalbard (old Norse for cold coast) also called Spitzbergen (sharp mountains) was stumbled upon by oceanic explorers at the end of the 16th century when a Dutch mariner landed here. The old Norse and Icelandic sagas, which are fascinating reads, mention Svalbard as early as the late 12th Century. This place is absolutely stunning – I hope the few photos here will give you some kind of an idea of the raw natural beauty of the area.
We have two full days in Longyearbyen (pronounced longyouben – I remember it by thinking of how long u been) before boarding our ship. Longyearbyen has a long history of whaling and coal mining activity. We are looking forward to a walking tour of the city and plan to explore the Svalbard Museum and area, as well as take a boat trip along the coast to Pyramiden an old mostly abandoned Russian coal mining town. Hope for some wildlife and other photo ops.
Hunting was the main economy post european contact with whales, walruses, seals, polar bears and foxes hunted from the 1700’s into the 20th century. Whaling probably peaked here l00 years after the Dutch landed. Once the whales were depleted, the Russians arrived after walrus and seal, then the Norwegians came targeting polar bears and foxes. Coal mining followed the cessation of hunting, mining’s decline was followed by tourists, with both winter and summer tourism now a driving economic force in the area.
We have a wonderful hotel room with a view of the Fjord and the mountains. Have had a stroll around town – it is snowing – and plan to try reindeer for dinner. Will let you know how that goes 😀😀😀