Arctic adventures commence!
One month ago, I went on an amazing holiday! I travelled north, farther north than I’d ever been before. Early last summer, I had booked a Northern Lights tour to Sommarøy -near Tromsø, Norway- and Longyearbyen, Spitsbergen (or: Svalbard). I had booked this trip even before I went to Iceland at the end of last summer and before I knew we were going to get lucky enough to see the Northern Lights. So I basically already ticked that item off my bucketlist. Regardless of this, I was excited to visit such an extreme destination. Cold, with a chance of Northern Lights.
On Saturday February 1st I made my way to the airport at a comfortable time and boarded the plane to Copenhagen where we would hop on a connecting flight to Tromsø. For a minute, I thought we had returned to Schiphol, because Copenhagen airport is so much like Schiphol! After our second flight, our tour guide was waiting to pick us up (the other tour guide had been on the same flights as the rest). At first you have no idea who is on the same tour as you are. There are several tours to the arctic north at this time of year. So it was nice seeing the group together for the first time. I’d say the majority turned out to be totally fine.
Once we had arrived in Tromsø and stored our luggage in the bus, our bus driver took us to Sommarøy over small roads that were covered in a thick layer of ice! I know that he is used to these conditions, since he’s from the north of Finland, but yikes! Look at the third photo to get an idea of the roads we travelled for an hour and a half! And when he drove really slowly, we all knew it was serious (heavy winds did shake the bus a bit!). But he took us to our destination safely! The hotel was very nice, so luxurious! Normally, I don’t pay that much for accommodation if I travel by myself, but this was part of the organised trip, so I very much indulged in the luxury!
We had one night at the hotel in Sommarøy. It worked out to be cheaper to spend a night there than have a direct flight to Longyearbyen. The next day, we packed up our things and made the last stretch of our trip. Finally we were going to Spitsbergen! We were ‘greeted’ by a polar bear in the arrivals/baggage hall. Luckily, he or she wasn’t a live one, because you don’t want to meet those! From the airport in Longyearbyen we were picked up for a bus tour. Of course it was dark (the sun doesn’t come up between late October and mid February), but that didn’t mean we couldn’t explore from the comforts of a heated bus. We went to the famous ‘watch out for polar bears’ sign, we went to the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, and had a tour around town. It was during this tour that we saw an arctic fox!! I find them so beautiful! The fox scurried along quite quickly, so I was happy that I sat on the left side of the bus which turned out the be the right side! What a treat!
The hotel in Longyearbyen was also very luxurious! And the beds both in this hotel and the previous hotel were so comfortable! In the lobby there was another polar bear. Impressive animals they are! At the front of the hotel was this huge mud room. Longyearbyen has its origins in coal mining. And since coal makes everything dirty, the habit was created to take off your shoes before entering a house. It’s become the norm now and it was very easy to adjust to. Having a mud room would definitely be on my wish list if I ever got a bigger house.
The next day was going to be an adventure. Stay tuned to hear the story.