After returning from our husky tour, we had some free time. A bunch of us went out for lunch. We ended up at a place called Kroa, where I enjoyed a very yummy burger. After lunch, I went back to the hotel and managed to have a quick rest before our lecture started. A local gave a presentation about life and growing up in Longyearbyen. It was interesting hearing his backstory and seeing pictures to illustrate what life was like. People living on Spitsbergen surely are a tough bunch! Also kind of against the grain, so that’s fun, haha. On organised trips I feel so much like a tourist (which I am, but don’t enjoy feeling like), so it’s nice to learn something about real life.
That evening we went out to Camp Barentz for dinner and for northern lights hunting! It turned out to be an awesome evening! Camp Barentz is basically a replica of the wooden lodge on Nova Zembla where Willem Barentsz got stranded and eventually died. It was cosy being sat around a central fire where our dinner was being cooked on in big kettle pots. We had some kind of stew that filled us up nicely. Especially when it’s cold outside, it’s nice to have something warm and harty in your stomach. However, before we could actually sit down and relax for dinner, our guides came running in ‘Northern lights, northern lights!’ So I left my dinner, my tea (basically anything warm and cosy) and headed outside to marvel at the northern lights and to try and photograph them as well as I could! It was tough. The evening before we had a bit of a northern lights hunt, but I didn’t get any clear photos from that, so you can understand my excitement when I managed to get a good shot! Woohoo! Once back inside, we finished our dinner and enjoyed our brownie dessert. I tried a local drink which is basically hot water mixed with some kind of high sugar berry drink (so much sugar that it doesn’t freeze, haha). It was actually quite nice and I enjoyed trying something local.
The evening was magical, I have no other word for it. It was also bloody cold. Easily -20°C, colder than I had ever experienced before. After dinner and marvelling at the northern lights, we went back to the hotel. It had been a long day. Everything seemed to cost so much more energy than I’m used to. It was so much colder, putting on clothes and taking off all those layers was a labour on its own, and it was dark all the time which was interesting to experience.
So many new impressions to process. And I’m here for it to enrich my life!
Willem Barentsz was Dutch navigator, cartographer, and Arctic explorer. Barentsz went on three expeditions to the far north in search for a Northeast passage. He reached as far as Novaya Zemlya and the Kara Sea in his first two voyages, but was turned back on both occasions by ice. During a third expedition, the crew discovered Spitsbergen and Bear Island, but subsequently became stranded on Novaya Zemlya for almost a year. Barentsz died on the return voyage in 1597. The Barents Sea was named in his honour. – source