We have arrived at the top of the world! At 1:30am we touched down in Longyearbyen, Svalbard (Norway) after two flights to get here. It was as bright as noon when we landed. Svalbard is in the Arctic and has the midnight sun from April to August - where the sun doesn't even pretend to set and it never even dims. It was wild to see.
It wasn't jaringly cold, since it is summer - in the 40s F when we landed. The airport is very small, so the bus to our hotel loaded quickly and within about 10 minutes we were getting checked in. There are not a ton of flights to Svalbard, so our arrival was not unusal to the hotel.
We were up farily early this morning so that we could have breakfast before our first excursion. We are only in Svalbard for one full day, so we are making the most of it. (It was an add on for our trip once we watched a show and documentary on the place and knew we had to come and see it). Our first excusion was a husky sled ride. Since it is summer, the sleds are on wheels, but we had a fantastic time. We were picked up at our hotel and taken to the kennels where they keep the sled dogs. The kids were in heaven getting to pet all the dogs they could. Our sled was pulled by 16 dogs and we had a nice 2 hour tour seeing the landscape. Our guide was fantastic. Arlington even took a turn driving the sled which she loved.
We were back in town by 1pm, and had time to grab lunch and look around the small town before being picked up for our section excursion. We elected to take a Glacier tour in a Catamaran for our second outing. It was wonderful to be able to see the glaciers and as a special treat we even got to see two blue whales (the largest animal on earth). Our guide - who was also a marine biologist - was beyond excited that we got to see that. He said it is very rare. Sadly - our tour was not able to go as far out to sea as originally planned due to very high winds (all flights were canceled today) but we enjoyed the tour all the same. Our guide was very knowledgable and very passionate about the wildlife and land they are trying to protect. We also go to see two abandoned mining towns that used to be Russian.
It was a good day. We had a late dinner at the restaurant at our hotel and were exhausted by the time we fell into bed tonight.
The view from the airport at 1:30am