Tuesday, July 4, 2023

Norway - Svalbard - Day 2

 This morning we had some time after breakfast to look at the shops, and stroll around the town of Longyearbyen and down near the water before we had to head to the airport for our flight back to Finland.  The weather was quite beautiful - we didn't really need our winter coats today because it was quite sunny.  As we walked around the town we all talked about how we must come back someday.  These 2 days were not enough.  It is a beautiful place and I see what the draw is for the people who work here.  I am sure the winter is brutal.  The landscape is harsh but really beautiful.  I am so glad we came.

Below the pictures will be some fun facts about Svalbard

The houses were small and all pretty close together and of course close to the town.  There are some houses that are a few miles outside of town, but we were told that they very often don't have internet access, running water, etc - they were for escape.  (Which we also found amusing since there isn't much to escape from).  There is a famous You Tuber that built herself a nice house outside of town.

We saw snowmobiles everywhere.  This is a very common mode of transportation for their long winters.  But I took this one close up because I want you to notice the gun holder on the left hand side.  Every person who lives here must own and carry a gun.  There are more polar bears than people that live on Svalbard, so it is a requirement.  You can be fined if you are caught without it outside of the safety zone (which is basically the one mile radius of the town).  Our guides all had them and we saw several walking tours where the guide was carrying her gun.  The threat is real, but we were very sad we didn't see a polar bear while visiting.  It was just too warm.

We did go down to the water because we wanted to put our hands into the Arcitc Ocean (it was freezing of course).

This is the University.  They have anywhere from 300-500 students at a time.  And just a few majors - all related to where they are, obviously. There are families that live here.  We passed a school and a playground - saw quite a few kids.  The number of residents is about 2500.  We were told that they do not want to expand any bigger than that number.

So facts about Svalbard.  As I said above - there are more polar bears than people that live here.  They did have a tragedy in the past.  And last year a woman got scratched (but not killed).  Mostly the polar bears stay away from the town.

2) You cannot die or give birth here.  If you know you are going to die, you must move off Svalbard and to mainland Norway.  They cannot bury people here.  You also cannot give birth in case something goes wrong.  A month before your due date you leave to mainland Norway.

3) This is as far north as people live.  Longyearbyen.  Svalbard is at 78 degrees north.  The north pole is at 90 degrees north 500 miles.

4) Svalbard is in the Arctic Circle and from April-August they have what they call the midnight sun.  You have to be in the Arcitc Circle to experience this.  The sun never sets.  It doesn't even pretend to during this time.  IT is high in the sky like it is noon 24 hours a day.  It was crazy to see - the sun never moves from the center of the sky - it is bright no matter what time it is.  The reverse - Polar Nights - occurs here from October to February were there is no light at all.  Middle of the night darkness 24 hours a day.

5) The average temp. in the summers is from the 30s-50s (F). Winter isn't as cold as you would imagine - from about -4 degrees (F) to 8 degrees (F).  It is just LONG that these temps last.  The whole landscape freezes over in the winter where the locals told us it is hard to tell where the roads are - hence the sleds and dogs and snowmobiles to get around.

No comments:

Post a Comment