My final stop on my Hurtigruten expedition around the Arctic Circle last summer was the world’s northernmost settlement: Ny-Alesund, at 79 degrees north.
It was nowhere near as ominous as the vacant Russian mining town of Barentsburg, but still had a similar feel of depression. Its inhabitants probably wouldn’t agree, but I’m not so sure I could live under such a gray sky year-round.
As one can imagine, there’s not a whole lot to do in Ny-Alesund. Much of its people’s lives revolve around wildlife and climatology research. I think I lasted an hour in the bitter wind, during which time I circled the town a minimum of three times, before I retreated to the boat.
Besides, it’s not like you can venture beyond the colony of homes anyway; (computer print-out) “POLAR BEAR DANGER” signs (mounted on plywood) prohibit you from doing so. (And these are not just for the fear factor; you’ll see villagers all over Svalbard carrying around rifles for protection.)
There were some interesting bits nonetheless, like the family of Arctic foxes inhabiting the underside of one of the houses…
…the somewhat random sculpture of Alan Rickman as Professor Snape some famous explorer in the town’s epicenter…
…and the world’s most northern post office, where you better believe I sent postcards to my momma and SVV.
After so many glaciers and fjords, fragrant walruses and reindeer, it was nice to see some glimpses of civilized life, no matter how meager.
I would be so afraid of polar bears! But those arctic foxes are adorable!
A few years back, my boyfriend and I were looking at a map and decided one day we would visit Svalbard. But I’m not sure if we could take the cold – or the polar bears!
I’m curious to know what constitutes as a weapon. Like, can I walk past the sign if I’m carrying a stick? What about a chain saw? My razor sharp wits?
They really should be more clear about that.
I was in longyearbyen, svalbard in august, such an amazing experience! I just found your blog on the nominated bloggies award, excited to start following you and see whats to come!
Nice pics. What do people do there again? Measure melting permafrost and try to stay alive whilst wandering the countryside? WOW
It looks like a stark and lonely place. So does everyone carry weapons?
*gasp* How beau-ti-ful. Loving your blog… and your fun humor! Off to look around… much luv from Texas. 🙂
Wow, what a cool place to be able to visit! I’m not sure I’d enjoy running into a polar bear… how many people live there? It looks a bit lonely to live there, but to visit would be neat. 🙂
Sharp images, sounds like a cool place to visit! Thanks for sharing.
I’d love to visit this place! The trains almost look like little toys against the vast expanse of mountains & sky.
Hello from Woody’s site and a fellow TN (we are from the same home town!).
What incredible images – I can’t wait to see your whole blog!
Oh those little Artic foxes are adorable! I hope they steer clear of the polar bears!
On a related note I can’t imagine living anywhere that I need to carry a weapon to defend myself from a polar bear attack, madness!
Wow, I found this post fascinating! Thanks!
What a fascinating job you have. What I would give to be paid to travel the world… Very interesting that the townspeople carry weapons with them; I would almost hope to run into a polar bear just to say that I did! Well, maybe not “run into” one, but see one from the distance.
Now THAT’S a cool boat! 🙂
I’ve been to Svalbard a couple times – it’s so cold but such a good place for photos! I never captured the polar bear sign but I’d heard about it from my friends. I love your pics!
Thanks, Stacey! Next time I’d like to see an actual polar bear, too, ha.
Great pictures from such a remote place, I would love to visit!
As a vacation homeowner that posts properties for rent on sites like HereStay and HomeAway, I would love for the chance to stay in a vacation home in svalbard…your pictures are amazing!