Travelogue from Svalbard

Me and my colleague, Vegeir attended on a study trip to Svalbard, for the very first time. Vegeir was new in our company and I was very excited about both meeting him and visiting Svalbard. At the airport we were greeted by a giant polar bear (although, a stuffed one), and our travel host for the stay, Lisa. We arrived at Svalbard in mid-February. The sun had barely returned after months in complete darkness. From Longyearbyen we could now see some light on the horizon again. We woke up early, to head out into the wilderness on our snow scooters. Our guide holds his shotgun confidently over his shoulder, undeniably strange for someone that had barely seen a gun before. In Svalbard this is routine as soon as you are going outside of Longyearbyen. There are more polar bears than people in Svalbard, and let’s face it – you don’t want to encounter one without being armed! Just when we were about to leave Longyearbyen on our snow scooters, the horizon opened up and gave us a light show we’ve never seen anything close to ever before! We drove towards the light, over frozen lakes and up the mountain. We stopped at the trapper’s cabin, Villa Fredheim – where our knowledgeable guide told us stories with empathy and energy. We wouldn’t admit it at the time, but we all looked around us in the hope / fear of seeing a polar bear emerge around the side of the house. This time, we just saw large amounts of reindeer, and reindeer in Svalbard is quite different from the ones we have a little further south. This will be up to you to discover when you visit Svalbard.

Back to the light. As the time passed by, the blue sky was illuminated by the full moon, which is mirrored in the white snow and the mountains, which in turn made its own gorgeous colour games. We stopped our snow scooters on a hill and looked over to the beautiful glacier, every one of us had found true tranquillity, and no one said a word for the next 10 minutes. The silence we experienced here, very few people will experience, it’s like sitting in a void. Our journey continued back to Longyearbyen. On the way we stopped to look at a polar bear track, a frozen waterfall and stopped for lunch in a Lavvo (big tent) where we drank hot drinks around the fire. After being outdoor for 8 hours, it felt really nice to be back to the hotel and sit down by the fireplace with a cup of coffee. The smiles on our faces were practically 360 degress by now. After resting a bit, we were picked up by our host and driven to Mine 3 a few minutes’ drive from Longyearbyen. Here we entered into what felt like the 70s. Everything is like it was at the time there was mining here. We were given Lumper (overalls) and helmets with headlamps, before we ascended into the coal mine. We got an impression of what it was like to work here, to take out coal – the physical and mental strength a «miner» had to withhold when they crawled around in the hallways with their lives at stake. The tour ended when we went into the darkest place in the mine, turned the head lamps off, and got to feel the claustrophobic feel of mining darkness and the silence that engulfed us.

Dining in Svalbard cannot be left unspoken. It is world class! No McDonald’s located here, only authentic and original restaurants – proud to convey history and to use the few local ingredients that are available in that season. There is something so unique with Svalbard. They’re a group of people from all nationalities. If you are going to a Pub in Svalbard, it’s an experience! Here you are greeted, and people are interested in you and what kind of story you have. You feel like you are making friends for life after a few hours in this environment. It was a bit sad to leave Svalbard and we will definitely travel back here!

Catrine & Vegeir / Event Lofoten