Sunday, June 22, 2014

6/22/14 Longyearbyen and First Day at Sea

This morning we headed back to the same airport to board a flight to Svalbard. The flight from Oslo to Longyearbyen will take approximately three hours. The view of Norway was beautiful as we flew over the northern part. I was not prepared for how beautiful Svalbard would be from the plane. I had a seat next to the window and was able to take some pictures of glaciers as we descended.
It was difficult to grasp how we would land anywhere with civilization. All I could see around me were mountains, snow, and glaciers.

And then around a corner was Longyearbyen, a colorful landscape of buildings, snowmobiles and residents nestled in the mountains of Svalbard.
Photograph by Julia Sheldon
We spent the morning visiting the Svalbard Gallery where  art was on display. There was also a fascinating room where you could observe the changes in maps over time of the Archipelago of Svalbard. Next, we visited the Svalbard museum where we were able to view not just the wildlife and environment but also a history of Svalbard which portrayed the trapping and hunting history as well as the culture of the people that chose to live here.
Svalbard Museum
In the afternoon we boarded the ship! We were instantly greeted by the crew as the "Teachers."We settled into our "Teacher" cabin in the staff quarters and quickly made it up to the decks to see the ship leave the dock.
Photograph by Julia Sheldon
The view reminded me of a trip I took to the Badlands as a kid and this was my first taste of how geology's history and impact can be seen anywhere you visit.  Upon leaving Longyearbyen we saw our first wildlife sighting, a rare one we were later told. A pod of Beluga whales was swimming out to sea with us and we spent 30-45 minutes just taking in the sight. They appeared like ghosts under the water.

Photograph by Julia Sheldon

Photograph by Julia Sheldon

Later after dinner, we visited our first glacier, Tunabreen and I used the Theta camera to take some 360 degree photos that you can see here in Google Maps.

Julia and I decided to stay up until midnight to experience our first midnight sun along with a couple other shipmates and we made sure we took our picture to mark the occasion.

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