Jan 20, 2013

SVALBARD - where the polar bears rule

17.may,   norways national day, here with svalbards governor,& the mining music corps

oh my... svalbard! what to tell, and what to not tell. i wish i could fill up hundreds of pages about this rugged, arctic desert island, positioned 78degrees north. an island, where no human really are ment to be, live or settle. the land where the sun either is a constant ball of light in the sky 24/7, or never rises up above the horizon. the land where the polar bear rule, and is king - or queen.

snowmobiles are more common then cars

svalbard is a land of grey zones. it's no ones property! every one can go there. taxes are flat rated, alcohol, and most else is cheap. immigration laws are blurry. which has consequently resulted in a diversity you will only find in a big city. cultural blooming. and the people... oh, those fantastic and lovely people! they stick together, no matter! they only have them selves, it's a society of about three thousand citizens, closed up from the rest of the world, only having airplanes (it's a three hour flight from the mainland to svalbard), and ships as a connection to the rest of the world. it's bound to be a close "relationship" among the few.

and few they are... longyear (city) is a mining society. rich on coal, the mining industry is more or less the only reason for the settlement, and the reason why the small town longyear was built. it is an arctic desert! it has permafrost in the ground, which means it never thaws completely. pipes and sewer lines are built above the ground. temperatures can drop as low as minus 85 fahrenheit in mid-winter, if the wind picks up. i been out in that weather, i felt it. and it really, really hurts! but the people don't mind it. those who have settled down there, for maybe a short year, or maybe 20 years, are used to it. they know how to survive it, and how to do the best out of any situation. by the way, the bigger, and thicker coat you have there, the cooler you are. ha!


svalbard does not have a prime minister, or king (as norway has). it has a governor, or in norwegian, "sysselmann". norway was only given the task of ruling, and the island is split in a russian part, "barentsburg", also called "the pyramid" (wiki-link), and the norwegian part. as the russian settlement also was built for mining purposes, it is now almost abandoned. it would prove to costly to bring out the coal. still, local guides and travel agencies offer travels to barentsburg, and as it is now more or less a ghost town, it is a place worth seeing if you ever get the chance. time there has more or less frozen, just as the world around it is...

svalbard, & russian barentsburg' common house, with lenin (wiki image share)

the polar bears! i never saw one. or, at least a live one. i'm actually glad i never did. but we had a few of them that came a little too close to the city settlement, luckily they were able to scare them away, in stead of putting them down. svalbard, and longyear, is the polar bears kingdom! they rule it. it's their natural habitat, along with some few other rough animals. animals that are made thru times of evolution, to be able to survive, and live in the arctic. still, even tho they rarely come too close, polarbears are always a natural enemy for humans (or vica versa). everyone who is traveling outside the settlements of longyear, are legally enforced to carry arms! heavy weapons, strong, and powerful enough, to stop a ton of angry muscles, coming at you in a speed of 30miles an hour. school teachers, kinder gardens, they all have armed guards with them, when ever they are outside in the school yard, or are any where else then inside the main school building. it's necessary. very much so...  i wish i had a picture of it, but i don't. but a local very well known phenomenon is the "mommy mafia". young mothers, that, during a few days of each week, gathers together to walk their sweet toddlers in their strollers along the main road, that runs from the airport, to the towns center. long lines with colourful strollers, and mommy's, carrying rifles on their back, and magnum revolvers on their hips. ha ha! that is also necessary. and it is a sight you will never forget, if you once are so lucky to experience it!

svalbard isn't like any town

svalbard! aah! i miss it! so. so. much! and the people. so happy! so social, so friendly. you go to a bar, you will be in a conversation in a second. you go to a restaurant, and they ask you if you will join their table. you go out for a drink, and you won't be back in your own bed before the stores open the next morning. you are at this persons after party, where you are having the time of your life with amazing people...

this time, drinks are on the house

cold weather, many dangers, no newspapers in days (if the plane gets canceled because of bad weather, as happens frequently during winter time), a closed society, that are the last stop on earth with a settlement, if you are going to the north pole. a place, where the sun is not showing a single beam of light from october, til april. or where it never sets, from may til july... it's all worth it - so much! it is all so different then you imagine it will be. it's the most northern point in the world, where people live. and it has everything you can imagine, and so much more. i'll be back, soon...

longyear city, a late january month, during mid-day

warning! polarbears

an entrance to an old, closed mine

the bar where i worked

inside the "peoples common house" - cinema, and concert hall

downtown longyear city, svalbard

pigged mountains surrounds the town

spring time

a huge walrus, enjoying the warm spring sun

morning coffee outside in minus 10 degrees
good, dark shades are necessary

two bff polar foxes, following me around

svalbard, and longyear during the summer

at longyear airport

very windy

"svalbard airport, inaugurated by His Majesty the King Olav V, sept. 2nd, 1975"

russian departure

i'm going home. til next time!