Day 1: Longyearbyen

Today I woke up energised and excited, after a good night’s sleep (finally). It was much needed, even though we planned only a lazy morning: late breakfast and no plans to rush into anything.

Our idea was to walk around Longyearbyen, which is the “biggest” settlement on the Svalbard islands, and one of the few places which is reasonably safe from unwanted encounters with polar bears.

Longyearbyen today

The weather was neither great, nor terrible. A constant temperature of around 7 °C and constant daylight accompanied us until now. I’m writing this post at 23.15 and it’s ridiculously bright. No difference with this morning or earlier in the day.

The town itself is quite small, but it’s fairly stretched and not at all densely populated. On the contrary, available space is the one thing that is not lacking here at any time of the year.

Fuel is a lot cheaper here (in the Northernmost fuel station on the planet) than in Italy. Go figure.

In the afternoon we visited the fantastic Svalbard museum, where you can learn the history, biology and geology of the whole archipelago. A truly immersive experience, it also featured a very interesting temporary exposition: the current studies on permafrost and methane emissions from it. It helped us understand the great impact and vicious circle of global warming and increased greenhouse gases emissions.

As a species, we are responsible for this, and future generations (if any) will curse us forever for our inaction on climate change.

It was all in all a great visit, followed by a quick stroll through town. For dinner we enjoyed some local dishes (fish, a taste of whale, etc.) before finally heading back to our hotel.

Our new friend Tequila, who runs a coffee shop with two ladies in Longyearbyen

Tomorrow the more organised activities will start. I can’t wait!

The plan is to go find some birds to take pictures of. Hopefully the sky will be more clear than today, though it looks like it will be very cloudy for the whole week.

A pity, but that can happen. What’s important is to be here: spending August in Svalbard did have a nice ring to it, and I’m sure today was just the start of a great adventure.

We are now ready for it.