SVALBARD ISLANDS: TRIP TO THE NORTH POLE

I have always liked geography and I often find myself digging into memories looking for unusual and unknown destinations for future trips.
It is in one of these researches that the Svalbard Islands have become the enlightening destination.

The islands under the Norwegian flag, often even hidden by the arm of the earth’s axis in the globe, are the northernmost inhabited lands on our planet..

 

Svalbard Islands - Smeerenburg Glacier - iceberg

 

Glaciers occupy 60% of the Svalbard territory, against 27% of stones and 13% of low vegetation.

Although they are part of Norway, they remain outside the Schengen area and this means that, even without the need for a visa, passport is required also for Europeans.

They can be reached by plane from Oslo or Tromso.
There are also cruise ships that connect Svalbard to Norway, Iceland and Greenland.

 

Svalbard Islands - Magdalenfjorden - tundra

 

Longyearbyen is the capital and almost all of the 2,500 inhabitants live here. Its history is linked to coal mines and whale hunting. It is above all the starting point for excursions to the North Pole.
The best way to visit this part of the Arctic is definitely to board a cruise of at least 5 days on the Hurtigruten.
From the capital Longyearbyen you sail north until you pass the80th parallel north, passing by the Russian town of Barentsburg, to Magdalenfjorden with the possibility of bathing in its icy waters, walking on a glacier, and visiting the town of Ny-Ålesund, where scientists from various nations study the climate and the implications that its change is causing.

 

Svalbard Islands - Ny Ålesund - port

 

also recommend taking the excursion to Pyramiden and to the nearby glacier. It is precisely here that I managed to see polar bears, one of the great reasons that pushes us to go to this part of the world.
With a little luck you could also see beluga and whales.
Everything depends on the time of year, the climate and luck.

From 20 April to 22 Augustthe sun is up 24 hours a day, the famous midnight sun. Then come the snow and the northern lights but also the total darkness. It will be the turn of thelong polar night. For 4 months.
It’s the cycle of nature in these latitudes.
Hard to imagine for those who don’t try it.
Difficult to live for those who do not grow there.

 

Polar bear - Arctic

 

To encourage the population of this area, the Norwegian government grants salary tax relief.
Because of the strong alcohol problem especially during the winter months, alcohol is rationed.
Monthly, residents can buy a maximum of 2 liters of spirits and 24 cans of beer at the supermarket. Each purchase is noted on the personal card. Non-residents must show their return flight ticket.
Into the Longyearbyen market, the alcoholic area is in a corner at the right. At 18 the shutter is lowered, on Saturday and Sunday it remains closed.
In bars and restaurants you can drink without the use of the card but the prices, already very expensive at the market, are at least tripled.

You can’t be born here.. The hospital is not equipped and pregnant women must go to Tromso 3 weeks before birth.
And you can’t even die.. The Arctic climate prevents the decomposition of bodies and allows viruses to survive. They noticed this in the 1930s, resurrecting the bodies of some victims of the terrible Spanish influence.
Since then there isn’t cemetery in Svalbard. Older people are forced to spend the last years of their lives away from here.
Longyearbyen is precisely called the city where one cannot die.

 

Svalbard Islands - Pyramiden - reindeer

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