The day before we had left our hotel in Oslo in the morning and taken the train to the airport to catch our flight to Longyearbyen. Sadly we only had a short time to explore Longyearbyen after our Covid tests and before we had to join the “mandatory” Hurtigruten organised tour in the afternoon.
Day 5 Thursday, 23 June 2022 Morning in Longyearbyen
The wind was howling as I woke up and then after checking the forecast I read about the 30+ mile per hour gusts as well as 15 to 20 mph wind.
Breakfast was in the same large room as as before only this time it was a buffet. I had smoked salmon and scrambled eggs – delicious. Rather than our original plan to go for a wander immediately after breakfast, we now had to wait until our time for Covid testing. This was scheduled in the middle of the morning in the next building.
Looking out of the restaurant windows we could see other ships at anchor.
Covid tests and check-in for the ship
The low temperature and high winds took our breath away as we walked up the steps to the next building. This building contained the offices of Hurtigruten in Longyearbyen.
After a quick check of our papers we were sat in a room waiting to be swabbed, we were given numbers and asked to present ourselves to a ship’s officer when called. Our NHS vaccination certificates were checked closely and our ship’s manifest form was looked over and then our temperatures were taken. The other half of the room was filled with chairs and this was the very simple queueing system. We shuffled around the room moving chair to chair as we moved closer and closer to the front and one of the ship’s receptionists.
The good news was as we were about to be processed, our negative results were confirmed. He photographed our passports photographed, then we had our pictures taken, and lastly we received luggage tags and an envelope with the initial details about the voyage and our cruise cards.
Once back in the hotel, we passed at the side of the hotel lobby another bar. This was already full of people eating and drinking. This bar it seems was a popular place to eat and drink in the town.
Back in the hotel, we had to put our cases in a room by the hotel lobby for later pick up.
Our afternoon in Longyearbyen was to be a mandatory exploration of the area with visits to help us get a “feeling” of the place. But first we put on all our cold weather gear on and went outside to go up to the shops and see more of Longyearbyen.
Once outside of the hotel car park and on the unpaved street was when we first noticed the dust being whipped up by the wind as we walked towards the shops.
One of the reminders that Longyearbyen had been a “coal town” were the towers carrying the bucket train that carried coal to the docks.
Inside Lonyearbyen’s shopping mall there were lots of people. It too had a café that was very busy. Across the street was a large supermarket and curiosity got the better of us and we went inside.
Compared to the shops in the mall, the supermarket was very light and airy. On the door was an interesting sign. (Not my picture.)
I did pick up some chocolate, just in case we needed a snack later! The supermarket had sold out of local fridge magnets so it would be back to the mall for one.
This is the tourist photograph of the sign as you leave Longyearbyen – the picture I wasn’t allowed to take – see the afternoon blog of our afternoon.
Towards the fjord
We walked from the pedestrianised main street down to towards a busy road past another of the towers. On our way we passed rows of snowmobiles waiting for the next winter and snow. There are allegedly more snowmobiles on Svalbard that humans!
As we walked we could see ships in the fjord below us. We walked to the bottom of the hill to get a better view.
The bad news was that this meant dodging trucks and cars until we could get back on a pavement.
We walked past the university and museum buildings up the exposed path to the hotel.
This path took us out of the shelter of the buildings and the wind gusts hit us so badly that we almost came to a stop.
From the side of the hotel we had these views of the anchored ships in the fjord.
Lunch in the Radisson
The restaurant was laid out for our lunch. We sat down early at a window table. Through the large windows I was able to see more of the ships in the fjord.
One of the new ships that had the sailed into the anchorage was a Norwegian Coastguard ship, NoCGV Nordkapp (W320) . She came in and passed around the other ships before moving away.
Sadly there were no vouchers for “house” alcohol at lunch and instead I bought some local IPA to have with the pork main course.
As we were finishing our meal we were asked to leave in the next 15 minutes as the room was needed for another party.
Afternoon in Longyearbyen and joining MS Spitsbergen. TBA