Where the Streets Have No Name


Nope, this is not about the U2 song at all. Sorry to disappoint you, but now that you are here anyways… I am absolutely certain that U2 could write a fantastic tune about Longyearbyen! How could they not? It is so song-worthy! See for yourself:

SAMSUNG CSC

This is the end – or beginning – of Street 100 in Longyearbyen

 

SAMSUNG CSC

See that row of lights on the tundra? That is a row of snowmobiles coming back to town on the tundra, parallel to Street 400

 

20130306_141442

And this is Old Mamasan getting ready to go for a short trip on the ol’ Yamaha, starting from Street 232.

 

SAMSUNG CSC

Tundra road?

Do you find it strange that the Streets have numbers instead of names? I do too, really. But it makes it darn easy to navigate once you see the pattern in it. Just like Manhattan! (Did I really just compare Longyearbyen to Manhattan? LOL!)

Do I look daring on a snowmobile with a rifle over my shoulder? Just a regular part of living in the northernmost town in the world.

I know, I know, there has been many rants from me over Svalbard lately, and I guess I’m not done… Seeing as most people who have spent some time on the island do rant, I think it’s safe to say that once you have been bitten by the «Polar Bug» – you’ll never recover. Ever. There is just something so sincere and authentic about living in the Arctic.

And I really do think that U2 should write a song about Longyearbyen!

SAMSUNG CSC

 

A Svalbard Love Story


My nose and forehead was cold from being pressed up against the aircraft window as I was trying to catch a peak of what would be my home for the summer. I was 22 and held a freshly pressed diploma in my hand. And I had just landed my first real job, yanno, the full time job that was actually relevant to the letters on my diploma.

I wasn’t just excited to get a relevant job that quick, but at such an exotic location! I knew practically nothing about the place. I knew no one who had even been there. All I knew was that it was a Company town in the Arctic, and that they mined for coal. Sure I knew the dry facts, on how it was “No man’s land” or Treaty country – governed by Norway. I knew there were Norwegians and Russians and Polar bears.  But I had no clue what I was in for, didn’t know anything about work and life in the northernmost town in the world, Longyearbyen. I thought I had been quite daring

I strained my eyes to see through the thick layer of clouds that surrounded the plane as we had started our descend to Svalbard Airport, Longyearbyen. Finally a strange landscape revealed itself to me as we broke through the clouds. It was indeed a barren land. An inhospitable facade.  My nervousness increased as I asked myself, “What the hell is this place? How am I going to survive this cold, sterile, grey land?”

My new boss was chirping away about this mountain, and that fjord and coalmines and tourists and historic facts as we drove from the airport towards town. As we drove past the industrial area with rusty old rinky-dink containers and equipment lying about, my concern grew. What in the hell was this place? I remember thinking that I was a complete dingbat to accept a job up here without doing any research first. Surely this was information that I should have sought out on beforehand?

Boss lady was smiling and talking very enthusiastically as we approached town, giving me a guided tour. I felt my brain shutting down from the information overload provided by boss lady and all the visual impressions. I tried my damndest to respond to boss lady in a polite and positive manner, I really didn’t want to give her the impression that I was a complete nutter, however that was what I obviously was.

As I stepped out of the car and finally faced the view I had had my back against most of the way into town – or there had been stuff in the way blocking my view, that is when it hit me – and it hit me hard. I fell in love with Svalbard, with Longyearbyen. I finally understood boss lady’s enthusiasm. I got it. I really got it.

Svalbard really is The Greatest Place in the World

Mirror
Passionate

Light


“A single sunbeam is enough to drive away many shadows.” ― Francis of Assisi

1-1-pyramden-og-nordenskioldbreen-020906-jpg-2811-1-pyramden-og-nordenskioldbreen-020906-jpg-282

3-days-3-quotes1

I would like to thank Michelle Mac (Southern by design) for thinking of me as a prospective participant in the «3 Days 3 Quotes Challenge». Michelle not only masters the art of poetry, but also writes really good thought provoking personal pieces. She has also been known to snap some really good photos! So don’t hang around here – go check her out!

Let me talk you through the rules of the challenge:

  1. Three quotes for three days.
  2. Three nominees each day (no repetition).
  3. Thank the person who nominated you.
  4. Inform the nominees.

Day 3 Nominees:

I urge you all to check them out, you will not be disappointed!

1-1-pyramden-og-nordenskioldbreen-020906-jpg-272

Clouds
Graceful

Cabin fever?


«If you’re going to have a cabin fever, have a big cabin, you know.» – Joe Cocker

05-3-hyttetur-080906-jpg-7

The Karate Kid on his way to the cabin

04-3-hyttetur-080906-jpg-6

Looks small underneath the mountain

02-3-hyttetur-080906-jpg-4

Glorious view

03-3-hyttetur-080906-jpg-5

Just a little hike

06-3-hyttetur-080906-jpg-8

Please excuse the clutter behind the outhouse, it was the maid’s day off…

07-3-hyttetur-080906-jpg-11

I miss this place!

10-3-hyttetur-080906-jpg-16

Not fancy, but comfortable

11-3-hyttetur-080906-jpg-17

Not my fav color on the furniture, but they worked just fine

09-3-hyttetur-080906-jpg-13

What is better than being IN the cabin? Playing outside of it!

Yes, we are still on Svalbard, and still in September 2006. We sold the cabin before we moved to the mainland, and I miss both Longyearbyen and the cabin immensly. I am not going to pretend that this is a huge, fancy cabin, but it was perfect for us. Also not a huge quest to get there, just perfect for a five-year-old to hike to.

3-days-3-quotes1

I would like to thank Michelle Mac (Southern by design) for thinking of me as a prospective participant in the «3 Days 3 Quotes Challenge». Michelle not only masters the art of poetry, but also writes really good thought provoking personal pieces. She has also been known to snap some really good photos! So don’t hang around here – go check her out!

Let me talk you through the rules of the challenge:

  1. Three quotes for three days.
  2. Three nominees each day (no repetition).
  3. Thank the person who nominated you.
  4. Inform the nominees.

Day 2 Nominees:

I urge you all to check them out, you will not be disappointed!

 

Nordenskiold Glacier


1-1-pyramden-og-nordenskioldbreen-020906-jpg-124

Above the yellow building, you and Lenin see the Nordenskiold glacier

In my post a couple of days ago, I presented the world’s northernmost Lenin statue (see this post: Lenin’s Arctic View), and more importantly – his views. Now what exactly is he looking at? Yes, a glacier. This glacier, Nordenskiöldbreen, is located at Svalbard at the bottom of Billefjorden. It is named after a Finnish and Swedish baron, geologist, mineralogist and Arctic Explorer; Nils Adolf Erik Nordenskiöld (1832 – 1901). He led the Vega expedition along the northern coast of Eurasia in 1878-1879 – which was the first complete crossing of the Northeast Passage.

Now, there are far more impressive glaciers on Svalbard than this one, but this is one of the more frequently visited ones. I have crossed it several times on snowmobile and sailed close to it on ships. Whenever I see a glacier I can’t help but think about the great Arctic explorers of the past, and the words of Roald Amundsen (first to reach the South Pole) comes to mind:

“Adventure is just bad planning.”

I am way too safety conscious to go on a quest the South Pole, but I do agree with Amundsen. In my travels I do find that not planning everything to the tiniest detail, does allow me to experience my own adventures, however small they might be.


I would like to submit one of my photos of the Nordenskiold Glacier for Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge: Two different things or the number two.  Being a smart chick here (Please do not argue, let me just pretend to be a smart cookie – it’s just easier and less painful that way) – I would like to point out that my picture contains two references to the number 2: It is water in two forms (solid and fluid)and the chemical formula contains the number 2. Yanno, H2O! So I am giving you two diffrent forms of the same substance –  H2O! See? Can you say «Nerd Much?»

1-1-pyramden-og-nordenskioldbreen-020906-jpg-179


I would like to thank Michelle Mac (Southern by design) for thinking of me as a prospective participant in the «3 Days 3 Quotes Challenge». Michelle not only masters the art of poetry, but also writes really good thought provoking personal pieces. She has also been known to snap some really good photos! So don’t hang around here – go check her out!

Let me talk you through the rules of the challenge:

  1. Three quotes for three days.
  2. Three nominees each day (no repetition).
  3. Thank the person who nominated you.
  4. Inform the nominees.

3-days-3-quotes1Day 1 Nominees:

I urge you all to check them out, you will not be disappointed!

1-1-pyramden-og-nordenskioldbreen-020906-jpg-285

Want to see more pictures from Svalbard? Then check out the category above under English posts: Svalbard
H2O

Lenin’s Arctic View


Pyramiden is an abandoned Russian coal-mining settlement in Billefjorden, Svalbard – named after the pyramid-shaped mountain adjacent to the town. Unfortunately, on this day back in Sept 2006, the mountain giving the name to the settlement was wrapped in clouds. This abandoned settlement is still generous with photo ops.

In 1910, the Swedes founded the village that they later sold to the Soviet Union in 1927. Owned and run by the Russian mining company Trust Arktikugol, Pyramiden once had over 1000 inhabitants. The coal mine was shut down in 1998 and the last permanent resident left 6 months later.

If you want to visit Pyramiden, it is reachable from Longyearbyen by boat in the summer and by snowmobile in the winter. There are no limitations to visiting Pyramiden, so you can go individually, but I still recommend to go as a part of a guided tour, unless you really know what you are doing – which most tourists don’t.

Remember that you are not allowed to enter any of the buildings even if they are unlocked. If the buildings are left alone and not broken into and vandalized, it is predicted that the major buildings will still be visible 500 years from now, all due to the low rate of decay in this frigid climate.

The Swedish singer, Tove Styrke, was allowed to film scenes for her music video for her single “Borderline”, and is showcasing quite a few interior shots from Pyramiden.

Of course, on Svalbard you will find several claims of things being the world’s northernmost, and in Pyramiden you find a few:

  • The world’s northernmost grand piano
  • The world’s northernmost swimming pool.
  • The world’s northernmost monument to Vladimir Lenin

Since 2007, Trust Arktikugol has been maintaining the ghost town and repurposing it as a tourist attraction, by upgrading infrastructure and renovating the hotel – which they reopened in 2013. Go here for booking: Tulpan Hotel Pyramiden

So how’s that for travel goals, eh? Go to a Russian ghost town in the arctic and spend the night!

Want to see more photos from Svalbard? Check out these previous posts:


Welcoming the sunset back

It was home

Blue much?

Showing some super S’es

Arctic Camping

Arctic Tundra – a sparce landscape

Evening at Borebreen

Snow car much?

Arctic Autumn

Skansbukta, Svalbard

Resilient

Skansbukta, Svalbard


Svalbard has many abandoned mining sites, and just a short boat trip away from Longyearbyen is beautiful Skansbukta. There are several commercial ships that take you on a day trip to many different sites from Longyearbyen. The ones headed for Pyramiden and Nordenskiold Glacier usually take a swing by the Skansbukta so you can take your pictures – as I did in early September 2006.

Skansbukta, a bay protected from winds from most directions, lays in the outer part of Billefjorden. The impressive cliff is named Skansen. Here you find remains of a gypsum mine that was active for about half a year in 1918, and again for a few years from 1930.

Everything man-made that you see here are protected cultural remains, and must under no circumstance be moved or ruined.

Want to see more photos from Svalbard? Check out these previous posts:

1-002Welcoming the sunset back

It was home

Blue much?

Showing some super S’es

Arctic Camping

Arctic Tundra – a sparce landscape

Evening at Borebreen

Snow car much?

Arctic Autumn

Graceful

Arctic Autumn


Browsing through old pictures, I came across these from September 2005. This is from our time living in the northernmost town in the world.

I miss it greatly, and would love to move back there. Alas there aren’t that many interesting jobs, it is very expensive to live there and not a whole lot of options when it comes to The Karate Kid’s education. Thus, I look at old pictures and miss the clear, crisp days of the arctic autumn. Days like this when it was perfect to put on lots of clothes and go for a hike or boat ride – or both. Go out of town, turn off the engine of the boat or car, or snowmobile and just sit. Relax. Observe. Enjoy. You get very aware of yourself in surroundings like these. You feel both very small and very mighty at the same time. You feel very alive. You excist Here and Now. It’s completely silent on windless days like this. The only thing you hear is your own breath and the rustling of your clothes. It’s wonderful. Scary. Nice. Relaxing.

Maybe one day I’ll be able to convince Sir Nerdalot to move up there with me, and until I do I rest assured that Svalbard will still be there even if it takes me 10 years.

The Greatest Place in the World

5-015_vindodden_2309053-009_vindodden_2309051-002_vindodden_2309052-004_vindodden_2309054-014_vindodden_230905

Want to see more photos from Svalbard? Check out these previous posts:

Welcoming the sunset back

It was home

Blue much?

Showing some super S’es

Arctic Camping

Arctic Tundra – a sparce landscape

Evening at Borebreen

Snow car much?

Snow car much?


1-Svalbard kart

Svalbard is «Treaty Country», and governed by Norway. You need a passport as you are leaving the Schengen when you go there.

I used to live in the northernmost town in the world. Longyearbyen, Svalbard. Living at 78 degrees north, means that you have to deal with midnight sun for 4 months, and the total absence of sunlight for 2 months, called Polar Night, when the sun is 6 degrees or more below the horizon all the time. I did not mind the dark season at all – I actually enjoyed it. But – of course it was a great pleasure when the light started to return, first in the form of a short period every day with this intense blue light, and later with actual daylight.

Soldiagram

Sun diagram of Longyearbyen – showing the seasons of the sun. Until I find the English version, the Noregian one just has to do.

As Longyearbyen is situated in a North-facing valley, the first sunrays actually shining onto the mountain north of the bay was always a welcomed sight. For every day the sun would reach further and further down the side of the mountain. Then it would creep across the iced bay and noticeably approach the town more for each day.

7-055_Kjøretur_170306

Sun shining on Hiorthfjell, not yet reaching town.

The day when the sun shines on the location where the stairs to the old hospital used to be in town (the building long since demolished) – that is the official “sun day” in Longyearbyen- March 8th.  All the kids are dressed up in yellow hats and collars resembling the sun or sun rays – and they gather around the stairs where the sun is to shine upon and they sing for the sun’s return. Good times!

The whole week when the sun is returning is turned into a giant sun festival. There are concerts, plays, vernissages, choir-café and all kinds of cultural events taking place on all the venues in town. It is great fun! And there is something to suit any age and any interest.

1-038_Hyttetur_210304

The Kid showing great taste in snowmobiles – chosing mine over his dad’s.

And then you also have “Ta Sjangsen” («Take the Chance», directly translated) which takes place on the foot of the mountain directly north of Longyearbyen. This is a fun contest where teams make sledges that they decorate, and the aim is to get down the hill the fastest, and there are also prizes for the best decorated sledge. Great fun!

It was at this event – the “Take the Chance” – where the ol’ hubby had planned a spectacular arrival. A formidable entrance. A great opening Line.

You see, snowmobiles are common. There are in fact more registered snowmobiles in Longyearbyen than there are residents.  At “Take the Chance” the preferred mode of transport is to go by snowmobile. The ol’ hubby had gotten his hot, little hands on a different belted, snow going vehicle – some sort of a car, or small pick-up truck if you prefer. Let’s call it a “snow car”!

3-036_Ta_sjangsen_Hiorthamn_110306

The Kid thought the «snow car» was funny.

We got into all our bundles of clothes that are quite necessary – it is still very cold even though the sun is about to return, and got ourselves seated in the “snow car”. Down through the town towards the bay went with no hick ups. Also crossing the ice on the bay. No probs. A bit bumpy on the beach on the north side of the bay, but we still got ashore with no probs. Yea, we were looking good!

6-043_Ta_sjangsen_Hiorthamn_110306

The orange one has less seats and more loading space then the red one.

The ol’ hubby had planned a somewhat late arrival – and he wanted to make an elegant turn and park at the end of the front row of snowmobiles that were already neatly parked – next to the other weirdo «snow car» that were in town. We started driving up the small hill that would take us to the planned parking spot.

4-037_Ta_sjangsen_Hiorthamn_110306

Two examples of «snow cars» – the orange one was ol’ hubby’s toy.

And that is when the “snow car” decided to have the personality of a spoiled, hormonal teenager. The ol’ hubby tried to reason with it – but as everyone who has ever met a teenager knows – his attempts did not bear fruit. Old Mamasan found this whole situation to be unbearably embarrassing.

5-042_Ta_sjangsen_Hiorthamn_110306

The Kid retrieving his skis.

Old Mamasan – being of somewhat sound mind – quickly grabbed the Kid and jumped out of the “snow car”. I spent the next hour pretending not to know the ol’ hubby, and to have absolutely nothing to do with the “snow car”. Yup- I imposed an embargo on him, of sorts.

2-035_Ta_sjangsen_Hiorthamn_110306

Not the best weather this day – so lots of clothes was necessary.

With the help of a friend, the ol’ hubby got the snow car running again, and as it was a really long walk home, and both the Kid and I were starting to get a bit cold – I decided it was time to lift the embargo and get into the “snow car” for the return to town.

Besides – Longyearbyen is a town where everybody know everybody, so the whole pretending not to know ol’ hubby was useless.


Would you like to see more of this breathtaking scenery and know more about life in the Northernmost town in the world? Click on the links below:

Evening at Borebreen

Arctic Tundra – a sparce landscape

Arctic Camping

Showing some super S’es

Blue much?

It was home

Welcoming the sunset back

Shiver

Behind my old house…


My old house in Norway had a beautiful location. Close to Stavanger and Sandnes, close to the beaches of Jæren, and close to so many good hiking spots and scenic locations. Old Mamasan is no City Slicker, and chose to visit cities rather than to live in them.

SAMSUNG CSC

Only 15 meters from my old house, this is the view!

The hilltop right behind my house was a perfect place to walk the dog and take in some great scenery.

SAMSUNG CSC

Sir Hoof Hearted loves to rund around with sticks.

Ålgård has a population of 8938 people (2015), and was up until 1870 farmland. In 1870 Ole Nielsen started a wool mill, and the village started to grow. Not the most exciting of places, but peaceful and close to the amenities of the bigger towns Sandnes and Stavanger.

SAMSUNG CSC

Who would’nt want to live like this?

Will I ever move back there? Highly doubtful – as Sir Nerdalot thinks there is too much snow in the winter *giggles* Plus we have no connection to the village – we only bought there because we got a lot of house for our money.

Clouds
Mirror
Exquisite