Day 11: Longyearbyen
Even when the hotel is at the airport, you still need to wake up early. We gathered our things, grabbed some breakfast and headed over to the terminal for our 8:15am flight. The check-in was smooth and the first flight to TromsÃƒÂ¸ went off without a hitch. We arrived with plenty of time to make our connecting flight on SAS to the VERY northern island of Svalbard.
After landing in Svalbard, we collected our bags and found the bus that runs new visitors from the airport to all the hotels in the city after each flight arrives. The weather was gorgeous; sunny, a crisp 45-50 degrees, and a refreshing breeze.
The bus dropped us off at the Coal Miner’s Cabins, our home for the next two nights. The cabins used to be real barracks for the miners working in the area. Most of the mines have been abandoned because they mined out all of the coal, so the cabins were converted into lodging for visitors.
We quickly dropped off our stuff, and got ready for our dog-sled carting adventure. Svalbard Husky guide Jacobine picked us up at the cabin, at which point we realized we were the only ones booked this afternoon… awesome! After a quick fitting for warm jumpsuits, we drove south up the valley to meet the dogs. Svalbard Husky owns 86 dogs. We happily greeted them all before getting our team geared up.
We learned how to put the harness on the dogs and attach them to the cart. Once our team was assembled, we learned how to drive the cart –basically, steer, break and don’t drive into the ditch.
Driving the car pulled by six huskies was really fun. They can go pretty fast, and some of the dogs would rather run on their own than with the team. The view of the snow-capped and barren mountains surrounding us wasn’t so bad either.
When we returned, we unclipped our dogs, removed the harnesses, and an brought them back to their kennels where they got dinner. Before leaving, we also got to see the husky puppies that were only six weeks old, as well as a few who were only two weeks old.
We said goodbye to the pups, and were driven back to the cabins. On the way, we saw some reindeer, though none with red noses. In the lounge of the hotel, we enjoyed delicious beer brewed locally in Svalbard. The locals are proud of how far north they are, so many things are “the most northern _____.” Therefore, we are drinking the most northern brewed beer, staying in the most Northern hotel, etc. Dinner at the Coal Miners was also very tasty.
The weather has finally been great for us today, which is quite the advantage in Svalbard. The sun will never fully set when we are here. It is now 11:35pm and it looks like 7:35am out the window. We’ll see you “tomorrow” from the land of the midnight sun!