Day 13: Longyearbyen/Leknes

Other than the fact there was daylight all night, our last morning in Svalbard (or Spitsbergen if you’re Dutch and Grumant if you’re Russian) started out in a similar fashion to the rest of our Norway mornings. A little bit of rain, a little bit of breakfast, and double-checking our plans for the day.

Took this shot by the window at at 2:07am

Carefully reviewing the confirmation sheet for today’s activity

Our flight from Svalbard back to Norway was in the mid-afternoon, so we booked one last adventure for the morning — a fossil hunt! We met our guide at 9:30am and soon discovered the hike/hunt was going to take place just up the valley where our hotel was situated.

Fossil hike guide gives us some directional pointers

Rocky road up the moraine

We hiked up the moraine towards Longyearbyen glacier (but not actually to it). Way back in the days of Pangea, Svalbard was below the equator and therefore tropical. As it drifted North, the vegetation couldn’t survive the cold and dark winters, and eventually died. Many fossils of those plants can be found in the surrounding rocks as the rest were decomposed and compressed into the abundance of coal that is still being mined.

No! This bridge is for Max!

Not much grows here, but enough for reindeer snacks

There was a bit of a learning curve to spotting the rocks with fossils in them. It felt like staring at a pile of puzzle pieces to find the one that’s going to fit. Our guide handed out rock hammers and we doubled our efforts. Eventually, we found some rocks with fossils worth taking back with us.

Checking closely for fossils

When you are told that rock “is not the fossil”

Couple fossil keepers

The terminus of the Longyearbyen Glacier further up the valley

Crazy rocks splitting open like books up here!

Last pass of Coal Miner’s Cabins as we headed back down the valley

A successful fossil hunt completed, our guide drove us to the airport. The Longyearbyen airport pretty much only has one flight at a time, so we checked in our bags with everyone else on the flight, walked through security, and had a seat in the waiting room by the gate. Small airports are fun! Plus, SAS airlines has an efficient way to board a flight… from both the front and aft!

Regular boarding in the front, party boarding in the back

After landing in Tromsø, we passed through customs and re-checked our bags. Svalbard is controlled by Norway, but doesn’t really officially belong to anyone, so another stamp goes in the passport as we officially returned to Norway. We got through security with no issues and found our favorite spot in the Tromso airport to wait for our next flight to Leknes (which is a table by the Pizza Hut). The next flight to Leknes feature the smallest plane on the trip so far. It featured roughly the same seating capacity as a Chicago city bus, with free-for-all seating a la Southwest.

Boarding our puddle jumper to Leknes

Lofoten Islands aerial, Part 1

Lofoten Islands aerial, Part 2

Rather than being confined to the limits of the Leknes bus service for the next two days, we decided to audible and get another rental car — primarily to explore the Lofoten scenic route tomorrow. Finding our AirBnB with the rental car was a snap, and we even grabbed some groceries on the way for dinner and breakfast.

Hatchback station wagons are all the rage here

Found our AirBnB!

Tomorrow, we will explore the Lofoten islands in the morning, and then chill with some Vikings in the afternoon.

1 Comments on “Day 13: Longyearbyen/Leknes”

  1. What fun – fossil hunting! Perhaps you’ll be wanting those keepsakes to be wire wrapped??

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