Following a two day journey involving an impressive four flights (Heathrow to Oslo to Tromsø to Longyearbyen to Ny Alesund) we arrived in what is to be our new home for the next 6 weeks. The scenery had been pretty spectacular even as we left Tromsø, taking us over dramatic mountains and stunning turquoise fjords.
However, coming into land at Longyearbyen, the main settlement on Svalbard, we knew this was a whole different kettle of fish. This was unmistakably the Arctic. Despite skies heavy with thick clouds, the scale of this extraordinary glacial landscape was clear to see. Huge u-shaped valleys meandered down to meet the steely grey fjords scattered with slabs of sea ice, surrounded by mountains draped in starkly contrasting black rock and pure white snow. The small but comfortable 15-seater turboprop that was our carriage through this mysterious landscape only added to the sense of adventure and excitement…
Once we landed, we were greeted by fellow scientists, and taken by minibus to our accommodation. Myself and Susan were quite pleased to see our bedrooms were in the same building as the gym and sports hall, and we had a very comfortable living room and small kitchen. It is all rather luxurious really, and we will definitely not be having to rough it!
The strangest thing about this place has to be the unending daylight – my brain has really been struggling to deal with this concept. Last night at 11pm it was refusing to believe it could possibly be time for bed. Anyway hopefully with time our bodies will adjust….
Today we have begun to designate lab space – trying to accommodate 30+ scientists and all their equipment is somewhat of a logistical nightmare. And once everyone knows where they will be working, the unpacking begins.
Frances, Susan and John
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