Franz Josef Land & Svalbard - 2018

Discovery Days

Day 1 – Barentsburg & “All Aboard!”

Usually expedition ships are not available for boarding until late afternoon on the first day of the voyage and this trip was in the norm. So to keep all of us entertained while we waited in Longyearbyen for boarding, we were taken by catamaran (The Arctic Explorer) to visit the Russian settlement, Barentsburg. The city of 500 Russians and Ukrainians was a sail of 1 ½ hours away. The sky was gray with dense hanging clouds that threatened rain but never delivered. The craggy mountain tops were at times obscured by the clouds and their steep sides were black and wet. Still, our “float” was impressive since we could see how bleak and cold the whole area we traversed looked.

And when we moored at the town’s loading dock, this impression lingered. From the dock to the city required walking up 252 wooden steps to reach the flat plateau where the streets and buildings were located.

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