Longyearbyen, the city without dead
78º 16'N 13º 59'E Ymerbukta
We have headed very early towards Longyearbyen, the capital of this curious archipelago of strange status, and possibly having some of the most curious anecdotes we have encountered in our travels. Not only because of the fact that it is considered a city where "nobody dies" but because its anarchy leads to drinking without restriction, being considered one of the most extreme settlements on the planet or housing the "Noah's ark" of the future, with a silo of seeds more than 120 meters below the earthquake and nuclear wars proof surface.
While David and Fernando take us by motor to the port on another beautiful morning, we read that Longyearbyen is also that "city without dead", but not because "no one dies" (we have cheated a little) but because! it is forbidden to die! There are no cemeteries and for decades, there are no cemeteries to house burials, which is at least curious.
What motivated the government to prohibit such a right? The truth is that everything comes from a curious story. The Longyearbyen and, in general, in the Svalbard, on the polar night that lasts more than 4 months, temperatures of less than -50ºC can be reached, which made the dead remain almost intact. If they had died with a flu or other infections, the idea that in the future could defrost and come back to life was restored. The inmortality? This caused a kind of boom that ended up generating such a ban
The truth is that the stories of this city are exciting, but we are even more attracted to the shower that we are going to stick as we see the pier with its hot water facilities already prepared for us. Yes, we haven't showered in the Arctic! What happens? Let's see who is the handsome man who is able to shower some graduates below zero ... !! "Portuguese" washing has been the order of the day! (except Paula, who had the privilege of sticking a hot shower halfway through adventure)
78º 13'N 15º 35 'E Longyearbyen
With a comfort that we had not felt for a long time, and that we will not deny that as adventurous as we are it is a pleasure to have, we walk through the most tourist city of Svalbard, full of icons and curiosities. Did you know the giant mailbox to send letters to Santa Claus? Paula has already sent hers this year
Restaurants, cafes, discos, heated pool, churches, hotels, restaurants, hospitals ... !! It is a small town out of Twin Peaks, and where walking parallel to the road to its nerve area is a pleasant walk.
Unfortunately, (or fortunately), our closest encounter with the polar bear is going to be in one of the shoulders of this path or in the museum we are heading to. The polar bear will continue to be one of the great absentees of our trips for another year. Unique dwarf reindeer, polar foxes, hairy seals and other especially unique fauna have fed a unique but not complete trip.
The polar bear is located in latitudes much further north with climate change and it is important to know if someone wants to see it in Svalbard Islands, one of the places where the concentration of bears is greater than of people, but exceeding latitude 80º at the time midnight sun (that is, summer). However, polar bear attacks remain stories every year, and the deaths, even of tourists, regulars (who following the policy of "forbidden dead!" are immediately transferred by airplane outside Svalbard if the bear leaves something)
One of the best visits that can be made in Longyearbyen is its museum. It is undoubtedly one of the most interesting that we have found in the world, with spectacular recreations of all the fauna of the islands, explanations of global warming (amazing as the main glaciers have diminished over the last few years and shown in sequences of photos and video), sale of excursions and a shop to take good books even in Spanish (highly recommended "Pyramiden, portrait of an abandoned utopia" by Kjartan Flogstad)
There is also a university, car dealership (!! and snowmobiles !! for the winter), some hotels (as we told the day we started the trip to the Norwegian Arctic not too many which makes them always full and difficult to visit during the year) and many shops.
Although our course leads us to buy the latest souvenirs in supermarkets and shops and to the "group base" in Longyearbyen, the Kroa Tavern, one of the most welcoming places in the entire city.
Restaurants and cafes offer all kinds of food, many of them based on local ingredients such as seal, whale, reindeer (not the dwarf, endangered), grouse, fish or even, on exceptional occasions, Polar Bear (which has had a fatal outcome, never by hunting, also prohibited). In addition to the Kroa, the Huset (with an extensive wine list) or a Sami shop, you can be very special and special experiences.
But retaking the issue of bear attacks on peopleFernando tells us, the creepiest stories collected in the main taverns. For example, the one that says that not long ago, and although it is mandatory to carry a rifle, a bear caught by surprise some tourists climbing a nearby hill. I grab one of the girls in the group and as much as the classmates tried to do, they never heard from her again.
Other bear attacks did not have a better outcome, such as the one that a group of expeditionaries with their stores also had in the surroundings of Longyearbyen where despite putting up to 3 warning systems in case a bear approaches at night, it seems that they failed all, and the animal cracked one of the stores taking a man to his own feast. Or the bear attacks collected by the press whose objective was a group of British tourists.
While the midnight sun returns to those reddish-colored colors that have made us so in love these days, we think that although man is not one of the polar bear's favorite dishes, because of his lack of fat, one knows what he would do in conditions of hunger ... imagine if all your instincts are survival!
Karl Berger Pub, the 6th best bar in the world ...
... in variety of alcoholic beverages. And it is that in a city where one "cannot die", if there is room for nightlife.
The Karl Berger Pub, where we finished the night, is one of the liveliest places in all of Longyearbyen, with an "extreme" selection of drinks ranging from the best selection of whiskey and cognac in Europe to "museum" pieces like the Armagnac from 1908, all carefully decorated with even portraits of the most famous miners passed through this place
For the most senior in the field, Balblair, Ben Nevis, Dalmore, Ledaig, Pultney, Rhosdhu, Little Mill, Inchmurrin, Bruichladdich, Aberlour, Iona and even Japanese malt Suntory. Are you missing any? What are you more about vodka or rum? !!No lack!! Beer? !!Neither!!
We take this opportunity to collect expenses from DAY 10, which are too many to have "the floating accommodation": a couple of excellent dinners at the Kroa (NOK 420 and NOK 610), souvenirs in Pyramiden and today here, including the book for 179 NOK , the entrance to the museum 150 NOK, and several other minors.
Longyearbyen, the city of bear attacks and city without dead at the same time, say goodbye to our last night? in Svalbard Islands. Longyearbyen? Anyone would say that they have put the name properly for their "long" "years" and "goodbye". It seems incredible how the human being has managed to put a person at a point so close to the North Pole in less than 1 day at his home in A Coruña, where others spent months and years leaving their lives on a daring expedition ... but We'll talk about that tomorrow.
Paula and Isaac, saying goodbye to "happy" Longyearbyen -Svalbard (Norway)
TOTAL SVALBARD EXPENSES:NOK 2,320 (EUR 279)