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Yearly Archives: 2016 − Travelblog


Kabel­våg, Tjeld­berg­tin­den – 22nd May 2016

How gre­at does it feel, hot sun rays as you get out befo­re break­fast! What a con­trast to the grey, wet wea­ther last night!

The locals in Lofo­ten can be very crea­ti­ve and artis­tic. You enter a public pho­ne and you find a libra­ry. I guess the­re are not too many libra­ri­es in the world that are smal­ler.

Kabel­våg used to be the capi­tal of the Lofo­ten islands in medieval times, this is whe­re it star­ted more than a thousand years ago. You can get an idea of life, eco­no­my and power through the cen­tu­ries in the open air muse­um, which can only be recom­men­ded.

More recent tracks lead us away from Kabel­våg and into the beau­tiful natu­re, along a like and up the moun­tain Kjeld­berg­tin­den. A first class 360 degree pan­o­r­amic view in the finest suns­hi­ne. The beau­tiful coast­li­nes with many bays and sker­ries, the snow cover­ed, rug­ged moun­ta­ins, wood- and wet­lands, sett­le­ments … ever­y­thing is shi­ning under and around us.

Gal­lery – Kabel­våg, Tjeld­berg­tin­den – 22nd May 2016

Click on thumb­nail to open an enlar­ged ver­si­on of the spe­ci­fic pho­to.

After a cou­ple of hours we con­ti­nue with Anti­gua again, until we can enjoy a calm evening and night in the litt­le port of Skro­va.

Rei­ne & Nusfjord – 21st May 2016

Rai­ny day, dream away, let the suns­hi­ne take a holi­day … I guess Jimi Hen­drix did not think of Lofo­ten when he wro­te that. Or may­be he did? On some days, it would cer­tain­ly fit. Today was one of the­se days.

This did not keep us – well, some of us – to climb up to an alti­tu­de of 438 m abo­ve Rei­ne to enjoy the view. And it was worth it! Initi­al­ly, it was just grey, but then the clouds ope­ned up for some pre­cious minu­tes. The view of Rei­ne from the moun­tain is ama­zing.

Gal­lery – Rei­ne & Nusfjord – 21st May 2016

Click on thumb­nail to open an enlar­ged ver­si­on of the spe­ci­fic pho­to.

Then the curtain went down again, and so did we.
After an after­noon visit to Nusfjord, we con­tin­ued to Kabel­våg.

Bodø – 20th May 2016

It is a rapid chan­ge from win­ter to sum­mer. It is not long ago that we went to Barents­burg by snow mobi­le, and today is the start of the nor­t­hern sum­mer for me. Quite a spe­cial sum­mer, my 20th one, coun­ting Spits­ber­gen sum­mers. I am a bit proud of it, but it makes me feel a bit old at the same time. Well, that is just how it is.
Yes­ter­day I came to Bodø, crossing the arc­tic cir­cle at an alti­tu­de of 30000 feet (give or take a few, I did not check). I have not seen the arc­tic cir­cle, but I know it was the­re, far below us.

Good old Anti­gua was wai­ting along­side in the har­bour of Bodø. Or rather, good new Anti­gua. The ship has chan­ged quite a bit sin­ce I have seen her for the last time in Novem­ber. Same place, by the way, but quite dif­fe­rent. Back then, it was dark and cold. Now, it is warm and sun­ny, very plea­sant. I was quite curious to see her now, 8 m lon­ger. And inde­ed, the midd­le deck resem­bles a foot­ball field. Well, in com­pa­ri­son. The new cab­ins are also quite impres­si­ve.

Old fri­ends and new faces, good spi­rits, a hap­py start into a new sea­son. Ves­t­fjor­den is also in good shape, the 40 nau­ti­cal miles (give or take a few, I did not check) are pure plea­su­re, sit­ting on deck in the sun. The famous Lofot­veg­gen, the chain of moun­ta­ins that makes up the islands which are rising from the sea like a wall, are slow­ly coming clo­ser, the out­liers Mos­ken and Værøy in the beau­tiful light of the evening sun.

Gal­lery – Bodø – 20th May 2016

Click on thumb­nail to open an enlar­ged ver­si­on of the spe­ci­fic pho­to.

It is late as we get­ting near the har­bour of Rei­ne, and just as we are about to enter, we meet a pod of Orca. We stay with them for a litt­le while. A big male with an impres­si­ve dor­sal fin and seve­ral smal­ler ones, inclu­ding a calf or two.

It could stay like this for the who­le sum­mer 🙂

Barents­burg – 16th April, 2016

April is show­ing off with the best of clear, sta­ble, cold win­ter wea­ther. A trip to Barents­burg often starts with a view over Lon­gye­ar­by­en. Dri­ving along the coast is a regu­lar part of fre­quent tou­rist tours to Barents­burg, but you may not like the short, but steep ascents, espe­ci­al­ly when the sur­face is fro­zen over, if you are not used to dri­ving a snow mobi­le.

Who would have expec­ted to see a wal­rus on a win­ter trip to Barents­burg? We also saw Reinde­er and even White wha­les (Belugas), but too far away to take pho­tos.

Gal­lery – Barents­burg – 16th April, 2016

Click on thumb­nail to open an enlar­ged ver­si­on of the spe­ci­fic pho­to.

Barents­burg its­elf looks part­ly like a big arc­tic ver­si­on of Lego­land after seve­ral years of refur­bish­ment. The choice of colours of some of the buil­dings might be a mat­ter of deba­te, but others are real­ly beau­tiful. Lenin is medi­ta­ting as always, the view direc­ted into the distance. Impos­si­ble to say what he would say about the colours.

Ope­raf­jel­let – 13th April, 2016

Hiking on Ope­raf­jel­let east of Lon­gye­ar­by­en. A lot of light, a lot of very fresh air, a lot of gre­at land­scape.
 
 
 

Gal­lery Ope­raf­jel­let – 13th April, 2016

Click on thumb­nail to open an enlar­ged ver­si­on of the spe­ci­fic pho­to.

Lon­gye­ar­by­en mining histo­ry – 11th April 2016

Lon­gye­ar­by­en has been a coal mining sett­le­ment sin­ce it was foun­ded by the Ame­ri­can John Mun­ro Lon­gyear in 1906. In 1916, Lon­gyear sold the place to the Nor­we­gi­an Store Nor­ske Spits­ber­gen Kul­kom­pa­ni which soon cal­led their mining vil­la­ge Lon­gye­ar­by­en. The mea­ning is the same as the ori­gi­nal name, just the lan­guage has chan­ged.

Exact­ly 100 years later, Store Nor­ske is just a shadow of its­elf. After some good years, it was a nar­row escape from bank­rupt­cy. Mining has a lot of histo­ry in Lon­gye­ar­by­en, but not much of a future.

We had a good look of some of this histo­ry. Taub­a­ne­sen­tra­le (cable­car main sta­ti­on) is occu­py­ing the hig­hest part of Lon­gye­ar­by­en, towe­ring abo­ve the vil­la­ge like the town’s land­mark. Some years ago, Store Nor­ske plan­ned to move their head­quar­ters in the­re. Not­hing came out of this. Con­certs are held the­re every now and then, may­be it will be a muse­um in the future.

Mine 3 is alre­a­dy a muse­um. Has not been one for long, it was clo­sed to visi­tors in 2009. Last year it was ope­ned for gui­ded excur­si­ons again, curr­ent­ly the only chan­ce for tou­rists to see a mine from the insi­de. Not below ground, the mine pro­per still needs to be secu­red pro­per­ly. But they want to get this done soon.

Gal­lery – Lon­gye­ar­by­en mining histo­ry – 11th April 2016

Click on thumb­nail to open an enlar­ged ver­si­on of the spe­ci­fic pho­to.

The lar­ge cra­ne, local­ly known as Titan cra­ne after the manu­fac­tu­rer, was used for ship­ping coal. Now it is just a remin­der of old and quite dif­fe­rent times.

Trap­pers Trail – 09th April 2016

The Trap­pers Trail dog sled race is a good reason to be in Lon­gye­ar­by­en on a cer­tain Satur­day in mid April. It has been an annu­al tra­di­ti­on sin­ce 2009. On this weekend, 09th and 10th of April, 26 teams are joi­ning the race in one out of three cate­go­ries: ski and pulk with one, two or three dogs, while the mus­her is stan­ding on ski­es. Dog sled with 3-5 DP (dog powers) and dog sled with 6-8 DP.

The teams are start­ing at 1200, fol­lo­wing upon one ano­ther every two minu­tes, from the area next to Forsking­s­par­ken (Sval­bard­mu­se­um, UNIS) under cheerful shou­ting of the onloo­kers. One or the other team does, of cour­se, make a stop on the left or right side to say hel­lo to a par­ti­cu­lar fri­end, some­thing that usual­ly invol­ves the dogs more than the mus­hers and is part of the fun, which is what it is all about. Then, they dis­ap­pear in the gre­at white not­hing in Advent­da­len (it is sno­wing today).

The race is taking the teams to Kapp Lai­la in Coles­buk­ta and tomor­row back along ano­ther rou­te, a distance of altog­e­ther 75 km, inclu­ding some deman­ding ascents. A tough trip under a com­pe­ti­ti­on, but distance and ter­rain are well within what trai­ned dog teams regu­lar­ly do.

Click on thumb­nail to open an enlar­ged ver­si­on of the spe­ci­fic pho­to.

Over the years, the Trap­pers Trail dog sled race has built up a good repu­ta­ti­on bey­ond Lon­gye­ar­by­en and it is an estab­lished part of the annu­al series of events that attract both locals and visi­tors.

Good and safe trip to all par­ti­ci­pan­ts!

Dia­ba­sod­den – 06th-07th April 2016

06th-07th April 2016 – One water­fall, four per­spec­ti­ves. New tech­no­lo­gy shows old beau­ty from new angles. We are loo­king at Hyperitt­fos­sen, a water­fall in De Geerd­a­len. The­re is, of cour­se, not a sin­gle drop of water run­ning the­re now, but this is not a bad thing, not at all. The ice is han­ging on to steep, rug­ged walls of basalt. Hence the name. Hyperi­te is a kind of basalt.

Beau­tiful views, a beau­tiful sun­set, litt­le hikes in the neigh­bour­hood, silence. Lots of it. A fire in the oven is warm­ing from out­side and a cho­co­la­te Eas­ter bun­ny is warm­ing from insi­de. What else could one ask for?

Gal­lery – Dia­ba­sod­den – 06th-07th April 2016

Click on thumb­nail to open an enlar­ged ver­si­on of the spe­ci­fic pho­to.

Dia­ba­sod­den is a place of old memo­ries. The­re I was told that aukets and gulls are two dif­fe­rent things. And that the­re are aukets with colourful beaks that are cal­led puf­fins. The first polar bear expe­ri­ence, which was an inte­res­t­ing one. It was stan­ding just out­side the tent, not much more than arm’s length away. A war­ning shot scared it away, quick­ly and for good. The night was over. The rest stay­ed fore­ver. That is 20 years ago now.

Sabi­ne Land – 01 April 2016

Loo­king out into the gent­ly fal­ling snow, you might think that yesterday’s wea­ther was a plea­sant April fools joke. An imma­cu­l­ate­ly blue sky wit­hout the sligh­test hint of a cloud. Hard­ly a bree­ze, and tem­pe­ra­tures bet­ween -10 (Lon­gye­ar­by­en) and -20 (east coast). Spits­ber­gen does not get more beau­tiful than this in April, and Spits­ber­gen does not get more beau­tiful than in April (but dif­fe­rent, on a poten­ti­al­ly equal level of beau­ty).

So, it was cle­ar­ly a day for a good trip. The can­yons that are cut into palaeo­zoic lime­s­to­nes in Sas­send­a­len pro­ved a gre­at play­ground for my new toy, as the first pic­tures may show, but as it tur­ned out it it did not real­ly like the tem­pe­ra­tures.

Litt­le excur­si­ons in the migh­ty morai­ne of Rabot­breen fol­lo­wed. Natu­re has crea­ted a magni­fi­cent bit of land­scape here. Grand.

And much, much big­ger still were the ice deserts fur­ther east, Nord­manns­fon­na and its neigh­bours. Impres­si­ons of infi­ni­ty. All shades of blue and white you can think of any many more. Barents- and Edgeøya on the far hori­zon. See you in sum­mer.

Storfjord on the east coast seems to be fro­zen solid, but a clo­ser look reve­als open water in the distance. This win­ter is ano­ther one in the long row of nega­ti­ve records in terms of sea- and fjord ice, and Spits­ber­gen does not make a dif­fe­rence, unfort­u­na­te­ly. Loo­king around near the coast, the world still seems to be alright. But it isn’t.

Gal­lery Sabi­ne Land

Click on thumb­nail to open an enlar­ged ver­si­on of the spe­ci­fic pho­to.

Could one just get the polar bears to ligh­ten up for a second, it might be a litt­le fire­works! They are some­whe­re, that is for sure. The tracks are not too old.

In the end of the day, the polar bear’s tracks are lea­ding east, out onto the ice, and ours west, to Lon­gye­ar­by­en. Ever­y­bo­dy is going home after ano­ther gre­at day in the arc­tic.

Visit to the arc­tic ope­ra – 29th March 2016

The­re is a moun­tain on the north side of Advent­da­len, 7 km east of Lon­gye­ar­by­en. It is cal­led Ope­raf­jel­let, becau­se it has got a natu­ral amphi theat­re. The tenor is cen­ter stage, like Pava­rot­ti. Behind him, the­re is Diri­gen­ten (the con­duc­tor), and a bit more in the back­ground, bas­so and sopra­no, as it should be.

Teno­ren

The tenor is 656 m high. The music that is being play­ed here is arc­tic silence, twel­ve voices, some­ti­mes in major, some­ti­mes minor, as you plea­se, on and off, with the rhythm of tim­e­l­ess­ness. The regu­lar guests are reinde­er and ptar­mi­gan. Grass has taken some of the hig­her ranks, dres­sed with ele­gant, shi­ny coa­tings of ice. The spot­light is on as orde­red from the abso­lut­e­ly hig­hest level, cloud curta­ins are play­ing with the light only occa­sio­nal­ly, cas­ting playful shadows on the orches­tra pit and pain­ting colourful applau­se onto the cei­ling.

Gal­lery – Visit to the arc­tic ope­ra – 29th March 2016

Click on thumb­nail to open an enlar­ged ver­si­on of the spe­ci­fic pho­to.

The final cre­scen­do up to the thro­ne of the tenor is too much of a screa­ming glis­san­do for the guests today. That is left for a da Capo.

Eas­ter – 27 March 2016

The Eas­ter weekend is some­thing spe­cial in Scan­di­na­via. It is the time for tours par excel­lence. Nobo­dy is stay­ing at home. Eit­her you are having a cosy, social time, or you get your skis or snow mobi­le out and take a trip into natu­re, wha­te­ver ever­y­bo­dy feels like.

We com­bi­ned both in the most plea­sant way. Hap­py Eas­ter! 🙂

Gal­lery – Eas­ter – 27 March 2016

Click on thumb­nail to open an enlar­ged ver­si­on of the spe­ci­fic pho­to.

Sun cele­bra­ti­on – 08 March 2016

Astro­no­mers will tell you that the sun is coming back to Lon­gye­ar­by­en on 16 Febru­ary, and this is inde­ed the first day it is coming back abo­ve the hori­zon again. But as the sett­le­ment is sur­roun­ded by moun­ta­ins, the sun will not come back to Lon­gye­ar­by­en befo­re 08 March. No doubt this is good reason to cele­bra­te, as peo­p­le didn’t get any sun­light for 4 months – well, most will have been some­whe­re south on holi­day, but local­ly, at least. Ever­y­bo­dy is loo­king for­ward to the return of the sun, and this is cele­bra­ted with a week of events, the sol­fest­u­ke (sun cele­bra­ti­on week).

Part of it is the sol­fe­st­re­vue, a stage event tra­di­tio­nal­ly held in Huset and not in the more recent, modern and cen­tral­ly loca­ted Kul­tur­hu­set (cul­tu­re house). Many events of the last 12 months are pas­sing by again, alt­hough quite detail­ed know­ledge of local events and gos­sip (and Nor­we­gi­an lan­guage) is cer­tain­ly hel­pful to get the mes­sa­ge in many cases. From Store Nor­ske, which is faced with the pha­seout of lar­ge parts of its acti­vi­ties in the 100th year of its exis­tence, so may­be the future will see this very tra­di­tio­nal com­pa­ny coming back as Store Tor­ske, ven­tu­ring on new paths in the fishing busi­ness? To local poli­tics and poli­ti­ci­ans, some of whom are ama­zin­gly fle­xi­ble in their opi­ni­ons over time as any­whe­re else in the world, to local Sval­bar­di­ans who occa­sio­nal­ly come up with ama­zing ide­as, such as test­ing important snow mobi­le rou­tes in town by car (no, it does not work).

Fol­lo­wing a nice tra­di­ti­on, Sval­bard Kir­ke invi­ted to an open air church sur­vice on Hiorth­fjel­let, con­fi­dent­ly as always held by Sok­ne­p­rest Leif Magne Hel­ge­sen. No sur­pri­se he was elec­ted as Sval­bar­di­an of the year. Add the magni­fi­cent sur­roun­dings and glo­rious wea­ther to the ser­vice (a true Leif show!), and you have got some­thing not to be missed.

The high­light was of cour­se the actu­al sol­fest (sun cele­bra­ti­on) on 08 March. Not the least due to the gre­at wea­ther. This date has often been clou­dy in recent histo­ry, and so were the last cou­ple of weeks. A sun cele­bra­ti­on wit­hout sun is a bit like a wed­ding wit­hout a bri­de.

Gal­lery Sun cele­bra­ti­on – 08 March 2016

Click on thumb­nail to open an enlar­ged ver­si­on of the spe­ci­fic pho­to.

Today, it was to be dif­fe­rent. Not the sligh­test cloud on the sky! Seve­ral hundred peo­p­le, inclu­ding many child­ren deco­ra­ted with yel­low scar­ves with the shape of sun rays, had gathe­red around the stairs of the for­mer hos­pi­tal (pre WWII, not­hing but the stairs are left) near the church, as this is the first part of town to which the sun returns. The child­ren are chee­ring to the sun: sol, sol, kom igjen! Sola er min bes­te venn! (Sun, sun, come back! The sun is my best fri­end! Admit­ted­ly, rhy­me and rhythm do work much bet­ter in Nor­we­gi­an). The­re are songs, the­re is some tal­king, the­re is good vibes in the air, lots of it. And then, the­re is the sun. A moving moment when the light is tur­ned on abo­ve Lars­breen and the sun rays are fal­ling on the crowd, warm­ing faces and hearts, cheerful­ly wel­co­med by ever­y­bo­dy. Some more songs, then peo­p­le are going the­re way. The dark time is over for this win­ter.

Barents­burg – 04/05 March 2015

04/05 March 2015 – Over­night visit to Barents­burg. The fresh­ly reno­va­ted hotel now offers a neat stan­dard, from remar­kab­le rooms (some of them do have a bath tub!), nice food (à la car­te) to fast WLAN. At the same time, this means that it has lost some of its ori­gi­nal charme.

Of cour­se this is pro­ba­b­ly not what you main­ly come for when you visit the arc­tic, but it may be good to know that it is abso­lut­e­ly save to plan a trip to Barents­burg as an over­night 🙂 it has not always been like that. And from Barents­burg the­re is a good choice of inte­res­t­ing places to see in reach, espe­ci­al­ly if you are tra­vel­ling by snow mobi­le, next to the Rus­si­an sett­le­ment its­elf. They even offer cour­ses in Rus­si­an han­di­crafts the­re the­se days! I have to admit that I have not done that.

Gal­lery Barents­burg – 04/05 March 2015

Click on thumb­nail to open an enlar­ged ver­si­on of the spe­ci­fic pho­to.

The way back went in den­se snow­fall. It was neither cold nor win­dy, but the snow was fal­ling den­se­ly enough to make dri­ving a bit unp­lea­sant and cer­tain­ly quite slow. We enjoy­ed the full pro­gram­me, from snow mobi­les fal­ling on the side on slo­pes cover­ed with deep, snoft fresh snow to snow mobi­les dig­ging them­sel­ves in within seconds in such places. Gre­at fun … :-/

The famous seed vault – 29 Febru­ary, 2016

Of cour­se you may say it is just a big free­zer and not­hing else. That is, essen­ti­al­ly, true. But – again – of cour­se it is so much more than just that. A hope for man­kind, a life­ring for sur­vi­vors of glo­bal cata­stro­phes. Well, the first sen­tence may be under­sta­ted as much as the lat­ter one an exag­ge­ra­ti­on, but in any way, the seed vault does attract a lot of atten­ti­on. Some­thing that also led to the new sec­tion of this web­site.

But actual­ly ente­ring the seed vault? Did not hap­pen. It is not a place that nor­mal peo­p­le would nor­mal­ly get to see. Also some peo­p­le who are not nor­mal peo­p­le are said to have wai­ted in vain for that lar­ge door to open. Access is strict­ly regu­la­ted, and it was impos­si­ble at times when the local fire bri­ga­de oppo­sed anyo­ne visi­ting the vault. A natu­ral safe deep insi­de a moun­tain does natu­ral­ly not have emer­gen­cy exits.

But occa­sio­nal­ly, when new seeds come to the vault, the doors are ope­ned for accre­di­ted jour­na­lists.

Even though I unders­tood quick­ly the atten­ti­on that the seed vault was about to get glo­bal­ly in 2008, I have to admit that I have never real­ly been fasci­na­ted. It is neither part of Spitsbergen’s natu­re nor of its histo­ry nor is it con­nec­ted to tho­se who are living here today. Its con­text is not the arc­tic.

What does man­kind actual­ly prepa­re for here? What kind of cata­stro­phes do we have to expect that can wipe out the gene­tic heri­ta­ge of thou­sands of years of agri­cul­tu­re? You may as well say that you don’t real­ly want to know. But it is worth noti­cing that the who­le struc­tu­re is loca­ted high enough abo­ve sea level to remain dry even in case all ice on earth was to melt.

Dif­fe­rent count­ries deli­ver seed samples that repre­sent the who­le diver­si­ty of their crops, and they are stored near Lon­gye­ar­by­en under con­di­ti­ons that are sup­po­sed to make them last as long as by any means pos­si­ble. The air tem­pe­ra­tu­re is strict­ly con­trol­led and kept at -18°C. Hard­ly visi­tors who might cau­se dis­tur­ban­ces, seve­ral strong steel doors, sur­veil­lan­ce came­ras. The who­le lot.

A hall­way is lea­ding about 150 met­res into the moun­tain befo­re you reach a lar­ge hall. The wall that is facing the hall­way is not flat, but it is gent­ly cur­ved into the moun­tain. It is easy to miss this litt­le detail or not to pay any atten­ti­on to it, but the­re is a bizar­re reason for it: even though nobo­dy knows of any rea­li­stic sce­na­rio that invol­ves an explo­si­on in the hall­way, the shock waves of any explo­si­ons would be reflec­ted back into the hall­way and thus not hit the actu­al sto­rage cham­bers, kee­ping the seed samples out of harm’s way.

From this hall, dou­ble doors are lea­ding to the actu­al cham­bers (a bit like in an Egyp­ti­an pyra­mid). Two out of the­se three cham­bers are still lar­ge­ly emp­ty.

The door to the third one is cover­ed with ice, as it is con­stant­ly cold in the­re. At the time being, it is pro­ba­b­ly the col­dest part of Spits­ber­gen any­whe­re. A last fence sepa­ra­tes the visi­tor from the tre­asu­re, a code opens the door. Behind that door, the­re are huge sto­rage racks. And the­re, boxes, boxes and boxes.

A sus­pi­cious gap shows whe­re the first samples have alre­a­dy been retrie­ved again. They were from Syria and more seeds are grown now of their sorts – in Moroc­co, whe­re the Syri­an seed vault had been moved befo­re it could be des­troy­ed in the war.

Gal­lery – The famous seed vault – 29 Febru­ary, 2016

Click on thumb­nail to open an enlar­ged ver­si­on of the spe­ci­fic pho­to.

You are wal­king past tho­se racks in awe. Insti­tu­ti­ons that are devo­ted to the sci­ence of rice, wheat or pota­toes have pre­ser­ved their valuable tre­asu­res here for, well, not eter­ni­ty, but as clo­se to as pos­si­ble. Most count­ries are repre­sen­ted, only a mino­ri­ty is still miss­ing. North and south Ame­ri­ca, Afri­ca and Euro­pe, Asia, Aus­tra­lia, they are all in the­re. Some woo­den boxes catch the eye becau­se of their simp­le appearance: north Korea. They signed the Spits­ber­gen Trea­ty just a few weeks ago, and now the are also here in the vault.

Some incon­spi­cuous boxes draw my atten­ti­on, and I am get­ting goo­se­bumps just a moment later. The sen­der: The Inter­na­tio­nal Cent­re for Agri­cul­tu­ral Rese­arch in the Dry Are­as, in short ICAR­DA. Their address: Alep­po, Syria. In this town, now des­troy­ed by Syri­an and Rus­si­an bombs, someone had been coll­ec­ting seed samples to pre­ser­ve them to bet­ter days in the future, when peo­p­le will hop­eful­ly be able again to grow them, to take care of the nut­ri­ti­on of their fami­lies, their peo­p­le, their coun­try. It seems a bizar­re hope! The simp­le boxes in the sto­rage racks insi­de the per­ma­frost of an arc­tic moun­tain are sym­bols of this des­pa­ra­te hope. May their con­tents find their way back into Syri­an soil when it is not cor­ru­ga­ted by bombs, but by ploughs!

The seed vault left a strong impres­si­on on me, that is for sure.

Pyra­mi­den – Febru­ary 2016

After our arc­tic weekend in Spi­ce­bo­rough (Würz­burg, haha) things hap­pen­ed quick­ly: from the pre­sen­ta­ti­on screen to the train sta­ti­on, train, air­port, pla­ne, air­port, hotel, air­port, pla­ne, and then sud­den­ly … Spits­ber­gen. Stop, befo­re I got that far I got a brief glim­pse of main­land Norway’s nor­t­hern­most coast. In the far back­ground, you can almost see the North Cape (use a bit of fan­ta­sy and then you will see it), but this long, nar­row island under the wing tip and a litt­le bit to the right, that is Fugløya. We will be sai­ling the­re in late May with Anti­gua and then set cour­se for Bear Island … but that is ano­ther sto­ry, a sum­mer sto­ry. First, arc­tic win­ter. Alt­hough it is a stran­ge win­ter, with litt­le snow and very litt­le ice in the west coast fjords. Some sci­en­tists belie­ve that it may have to do with El Niño, the tem­po­ra­ry chan­ge oce­an curr­ents in the Paci­fic, which has con­se­quen­ces for the cli­ma­te of the who­le glo­be. But it would be hard not to think of lon­ger-las­ting cli­ma­te chan­ge as well. Of cour­se, the­re have always been bad ice years every now and then. But the long-term ten­den­cy? That is pret­ty clear.

Gal­lery – Pyra­mi­den – Febru­ary 2016

Click on thumb­nail to open an enlar­ged ver­si­on of the spe­ci­fic pho­to.

I am joi­ning a came­ra team. My job is not in front of the came­ra this time, but behind. One of our first trips takes us to Pyra­mi­den. Fasci­na­ting as always, but dif­fe­rent: parts of the place are a ska­ting rink. Very litt­le snow, lots of ice. And no Sascha. But he will be back within a few days. We have been to Pyra­mi­den even befo­re Sascha came! Yoho!

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