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Yearly Archives: 2017 − Travelblog


Trom­sø – 29th Octo­ber 2017

How do you see that the sum­mer is over? When Anti­gua is back in Trom­sø after seve­ral months in Spits­ber­gen. When the sun is going down under the hori­zon at 3 p.m. When you have to clean the snow away on deck 5 times a day. When you see a lot of old fri­ends from Spits­ber­gen along­side in the har­bour in Trom­sø: the Cape Race, the Polar­girl, the Auro­ra Explo­ra, they are all here. Good old Nor­der­licht is along­side Anti­gua.

The light comes and goes with the snow­show­ers, grey clouds alter­na­te with soft sun­light. Some­ti­mes the­re is no visi­bi­li­ty at all, some­ti­mes the colourful woo­den hou­ses are reflec­ted on the mir­ror-like water sur­face. Peo­p­le are coming to the ship through the snow one by one, han­ding bags and suit­ca­ses over befo­re they come on board. Then we are com­ple­te, pas­sen­gers and crew. We gather in the salong, wel­co­me on board! We talk about life on the ship and the plans for the upco­ming days and enjoy the first din­ner of the trip. Sascha has pre­pared sal­mon. Good stuff!

Gal­lery – Trom­sø – 29th Octo­ber 2017

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

After din­ner, we talk about nor­t­hern light pho­to­gra­phy and have a look at the came­ras. It is com­ple­te­ly clou­dy now, but we have got a who­le week, so the­re are very rea­li­stic chan­ces for a clear evening and then … fin­gers crossed!

Tam­pe­re – 13th Octo­ber 2017

You may have noti­ced that this is about Tam­pe­re, which is not in Spits­ber­gen. It is actual­ly in Fin­land! Far down south!

Yes, true. But tho­se who have been with Rolf Stan­ge and Alex­an­der Lembke in Spits­ber­gen in recent years, on the sai­ling ship Anti­gua or in Pyra­mi­den, will know that the­re is a con­nec­tion. If you have shared some cho­co­la­te with Alex on the tun­dra or a beer in the evening, then you will have heard Alex tal­king about the Fin­nish sau­na. He has been working inten­se­ly with it for years. Of cour­se also enjoy­ing the very plea­sant prac­ti­cal aspects, but main­ly rese­ar­ching its cul­tu­ral and his­to­ri­cal sides. One preli­mi­na­ry result of this never-ending pro­ject is an exhi­bi­ti­on that was not about to be ope­ned in Tam­pe­re. (For some impres­si­ons of the actu­al ope­ning, click here – Born in Sau­na).

Gal­lery – Tam­pe­re – 13th Octo­ber 2017

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

I could, of cour­se, not miss the oppor­tu­ni­ty to take the trip to Fin­land. Befo­re the actu­al ope­ning, I still had a litt­le bit of time for an excur­si­on into the famous Fin­nish land­scape of forests and lakes. It was a bit exo­tic for me: lots of trees! But you get used to it. So befo­re we get to the actu­al exhi­bi­ti­on, we have got some impres­si­ons from the Fin­nish forests. The­re was no time for lon­ger trips, it is all from a walk clo­se to Tam­pe­re.

Sau­na Syn­ty­neet – Born in Sau­na – 13th Octo­ber 2017

We are still in Tam­pe­re in Finn­land and we are get­ting to the cen­ter­pie­ce of the trip to the coun­try of forests, lakes and – sau­na. This is what it was all about. After a long time of inten­se work and pre­pa­ra­ti­ons, Alex­an­der Lembke could proud­ly open his exhi­bi­ti­on on Fri­day the 13th (that should bring some luck!).

Of cou­se you don’t have to show the peo­p­le in Fin­land what a sau­na looks like. The­re are about 5.5 mil­li­on Finns, and they have got seve­ral mil­li­on sau­nas. If you live in Fin­land, then you know what a sau­na looks like. If you live on the Ork­ney Islands, then you know what the sea looks like.

Hence, Alex could fokus on his main sub­ject: Sau­na Syn­ty­neet – Born in Sau­na. Lar­ge por­traits cover almost a cen­tu­ry of Finish life and histo­ry with peo­p­le who were born in a sau­na. Not just by chan­ce, as one might be mis­led to belie­ve (unless you real­ly know Fin­land), but becau­se the sau­na was and some­ti­mes still is con­side­red an appro­pria­te place for that kind of thing, for prac­ti­cal and cul­tu­ral reasons. Today, most Finns are born in modern hos­pi­tals, but it is still not unhe­ard of that someone sees the light of the world in a sau­na. Of cour­se not one of the­se modern well­ness things that most non-Fin­nish peo­p­le con­sider a sau­na, but a pri­va­te one that has been fami­ly pro­per­ty over gene­ra­ti­ons.

Insti­tu­ti­ons inclu­ding the Goe­the-Insti­tu­te, the town of Tam­pe­re and th Fin­nish Sau­na Asso­cia­ti­on have sup­port­ed the exhi­bi­ti­on and were repre­sen­ted at the ope­ning, giving it an appro­pria­te­ly wort­hy frame with a cou­ple of spea­ches. Some of tho­se who­se por­traits are forming the core of the exhi­bi­ti­on were also pre­sent.

Gal­lery – Sau­na Syn­ty­neet – Born in Sau­na – 13th Octo­ber 2017

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

During the later cour­se of the evening, the­re was an excur­si­on to the object of sci­ence and pas­si­on: a sau­na. A real Fin­nish one, actual­ly the oldest public sau­na that is still in use in Fin­land! I did not take any pho­tos the­re, that is some­thing that you just don’t do (unless you are Alex and you have spent a lot of time to know tho­se who are invol­ved). So I can only recom­mend to you to take a trip to Fin­land and get some real sau­na expe­ri­ence! It is more than worth it!

Lon­gye­ar­breen – 29th Sep­tem­ber 2017

We pay ano­ther litt­le visit to Lon­gye­ar­breen. How gre­at is it to have this kind of play­ground so clo­se to town? Melt­wa­ter is rus­hing down the chan­nels, it is well worth to look for fos­sils in the morai­ne, and then the­re is ice, ice, ice. Also on the gla­cier, the­re are melt­wa­ter streams in deep­ly incis­ed chan­nels, which some­ti­mes dis­ap­pear down into black holes. The polished sur­face of the ice shows beau­tiful­ly alter­na­ting pat­terns of clear, blue ice and dark lay­ers with stones and (natu­ral) dirt.

Gal­lery – Lon­gye­ar­breen – 29th Sep­tem­ber 2017

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

A love­ly way to finish the time that we can still, at least in a wider sen­se, call the arc­tic sum­mer. Now, this arc­tic tra­vel­ler will return to the office. Also the­re, moun­tain ran­ges have piled up on the rather recent geo­lo­gi­cal histo­ry 🙂

End­a­len – 27th Sep­tem­ber 2017

The fol­lo­wing days in and around Lon­gye­ar­by­en show how much luck we have had on the last trip with Anti­gua. Now, we don’t see the smal­lest bit of blue sky for days on end, and usual­ly only the lower half of the moun­ta­ins sur­roun­ding us. The sun does not rise high any­mo­re, and as it is con­stant­ly hid­den behind the cloud cover, it seems pret­ty dark even at day­ti­me. It is just over 4 weeks ago that the sun was shi­ning bright for 24 hours a day, and in just about 4 weeks from now we won’t see any of it at all for some time!

Good days altog­e­ther to get things done insi­de. And the­re is of cour­se more than enough to do after months out in the field 🙂 but still, we just have to get out, the tun­dra is cal­ling, the lonely val­leys … you don’t have to ven­ture far from Lon­gye­ar­by­en to find natu­ral beau­ty, silence and soli­tu­de. You don’t always have to go as far as Hin­lo­pen Strait. End­a­len and Fard­a­len have got their own charm.

It is pret­ty mild, with tem­pe­ra­tures well abov the free­zing point, so the rivers still have a lot of water. In other years, you could cross even lar­ger rivers in hiking boots wit­hout get­ting wet feet when the frost was strong enough alre­a­dy at this time of year, but not this time. So we have to find our way, cross some melt­wa­ter streams and find a way around the water­fall in upper End­a­len by clim­bing up the morai­ne of Boger­breen. A huge land­scape of stones, mud and ice, a real ice age world. You could spend a lot of time here, dis­co­ve­ring ama­zing stuff, enjoy­ing the ice, loo­king for fos­sils, but the days are get­ting shorter while the way does not. It is more than 20 km for today.

Gal­lery – End­a­len – 27th Sep­tem­ber 2017

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

Most peo­p­le will know Lon­gye­ar­pass with its steep slo­pe that is lea­ding from upper Lon­gye­ar­breen down to Fard­a­len from the win­ter sea­son. Many snow mobi­le groups take this rou­te then, for exam­p­le on the way to or from Barents­burg. The slo­pe can be chal­len­ging, espe­ci­al­ly when the­re is soft snow and poor visi­bi­li­ty, and it has brought snow mobi­le dri­vers regu­lar­ly into trou­bles. Pie­ces of torn V-belts and other debris are silent wit­nesses of tho­se events. It may not seem much of a pro­blem when you dri­ve past it at speed, but in the sum­mer, the pla­s­tic seems – well, it is! – very much out of place and quite dis­gus­ting. Well, not too many peo­p­le come here in sum­mer­ti­me, alt­hough it is just about 6 km from Nyby­en, the nea­rest part of Lon­gye­ar­by­en.

The­re is still Lon­gye­ar­breen bet­ween Fard­a­len and Lon­gye­ar­by­en. Its icy sur­face is blank as a mir­ror now after the rain that we have had the last days, so we are more than hap­py that we car­ri­ed the cram­pons all the way. Wit­hout them, it would be very dan­ge­rous to attempt the hike down the gla­cier now, but with them, it is actual­ly gre­at fun. During the last part of it, the clouds are coming down, tog­e­ther with the dark­ness that is set­ting in, so it is hard to see the way and the morai­ne with its melt­wa­ter streams actual­ly looks a bit threa­tening. Good to know whe­re to go. The last melt­wa­ter river, coming down from Lars­breen, is almost big enough now to give us a foot­bath in our hiking boots, but who cares, we have rea­ched the road and soon, the fry­ing pan is get­ting hot on the coo­ker …

Isfjord – 21st Sep­tem­ber 2017

This days comes as a con­trast, show­ing us how it could have been much more often: grey and wet. We have been very lucky with many good days with gre­at light!

The rather dark light and wea­ther fits the deso­la­te atmo­sphe­re of Barents­burg, whe­re we spend the mor­ning. The rus­si­an sett­le­ments have been part of Spits­ber­gen for the best part of a cen­tu­ry!

Later, we try our luck fin­ding orcas and polar bears that have recent­ly been seen in Isfjord. No luck with the wild­life, so we make a short, quiet final landing not far from Kapp Wijk in Dick­son Land, to say good­bye to the arc­tic tun­dra.

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

A few hours later, we are along­side in Lon­gye­ar­by­en, and a gre­at trip comes to an end.

Kross­fjord – 20th Sep­tem­ber 2017

Kross­fjord is such a huge area with many side bays! As we do only have one day here, we have plan­ned the day accor­ding to a rather strict sche­du­le, just for the con­trast, against our usu­al habits. We mana­ge to have a look at the migh­ty Lil­lie­höök­breen and then to visit a Ger­man war wea­ther sta­ti­on, all during the mor­ning. The after­noon starts in a bay fur­ther east, with rug­ged alpi­ne moun­tain sce­n­ery and a wild gla­cier that is cas­ca­ding down over steep rock­walls. Later, we find a polar bear res­t­ing on the tun­dra. It seems to be quite tired, but it is sit­ting up occa­sio­nal­ly, so ever­y­bo­dy can get some good views. We spend some time with this obser­va­ti­on, so we skip a final landing of this days. We rather enjoy the fan­ta­stic BBQ buf­fet that Sascha and his team have crea­ted for us, and the ama­zing evening light that the sun, which is alre­a­dy under the hori­zon at this time, paints on the clouds.

Later, we lift anchor and set cour­se for Isfjord.

Gal­lery – Kross­fjord – 20th Sep­tem­ber 2017

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

A mor­ning full of worries, an after­noon full of joy – 19th Sep­tem­ber 2017

The mor­ning star­ted with a mes­sa­ge that cau­sed gre­at con­cern. The Nor­we­gi­an search and res­cue ser­vice had recei­ved an emer­gen­cy signal from a sai­ling boat that had came into trou­ble yes­ter­day during the storm. Heli­c­op­ters had sear­ched the area alre­a­dy last night, a coast­guard ves­sel was approa­ching. Nobo­dy had heard any­thing from the sai­ling boat so far, so the worst had to be feared. All ves­sels in the area – not that it were that many – were asked to assist, and so we did wit­hout any hesi­ta­ti­on. The coast­guard asked us to search Fuglefjord and Hol­miabuk­ta, and so we did with fee­lings of fear.

Then came the infor­ma­ti­on from the coast­guard that the boat had been found »in good con­di­ti­on«, the SAR mis­si­on was over. No fur­ther infor­ma­ti­on. All souls well! Very plea­sed to hear that!

We turn around and head for Raud­fjord, whe­re we spend a love­ly hour in the late mor­ning in Hamil­ton­buk­ta. In the after­noon, Sep­tem­ber shows what it can do on a good day. Deep sun over rug­ged moun­ta­ins, warm light on red­dish-brown rocks. An ama­zing after­noon!

Gal­lery – Raud­fjord – 19th Sep­tem­ber 2017

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

A lot of wind – 18th Sep­tem­ber 2017

Accor­ding to the wea­ther fore­cast, today should have been our day for a landing on Mof­fen. Litt­le wind and hop­eful­ly calm seas. So we left Mus­ham­na in the mor­ning with high spi­rits and soon we set sails – this in its­elf should have made us sus­pi­cious, and actual­ly, it did – and cour­se for Mof­fen. Soon, the wind and sea picked up, and quick­ly it beca­me clear that Mof­fen was not a place to be today. So we tur­ned to the west, Raud­fjord or so. Mean­while, the wind had picked up, force 7 to 8, 9 in gusts, and the waves were quite impres­si­ve. Real sai­ling, which many enjoy­ed on deck, but it has to be said that not ever­y­bo­dy enjoy­ed it.

Pho­to – A lot of wind – 18th Sep­tem­ber 2017

The sea was boi­ling white in Brei­bo­gen, no chan­ce for a shel­te­red ancho­ra­ge. We found shel­ter later in the after­noon in Svens­ke­gat­tet. The wind con­tin­ued to blow, with hea­vy gusts, so we enjoy­ed a rela­xed day on board, with pre­sen­ta­ti­ons and a film and of cour­se the cine­ma out­side, with the impres­si­ve dis­play of nature’s powers.

Wood­fjord – 17th Sep­tem­ber 2017

The day starts with quite a bit of wind as we enter inner Wood­fjord – but pro­mi­sing at the same time, with a lot of holes in the clouds, and the sun is brea­king through. It is cas­ting its light over an ama­zing dis­play of colours: a blue fjord, framed by deep-red moun­ta­ins and green tun­dra. Colours!

We enjoy the sce­n­ery, while we are sai­ling fur­ther into the fjord, always kee­ping an eye open for polar bears that often roam along the­se shore. Later, we roam a bit along the­se shores during a landing, making some pre­cise obser­va­tions of the amounts of pla­s­tic lit­ter that you find bet­ween all the drift­wood logs and in the sand. The data will be used by the Ger­man Alfred Wege­ner Insti­tu­te for a rese­arch pro­ject about pla­s­tic pol­lu­ti­on in the mari­ne envi­ron­ment. May it help to sol­ve the pro­blem!

Gal­lery – Wood­fjord – 17th Sep­tem­ber 2017

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

Later, we see a polar bear on a slo­pe, but far away. In Mus­ham­na, we sei­ze the oppor­tu­ni­ty of some nice hiking, befo­re we round the day off with a very atmo­sphe­ric fire on the beach.

Lief­defjord – 16th Sep­tem­ber 2017

We wake up to a gol­den sun­ri­se in Lief­defjord and we enjoy the stun­ning sce­n­ery during some good hikes during the mor­ning. The clouds are coming down later and the­re is even a litt­le bit of rain as we drift near Mona­co­b­reen later, but this does not mat­ter as far as the deep blue colour of the gla­cier and some ice­bergs is con­cer­ned.

Gal­lery – Lief­defjord – 16th Sep­tem­ber 2017

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

Late after­noon on a litt­le island within Ler­nerøya­ne, we get the fee­ling of being (almost) the first peo­p­le to walk around here, in this untouch­ed natu­re.

Nor­thwest-Spits­ber­gen – 15th Sep­tem­ber 2017

A gol­den day in a clas­si­cal area. Here in Smee­ren­burg­fjord, whe­re the wha­lers were suf­fe­ring from harsh wea­ther in their thin woo­len clo­thes 400 years ago, we enjoy a bril­li­ant day in calm, clear and even sun­ny wea­ther. In Vir­go­ham­na, we visit the place whe­re Andrée and Well­man star­ted their famous north pole expe­di­ti­ons. Har­bour seals are res­t­ing on rocks in a shal­low bay.

Gal­lery – Nor­thwest-Spits­ber­gen – 15th Sep­tem­ber 2017

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

Much lar­ger seals are res­t­ing on the beach a bit fur­ther north, on Ams­ter­damøya. A who­le group of wal­rus­ses is sun­bathing the­re, wit­hout any respect for the his­to­ri­cal blub­ber ovns of Smee­ren­burg.

Kongsfjord – 14th Sep­tem­ber 2017

The ear­ly mor­ning view may have sur­pri­sed some of us: civi­li­sa­ti­on! Ny-Åle­sund, Spitsbergen’s nor­t­hern­most sett­le­ment, with her various sights and exci­te­ments. Under the most beau­tiful sep­tem­ber sun.

Later, it is time to enjoy some first impres­si­ons of real arc­tic tun­dra. The reinde­er bulls are fat and in gre­at shape, rea­dy for the mating sea­son and for the polar win­ter. We enjoy coas­tal caves and impres­si­ve pan­o­r­amic views, both from land and later during a visit to the gla­ciers in inner­most Kongsfjord.

Gal­lery – Kongsfjord – 14th Sep­tem­ber 2017

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

Trygg­ham­na – 13th Sep­tem­ber 2017

It is still quite win­dy, so we seek shel­ter in the inner­most part of Trygg­ham­na for our first landing. Still win­dy, but pret­ty calm water – and sun­ny! A love­ly start in impres­si­ve­ly scenic sur­roun­dings.

Later, we see a polar bear lying on the tun­dra near Alk­hor­net. It does not do any­thing, and it is far away and dif­fi­cult to see. Let’s hope for more.

Gal­lery – Trygg­ham­na – 13th Sep­tem­ber 2017

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

We con­ti­nue under sail into For­lands­und, whe­re we round the day off with an evening visit to a gla­cier in stun­ning light.

Isfjord – 12th Sep­tem­ber 2017

Today, we are start­ing with SV Anti­gua again! We are gathe­ring on board for the first time in the after­noon, and after the usu­al wel­co­me pro­ce­du­res and man­da­to­ry safe­ty ins­truc­tions, we lea­ve the pier – under sails. The eas­ter­ly bree­ze that we have had for some time comes in very han­dy now. We sail sil­ent­ly into Isfjord and into a magni­fi­cent sun­set. After a cou­ple of hours, the anchor is going down in Trygg­ham­na, well shel­te­red – the name trans­la­tes as »Safe har­bour« – by rug­ged moun­ta­ins.

Gal­lery – Isfjord – 12th Sep­tem­ber 2017

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

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