The Svalbardbutikken mystery
To start with, the answer to the question in the last blog. It was about this photo:
A corner in Svalbardbutikken, Longyearbyen’s refurbished supermarket.
$64-question for Spitsbergen-nerds: what’s wrong here? 🙂
So, what is wrong? Obviously, it wasn’t really obvious 🙂 the photo on the wall is mirror-inverted. They say they will get a corrected version at some stage.
Adventure Oslo airport
Spending a couple of hours in an airport is pretty much the most boring thing that I can think of. why write about it? Because it can go wrong if you expect it to work as normal.
Test or no test, that is the question
The question keeps coming up wether or not corona testing is required on a trip to Spitsbergen. The current situation is that immunised travellers (fully vaccinated or recently recovered, documented with an acknowledged document such as a digital European vaccination certificate) do not have to show a certificate for a negative test upon entering Norway or checking in on a flight to Spitsbergen. That may change at any time, as everything these days; authorities including the Sysselmester have already demanded to re-introduce the test obligation.
In my experience, it is an increasing risk that you can’t necessarily rely on governemt decisions especially when things are changing more or less every week. Then it’s whatever the airport official you are dealing with thinks. What use is in being right if you don’t get any further with is? An non-Corona-example: legally, as a EU citizen you don’t need a passport to travel from Norway to Spitsbergen, an ID card will do. But at the airport they demand a passport from non-Norwegians. Additionally, machines like automatic check-in machines or automated passport control machines can only read passports and not ID cards, so you are well advised to bring your passport anyway.
Digital EU-vaccination certificate: makes the process more efficient in Oslo Gardermoen.
But not necessarily efficient.
So, back to the initial question: currently, testing is not required under the above-mentioned conditions. But it may still be a good idea to have enought time to get one, just in case. There are testing facilities at Oslo Gardermoen airport, but you may need a couple of hours until you get the certificate, depending on traffic. And, according to Svalbardposten, the corona test station at Tromsø airport accepts only travellers coming in from international flights, but not outgoing ones destined for Svalbard. Those have to use equivalent services in Tromsø centre. Next to the extra time, expect costs of 1500 kroner (plus transportation) unless you are a registered resident in Spitsbergen, then it is free.
Adventure Oslo airport: travel information
The usual two hours from arrival at Oslo Gardermoen airport until departure may be enough when it’s early in the morning. Or maybe not. It is bizarre how rapidly the queues are getting longer and longer until they reach amazing dimensions. Last weekend, one could get the impression that they are discussing testing requirements in detail with every single passenger before you could continue to the actual check-in area. For us, with destination Longyearbyen and fully vaccinated, it was a very short conversation – “have a good trip” was the only comment as soon as we had provided our information. But getting that far is the point, and it takes much, much longer for many other flight passengers, and you may have hundreds in the queue ahead of you. From then on, the process was actually reasonably efficient (security check, passport control). Luckily.
An empty airport Oslo Gardermoen: that’s history!
According to Norwegian media, travellers have recently spent up to 8 hours queuing up in the airport of Oslo Gardermoen, missing their flights and everything that comes with that (forget about social distancing!). In the interest of all travellers, we can only hope that they improve the logistics significantly soonest. Anyway, if you plan to travel through Oslo at any time soon, make sure to have extra time.
And make sure to have even more time if you are not fully vaccinated or don’t have an accepted document for this.