Today we left Oslo for Svalbard, and after a surprisingly enjoyable 3-hour plane ride, landed at the Longyearbyen airport, which is located at 78’ North. Following a tour of the museum and art gallery, we boarded the National Geographic Explorer around 4 pm. Soon after we embarked, we saw our first walrus, and her calf.
Quirky things about Longyearbyen:
1) You need to take your shoes off whenever you go into a building. Alternatively you can put on little blue booties to cover your shoes.
2) Guns, guns everywhere! Because people have chosen to live in polar bear territory, guns are necessary whenever you go outside, particularly if you go out of the town limits. As a result, most stores and buildings request that you leave all firearms at the door or with staff before entering. Despite the guns, the only gun accident to occur was when the governor had an altercation with his coffee table while cleaning a rifle (according to our tour guide).
3) I think it takes the cake for most “northernmost” places/things on the planet. For example it claims to have the northernmost automated bank teller, church, post office, kindergarten, museum, airport etc.