Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Walking "town"

Longyearbyen has about 2,000 residents, making it the farthest north "town" in the world. According to Wikipedia, the average length of residence is 6.3 years. I took a walk yesterday to see a little more of town.

Colorful row of houses in Longyearbyen

The map of town has marked areas where it is safe to walk without a rifle. Outside of that zone, you need to carry a rifle, or go with someone that is carrying a rifle. So, that means climbing these easily accessible peaks is off-limits unless I find someone to go with!

Coal miner statue in "downtown" plaza
The town itself stretches along both sides of the Longyear River (that receives meltwater from the Longyear Glacier) so there is actually a fair bit of area I can explore.

Meltwater chute from sidevalley
You can see they have plowed out a natural channel, getting ready for spring meltwater that hasn't quite arrived yet! The average summer temperature is only 6° C (43° F) so you see a lot of skis and snowmobiles scattered in yards, but not a lot of barbecues! While less than half of the households have cars, there are actually more snowmobiles than residents.

You can see the kirke (church) in the background
The view from the hills in town shows the reflection of the mountains on the other side of Advent Fjord.

Reflection in Adventfjorden
I crossed the river (presently not flowing) and walked up the dirt road to make a reservation for us at Huset, an award-winning restaurant in town. It has a wine cellar with 20,000 bottles. It doesn't look like much on the outside, but I'm eager to see inside when we take Anna to dinner there on Friday!

The river separates Huset on the right, from Nybyen (New Town) on the left.
I couldn't walk any farther than Huset, because I wasn't carrying a rifle, and I didn't really want to risk running into any polar bears regardless! More adventures tomorrow!

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