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Ny-Ålesund and Kongsfjorden

19th July: visit to the settlement of Ny-Ålesund and arrival at the second base camp

Disembarking at the port of Ny-Ålesund and visit to the town. Arrival at the second base camp (Blomstrand) after lunch.

Visit to Ny-Ålesund

Ny-Alesung appeared as a quiet and well-organized town surrounded by snowy mountains. The port was small and many dinghies were moored in the bay.

In contrast to Longyearbyen and Barentsburg, roads are not tarmacked. We walked down the main street, which crosses the town from the port and through small side alleys. We also saw another road which intersects with the main street, where a memorial to Amundsen stands.

The weather finally improved so we could enjoy a clear sky.

We followed the guide who told us many interesting facts about this settlement. We first stopped at the mine where we could see the train once used to transport the extracted coal.

We then continued our journey down the main street onto the monument dedicated to Amundsen: a bronze, severe-looking bust reflecting his austere character.

We left the road and the on-looking buildings to reach a high docking post where the airship Norge N1 was moored. A nearby inscription is a tribute to the three heroes (Roald Amundsen, Lincoln Ellsworth e Umberto Nobile) who took part in the adventure.

A few steps away there was a monument dedicated to the expedition of Amundsen, who together with Dietrichson, Ellsworth, Feucht, Omdal and Riiser-Larsen, departed on a mission on the 21st of May 1925.

We then visited the nearby memorial to people who died during the Polar expedition of 1928 on the airship Italia.

On our return to town, we saw a reindeer which naturally kept its distance from us.

In the remaining half hour before returning aboard, we visited the mining museum and a nearby house dating back to the fifties, which is also a museum.

We walked down the main street to return to the boat.

That day we had a surprise for lunch. A barbeque was arranged on the deck of the boat, at the Polar Bear Bar. We enjoyed a warm soup, sausages, roasted corn, potatoes, cold meats, fruit and pudding.

Since our group was the first to disembark, we were the first to eat. Our luggage had been ready since earlier that morning, so, after lunch, we got ready for leave the boat as usual.

Whilst approaching the beach on a dinghy, I spotted the dog Luna amongst others. The camp stood in a beautiful area, in front of a glacier which leans into the sea, on a snowless beach.

The Blomstrand camp: our second base camp

After disembarking, we helped each other to unload the luggage and to carry the bags onboard for the people who were leaving the camp. The dog Luna seemed unwilling to leave the camp and got refuge in the big tent.

We walked to the camp to find out where the toilets were. The women’s toilet was under a small hill, sheltered by a wooden structure. The men’s toilet was far more basic, and was behind a mount, with a spectacular view on the glacier.

Since it was still early we decided to go for a walk to the mountains. I put on my legwarmers and got my rucksack ready to start the excursion. The first day of trekking at the second base camp started.

The weather was still good. Whilst walking we could admire the different perspectives of the glacier. We were surrounded by mountains and snow. The distant bay was quiet with small islands emerging from the sea and pieces of ice lay on the beach.

We followed a rocky path leading to the top of the mountain. A beautiful valley opened up below us with patches of snow here and there and three lakes; two of which were semi-frozen. The undefined path appeared in the form of a line leading to the valley and disappeared behind a small hill. Beyond this we could see the open sea.

We stopped for a break on the top of the mountain, from where we enjoyed the stunning view of the fjord with its small islands, the mount, and the beach on which our camp stood. From there we could also see the distant mountains at the foot of which Ny-Ålesund lay.

After the break we started our descent on the same path and arrived at the camp. Here, our friend Kent had the wonderful idea to wash some ice from the shore to chill our whisky. Whisky on the rocks was then served.

Warmed by alcohol, we got the dinner ready. Another wonderful day on Svalbard evaporated in the permanent light of the Arctic summer sun.

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