Posted by: tim ellis | July 22, 2016

Svalbard – Friday 22nd July 2016 – Longyearbyen

Barentsburg

A reasonably calm and bright start to the day. It’s a while before we get close enough to Spitsbergen to see land. When we enter the fjord, we cruise past Barentsburg, a Russian mining town. It now produces just enough coal to power the town itself, justifying its existence as a Russian enclave in Western Europe. From there we continue along the fjord to Longyearbyen. There are several ships in the bay, including a large German cruise ship, so we take the Zodiacs ashore.

Longyearbyen

There is a choice of a walk or a visit to a coal mine. Spook and I both choose the latter (and from what we here later from the walkers, possibly made the wiser choice).

Our guide is originally from Sweden, and had worked for the mining company before becoming a tourist guide. She is accompanied by her (retired) sledge dog, as she tells us something of the history of the mines and life of the miners (still mining the 80cm seams by hand in 1986). Then we put on the overalls and hard hats before entering a short way into the mine. We can’t go far as it is deemed “Not Safe” for tourists. (It would be a different story if we were miners!)

Mine 3

Once everyone is back on board we set sail again, heading further North overnight.

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