After the very spooky, yet super cool and let's not forget WET trip to Pyramiden, we decided to test one of the myths we had heard about Svalbard while daydreaming about this project : apparently Longyearbyen has some of the world's fastest internet connections due to a quite unique handshake that happened a few years ago between Nasa and the Norwegian goverments.
It probably went something like this :
- "Hey norway, you don't really use Svalbard much, do you?"
- "Nah, it's all coal and polar bears there"
- "Cool, can we dump tons of optic fibre there and test internet connecetion for space? You get free internet though! I mean, the polar bears do"
- "Whatever man, it's not like we care at all"
And BOOM! As it turns out, it's all true!
As soon as we figured that out, we rushed to the first cafè in town, bought an unlimted amount of coffee and downloaded, uploaded, backed up and shared every humanly possible thing for the rest of the day. Towards evening (again, the only way you have to figure out what time it is in Svalbard is to check your watch) we payed a visit to the Artic Musuem in town, quickly exchanged plesantries with a plethora of stuffed arctic fauna, felt intellegent and knowledgeable, and headed towards one of Longyearbyen's most appealing places, to our eyes: the Svalbard Brewery.
A brewery that was born LITERALLY out of it's founder's unbelievable stubborness, which I can sum up as : the story of the man that wanted to be a pilot, wasn't allowed to be a pilot, decided that he wanted a brewery instead, wasn't allowed to start a brewery, took 5 years of tireless tries to fight an unfair law, got the law changed afterall, started the brewery and became a pilot in the meantime.
THE ULTIMATE WIN.
This wonderfuls story got poured into us while sipping a tasting of 5 different beers from the brewery and, by the end of the session, as you can imagine we became the biggest fanboys of the brewery ever. PERIOD.
We megalove people that don't take NO as an answer!
Nice and tipsy, we walked the desolate 5kms back to the campsite and called it a day, not without the usual troubles falling asleep. This midnight sun thing turned out not to be as easy as we predicted!
On our fifth day in that beautiful arctic desert, we woke up a little too dry for our tastes.
Solution? GO KAYAKING IN A FJORD!
We jumped into some wetsuits, covered ourselves from head to toe in neoprene, got paired with another group of brave travellers and tandem paddled the 6km to across the fjord, back and forth, not without a nice little stop for some local blackurrant juice and cookies. What started as a hellish display of total inadequacy, an hour later was described by our tour guide as "heh, you actually did ok on those kayaks"
On our last day in Svalbard, we knew it was time for THE THING.
The one I had been talking for months. The one I had been waiting for. The ultimate "I wanna do cool random stuff to remember for years to come" thing.
We joined the Arctic Naked Bathing Club!
What's that? Glad you asked.
You see, Longyearbyen's camping has a quite unique tradition, one that is ridiculously alluring to people like us. You can ask Pine, the fantastic camp keeper, to be your withness in diving butt naked inside the nearby fjord, famous for having some HORRIBILY COLD waters. In doing so, you will receive a certificate and your name will forever be on the wall of the camp.
Could we avoid it? OF COURSE NOT!
Now, I would love to tell you that it was nice and pleasant to bathe in some of the northernmost waters of the planet, but I would be lying... For as much as the aftermath is exciting, with your body reacting to the thermal shock and releasing adrenaline and endorphins, the actual process of diving is atrociuos!
I have to say, the free hot shower that comes right after is definitely a nice touch.
Here's to us, the newest member of the craziest of arctic clubs!
Funny note : Lorro is undoubtedly a GENIUS. So much so that he dove into the freezing cold water... WITH HIS GLASSES ON.
And of course, said glasses never re-emerged with him and to this day still stand as a payed tribute to the gods of the Fjords. We tried shortly after a rescue mission, but we were HIGHLY unsuccessful.
After such a refreshing dip, it was time to pack our stuff, wiscover (not without surprise) that our bikes were still in pristine condition in their boxes, and carry everything to the airport, where OF COURSE we had to unpack and pack the bikes TWICE to get them checked because, as we've now learned, our bikes boxes don't fit ANY x-ray machine in any airport ever.
A few hours later, we were leaving Svalbard behind and heading towards Iceland finally.