Those 7 of us who came to Oslo last night spent it in the Gardemoen airport which is claimed to be one of the top 10 European airports for sleeping. There were several options ranging from the floor to nice-looking cushioned stools in one of the cafes. However, the cafe area appeared rather busy and it would take long time to wait till everyone has left. So we went for some shorter space along 3 seats in a row of chairs on the 2nd floor for 3 of us, and a quiet corner on floor for the other 4. I opted for the chairs and spent a very peaceful and not at all uncomfortable night,
On the other side of security control it turned out that Longyerbyen flights are on the international schedule rather than the domestic. I believe that might be because Svalbard is not part of Schengen zone while Norway itself is.
We met Anders at the gate. Some (unsuccessful) attempts to fix the map on the homepage and I had to leave the internet behind. That’s not too bad as we were supposed to have wifi when airborne! We are flying Norwegian airlines after all, and they have free wifi on board. Except that the wifi experience this time was not the best. It took a long time to open google, and it was impossible to open gmail. Some Norwegian newspaper webpages worked better, however. So no success with the map again.
We landed a couple of hours later in a snowy place next to a body of water, Longyearbyen. The mountains are not comparable to Alps, but so close to the sea they are still impressive. To get a better first impression 5 of us had decided to walk from the airport to the guesthouse. The others would go by bus (75 NOK) and take all the suitcases and large backpacks with them. The walk to the town centre is 4.5km, and to our guesthouse it’s 7km in total, so not impossible at all. Technically there’s a risk of polar bears between the airport and the boundary of the city (first 3km), but the risk of being hit by a car is in fact greater, so we didn’t worry about that much.
Jeans were perhaps not the best piece of clothing to wear for the walk as we had a head-wind and we were longing for some skiing-trousers which had gone along with the suitcases by the bus. On the positive side, we saw some reindeer and enjoyed the walk in other ways. We were not the first ones to reach the “Polar bears around” road sign, so our sticker was only about the 10th on that road-sign pole. But we have now marked our presence
We are living in 2 guesthouses which are located next to each other. Ours was said to have one public pc with internet connection. That sounded as a great potential for wifi to me, so I had taken a router with me to try to set it up. In the real life there had been some improvements and there were wifi routers in our building. Unfortunately having a router and having a wifi are two different things, as it wasn’t working. After some educational exploring we attached the power cable from my router to theirs and got the wifi signal. Later on when talking to the receptionist, we found out that this access point has been the previous wifi they have had and now they have a new system to connect to if we want internet. With one bar signal strength out of five in our building on good times that was not really usable, however, and the fact that they are supposedly working on improvements didn’t help either. So we were happy to use their old one without them noticing.
The guesthouses are nice. Both of them are very clean and warm. There’s a kitchen with all the pots, pans, plates and cutlery, a fridge, an oven and a stove and even a dishwasher. Thus we have a very good setup to prepare our own food which we have brought with us from Riga. However, just before the dinner there’s some fun going on outside – a snowmobile jumping show was a part of a restaurant opening celebration and our kitchen windows were perfectly positioned to see it. We went outside for a closer look and got a welcome drink on the house in the new restaurant.
This had been a long day, so after some cozy chatting around dinner table we went to sleep to be ready for a hiking trip on the following day.