Friday, May 18, 2007

Day 293: Goodbye Longyearbyen

Well, here we are again. I've left beloved Longyearbyen for Drammen, a city outside of Oslo in southern Norway. It's ridiculously warm and green here.

First - in keeping with tradition, a tribute to some of the fantastic people I left in Longyearbyen, taken from my going-away dinner...

I miss you already! Especially Greeny, who now lives with Daniel - look how much it grew!

But moving on. Some last looks at Longyearbyen - the day before I left it was very foggy, and bizarrely it reminded me very much of California. Probably because it brought out the sea smell, which smells nearly exactly like the fog near my hometown.

About, eh, three weeks ago, the day before I left for Tromso for my foot surgery, I took my last photo trip around Svalbard. I decided my foot was broken anyhow and headed for surgery, so I walked into town with Pierre and then scootered across the the fjord one last time.

Heading out:

Precipices, which will probably start some wicked avalanches soon:

One of those very avalanches:

One of the old coal mines, with the surrounding red stones revealing the fire damage that occured a number of years ago. Coal mine fires burn extremely hot:

Looking towards town:

Coal transport system, which I am consistantly amazed has not be pushed over by avalanches:

West side of town:

If I remember correctly, this was one of the first warmer-but-not-quite-melting days - enough so that people were eating outside the restaurant:

From the back edge of town, looking up the valley:

Various buildings in town:

That last one is the hospital, with a coal-miner sculpture in front.

Mountains across the fjord:

UNIS park:

Do you remember this shot from January?

Here's the April version:

The funny fortress looking building below the coal plant is the Syssleman's office.

So, scootering across the fjord next. Reindeers!

Old abandoned boat:

And more old coal mining equipement:

A parent pulls their kids behind a snowmobile to their cabin:

And there it is: Longyearbyen. There's no doubt I'll be back someday.

Moving to Drammen with everything I own while on crutches was epic, to say the least. Luckily I had people help me to the airport (eternal thanks to Katrine and Daniel) and then ran into an old friend from the Norwegian coast guard on the plane, who helped me get through Tromso. On the flight to Oslo I met a random person - a Norwegian TV host, apparently - who helped me get to the baggage claim. I will say this for Norway - its a lot easier to be comfortable letting strangers carry your bags than most other places.

Yesterday was May 17th, a big day in Norway - from what I understand, their Independence Day. I have photos from that, so I'll bring those out and talk about the day on my next post. Today I took the train to Oslo and went to the Russian consulate and stood in line for three hours to apply for my visa. I guess more people go to Russia than I thought. They - thank god - stayed open a half an hour longer than they were supposed to because their were so many people, and I was the second to last person to get through. The speed of visa processing is directly related to how much money you give them, so mine should be ready next week...

Awesome moment of the day: I managed to be one of the few people at the consulate who actually had my entire aplication in order without any mistakes. While the Russian guy was going over my application, he stopped at the "Name, address, etc of where you'll be staying in Russia". I don't know if him shaking his head and laughing is a good sign. They probably don't get a lot of applications for remote Siberian outposts.

Ah, and finally the foot update. In a cast, on crutches, same old thing. Hurts in creative ways, swells up a lot. Makes me a lot of old-lady friends when I walk down the street.

Alright then!


Anonymous said...

I've been to Drammen!

Hi from Egypt. Sorry I've been away from the blog for so long!

sam said...

russian visa process = sketchy!

glad yours seems to be working out fine! i just completed my visa application stuff for hong kong for next year... travel is exciting!