March 22, 2015
Our two plane-loads of travelers flew back to Oslo from Longyearbyen today, leaving the polar community behind. As we walked out to the plane in late morning, the sun struggled to shine through a thin cloud layer, reminding everyone how fortunate we were that eclipse day was so clear. It was nice to get to know a few of my fellow eclipse watchers and hope to keep in touch with some of them.
Yesterday was more relaxing, I didn’t have any ‘extra’ activities planned. After spending too much time updating various pictures and responding to messages, I took a walk through the town to shop. Taking a walk can be somewhat of an ordeal. Since it was still about 5 deg. F you have to put on most of the layers to keep from freezing. The good thing is there is not much traffic and not many people actually walking around. I stopped first at the post office, hearing there were special eclipse stamps. They also had a very nice first day issue envelope with a 20.3.2015 postmark (in the European style, 20 March 2015). I bought some of those and a sheet of the eclipse stamps, plus a small polar bear sign zipper pull, which was cleverly on a rack next to the check out in order to relieve unsuspecting tourists of their kroner.
Next went to the 78 degree Tax Free shop to get some very nice t-shirts. They were out of the large size, but the medium fit fine. I got a few post cards and returned to the post office since they had nicer cards. The nearby Kulturhuset has a café, I ordered tea and wrote postcards. In the afternoon I wanted to get a bit more exercise, so I went back out mainly to mail the postcards and ended up taking some photos of the town and the continuing amazing light on the mountains. For dinner a group of us were on the tour schedule for a “wilderness dinner”, which consisted of going to the Camp Barentz for ox soup, sitting at one of the large huts around a wood fire. Which wasn’t bad, I stayed for some aurora viewing and saw Tony Hoffman for only the second time during the trip. It began to cloud up after 10m, so I took a bus back to the hotel in order to pack for our departure.
In all it was an exhilarating and special trip, not really relaxing but filled with great activities. The eclipse was memorable and 12 hours later we had spectacular aurora. I still have loads of photos to edit through and process and am looking forward to that. I’ll keep everyone updated on the latest postings. Thanks for reading the blog! I’ll post a few random shots, including yet another of amazing light on the landscape. Perhaps I’ll do a series on the Svalbard light.
(Click on photos to enlarge)