Days 19 & 20 - The Polar Whisperer
On Wednesday we made our way to Barentsburg, which is quite some place; officially the most depressing town in the world we have ever been to. It really is a broken town, where it seems no one has any purpose in being. When we initially called the only hotel there asking if they had rooms available, we were told they were completely full. Then followed a period of reflection and reconsideration, actually they did have just the one room free for us after all. We turned out to be the only guests in the entire hotel, of 500-600 rooms or so. It was a weird place.
We spent a considerable amount of the day snowmobiling. We have become rather attached to our ski-doos; our parting will be a very reluctant one when we have to hand them back. One thing we are, however, quite pleased to have held on to is our growing covering of facial hair. Having cultivated wild beards, in the tradition of all proper explorers (some of us more than others), we were very grateful for the extra warmth they provided as we ski-dooed in the beautiful fresh air without balaclavas; our faces would have been quite cold without them.
We have also been doing lots more filming. David’s reputation has spread far and wide; he is renowned among the locals, who have been fascinated by our photos and film footage. We have seen bears when people we have met, who have been out on special bear-watching trips, have seen none. Rather than heading out for a couple of hours, we did it a bit differently and spent a few days out on the sea ice, even though it didn’t take us long, armed with our very own ‘Polar Whisperer’. This is how David is now known among the locals. You’ll be pleased to hear, he is handling his fame well.
We are back in Longyearbyen today, having a sauna and a much needed shower before doing the final pack up of all our gear. We have a rather shockingly early flight to Tromso tomorrow morning and then on to Oslo, where we will spend our last day before heading back to the sunshine we hear we are promised in London on our return!