Sunday, December 7, 2014

Svalbard, Norway: Arctic Literally Means Arctic

My husband said let's go on vacation in Norway. I figured since he was familiar with the country and I was swamped at work, I'd let him plan and surprise me with the itinerary once we arrived there. Before our departure, he mentioned that we'd be going to the Arctic. I didn't know he meant literally. I figured Norway, as in Oslo and Bergen (which we did go to), but he truly meant this:

Svalbard is located at 78 degrees

And this:

Before we arrived in Norway, we headed to Bass Pro Shop and the one local ski store near us in South Florida. I purchased a lovely Sunice jacket. We also purchased gloves, long underwear, wool socks, a hat, water and windproof pants and several other warm weather items. (But, one of the key items I purchased was at Trapper's Hotel in Longyearbyen, Svalbard - hand warmers!  We loved our stay at Trappers Hotel. Comfortable rooms, hot drinks, cookies and friendly staff were the highlights.  You can see my reviews on TripAdvisor (I'm BornForTravel).)

At Bass Pro Shop, my husband insisted on purchasing me wind and waterproof pants.  I thought it so thoughtful of the love of my life to want me to be warm as we toured the cities of Norway. Ha!

I cannot emphasize enough that when your travel companion, who is the planner of the trip, says you are going to the Arctic, he means literally.

Wearing Bone-Dry pants from Bass Pro Shop over silk long underwear and yoga pants kept my legs and butt warm, dry and comfy the entire hike. (A tip just  for the ladies, bring a PStyle with you outdoor adventures lacking facilities. You really can pee standing up and without having to "drop-trou"!).

Since I look horrible in hats, my husband decided we should play it up. So, he chose a kid's hat for me. 

My failed attempt at a laser-eyed stare

As to our hike up a mountain (and, here, "up" literally means up) to a glacier, we used Svalbard Wildlife Expeditions Day Tours.  Ask for Alex and see if he'll bring his dog Troll.  Watching this 8 month old puppy run up and down the mountain, back and forth between us and Alex, only exaggerated our huffing and puffing as we trekked. It was hilarious and also refreshing to be around that energy.

But, be careful. He might think your mittens are his toy. 

Despite my shock at having arrived in the actual Arctic, it was a worth-while, unique and memorable adventure.  The photos above and below demonstrate this. Whether it was also a vacation is something my husband and I still debate :)


Barentsburg (a Russian settlement)
On the hike

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