In Oslo, actually Lillestrom (12 minutes by train from Oslo Lufthavn) we stayed with Magnus and his girlfriend, who is a friend from our masters. Completely soaked from the rain, we reached their place and had a wonderful evening together catching up, enjoying good pizza, wine and even a Manhatten cocktail.
Arrival in Longyearbyen at 14:00. It is cold (5 degrees) but not nearly as cold as we expected. A tough looking busdriver (earring, short ponytail, foggy eyes) brings us to the ‘Raddison Blue Hotel stop’. The instructions from our AirBNB host were extremely easy to follow; it turned out to be one of the blue houses left from the Radisson. Top floor and the door was open. Local custom it seems. Our host was not there. In the hall of the building we place our mountainshoes on the designated rackets.
So far I am restless. Fear of not having enough to do activities. Of not being able to meet people. Everything looks eerie and has resemblance to the twilight zone. Neither Tim or I expected a claustrophobic feeling which overwhelmed us. Freed of our bags we searched the supermarket in the ‘centre of town’. Streets were deserted and the two pedestrians we did see didn’t greet us back. We felt strange, unwantingly and incapable of spending one month at the second most-Northern inhabited part of the world.
Especially inhabitants used to big city life are susceptible to “Island Fever”, when the island is too small and the idea of being cut off from the mainland and not having enough things to do, get to you badly. This spell can be broken through interaction with the islandlife itself; such as using the sea (which closes your world) as a path to sail on.
After dinner (which took us a very long time because the stove kept turning off) with Philip we did our own things on the computers, Phil watched Bulgarian soccer and chatted with his brother about it. He was very happy as his team did well. Internet connection up here is fantastic. We had pasta-pesto with beans and corn from tans, a cheap and comfort meal. Grated with the cheese we gave Philip. Red wine accompanied it and made us warm and fuzzy.
Around 23:00 we were dead tired from a day full of impressions. When closing the curtains Tim looked outside and actually saw the Northern light! Green and even purple curtains of light danced and flashed in the sky above Longyearbyen with varying intensity. Tim and I looked to eachother in awe and excitement, and ran outside for a better look. From the village we heard exciting screams. Phil ran outside with us and to our dissapointment the lights were nearly dissapeared. “Let’s go to some place real dark”. And so we went with our kind Bulgarian friend racing through the empty cold streets of Longyearbyen hunting for the Northern lights.. It was flowing like a green river through the sky, and we wanted to see it like that again. Hilly, muddy streets without lights led us to the restaurant of Phil. There we stood to watch the Northern lights, which had come back in less intensity, teasing us from the mountains on the left side. It was as if someone set a bright light from that mountain to the rest of the village. Flashes flickered and shimmered.
Phil then gave us a tour of his restaurant which was an old miner’s place. Old parts from the mine was given new purposes; drills became candle sticks and wine bottles replaced dynamite sticks in a wooden cupboard. It had become cloudy. Phil brought 3 panacota deserts (chocolate and orange mouse) for us and we went home.