Spitsbergen (Svalbard) – Pictures from day 1

You’ve missed me, I know. I’ve been skinny-dipping on polar bear island (Spitsbergen), and have seen many beautiful and impressive things. I took a lot of pictures, but even though I am quite unable to put a lot of words next to them to express what I have seen there, the pictures themselves are still pure lies.

They can never capture the sounds of the thundering glaciers as the ice expands inside, of the birds that warn you that you are getting awfully close to their nests, of the wind that blows and doesn’t stop for such trifling things as a mountain, let alone a human being with three layers of clothing, of the rushing of the sea or the creaking of the masts, the flapping of the sails or the wings of some puffins, the mooing of the reindeer, the exhale of a beluga that swims by so closely that you think you can touch it, or the majestic silence that can be heard when sitting still in a sheltered fjord.

They will never carry the smell of the salt water, the distinct odor of the seaweed that lies along the beach, the penetrating scents of the puffin’s nests or the generally fishy air that hangs around walruses. You would need a lot of imagination, and even then the real feeling of the pebbles on the shore that crunch under your boots, the cold water around your ankles as you step barefoot unto the smooth round rocks in the water, the squishy mud on the tundra, the funny wobbling of quicksand on top of permafrost, or the sweat that forms on your back when climbing a mountain slope cannot be approached.

And even the picture’s main purpose, catching the light and images that you encounter and showing those to others, is lacking in so many ways. There is no way that a picture could capture the colossal heights of the glaciers and rocks, the unbelievably far distances that you can still see clearly over, the white dots on the mountains or tundra’s that you need to inspect, to make sure that they are stones or snow patches and not polar bears, or the bright colors in the light and shadow from the sun, the sky and the ice that completely surround you and almost look like fake Photoshop constructs on the screen or paper.

Then, there’s the good food and friendly crew, the laughter, games and conversations with fellow travelers and the friendships that you build. Those cannot even be begun to be told by any picture, at least, not by a amateur photographer like me.

But still, here they are. Enjoy what you see, but don’t expect it to approach the truth in any way but in the memories of the people who were really there.

Click a picture to enlarge it.

Side view from the sailing ship we went on

An ice bird

Reindeer antlers (second hand)

Actual size willow trees

Blue polar fox (can you find it?)

Me, enjoying the view of a glacier

An iceberg, but sadly, nothing to compare its size to

Walruses in the water can move very quickly and surprise you if you are on the beach

Whereas walruses on the beach are slow and actually more surprised to see you

Another forest

Whale bones

10 PM looks like clear day… the sun didn’t set the first few days

I will link you to posts of the other days when I add them. There’s more animals to be seen, and there will be some glaciers coming up.

  1. Wow, cool pictures :D. I’m looking forward to the other pictures.

  2. Ah sometimes I dream about you being there, it looks so wonderful!

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