Travelling adventuresApril 28, 2009
It seemed as if we were travelling forever but finally we are here in Ny-Alesund and the work can begin. The journey was not only long but full of adventure. It began at 5 o’clock Sunday morning as Helen and Karen left Plymouth for the long drive to Heathrow, stopping only briefly to pick up Steve and then Hannah on the way. Heathrow terminal 5 was everything we imagined and we were glad to board the BA flight to Oslo. An hour and a half later we arrived in Norway and then the fun really began. Steve was still getting over the excitement of seeing Roy Hodgson (manager of premiership side Fulham) in arrivals when the fire alarm went off. As the airport was being evacuated we managed to jump on a bus for the 35 minute journey to Oslo city centre just as fire engines appeared all around us. Once in the city we quickly found our hotel and checked in before heading off to explore.
Oslo, we found, is a beautiful waterfront city decorated with many interesting statues and works of art. After taking some time to soak up the atmosphere we opted for a restaurant by the water’s edge and enjoyed a much needed meal. After which we had another brief stroll around, plus a quick beer, before heading back to the hotel for an early night. The journey to the airport the next morning was far less eventful – thankfully. At the airport we soon met up with all the other EPOCA participants and everyone excitedly boarded the plane for the 4 hour flight to Longyearbyen (the capital of Svalbard). The flight was amazing with incredible views of snow covered mountains and frozen sea-ice, giving us a glimpse of what was waiting for us in the arctic. Stepping out of the plane onto the aircraft steps we got our first taste of true “Arctic” conditions. The bright sunshine betrayed the fact that is was cold – really cold. Minus 16˚C!! We quickly headed into the terminal building to wait for our luggage. Once this had all been collected we made the short walk to the Kingsbay part of the airport, from where we would start the final leg of the journey.
The plane to Ny-Alesund Photo Helen Findlay
This leg consisted of a short flight (approx 20 minutes) over the mountains in a very small plane and it was absolutely amazing as we flew low over some of the most spectacular scenery we have ever seen. As we flew towards Ny-Alesund we could see the frozen fjord ahead of us. As incredibly beautiful as it was, it was not a sight that was particularly welcomed by a plane full of marine scientists hoping to spend the next month sampling this stretch of water. It is unusual for the fjord to be frozen over at this time of the year and we will have to change some of our plans to adapt to these unexpected conditions. Despite this we are all so excited to be in Ny Alesund and can’t wait to get cracking with our experiments. We are also excited, if some what concerned, by the news that there have been many recent sightings of polar bears in the Ny Alesund area and there is every chance we may spot one before our visit is over. Hopefully not too close though. So the travelling is now over and now the work begins…………….
The base as we flew over it. Photo Steve Widdicombe
Looking across the frozen fjord. Photo Steve Widdicombe