Our Greece expert, Stella, swapped the golden beaches and olive-clad hillsides of her beloved Greek islands to holiday in Svalbard, a Norwegian archipelago 807 miles south of the North Pole. Svalbard is the northernmost settlement in the world and is known for its rugged, remote terrain of glaciers and frozen tundra sheltering polar bears, Svalbard reindeer and Arctic foxes. The Northern Lights are visible during winter, and summer brings the “midnight sun” ensuring sunlight 24 hours a day.
Stella and her husband James stayed at the Basecamp Hotel in Longyearbyen on Spitsbergen. Here in 1906, an American, John Longyear, started the Arctic Coal Company and set up a mining operation for around 500 people. The settlement was known as Longyear City. Today it is Longyearbyen, meaning ‘Longyear City’ in Norwegian with just over 2000 inhabitants. The untamed wild is all around especially polar bears with more than 3,000 that live around Svalbard; they are curious and sometimes hungry after not eating for months at a time. It is not uncommon to spot one of these magnificent creatures or to see the locals carrying a rifle slung over their shoulders – purely as a precaution. The magnificence and scale of the scene here is guaranteed to capture the heart of all that visit.
Read details of her trip to this amazing region of Northern Norway.