Svaldbard, or Spitsbergen as we call it in the Netherlands 2018

For a long time, Svalbard was a place of coal mining. There are still some coal mines in operation, but most have been abandoned. The coal is of such high quality it is used for mixing with iron to create high grade steel and used in batteries and electic motors.

The coal was transported from the mines on the slopes of the mountains to a central point in town, there it was compiled and further transported to the coal harbour by this cable transport system. In the back you can see the current airport of Longyearbyen and on the left, just behind the mountain is the entrance to the global seed vault.

I spent many, many hours cuddling with these sweet dogs. Good thing my clothes were water proof, (thank you Fjällräven) as I was slobbered on quite a bit.

During our stay, we saw many reindeer, not the smartest looking animal, but pretty nonetheless. By the way, all of Santa's reindeer are female, the males lose their antlers well before christmas, while the females after Christmas, so Rudolph may not have been the best name for the most famous of reindeer....

Below the reindeer some pictures of birds we got to see.

The Northern Fulmar looks like a cross between a sea gull and an albatros. When I was standing on top of the boat and held out my hand they came flying up to me and tapped my hand with their wing :-)

Needless to say I spend many hours on top of the boat high-fiving them.

The little tube on top of their beek is used to spray a foul smelling substance on predators, they can even kill predatory birds with it as they will be unable to fly once they get the substance on their wings. Glad I don't have feathers.

A lot of Polar Foxes roam the islands, this little guy was not impressed by us.

These sea gulls had completely taken over the empty building oposite the hotel in Pyramiden. Luckily it was double glazing so we didn't hear them.

The coloured dots on their heads were made by scientist who were studying them. I think paintball gun.

Pyramiden.


We took a trip to the abandoned former Soviet mining town of Pyramiden on Svalbard. The town was founded in the early 20th century by the Swedish and later sold to the Russians. Until 1996 this was a thriving mining town and was considered a luxury posting. As the town is now almost empty, there are two caretakers during winter and 11 guides, caretakers and hotel staff during summer, a lot of the buildings have fallen in disrepair. A great spot for some Urbex photography of which you will see some examples below.

The town of Pyramiden from the boat. The two shafts on the right were to bring miners up the mountain and coal back down. In the top right corner you see the actual mining operation, high up the mountain.

We were greated by the transport line that dumped the coal into cargo ships, atop the Norwegian and Russian flags were waving in the breeze.

A panorama shot from the back of the town with the start of the two shafts up the mountain on the left, framed before the typical Svalbard landscape.

It really looks like they just packed up, one day, left everything where it was and took a plane out of there.

There is even some color left 22 years after the last coal miners left.

We had a private tour from one of the guides who took us around the town and into various buildings and structures. This is the shaft where miners were taken up the mountain for a hard days work and back down again.

Due to the permafrost all cables for electricity, telephone as well as water and sewage are above ground. It was very difficult to bury these in the permafrost and would have been pushed to the surface. All through the town of Pyramiden as well as other towns such as Barentsburg and Longyearbyen you see these wooden ducts above ground. Good way to move around for the guide on his mountain bike in the distance. The glacier you see is around 15km or 9m away at the other side of the fjord.

The cantine, the central restaurant which was, together with the culturale centre and the sports hall, they place for entertainment and socializing.

The entrance to the restaurants is still a very colorful place although the paint is peeling quite a bit.

The central kitchen area, Henry Ford would be proud.

As there were children, there was a school, below the main entrance.

A lonely bell, that will never ring again.

The music room with the typical spring and summer landscape visible through the window.

If you are ever sick of the world or people, there is enough nothingness, here to wind down.