Quite to our susprise, we found out that right below the airport in Longyearbyen lies a campsite. To keep as much as possible of our budget available for activities, we packed our camping gear and went for some Arctic tenting. That actually turned out one of the best choices we made for the trip.
For one because of the dramatic panoramas we got when we opened our tent in the morning and closed it again in the evening. On clear days the setting is truly spectacular and one week later we still found ourselves staring into the fjord. Furthermore, the campsite is located right next to an area where various birds breed and is regularly visited by Svalbard reindeer and the Arctic fox. Secondly because the campsite was a bit of a safe haven away from the tourist crowds in Longyearbyen. Five (!!) well-filled flights arrive on a daily basis in a city of merely 2000 people. Thinking about the amount of trolleys I encountered at the gate, I was pretty happy with our desolate patch of grass under the airport. With a good sleeping bag and double matresses I would even call it a comfortable experience.
Of course we did not know about this beforehand. One thing became decisive for our choice of the campground: the Arctic Naked Bathing Club. The what, you might wonder? It was started by the campsite a couple of years ago and the rules are simple. You need to swim in the Arctic sea, without any clothes on. You need to make a full dive before you can run out again. And you need one camping staff member to witness your brave skinny dip. For this, you will be awarded with a certificate of membership that you can proudly hang on your wall. And that is exactly what we wanted!
We only had to pick the right moment. Weather on Spitsbergen can be very cheangable, so we waited for a sunny gap to make our ambitious dive slightly more easy. On return from our long boat trip to Pyramiden, the sun came through after a day marked by strong cold winds and lots of rain (making for this nice rainbow view in the harbour). Of course when we got to the shoreline the sun had disappeared behind the clouds again. But as we were already standing there wearing nothing under our jackets, we just went ahead.
Pieter chose the fast-track and jumped straight in, he was already out when I dived. Feet-feeling got lost after about two seconds, so getting out proved even harder than getting in. I fell out of the water, high-fived Pieter, speed-jumped back into my clothers and ran for the shower. A couple of other campers had been cheering and applauding our ambitious dive from the kitchen. Thanks to them for the extra courage, it is nice to get some appreciation! Warm and inside, we got what we came for: