polar bear mama and cub checking out its reflection

Travel Photo Challenge Day 7 – The Arctic

I’ve been nominated by some fellow bloggers, Tony and Margie with Back Roads and Other Stories as well as Jyothi with Travel Explore Enjoy, to post one favorite travel picture a day for ten days without explanation, then to nominate someone else to participate.  That’s 10 days, 10 travel pictures, and 10 nominations.  It is my understanding that the idea behind the challenge is to expose audiences to new bloggers and vice versa.  I’m always up for helping fellow bloggers, so I have accepted the challenge. 

That said, my rule following self is going to follow Tony and Margie’s lead and break a handful of them.  First, while a picture paints a 1,000 words, I’m incapable of posting a photo without some explanation.  Sometimes the story makes the image that much more special.  Second, though not specified, I think the intent is to post 10 days in a row.  I’ll be lucky if I post 10 weeks in a row. I also may post more than one photo at times.

TAKE THE CHALLENGE
Annie at Estabrook

Postcard Apps for Writing Notes from Afar

Given most of the world is in lockdown due to COVID, this is probably not the best time to write an article about postcard apps that let you mail a note with your own photo from all over the world.  At the same time, they may still be used to cheer someone up during this difficult time and for the holiday season.

When I began traveling internationally for extensive trips, I wanted an easy way to say “hello” to my friends and family back home without having to hunt for a postcard, find a post office, and get the appropriate postage.

SAY HELLO!

Oslo, Norway and the Outskirts

We got into Oslo a bit later than we had hoped for after a delayed flight, but the process upon landing was pretty simple. We found the Flytoget Express Train and took it to the Nationalthetret station. All we had to do was swipe our credit card at the turnstyle. We didn’t even get a ticket.

The train was quite full, so we sat on our luggage until we arrived 20 or 30 minutes later, I think after about three stops. We walked a few short blocks along the side of the park to our hotel, Hotel Christiania Theater that was in an absolutely perfect location. I really scored on this place, especially given the price. The only downfall was that there wasn’t any A/C, and it was unseasonably hot in Norway, but I suppose a lot of hotels don’t have A/C in the nordic country.

Continue reading “Oslo, Norway and the Outskirts”

blue whale in the arctic

Blue Whales in the Arctic

We had one last night on the ship and were told we were in a good place for whale watching. A wake up call came over the loud speaker around 2 am; “I’m sorry to disturb, but there are three large whales on the starboard side of the ship.”

I thought to myself, I wish they announced what type of whale, as I didn’t want to get up for a humpback to view in the distance when I have snorkeled with them in the Silver Banks.

A little while later, we heard over the loud speaker, “We believe these are blue whales.”

TAKE A LOOK

Harbor Seal Circled Our Kayaks

What a great final paddle for our trip! After having the kayaks shuttled to the coastline, we loaded up and headed into the fjord. David and I took singles for the last outing. After being in a double, I found the single to be a little less stable and more rocky.

The landscape around the area was absolutely spectacular. To our left, an old fishing cabin was perched on the point while kittiwakes dotted the pebble beach until we neared. The sea was still until we reached a receding glacier. The wind coming off the icy slope blew us toward the middle of the rippling bay. I found myself snapping a photo and then paddling on the right side to bring myself closer to shore.

GO FOR A PADDLE
boat in southwest spitsbergen

Historical Relics in Southwestern Spitsbergen

Morning Hike in the Bellsund Area of Southwest Spitsbergen

Today we explored the Bellsund Area in Southwest Spitsbergen. A landing was offered to us this morning. It was the first time we didn’t have to separate into specific hiking groups as the guides stood watch for polar bears while we were allowed to wander along the perimeter of the peninsula freely. It was a welcome change to be able to explore on our own.

EXPLORE

Little Auks and Incredible Iceberg Activity

Today was the summer solstice. Due to leap year, the summer solstice actually falls a day earlier. This morning we signed up for the hike in Isbjørnhamna as it was the only chance we would have to see nesting little auks. We chose to be in the group of “fast” walkers along with at least 20 other people. It would be our first chance to cover some ground while we were in the Arctic.

Isbjørnhamna

We started along the beach and soon followed a single track trail. I think this was the first time we even walked on a trail. There are two points of view about trails in the Arctic. One is to mess up one small portion of the land by creating a trail and a trace. As such the rest of the terrain is protected. The other is to spread out and walk so that a trail is never created and no trace is left, but a larger area of tundra is trampled. I don’t really know what is best, but I preferred the trail.

HIKE AND KAYAK

Beautiful Birds and Interesting Icebergs!

Two days ago we tried to enter a passage that was blocked by ice. This morning, our expedition leader, hoping for better conditions, decided to try again. We were in luck. The winds and currents had broken the ice into large pieces. The captain of our ship carefully moved forward. We could hear the bow scrape the ice as we headed southwest.

While we stood outside on the deck admiring the beauty, we scanned the ice floes for wildlife. We spotted a walrus and lots of dirty ice that looked like seals to our hopeful minds until we came close enough to see that was not so.

EXPLORE

Great Day of Kayaking!

The weather has finally improved. It was good enough for kayaking. We enjoyed a lovely outing in Faksevagen this morning as we paddled against a light headwind as we followed the coast out of the fiord. Sea birds and reindeer peppered the rocky coastline until we turned past the point.

GO PADDLING!
glacial face on Kvitøya

Kvitøya…An Island Rarely Visited

Today we traveled to Andreenesset, Kvitøya or White Island. 99% of the island is covered by an icecap. The island is usually inaccessible due to dense drift ice which remains most of the summer months, but today, in rocky seas we were able to visit, the bay anyway. The fog kept us from landing as polar bears are hard to spot in such conditions. The large swells made for a bouncy zodiac tour. Regardless, between the waves we were able to spot swimming walruses. There were at least eight in the bunch. The curious fellows popped their heads up above the water’s surface as we neared.

EXPLORE