I managed to sleep three hours the night before we left. I was picked up at 4:15am. Then I slept another three hours on the plane to Newark. The Newark airport is not my new favorite. We had to leave security to change terminals, and we were there five hours. Then I slept another three hours on the flight to Oslo. None of these three hour naps were the most restful I’ve ever had, mind you. In Oslo we cleared customs. We got on our final flight: to Longyearbyen. But, turns out it stopped in Tromso, where we all had to get off and go through passport check again. We weren’t technically leaving Norway by going to Svalbard, but we were leaving the Schengen area. Svalbard has a different economic status too. It’s weird.
Further inland, up the fiord, it is still frozen over. I notice that we’re driving and parking on giant snow banks. The building I am in is on stilts presumably connected to the ground below, with adjustable walkways leading from the snow drift to the door. It’s cold but not obscene. We carried the luggage to the SUV without putting on gloves. Wouldn’t want to stay that way too long though. It’s basically like a place with real winter in the winter. There is snow everywhere. We take off our shoes when we enter buildings. Our host just went to renew his rifle training. (Outsiders can’t borrow guns from the institute.)