#SPITSBERGENEXPEDITION should have been an incredible trip in the Polar north with Icewarrior. Learning survival and endurance , alas due to SAS pilot strikes I was stranded in Oslo and had to cancel my expedition. Thanks pilot strikes. Roll on Oslo expedition
30th April 2019
After a torturous day yesterday I am finally on a train to be part of Ice-warriors latest expedition. Yesterday there were horrendous complications with SAS airline going on strike, and I spent the entire day trying to find another method of travel to Longyearbyen. There are alternatives but days apart that would mean loosing days of the expedition. One of my colleagues in Oslo managed, no idea how, to get us to Longyear the same day we were all hoping to land. SO all is good. Due to the stress I left packing till literally the last second. I hope I have everything I need…. If not then I will get … well cold-lets hope that’s the worst of it)
And so the journey begins, my luggage is in the luggage racks-yes it fits, an enormous Osprey bag, and a 2m long Dakine ski bag. The train is busy and is a fancy new one. There is no buffet car, simply a couple of stewardess’s pushing a trolly… Takes the magic away from trains somewhat I feel. I suppose that’s progress, I’m an old romantic, I like the way things were, I liked going to get a coffee-a chance to get out of your seat and have a wander. Progress… the end of the past.
So, the saga continues. It’s 5pm, I made it to Heathrow, but my connecting flight has been cancelled. I am typing this from Lufthansa’s executive lounge . The lounge is, I’m afraid to say, pretty fantastic. The only downside is the people in here. They are not like me. It’s full of international business men and women, very well groomed, very good looking and they walk with a confidence I surmise comes with having a lot of money or a powerful job. None the less I am here in my muddy walking boots and T-shirt getting dirty looks. I’ve eaten everything in here. Curry, nuts, cake, pudding. Ive had one beer, but the temptation is there. I fancy a wine and a vodka and a whisky…. But I won’t have one. I don’t want to get thrown off my flight as it appears I am travelling BUSINESS class. Ive never ever travelled in such a class…But it might be fun.
It wasn’t business class, not at all. I was simply in the first five rows in the plane, none the less we landed in Oslo and my onward flight is cancelled. I headed over the road to the Raddison Blu hotel. They had a room-which was lucky. the hotel was close to the airport, so that was great.
I’m on the phone yet again waiting for SAS to answer so I can try to book a flight to Longyearbyen… Ooh it is a pickle, by no mistake.
And so the flight was cancelled, and the next one, the next and the next. Svalbard is no priority when there is a pilot strike. And therefore Ive decided to return home tomorrow and write it off. Hey ho. Today though I will spend the day in Oslo. I shall dub thee Oslo expedition. The day started with taking a ticket to speak to someone at the airline, after a horrendous wait I was put on another plane-that was cancelled. So I went into Oslo city, and boy was it hot. T-shirt and sweat hot. I looked around the opera and ballet house. An amazing architectural beauty. Glass and white marble on the sea’s edge. A stunning structure with angles that make it seem that its climbing from the sea. I walked and photographed and enjoyed. It was hellishly bright, true sun really really shines in Norway. I wanted to go to see one of my favourite pieces of art, The Scream , by Munch. I walked to the other end of the city-to find it’s shut on Wednesdays. I was very very annoyed and sad. Why open everyday except Wednesday? Close Sunday-surely? But alas no. Annoyed and feeling a little kamikaze I wanted to try the electric scooters that everyone was riding.It was a steep learning curve, the different side of the road, the not knowing what is acceptable and what isn’t. But I did it, and I’m alive to tell the table. I downloaded the app VOI, and it lets you hire a scooter for £1 plus 10p a minute-or something similar..It was very affordable, and the scooters are pretty great. Made by Segway, I was impressed-they’re about £450 on Amazon….🤔. I then simply dump the scooter where I want, photograph it and I’m on my way. I walked around the city some more and watched the massive labour day parade…. Lots of people and vehicles in the streets. Next I met up with Jim and Tommo, The Icewarriors, and had a coffee and a few pints with them, £10 a pint!!! We watched Oslo passing by and talked of things men talk about. People, work, trips, motorbikes, polar-bears-the usual things. Claire met us later that evening for a meal, and then we trained back to the hotel. A bath and a sleep.
Woke to see the flight was cancelled, so decided to fly back to the UK. There was no sign of the strikes ending, and I couldn’t afford to simply wait around as my holiday leave, and my days on the ice diminished. I had breakfast, packed up and set off to the airport. Bumped into Tommo and Jim again and had breakfast and coffee. Onto the plane, and to the UK. Got a great view over London on our way in. Then it was to the train, and home. To see my loving family 12 days earlier than expected. Lovely to see them, lovely to be away-but I can’t help but feel cheated of an amazing enduring trip. Oslo was great, spending time with some other Ice-warriors was brilliant. But I miss the North, the cold, the ice, the 24hour daylight…..
Until next time…..role on #LASTPOLE