It’s really cold around this time of year and it’s not going to warm up any time soon. With that in mind, finding a nice place to enjoy the cold weather seems plausible compared to heading south for the winter like the birds. In fact, there are some places in the north which have cold festivals, just like places nearer the equator and further south have their celebrations during the hotter months. In Svalbard, Norway, hanging around with the descendants of Vikings can be plenty of fun.
There’s lots of local food and flavor but the Ice-bear watching could be the most entertaining thing to do while you are in the area. Entertaining in a dangerous, life-threatening kind of sense but lots of fun nonetheless!
They may call them ice bears, but the big, burly and strangely familiar white bears in the Norway area are actually polar bears wandering down from further up north, or to the east and toward Russia. Watching these beasts from afar is fine, but don’t dare try and approach one of these behemoths; they may not be as big as their Kodiak cousins but Svalbard’s ice bears will cleave a man in two, all the same. They are dangerous creatures fully capable of outrunning even an exceedingly fit person on their home turf. Make sure to hook up with some skilled guide or bring along heavy firepower if you insist on going to see the bears alone.
Svalbard is a small town in a small country, so don’t expect all the goods and services you might be used to back at home. Still, the comforts of a cozy place to sleep and stay can be found in this relatively bitter, cold place. For a meager $65 a night you can get a room at the Spitsbergen Guesthouse. It’s not really so much a guesthouse as a hotel, but the Nords do have their own ways of identifying things. These are some of the cheapest accommodations available but they are also able to boast about being quite comfortable, something more expensive hotels fail to manage. All that’s left is to find some good grub for the evening after your vacation activities.
The Kroa in Longyearbyen has some of the best fresh food available in Svalbard. These people don’t stand on custom and so you’ll have to invite yourself in to find a nice spot, sit down and get cozy. You’ll still get service like at any other restaurant and it might even be good, but the food is what this stop is really all about. Eating great for as little as $30 is hard to do at home let alone in a foreign country, but Svalbard does not disappoint in this department. Be careful not to bring along any leftovers if you should go looking for more ice bears!