It feels familiar to leave the plane in Longyearbyen and to trudge across the apron to the reception building. We have flown around this runway with our styrofoam planes almost exactly five years ago. Now we are here again, although the farewell then was somehow permanently. This time there is no rental car with the keys plugged for us in the parking lot. We line up in the jam-packed bus and get chauffeured the few miles from the airport to the city. This gives a sort of an instant feel of tourism.
It seems to have become full. There are a number of new houses, industrial buildings and hotels. Construction is going on in many places. But perhaps that just seems to have changed for us. We now reside close to downtown in the UNIS guest house, not in Nybyen in the old miners’ accommodation. During our last stay we were traveling by car very early and very late to fly out of the airport opening times. Now we are walking around the city in daytime.
Our first stop is the supermarket. The flight attendant did not want to give us (free) food, despite what the ticket said. And wifi was not working on board as well! The extensive breakfast at Oslo Airport was the last meal. Everything is familiar with slight changes. There is now a half-pipe on the main shopping street. We live nobly for arctic conditions, next door to the Radisson BLU Hotel which is hardly better. The rooms are almost brand new, with bathroom, kitchen and smooth Internet.
By night we meet at Kroa with the other scientific visitors. We revel in memories of past measurement campaigns.