Last Sunday, the first group of us exchanged Stockholm for Kirkenes; our gateway to the Siberian Arctic! Kirkenes is a small town (10.000 inhabitants) in the far north-eastern part of Norway, in the near vicinity of Russia and Finland. One of the few places on earth where you can travel west and go ahead in time!
Here, we spent some impatient days, exploring the surroundings (a beautiful, pure and remote landscape with boreal forests, sandy beaches AND Norwegian militaries), testing the three restaurants in town and calling the airport for missing luggage. Due to administrative problems, our Jakob Smirnitskiy was delayed for 2,5 days, but Wednesday around noon we could finally spot a ship far away in the fjord. There she was!
You could see the excitement on each others faces, this is what we had been waiting for for a long time. Would our expectations be anywhere near reality? Soon we were shaking hands with our new Russian colleagues, walking through the hallways, and installing our luggage in the cabins that would be our home for the next 6 weeks…
But there was not much time to settle down, since the big mobilization had to start soon! Our six large containers that were packed until their roofs had to be lifted on the decks, unpacked and all the contents given a destination, which meant a temporary but enormous chaos! It felt we were just moving a box around to make space for yet another box, and another one, and another one…. And back again. But yesterday evening, midnight on Moscow time we were finally able to leave the chaos – that was now at least organized – and go into town to have a goodbye-mainland beer in café Ritz with some of our Russian colleagues.
Today, the last Swedish scientists came onboard. After setting up our working spaces in the 20foot containers we secured literally all loose objects on the ship to prepare for evening departure in a heavy storm. However, at a few minutes to 20:00 we heard the storm was too severe (Beaufort gale winds around
9) to steam out of the harbour. Departure postponed to Friday morning; some time to rest now!
Jorien Vonk, Graduate student