Hurtigruten sails past Prins Karls Forland and west into Kongsfjord under cloudless skies, without a wisp of wind, and a warm sun. We have sailed for three days now, over the Barents Sea, past Bjørnøya and into the fjords of southwestern Spitsbergen.
We have seen sea birds migrating north, polar bears, foxes, reindeer and seal. But now our sights shift. Everyone is drawn on deck. Many stand with closed eyes to soak in the strong sunshine, others take photos or get a closer look at the natural wonders through binoculars.
Seeing land again after having been at sea for some time is a special experience. Even more amazing is when we begin to make out the contours of houses at almost 78 degrees north, with nothing between this small town and the North pole but arctic wilderness.
We set foot on land at 79 degrees north. The spring is so warm that we leave our hats and gloves in our rooms. The town, if you can call a 40-50 building settlement that, has one main street, which is covered in snow, causing a shining whiteness in the early sunshine. We take our time to enjoy the light.
At home, we are so used to the cars, streets and houses around us that we barely think about it. Discovering this tiny town, in all its splendid isolation, is something new, something almost magic.
Snow scooters are parked by the small houses; skis are stacked in the snow. These are the principal modes of transport in the far north. A small hotel is on the right, the world´s most northerly post office on the left: a small, turquoise house, glowing in the strong light. Many go in to send a postcard ”from the North pole”.
We go up towards the mines. A young man comes by on skis.
"Where are you going?" we ask.
"To the top of that mountain. I’m finished with work, now I’m headed up there. I’ll catch some sun and ski down again." He grins, already tan in April. "I’ve travelled quite a bit in my work. But Ny-Ålesund is the most amazing place I’ve ever seen. My family will join me soon. There’s no better place in the world," he says before he skis off beyond the mines and up over the mountainside.
This sight alone is worth a postcard from the world’s northernmost post office.