The Northernest place

Bear Statue Longyearbyen SvalbardI wrote this before I went to Svalbard.  It is worth reflecting on at the end of the journey.

Unless you are a polar bear (or an upside-down penguin), there is really no reason to go the Arctic Circle.  “What is there?” my friends asked, because that is what you are supposed to ask.  I didn’t have a reason.

I want to see the midnight of midsommar in the middle of the Arctic Ocean.  I wanted to be in a place more northerer than Barrow, Alaska.  “Northerer” is actually a word in Svalbard, because they speak walrus there.  You may know that walrus are apt to use words like northerer.  They say the Eskimos have a hundred words for snow (which is not exactly unique, but it sounds good), and the walruses have many for “north”.  They don’t even have a word for south.  If you don’t believe me, try to get a walrus to say “south.”  You will fail.



I tried to show someone where Svalbard was on a map of Europe, but it wasn’t there. Thankfully, there is a globe in my office.  To see Svalbard, you need to take a godlike perspective, from above the earth.

I have read about Svalbard now.  They have an art museum.  The northernmost in the world.  And the world’s northernmost Thai restaurant.  I will fly on the northernmost 737 to the northernmost commercial airport.  I will take the northernmost taxi.  I will eat at the northernmost Thai restaurant.  Maybe I will interview a walrus.  And I will tell you about the North.



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