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Pole to Pole

Day 7: Longyearbyen

Michael Palin - Pole to PoleThere is no getting away from Ski-Doos. I dreamt about them all night and this morning I find that there is a Ski-Doo convention in town, and our hotel is at the centre of it. From ten o'clock onwards international buyers from the world's cold countries can be heard, if not seen, attempting to scale the near-vertical slopes behind the hotel. There is something about these vehicles that brings out the Jekyll and Hyde in a driver. Once in the saddle, he will sooner or later succumb to an uncontrollable urge to do something dangerous. They are vehicles for a world without roads or policemen.

Longyearbyen has a supermarket. It doesn't actually say on the self-opening doors 'World's Most Northerly Supermarket', but, at 78.15 degrees I can't imagine it has many competitors. Apart from an eye-catching range of canned vegetables called 'Sodd' there is not much to detain us except a well-stocked drinks section. As we have a long sea-journey ahead of us I fill my trolley, only to have to replace all the bottles as I don't have a valid air ticket into or out of Longyearbyen. Alcoholic refreshment is, it appears, severely rationed. The only way we can buy even a can of beer is with a special dispensation from the Sysselmann - the Governor. We traipse round to Government House to get our chitty, feeling like naughty schoolchildren.
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  • Series: Pole to Pole
  • Day: 7
  • Country/sea: Norway
  • Place: Longyearbyen
  • Book page no: 23

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