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Spitsbergen – located beyond the Arctic Circle, is the largest island in the Svalbard archipelago. It is a part of the one-of-a-kind Arctic world. Frosty, icy land, to which access is still granted to few. In winter, it is completely dark, while in summer, there are endless sunny days. Dark, desert, mysterious in winter, with poor fauna, it suddenly awakens to life with the first rays of the sun. Millions of birds return to this area to build their nests and raise their young. Along with them, summer's bustle returns to the islands, giving this seemingly dead land an exceptional, magical touch.

We sailed here with dreams and various imaginings of this remote spot. Everyone imagined it in their own distinct and unique way. We approached Spitsbergen with our own expectations, passion, and great fascination, interspersed with a slight fear and apprehension of the unknown. We had heard or read stories of people who had made it here and explored this land, becoming part of it. Unexpectedly, we got also invited into this world, becoming part of the story. None of us expected the Arctic to grow into us so quickly and settle comfortably in our minds. So far, free of the polar bug, we became infected with it for good.

The Stanisław Siedlecki Polish Polar Station in Hornsund, which we reached as the 45th Polar Expedition, is located on Isbjørnhamna Bay, which means White Bear Bay. We found ourselves here in mid-June. The seemingly harsh, gloomy climate, which at first glance was dominated by all tones of gray interspersed with brown shades of rock, began to take on countless colorful forms. Among the greenery of the tundra, numerous flowers become visible, delighting the viewer with their coloration. Because here, we are the spectator. We observe the surrounding flora and fauna, trying to interfere with their space and life as little as possible.

The summer season is also characterized by the endless bustle distinguishable from virtually every corner. The birds, not having much time to raise their young, use every possible moment to get food. And the young themselves, sensing the imminent departure date, grow alarmingly fast.

Now and then, you can see a polar fox running by, which in summer takes on a not-so-glamorous coat, and groups of strolling reindeer. Visits by polar bears at this time of year are rather rare.

One of the most magnificent wonders of this white region is undoubtedly the glaciers. Almighty masses of ice fill almost every free space. Seemingly motionless, crisscrossed by numerous crevasses, they unhurriedly move toward the sea, where they suddenly end on an abrupt precipice. The front of such a giant can be dozens of meters high. With its majesty, it resembles, often jagged, mighty cliffs. If lucky, we can witness an over-awesome spectacle which the glacier's calving is. Lumps of ice split off from the front and fall like a huge apartment block into the sea. It is a truly mystical experience. Equally breathtaking is the interior of the glaciers. Fairy-tale blue corridors, underground rivers and lakes, grand halls, and narrow passages. Magical.

A curious Arctic experience is the polar day, which lasts just over 4 months here. During this time, the sun travels relentlessly high in the sky, charging us with immeasurable amounts of energy. Thanks to this phenomenon, you can go on a hike at any time. And it is very often that the best weather occurs in the hours that fall during night hours. One could say that there are two seasons here. The interim between the intense and short summer is very fast, and winter comes in the blink of an eye. With the end of the polar day, beautiful colors return to the sky: roses, purples, oranges, and all sorts of garnets. The long-lost light show will probably move everyone. The bird din subsides as well. We begin to be surrounded by peace and tranquility.

Winter is a time of definite stagnation. During the polar night, life virtually dies down, glaciers slow down, and only the sky sparkles with the aurora's lights, which can dance a beautiful show.

The first sunrise restores dormant energy deposits. An intense time of action begins. In just a bit, it will become bustling here! At the same time, we begin to feel the inevitably approaching time of return. A year in the north may seem like a very long time, but unfortunately, time passes as fast here as it probably does in any other part of the world. Nevertheless, the Arctic has somehow become our home, and we will undoubtedly miss it!

MAJESTY products used during the trip:

Text: Marta Wyszatkiewicz
Photos: Marta Wyszatkiewicz @radofoto