17_MayMay 17 is likely the biggest national celebration event for Norway: its National Constitution Day. Houses, cars, boats, bicycles, they all fly the Norwegian colors. All around the country schoolchildren and daycare kids parade through villages and towns, singing “Ja, vi elsker dette landet…” – together with school music bands, proud parents, and the entire community. Everything is in blue, red and white colors, including the nail polish of young girls, and balloons. The kids are treated to candy, ice cream and chocolate, even when the snow is falling, while the proud parents eat cake and drink strong black coffee. Everybody is dressed with the most fanciest clothing – Norwegian adults wearing their location typical bunad while kids take hours in the morning to prepare for THE day to be dressed as special as possible.

All this happened for nearly everybody in Norway, except for us.  Our Tromsø group left our homes right before the action started to drive to the airport and fly around noon to Svalbard. There we boarded the ship and a completely different kind of activity started. Instead of parades, children, and hip-hip-hooray, we were dealing with boxes, boxes and more boxes to unpack in order to prepare our floating labs for the first oceanographic sampling. We left port at 5pm after a brief introduction into ship safety and guiding words by our chief scientist Ingrid about the upcoming sampling events.

Everybody is in a good mood – also because we actually did get a delicious cake at 4pm, served in the ship’s mess. It was delicious.

A few more hours, and nearly all the unpacking will be done, and then the everlasting sequence of sampling, filtration, sediment sorting, experiments will start, dominating our lives until May 29.

(Text and photo: Rolf Gradinger, UiT)