If anyone thought that drunken beach revelers or soccer hooligans could make for a bad time on vacation, they may not have considered a town where the neighbors are polar bears.
The town is Ny-Alesund, on Spitsbergen Island, Norway; it's a former coal-mining town now given over to research. During the winter months, there are only a handful of caretakers maintaining the northernmost permanent human settlement, but in warmer months there are about 150 scientists working for different institutions, as well as a small contingent of adventurous vacationers.
On arrival, new residents and visitors are given the drill:
- Don't lock your doors; your neighbors may need to get in
- If you see a bear, go into the nearest house and call for help
- Don't wander out of town without a gun.
The bears, who can weigh up to 1300 pounds and sprint at 25 mph, don't hang around town, but range close enough to raise caution; TheLocal.no reports that a few days ago, two females and two cubs were feeding on a stranded walrus just 2 miles from town.
Spitsbergen is the largest island of the Svalbard archipelago, which covers an area larger than Switzerland, but has only about 2500 people...and 3000 polar bears.
Photo: Marilyn Jones, from TravelGumbo blog on polar bears in Manitoba. Click HERE!