they sure know how to party!!!
When we visited Barentsburg we were very lucky: it was the Russian National Holiday!
people had been partying from early morning on and were expected to keep doing so until late in the evening. On the party square south of the church there were lots of stalls - most of them selling vodka, others selling food (like bbq). It seemed that everybody was there, the music was playing and many people were dancing!
When our group approached, we were invited to dance with them and have a drink or two (or three or four....) with them - very nice and hospitable, indeed!
They sure know how to party, that's for sure!
Take off your shoes
As everywhere in Svalbard and also in many places of the Arctic, it is a custom to take off the shoes before entering a building. The photo shows the lobby of the local museum and as you can notice, they do have slippers available for you!
The custom of taking off the shoes absolutely makes sense in a place like Barentsburg, since there is coal dust everywhere and the paths are muddy most of the time!
As I mentioned before, Barentsburg is a Russian settlement on Norwegian grounds. Most inhabitants are Russian and Ukrainian coal miners and their families. Everything still looks like in old Soviet times:
Mr. Lenin still greets you (our guide said, this was merely a "joke" now), you still see the typical propaganda paintings at quite a few places and the tourguide mentioned the heroic efforts of the Russian people in every second sentence....
This was much more than I had ever experienced in Russia itself - even in former times.... - quite strange in every aspect!!!