My brother came up with an idea to celebrate my mum’s birthday; going to Tromso to hunt the Northern Lights.
Arriving in Tromso was a calamity. There was fog in Amsterdam, so each flight was delayed and we missed the connection to Tromso. Added to that, I managed to crack the screen in my new laptop, which is en pointe for my character.
It was sleeting and sleet means cloud so no aurora that night.
The cabin here at Malangen Resort is set right on the sea and the waves lap the rocks under our terrace. When I woke in the morning, I could see the mountains for the first time in the light. White and lined with half-bare pine trees, topped with cloud.
Tonight, we are heading to Camp Nikka, a base about 3km away, to hopefully catch the Northern Lights.
Oh, what are clouds compared to rocks and mountains?
The Sami legend has it that the Northern Lights are our ancestors returning to capture naughty children. The aurora activity was so high that night, our ancestors would have scolded children in Scotland.
The perfect night to be warmed by a wood fire and watch the lights over a frozen lake.
Or, alternatively, to stand in the cold making small talk about the weather.
The Hunt continues…
The day was something we had to get through before evening. On day three we headed into Tromso itself.
Luckily, Tromso is self-aware and knows that its winter tourists suffer the day to await the night. There’s a mix of architecture here, from the classic Scandinavian wooden buildings, painted in bold greens and reds, sat against modern designs like the toblerone-eqsue Arctic Cathedral.
By the harbour is a curious building, which would be a boring set of concrete blocks had they not appeared to have collapsed in the cold arctic wind, creating a fallen dominoes effect.
You can attach the “World’s Most Northernly” accolade to almost every attraction here, so when we entered the dominoes, we were in Polaria, the World’s Most Northernly Aquarium.
It’s quite small for an aquarium, with a focus on the lifecycle of the ocean, from tiny plankton through to polar bears. Its main attraction are the four seals, two bearded ones and two harbour.
You can walk over, under and through the seal pool, giving an illusion of being surrounded by their play area. Keepers feed and train the seals five times a day to keep them mentally and physically stimulated.
It was much more engaging and honest than a show that everyone has seen at every zoo and aquarium explaining the differences between seals and sea lions and giving the animals fake personalities.
We were able to see the genuine relationships between the keepers and seals, as well as being amazed by them playing fetch and jumping in the air.
I’m dragging on about the day because unfortunately the night was the same story; strong aurora activity predicted but too cloudy to see. It continued to snow, though.
Day Four – A Bonus Part!
“No offence, but I hope I don’t see you again,” I said to the barman as we left Agenturet beer and winebar. In one of Tromso’s oldest buildings, it was such a nice space to sit and relax in, we’d returned on our surprise extra night.
So far in life, I’ve had quite good luck with flights.
I made up for this in one trip, here are the reasons why my flights were delayed:
- Fog at destination
- Crew delayed because of a previous delayed flight
- Missed connection
- Too windy to land
- Too snowy to take off
- De-icing machine busy
- Technical fault whilst trying to take off
- Plane switched to one with fewer seats, asked to switch for compensation, said no, got switched anyway with no compensation
The clouds were clearing again during the day, but not for long enough for us to be lucky with the lights. My thanks went out to the friend who advised me that they could actually be seen over the UK at the weekend, so my whole trip was pointless.
My Hunt for the Northern Lights was unsuccessful, so was it worth it? Well, I’d spent the weekend in a cabin with my family, making jokes about being attacked by ghosts in the middle of nowhere, rested in a hammock over a frozen lake and seen my mum toast her first marshmallow over a fire.
It’s not a new or original thought, but I suppose because so much had gone wrong with the journeys that it reminded me that travel isn’t about why you go somewhere but what happens whilst you’re there.
Inspired by Tromso? It’s one of my recommended 4 Alternative City Breaks.
Looking to experience something different whilst you’re away? Here’s my guide on whether you should use Airbnb or Get Your Guide.This entry was posted in Inspiration