Northern Lights over the Hotel Nellim
You Never Forget Your First Aurora Borealis
Working in the travel industry as I do, I get to do more than my fair share of travelling. The company I work for specialises in holidays in Northern Scandinavia. It’s a great job and for years I’ve been heading to Finland, Sweden and Norway in search of new adventures, dog sledding, snowmobiling, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, ice hotels, go-karting on ice….if it involves snow then I’ve probably done it.
For a long time however, one aspect of life in the North eluded me…… the Northern Lights or Aurora Borealis and my frustration peaked when a colleague, who had just arrived in Norwegian Lapland, texted to tell me he was watching the Northern Lights from just outside the terminal entrance at Kirkenes Airport.
Eventually, I realised that the Northern Lights didn’t really exist; they were just a fabulously clever marketing tool dreamed up by my colleagues and tourist boards within the Aurora Zone to lure visitors to their particular part of the world. Think about it, here is a natural phenomenon that is top of many people’s wish lists and yet its appearance can’t be guaranteed.
It’s a marketer’s dream –
Northern Lights“Come and see the Northern Lights…..possibly!”
Northern Lights over the Hotel Nellim
Eventually, one of my many Arctic odysseys took me to a tiny village called Nellim (population practically zero) in Finnish Lapland. On the way from the airport I told the owner of the local hotel, a Laplander by birth Jouko, about my Aurora skepticism. He smiled knowingly and simply said “We’ll see.”
Sometime after dinner I was sitting in the hotel’s comfortable lounge relaxing with the aid of a roaring log fire and a beer when I heard the front door burst open and Jouko’s voice booming down the corridor: “Ali, if you don’t believe in the Northern Lights you should come outside now!
I dutifully obliged and stood in Nellim’s central courtyard with eyes cast skywards. There, shimmering and dancing across the Arctic firmament, was confirmation that my cynicism had been unfounded. A small group of guests joined us and we stood spellbound as the display continued directly over our heads, curtains of billowing green light, sparkling, flickering and utterly bewitching.
In my earlier haste to be outside I’d forgotten to grab my jacket and believe me, if you’re wearing only a t-shirt, ten minutes of Arctic exposure
Aurora over Lake Inari
will well and truly seep into any bare arms and hands. A brief lull in celestial proceedings presented me with the opportunity to nip back inside, quickly warm myself by the still-roaring fire and race out again, this time far better protected with jacket, gloves and hat.
But the lights had gone. The “Temperamental Lady” had evidently taken umbrage at my absence and decided that enough was enough for one night. She obviously forgave me because the next night when I was a bit further south in a village called Luosto, I saw the most dazzling display I’ve ever experienced, and even the locals came out to enjoy the show.
My travels mean that I’ve been fortunate to see the Aurora many, many times since and every time she has been different.
Sometimes she has appeared as a faint green glow which has frustratingly refused to develop into a full blown light show. On other occasions I’ve been treated to a spellbinding multi-coloured dance across the Arctic firmament. However, nothing will ever compare with that first sighting at Nellim because no matter how many times you are lucky enough to see the Northern Lights, just like your first love, you never, ever forget your first Aurora.
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