The Lights That Go On a Bit


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Europe » Norway » Northern Norway » Tromsø
February 16th 2018
Published: February 17th 2018
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I've finally seen the Northern Lights! Right on the doorstep of my accommodation too, impressive but they did keep me up bloody late!

The trip to Tromsø was via Oslo and the airport must be the most expensive airport I've ever passed through. It's around 10 Norwegian Krona to the pound, so working out that the advertised fish and chips cost over £16 was quick. A smoothie bowl was almost £13 and the prices on the ski gear and jewellery were out of this world! I didn't do any shopping whilst we waited for our transfer to Tromsø.

As you would expect, it's a fairly large airport - with staff zooming around on scooters, some pushing carts on the scooters, I wasn't expecting that. Weaving in and out of the tight throngs of people, it was amazing that ankles didn't get scraped. Through the immense windows I saw banks of snow on the runway, the sky being darker than the landscape not longer after we arrived.

Going through electronic security, the screen showed Glyn a photo of our shared suitcase and he had to confirm it was hours. Lucky I was behind him because due to the very poor white balance of the photo, Glyn didn't recognise it. It's reassuring to see it though, felt like a good start to the trip as did the friendliness of the passport control lady, asking if we'd come to see the Northern Lights. Little did she know, I had no intention of leaving until I do!

After an hour and forty minute flight, we landed in Tromsø. It was dark and cold, but not as cold as I was expecting being around -7 degrees and the air felt dry. A short taxi ride along roads that would bring the whole of the U.K. to a standstill took us to our accommodation in the suburbs of Tromsø. The roads were steep and covered in thick ice and snow, but it was of no concern to anyone here. The host of our Air B'n'B, Egil was waiting outside his house which was helpful as house numbers are out of fashion here. Our flat was under the house, a small and cosy room containing a plethora of scatter cushions with compact kitchen and shower room complete with heated flooring. Sweet!

Egil told us that last night the Northern Lights were amazing and despite having seen them loads of times, he's still always in awe. He promised they would appear tonight, anytime now. He'd left us some snacks which we were most grateful for and his wife Monica popped down to say hello too. They're a really nice couple AND they have a cat called Wenger who Monica assured me would come and say hello at some point. Apparently he speaks English too.

After getting settled we went for a short walk past the fire engine museum and along one of the big bridges to the mainland (Tromsø is on an island). However it was getting towards 10pm and Glyn was super anxious to get into the supermarket as it was the biggest Spar he had ever seen, in fact, it was a EuroSpar. It's hard not to be impressed I know. I was just taking a photo of Glyn excitedly outside the Spar when something even better caught my eye... two soft streaks of pale green across the sky. It couldn't be, could it? After a few minutes there was no denying it, we finally were witnessing the Northern Lights, beside a Spar on the edge of an industrial area. Our cameras were whipped out quickly and we did note as we'd been previously told, that the lights are more saturated and brighter in a photo than real life.

Eventually the lights faded and we risked scooting around Spar for breakfast food, concerned that we might miss more light action. We didn't buy much as it was all expensive and I also saw that the booze was curtained off like it is in the UK on a Sunday morning.

A quick walk up the hill back to base was punctuated with stops for photos of faint wisps of green in the sky being overpowered by the street lights. Some joker had thought it not slippy enough and left a banana peel on the ice!

We quickly set up tripods and camera at the front of the flat and took photos, with the houses and lights reflecting in the distant water plus barely visible mountains in the background. Wandering around the house, crunching loudly upon the thick icy snow, I came a cross frozen paw prints - could this be Wenger?! The day almost couldn't get any better! The lights continued off and on for over an hour and we eventually went in feeling very tired and started to write our blogs.

Unbeknown to us, we had our own personal aurora alarm - a soft tap at the door and it was Monica apologising, but did we know the lights were putting in a lot of effort? And so we donned our warm clothing and set outside again. Indeed it was brighter and greener, plus so quiet as it was past midnight. It was amazing and just when you think it's over, the green light intensifies in another part of the sky. I'm hopeful that I got some good photos but it is incredibly hard to focus in the dark. Eventually the cold set in and I uttered the words "these lights do go on a bit, don't they?". After trips to Iceland, Finland and now Norway to fulfil my dream of seeing the lights, Glyn couldn't help but laugh. I know I'll never hear the end of that!


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18th February 2018

They go on for a bit don’t they?!
There is nothing quite like the first time you see the aurora! Good for you for being so persistent. I’m lucky to see them every year from northern BC but they still blow my mind.
22nd February 2018

Norther lights
This was my third trip to try and see them, but I really was third time lucky, it's amazing!
22nd February 2018

Northern Lights
One of those things most people want to see!
22nd February 2018

Norther lights
Yes! And I was so lucky to get such a great show too :-)

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