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Published: March 9th 2013
Tromso, some 350km north and within the Arctic Circle, was a destination that was decided pretty late on as we were eagerly searching for trips in an attempt to catch the Northern Lights. As one of the most eluded wonders of science, I was pretty insistent that we give it a shot to try and catch it. And even if lady luck doesn’t come our way, at least we tried. So glad that we eventually booked the tickets to Norway, as we not only caught the amazing natural light phenomenon, but also had the trip of our lives, which we now still proclaim every now and then: “Ah, I miss Tromso and I wanna go back!!”
The trip up has got to be one of the most memorable of my travels, typically related to exploration of the new place, getting deeper understanding of cultures and history and interaction with locals. This trip however, allows myself to get beyond that frame of traveling and just simply, have fun! In a way that, together with a great company of 3 other friends, we just turned crazy ideas into reality and repeatedly did silly, wild and seemingly idiotic stuff. And these do not
even include the awesome activities available in Tromso itself, out of which we went for dog sledding, had some reindeer stew, and chased the Northern Lights.
The moment we came into Tromso we knew it’s gonna be amazing. As we arrived, we were greeted by snow capped mountains and snow-covered pathways and roads. As we got off the taxi reaching the campsite (Tromso Camping), we were all getting really excited at the prospect of being able to build snowman after snowman and starting a snowball fight. Not even mentioning trying to compete in ice ‘sliding’ as we struggle to retain our balance on the slippery icy ground. Ee pin even slipped while trying to escape my snowball attack! Haha. We headed to our cabin with little fuss and were greeted by one that definitely exceeded our expectations, as we quickly unpacked our belongings and call it our home for the next 5 days. Exclamations of “oh my God, this place is awesome, this is so nice!” became a norm as we glazed at the scenery outside in the comfort of staying indoors. There are 2 snow-capped hills, one in front and one at the back of our cabin and
a freely flowing stream just at our backyard. The scenery was just breathtaking, at least to us, and I guess this may be just the tip of the iceberg. What a first night in Tromso.
The next few days in this beautiful town-city located between fjords and vast lands covered with snow (thanks to winter!) was spent very meaningfully exploring the main attractions on offer. That includes the Polar Museum, Arctic Cathedral, Art Museums (free entrances), Polaria, similar to a discovery centre of the Arctic life, as well as walking along the iconic bridge linking the Cathedral to the mainland city and local hangouts such as the supermarket, library and port. Most, if not all, of those above-mentioned places are definitely worth the money and/or time to visit, especially the Polar Museum, which showcases the life of Sami and their explorations in the past. And for Northern Lights seekers, the Polaria is a must-go for a deeper understanding on how they are formed as we were greeted by a 10-minute video on that when we entered. Superb graphics, and if we didn’t catch the lights, at least we saw it in action on the screen! Haha, at least that’s
what we told ourselves IF we didn’t catch it.
Dog sledding was the secondary activity that all of us looked forward to doing, and we paid pretty much a bomb for it. (By the way, things in Norway are just too expensive, even in UK terms!) There were over a hundred Alaskan Huskies when we arrived, and they were so super friendly and affable towards people, attempting to jump onto you and shaking their fore limbs with you. And most of them can’t wait to go for a run in the huge snow-filled fields! It was the first experience sledding for all of us so it was definitely a unique experience, especially learning how the trainers communicate with the huskies. We also had the chance to interact with the huskies before settling down for another unique experience: stewed reindeer meat. They taste somewhat like pork and lamb but still, different in its own way. We enjoyed this delectable lunch with much pleasure and helped ourselves to the free flow of local Norwegian deserts. That’s for around 150+pounds in total for both? Haha. Still; experience 1, price 0.
And not that we got to relate the story of watching
northern lights on a big screen anymore, because we were fortunate enough to catch the lights on the 1st
night when we went “searching” for it! Lucky us, as we took on this tour called Northern Lights Safari and the guide literally went on an “expedition” to search for the coveted occurrence. The clouds that night was slightly evident though so what we saw was shades of colours, predominantly green and blue, but still, it was simply amazing watching the lights appear, then disappear into the skies in the dark and cold night. And we managed to catch some shots too, though not like those in the postcards on sale. But better some, than none! Not complaining anyways, just counting our blessings. Still, here’s a precaution for anyone attempting to watch the Aurora, to wear as many layers as you do in the day, and then plus 2 more to that. It was simply way too cold, especially when we took the gloves off our hands to snap photos.
Memories wouldn’t be distinct and unforgettable if they aren’t, well, memorable. Those memories of Tromso wouldn’t be complete without foolish things done together with a bunch of wonderful friends. And
the list includes sliding across snow-ice, attempting to break frozen lake with lumps of snow balls, having snow ball fights, making snow angels, crossing (in bare long john) an almost frozen stream, getting our feet cold, real cold intentionally in the process and taking photos with northern lights… pictures.
Back to Loughborough, UK, but our hearts still longed for another Arctic Circle Adventure. Great memories indeed. 😊
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