Not the Northern Lights

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May 28th 2011
Published: May 28th 2011
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The Northern LightsThe Northern LightsThe Northern Lights

We didn't see them but it was a lot of fun trying to hunt them down. Image Copyright: Innovation Norway
Our guide Trygvor picked us up at the hotel and before leaving we poured over the latest meteorological charts downloaded from the local Weather Centre’s website just 30 minutes earlier.

“It’s not a great night for the Aurora” was Trygvor's very frank and somewhat disappointing summation “but, if we head south away from the clouds then we will find the Northern Lights”.

With renewed vigour, we jumped into the warmth of Trygvor’s car and headed out of town. As we drove south away from the Arctic Ocean we were told to keep our eyes peeled, not on the Arctic firmament but the roadside.

“An interesting Northern Lights viewing strategy” we all thought in unison “our guide is obviously stark raving bonkers”. Fortunately, he clarified his position.

“There’s a ghost” he explained “a German soldier who died here during the Second World War, he haunts this stretch of road”.

A strange chap this deceased German, if you’re going to haunt somewhere then at least do it somewhere warm and comfortable, a manor house for example with roaring log fires not an isolated road somewhere 71 degrees north of the Equator.

As roads go, it was pretty
Aurora BorealisAurora BorealisAurora Borealis

You need a bit of luck to find the "temperamental lady". Tonight we were unlucky so here's a consolation picture. Image copyright: Innovation Norway
dramatic passing between steep, ice covered rock faces with two meter long icicle fingers threatening to fall at any moment and impale any unsuspecting German ghosts. All the more reason not to haunt this neck of the woods I thought.

Despite the constant and seemingly increasing cloud cover, Trygvor kept us entertained with some fascinating tales and myths about the Aurora Borealis interspersed with some of the science too.

After a fruitless hour heading south we stopped at a tiny wayside café which really had no right being where it was. “How on earth does this place survive” I silently asked myself. By virtue of fabulous coffee and truly spectacular pastries was the answer. To complement our feast, Trygvor pulled what can only be described as a “wedge” of dark brown meat from a pouch secreted somewhere deep inside his myriad layers of clothing. Cutting it into small slices with his dagger/poignard/puukko he invited us to help ourselves which we duly did. Delicious!

“What is it Trygvor” we asked.

“Wind dried reindeer heart” he replied somewhat laconically.

“Hmmmm, not so delicious” opined (silently) our delicate British palates.

Suitably refreshed we emerged from our winter haven into a snowy blizzard, even Trygvor was beginning to look slightly downhearted.

“Tonight is not our night” he grumbled “we’ll head back, you never know.”

But he was right, the return journey took about an hour and with the blizzard thickening, seeing the road was becoming difficult let alone the night sky. Even our German ghost had turned in for the night. We arrived back at our hotel in Alta, slightly disappointed but having thoroughly enjoyed our evening out. Rather handily, the bar next to the hotel was still open and we consoled ourselves until the early hours.

And as a reward, as we left the bar, one of my colleagues looked skywards and pointed.

“Is that…. is that the Northern Lights”.

“No Amy, you’re drunk, go to bed”.


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