A trip to northern norway
Usually, around wintertime, I would stay home and go skiing in the mountains of Switzerland, enjoying the time off work with my family and friends.
But it has always been a dream of mine to see the northern lights. So one winter, I caught a plane to Tromso, which is a town located in the northern part of Norway.
The hotel I stayed in was newly built and situated right by the ocean. The room was tiny, but the bed was the most comfortable one I have ever slept in.
But I know you aren’t reading this blog post because you’re interested in my hotel experience.
So let’s get into the interesting part.
I spent most of my evenings walking around the city, which kind of reminded me of Hogsmeade from the Harry Potter movies. The streets were all snowed in, the houses were of brick walls and there were old-fashioned lanterns all across the city. Traditional, cozy coffee shops and the hot chocolate that was served there, helped me get through the cold weather. Surprisingly, I spent a lot of time outside, even though it was freezing cold and mostly dark. In the northern part of Norway, winter days are very short. During the time I was there, which was in January, the sun was up about 4 hours per day, not much longer. Experiencing this for a few days added some specialness to my trip, but I can imagine it being difficult for locals, living in the dark for multiple months.
Sledding with the huskies
Well anyways – Tromso is beautiful. The combination of the ocean, the mountains, the forests and the town completely outreached every expectation I had of northern Scandinavia.
To experience Norway even better, I booked a one-day Husky-Sledding-Tour. Armed with warm suits, hats, and gloves, I got partnered with a guy my age and we got introduced to a group of six huskies, which were meant to pull our sled. For those of you thinking it’s cruel to have dogs drag you through the snow – they were absolutely crazy about it. We traveled through snowy landscapes and thick forests, which was a great way to discover the nature of Norway even better. An Asian group in front of us caused laughter because they kept steering their sled into the deep snow and got stuck about five times! Fun times.
We finished our tour in a traditional tent, in which hot fish soup was served and we got to know the other participants better. To sum up, it was an amazing day and I would absolutely do it again if I could.
A magical night below the northern lights
Some other day, I finally went on a northern lights tour with some guy named Roy. He picked me up with an old, kind of broken looking bus and took me and some other people to the border of Finland. After being equipped with warm clothes (to put on on top of the 7 layers I was already wearing) and snowshoes, we went outside and walked on top of a hill where there was no light disturbing us. Since the northern lights are a natural phenomenon, it wasn’t sure whether or not we would see them. But we were lucky, so lucky. It was a very clear and cold night – which is necessary if you want to see the northern lights. So all of a sudden, they started to show. At first, I took some pictures but quickly stopped because I wanted to experience them through my own eyes, and not through the lens of my camera. So I lay on the ground, in the snow, and stared at the sky that was filled with green and violet colors. It was magical!
The lights were dancing for almost an hour. They were moving in the most graceful, yet playful way.
Once they disappeared, Roy took us to a shore, where he built a fire. While eating reindeer, moose and other meat right by the fire, he told us myths and stories about the northern lights the natives of Scandinavia believe in and about his experiences as a guide.
We were a group of eight people, who all came from different countries. This also made the experience very special, because we then started telling each other stories from the countries we live in and shared some of our travel experiences.
I love thinking back and remembering the way I felt back then – stunned by the beauty of the northern lights or aurora borealis, as they are also called, free due to the time spent in nature and inspired by the people I met.
Speaking of nature – one day, I researched the most beautiful fjords in Tromso, rented a car and drove there. It was a rainy, very cold day, which at first made me want to stay in and spend the day in my hotel room. But then I pulled myself together, put on a few more layers and went out. I don’t remember what the fjords I went to were called since there were so many of them and I just drove from one to the other. Of course, I had to take pictures of the breathtaking landscapes I discovered. And that’s when I realized how lucky I was to experience Norway on a bad weather-day because it just made everything so mystical. If you look at the pictures, you’ll know what I’m talking about. There’s just something about the Scandinavian nature that makes you feel free, inspired and yet melancholic. But also happy.
What also has to be mentioned is the food in northern Norway. Oh-my-god. I mean, I knew I liked fish before but the salmon in Norway – my mouth starts watering even from thinking about it. I went to a lot of traditional, Scandinavian restaurants and tried out many different kinds of meat and fish. My favorite dish was the fish soup, which I ordered in pretty much every restaurant I went to. Also, Norwegians really know how to brew hot chocolate – I had the most delicious cup of hot chocolate in a small coffee shop and actually bought a few bags of it to take back home. You know, the kind with caramel flavor, topped with whipped cream and chocolate crisps… God, I wish I could go back!
So, my dear friends of cold weather, snowy landscapes and thick scarves – if you’re looking for an adventure you’ll never forget, please, visit Tromso. It’s worth it.