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    Top tips for chasing the Northern Lights – Tromso, Norway

    A few years ago for my birthday, Mr Kiwi and I boarded a plane up into the Arctic Circle. Thanks to the joys of social media and bloggers, we had been tipped off that one of the best places in the world to see the Northern Lights was Tromso in Northern Norway.

    How to find the Northern Lights in Tromso Norway Adventures of a London Kiwi

    We were lucky enough to not only see their elusive shimmers but also spend time under a sky where we could just about touch the milky way it was so clear. Unfortunately, I don’t have photos – I didn’t have a good enough camera then and we were far too caught in the moment – but it’s a memory that will live on regardless.

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    Experiencing the Northern Lights over Tromso, Norway

    Gathered around a Norwegian campfire, 350km into the Arctic Circle, huddled from head to toe in exploration overalls and snow boots we had one of those life-affirming moments. Occasions when you really feel alive.

    We only had to stare into the clear pinpricks of the Milky Way, spread across the night sky in a haze of primordial luminescence, whilst our tour mates clanked about with torches and cameras attempting to capture the faint Aurora Borealis in rolling hazy streams over our heads. You know, those moments.

    The snap crackle and pop of flame licking autumn-dried brushwood, baked by a long windy summer. Sliding hotdogs onto claimed sticks in a barbaric echo of cavemen eons ago, all the while our homemade vegetable soup was shaken vigorously from a thermos, bringing us back to earth with a modern thump.

    A shout went up near the end of our temporary campsite, another possible spotting of one of the worlds greatest natural phenomenon; the magnetic effect sunspots have on our Earth’s atmosphere, creating surreal plays of light and colour across Scandanavian skies.

    The Aurora Borealis.

    After hours of fruitless navigating through tumultuous rain clouds and pregnant winds, the only clear window of the evening finally braved our eager eyes. We had travelled for miles, not just that evening but from nations all over the world, hoping, praying for a glimpse of the nebulous Northern Lights.

    To the east, a faint green glow began to spread across the sky. Our guides shouting to us in their hungry excitement as the heavens began to shift in a shimmery glaze. There we were, stood in the middle of an Arctic pasture, heads agog, necks protesting, as one of the Earth’s greatest spectacles unfolded before us. As the native Saami people phrase it, we witnessed “the fire lit by a bird, the Siberian Jay”.

    Demure, but incredible nonetheless, we stood amidst the clicking, clanking and whirring of electrical equipment photographing the dancing colour, content to simply appreciate these astonishing moments. Not wishing to be kidnapped by the Lights, we kept our handkerchiefs safely stowed in pockets and whistling to a bare minimum – to avoid spoiling the Norwegians’ childhood ghost stories for future generations if nothing else.

    Before we knew it, they retired back to their celestial homes. 

    We shuffled through the pitch black darkness to a Saami site where trade camps are pitched all summer long, to lay that fire and talk nonsense. No-one really spoke of the Lights, as if it was almost taboo. Our grinning hosts, one a gregarious Glaswegian, the other a no-nonsense Norwegian Mama whose brood seemed to include these ethereal flickerings, broke open a celebratory tin of Shortbread and Jaffa Cakes (“Aurora Jaffa Cakes” I was assured with a theatrical wink) and a wee dram of Whiskey to warm us from the tops of our heads, to the tips of our toes.

    And that, that was how we experienced the Northern Lights in Tromso.

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    Friday figments and photos – the Tromso Edition

     Tromso, the arctic city so cold even the statues wear woolies…

    Friday figments and photos - the Tromso Edition

    Just a few snaps that made us smile…

    Friday figments and photos - the Tromso Edition

    Leave your pugs at home, in Tromso it’s wolves and sled-dogs…

    Friday figments and photos - the Tromso Edition

    Art imitating life…

    Friday figments and photos - the Tromso Edition

    Friday figments and photos - the Tromso Edition

     
    Assuming the blogger position…

    Friday figments and photos - the Tromso Edition

    Friday figments and photos - the Tromso Edition

    So the British Consulate is/was in the world’s most northern brewery? Fancy that…

    Friday figments and photos - the Tromso Edition

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    Tromso tastebud travelling (aka Norway rocks)

    We were so busy exploring in our arctic gear that my normal zeal for tastebud travelling was a little subdued – our itinerary is normally heavily influenced by a desire to try everything that country is famous (and infamous for) with thoroughly researched restaurants and supermarket sweeps. This time, not so much due to time restraints and a rather awesome hotel deal.

    (As an aside, what is it that’s so fascinating about other countries’ Supermarkets? Everywhere we travel much to the Mister’s impatience I like to spend half an hour browsing the shelves I’ll never need, looking at food I’ll never buy…)  

    Tromso tastebud travelling (aka Norway rocks) - Adventures of a London Kiwi


    We began each day with a delectable buffet in our hotel; cold salads, hot English breakfast food, continental pastries and Ryvita. I don’t quote know why, but for some bizarre reason it just tasted better closer to the North Pole. Loaded with a touch of coleslaw, salmon and beetroot or ham and pickles, it’s a perfect morning fuel accompanied with coffee and apple juice. Move along, ignore the cheeky brie, nothing to see here folks….

    Tromso tastebud travelling (aka Norway rocks) - Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Norway was a touch different for a few reasons – one of them being cost. Luckily our hotel included breakfast, an afternoon snack and an evening ‘supper’ which meant that we were fairly sorted. We did dip our toe in the Norwegian food scene slightly though…

    Rich and very moreish reindeer jerky…

    Tromso tastebud travelling (aka Norway rocks) - Adventures of a London Kiwi

    On the run hotdogs…

    Tromso tastebud travelling (aka Norway rocks) - Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Fresh made piping hot waffles drowned in strawberry jam & brown cheese, a Norwegian specialty…

    Lingonberry jam…

    Tromso tastebud travelling (aka Norway rocks) - Adventures of a London Kiwi

    And Northern-Light-spotting-open-fire-hotdogs. Oh, and Jaffa cakes, vegetable soup, cheese sandwiches and a tot of whiskey – all of the Aurora food group. Absolutely essential!

    Tromso tastebud travelling (aka Norway rocks) - Adventures of a London Kiwi

    There was much so we didn’t get to try (though we did pop out for a pretty darn good dinner Pizza with Van) and the next day enjoyed a coffee with a rather majestic view…

    Tromso tastebud travelling (aka Norway rocks) - Adventures of a London Kiwi

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    Tromso wandering, Norway

    Chasing the Northern Lights was our main reason for exploring Tromso, but it’s a pretty city all in it’s own right. Blessed with clear blues skies for most of our trip we. couldn’t. stop. taking. photos.

    Tromso wandering, Norway - Adventures of a London Kiwi 

    Literally just sat at the window sill with a chair pulled up to the prettiest view from our waterfront hotel room, we spent a lot of time just watching the port boats slip in and around. Cup of tea in hand, and freshly made waffle in plate (complete with Strawberry jam & the infamous Norwegian brown cheese) life felt pretty good (even after a flight with a horrendous hangover – take it from me, do not fly with a hangover – it feels as though someone is bouncing on your stomach.)

    Tromso wandering, Norway - Adventures of a London Kiwi

    The next morning dawned, with gorgeously clear skies again so we took to the pavement. Armed with Van’s blog recommendations (definitely check out Snow in Tromso), we enjoyed a day of puttering. Exclaiming at the glassy water, laughing at our breath forming in front of us, admiring the incredible Fjords that hug each view from the island and shivered in the cool crisp 5°C temperatures.

    Tromso wandering, Norway - Adventures of a London Kiwi

    We popped into the Polarium, a cool marine mammal exhibition (though sadly no Arctic hares to the bizarre request of the Mister – where he got the idea that there would be hares I have no idea)…

    Tromso wandering, Norway - Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Tromso wandering, Norway - Adventures of a London Kiwi

    …and stared into the glassy harbour depths, watching shoals of small fish dart to and fro, and jellyfish slowly parachute through the water.

    Tromso wandering, Norway - Adventures of a London Kiwi

    We wandered over the bridge linking Tromso with the mainland, and although we sadly couldn’t enjoy the views from the cable car due to maintenance, we walked to the Arctic Cathedral, a modern beacon on the hill (shaped like the nearby the rocky island of Håja, and Iceberg, Sami tent, boathouse or fish-drying rack – you pick) and rather loved the view looking back over the frosty island of Tromso.

     The Arctic Cathedral, (Ishavskatedralen) Norway - Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Our noses suitably nipped, we danced our way back over the bridge to watch the early-afternoon sunset.  

     Tromso wandering, Norway - Adventures of a London Kiwi

     

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