It’s not everyday that you find yourself so near the arctic circle. So Genevieve and I took advantage of our northernly latitude, and traveled to Tromsø in search of the Aurora Borealis, or Northern Lights.
Tromsø is Norway’s most populous northern city, and lies within the arctic circle. Because of its location, the city experiences Midnight Sun during the summer months, when the sun never dips below the horizon. Our trip was not during the summer months. In fact, it was still snowing the day we arrived. In April.
Its location also makes it a popular starting point for many Northern Lights hunters. Unfortunately, due to the snow storm and poor visibility, there were no tours to chase the Northern Lights. So Genevieve and I explored the city, instead.
The Tromsø Public Library by HRTB AS
Genevieve and I wanted to save money. So we went into the local grocery store and decided to make our own dinner. We bough some pitas, potato salad, salami, chips, mandarin oranges, candy, and beer - for $50.
Genevieve tried to walk to a swing set on a school playground. But the snow was too deep. Sad.
The Arctic Cathedral.
Pedestrian only street.
On our second day in Tromsø, the weather had cleared up significantly. And after searching for Northern Lights hunting tours that day, we found one which included a private van, thermal jumpsuits and boots, a hot drink, and a bbq, all in 8 hours. So we left Tromsø at 4:30PM in search of the Northern Lights with our guide, Roy. Roy informed us that, due to the late season, the Northern Lights would be harder to find. He was going to drive 3 hours into Finland where the skies were darker and the conditions more conducive for viewing. But he couldn’t guarantee that we would see any Northern Lights. He asked the 8 of us in the van, before pulling out of the hotel parking lot, if that was ok with us. We all said Adventure!
Kiss from a Rose - from a convenience store grand opening.
The Finland / Norway Border.
After 3.5 hours driving through tundra-like landscape, we finally arrived at a clearing on the side of the road. Roy fitted all 8 of us in thermal jumpsuits, boots, gloves, and a hat. He mentioned that, even with all these layers on, we have to keep moving our extremities or risk succumbing to frost bite. Yikes.
Roy is a 6’6” tall Norwegian adventure man. Here he is chopping some wood with an axe for a fire that he will make on snow.
While we waited for the sky to get darker, Roy made a bbq grill on the snow. We then cooked up some Moose Patties, Reindeer Sausage, and Fish Cakes.
After observing the sky for 3 hours, we were sad to report that we had not seen any Northern Lights. And with a 3.5 hour drive back to Tromsø, Roy informed us that had to depart.
"After driving 3.5 hours from snowy Tromso to Finland, sitting around a campfire eating reindeer and moose, and staring at the sky for 3 hours, we started our journey back to Norway without seeing the lights. Then 20 mins into our drive, we spotted the lights and stood in the middle of the road watching them dance. Success!!!"
After 2 nights in Tromsø and finding the Northern Lights, Genevieve and I headed back south to Oslo.