Thursday, 31 October 2013

The light fantastic!

Having slept fairly badly I’m woken early by the alarm I forgot to turn off on my phone and then the sound of the construction site down the road keeps me awake. By the time the boys surface I’ve checked the weather and decided that tonight is the night. I have a shortlist of three Northern Lights guides but no real way of choosing between them. We decide to visit the tourist office after breakfast and see what they suggest.

A full cooked breakfast later – and well past midday – we take a short walk to the tourist office which is near the waterfront. The man there is really helpful. He has personal experience of Scan Adventure – run by Karina, one of only very few female aurora guides – and recommends her warmly, so we decide we will book with her. We also ask about ferry services along the fjords and we’re in luck – tomorrow there’s a service to Finnsnes by fast catamaran that gets in just in time to return on the Hurtigruten coastal cruiser, complete with heated pool and Jacuzzis.
After locating the boarding point for tomorrow’s boat trip we explore the shopping centre – which has three floors and numerous cafes as well as shops – and return to the apartment to cook an early supper and pack our warm clothes for the aurora trip. We’re interrupted several times by the fire alarm, which turns out to be caused by next door cooking.

There turn out to be two other couples on our Northern Lights trip, both English. Our guide, Karina, is also our driver. She tells us that the aurora have already been sighted and she’s hopeful of a good night. At around 7 we set off out of town and across the bridge to the adjacent island and when she stops the minibus we don’t see anything at first. Then our eyes get used to the darkness and we realise that there’s a ribbon of aurora shimmering above the lights of the houses across the water. We stay for a couple of hours watching, eating cake and fruit tea and taking photos. My compact camera isn’t really good enough but the old bridge camera picks up the green luminosity of the lights on an 8 second exposure.

During a lull in the light show Karina suggests we move to another spot and now we know what to look for we can see the lights from the minibus as we drive. They’re pretty strong. We pull over in a valley between two snowy peaks and we watch in awe the most amazing display of lights that seem to form a tent above our heads. I’ve given up taking photos by this time, there’s no way pictures could capture the magic of having this amazing natural display going on all around us.

It was past midnight when we began to work our way back to Tromso, stopping briefly beside a fjord and then at a fishing village. The lights are becoming weaker now, but there’s still a green glow on the horizon and occasional ribbons weaving above us. This has been an incredible show, exceeding all our expectations.  Karina drops us off at our apartment and we go happily to bed.

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