Going to Tromsø was a gamble. I wanted to see the Northern Lights and I also knew a few people that had gone to Iceland purely to see the Northern Lights and were unsuccessful. So now you see why going even further north was a gamble, but a calculated one, since we were going to be in the Arctic Circle and it was also going to be my birthday week, it just had to pay off.
As we flew over the Swedish mountains and already I could feel the excitement bubbling up in me. If you’ve flown to Italy and you’ve been lucky to sit by the window, you’ll have seen the Swiss Alps but I’m convinced the Swedish ones are better. When the captain started talking about being able to see Loften from the left-hand side of the plane my jealousy radar just shot right up, but as we landed, it didn't matter. Tromsø had already stolen my heart.
Judging by the time it took us to get to the hotel in the city centre, we realised that the city itself was quite compact. It took us just under 15 minutes to get to our hotel from the airport in a taxi and once we had dressed more warmly we went out to the city to have a little wonder. Their library definitely gives my local one a run for their money.
After our much needed catch up on sleep, we freshened up and went to have dinner. We were able to keep our costs down by choosing a hotel that had breakfast and dinner included in the fare They even had a 3 pm treat where you got to make your own waffles which was probably the best time of the day. It didn’t hurt that the meals were absolutely divine 😋
Throughout our meal, I kept peaking to see if I could see a glimmer of green giving us a show right before our eyes. Our waitress, Louise told us that they had been seen, but from where I was sitting, that wasn't going to happen. I just had to be patient. We finished dinner, went up to bundle ourselves in warm clothes and went out to wait for the Northern Lights to appear. After an hour of waiting, that hope began to dwindle. I began to doubt the entire trip, why would I even want to come to a cold country to see this natural phenomenon, when I could have gone anywhere else. My hands were frozen, let’s not talk about my toes. I sort of didn’t plan properly because we didn’t book a tour and we didn’t have a car. So in a way, we were stuck in Tromsø, so now you see why I was convinced that this was a bad idea.
I think J was more frozen than I was because he suggested for us to take a walk. I just followed, taking care to not slip and fall as there was a lot of ice on the ground. We found ourselves in the residential area which had a great view of the city below as it was elevated. We kept walking till we got to a church and I thought maybe, this would be the best place to see them. Right?
After about 20 minutes - in sub-zero temperatures, it felt like 2 hours we decided to give up. The Aurora Borealis wasn't going to dance for us and we just had to admit defeat and head back to the hotel. As we were walking, J asked me what they looked like when they started. To be honest, I didn’t know. All I knew was that they were visible as green whispers and sometimes those amazing captures we see, have been taken by experts so we probably weren’t going to see anything extraordinary. As I thought that, I looked to the skies and saw what J was talking about. Tiny whispers here and there.
Well, that’s it then. They are just small whispers that people use long exposure on in their photographs that’s why they looked so amazing. And most importantly that was why we were constantly being told being out, away from the city would give us a better opportunity to see them. What I didn't know is that Mother Nature was listening to me, what happened next could only be described as a “you were saying” moment.
What started as a whisper became a full-blown song and dance. The sky lit up in the most shade of gorgeous green that I have ever seen. The way the Aurora moved was mesmerising and I won’t lie, I was so happy, I cried. I couldn’t believe how lucky we were, to have not left the city but had the opportunity to see the Northen Lights. Not only that, we were incredibly lucky to see them on our first night. I couldn’t stop saying wow. I remember just being there with the biggest smile on my face. Then I got preoccupied with trying to take the perfect picture so that I can share this experience with all my followers and with you beautiful person reading this right now. And I wasn't having a lot of luck. I was so annoyed at myself for not having checked something so basic like a memory card for my camera. I thought my phone would have been enough - if i had had a better app or learnt how to use the one I had in a better way. . I remember having this feeling of not having seen the Northern Lights just because I didn't have a nice picture to show for it. Crazy right. Here I was in this place and just because I couldn't take a picture for bragging rights I could not be happy. I remember chastising myself. How could I not be in this moment and enjoy how I felt? How could I let other people’s opinion filter into my experience? When I got that in my head, I felt like a changed person. I appreciated every dance and every invite to smile that when the show was over, all I could do was continue smiling.
We could have stayed up to see how much we could push our luck and see even more Northern Lights but we decided to head back and warm up, to which to me sounded like a great idea. Besides, we still had 3 more nights in Tromso which meant, three more potential opportunities to see the lights.
The next morning, we woke up to bright blue skies, with a temperature of -8ºC. We wrapped up warm and headed out to see what else Tromso had to offer. We crossed Tromso Bridge to go and see the Arctic Cathedral. This beautiful cathedral is another example of the Norweigians showing of their architecture and how they use light to make a difference. The library had the same feel to it. Bright, airy, inviting.
The walk to the Fjellheisen was short but brisk because we wanted to keep warm. Everyone knows that the higher you go, the better the views go and going to the cable car did not disappoint. We took the cable car up to the mountain ledge of Storsteinen which had undoubtedly the best views in the whole of Tromsø. Had it been a warmer day, I would have spent the entire day there just admiring the city below, looking at the flights landing beyond the city and just enjoying being so high. However it wasn't warm and my hands were completely frozen, so we headed back to the hotel where we warmed ourselves in the sauna.
We celebrated my birthday with a walk around by the harbour after visiting the Polar Museum. I recommend going to the Polar museum if you're interested in learning about early settlement in Tromso and the different men and women who made amazing discoveries.
After dinner, we decided to try our luck in seeing the Northen Lights again - as a birthday present from Mother nature. We decided to go where we went to, our spot again and set up shop. We began pacing and running back and forth - and praying for us to be able to see them. We kept seeing little whisps here and there that didn't becoming anything more. After our experience 2 days before, we knew that if we hung on just a little bit longer, we would be rewarded. I guess we forgot how patient we would have had to be.
After another 45 minutes of waiting, we gave up. Defeated we walked back to our hotel and like before, just like magic the sky lit up before us. Again - I was totally unprepared, so even the positioning of my phone was in total weird positions, but this time was different. I didn't actually care if I had the perfect picture, all I cared about was enjoying this present that God had given to me. Another opportunity to see the Aurora Borelias.
Before we left, we decided to use the buses to see what else Tromsø was hiding. J found the war museum which was nothing like what I imagined. We didn't find a building but we found a lot of artefacts and some bunkers as well which was a lot more exciting to him than it was to me. I just wandered around amazed at the view before me.
As we still had some life in our limbs, we decided to take another bus journey to the other side of Tromsø where we found Kaldfjord which left me speechless.
The trip to Tromsø was the most magical trip of my entire life. It taught me a lot. That there's more to life than getting that Instagram perfect picture. Travelling shouldn't make us feel like we can't enjoy our experience because we can't share it with others. Travelling is supposed to change us first so that we can inspire others to go out there and experience it for themselves too. So the next time you plan a trip based on what you want others to experience, make sure it's something that you want for yourself. It will mean more.
Till next time