Parties and large gatherings generally confuse me. Anything that requires me to divide my attention between more than two people at the same time or where I’m required to make any kinds of small talks makes me nervous. This is why I normally retreat to the shadow of a bar the moment I get there, or speak to the same person whom I’m comfortable with for the next three hours and refuse to move my legs to speak to someone else across the room just in case I bump into a person that I have to make small talks with on the way there. It’s worked well for me so far and I think I have a mutual unspoken understanding with fellow party-goers whereby I normally ignore most people and they do me and that is the start of a beautiful friendship.
So it surprised me beyond words when, a week or so ago in the bar, people started approaching me to speak to me. I found out later that it was mainly driven by two things: my last blog post about the series of Murphy’s law happenings in December (thank you for all the messages, comments and concerns by the way. I did not expect it to cause quite a stir since I feel perfectly fine most of the time, but I am still very touched by it all); and the Northern Lights.
Until then, I thought that I was the only weirdo who wanted to see the Northern Lights so badly. I mean, someone even called me ‘crazy woman’ in my face for going even further north from Denmark to Norway during the winter when most others were travelling south in search for more warmth and the sun (I take being coined a crazy woman as a compliment by the way). But from my conversation with people and the reactions to my Northern Lights pictures, it turned out that a lot of people did want to see them, but I guess was the only weirdo who was crazy enough among my class mates to actually do it.
And since I seem to have reignited the sparks in some people to tick this off from their bucket list, I thought I would share some tips from my trip to Tromsø which I believe would be helpful in planning for Northern Lights trips (especially at the last minute).
Getting to Tromsø is not hard, considering it’s at the Arctic.
Tromsø is located in Norway (albeit a very northern part of it). This means that as long as you can get yourself to Oslo or other major cities in the Nordic countries, you will be able to find flight connections there, thanks to SAS and the more affordable Norwegian Airlines. I live in Aarhus, Denmark (a rather inaccessible city to say the least), and in order to get to Tromsø, I had to take a flight to Copenhagen, then to Oslo before finally landing at Tromsø. It was pretty straightforward, especially considering how far north Tromsø is and how Aarhus has the smallest international airport I have ever seen in my years of travelling.
Tromsø is an easy city to navigate and extremely beautiful.
Tromsø is a small city, and the airport is very accessible from the city centre. There is a direct public bus that takes you right to the city centre and to the biggest shopping mall in the city. The city centre is very easy to navigate (and this is coming from someone with a horrible sense of direction), and you can pretty much walk to all the main attractions.
Plus, the city is beautiful, both during the day (though the sun never rose during the three days we were there) and at night.
And if you are lucky, some random Tromsø guy would approach you and teach you how to fish while you were admiring the view.
Be prepared to spend a few nights there.
We saw the Northern Lights after our second try and people have been calling us extremely lucky. Apparently some people waited for a whole week and still did not get to see anything.
The thing about the Northern Lights is that there can be no guarantee for you to see it. We have been preached by the tour companies and the tourism websites that there are 3 necessary conditions for you to see the Northern Lights: the sky must be clear, there must not be any light pollution, and the Northern Lights itself must be active. This means that you could end up with a really cloudy day, and you could spend the whole night chasing for a clear sky and when you found an opening among the clouds, you could see all the beautiful stars twinkling at you but no Northern Lights in sight because it was not active.
So you would have to come back the next day on a different tour and hope that all these things are aligned. I have got to be honest with you – the uncertainties can be nerve-wrecking so always be prepared for the worst!