Embarking on the ferry from Copenhagen that took me overnight to Norway ignited that sickeningly sweet adrenaline rush of anticipation that comes only when something you have looked forward to for so long suddenly becomes real. I mean, Norway?! The Northern Lights can be seen in Norway. The Northern Lights! NORWAY! Hurrah!
After a bumpy journey full of creaks and moans that were not especially appreciated by a fearer of the sea, I made my way onto Oslo soil. The crisp air hit me first, the excitement ever present. Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to breath in the Norwegian air in a cliché happy traveller scenario. My flame of excitement was doused somewhat by a big, fat disgusting bout of the flu. I had never experienced flu before, and I was devastated that I was to experience it for the first time in Norway. Head pounding, eyes streaming and breath rasping, I found my way to the overpriced hostel and gladly fell straight asleep.
To say this was a disappointment to me is an understatement. To add insult to injury, my good friend had just flown half way across Europe to experience this beautiful country with me, and I was bed bound! He organised a beautiful train journey from Oslo to Bergen, nursed me to health with good humour, paracetamol and coffee, and my excitement started to creep back over me. And just in time. In a couple of days I was heading to the Arctic Circle, Tromso, and more importantly, the Northern Lights.
The seemingly impenetrable skyline of dark, grey clouds covering the vast landscape on arrival soon switched my outlook as dull as the weather. The weather combined with the fact it was far too early in the year meant that watching one of the planet’s most out-of-this-world natural phenomena’s was most likely out of the question. My cheery disposition had survived the flu only to be knocked down at the last minute by the weather. My shoulders slumped as I took in the landscape through the rain splashed window of the taxi.
Three dreary days passed in Tromso. The rain was icy and persistent. The sky was black and gloomy. We were staying in a beautiful log cabin, just outside of the city, and rarely left it. On 10pm on the last night of our disappointing trip to one of the most Northern parts of Norway, we spontaneously decided to have a look outside. Maybe, we tried to kid ourselves, maybe we’ll be lucky. Maybe those dense, thick clouds from the past three days will have miraculously cleared. Maybe the Lights will be unseasonably active. Maybe a pig will fly across the aurora soaked sky!
In 99.9% of cases like this, our maybes would of course transpired into vain hopes. We would have gone outside, strained our eyes at the thick blackness above us, and dejectedly returned to the cabin to discuss how unlucky we’ve been.
But if 99.9% of the time is unlucky, then there’s always that 0.1% chance. The odds, unbelievably, were in our favour. The sky was crystal clear. Each diamond bright star outshone the other. The air was the crisp temperature of absolutely unprotected surroundings. And then it started.
Atmospherically just over a mountain behind the cabin, a faint white mist started to spread. The mist rapidly transformed before our eyes into the incredulous eerie green of the aurora; the Northern Lights. The lights flared to each side, seeming to twist and turn, fade and then shine again with a vengeance, each time taking my breath away.
People around me hurriedly tried to rush indoors, fetching their cameras. They fiddled with buttons and settings to try and capture a snapshot of the wonder in front of us. I didn’t have a camera with me and for this, I am absolutely grateful. Cameras distract from the beautiful reality before your eyes. The scene I witness that night will be as clear as the arctic sky was for my entire lifetime, and is incomparable to any snapshot I could have possibly got through a lense.
About the Author: Gemma Fottles is an English travel addict. My passion in life is to follow my passion in life; exploring the world and penning the experience one country at a time. Learn more on my blog, or Twitter, @FottlesTravels