Thursday, October 2, 2014

Northern Lights in Tromso, Norway - Day 1

Date of Travel: 28-31 Jan 2014
Aurora Borealis, a.k.a. Northern Lights, taken from Tromso, Norway
Call it luck. Call it fate. Call it anything you want, but being able to catch this natural phenomenon was breathtaking and once-in-a-lifetime for me. The picture above, was the goal of our trip to Europe this year. I feel blessed! And what a present for HH on her birthday today. Here's what happened.

Day 1
Berlin - Oslo, 11:35am - 1:15pm
Oslo - Tromso, 5:40pm - 7:35pm

It was really unlucky (or lucky) that there were snow storms everywhere that day, causing many flight delays. We were supposed to have a short trip to Oslo city to have a look, but due to the delay, we decided that it wasn't feasible. In the end, our flight leaving Oslo, was also delayed, and we eventually arrived Tromso at about 8:45pm.

All snowed in at Oslo airport

The airport has a very nice wood-y feel

Oslo Airport has very few restaurants for the amount of people here

Guess how much was a burger? NOK189 = RM95!

Grilled Norwegian Salmon for NOK175 = RM83! At least it was cheaper than a burger
Note: Along the flight, our friend WK was assigned to look out the window the entire time, trying to spot the Northern Lights from the plane. Using all the Northern Lights app and forecast we had, today's chances were very high!

We had pre-booked a car from Avis at the airport, 3 days rental for NOK1501 + 240 for Super CDW and NOK62.50 for added driver, total NOK1803.50 = RM900. Since we were already late, we rushed to pick up our rental car and rushed to the hotel, in case they may have given up our reservations.

We got a little lost on the way to the hotel, as it was really dark and lost our bearings a bit. But it added to the delay in getting to our hotel. We picked a hotel that is sorta in the middle of nowhere with its own private beach, because it would increase our chances of seeing the Northern Lights. I did not want to join those Northern Lights tours that run from 7pm until possibly 5am even. No, I don't want to sleep in a van, driving across borders in search of these lights, and *ahem* pee-ing in the snow. So we finally arrived Sydspissen Hotel at 9:45pm. I rushed in first to do the check-in procedures, while HH & WK prepared to get our luggage.

(WK staring up at the sky.)
WK: Eh, eh, I think got leh! Am I seeing things?
(HH staring up at the sky. A moment of complete silence between them, trying to decide whether got or not)
HH: I also think got a bit there leh!
WK: Really got lah!
HH: Faster call Angie to come out and see!

So these 2 jokers quickly came to get me to go out and see.. and true enough, the lights show was about to begin. Tonight was to be the best of our 3 nights there, but we didn't know it at the time. If it weren't for all the delays, we would have driven to town for dinner, and would have missed it entirely. The peak was between 10:00pm - 10:30pm.

We rushed to our room, dumped everything, and even saw it from our room window. (Tip: Ask for a room facing the beach). The back of the hotel has a private beach, which is perfect for viewing the Northern Lights. So rushed, so not ready, we just ran down back to the beach and got our finest shots there. We were so unprepared about the camera settings, a lot of trial and error to do. But it was awesome!

By the time the lights show ended, we got back to the room at 11:20pm. Everything in this town closes at 11:00pm at the latest, even all restaurants and bars. So laugh all you want, but I have my Maggi Mee brought all the way from Malaysia, carried it across Barcelona to Rome to Berlin and now Tromso. It was the only thing available to eat for the night. I wanted to take a photo of me eating Maggi Mee under the Northern Lights, but it was just too cold and I think the mee would have frozen by the time I reached the beach. It was about -10°C that night. Though I wore goretex boots, I could feel the cold on the soles of my feet. We had to find some branch to stand on.

We slept with the curtains "open" that night, in case any of us wakes up in the middle of the night and spots it again. :D

Day 1's Expenses:
Car Rental = NOK1803.50 = RM902
Hotel = NOK2970 = RM1490 for 3 nights

Continue reading on Europe2014:
How I Ended Up In Norway In Jan 2014
6 Days Itinerary In Italy - Day 1 & 2
6 Days Itinerary In Italy - Day 3 Visiting The Pope!
6 Days Itinerary In Italy - Day 4 Napoli & Pompeii
6 Days Itinerary In Italy - Day 5 & 6 Florence 
4 Days in Barcelona - Intended Itinerary
4 Days In Barcelona - Day 1
4 Days in Barcelona - Day 2
4 Days In Barcelona - Day 3 & 4
4 Days In Berlin - Intended Itinerary
4 Days In Berlin - Day 1
4 Days In Berlin - Day 2, 3 & 4
Northern Lights in Tromso, Norway - Day 1
Northern Lights in Tromso, Norway - Day 2
Northern Lights in Tromso Norway - Day 3 & 4 

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