The Second Night – an admirable Milky Way at the Scandinavian roundabout!

Lake Galgujav'ri Travel Blog

 › entry 13 of 15 › view all entries
The night begins during the day... well... never mind... you know what i mean ;-)
@ Troms Fylke [down to the Finnish Border] – Stepping into Finland… can I add it to my list of “Countries I've Travelled To”?! :-D


As soon we return to the hotel (after our amazing Dog-Sledding experience and even before the visit to Polaria), we started discussing what the hell should you do, in order to search for the Aurora on this day!!! While we were on the dog-sled it looked like the sky could be clear that night, so I thought we might get lucky and even manage to see The Lights around Tromsø… I had two plans for this weather scenario… the first!… and the second!... I love this joke :-D

Plan A – go to Villmarkssenter sit in a Sami tent and wait for the Aurora!

Plan B – take a bus that goes to the Tromsø outskirts, go to the end of the line and found yourself a nice dark street alley ;-)

I must say that I made plan A in Portugal, as I found out how difficult it is to rent-a-car on Sunday!!! On the other hand, plan B only appeared the day before while talking to Anja about that problem! The plans were similar in practice and this last one was cheaper, but my buddies didn’t like the idea of waiting outside-in-the-cold!!! I didn’t like the idea of paying almost 1500NOK (near €185 or $295 for the three of us), just to stand on a Sami tent having tea and cookies!!! And what was worst for me… the tent didn’t move!!!, So, as the time passed and the sky was getting cloudier and rainy I decided we had to go for… Plan C = rent-a-car at a stupid price!!!

No time to waste, ask the receptionist to fond a rent-a-car that could do it (meaning rent a car ;-) which on Sundays is an hard task)… at the airport they all say no! Finally a yes from Hertz on the city’s centre! They had one (and only one) car available at the terrific price of 1600NOK (about €200 or $315 for a day… I just thought “@£§#€&$#”!!!) – “Ok, say to them that we’ll go there… before they run out of cars!” I told the recepcionist

Me and JV walk to the Hertz office and on the way, while JV was trying to convince me that we had to accept, I convince him to let me try and negotiate with the guys there to rent the car only for the night… so when we get there and he confirm the price, there I was saying to the guy that (he was about to close the office) the price was to heavy for a Portuguese (this wasn’t a lie ;-) and that I could deliver the car when they open next morning… and so on… I finally did break a little of the Norwegian ice and he gives another offer – 1200 NOK – JV wanted to accept right away, but the Scrooge in me keep saying this wasn’t a good deal, so I talked to JV to have a little more patience so I can convince the guy to lower his offer a little bit… after all they could rent the car again the next day, so for them it was a great deal to rent the car for the night only.

Tromso - at the rent-a-car

While I was talking to JV (in Portuguese with an attitude like saying to JV I’m not interested – which wasn’t that right) I saw the guy making some calculations on his own, so “JV keep it cool”!!! … and the final offer (his own words) was 1060 NOK!

Not sure if I could get a lower one but it was too late (more then 6pm already) so I accepted right away and tell the guy to hurry with the contract… which he didn’t he took him an eternity to fill it all up and give me the papers to sign… plus JV, and his big mouth, says he wants to drive as well, so instead of 1060 we paid 1100 NOK! All that work, Grrrrrr!!!

So we’re off… with a good car - Skoda Octavia 4x4 – but to damn late… and that’s when JV starts getting on my nerves! After picking his father and the photo material at the hotel, he wants to find a gas station in the city! But why if you got the car filled up and there are others on the way!? Because he needs to smoke!!! That was a big surprise for me… I mean I knew he smoked, but I didn’t know he was so addicted that he couldn’t leave without them!!! There he was trying to convince me we also needed a roadmap – although I had one of Troms for the biggest part of the ride – still we were loosing more precious time, so there we go to the gas station (that didn’t had roadmaps) to buy cigars… so only by 7:30pm I manage to get out of Tromsø! Although we didn’t get in touch with KS, I knew the photographer probably got out of town by 6pm, so this could compromise that we reach a good place inland before the Lights were gone!!! The sky in Tromsø was heavy clouded, so I believed we would have to drive something like 200Km (125miles) at a speed of 40-50Km/h, which meant more then 4 hours!!!

My plan was to get to the Finnish border and then inside the country till we get clear sky… but after a while JV starts seeing stars and want me to stop right there (this was a Sunday evening with a lot of traffic on this main road!!!) or turn to the hills!!! There I go with him insisting on his, till I finally get to a place I can stop and get out of the car, to see there’s a cloudy sky everywhere… also had to convince him the lights he sees are south and from some village ;-)

We make about 1h30m till we found the first gas station and this time I also wanted to check the roadmap, so need to buy one – at this time the average speed was about 50Km/h with a complete cloudy sky, so I still worried, but not JV – there we went to buy the map and guess what?.

Be aware... Santa's near ;-D
.. they had all kind of roadmaps from Norway (even from Spain and Portugal ;-) but not from the local region!!! So have to go to the nearest station, fortunately not so far, but, like said, not all of us were in a hurry… JV needed to finish his cigar… unless I let him smoke inside! Not a chance… “you stay there while I get us the damn map!!!” So, I drive to the next station, ask for the roadmaps, still had to compare the two they had, choose one of them and finally wait in line to pay for it!!! Counting the time I quickly return to pick JV at the other station… oh! God!!! Now is finishing a burger… so he could eat inside!... no! he still wants to get a coffee after the burger… and don’t ask me why the hell, didn’t he do it before when he got the burger… certainly because this way he could manage to get even more on my nerves!!!

While on the road JV was in contact with KS through his mobile phone, so we already knew he was about 10-15Km from Skibotn… which was also on our way!

Another hour driving, on an even more icy road with lots of trucks and some rain, we approach the place KS was supposed to be, but after reaching 15Km after Skibotn we went forward and didn’t get any sign of him (at some point I even entered a forest road to see if could reach some viewpoint where he might be… no, JV says he told him he was on the road side)!!! More 20 or 30 Km’s and we reach the Finnish border without any sigh of KS, so we loose him!

As we were approaching Finland, we start to see some stars and closer to the border we even could see a clear sky… southwards!!!

We enter Finland, only for 2 or 3Km, but enough to make it a time for celebrations as none of us has ever been to Finland… so, it’s photo time!!! And also a time for JV’s father to remember, cause he wanted to get a picture near the countries road sign… while I kept repeating don’t go there (seems no one listens to me ;-)… he got stuck on the snow and his son had to give him a hand to pull him out of there! Ufff!!!

We return to Norway and JV tries to find out what happens to KS and tells him the good conditions we have… KS founds it odd, but decides to join us… and get really surprised with the good conditions we’ve fond!!! Which means I can guide the local guide :-D

So there we were… KS with a van full of tourists (plus his friend in the other car with another 2 or 3) and the 3 Portuguese they couldn’t get ride of ;-D… waiting for the Aurora!!!

As the sky was getting even clearer, KS give us some hope that this could be the day!!!

Time for me to eat something! I still had some of my Portuguese food, so I took a bite and start offering to the Norwegian team and his customers some of my mothers cooking… which they enjoyed a lot! KS and specially his “big” friend were delighted with those “Bolinhos de Bacalhau” I gave them (little balls of smashed potatoes with stockfish)!!!

We wait for another hour… still no Lights :-( instead we got a very clear sky filled with stars shining so bright that you could think you were seeing the lights… there were no lights but a truly magnificent Milky Way :-) this was a new moon night so we had the luck to see it as clear as one could possibly get to see! There it was: the true meaning of the “Milky Way”… as we couldn’t get more Milky than that!!!!

Also KS show me how to find Polaris (the star), while he was taking a picture of her with an exposure of 15 minutes (yes, not seconds) in which we could see, as a final result, the Polaris star in the middle of that photo, with all the other stars drawing concentric trails like circles parts around the Polaris centre…

Finally we got to see what you can technically call a low level Aurora display… but to be honest, for what we came here for, it was a very disappointing Aurora! We saw something that looked like there was some greenish grey light down in the horizon with very low intensity, even less intensity then what is in this photo I took (just to prove that we saw the Aurora that night ;-) yes… just for the record :-)

Nevertheless it was a great adventure, something to remember of (specially that Milky Way sights) and worthy that I only make it up to bed at 6am of the next day… even if I had to drive all the way back with two “sleeping beauties” in the car ;-D only with my mp3 player’s music for company and a truck that followed me for the biggest part of the ride :-)

In the end… after delivering the car and start writing this chronicle… I still managed to sleep 4 hours that night :-D


the_bloodsucker says:
another nice story! ;-) congrats, mate!
Posted on: May 25, 2008
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The night begins during the day...…
The night begins during the day..…
Tromso - at the rent-a-car
Tromso - at the rent-a-car
Be aware... Santas near ;-D
Be aware... Santa's near ;-D
Tromso - Icy side walk...
Tromso - Icy side walk...
Tromso - Look how she walks on it!…
Tromso - Look how she walks on it…
See how dark it gets on a new moon…
See how dark it gets on a new moo…
Into Finland - Just for the record…
Into Finland - Just for the recor…
Someone just got out of the road..…
Someone just got out of the road.…
The land mark on the Norwegian / F…
The land mark on the Norwegian / …
Howdy fellows... Finland is a sout…
Howdy fellows... Finland is a sou…
Were back to Norway ;-)
We're back to Norway ;-)
My ever first Aurora Borealis :-)
My ever first Aurora Borealis :-)
Lake Galgujav'ri
photo by: Ferreira