The day I've been waiting for - Northern Lights trip!

Tromso Travel Blog

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Tromsø cathedral

Well...  This is the day that I have been waiting for since April.  Last night was really clear and this evening is supposed to be clear as well.  Jude and I had our fingers, toes and everything possible crossed for good weather.  We didn't have any real plans for the day apart from having a look round the city a bit more just to try and make time go quickly so that the evening would come.  I don't think there are any words to describe just how excited I was about this.  But I'm getting ahead of myself... first we were going to have another look round the city...

We headed back down to the cathedral in the city where we remembered there was some really heavy snow (and because we are children we wanted to have a play!)  We spent about 10 minutes messing around in the snow, throwing snowballs, randomly getting hugged by strangers (????) before deciding we had created enough mess in the pristine snow, so we went into the souvenir shop.

arty shot of snow!
  (The best in town apparently... it's the only one we found so that's probably true!!)

I have been wanting to get a snowflake tattoo for a few months after having a dream about one, but I haven't been able to decide exactly where I want it or been able to come up with a pattern.  I had said to Jude when we arrived that if I found a tattooists then I would try to get one done while we were here (how cool would that be!)... while we were walking round the city, guess what we found... Tattoo World!  I went in, told them what I wanted and the guy said he would sketch something up and to go back the following day at 5.45pm to have a look and see if it's what I want!  Should be a good souvenir of the trip!

We took another walk down to the harbour to look at the view of the 'sunset' which is actually really strange considering there has been no sunrise.

  But neverless the view once more was stunning.

We went back to our hotel to prepare for our Aurora Chasing trip...  I had been on Kjetil Skogli's website back in April when I booked our flights but had not booked the trip until I saw the program with Joanna Lumley on BBC1.  The trip that Kjetil does is a 'relentless car chase' to find the lights and you can be out for up to 8 hours.  Although the trip was more expensive that some of the others we decided that we would rather pay more and be out for longer with someone who definitely knew what they were doing than just sit in a tent somewhere and hope for the best.  I had on... thermal trousers, ski trousers, socks, thermal socks, a vest, t-shirt 2 thermal tops and a ski jacket.

Jude... on a mission to start a snowball fight!
.. we were ready to go!  We headed back to Solid to have another hot chocolate (just to make sure we were warm enough!) then headed over to the Radisson to meet Kjetil.  There were 2 other people on the trip with us and Kjetil explained that the conditions were very good so we should be in for a good night, he said that he would be driving us about 20 - 30 minutes away from the city to somewhere remote away from all street lights. 

Around 7.45 we stopped for a while and Kjetil looked at the sky for a while before deciding to move a bit further on.  15 minutes later we stopped and he pointed to the sky and said its started.

Just like not knowing what to expect with the daylight, I had no idea what to expect with the Northern Lights.

snowball fight!
  All I could see was something that looked like a wispy bit of cloud that wasn't green, which I found rather confusing - as all the pictures I have seen of the Aurora they are green.  Kjetil explained that it's because our eyes are constantly focusing and adjusting to the light so unless the lights are really bright you can't really tell what colour they are, however when you photo them you use a long exposure time therefore capturing their true colour.  Kjetil is a professional photographer so he helped us set up our cameras and lent us tripods and then it was just a case of look up at the sky in amazement and keep pressing the button on the camera!  It didn't take long for us to start getting cold, so in addition to everything we were already on, we put on a thermal boiler suit as well.
snowball fight!
.. by this point we made the Michelin Man look skinny!

The lights started off really dim, but then within 15 minutes they were really bright and really moving.  There was a distinct arc across the sky from which the 'curtains' split off.  We stayed at the first place for about 2 hours before moving off to another location so we could get some photos with different landscapes. 

The lights stayed really bright and active until about 11pm when they started to dim down.  Kjetil said that we were not going to leave though as they would come back and possibly be even better.  Jude and I decided that this would be a good time to start playing in the snow (thus providing entertainment for everyone else!)  We climbed to the top of a snow mound and slid down.

.. threw snowballs, made snow angels, lay down in the snow and watched shooting stars, and generally had fun!  It worked though, by the time we had knackered ourselves out the lights had reappeared and were possibly better than before though in a completely different way.  This time the arc across the sky was staggeringly bright and started splitting off into 3 - 4 curtains. 

There literally are not words to describe how stunning it is... all I can do is suggest that you go and see them yourself (if you haven't already done so) because they are just amazing.  I am already thinking about where I can go to see them again!

6.5 hours, -8°C, 140 photos and one lifetime dream later we packed up and left to go back to our hotels.

Toasty warm... really I am!
  The only problem I have now is deciding how many photos to publish on here... (I'm guessing it will be quite a lot!!) :)

FYI... for anyone who wants to know.  The Aurora photos were taken with Olympus E500 Digital SLR with a Zuiko Digital ED 14-42mm 1:3.5-5.6.  The settings were: 

Shooting mode - Manual Exposure,  Aperture f/3.5,  ISO speed 400,  Exposure time 25 - 30 seconds.

Airportman says:
Oh, I'm so envious of you after seeing the pictures and reading your blog! I want to see it too!
A wonderfull blog to read and great pictures! :D
Posted on: Jul 24, 2009
danielrice20 says:
Very nice! You got some great aurora shots.
Posted on: Dec 10, 2008
tvillingmarit says:
Beautiful photos, cant to see the Aurora here in Trondheim this winter
Posted on: Dec 10, 2008
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Tromsø cathedral
Tromsø cathedral
arty shot of snow!
arty shot of snow!
Jude... on a mission to start a sn…
Jude... on a mission to start a s…
snowball fight!
snowball fight!
snowball fight!
snowball fight!
Toasty warm... really I am!
Toasty warm... really I am!
sunset (although technically the…
'sunset' (although technically th…
Using the fence as a tripod!
Using the fence as a tripod!
Cold... even before the trip had s…
Cold... even before the trip had …
The lights show starts... One of t…
The lights show starts... One of …
Aurora & the big dipper!
Aurora & the big dipper!
My fave pic!
My fave pic!
Jude and I are there... really we …
Jude and I are there... really we…
Messing around in the snow, waitin…
Messing around in the snow, waiti…
Me... Arctic Explorer!
Me... Arctic Explorer!
Jude... Arctic Explorer Extraordin…
Jude... Arctic Explorer Extraordi…
Jude and I... bit fuzzy because it…
Jude and I... bit fuzzy because i…
This is exactly what I pictured th…
This is exactly what I pictured t…
Was really bright at this point, g…
Was really bright at this point, …
middle of the arc
middle of the arc
other side of the arc!
other side of the arc!
Tromso
photo by: Biedjee