Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Northern Lights Hunting and Narvik, Norway

After spending the day with the reindeer, we went hunting for the Northern Lights. This was high on Mike's list of things to see while we were up north, but it's so hit or miss because of the weather.  All week, the outlook looked pretty bleak because of the clouds, but we knew that we had to go out one night to try and catch a glimpse. We left the guest house with about ten other people and guide to a lookout spot where we began our wait. The guide was a professional photographer who was able to show us how to set up our camera for the long exposure needed to capture the much anticipated Northern Lights.

Once we got to our lookout spot, we waited.
And waited.
And waited some more.

The clouds didn't give up and we spent three hours hanging out in the dark looking at a cloudy sky.   We left disappointed and with much lighter wallets (have I mentioned how expensive Sweden is? Because it hurts the wallet for sure). 

The next day, we knew that hanging around the guest house was not an option and that we had to do something.  The guide from the photography excursion suggested taking the train to Narvic, Norway, which was about an hour away.  There was an excursion to Narvic that we could join as well, but at 89euros a person, the 10euro train was looking like the better option.   Unfortunately, the train was all booked, so we had to opt for the excursion since it was really the only thing going on the next day.

We left around ten the next morning and got in the van with two other couples and the tour guide. Before we got very far, we stopped because there was a herd of reindeer on the side of the road!

We loaded back into the van to make our way to Narvik, but we made a few stops along the way.   The drive was really pretty, but some of the stops seemed unnecessary, almost like they were killing time. That being said, we did get some great shots and had a chance to put our feet in the Atlantic Ocean from the other side!

Mike with his feet in the Atlantic

After a few stops, we arrived in Narvick.  Our first stop was a fish market.  Well, fish market might be an exaggeration.  We were imagining a small version of Seattle's fish market.  Instead, we got one guy selling fish, just like at a normal supermarket.   We were disappointed to say the least, but hopeful that we were going to be going somewhere exciting for lunch.  Wrong again.  We essentially spent the rest of the excursion at a mall, where our options for lunch were the average food court choices that come with any other mall.  We didn't have enough time to go out and explore the town, but were pretty bored and disappointed in our time at the mall.  

Overall, it was extremely disappointing and not worth the hefty price.  I'm not sure what we would have done if we hadn't gone on the excursion, but we definitely regret paying for this excursion. We came back to the hotel and spent the rest of the night hoping to see the Northern Lights.  We went down to the beach nearby and waited for a couple of hours with no luck.  After we returned to the guest house and warmed up for a bit, we headed back outside for a little while where we were able to catch a glimpse of a few flare ups. Nothing super bright or spectacular, but definitely had the green glow.   I was glad that we were able to see something, even if it wasn't anything too exciting. 

When reflecting on this trip, there are quite a few things I would change, but there were some AMAZING experiences as well.  I definitely would have stayed somewhere other than the Abisko Guesthouse.  There aren't a lot of things in Abisko, but there are a few other hotels that weren't that much more expensive.  To cut down on the costs, I also would have stayed one less night.  This would have meant that we wouldn't have had that day in Narvick, which obviously would have been fine and would have saved us a ton of money.  In fact, we probably could have stayed in Kiruna the entire trip and done excursions from there, since everything seemed to be near there.  That being said, I don't regret going because we did some INCREDIBLE things. Seeing the reindeer and going dogsledding were amazing experiences that I know I'll remember for a long time.  Plus, even the not so great things are part of the experience, right?

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