I never expected to be able to cross Arctic Circle off my bucket list, but there’s that check mark sitting right there.
And thank goodness I can check it off.
Best and kinda bad two days up in Tromso, Norway.
The trip had its beginning with me getting in at midnight, having there only be like 3 people working in the airport, my luggage lost with no warm clothing, slipping on the ice, and paying $35 for a taxi. Good times.
But then it got good when the next day we explored the little town (or big city by Norway standards). This town I would equate to a ski village in Colorado. The town fit on a tiny island where roads are literally carved through tunnels in the mountain, no concrete, just bare rock. Walking down the street was one of my favorite parts. Shop stores were filled with Parisian fashion, just 10 times thicker. People walked on ice like it was nothing, while I took baby steps down the huge mountain hills throughout the town. I later found out everyone had spikes on their shoes. Funny that everyone except the teenagers. They were falling too. The smart adults knew what to do.
All the houses were adorable. Little wooden buildings, some modern masterpieces. So great.
Just 10 minutes outside the city is a beautiful arctic hike. You feel on top of the world until you can’t feel your toes. It’s a whole new experience to Colorado. No trees. Just snow and ice and isolation. Ended with a warm breakfast by the fire in a cabin.
The people of Tromso and the Arctic in general are fascinating. The way they must adapt. Kids for recess wear snow suits and go sledding. It was October. So adorable. And have dogs pull them around on sleds to get from place to place. And they see the auroras on the reg and don’t even find them exciting anymore. I did.
We went on a guided lights tour. I was super skeptical at first. Why do we need help with that? But thank goodness because the whole time we were there it was cloudy at night and this guide helped us find a clear spot on a mountain hill by the water with the moon shining over us, where in the distance we could oversee a village and way in the distance, we could see the glow from Tromso behind the mountain.
The lights were ever so faint but in a way, the subtlety of them made the experience even more extraordinary. You feel like your eye is playing tricks on you, that what you’re seeing is a lie. You question your senses, your beliefs. But in reality, they’re there, hovering above you, changing shape slowly, looking like a gaze from heaven.
The night we sat outside was long and cold. But we laid on reindeer skin (their fur is so soft) and talked about stories and myths about the aurora. Supposedly people have sex under it and there’s a certain good thing about being born after being conceived under the lights. People think the auroras can speak to you by the shapes they make. Some people really believe in them as a religion.
Then what did we do the next day? DOG SLEDDING. The place was kinda smelly with all the poo but it was beautiful riding through the mountains in a sled, hanging with this pilot I met from Detroit who was just popping around. Then we had reindeer stew in a traditional sami hut: a circular hut with an oven in the middle. Oh and chocolate Dream Cake TO DIE FOR UGH I LOVE THIS STUFF.
The arctic life fascinates me. I talked to the guy who was from Detroit. He had been even farther north where during the winter the sun doesn’t come up for a week and most of the time its barely up. Most of the people who live there are Russian scientists who keep everything they do a secret, so it’s like everyone is living a secret life. And once you go outside this certain border, you have to bring a gun because of polar bear attacks. They are no small thing. Once a polar bear sees you, they come after you and will hunt you down no matter what.
So now I scared myself thinking about that. I’m going to go find a blanket to crawl under.