After just four hours of sleep in Bergen, we packed our things and headed to the airport for our 8am flight to Tromsø. By the time we arrived in Tromso around noon, I just wanted to take a nap. We had a Northern Lights tour scheduled for that night from 7pm-2am, and I knew I would not make it without a nap. When you travel with the Man Child, naps do not exist. Thankfully, he knew how important this tour was to me, so he allowed me a full hour nap before waking me up to go exploring.
We spent the rest of the afternoon exploring the city and grabbing some provisions for the tour later. The weather forecast showed rain and overcast skies indefinitely, so I was naturally discouraged about our chances of seeing the Northern Lights. When we arrived on the tour bus, our guide told us that they had seen the lights the night before, but that based on the forecast, we would have to drive over 2 hours toward the Finnish border in hopes of finding clear skies. He was cautiously optimistic. We drove for about two and a have hours searching for a clear spot in the skies. With no luck, our driver stopped in a clearing along a creek in the woods of a national park. The location was beautiful, and slightly creepy (probably because I watch too many horror movies). We sat around and drank coffee and hot chocolate, and we ate the traditional Norwegian lefse (a pastry made with sweet brown cheese), which was delicious! As we waited, we noticed a few stars in the sky which meant there might be some openings in the clouds. Even the smallest opening would provide us a glimpse of the Northern Lights.
Two hours later, we still had not had any luck seeing the lights. So we piled back into the van, and headed further West. After another 30 minutes in the van and no luck, we had to start heading back toward Tromsø. I spent the last two hours staring out the window, searching for any glimpse of the lights. The Man Child slept next to me, snoring the entire way.
We arrived back at the hotel just after 2am. Not even a glimpse of the lights. This was the first night all season that the tour had not seen any lights. Just my luck. At least we had one more night in Tromsø. I was really hoping the weather would cooperate!
The next day, we woke up at 1pm, and the Man Child went downstairs to see if we could get reservations on that night’s tour. Unfortunately, the representative at the tour desk informed us there would be no tour that night. The weather was too bad. An arctic storm was approaching.
With my dreams of seeing the Northern Lights crushed (at least for this trip), we set off to find adventure in Tromsø. For our first stop, we went to Polaria, a museum and aquarium dedicated to Arctic culture and sea life. We watched a fascinating movie about the Northern Lights, which included hundreds of locally taken photos. (This, of course, just made me more bitter and disappointed that we missed seeing them this trip). After the movie ended, we headed into the aquarium to check out the Arctic sea life.
Mack Brewery, the World’s Northernmost Brewery, sits just across the street from Polaria. There was no way I could drag the Man Child by without stopping in and checking it out. The attached pub had a large and unique selection of Norwegian craft beer. I loved the two I tried, an IPA and an arctic sour ale; but, we didn’t have much more than that because craft beer prices are astronomical in Norway. In general, I found that food and drink prices were not as expensive in Norway as people warned. However, at close to $15 per pint, the craft beer could quickly destroy any budget.
I spent the rest of the afternoon chasing after the Man Child as he made friends with the locals. We befriended a guitarist in a Norwegian hardcore rock band, a Norwegian “redneck” (who often challenged his friends to ice-tractor racing, first tractor that falls through the ice loses), and a local craft brewer. The Man Child also made it his mission to take a photo with all the stuffed polar bears town.
Even though we missed out on seeing the Northern Lights, I absolutely fell in love with Norway. It’s a beautiful country with friendly people, an interesting history, and rich culture. I hope to make it back there sometime soon!
Up next, Oktoberfest!!