Posted by: Sarah | January 20, 2010

Northern Lights Adventure!

Last weekend Eliot and I took a trip up north…a 2 hour flight north to a place called Alta.  Perhaps you saw the BBC programme where Joanna Lumley travelled on a life long mission to the see the Norlys (or Northern Lights).  She went through Alta and stayed at the ice hotel – our reason for going!

Eliot had always wanted to stay in an ice hotel so for a birthday treat I booked us in on the opening night and wow, was it an experience!  I didn’t realise that Norway was so long. We went right up into the Arctic Circle but the temperatures were surprisingly warmer than Oslo…only -1!  The only thing I didn’t realise is that they haven’t seen daylight in Alta for about 3 months – the sun just doesn’t rise in the winter.  Luckily we were there on the last polar night so we got to see sunshine – the first they’ve seen all winter!

Only 2 others were checked in at the hotel so we practically had the place to ourselves.  After we checked in we were whisked out on our night-time snowmobile safari.  I have no idea where we went but it was fantastic fun – bumps and all.   I’m sure the faster you go the less you feel them…well the less I felt them in the front…Eliot was hanging on for life at the back!

Then it was back for an amazing meal.  Basically the chef gave us some ideas of what he could cook for us (Alta is famous for salmon and king crab), we told him our order, he cooked it and then served it personally.  Now that’s service for you!  Half way through the meal, one of the hotel staff came up to our table and said “if you’re interested in seeing the Northern Lights, there’s a spectacular show happening outside”.  I don’t think we have ever moved so quickly – grabbed coats and stood outside watching the show of a lifetime.   FANTASTIC!!!!

How would I describe the lights…green, filling the sky, moving like smoke – you watch it in one place and then it’s suddenly strong in another place.  Only problem – difficult to take photographs so this is all we got!  If it had been warm enough I would have slept outside to watch the sky – it was quite a show and considering we didn’t see them again during the weekend we were VERY lucky!

I didn’t get a lot of sleep in the night – I was just too warm!  It was quite comfortable and very warm in the arctic sleeping bags.  It was a great experience but one that I probably won’t rush to repeat!  I like my comforts and sleep too much!  Next day we checked into the more comfortable Rica Hotel in Alta.  Not a lot really goes on in Alta and with all the darkness, you would forgive the locals for perhaps coming across as a little strange.  It reminded us of some outback Texan village where the locals haven’t seen foreigners for sometime.  I have to say though, everyone we met and spoke to were wonderful and very kind. 

For our last adventure we went dog sledging.  Completely different to snowmobiling…peaceful, tranquil and great fun.  When we arrived the dogs were so excited…jumping and yapping…a bit like a donkey in Shrek…”pick me, pick me”.  The guy who runs the place regularly enters races – some races take days!  What’s more he absolutely loves the dogs and their personalities  – that clearly came across.  Normally he makes up a sled team with 4 dogs for tourists (apparently more than enough power to pull) but somehow, we managed to get 6 dogs.  Now I don’t know what they fed these dogs before we went out but we were turbo charged.  I permanently had the foot on the break and was regularly glared at by our lead dog who was basically telling me to “quit breaking – driver!” in no uncertain terms.  Once you get used to the whipping tree branches and the blind corners (since we went in the dark) the sensation is brilliant!  However, we weren’t brave enough to shout “Mush”.   Alta is a great place to go for the winter sports.   We didn’t get to see the Sami people when we were up there and I’m keen to learn more about them so I’m sure that we’ll be going back at some point!


  1. Sarah, this was such a great post! You and Eliot certainly are making the best of your time in Norway! It truly love these updates as I feel I am living vicariously through you!

    Mary Eileen

    • Fantastic – glad you like them! I’ll keep ’em comin’

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