Europe Norway Scandinavia

Norway: Oslo and Tromsø in Winter

Norway was the first stop of my Scandinavian trip and so I was super psyched to be seeing the northern lights for the first time in my life! Of course prior to that, I was freaking out and so worried that I might not be able to see it. Done all my research and understood that it was not a ‘sure thing’. It was quite risky to be going all the way there just to see northern lights, so like everyone else says, be sure to have other activities scheduled too and not solely for the aurora.

Also, note that winter in Norway means winter activities and northern lights, and none of that hiking stuff, such as to Trolltunga, Pulpit Rock, etc. These wonderful trails are closed off to hikers during winter. I think people still attempt them anyway but it’s very dangerous, along with the limited daylight.

So yeap! Choosing northern lights in Norway means giving up places like Trolltunga. Oh well. I’ll be back there again someday, in summer.

During this trip, we flew to Oslo from London and figured we might as well take 1-2 days to check out the city before heading off to Tromsø. This is highly subjective, of course but I’m just not a huge fan of cities and so I found Oslo very boring. It’s known for being a boring city too but hey, it looks very liveable. Just not for tourists, I guess? Perhaps some may find the museums or buildings interesting but I’m here to see some nature that Norway has to offer!!!

So yeah, I couldn’t wait to get to Tromsø.

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Icon in the city: Norwegian National Opera and Ballet

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Took a walk in the city, followed along the river to a famous food hall, Mathallen

SO THIS IS WHERE THE REAL TRIP BEGINS! Arrived in Tromsø. Only took 15 mins from the airport to the city centre. This is actually quite a tiny and quaint town. I’m already in love with the landscape! The winds were harsh though… even with my buffwear, beanie and everything else, I still struggle.

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This cafe’s view is just 100%

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Had awesome sushi at the only mall in the city centre, I think? It was pretty good and halfway I realized.. I am having legit Norwegian salmon. Woot woot!

ANYWAY, LET’S GET TO THE MAIN POINT OF THE TRIP! We picked Tromsø because it was the most obvious choice for a very high chance of seeing the northern lights. It was only during another experience in Finland then I realized that Tromsø’s viewing location was very good. We were right under the belt and hence, the northern lights will most likely appear overhead rather than in the low horizon.

We had recommendation from other friends and so we opted for Arctic Experience (website link) with Dan the Aurora Man (so catchy!). NO REGRETS. AT. ALL. If you are lost due to the abundance of tour operators, choose Dan! I think he is one of the most enthusiastic and passionate guides I have ever met. Super friendly, funny and takes such good care of us.

We were required to bring passports with us just in case the hunt extends beyond Norway and onto the Finnish borders. That’s how dedicated Dan would be. He was saying during some cases, they finished around 6 in the morning because he didn’t give up until they found the aurora over at Lapland. SO THAT WAS LIKE WOAH. SERIOUS DEDICATION.

In a group of 8, we set off in a south-westernly direction towards Sommarøy as the cloud cover coming in from the northeast. Dan was very knowledgable and open to all sorts of naive questions I asked. Seriously, I can’t stop raving about how awesome he was haha!

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Like I’ve read online, everyone says that it might appear as a cloud but you’re kinda like… unsure whether it’s really a cloud? Dan took some photos to check whether it’s green, since our eyes are less susceptible to the lights than our cameras.

The skies opened up to us. Great, starry conditions. No signs of clouds anywhere. Not yet, anyway.

So in my experience I was eyeing this weird skinny cloud across the sky. Like. Wait. Do clouds general look like this? Slowly, the clouds started to get more pronounced, and turning into a very faded greenish grey colour. I WAS LIKE. AWW HELL YEAH!!!!! THERE IT IS!!!! Needless to say, I was overjoyed and hoping around like a maniac. This item on my bucket list has been sitting there for years and years, ever since I found out what a bucket list was. DAMN.

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Slowly, it flared up in all sorts of shapes and directions. From the left to the right, all across the sky – the lady was dancing for us! It was not the brightest one but we were happy with whatever we had. I was content. I’d rather have an ~okay~ strength rather than none at all! So beautiful I almost wanted to cry. Forgive me, it was my first time. 🙂

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Oops, I forgot to take my buffwear off.

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Hot drinks, soup and snacks are provided too. If the cold gets too much to handle, you can retreat back into the van whilst waiting for the aurora. I went in a couple of times because I couldn’t feel my toes at some point and it just became too unbearable.

norway-25Thank goodness for the bonfire.

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I’ve only got a simple set up. Photography is an expensive hobby. I try to keep the costs down, since I’m not going to be doing any professional photos anyway. I find my wide angle lens pretty good and sufficient for my holiday trips. No longer do I have to lie on the ground or step back far away to get in a full shot. Maybe I’ll get a full frame someday.

Settings: 3200 ISO, f/4.5, 5~15secs
Camera: 
Canon EOS 600D
Lens: Canon EF-S 10-18mm F4.5-5
Extras: Sirui carbon fibre tripod, cable remote shutter release
A liiiiittle more extra: Brought along the Black Diamond headlamp I used in Mt. Bromo to light up the subjects against the background of the aurora.

Sorry for the grainy photos. I’ve read online that the lens should open to at least f/3.5 and above. Mine was at most f/4.5 but I was like… maybe I can get away with it. And true enough, I did but bleurgghhhh… Had to sacrifice my ISO to compensate for my smaller aperture. So if you are nitpicky like me, this is something to think about.

The next morning, we went for a Lyngsfjord Adventure tour (website link) to go dog sledding. The 1~2 hour bus ride was so scenic. Fjords and mountains all the way til we reach Camp Tamok.

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Dog sledding was a surprisingly amazing experience. It was difficult to control the huskies at first and for some reason, they do not react to my braking attempts. Maybe they can’t feel me stepping on the brakes?! I wanted to shriek so badly inside but the guide mentioned that we shouldn’t be screaming, else we’d frighten the huskies.

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Such a wholesome and unique experience. Definitely a contrast to activities we have here in Asia. Super fun and highly recommended!

Next up, Finland! Bye Norway!

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1 comment on “Norway: Oslo and Tromsø in Winter

  1. Pingback: How to layer up for your winter holiday – GIRL WANDERNAUT

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